Cameron’s first trip abroad was eleven years ago, 2006. He went to Hong Kong, Cambodia and Thailand. That trip started Cameron on a journey that would take him to the teaching profession, his loving mistress Russia, and eventually, the establishment of this Team. When we planned our Christmas break, we didn’t really intend it to be some sort of retracing of steps, but with a week in Bangkok in early January for a recruitment fair, it kind of naturally happened.
We like trying to make room in our trips for going to new places together. This time, it was Singapore for both of us, Cambodia for me. One of the most interesting parts of doing this trip was for Cameron to see the differences between what these places were like eleven years ago, when he first visited, and now. We are definitely different people, but the places we go, even years apart, only become more familiar to us and strangely, we feel very “at home”, or close to home, in many, many places.
We are somewhat sad to bring our time abroad to a temporary stop in June when we leave Korea and go back to the United States so I can take care of some unfinished business: namely, getting USCIS off my back once and for all, and teaching what I really want to teach. We will be moving to Hawaii (Oahu specifically) sometime in July. So it’ll be like going back to the US but not really, as continental US and insular US are very different. Tourism and the military also mean that there is lots of transient people in Hawaii, so that helps. People are used to others coming and going. We fully expect some reverse culture shock (we’ve heard numbers around the 8-9 month mark to start feeling like you can actually feel the ground under your feet) but will do our best to invest in being in Hawaii and not have our heads wrapped around the bad parts for too long.
Our return to the US is open ended for now. Right now we intend to go back out and teach abroad sometime in the future. We don’t know when. For now, we are looking forward to our time in the US, the comforts of home, no language barriers, and to living in an island with more “island-y” weather.
We are excited for:
- Tropical weather! Much as we love four seasons, we are very much looking forward to sun, beaches, and shorts-and-flip-flops weather all year long.
- Island living: we’re all for a slower paced lifestyle where it’s not go-go-go all the time. We miss that about the Dominican Republic.
- Legit grocery stores! – the availability of foodstuffs is key to my happiness. I spend a lot of time cooking, and love to feed people! Having options for food is exciting.
- Affordable options for harder to find items – certain foodstuffs, like cheese, are expensive in this part of the world, because they’re not part of the staple diet of countries like Korea. We are very excited to live in a place again where we can afford things like cheese and cereal and fresh berries in reasonable quantities considering what you pay for them!
- Efficient services – banking (although banking in Korea has been a breeze – I have no complains!), healthcare, roads where people know the right of way…
- Real bars – no fuss places where you can sit down and have a drink without too much going into it…relaxed dress codes, that kind of thing.
We are feeling a bit of trepidation about:
a) Teaching in the US – neither of us has actually taught in the US so we’re not familiar with how things are done…we’re just wondering how it will go with standardized testing and unions negotiating contracts and parents who may or may not be involved and what kind of home environments our future students will live in and all of that. And then there’s of course, the issue of guns…inevitably, we have to think that by going back to the US, and working as teachers there, we’re moving to a place with A LOT more guns than where we live now, and that means one of us could be in danger at our place of work. School shootings are a reality regardless of the grade level. That’s incredibly scary.
b) Paying taxes again! State AND federal…oh brother.
c) Possible work commutes – it’s still early to know whether we will find a place that is a middle ground between our jobs. We’d love to, because we’d like to only need one car, or maybe one of us being able to take the bus to work.
d) Not traveling as much – yes, we’ll be in Hawaii and there won’t be a need to take a beach vacation for example, but our travel potential will be significantly reduced. How to feed the travel bug in the years to come will be something we’ll need to figure out and it will take some time. It’s also going to be pretty expensive to travel to most places, because Hawaii is really not close to ANYTHING.
e) Not connecting with anyone/having trouble making friends/meeting people – living abroad changes your perspectives, and we’ve found that sometimes people who haven’t lived abroad simply don’t get it, through no fault of their own.
There’s definitely more we want to tell you about our Christmas holiday in Cambodia and Singapore (and pictures to show you!). Those will come at a later time. Maybe our next blog rename should be The Insular Gregors…we do have a thing for islands – Oahu will be the third island we live on!
More on the move when it starts to take more shape…for now, we have a very busy school year to finish!
Cheers to our third island (with a Mai Tai, of course – haha!)