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Monday, August 20, 2012

Top 10 Things I Didn't See Coming...

August, 2012-Lovenia Leapart  

When I decided to move abroad:

1) That I would change my mind so many times about what country I wanted to go to.
Yes, research is important, but it can also be a double edged sword given the many, varied, and conflicting pieces of information out there about what it's like to teach and live in different countries.

2) That I'd actually get to the point where I'd be totally fine with not knowing what country I'd eventually end up living in.
When I first made the decision last fall that, Yes! I'm ready to finally allow myself the opportunity to live abroad! - There was only one place I was seriously considering, and that was Hong Kong. Briefly, I considered Indonesia, and then it was a close race between S. Korea and China, with China making the winning offer in the end.                                               

3) That the recruiters would be almost more of a hindrance than a help in my job search. And that I’d eventually land a job without the aid of any recruiters. There were only 2 recruiting companies that I knew about when I began my job search and for the first few months, my job search consisted of looking only for more suitable recruiters.  The idea of finding a teaching job abroad on my own didn't even cross my mind at the time.
4) That almost everything that could come up to nickel and dime my savings would lay in waiting until just the right moment when it would be able to compete with the things I would need to prepare for my move abroad. A state tax bill cropping up from a filing 2 years ago, my desktop computer catching a virus that cost $$ to get rid of (just when I was starting to get offers for Skype interviews), then 6 weeks later an electrical storm blowing it out despite the surge protector (the computer was given to me, so maybe it wasn't in the best shape to begin with), the battery on my laptop gasping its last breath, having to buy my mother a new washing and dryer for her the new place that she had to get because of my moving abroad due to my brother deciding to flake about doing it, movers paid by the hour who worked as slow as molasses due to the 100 + degree heat wave during the weekend of my move, and an apartment manager who charged me (albeit, a relatively small amount of cash) a day of additional rent because I didn't turn in my keys Sunday (the day my lease ended) by 5pm, and turned them in on Monday morning instead.

Then I saw these 3 little guys singing by my doorstep…
Ha! Just kidding!  But I did hear a quote that went something like this – “Everything will be alright in the end, and if it’s not alright, then it’s not the end.”  And that kind of put things in perspective for me…

5) That more people would think what I was doing was cool than would think it was crazy.
I was genuinely surprised and extremely pleased and heartened by the support and encouragement I received by virtually everyone, including my more conservative/cautious family and friends.

6) That my Mom would be as supportive and encouraging. Though she never said one word to discourage me, she seemed to feel more resigned about the move then happy about it at first. But in time, she really grew to become pleased by the idea, proudly telling folks, "My daughter's going to teach abroad." whenever the opportunity arose. And during those times when I got discouraged and began to doubt my decision, she stepped right up and offered the encouragement I needed to get back on track.

7) That I'd go from allowing myself to make this decision purely for financial reasons to making it from almost an entirely intuitive standpoint.
At first, the justification for allowing myself to considering going abroad rested purely on the potential for financial gain. I thought, how else can you justify doing such a thing at your age? But in time, an internal transformation took place in me as began to see a deeper, wider scope of possibilities in this decision, and it allowed me to understand that if moving abroad was something I felt deeply compelled to do, that I didn't need justification.

 8) That in planning and preparing for this journey, this adventure would make me feel so young (not that I'm old mind you, but I haven't felt this kind of nervous optimism since graduating college umpteen years ago). So many things about the experience of making this move abroad came about were so brand new to me, and the process has opened up what seems like a whole new world of opportunities I might explore that I'd never even thought possible for myself before. The exhilaration of that fills me with this profound kind of wonder and a new sense of adventure.
9) That fears and insecurities from days and jobs past would rise up to the surface whenever things advanced in a positive direction towards this actually happening. It freaked me out at first, made me back away from an opportunity that in retrospect would have been fine for me to accept. But this life is all about lessons and as long as I continue to remain willing to face my internal challenges, I know that God will continue to give me opportunities to work at overcoming them - hence, the opportunity that is resulting in my move to China!

10) That in recognizing said fears and insecurities and plowing ahead anyway, I would come to understanding that I wouldn't have been able to do it, if I hadn't already had experience in doing just that. Meaning, fears never go away, but the more you push through them and move ahead despite them, the easier it becomes to do it. Just like ANY worthy skill in life, the more you practice something, the better you get at it.
Besides, like they say,

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