Friends & 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?