Our Family Is Not So Happy!

After years of working toward our goal, we’ve finally accepted a job at a small IB school in China. Both my husband and I are so very excited! We’ve talked to a lot of staff at the school–we think it’ll be a great experience and a substantial foot in the door toward international teaching careers.

Our family is, well….not so happy! Not so happy to the point we are constantly told we’re making a huge mistake, that we’re tearing apart our families, wrong and childish for not settling down and popping out grandchildren. They’re mystified as to why we’d leave our country at all, “the greatest country in the world!”

So, experienced overseas teachers, how do you deal with everyone telling you what you’re doing is a horrible, life-destroying mistake? Do your families come visit to cheer you on, or do they continue to insist you’re ruining your and their lives? How do you deal or cope? It’s becoming increasingly hard to feel excited and happy about our decision when every family member around is telling us we’re doing it all wrong.

I’m the original author of  this blog post, and I just wanted to thank everyone so much for sharing their own stories and their thoughts and support. My husband and I read over each post together. It’s so heartening to hear from so many people.
That doesn’t change our families opinions, of course. They’re still going to dislike what we’re doing, but in the end, we’re the ones who have to get up every morning and live with the choices we’ve made, not them.

Thank you all so much. We’ll keep reading anything anyone has to add, because it’s just wonderful to hear so many encouraging stories. Thank you, thank you.

69 Responses to Our Family Is Not So Happy!

  1. This is an older blog post, but it really resonated with me. Last year my husband and I embarked on a search for an international teaching position for me, but I ended up not accepting a post at that time. This year we are embarking again, and we do have two children– boys ages 3 and 6. When we told both sets of grandparents last year, they were horrified and gave us the worst time for a few months.

    The set of grandparents I am closest to (my husband’s family) said the worst things, but I think it is because they care about us the most and are scared for us. The most horrible comment came when my father-in-law and mother-in-law told me that I was going to “ruin” my children. I still haven’t gotten over that.

    It’s so hard to deal with, especially when I really do value their advice and opinions normally. But, it hasn’t changed our mind about wishing for me to teach in Europe. It’s nice to see that I am not alone. Thanks everyone.


  2. jarge says:

    we are in Qatar. We are an older couple with grown children and several small grandchildren. we are the ones who moved away, and yes, we get the same protests from family (not from our children). However, in defence of family left at home, some understanding might be in order from all of us expats. Everything in life is a trade-off and while we are enjoying the expat experience, there is the trade-off of family and relationships. It is hurtful to a point on both sides, those at home and those abroad. We do need to weigh out what it is we are trading off, and weigh out if it is really worth it in the long run, especially when we are depriving children (aka expat brats):) and ourselves of relationships with their families.
    Yes, what we do is our life and our decision but some of the flippant and dismissive attitudes here might need to be tempered a bit. It is those we love most in life that we are talking about, after all.


  3. Nat says:

    I experience the exact same when I chose to teach abroad.
    Though not always ‘easy’, the past 6 years of my life have raised my vibration and changed me in profoundly amazing ways.
    Though my family still doesn’t understand, I know that following my heart shifts the planet positively and that I couldn’t live with myself if I denied my dreams.
    In closing, doing what feels right for you doesn’t have to be justified. Advice is usually autobiographical so follow your own path.
    All the best ❤


  4. Arty Farty says:

    So here we are, seven months in to a two year contract. Both teaching in the British West Indies at a local High School. We have two children who are the light of their Grandparents lives back in the UK. I’ll be honest, the guilt of taking the children away from a very loving, large family has been constant. One Grandparent is disabled and unable to fly. My ageing parents have no intention of visiting so instead we skype every Sunday morning, this helps a bit. Without saying it outright in their emails, they clearly want us home, it hasn’t been easy for them at all.

    Coming here was one of the hardest decisions of our life but, I’m happy to say having made the move, harder still will be the decision of whether we should extend the contract or go home!

    This has been the most amazing and thrilling experiences of our life, we have loved having the opportunity to spend a winter outside in the sunshine! New hobbies have been discovered and nurtured. I can honestly say, I cannot imagine how we could ever have given the kids or ourselves the wonderful rich experiences we have enjoyed by sticking with the safety and security of staying at home!

    Changes and challenges are essential in life, don’t live with the thought of ‘what if’ because as the saying goes, you only live once so make the most of it!


  5. Roland says:

    What an incredible set of stories. Reading your initial message I felt called to comment, but in many ways much of what I want to say has been said in so many different ways. However, I do want to encourage you to go.
    My wife and I started international teaching 12 years ago in a international boarding school on a mountain top in southern India. This was difficult for our families back in Canada, due to limited internet connections. But it was a great school that left us with many wonderful experiences. Since then we have taught in El Salvador, Vietnam and now S. Korea. Each place is different with its pluses and minuses, but all have enriched our lives tremendously and our 3 boys (born in each of these countries with the exception of Korea) have enjoyed the benefits of good education from some of the best schools in the world in an international setting with so many cultural influences they just take for granted. I cannot see how we could have a better experience working in Canada.
    We have been fortunate in having very understanding family back home and even the cautious ones found that their views profoundly changed of what we were doing once they came and visited. The trick for them is to be as open as you to the new environment and come and be prepared to enjoy themselves as much as you will. Both our parents have visited us in these countries more than once. It is also important that we spend both our summers and Christmases back in Canada. What we also realized is that especially because our families are separated by the vastness of Canada, that we actually end up seeing all our family more than we would if we lived in Canada. Also, the time we spend with our families is intense and probably has developed closer relationships than if we were back home.
    So, make the time to see each other in both locations and it is likely that the richness of your experiences will make your family life fuller for everyone, rather than less.


  6. Sandi Jones says:

    I have been living in China for 6 years, before that Turkey and Honduras. We moved over seas after our son went off to college. I wish we had done it sooner! I wish my son would have had the experience of growing up in an international community. Your family and friends will never understand, they will think you are nuts, but the life is worth the hassles, and there will be hassles.


  7. Barbara says:

    I probably don’t even need to respond, you’ve already received so many supportive and encouraging letters, that surely you’ve decided your decision is the right one. I simply wanted to add that my family’s decision to create an adventure for ourselves and to live in Europe while teaching in an International School, was the BEST thing we could ever have done for our children. They learned how very big, beautiful and wonderful the world out there really is…this all started over 20 years ago, and now they’re adults and living on their own…but their sense of adventure and finding out about the world, traveling on their own and seeking knowledge, not to mention the compassion and understanding they have developed for the less fortunate is second to none. We go “home” every summer, and it is always so easy to recognize those whose world is small and uninformed because they have not traveled, those who have biases and prejudices because they have not met other people in their own “foreign” environments. Our family was so lucky to have had this experience. You can’t not do it. You’ll regret it for the rest of your lives. The nay-sayers know naught of which they speak….


  8. Paul G Gallagher says:

    Your parents are right! You are ruining your life. Stay home where it is safe…

    Just kidding. They will never understand. Accept it and them. Maybe when you are gone a while they will appreciate you more. Or, if they are like mine they will never change. So I remember I have to live my life not theirs.

    Overseas teaching is great for the right person. If you are patient and adventurous and truly know the meaning of “carpe’ diem” you will know that you made the right choice. Be careful of your expectations. They will probably not be met. Be flexible and remember why you are there. And at the very least it is not a life-sentence. Contracts end and life passes quickly so try to enjoy every day.

    Cheers and all the best on your new adventure.


  9. Emre says:

    Hi there, I was dreading telling my parents why I was leaving and it was made worse because we were taking their only grandchildren who had been an active part of their lives.

    When we told them and we were upfront and honest about our applications to the Middle East, they were upset and couldn’t understand why. However, once we explained why: the deteriorating economy, the education for our kids (private school as opposed to state school), the outdoor life as opposed to an indoor life in the UK, etc, they began to understand why we were making our decision.

    So, my advise is, be honest, but be firm, it’s your life. Working abroad has been the best decision for myself and my family, the opportunities are amazing and the lifestyle, for us at least, very good.

    Go for it!


  10. Robert says:

    Hello there!

    My mother would love for me to return home. However, she is pretty cool about my living overseas even though she really misses me. She visits me each year.
    I have been living overseas for over 10 years and have lived in Asia, Africa, Europe, and now the Middle East. So, I’ve seen danger, hardship, beauty, love, transition, etc! I’ve experienced life more fully than I would ever have if I remained in America, a country I do love still–yet I remain outside of it because of the rich experience that the international life offers.
    What I’m trying to get at here is that your life will take on a different meaning overseas. Even if you hate it, you would have had an experience that was well worth having. You will grow and learn so much. International schools offer such great opportunities for professional and personal development. Your family will miss you and continue to want you back home. But, they will learn to accept it and even want to visit you.
    Let them say what they want to say–you go and LIVE YOUR LIFE!! Enjoy China!!


  11. Ichiro says:

    Wow. Best topic ever? I’ve just spent the last hour or so devouring all of the commets above.
    And if somewhere in all of this is the original poster to the ISR message board: don’t go back to your hometown and try to explain the experiences you’ve had. Rather, try to re-engage with the people. Ask about their lives and attempt to (or fake it) be fully engaged. I’ve been overseas for a long-ass time, and still, nobody state-side really cares–or, more precisely, they can’t relate. And that might just be the hardest part: maybe at some point your loved ones will accept and embrace your decision, but the chances are quite low that they’ll ever care about where you live or want to hear any other than perfunctory details of your travels. The burden will be on you to try and remain engaged in their lives, to be able to talk up the local or national news or sports teams.


  12. CJC says:

    I think just about everyone goes through this kind of thing when they announce that they are going to go work and live overseas. Remember that your family loves you and that they are only saying, in a sometimes warped way, that they are going to miss you. I have been overseas for six years and it is, by far, the best thing I could have ever done. I even found the man of my dreams and got married for the first time at the age of 48. It is challenging since he does not have U.S. citizenship when it comes to making travel plans but it is totally worth it. We spend our vacations first in Trinidad and then I go to the states alone to see my family as he does not have a visa and it is REALLY difficult to get one. I would not say that the U.S. is the best country in the world, by a long shot. I have loved everywhere I have traveled and think everywhere has its good and bad points. The U.S. has a great mail system and pretty good roads but many things are not great there too, we will save that for another time.
    You should remember that you cannot please all the people all the time and follow your heart. Also, no matter where in the world you are, you are only a plane trip away. Most of the time you can get anywhere in two days or less.
    GO FOR IT- Living abroad is the best thing I ever did!


  13. Debra says:

    When I took two daughters with me to Brazil, one was very unhappy. It took her awhile but she thanks me now, because of the friends, experience of life outside of our dear country, language, etc. Both girls are fluent in Portuguese and have been wonderfully influenced by their experiences. Other friends want to know when I am coming back, I want to know when will they come out to play. It’s hard missing family at home, nothing around that, but I believe we must connect hearts in each place, so there you go. balance


  14. jerihurd says:

    I empathize. I was overseas for 10 years,and my family was mostly supportive, but Dad would make “when are you coming back” comments every now and then. I did return for a few years, and lived close to Dad, so we were able to get together most months. WHen I decided to move back overseas, Dad was upset. He’s in his late 70s, having health problems, and told his wife he hoped he would see me again before he dies. Devastating for me, and I felt very guilty.

    I sent to his place, downloaded Skype onto his computer, and showed him how to use it. He was amazed. My first two months in Mongolia, we talked every 2-3 weeks. Now and I can hardly get hold of him! So much for missing me! : )

    This is YOUR life–you need to fulfill your vision. Your family will get used to it. Or not. But you can’t live your life trying to keep them happy.


  15. John says:

    “Be Yourself. Everyone Else Is Taken!”

    from the Charles Schulz Philosophy


  16. may says:

    You are around the wrong opinions and very selfish people. Going through the experience of working and living in another country is wonderful and people who choose not to take that experience miss on that, we are free adults to make decisions. Those people who are accusing you of doing wrong are so so selfish. They can always go and visit you wherever you are, and have a great experience. Which country are you from? England? usa? I have lived in various countries around the world, with my family, and i can tell you that one of the worst places to live in the world is England!! Children who have experienced living in beautiful African countries or asia and later have to go back to England, they really hate it, it makes you realize the quality of life in england for children, and adults, it is pretty bad!!! Ignorant people always believe that the only save place in the world is where they are and the rest of the world is a horrible dangerous place! Very sad and ignorant idea!


  17. Maerad says:

    You are grown adults. It is YOUR life. To me it is your family that is selfish in spoiling your dreams. Finally, providing grandchildren was not a clause written into your birth contract! Sounds like some of your family are just jealous and need to get a life themselves.

    Go for it! You’ll love it…… and the family will come round to it eventually lol


    • ARTI says:

      This topic has clearly strikes a chord with so many as life-enhancing decisions generally do! Having spent the greater part of my life ‘living’ through teaching on the International circuit as opposed to teaching to live in UK I have to agree with many before that both my life and my kids and my parents lives were all super-enriched with our decision to work overseas and my mother who is now in her late 70’s has a new lease of life to the point where she asks us ‘where will you be going next so I can come out to see you?’ Get that she’s putting pressure on us to move away – how selfish ha.
      There is a down side however; Money! You will be so busy taking advantage of living a real life you may never save a penny (mortgage on the house back home might not help etc). I have never had pension contributions paid nor have I made any (perhaps foolishly). I dont actually want to go and live back ‘home’ as it doesn’t feel like home any more and having changed so much. Anyone else have this problem or anticipate it? I mean would anyone sell up their only asset and go move to a place where they’ve taught where there’s no heating bills or councl tax or chips? How would that go down with the inlaws?!


  18. YallaMasr says:

    I agree with everyone. I would add though that, depending on the dynamics of your family (you know them, we don’t), it might also be helpful to tackle some of the fears with information. Perhaps choose a key person (or people) whom you think might listen and ask what he/she is most worried about or afraid of…then do what you can to allay that fear. My family was supportive, but it still helped the pragmatic ones to know that the school in the Middle East I was going to had an evacuation plan, evacuation insurance, etc.

    Whenever I travel I send my various bits of information to my mother and siblings, just in case. When I travel I also keep an eye on the news so that I can send an “I’m fine!” e-mail should something happen in the country/area; this has happened more than once, and first happened on my first holiday weekend after moving overseas. Whenever I had a vacation that didn’t have regular internet access, I let them know in advance so they wouldn’t expect to hear from me should something happen in the area.

    At one point during the revolution in Egypt (where I live and where I had the opportunity to evacuate but chose not to), one of my brothers did ask me, “Don’t you live in a bubble…and isn’t it about to pop?” My reply, respectfully, was SO DO YOU. All of our friends and family living in “safe” countries could have their lives changed in a moment (a slip on the ice, a drunk driver, a regular check-up that brings bad news). That would be true for you no matter where you live.

    So, have patience and compassion for your family, don’t let their fears get to you, and embrace this new adventure of yours! Have patience and compassion for yourself, too, since the adventure will challenge you and teach you as well.


  19. Susan Offerdahl says:

    It is time to cut the umbilical cord.


  20. FLCounselor says:

    I told my mother that I respected her opinion and I would not try to change it, and asked that she show me the same respect. Then, whenever she complained in an email or on a phone call, I stopped the cal and gave her a “time out,’ just like I would a child who throws a tantrum. I waited a few weeks to get back to her so that she learned to stop driving me away. If she wants to hear from me regularly, she needs to stay pleasant and appreciate it when I do call, write, or visit. It took a little while, but since I was consistent in my response, eventually it worked and I know longer get any grief. In fact, I’ve even learned that she secretly brags about my travels to her friends – not that she would ever give me the satisfaction of knowing that!


  21. Adrenaline says:

    In 2007, when my husband left his well paying teaching job & sacrificed other accumulated financial benefits meant to retain teachers in our country, people around us thought we were plain crazy to give up our good life for the international experience. My mom kept harping on how we were shortchanging our two young kids (2 & 7 then) to go to India when kids there were fighting to study in our schools. Honestly, I struggled a lot with self doubt & we even questioned if we’d made a wrong decision a few days into stepping foot in our campus apartment. We eventually completed the contract & have come home because my husband’s parents are getting on & need us to be around. It’s been almost two years since we came back & we look back with absolutlely no regrets about uprooting for that international school stint. In fact, it saved our lives by making my kids more worldly wise, & taught us resilience in ways that our locally bound friends & family would never know. In some people’s eyes, it was an expensive sacrifice we’d made to go off the beaten track. In ours it was a priceless opportunity & privilege we’re forever greatful for.


  22. ckwest says:

    I am so glad to hear how many people experience the same thing and have found the same truth: your life is yours to live – live it! That doesn’t mean going to China will be the best teaching experience you’ll ever have (or maybe it will be!), but you are right – put your foot in and have a blast. For my husband and I, the family opposition we experienced had more to do with possessiveness, and getting away from all of them was the best thing to do!! What others have said about jealousy, etc. I think can also apply, especially if you have siblings who started families when they were young and may not have truly fulfilled their own dreams – that’s my case. When I first told my sisters about our initial teaching placement, they said, “China?!” Instead of saying “That’s wonderful – congratulations!” and assuming I (as an adult) knew what I was doing, they assumed I was their baby sister (although nearly 40) who always made crazy decisions. I have not regretted that decision!! If you have a good sense of humor and the ability to see the positive even when it seems most difficult – you are absolutely cut out for it. Good luck!!


  23. Ben says:

    I’m so heartened by all the replies here and I want to write to thank everyone here for the encouragement. I share the couple’s sentiments. My experience is slightly different. I sold everything I had, took a huge loan and went to Vietnam to try to start a school. I’m in my late 40s. My parents and sister thought I was crazy but were polite enough not to say so. But I could tell it in their eyes, their looks etc.

    I’m still heavily in debt, at this current rate I will clear this debt in 20 years, I’m making just enough to get by, the dong is depreciating every day … and I’m wondering whether I was actually crazy when I made that decision. But all your replies have given me encouragement to soldier on. The experience itself is something money cannot buy.

    So to the dear couple above, I’ll say what the others say – ignore the barbs and comments and whatever, “just do it”. You won’t regret. Anyway, you’ll get a steady income and are in a much better position than my debt-ridden situation. So what’s the problem? Just tell yourself you’re bigger than any problem that comes along (and for sure there’ll be), and that you can handle it. All will be fine and may God bless the both of you richly.


  24. Chinuk says:

    The longer I’m abroad (18 of the last 25 years have been spent out of country), the louder the cries of “When are you coming home?” Hard for me to explain to people who have never left the borders of my homeland that I feel like I’ve seen only a tiny bit of what the world has to offer, nor do I really feel like I belong there anymore. People don’t want to hear about my life in Asia — maybe it makes them jealous, or maybe they think I’m lording it over them. They get this really uncomfortable look on their face, then quickly change the subject. Heaven forbid I should say ANYTHING negative about my school or life because the default answer is always, “Then why don’t you come home?”, as though that would solve everything! As my parents age, they have taken to complaining about my absence with every phone call, though they have two other children within commuting distance whom they see only a few times a year anyway. Biggest issue for me, as a single mom, is that there is no way I’d be able to afford the lifestyle I can give my kids here, on a Canadian teachers’ salary. Single parenting is tough anywhere, but disposable income sure does help smooth the bumps!


  25. JeremyS says:

    Reading these posts makes me feel very fortunate to have (for the most part) supportive family and friends. I am only thirty, but have been overseas most of the last ten years, have a wife from another country and had our son overseas too.
    I do think that a good counterbalance to the lack of supportive friends from home will be the new friends you make. If you are relatively open minded, eager to take risks and try new things you will be sure to find some great life long friends at an international school job.
    My experience does show that arguing or even telling your stories to people won’t do much good as you are going up against proud ignorance and a media and government that portrays the rest of the world in a condescending or frightening way.
    I think there are actually many older people who would take the plunge but believe they have too much on their plate. I am glad that you decided to do it…it can be a great experience.


  26. Karl says:

    Bear in mind that your decision is based on your own self-interest, and that you are not doing this for others in your family–you’re doing it for yourselves. It may be a selfish decision, but it’s one that you probably deserve and that your relatives can deal with. It wouldn’t be very diplomatic, but the direct approach would be to say, “This isn’t about you, it’s about us. But we do still love you.” If your relatives are not generous enough to let you do what you want to do, well, that’s for you to reject (and go), accept (and stay), or mediate (and go). By posting the message, you’ve chosen the last. Good luck!


  27. China Teacher says:

    This is an empathy problem. People consider the actions of others from their own point of view, unable to relate to the feelings and experiences of others. It appears selfish and arrogant, even though it is well-intended. Understand it for what it is and move on.

    That said, I have to add that empathy is in especially short supply in America. After several years teaching in Asia and the Middle East, I have realized that my countrymen are generally poorly-travelled, poorly-educated, and eager to display it. My own family is supportive and knowledgeable, but the fear and vitriol I get from many others when I visit home is disconcerting. You are making a great choice to separate yourself from this attitude and you will never regret it.


  28. Lyn says:

    Well folks clearly a lot of people have had the same experience of questionable support or lack thereof. I too, but not from my family, well not from my parents, my son or close friend who really do know me. However those who have had issues with I have adopted a slightly different approach. Rather than feeling like you have to defend your decision or help them justify their existence by answering “those” questions I take on a role of questioning advocate and instead get them to answer my questions. I have found this really helpful. Consider, the fact is you are going, you have made the decision, you are clearly educated intelligent people and you will never be the same again for all the right reasons. The opportunities you have just opened for yourself and family (even those not supporting) are endless. Once all that is considered some well placed, timed and gently asked questions go a long way to turning this around. For example, and this often provides a “shock” factor!!! “So ????? what was it like when you went and worked overseas?” More often than not they never have otherwise they would not be putting you through all this. “What do you know about ???? where we are going to live, I would love to hear what you know, it may be helpful for us”, “I know you have some concerns you have made those clear, so to get some balance, let’s look at the positive side, what positives can you see? what advantages will there be for all of us, you included ????” In some instances you will get short even hysterical “NONE”, “THIS IS WRONG” blah blah blah, just keep asking always in the positive, keep calm, don’t get emotional, if you do walk away and try again later, you need to lead them not follow their despair. they soon come to realise that the questions they have been asking are not about you going at all but rather about their own existence coming into question or change. However this may not probably WILL NOT happen in the first conversation, keep at it. As hard as it is, you need to lead them through this life changing process that is so foreign to them. The biggest adjustment you will find apart from moving to a foreign country is recognising how much your world has changed when your first return to their current existence. You will be telling about all your amazing adventures, cultures, people you have met, exciting and sometimes scary experiences you have conquered and how you are now 10 foot tall and bullet proof and then you will come to recognize that “glazed over look” that so many of us expats experience when we return home to old friends who still have as their highlight of the week or month is attending the kids soccer match on a Saturday. Meanwhile you will have walked the great wall of china and so many other things. Stand tall you are doing the right thing, don’t fight this, just go at it another way, get them to address their fears cause that is what this is about, they need to understand. You can do this you are educators after all and consider this good training for negotiations when you get overseas and have to come to terms with a different way of life. Only one more suggestion, while you are over there don’t get hooked into running home every holidays to please whomever, travel further abroad and keep your options open. Good luck.


  29. Kathy says:

    Reading this blog was gratifying. I heard echoes of my thoughts expressed by so many others in so many beautiful ways. Sometimes we are round pegs living square peg lives. I am glad that I found ‘my people’, and followed my heart. I would go in my 20’s if I could do it again, but I probably appreciate it more since it was such a struggle to find my dreams. I don’t know why so many people back home don’t ‘get it’, but so many of them don’t. What happened to the pioneer spirit in the states? Don’t know. But I have it. Looking back, I knew I was passionate about my love for travel, adventure, understanding other cultures, tasting other foods and experiences, but I denied it because I was afraid. I was afraid that I might be wrong about it, that I might not be secure enough, that I wasn’t being responsible enough, that I was disappointing my family…. Whatever. I can see by reading all your responses in this blog, that I was normal. What makes me happy to my core is that I finally got the courage to do what I had been dreaming about for so long, fretting over, struggling with. I faced my fears and took the plunge.

    My biggest surprise was that my son laid a guilt trip on me about being a grandmother. But, my mind was made up. I reassured him that I would visit and they would visit. We could keep in touch. I would know my grandchildren and they would know me. He has visited. I visited. His family has visited. The world is not so big really. My son and his family are now making plans to live and work overseas. Can you imagine how this might affect their lives?

    But what I’m most thrilled about is how it has changed my life. I am swimming over 100 laps a week now in my school swimming pool. One week I’m in a modern world-class city riding the subway to a night safari, next month, I’m hiking and camping in a primitive back country area contemplating the nature of man, or facing my terrors as I walk over swinging bridges way above a river, riding on the back of my boyfriend’s motorcycle around stunningly beautiful coastal mountain roads, eating some exotic foods with friends, relaxing on beaches, running through the rain, enjoying challenges in a school where the work load is reasonable, butting up against the local cultural attitudes that have changed my mind about what I believe and wondering about it. In short, I am challenged, loving, and alive. I am not paying bills and driving from the suburbs into the city to work everyday and arriving home drained of my humanity.

    When you do not have a choice in your heart anymore, you will stand up to anyone in your way and go. Whatever it is we love, we should put more of it in our lives. Denying my dreams for so long was sort of weird, looking back on it. I have been stubborn. Well, I know more about who I am now anyway and that is progress.


  30. Allen says:

    Do not worry about your family members. Tell them that you are doing what is best for you. I have worked in Kuwait, South Korea, Taiwan, and Thailand. I loved every minute of it. I would never work in American schools again. I was free from bad parents, behavior disorders, and teach to the tests programs. Yes, there are terrible international schools. Before you accept a position at an international school, try to communicate with teachers that have moved to other schools. The teachers at the same school may be reluctant to tell you the truth if it is negative. You may want to communicate with the Department of Education and the U.S. Embassy of the host country to verify the legitimacy of your chosen school. Is the school accredited by a Western agency? If it is, you may be able to obtain experience credit for pay and retirement if you return to teach at your home country. Also, investigate the host country so the cultural shock will be kept to a minimum. Finally, remember the 12 month and 30 day rules.
    Good luck! Enjoy your overseas experience.


  31. Shirley says:

    You do not need anybody’s permission to go anywhere. Your gut will tell you when things will nitbe right. I have been teaching internationally for seven years and had my share of challenging schools and not so challenging schools… So far they have all been great experiences and I have not planned to go home. Embrace the change and the cultures your hosts can offer. Just one more thing….. Take care of yourself and your family, and make sure you take careful steps to protect your family for example, not to sign up for credit cards( max 1 only), send your extra funds away out of the country, never buy a car or property unless you planned to live there for a long time. Good luck and let the adventure begin. Cheers


  32. Molson says:

    I left home pretty much right after graduation in 1997. Originally it was going to be for a year. That first year turned into 9 years. My family at first would give me the guilt trips, and every summer when I went home would ask me when I would return to Canada.

    I then returned to Canada and that lasted about 3 years. The cost of living, taxes, and the state of education wasn’t what I really wanted out of life. Yes, it was GREAT seeing my family, but I made the argument that we only saw each other a few times a year at events like Thanksgiving or Christmas. I had enough and uprooted my family and returned to teaching abroad.

    I still get asked when I am going to return, but the more I think about it, the more I realize I probably won’t return unless one of my parents really needs me in their old age (I have a lot of siblings, so that shouldn’t be an issue).

    How to deal with it? I tell my parents, friends and other family members that I make MORE money after taxes than I would in Canada. I teach at a more academic school, and thus have none of the problems I would if I were teaching back at a public school.

    In the end, tell them you now have your own family you need to support, and it is your life. It has negatives in missing certain events, but the positives outweigh those for the most part.


  33. CJCT says:

    My first move from my home base was in 1996 and I told nobody until all my plans were finalised. Yes, there were negative comments but by then I was so excited by the adventure, I didn’t care. I have continued that philosophy and people no longer question my moves. My argument with people who say ‘when are you coming home?’ is ‘when are you coming to visit?’ or the more truthful ‘where is home?’. Just think… why should I/you go home at a personal cost to yourself, just to pacify others. No, this is my life and I intend to live it my way!!!


  34. Heather says:

    I wish I had read a blog like this two months ago. My boyfriend and I signed a two-year contract to teach in Thailand, and it was the hardest decision we have had to make. His parents were incredibly supportive but my parents were not. They thought I should have tried to find work in Canada before going abroad, and did not understand that my reasons for teaching abroad had nothing to do with the teachint job market in Canada. They have since accepted my decision, but I know better than to expect visits form them on holidays. In the end, though, I wanted an experience that would challenge me and allow me to develop a firm sense of my own identity; a large part of that process is knowing yourself well enough to take a job when others are telling you not to. I recognize the fear that my family and friends have of unknown experiences, but I do not choose to make my important life decisions based on that fear.

    I had a conversation with a friend who is also going overseas. We were comparing the benefits of teaching abroad to the life we would be living by staying in Canada.

    Make a pro-con list and carry it around with you. You simply cannot argue with numbers and when the pros way outweigh the cons so tremendously, it’s an easy choice regardless of what others might say.


  35. John says:

    Tell your family to quit talking to you because you have made up your minds and you have signed the contracts. End of story. If they want happy memories they had better be treating you nicely, just in case you do get kidnapped by Martians!


  36. Gina says:

    My family has always tried to put doubts in my head when I’ve decided to embark on a new adventure(usually in a different country). So, early on I learned to make the decision that I thought was best for my life as an adult and to go forward with it. I decided that it was best to tell my parents of my plans when they were already final as in…the contract was already signed! My parents aren’t really very adventurous so, of course, they would think that moving to a completely different country(lots of unknowns) would be scary. They also had a hard time understanding the value of such a great experience. Yes, in college, I ended up having to take out a $5,000 loan to teach abroad in Sweden…but it was worth every penny as what an awesome experience I had learning about a different culture by living within it! Before I left to go to the little island of Arorae in the country of Kiribati(Peace Corps) right out of college my mom was trying to raise doubts. People tend to like being comfortable and anything out of their comfort zone is scary. They also may not consider the value of life experiences. I would suggest for you to read: The Art of Non-conformity as it will make you feel less abnormal when your family members are thinking you are making a huge mistake. Awesome book by a man who decided to make his own rules as to how he lived his life. I’ve also taught at two different schools in Asia for 5 years of my life. Get the job first…then tell the family. It’s your life! But, at the same time…write a blog or send home newsletters about your experiences to help your family see what a great experience(hopefully) you are having. Once you have been there for 6 months or so..open it up to friends an family to come visit if they’d like! Happy Travels, Gina


  37. Michelle says:

    Managing the emotions of others is not your job at this time. The stress of dealing with people who are demanding your emotional resources is good preparation for the changes to come. You will need to roll with this situation as much as you will need to roll with the situation you encounter in China. However, that being said, parents, friends and their comments, questions and attitude make us feel frustrated at times. My family has been in this overseas teaching business for 15 years and our two kids were born overseas. We love the lifestyle and don’t plan to leave it! Most important thing to do at this stage is to take care of yourself, no regrets one way or the other.


  38. Johanna says:

    Another thing I wanted to add (that was me up there, the anonymous post above Linda), is that from the perspective of an adult who grew up with my siblings all over the world, it only made our family stronger. While there are aunts and uncles and grandparents who still don’t understand why we moved abroad and still think my parents are crazy, I can say without hesitation that I’m really close to my adult siblings. We have shared experiences together than have shaped our identities, and we can understand each other in some ways that other folks can’t necessarily.


    • hereandthere says:

      I agree, Johanna. Growing up with international educators and living all over the world made our immediate family extremely close. It also allowed us to spend long summers with relatives that we would not have spent otherwise. Proximity doesn’t guarantee closeness. Shared experiences and quality time together does. I will be forever grateful that my family understood that and have tried to pass those values down to my own kids. Another thing we did was to purchase a recreation home in the states to give a sense of “roots” to our experiences stateside. We welcomed all family and friends to come and see us instead of putting the kids through the gauntlet of visiting relatives.


  39. Linda says:

    I think establishing yourself in a new community, away from your past life, can be a very refreshing thing and can sometimes help you progress to a new level in your career. Sometimes families and old friends can keep you trapped as the person you’ve been to them and who they need you to be for a long time and it sounds like yours are doing that. I say go for it. Hopefully you’ll be able to afford a trip home once a year, this helps. Surely the desire for an adventure and time away was planted in your subconscious for a reason, think how disappointed and frustrated you’ll be if you don’t follow your dream.


  40. Anonymous says:

    My husband and I have just accepted jobs in Saudi Arabia. You can imagine the reaction we’re getting from some family and friends! But we’ve done our homework, and we feel reasonably safe and very excited about the decision we’ve made. We also have heard a lot of fear-based commentary, such as (“What if there’s nuclear war and Israel blows up the whole Middle East?!” … well, if there’s nuclear war, we’re all on the planet together and SOL to one degree or another IMHO).

    I was lucky enough to grow up overseas, in Europe and Latin America. I loved the experience. Even though moving was hard, leaving friends was hard, my overwhelming sense from having been blessed with a life like this is that it made me a better person, more human, more able to care about and understand people who are culturally different from me. I want these same things for my own children, which is the main reason we’ve pursued a career abroad. And the adventure too, of course 😉

    I’m blessed in that my parents have lived this kind of lifestyle and understand. Shortly after we decided to accept the offer and move, my dad sent me the following email:

    “This is going to be a hard decision for you guys. You are going to get a lot of advice; most of which will be unhelpful. I remember when we were deciding to go to Venezuela, we got a lot of help as well. I don’t know that anyone agreed with our decision. I remember my mom saying, “doesn’t [your company] have anything in the US that you can do?” She couldn’t understand why anyone would want to leave if there was any other choice. Interestingly, that was the only comment she made about it. She understood it was our decision and supported it, even if she didn’t like it. If you decide to do this you are going to get a lot of grief and you will be surprised at how much and how strong it is. Always remember that we are here to support you. -Dad”


  41. Bonnie Ross (worked at ISM in Manila 15 years ago /and AISL in Lusaka, Zambia 8 years ago) says:

    Follow YOUR dreams… I am a single parent with an adult daughter who had moved to NYC (my home of record is Oregon) and STILL she did not want me to venture out abroad at 47 years old, for two years. I wouldn’t trade either experience for any home based work experience. Congratulations on this exciting opportunity and know that most of us with US connections do feel the “shoulds” tug at our impending departures. The wonder and awe of discovery awaits you and as you send your emails to friends and family back home, you also broaden their horizons.

    Change/transitions are challenging for all, but those who have the most say in it generally have an easier time moving to the acceptance stage. (Remember the 5 main stages of transition include: denial, bargaining, anger, depression, and eventually – acceptance. (It is helpful to remember these stages even in the best of circumstances in making your move and as acclimate/acculturate yourself in your new environment.) The longer we resist change, the more difficult it becomes for us to move to acceptance. I wish you joyous exciting adventures as you embrace your new home and surroundings. I loved my summer traveling in China! Bon Voyage!


  42. Nana says:

    Go for it. You can’t have it all. I left grown daughters, grandchildren, and a mother in her eighties to teach in China–then did it again to teach in Albania. I missed them terribly. BUT I became part of an expat community that I will treasure for the rest of my life. Here are a few suggestions to make this transition easier for everyone: Get Skype with video for yourselves and your family members and USE IF OFTEN BEFORE YOU LEAVE, so that everyone is proficient. Start a blog, make it password protected, and post a least once a week with lots of pictures. Don’t count on anyone visiting you. It’s expensive and getting to many international locations are a travel nightmare. Don’t get guilted into spending all your holiday time with your family. Travel. Reach out. Grow and learn. Make your own new life with the international community where you are living. You will become a third culture person, a global citizen, or whatever the current term is, and you will never be the same. The hard part will be coming “home” and living with reverse culture shock.


  43. Kathy says:

    From this day forward keep your mouth shut!! Just inform them the day you are leaving and if they ask how is everything going….. smile and say good….and drop it….Unfortunately, your family may never understand. Good luck… Working overseas will be an experience you will never forget.


  44. Maggie says:

    Every day I look at a card given to me by one of my closest friends. It reads “The challenge is to be yourself in a world that is trying to make you like everyone else” Many friends still look at us with curiosity and can’t quite work out why we don’t want to ‘settle down’, get a big house and fancy ‘his and hers’ sports cars. I have found huge happiness in living in different countries and being open to the people and experiences that presents. My boyfriend (now husband) and I (un-knowingly) started a journey exactly 10 years ago when we turned our backs on material wealth and home comforts and moved to the Zambian bush to work for a local wage, training school teachers and setting up an HIV education program. It was the least money that we have ever earned and it was the best job that we ever had. We enjoyed our life in Zambia and never looked at ”home” in the same way ever again.

    Since then we have continued to use our skills as educational professionals to work in Japan, UK and the Middle East. Yes, each move is exhausting and there are many challenges but we remain open to all that each new experience brings us. Living in different countries can challenge one’s ideas on cultural identity. Our experiences of living in different cultures has shaped us. Overall these experiences enrich our life together and define us far more than money or status.

    I appreciate that it does take a certain strength to stay in one place and to settle for a conventional life. But I would argue that it takes more courage to make that physical and often emotional investment in moving overseas and embracing change, each time a new place, a new job, new people and a new way of life. Some family and friends see a ‘postcard lifestyle’. It feels harder at times to make the choice not to sit on the fence in suburbia but I never regret that we choose to live ‘differently’. Make the move. You will most likely never look at ‘home’ in the same way again.


  45. Ralph says:

    Hi –
    I have worked at four international schools – two while single, and two while married with kids. We have been back in the US for about two years and I would go back overseas in a minute – to the most desolate, godforsaken school on the planet if need be. When single, my family was okay with my going overseas – the big thing was my mom having struck out on her own to move to California from Iowa in 1940, and since she saw it similarly, it went over pretty well with the rest of the family. Married, though, it was a bit different. My family was basically out of the picture due to either death or estrangement. I love my wife’s family, and overall it went pretty well, but not perfectly. We flew my wife’s parents to South America for a couple of weeks and that really helped give the whole enterprise some perspective. The trip was wonderful and still talked about. When we went from there to live with terrorists in the Middle East, though – there were tears and much more. Throughout our four years overseas, our kids spoke to their grandparents every week on the phone, we spent a large portion of the summers with them – at their place, or places we rented and invited them to, and they know our kids better than their other three grandchildren. We have been back now for almost two years – the in laws are snowbirds in Flordia now instead of thirty miles away (which is fine), one brother in-law and family are in NJ and we have YET to see them (he is the most conservative and adamant that we were crazy) and the sister in-law and her family are thirty miles away and we see them rarely. So what the hell was the point of being against our going? None, that I can see. Unfortunately, the school in the Middle East was very poor quality (we were really sold down the river) and we broke contract and returned to the US after a year. I’m still not sure that everyone stateside understands it had nothing to do with living among terrorists. The opportunities overseas are endless and you are very, very, very lucky to be going. I envy you and wish you the best. You might not be able to do anything to change family members’ opinions, but given the internet, phones, Skype, etc. and the possibility of having them come to see you – you have a few possibilities. If they don’t change, though, they don’t. Too bad. Your world will never be the same. A friend from my first overseas experience told me, just before I flew back for my first trip home for a visit, that hardly anyone will be interested for long in what you have to say, because they simply have no way to relate to the experience. This was so true. My family never really asked me a thing. And, my wife’s family is only a little more interested. It’s okay. This is for you – it will be life-changing. Good luck.


  46. Christian Derasp says:

    You must be Canadian (living in the best country in the world!) Anywho, just go for it. At the end you will enhance your lives and the lives of your respective families. And just for that, it is worth the trip. You know, you may never return to work back home. But your families will be with you wherever you go. They may even visit you, further enhancing their lives…


  47. Di says:

    Tell them to build a bridge and get over it – it’s your life..


  48. Dick Nesbitt says:

    Been there too. Just do it and enjoy, most people don’t understand. You are doing the right thing for your family.


  49. Bruce says:

    As a single older man, coming to China was the best decision I ever made. It is BY FAR safer and friendlier than any city I experienced while teaching in American. It felt like home within the first week. I constantly wish I had gotten into international teaching YEARS ago. I will NEVER go back to teach in the states. Your loved ones are speaking from total ignorance. If you don’t take advantage of this opportunity, you are stupid. Your children will gain a life experience they will NEVER get in America. You will rub elbows with tons of other cultures and people. I actually feel sorry for people who are stuck in their daily routines and think that is living. If the door is open for you to do international teaching, by all means, jump at the chance. You’ll never regret it Save money, see the world, meet tons of new interesting people, eat authentic cultural foods, and teach in schools not dictated by standardized tests. It’s still about the kids overseas. Go for it!!!


  50. Sonia says:

    Simply put, there are two types of people in the world and in America: people who will get what you are doing, and people who won’t. Usually it’s a mixture of fear and/or jealousy based on the fact that a lot of people never had the guts to move overseas, or simply never had the ambition to go after something like that. Don’t listen to anything anyone has to say except for people who have actually been to the countries you are traveling to. I live in Colombia and have had the most amazing experience. If I listened to the 2000 people who tried to advise me about where to go, I never would’ve come. Just ignore their guilt trips and call them as often as you can 🙂 I have to say that now whenever I talk about future positions, my family is usually thrilled. It was just the first few years that they had trouble understanding.


  51. Karalee says:

    We are in our 7th year working overseas – Saudi Arabia and Bolivia – and I have learned to ignore all commentary from family or friends. I feel that the adventure of living overseas, seeing different places, meeting so many interesting people has been far more satisfying and challenging for us than staying in Canada with the same old – same old! I guess it depends on how important others’ opinions are to you, but at this stage of my life, I really don’t care what they think. Each person’s life is theirs alone to live. If you enjoy the stability of life in Canada – go for it! If you enjoy other places – go for it! I think some people are jealous of your courage, and feel there must be something “wrong” with the home country if you are leaving it! Not so – every place on earth has both positive and negative aspects, an you can choose to focus on whatever you wish. I really enjoy the stimulation of spending the year in two different places, with 2 sets of friends and different activities. Now that we are retiring, we’re going to keep up this 2-country lifestyle, we like it so much!

    Good luck with your new posting, I’m sure you will have a million amazing experiences!


  52. Chris says:

    Having worked in Saudi Arabia for the last 6 years, and it being our first international post I have some sympathy for your situation. My family were not best pleased but eventually understood. Being Saudi did make it worse. However once my Dad came to visit saw why we moved (weather, better quality of life, better pay etc) he was won over. As were the inlaws. Now they come to visit regularly for a month at a time. Also when we left we didn’t have children. We now have three. It gives them a good excuse to fly over to stay! I think they probably feel some kind of rejection, asking why life is not good enough but they will eventually see that life can be so much more exciting than what is in the “home bubble”. I hope you have a great time in your new job. And as for home, I’m not sure I’ll ever go back!


  53. Maria says:

    I really am sorry that you have to endure the disappointment of your family. I say that sincerely because I know how hard it can be. Some members of my family still haven’t really “forgiven” me, and it’s hard to know that my choices have made that rift — even if I think they are the ones who are wrong, it’s hard to know you’re disappointing people you love. All that being said, I’d say you need to concentrate on adjusting your expectations of your family. They may not ever understand your desire to do this. After all, not everyone has this desire (which for those of us who do, they’re the weird ones!). But your hurt will be lessened a bit by not expecting them to understand, not expecting them to think it’s great, not expecting them to cheer every time you experience something new and very cool that is out of their experience. You will find people (maybe even family members at some time) with whom you can share your new life. But for those who are not accepting of your choice to live overseas, just give them what they want to hear: you’re safe and you’ll be home in the summer to visit. The exciting details of what you’re experiencing won’t hold any excitement for them, so don’t burst your own bubble by trying to share them. My husband and I lived in Hanoi, Vietnam for three years back in the late ’90s, and I realized then that there were some people who just got madder at me the more I shared with them. So I stopped. We will be going to Bogota, Colombia in July for two years (with our three kids!) and I know already that there are some friends and family who will want to know everything, and some who continue to feel hostility about our decision. Those are the folks (though it really does hurt a lot) that will get the “we’re fine, all is well” type of emails, while the others get to really “partake” of our lives with us over there. I truly hope your family comes around, but if they don’t, don’t let it make you doubt your decision. And as one blogger said above, it isn’t forever. If you don’t like your stay in China, don’t re-sign. But I’ll bet it will be the best time you’ve ever had!


  54. Kelly says:

    I can relate! I moved to Cambodia to do volunteer work at 30 (I left my tenured teaching job and good salary). My mom told me I was “making it easy for her not to care anymore.” She would cry, send me emails laced with guilt, try to manipulate me into staying, and she definitely brought up the whole “why aren’t you married with kids? Why are you going abroad?” I almost had a panic attack over the situation.

    Well, I went anyways…and it is THE BEST decision I could have made. I have changed so much for the better. I am a stronger, happier, more grateful and content person. I love life more and I have renewed dreams and vision for my career. I shudder at the thought of not having come because so many naysayers told me I was making a mistake.

    Just know you are not alone…many families flip out. Remember that this is going to change you for the better if you let it, and even when times get rough in China know that your family was not right in telling not to go. Rather, you just have to weather the storms abroad and you WILL have a whole new world opened to you. Families or other people may feel uncomfortable with things outside of their comfort zone, and so they judge it. And they may judge YOU for being open to new things that they are afraid of. Also, many families stick together and remain strong even when people are abroad. I can understand that people will miss you, but no one should make you feel guilty for pursuing your dream. Please avoid feeling guilty, their feelings are their responsibility, you have the right to live your life in a way that makes you happy. Stay strong in your decision and have fun!


  55. Maureen Burchell says:

    My husband and I moved to Qatar in 2007 for a teaching post and now four years later we are still living and working abroad. We have been to Thailand, Egypt and are now in Nigeria. I have learnt to close my ears to the protestations – especially those along the lines of ‘its about time you got your head out of the clouds and your feet back on the ground and started to act like an adult’ – we are about to be grandparents for goodness sake! – and those around our safety – ‘you will be kidnapped’ etc …. you have to live your life for yourself and fulfill your own ambitions! The things in life we regret are only the things we dont do! Enjoy China and smile and say ‘we’ll see’ to those who want to stand in your way emotionally. I am so glad we made the move we did and have never looked back!


    • Nat says:

      Dear Maureen,

      I am really interested to hear your experiences in the countries that you taught. I have also been teaching abroad and would like to hear your experiences in Africa, especially Nigeria.
      If you are able to correspond with me, my email address is natalianavah@gmail.com


  56. Julie says:

    I had this experience as well, when I took a job in Italy. I think that sometimes people need to learn for themselves. I can say after three years in Italy that it was not a good choice financially or socially. I did learn a lot including a new language. However, I learned why my relatives left Italy long ago for the US. I have learned to appreciate things in the US. I used to think that grass is greener, but now I know it isn’t. Sometimes you need to learn these things yourself. I would say that your family does care about you, and there may be a lot of truth in what they say. You may like it, you may regret going, but it is your life to live.


  57. Dana says:

    My husband’s parents have been very supportive and have come to visit us wherever we’ve been. My parents were a different story. They didn’t understand why we’d want to live half way around the world, but they respected our decision. My mother has even come to visit us several times and now that she’s done international travelling on her own, she’s not daunted about doing it at all. We go home every summer to visit and we spend all our time with our families when we’re home so that helps to bridge the gap. Now that we have kids, it’s much harder because they want to see their grandparents and cousins and vice versa. We’ve been living overseas for 10+ years now and we’ve decided to go home for a while to give our children the chance to know what it’s like to be Canadian and be closer to family. I know we will one day head overseas and by then, our families will not have to go through adjustment period again.


  58. Carol says:

    The kind of jingoism you are experiencing is exactly why my husband and I left the U.S. It’s a great, big, beautiful world out there full of wonder. Why on earth wouldn’t you want to explore that wonder?


  59. Sheree says:

    I am single and I got the same thing. I mean who wouldn’t be super excited for a single person to get to travel the world. Instead I got guilt-tripped because my parents and grandparents are getting old. I’ll miss my nieces and nephews childhoods, I will be all alone with no place to turn, what if the Russians kidnap me or some terrorist…” I got all of these questions and many more. I just think it was naivety or jealousy which drove those people to say that. I am the happiest I have ever been and I think some people are afraid of change and some people are afraid that you will be happier there and that will prove that the US isn’t the best place to live for everybody. I just tol them that I love them but it’s my life and I have to make my own choices be them good or bad.

    The sad thing, I am on my second contract here and my family has not stopped telling me what I am missing back home and that they can’t wait until I’m home even though I haven’t given them the inkling of an idea that I would return at all.

    Good luck with that one. I know it is hard when you love them. My mom always taught me to love myself and look out for my own goals in life.


  60. Jeff says:

    I got a little of this when I decided to move overseas with my family (wife and young daughter), but not to the extent it sounds like you’re experiencing. The best advice I can give is to not let what you’ve been hearing get into your heads too much. Like one of the comments above mentioned, you need to be in a good headspace when you get on the ground because there will invariably be challenges and frustration. It really does take a while, longer for some than others, to adjust and be able to roll with the punches and enjoy the new culture.

    It might also be good to explain to your friends and family that their attitudes toward your decision are disrespectful and that what you really want is their support and to enjoy these next few months with them before heading overseas.

    I moved to the middle east and I definitely got some funny looks and comments before I left. “Why would you want to go THERE!?” I think my neighbor back in Florida is still convinced I’m living in the middle of a war zone (not even close) and that I might be blown up or kidnapped any day. You can’t do much to change the preconceptions and misconceptions of people, but you can live and enjoy your life the best way you see fit.

    Have a great experience! You have earned it!


  61. honour says:

    Leaving home and family can be hard for them and you, especially the first time, but we all need to cut the apron strings sometime! Family relationships are very special and you need to try and reassure them that it’s not them, or your country, that you are wanting to ‘leave’ but that what you are doing is engaging in an ‘adventure’ that will enrich your lives and theirs. Yes, it is a hard thing for you to do – leave home comforts and the known – but the expereince will enrich you as people and make your relationships with them stronger and richer in the long run. My grown up children were left behind by mum and dad when we went overseas to teach and our relationship has blosomed and matured because of this in ways we never imagined. We are more ‘present’ now when we are together (or skyping)and value each others experiences in ways previously hindered by the generation and ‘parent role’gap. Their support and understanding from afar see us through difficult adjustments we have to make from time to time and our support and understanding work for them back home too!


  62. Been there..... says:

    I agree with everything above. I too went to China (at the age of 57), albeit on a one semester contract the first time and it was absolutely the best thing I did.

    While many sites (Face Book, e.g.) are blocked, for a nominal cost you CAN access Skype (international phone service through your computer) and talk to them every night if you so wish. This may reassure them.


  63. Roundtrip says:

    I have learned not to share my plans with family until after I’ve already made the decision and moved toward whatever I’m going to do. When I was in my early 40’s, I decided to buy a farm in the mountains. I was single at the time. I made the mistake of “asking” my parents what they thought, and they almost collapsed. Why would a single school teacher want to go up into the mountains alone and buy a farm? Well, I did it anyway, and those ten years turned out to be the best in my whole life. Your time in China will not be without hardships and you may question your decision (or sanity) after a few weeks, but it’s not for life. Keep a journal, make friends, keep your sense of humor, and just look at every day as an adventure. You can always come home after a year or two and you’ll have incredible stories to tell throughout the rest of your lives.


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