Can’t Wait to Get Back Overseas

Hello International Schools Review. I’m an American who just spent my first-ever year overseas. I’m back in the States until mid-August and have to say, reuniting with my own culture in terms of having experienced life in another culture is a real eye-opener!

I’ve been teaching in a Latin American city with a somewhat European feel. I love it! Strangers greet each other with a “buenos dias” as they pass on the sidewalk. They smile and wish each other “buen provecho” in restaurants. There’s a standard level of decorum, civility, kindness and politeness I’ve not experienced in my homeland. Most assuring, there’s a welcoming attitude extended towards foreigners (that’s me). All this is in sharp contrast to the divisive sociopolitical atmosphere of alienation and mistrust I’m feeling right now in America. I find myself always feeling an edge of anxiety while home for this summer.

Never before have I seen so many prime-time TV commercials touting drugs for anxiety, depression, insomnia. I can see why! Yesterday, for example, I pulled out in front of some guy in traffic and he went ballistic on me, yelling obsenities out the window, flipping me the bird, all over something so insignificant. I wondered: Maybe he can’t affored his meds? Could he have a gun? Is going to take his private griefs and anxiety out on me because I was just the last straw before his breakdown? In my Latin American “home,” a driver would’ve just nodded in understanding and waved me on. But not here.

Then there’s the sudden proliferation of TV lawyers asking: Have I been in an accident? Have I slipped and/or fallen at work, or been discriminated against because of my age, gender, sexual orientation? There seems to be an entire army of lawyers ready to make anything and everything that happens to me someone else’s responsibility — and make money for themselves by doing so. They are at once contributing to, and a result of, the adversaries we’ve become.

Has it always been like this in America? I think not. Or, maybe this divisive atmosphere crept in so slowly and imperceptibly that I subconsciously adapted and accepted it as the status quo of life in the US? In any case, the atmosphere now makes me anxious and, at times, sleepless. People here, including myself, are seriously on edge.

I could go on and on but the point is, I’m so happy to be going back overseas this month! I’ve found something better, at least for me. I’ll be an International Educator for years to come and at this juncture in my life I will probably retire overseas.

Anyone else have the same realization after going overseas? Have you remained overseas? I’d love to hear about the transformation other educators have experienced going international.

Please scroll down to participate in this Discussion Board

 

 

23 Responses to Can’t Wait to Get Back Overseas

  1. Michael says:

    You hit the nail on the head, and even after only one year overseas! Congratulations, you’re a quick study. But I don’t think a lot of what you now find anxiety generating is really very new. For example, check out the lyrics to the Eagles song Get Over It, released in 1994 – they use a famous Shakespeare quote “Let’s kill all the lawyers” to respond to the proliferation of lawsuits and victimology infecting society. It’s just that you can now view the culture in the USA through a different prism, which is next to impossible to do without living abroad for a while. Tunnel vision creeps in and people are blinded to the fact there are different ways to live that are not so stress inducing. My friends just don’t understand how easy it can be to be happy overseas. The don’t get it when I point out the fact that over 95% of the world’s population does not live in the USA and most have vastly different cultures and norms. It’s hard for them to understand how you can live having to give up things they feel are so important, like an seemingly infinite choice of food in the grocery stores and flushing the toilet paper down the bowl. Bottom line is I feel expats have a greater appreciation for the simpler, higher value aspects of leading a happy life.

    Like

    • Julie Henderson says:

      Hi Michael
      Well stated….we need to open our eyes a little more to appreciate what really matters, and to the beauty of what there is on this planet. Travel is the key to learning and appreciating just how enriching we can make our own lives.
      I can’t wait to head off!!
      Julie

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Mate,

    I read your post with amusement and sadness. I understand where you are coming from – the culture shock of returning home can be just hard or even harder than the culture shock of initially moving overseas for work and life!

    One thing I found moving back from Dubai to London (apart from the obvious in climate) was having to be much sharper about being out and about. In Dubai, I would walk around malls, other areas with my bag open, I could sit in a coffee shop by myself and leave my phone, wallet and bag at the table while I popped to the loo or went to another shop. A couple times I dropped a receipt or something like that walking out of a supermarket, and an Arab man running after me saying ‘Excuse me Sir, you dropped this…’ Guys would have wads of dirhams loosely in their dish-dash or regular shirt pockets, I would do the same of just having cash with me stuffed in my shorts pocket. I never locked my flat, or if I did I’d forget the key! Even so the security guards all had keys and would laughingly say ‘why lock your door?’

    This is certainly not the case in London, and it took me a couple months of my partner snapping at me to do my bag up, or to make sure I’d locked the house up correctly before leaving for the day and so on.

    Like

  3. Jackie says:

    Ha ha, agree, I am reintegrating after 5 years in China 🇨🇳 and Vietnam 🇻🇳 and am finding loneliness here in the US but also friendliness and kindness, so nice to be in Anglophone cultures for more than 3 weeks (US and Canada 🇨🇦)

    Just finishing walking 18 holes in the PNW, fresh air!

    Enjoy the good about overseas but also be willing to celebrate home again someday!😎🤩🤩

    Like

  4. Jj says:

    Absolutely identify with this and yes, it crept in slowly there but is on quick acceleration the last few years. Every thing you said resonated including the driving rage, fear of being killed by gun violence in public places, pharma drugs for everything, and lack of civility. You are definitely not alone in feeling relieved to be away. I went home for 3 years so was there to witness this current unfolding of events. Of course there are lovely people and places to see there! Nobody is questioning that. But yes, it’s a sad commentary that so many people are stressed, unhappy, uninsured and afraid of their own shadow. Let us appreciate our ability to be in a profession that has given us the freedom to move on! Health and peace to all…

    Like

  5. Marvel says:

    I’m American, home once again for a few weeks this summer. I’ve been ready to return to China since my first few days home. What’s bothered me the most is how emotional people get when they drive. For some drivers, it’s a personal attack if you happen to pull out or merge or need to get over in the next lane. We’ve also noticed a lot of thinly-veiled bad attitude in customer service jobs. I’m not saying that never happens in China, but at least my Chinese is bad enough that I don’t know about it.

    Like

  6. Kathleen Polly says:

    I left the US six years ago and have not been regretting it at all. Yes, I’m a citizen but. I don’t miss this rat race. And it is a race. A race for things and who has what. This includes medical ailments, or whatever a doctor deems your problem to be. This is a country that has it all, but can’t seem to see that! People here are angry, depressed, beaten down and more. The people in power do NOT care a lick for the majority. I’m thrilled to return to Belarus. Yeah, there is a cold exterior, but underneath it they are warm, friendly, and giving. They have welcomed me and allowed me to have a good home and workplace. I am thankful for that.

    Like

  7. Barbara Lam says:

    Not quite 2 years ago I took a teaching position in Kurdistan, Iraq- Scheduled to fly in 2 days afer trump (nor capitalized on purpose), started his travel ban on Muslim countries. How do you think I felt arriving to the Erbil airport not knowing what I as an American would encounter. Going through customs I was asked if it was my first time in Kurdistan (yes), and then with a smile I was welcomed.
    My school suggested I keep my US heritage to myself and to tell people I was Canadian. When (we all know the answer), did we as Americans have to be ashamed of our own country?
    Last year I started a job in Kazakhstan (a Russia escapee), and there the US has become a joke. I can only imagine the ribbing I would have gotten if I had been there during the whole trump/Putin shenanagins.

    Like

  8. goneagain says:

    I first left the US over 20 years ago. I went home for a few years and returned abroad a couple of years ago. I don’t hate America. It’s a great place, just like the country where I live now which the natives leave in droves. Just like every country I’ve lived in and visited, most of which have people STILL clamoring to migrate to the US.

    There are pluses and minuses to every place and to say that one country is better than another (including better than the USA) is just as backwards as the American who has never left the US and thinks that no country can compare to it. No place is all good and no place is all bad. Some places are better for me and other places are better for the people who leave the places I want to stay.

    As for the anti-anxiety meds, class-action lawsuits, and accident injury lawyer ads, they were there before you left because they were there before I left.

    I was having a conversation with an old friend of mine this summer who was visiting the US. He’s from a Western European country but lived with my family for a year when he was in high school. These days he often travels for work to the Asian country where I now live. He can’t stand it. He asked me how I put up with it. I love it. It’s my second stint in this country. There are bad days, of course, but if I were living in paradise, there would be days I wish I were someplace else, I’m sure.

    Enjoy the place you are, but understand that the expat life is usually better regardless of where you are. There will be some locals who think you are an idiot and will be offended by your pollyanna attitude about their country where they live the reality and want you to acknowledge it’s faults.

    Like

  9. Kevin says:

    But…America is the greatest country on Earth, just ask an American who has never lived anywhere else, they’ll tell you. Two summers back home in the US, and twice…after seeing my people and enjoying some unique regional delights, I couldn’t wait to get back out into the world. Americans have been sold a bill of goods that keeps them scared of everything and each other, thus allowing those who are willing to exploit that fear and division the ability to profit mightily. Not for me. I prefer to live where the people around me are also enjoying their lives, and feel a bit of stewardship and responsibility for the health and welfare of their neighbors.

    Like

  10. Jan says:

    Twenty four years ago, I went overseas. I have never looked back, I have been respected and treated well .

    Like

    • Umut Karzai says:

      Hi Jan, I went overseas 19 years ago and have been treated in the same way plus I’m in a tropical paradise with a beach less than an hour from my apartment. Why freeze back home and deal with all the crazy things going on when you can make good money, be respected and have tropical weather at the same time..

      Like

  11. Mandi says:

    Looking for the Mandarin teaching job!

    Like

  12. Julie Henderson says:

    OMG thank you so much for this post. I have been struggling with trying to justify to myself and others around me, why on earth I would be so wanting to get the hell out of what Australians have dubbed ‘the Lucky Country” LOL! We don’t have as many guns as the USA to be concerned about but what we do have is an extreme emergent of a culture that promotes how to ‘take as much as you can from the next guy no matter how vulnerable or what impact that may have, and go for the highest position of power that you find, by whatever means necessary (legal moral or otherwise) to ensure that you are ‘wealthier, more powerful, and that everyone seemingly loves & admires your ‘success’….when in reality they actually fear you. I am heading O/S early next year with the opportunity that ITA will give me to live and work abroad so I can find my soul again, and be amongst real people who value the joy & beauty of the immaterial over power, wealth, status and materialism. And where people say Hello to you because they want to, not because they want to take what they can from you!

    Like

    • Trish Bland says:

      This is so so true! When people ask me when I am coming home to Australia, and I reply, “Never”, they cannot understand why. The thought of returning actually gives me anxiety!

      Like

      • Julie Henderson says:

        Hopefully Trish it will only be a visit for you back to OZ. As soon as I get a few things behind me here, I will be heading off. And I will be leaving the horrible anxiety I feel now long behind me. My good friends will visit me O/S anyway. Can’t wait!!
        Cheers Julie

        Like

        • Umut Karzai says:

          Hi Julie and Trish, I’m American not Australian, but I understand , where your coming from and I was away from the U.S. for 6 years then I went back for a month on vacation and after 2 weeks I wanted out of my country ASAP. I stayed the whole month, but when my plane left the ground a felt a feeling of relief and I could hardly wait to land in my real home and start my life again having had my life on hold for a rotten month back in my birth country!! Where I live now is my country that is why I make a distinction between where I was born and where I live now! People in my birth country think I’m crazy, if I am crazy I hope to stay crazy then deal with the insane life in America. NO THANK YOU!!!

          Like

          • Julie Henderson says:

            Yes Umat, there are positive & negatives no matter where, I acknowledge that, but my main issue is really about living standards, not in the material sense but in what is the reinforced Norm or acceptable standards. Materialism and power are not what I strive for! It is really sad to see what people do to each other to achieve that! I think I will experience something much more positive in my new home, having spent quite some time there over 3 previous visits. So excited about the forthcoing adventure!

            Like

  13. Gladys says:

    You read my mind! I’m also visiting family during the summer holidays and have definitely noticed the onslaught of ‘Big Pharma’ commercials, which take up 30% of a one hour show. The USA Boomer population is rapidly aging as more and more advertising for assisted living, health aids and whatnot. There’s an undercurrent of anxiety, and worst of all is the social and economic divide. Add on insane living costs ( East and West coast) —what’s not to love?

    Like

    • Umut Karzai says:

      Gladys, You are, so right!! I only go back to the states every other year. My family comes and visits me in between my visits. I refuse to subject myself to the crazy conditions in the states every year. My sister was just hired by my school and will be teaching overseas for the first time this year. Our parents are selling their house and moving to a beach community one hour away from where me and my sister work! They have all experienced living in my adopted country and have decided that it is crazy to live in the U.S. where my parents were paying through the nose for everything and my sister decided that I had made the right career move, so now she will be teaching biology and chemistry just 3 classroom doors down from where I will be teaching English literature and History this year.
      This is why more and more teachers are leaving the states for much better lives overseas. With my help my parents got retirement visas and my sister has a work visa and in 3 years will be able to get her permanent residency visa like me. We’ll go back now and then to visit relatives, but living long term back home isn’t an option for anyone in my family and it is so nice to have them so close at hand now. I encourage anyone who is stressed out back home in the U.S. to check out becoming an expat especially, if they are a person with experience as a teacher come in the water is fine.

      Like

    • I hadn’t been back in the USA in almost 4 years and I would concur with the original post. Lots of ads on TV concerning drugs and lawyers looking for perspective injured clients.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.