Why I Went & Stayed Overseas

airplane20129981Friends & family are convinced I’ll be moving back to the States any day now. But after this, my 12th year overseas, I’m sure to disappoint them again. I’ve accepted a teaching position on the continent of Africa. So…not this year, not next year & not for many years thereafter will I be moving back “home.” I know this is hard for some people to understand, unless of course you’re like me.

The question everyone asks is “WHY?” Their usual inquiry goes something like this: “Why don’t you like your family/friends/hometown life?” “Is it seeing new places & meeting new people that keeps you overseas?” “You must just love to travel.” “Do you like trying new, different foods?” “How many languages do you speak?” “What’s your favorite place?” All good questions but they miss the true essence of why I’m overseas.

What I most thrive on living overseas is the feeling of freedom. Maybe it’s because as a foreigner I don’t intrinsically sense the societal restrictions of a particular culture & as such, experience a strong sense of freedom. When I’m overseas I’ve escaped the tangled web in which my own culture traps me. It’s a web of endless bills, mortgages, car payments, pricey medical insurance & extraordinarily priced medical care, materialism, consumerism, never-ending taxes & a subtle sense of alienation from my fellow citizens. I’ll call this web the “grind.” The “grind” is not for me.

Overseas, instead of the “morning commute” I suffered back home, I walk to school. The walk can be an unpredictable, exciting experience of camels in the road, colorful motor rickshaws, aromas, smiling faces & interesting architecture. There is something newly intriguing every single day & combined with the sense of freedom, the overall effect can be elating.

Life overseas can take on a depth that just does not exist for me in the U.S. It’s a state of mind. It’s an emotional state. It’s hard to put into words, but I wanted to put this thought out there for comment by other ISR readers to expand upon. Why do YOU stay overseas?

48 Responses to Why I Went & Stayed Overseas

  1. archecotech says:

    Reblogged this on Life in Russia and commented:
    Wow, I couldn’t have said it any better. I suspect this is a reason many expats live outside the U.S., isn’t it amazing how much we see once we’ve escaped the rat race?

    Like

  2. Anonymous says:

    I am now working at a truly international school- only 2 American teachers and students from 50 countries. I truly love learning how other people think and it sometimes makes me love the U.S. ,with all its weaknesses, when they aren’t naming us for every wrong in the world- They are only right about that half the time.

    God save me from the Common Core and schools that care more about hiring a teacher they can control than one who knows what they doing- i tried to go back, but no one wanted a teacher with a masters and experience.

    It isn’t illegal to hug my students or have them over to my house for an extra study session.

    It isn’t all roses. India has very little good cheese- or it costs a fortune. I fly back to every country with chocolate chips. I don’t really celebrate Xmas anymore because I am traveling. Yikes- those long plane flights.

    i love my students, my work, and my adventures- and you are right- no one understands why we love it. I think lots of us never fit in in our home countries and I may not fit in any better here, but at least I really am an alien here, so the outside world fits my inside feelings.

    And yes, I worry about retirement with no pension and few contributions to Social Security.

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    • I like your comment very much. You are right – a great percentage of the teaching jobs available in the U.S. are only truly open to new teachers without experience, because of budgetary constraints on hiring imposed by school districts.

      The bureaucratic constraints on what teachers can do are also enormous. Navigating all of those can be ultra-frustrating.

      Another teacher I met here in Queretaro is tri-cultural and holds three passports – French, American, and Mexican. I asked him where he felt most like an insider. The perhaps predictable answer was, “Nowhere!”

      As you say, if like my friend, like me, and like many of us, you are going to feel like an outsider everywhere (because you care about things that most other people do NOT care about), then at least let it be in an environment where your variance from the norm creates the minimum of hassles for you. No one in Korea or Mexico has expected me to be anything like a native, or even to truly understand what that would mean. Hence, I am free to be myself, and I’m not disappointing anyone by doing so.

      At home in the United States, if I try to be myself, I am violating every norm there is, possibly even the LAW, and I am disappointing everyone. It got old. We have really backtracked from the brief heyday of freedom and non-conformity of the Sixties and Seventies. We have repudiated all of that.

      “Diversity” in the U.S. is such a sham. You can be diverse as long as your diversity is window-dressing, and you actually desire the same things that everyone is supposed to desire. (The surprising progress of the gay marriage issue has to do with the fact that desiring marriage is conventional.) Try desiring something else and letting that be known, and see where it gets you!

      Remember the wise words of e e cummings: “To be nobody-but-yourself —in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else — means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.”

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  3. Curtis Lowe says:

    After initially going to teach in Bogota in 1990 for a few years single I finally returned to the USA in June 2012 with a beautiful family. My 22 years on the international circuit was an enlightening and wonderful journey. In every place I/we lived (5 countries total on 3 continents) there is something still dear to the heart about each place.The only thing that kept me (and my family) from staying permanently overseas was grandma and grandpa…and the fact that I was approaching my mid-50’s. What kept me/us overseas all the years was the stimulation of the cultural melting pot. Another compelling factor was the respect I was given as teacher in each institution I taught. I know I was blessed in this regard as there are many schools out there where the teachers don’t feel this. Nonetheless, we are very content here in the USA and our transition couldn’t have been any smoother. Still there are more than a few nights sipping wine when my wife and I think…geez we miss our maid, our 2 hour long $20 massages, the free tuition for the kids, the beach vacations staying at affordable 5 star hotels…I better stop I may end up at the Search and/or ISS June job fair! LOL!

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  4. Anonymous says:

    I completely agree with you. I loved teaching abroad in Brazil and many other countries. I was fascinated by something new everyday and daily life was always interesting, whether it was monkeys in trees, random strangers on the metro, and drinks after work with teachers from all around the world. Now I am back home in Ireland and life is very predictable and I am bored!!!!!! I thrive living amongst different cultures and yes I agree it allows freedom from all the traps and stereotypes of marriages, mortgages, kids etc and society in general. It truly does, I was at my happiest living abroad

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  5. JerseyHerr says:

    As a U.S. Citizen you are, of course, still obligated to pay taxes, so… How do you feel about supporting a system that you’re only barely still part of, since you’re not physically present to drive on roads your taxes paid for, etc. etc.?

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    • The Foreign Earned Income Exclusion for 2015 is $100,800. Trust me, none of us international teachers who are American citizens have to pay any federal income tax. The law was written to benefit bigwig businessmen, therefore we REALLY benefit from it. Since it’s one of the few such financial and taxation laws that actually turns out to be to my advantage, I’ll take it!

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  6. Hank Gizzard says:

    Thank you so much for echoing many of my own thoughts. I work at a Japanese “International School”, I put this in inverted commas because it really isn’t an international school by any objective criteria, yet the experience is awesome. The kids are great, my fellow teachers are nice and the fact that my son lives in the same town makes the bad bits tolerable. The pay is lousy compared to back home in Australia, but my son is here so it’s worth it. The holidays are barely 35% of those I’d receive back home, but my son lives here so it’s worth it. I only get 2 paid sick days per year here, compared to 20 back home in Australia, but my son lives here in the same town I teach so it is worth it.

    There’s more to life than money, and since my little boy lives right next door to me, I’d do it for free, just don’t let the f***ers at my work know this, or else they’d make me work for free!

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  7. Anonymous says:

    Thanks very much for the post! Yes, I agree with 100%. I have worked abroad for 15 years in 4 countries and I know exactly how you feel. I have now tried 3 times to resettle back in my home country, but I am unable to secure a job and the same old routines are just frustrating. I am more employable overseas than I am back home. But I fully understand the freedom one enjoys abroad. For some reason, you cannot achieve the same back in your home country. I enjoy the peace and quiet of my own home and being able to enjoy the cultural environment around me and doing the things what I love, also seeing new places, meeting new people and spending time together. These experiences are just priceless! I look forward to my next adventure abroad, in China where I have taught previously.To all fellow globetrotting teachers like myself, keep enjoying the journey abroad, wherever you are!

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  8. Just kickin' it! says:

    What a great post! I have no intention of ever returning to the ‘west’….never. Yes what you said about the grind is so true in many of our home countries. However, teaching internationally is a lot of work, but I suppose that’s the trade-off, and its one I think the vast majority of us are more than happy to make.

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  9. Anonymous says:

    I agree with all of the above. I loved the freedom of teaching overseas. I was dragged, kicking and screaming all the way, back to the us after a decade abroad. I am depressed and unhappy here. Everyone send me job ads with the best of intentions, but I just see becoming a “wage slave” again. My wife just couldn’t wait to get back. But I can’t wait to get out of here again. I’ve burned through $20,000 in savings in just one year and I live like a pauper. There is nothing like the freedom of living like an expat. It is positively addicting. Time to polish up the old resume. I’m ready to head out again.

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  10. Andy says:

    Great comments and provocative thoughts! I have just gone back to International education and the gypsy life aged 60 after 25 years of mortgages, office politics and endless red tape and taxes in the UK.
    My life has now been whittled down to three large suitcases and a succession of house sits and pet minding all over the world in the school holidays. Where is my base? I don’t have one. Do I have a lot of money stashed away for the future? Just a very small pension. Am I fearful for the future? Not a bit! Each moment of each day determines the next moment. If you live in fear then the next moment/hour/day etc is likely to be fearful. Do my children understand me? Probably not, but in the end that’s their problem. I love them dearly and see them every year but the ‘common’ ground soon runs out after a few days back in the UK.
    I love the succession of new challenges and experiences that are thrown up every day and I feel truly alive and mentally, spiritually and physically fit for my age. Would I recommend this lifestyle to everyone? Certainly not. You have to be a certain type who is independent, gregarious, endlessly adaptable but most importantly you have to conquer fear for the future and guilt about family pressures. This is just my experience and hopefully hasn’t come across as gospel! Good luck to all international educators and adventurers and here’s to the open road of life, learning and freedom!

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    • wendy perry says:

      How do you find pet and house sits during the vacations? Or do you mean you house/pet sit for people you work with. I had a petsitting business in the states and loved it. I would love to combine that with travel during breaks!

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      • Anonymous says:

        Hi Wendy
        Try trustedhousesitters.com
        Ask some friends to give you references on your profile to get you started. You have to be totally trusted to get the assignments.
        Cheers! Andy

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  11. Gillian Gibbons says:

    Yes it isn’t just the travel and the experiences, I really understand your letter. I felt alienated and constrained too. Now I feel much more able to be myself. Unfortunately, my age will eventually force me back ‘home’ although I am heartened to find my colleague above still working at 70. I have nothing against my home country, I do miss my friends and family, (who are generally offended by my choice) but when I return for a holiday I find myself being confined and constrained in a way that is difficult to express. It’s more than the taxes, the petty mindedness and the weather!
    Thanks

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  12. Anonymous says:

    I also prefer living overseas. But it has been very difficult to meet a spouse unless you want to marry a local national. I have been trying for 10 years! For men it is often helpful to marry a local national but if you are a woman it is not helpful in many cases. Friends have said, “Oh but in Country X there are so many men from your home country.” Well yes it may be true but they are all going for local national women. They do not want to marry someone like me.

    I will soon make the decision to go home because i do not want to spend my life alone. Maybe I will be lucky enough to find another teacher to be my partner and they will want to live overseas? One can always hope.

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    • jlhilleary says:

      I don’t know your name, but I know your feelings. I too was in your situation. I was divorced (while alone overseas) when my then-husband decided not to join me oversees after we decided jointly to make the change. Once I was on my own I felt free and grew so much on my own- my first time alone ever. On my own for 10years also, I dated inter-culturally too. I’m American and had significant others who were Iranian, Scottish, Turkish, Azerbaijani, American oil expat (not the same as a non-expat American).

      In the end it wasn’t that I couldn’t find a partner for life, it was the life I would have would have had challenges I didn’t want to face forever, neither feeling at home here (protecting my foreign spouse) or there, not fitting into his family very well.

      I loved (still love) the international life, living free, paying dual taxes (shrug- no dual tax treaty where I was), learningnew things everday. But in the end, looking very far down the road, I decided to come “home” at 50 to seek someone who gets me, who shares the same history and common touchpoints (9/11, JFK, Pearl Harbor- these are unique to us).

      For my remaining forever, I wanted to not be alone in my shared relationship the way only someone from my own culture could be my other half.

      What I did NOT realize however, was that being from Texas is still a foreign mindset from DC. So in a way I am still a fish out of water here, I married again 5 years ago to a local guy who has never lived overseas and never wants to. (It’s a good thing I like him a lot, because those were near deal breakers.) I had to choose which parts of my life were to be front and center going forward and which parts would remain for conversation with the special company of expat groups and blogging buddies.

      So you can be bound in a foreign culture or a home culture. You can be an expat at a new location at home and still be exotic. You can find petty expats who have settled into the Gin & Tonic every afternoon and live only to shop and play backgammon; you can find them at all locations. You can be a fish out of water on the beached of the world or in a new community. One does not preclude the other.

      I wish you lots of luck, and hope your repatriation goes netterthan mine. If I only knew then what I know now, as they say!

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  13. rod stuart says:

    I am getting on a plane in one month for probably the 20 year end of my wonderful international career. At 70 I got a good run with Seoul, Cairo, England, Sapporo and finally 8 years in Taichung, Taiwan where age is not an issue. Nervous about the cost of my health insurance and my wife’s who at 57 may have to pay as much as $400 a month. No more interesting restaurants at least twice a week but a good selection of great beer and wine that we can afford to drink every week. Clean air and libraries full of as many magazines and newspapers that I can read. Book, books, and more books to look at and the sounds of my native language that I can understand and say hello to strangers because I know they can speak my language. Exotic vacations probably over until my wife gets her pension and we understand how much we have to pay in state income tax. Food cost probably not that different from our 11 summers in the Gorge but not much of a selection of tropical fruit all year long. Back to cold in the winter but I love to snowboard! Probably not so many third culture people to talk to and that is probably why we will eventually have to live in Mexico or Viet Nam 3 to 4 months of the year. Still nervous but hoping for the best as it is a strange new adventure to go back to my own culture!

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  14. Guadalupe Pina says:

    You definitely covered all the bases! My late husband and I left the States three years ago with the intention of never moving back for the exact same reasons. First the UAE now Cairo. I’ll be heading to my next post alone as my husband passed away last year. Will I return to my home country, to my family my children and grandchild? No, I can’t afford to do so. Moving back to Florida would be financial suicide. Here overseas, I have healthcare, housing provided either free of charge or with a housing allowance. Travel to work now is in a bus with someone else at the wheel, surrounded by colleagues all headed to the same place, in an environment where we can talk, snooze or just zone out. And we get to watch the show that is the Ring Road in Cairo! So, move back to the States? Not anytime soon. I’m here to stay on this side of the Atlantic for good. Though where, who knows? My children understand my choice to live abroad. And that’s all that matters.

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  15. Niki Underwood says:

    So true! I couldn’t have put it better myself. I feel completely free living overseas and, at this stage, have no desire to head back to Australia. And, although I still love my home country, the sad fact is that I no longer really fit there anymore.

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  16. Anonymous says:

    After being schooled, as all westerners are, in the wonderful accomplishments of ancient Greece in philosophy, government, science, etc., I remember being stunned one day to learn that civilization maintained one of the most intensive slavery operations in history. Overnight it lost its luster for me.

    I had a very similar experience working in Dubai. It took me about a year to realize that the insane spectacle of the Gulf cities couldn’t exist without a foundation of modern slaves doing the drudge work.

    In fact, everywhere around the world I have worked has a somewhat similar story. I realize that as a long-term expat teacher I am paid, housed and benefited much better than the locals, I am somewhat insulated from host-country justice, economics and culture because of my status as a foreign guest, I can cross borders much easier than most because my heritage is irrelevant to local politics. I am forgiven for my naive assumptions about free speech and human rights because I will be gone in a few years and I’m no threat to local order.

    I float across the world freely and carelessly like the froth on beer. This is a great feeling and terrific if I can sustain that life a long time, but I realize I will never be part of the beer.My existence is atypical and surreal and I don’t share all that much with the rest of humanity. Am I, in fact, avoiding much of my humanity?

    It can only end one way, of course. I will have to get down into the grime and struggle of normal human civilization and do pedestrian things like pay taxes, vote, commute, serve on juries, get along with my neighbors, I may stomp and whine and miss my old privileged life, but in the end it was never sustainable. And if I have to do this when I am old and set in my ways, so much the worse.

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    • Gillian Gibbons says:

      I understand what you are saying about the froth on the beer. However, I have never worked in a place where I am treated better than locals. All of the parents who send their children to my school earn far more than me, have big cars and fly to New York or Dubai when ever they feel the need. True there are many underprivileged families in this area but aren’t there in all countries including our ‘home’. Freedom of speech and repressive regimes is another issue but if you think we have those freedoms back ‘home’ just look at what is going on in the UK at the moment, and incidentally, I do pay tax and do not consider myself privileged. I must be working in the wrong country!

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  17. Daniel says:

    I simpy could not have said it better myself. That is it! My wife and I left the US in ’97. We go home for visits but we LIVE abroad. Daniel

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  18. Taiga Shipley says:

    We left UK and then Australia to teach overseas and have never looked back. We visit our home bases regularly but love the freedom of different countries and cultures. Both our daughters were brought up as third culture kids and only now are living back in their birth country….and loving it. We are now off to our 8th international posting and looking forward to it. What a great life!

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  19. Joe says:

    People are always baffled when I tell them I felt such an amazing sense of freedom living in China for a number of years. Your article nails it. Very well written.

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  20. Kathleen says:

    Well I have read all the responses and have to agree. My husband and I retired from teaching in the States. We have had issues here in Mongolia. Never in my life would I have thought I would be here. The kids make teaching a joy again. That was beaten out of me in the States. Yes, I will be staying here for another year. After that who knows. The internation staff isn’t always the friendliest, whereas the locals are wonderful and friendly. We do like it here and look forward to more time here!

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  21. Anonymous says:

    I think you expresed the reasons very well.As soon as your feet hit the floor in the morning, in good old North America,the bills start rolling in.Alienation, of course.More so if you return after a stint overseas.Finding a friendship group can be difficult.While going overseas you establish friendships immediately.Put all the interesting and attractive things aside, one does have a lot of freedom overseas.Even some cultures that may themselves quest for NA style freedom,as they know it, may not realize the little things they have.Sometimes just even being able to buy a cold beer in a corner store and drink it on a park bench or on the street is alluring.Try that in NA and you would have flashing blue lights around you in moments.Ultimately the fact that you have excellent standards in most schools overseas and children that, for the most of it, motivated and behave are main drawing points.Why worry about poor attendance issues, students thinking the can roam around the corridors all day,dealing with those who don’t hand in assignments and then having a school board telling you you cannot give a zero for no work shown.What may be missing,when comparing the two, is the protection of a teachers union.Teachers have been let go uncermoniously and poor administrators/owners can have their ways without worry of contact disputes.

    Otherwise,life is good.

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  22. Tom says:

    Started 27 years ago, left a small town in MN that I had lived in for 27 years. Like many my family sent me job openings for the first few years and then realized that I was never coming back. I have often told them that if I had a job somewhere outside on MN and had a job where I had a two week vacation I might not visit them in that time period. But with summer vacation I am able to spend at least two weeks with family and friends and still have more weeks to either stay or go somewhere and visit other friends. My wife and I also have a home in Florida that we are able to go to every summer(and winter if possible) which keeps us in the flow with the USA(mortgage, utility bills, house repairs….) The other great thing about being an overseas educator is that being a teacher is a great job and all the other great perks of being an overseas educator really makes it a bonus above the teaching part.

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  23. erik says:

    I get it.. I ‘ve been back in NY for 2 years and all I think about is leaving out again. Where are you going in africa?

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  24. Anthony Loveday says:

    I deeply appreciate the blog post and the comments as well. I’m fairly new to the overseas teaching life (just finishing my 2nd year in Seoul) and have experienced everything described. The newfound sense of freedom from drudgery, more financial stability than ever before, and just a general sense of excitement regarding the fact that I have no earthly idea where I’ll be living 3 years from now. At the same time, I’ve also had moments of profound loneliness and existential despair (“Where is home?”, “How will this all of this moving around impact my ability to form lasting relationships?”, “Is the itinerant life intrinsically more or less meaningful than one rooted in a single place?”). It all comes down to the words I vividly recall my head of school telling me when I accepted the job here: “You’ll never regret it and it’ll be one of the most interesting experiences of your life.” You’ll notice he didn’t say it would be one of the most enjoyable experiences, because it hasn’t always been that. But on balance, the overseas life is the one for me for at least another 5 years, perhaps longer. Thanks for the thought-provoking post and comments.

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    • Anonymous says:

      You will never regret it, you will never be the same and your life will have been more meaningful, definitely!

      Like

  25. Narda says:

    My husband and I have just returned to Australia after 12 years teaching overseas. I miss the freedom and the new experiences everyday. For us it was a combination of reasons, family being the most important. Now that we are ‘settled ‘ here we are gettin itchy feet and longing for the life we left; the amazing community with other expat teachers, the great connections with locals despite there being no common language,and the excitement of taking a trip to somewhere every single school break!
    For us, now in our 60s it’s harder to find contracts, but i think we will give it another go. Why would governaments not allow teachers with the most experience visas. Don’t get it!

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  26. John says:

    I agree with everybody! (especially the over 60 issue). I left Canada in 1981, though not for teaching and have been outside of Canada longer than I was in. Twelve years of international teaching brought me to 60. Fortunately, I had put away most of my earnings – I had already learned to live cheaply and free of “stuff” accumulations – so now I’m back in the place I originally moved to and still, by the grace of God, living cheaply, for the last three years, in an expensive place, and not much hope of any pension. Paid trips “home” got me in the habit of visiting Canada each year and I’m still happy not to live there. I haven’t yet been able to go back to the desert or Africa, but I’m in a warm place and only missing the camels. My advice to the younger ones: Don’t blow all your money.

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  27. Jon Cristofer Miller says:

    I would still be teaching abroad – and still look for opportunities – but many governments have decided that older teachers become incurably incompetent the instant they turn 60. Enjoy the experience while it lasts. ###

    Like

    • I’ve known this for a while, which is why I’m transitioning into remote freelance writing and editing work and only keeping a few private students. Private language academies are sometimes a little more forgiving of age, but the pay and working conditions are generally bad.

      The great thing about freelancing abroad is that assignment pay that would look like nothing much in North America goes a LONG way in many other countries. Compare making $2,000 USD per month in freelance pay in the U.S. itself, where you’d be squeaking by on that at best, and in Mexico, where you’d be living quite well.

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    • Not Dead Yet! says:

      I understand completely. I turn 60 in August, but my husband is 68. While I was offered a contract to stay at our current school on the Middle East, he was not. Back in October, the thought of not being on a classroom next year literally brought me to tears. Today, I am totally psyched about our new home ( in Fl, yes, I’m being a cliche), and our new lives closer to friends, family, grandchildren, etc. The only countries offering us jobs at our ages either didn’t pay enough to make it worthwhile or had local health insurance that would not cover us while traveling or visiting the U.S. during the summer. So we will retire, volunteer, sub, tutor, and live life on our terms.

      Good luck to you, and for everyone else out there who is being put out to pasture in favor of people right out of grad school who have neither experience nor content knowledge but who are young and cheap.

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  28. Freebird says:

    The idea is tempting…..but living overseas also has a price. You remain isolated from friends and family and unless you have family with you, it can get very lonely. I was always torn between two worlds, but finally returned to be close to my Mom. No doubt, life can be better overseas, even in the Middle East! I never worried about money. However, I luckily found a spot here in the states that is unpretentious and lovely.

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    • There is truth in what you say, although each person’s issues in this area are so different. I’m single and have barely any family, and I’m happy to keep up with friends remotely. So I’m not missing much by not being in the U.S. I do feel that it is hard to make true friends in other countries, but fortunately I am good at amusing myself. And I’ve got my pets. I have noticed that a surprising number of international teachers keep pets even when it may be somewhat impractical to do so because of travel costs and the like. The companionship that my animals offer is worth the world to me.

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      • anonymous says:

        Like patrickmurtha, I have taken up writing and free lance work, with the difference that I’m living back in my home country, and it does not stretch far! Overseas I missed the professionalism of teaching and educational leadership communities, and now that I’m back I miss the freedom abroad, some of the local educational concerns actually seem very parochial!
        But the opportunities do dry up as you approach 60, the bones start creaking and for the first time you might start worrying about health. I’m very impressed by people have been able to stay international successfully forever!

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  29. Shirley Chu says:

    It’s the experience that kept me going to new places. This will be my 19th year away. I haven’t given a thought to where home was but where I make my home next. I will be moving on again end of this academic year and is looking forward to making the next place home. I do not belong anywhere anymore.

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  30. isbergamanda says:

    I also appreciate the freedom mentioned in the original post and the affordability of living overseas (currently in Venezuela where everything is super cheap for people with dollars) mentioned by patrickmurtha. The affordability issue is especially important while I’m paying off my grad school loans!

    However, the main reason I have stayed overseas for the past five years, and the reason that will probably keep me overseas for the rest of my career, is that I am very CURIOUS. I love finding out about new places. I love learning what people eat, what music sounds like in different places, and what dating is like in my host culture. The world is a big place and I want to see and learn about it as much as I can!

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  31. got the T shirt says:

    The grind is not for me either. I was a zombie on a treadmill living in the States. Seemed like I was working just to pay my bills. At the suggestion of a good friend I got registered with ISS and low and behold found myself a job in sunny Spain. I’ve never looked back. I’ll be staying overseas for many years to come. I, too, feel so much more alive overseas. Back home is about more and more of the things no one needs. I’ve been out of the country now for almost 15 years, saved a bundle, done some incredible things enjoyed my life to the max. Will I return to the States? The older I get the more the answer becomes no.

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  32. I agree with everything you say, and I would add that I like living someplace warm and affordable where I do not have to own a car, all of which is true for me here in Queretaro, Mexico. I first “went international” in 2010 with a one-year gig in Changwon, Korea, and since then I have been in Mexico (Culiacan and Mexico City before Queretaro). This August, I will be eligible for my Residente Permanente, which means that I can stay here for good, and that is my plan now at age 56. Most of the news I have heard from family and friends in the U.S. for the past five years has been bad, with many stories of unemployment, financial stress, and lowered standards of living. Going back holds zero appeal for me. Where in the U.S. could I pay $240 / month rent to live in a furnished, pet-friendly apartment (I have three cats and a ferret) in the heart of one of the most beautiful and historic cities in the world?

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    • erik says:

      You have confirmed my exact thought s and feelings. I’m not as free as I will be in a few years. Once my son is out of highschool…

      Like

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