When we tell people that we’re spending a year abroad, the typical response is – that’s....crazy. However, I’ve found response means different things for different people. In the first group are the people who think it’s crazy awesome – as in, what an opportunity! In the second group are the people who think we’re crazy - as in, you’re totally nuts.
Me – I bounce back and forth between both groups. Don’t get me wrong; mostly I fall into the crazy awesome group. I mean – why else would we be doing this? But some days, I start to think – what the heck have we gotten ourselves into? I start to think about all the things that need to get done, how little time we have to do them, how hard this is going to be at times, and so on and so on. Really, when it comes down to it, I am a world class worrier, and this has given me LOTS to worry about (see list of panics above).
So, you may ask, why ARE you doing it then? My trite response when people ask is that this is my mid-life crisis. I received tenure last year, and I’m turning 40 this year. I’m the kind of person who always looks for something new and pretty much every 2-3 years or so since college, there’s been some major change in my life (starting grad school, getting married, having a kid, moving to Michigan, having another kid, moving to Massachusetts). But since we moved here in 2004, nothing; no major changes. So I’m ready to shake things up a bit; not too much though as we love where we live and want to raise the boys here. A year abroad, then, fits the bill.
But on a deeper level, both Doug and I really want to experience life in another country, particularly in a culture not like ours. I’ve lived abroad in the past (in London for a semester), but that wasn’t much of a stretch. This will definitely be a stretch. I don't know where this desire comes from, but it's there, and my mid-life crisis is telling me that it's now or never. The boys are old enough to remember this, but young enough that pulling them out of school for a year won't mean social Siberia when they get back.
And that brings us to the most important reason for doing this: Quin and Berkley. We really want our kids to experience life in another culture, to get a sense of how others live and how they perceive us. Right now, their perceptions of life are entirely framed by what they see around them (and so they dream of ipads and mansions). By changing their frame of reference, we hope to broaden their horizons.
I’m certain that this trip will do all that and more. Let’s just hope that in the end, we don’t go crazy before it’s over.