Have you ever made a big change in your life, thought you were ready for it, really ready for it, and then been completely blindsided by something in the process? This happened to me (and my husband too) in the process of moving overseas.
We understood the common transitions we would be facing:
- Deciding you want to live abroad
- Finding out you will be moving overseas
- Preparing for an international move from the US
- Adjusting to life as an expat in another country
- Living your life abroad with the everyday stressors of your new country
- Preparing to return to the States
- Transitioning back into life in the US
The process itself was a long one for us- figuring out where we wanted to live around the world, applying for these open spots, and then waiting, and waiting, and waiting some more, before deciding on Lima, Peru.
The next step was preparing our family for the move. There were new language classes (in which our then four year old asked if our dogs were going to learn how to bark in Spanish too!), the logistics of our house and car and household goods. There were also the questions and long conversations with those families already living overseas:
- What’s the best part? The traveling, good housing, the great schools, the family oriented culture, other Americans in the community, etc.
- And the negatives? Frequent earthquakes and traffic like you’ve never seen before in your life!
On the day we left San Antonio, Texas for Lima, Peru, we actually felt prepared, really prepared (you can laugh! I’m laughing now!). When we arrived, after midnight in Lima, after three separate flights and two layovers, we received a warm welcome. No luggage made it, but that was okay, as we’d experienced that before on domestic flights in the States. (However, after two days of wearing the same clothes, we weren’t feeling quite as forgiving as we were upon our arrival, and we quickly learned that the pace of life in Peru was much, much slower than what we were used to in the US).
On that first night, as we were leaving the security of the airport and starting the hour long drive to our temporary house, the places and things I saw out of the window, were places and things I’ve never seen before in my life (and I’m pretty well-traveled). It looked like a war zone from the movies, including dilapidated buildings and mangy dogs.
At one point, my husband and I both looked at our kids (ages two and five at the time) who were sleeping between us. We made eye contact, and without saying a word I knew we were thinking the same exact things, “what did we do?!”
Have you ever been in that situation? We can laugh about it now, but it was definitely not a fun place to be in at the time. All the prep time, the hours and hours of conversations and emails with people overseas, and not a single person thought to tell us the most important thing upon our arrival- that the airport is located in the worst, most violent, most dangerous part of town! But, this is only one small section of the city that we grew to enjoy on this new and exciting life journey. We took a chance that changed our lives for the better, and this story/memory is now part of our family history from our time overseas.
I love the book Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed because she does something so different from the norm- she doesn’t just hike the Pacific Crest Trail- she hikes it alone! (And who does that, male or female, right?). I love those big life adventures where you start one place in life, and end up some place so different, and not just physically, but mentally, emotionally and spiritually too. You come out a different, but somehow better, version of yourself. All because you took a chance and did something different from most everyone else out there in the world around you.
That’s what happened after our rocky start in Peru, after that first night and many other overseas adventures, we all returned to the States different, yet somehow better people.
So, what’s one chance you’ve always wanted to take in your life, but fear has held you back? What would it be like for you to face your fear head on, and take that chance in your life?