Monday, July 11, 2016
How we got here…….
So for as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to travel. I wanted to see the world. Big dreams. Everyone has them, right?
Mine involved a passport. I met Love a couple of years short of completing university. He had just finished high school. We had a sort of rocky start, but here we are.
I remember a couple years in, we were at dinner with his mom and step dad. I was talking about my dream to travel. She turned to Love and told him to knock me up quickly to keep me here (I did end up pregnant not long after that ironically enough).
So we started building our lives. Right out of college, I started a masters program in education. He went into the workforce after trying for a year at university and determining it wasn’t for him. I was offered a job immediately after completing the masters program in special education.
Life went on.
We moved to a very rural part of Illinois after living in the suburbs of Chicago for 5 years. Dude was 10 months old at the time. Monster was born 9 months later.
So 5 years ago, we were both sort of ready for a change. I still dreamed of seeing other places. Now this opportunity popped up in our sights. International teaching. I could get a job that would allow us to see other parts of the world. We discussed the pros and cons. We set our criteria.
We presented the idea to family. They were not pleased to say the least. My family has always been a huge part of our lives. Love’s family as well, but to a lesser extent.
So I started the process. How did this all happen, you ask?
The How of It All….
It was interviews, applications, letters, inquiries for the next 5 years. I was offered jobs over the years. The first year in, I was offered a job in Tenjin, China. It was a decent school, but it was not where we wanted to go. I was also offered a job in Beijing and South Korea that first year. Love and I looked at each place and what it had to offer us both financially and for the family as a whole. None set well with either of us, so we passed on them.
The next few years brought a few interviews here and there. There were even a couple job offers, but it was usually not an ideal situation, or I was turned down for having 3 kids (most schools will only cover up to 2 kids for tuition). Last year, I was finally offered a job in our target area (Japan). It would have been teaching English literature. It was also in Yokohama, which I am familiar with. The issue? They would only have a spot for Monkey and Dude. Monster would have to go to another school. Looking at the schools in the area made it painfully obvious the salary wasn’t enough to live, save, and pay tuition. With so much regret, I turned down our chance to go to Japan as a family.
At the end of last school year, my job was set to change in my district for the next school year and not for the better (though I would have adapted and done the job to the best of my ability). I was resigned to having to adapt to the changes because of my lack of options. Both applying overseas and at home had yielded very few results.
In the last couple months of school, Love and I talked about other options. He applied to a government lab he’d worked in before we moved to rural Illinois. We widened our search to other Asian countries (Hong Kong and Singapore mainly). I didn’t try too hard because we were so far past recruiting season. I held on to hope that the next year would be more successful. Still, I threw out my last ditch efforts for overseas thinking it couldn’t hurt to try. I didn’t think anything would come of it, and I prepared myself for a completely different job for the next school year.
Note: A little bit about this change. I am a special education teacher through and through. It is my love and my passion. I loved my school district. I loved the people I worked for and with. We had some of the best teachers who put their hearts and souls into teaching and into their students. It was a fantastic school. The problem was I was being taken out of special education almost completely and put into regular education. While I know I can teach regular education (and I would have done it), it is not my thing. I completely understand why I was moved there (for the most part, but that’s another story). So anyway, back to what I was saying…
Well, beginning of May, I received an email from a school in Hong Kong. Not my first choice, but looking into the school, it was worth considering.
I interviewed over Skype (which is the general method the international schools use to interview. There is another way, recruiting fairs, but I’ve never done one of those). I interviewed with the two heads of the department (special needs. YAY!).
I was told it was an informal get to know you sort of thing. My heart sank at that. I didn’t expect much to come from it.
I will say, I knew I loved these people from the moment I received their first email. They wrote in a similar style.
There was a moment that passed between them that I could tell they liked me. After we finished, (we only spoke for about 25 minutes) they both said they wanted me to speak to the principal.
After another short talk with her, I was told they would have a decision in a few days but let them know if I was receiving any other offers. They would fast track everything. I honestly didn’t think anything would come of it. I had been told many times how perfect I was for the position, but I had too many children. That I wouldn’t be able to sustain a family of 5 on the one salary (which is completely valid).
The day after mother’s day, I was offered the position. I spoke with Monkey first after Love and I discussed our options. She was both devastated and elated. A couple of days later, we discussed it with Dude and Monster. They struggled with the concept of leaving the only home they’ve ever known.
After telling them, the decision moved very quickly. Though we told them to keep quiet so I could handle it professionally, I had teachers asking me about it.
I accepted the position and resigned from my old job. We told family. We started looking at what had to be done and tried to prepare for every possible outcome.
Love and I already had an international trip planned at the conclusion of the school year.
When we returned from that trip, everything went in fast forward. Love continued working while I worked out the logistics and preparation. We didn’t have a great deal of help due to family reaction (more on that later).
We did get a great deal of help from my childhood best friend, Daisy, and my brother, Fruitbat.
So in the space of 2 months we packed up and shipped off our lives. Just shy of 2 weeks ago, Love and I loaded our three kids onto a plane to fly 16 hours halfway around the world to a country we’d never set foot in.
(Deep breath) Here we are.