Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Transitioning to a New Home-Our Lives Are An Open Blog

Hello! Right about now we're probably eating some fresh sushi, indulging in some Okonomiyaki drinking some Asahi and enjoying Japan with Jeremy's family...I can't complain. This is Jeremy and I's second time to Japan and we've loved this opportunity to explore the country a little more!

So filling in for me today is the sweet Alex from Our Lives Are An Open Blog. I love hearing from other expats and their transition to their new home. We all have such unique stories and perceptions and I feel that so much can be learned from each other about this experience. So whether you're moving to a new country, or just visiting a new place, I know that these lessons will come in handy!

Go check out Alex's blog where she talks about life, love and the ever changing life of an expat. 


Aloha to all the lovely readers of Lost in Travels! I am so excited to be taking over Chelsea's piece of the web while she is off exploring for the week. My husband and I write the blog Our Lives Are An Open Blog {emphasis I write and he inputs}. 

Since this is an expat blog and we are recent expats, I wanted to talk about our transition from  Georgia to Hawaii and now South Korea. Throughout our journey, Matt and I have learned a few things that I thought would be good to share for those looking to start traveling, or maybe just curious to see the process we went through.

{Matt and I on our honeymoon in Vancouver} 

Make Travel A Priority: If travel is what you want to do then try to find a way to do it. When Matt and I were dating we constantly talked about our future, and traveling was part of that future. After we got married, we decided to move back to Hawaii to finish our undergrad degrees. This was a huge step for us because we were newlyweds, and we were moving so far away from our families. Plus, Hawaii is really expensive and we were really poor. But it was this sense of adventure that kept our priorities straight. I feel like if we had stayed in Georgia, close to our comfort zone, our desire to travel would have been put on the back-burner. Matt and I are constantly trying to take advantage of every opportunity we have to travel. It's easy for life to take over, and we get to busy to remember to travel. But if you love to travel- go do it! Even if it's a quick day trip down the road- travel is travel.

{At our college graduations

Forget The Timeline: One thing I have learned over the last few years is that everyone is on a timeline. Every timeline is different, and that is okay. I used to stress myself out because I would compare myself to my friends and what they were currently doing in their lives. I have a close friend that just finished her master's degree from Columbia, another just had her first baby, and don't get me started on my old lacrosse coach that spent a year traveling around the world with her husband! 

What is important is that you are comfortable with your timeline. Try not to compare yourself with others. If you want to take a year to travel- do it. If you want to do a study abroad, but you're afraid of pushing back graduation- do it! In 2009, I pushed back my graduation to go to London to study abroad.  In 2010, I did it again when my grandma was diagnosed with breast cancer and I wanted to stay and help with her chemo. I graduated about a year and a half off schedule, but in that time period I started dating Matt and we were married at the end of 2010. If I had been worried about sticking to the so called 'standard timeline' who knows where I would be now. Timelines are important, but they need to be your timeline- not your parent's or friend's or society's.

{Laie Point - Our backyard in Hawaii} 

Be Careful Of Advice: Parents and friends really have our best interests in mind. (Or so I hope.) When Matt and I were planning to move to South Korea we got tons of differing pieces of 'advice'. We had people that supported us completely {thanks parents}, and others that thought we were completely crazy. I had a doctor straight up tell me I was probably going to get bombed while in Korea. {Thanks Doctor... exactly what I want to hear right before I move to a foreign country.} 

This is what I have to say about advice- take it lightly. Matt and I always try to listen to what everyone has to say and then we make our final decision based on all the evidence that we have researched, what we feel is right, and then maybe what others say. I can honestly say never in my adult life have I just blindly listened to what my parents told me to do just because they said so. That is part of being an adult! So when you are thinking about travel and you're throwing ideas around- listen to what others are saying, but make sure it's just added information. Don't let others decide for you.

{Suwon Fortress} 

Go With A Contact: This was the number one factor with us ending up in Korea. When Matt and I started researching teaching overseas, we read horror story upon horror story about people getting pretty much screwed over by employers/ landlords/ ticket agents/ you name it we read it. When we were in our last semester of school, some good friends of ours were going through the process to teach here in Korea. They had put a $1000 deposit on a place when they got news that school was shutting down and taking their money. This really freaked us out because we wanted to teach overseas, but we didn't want to get taken advantage of. {I mean who does?} 

So we started reaching out to friends of ours that could help us. We were pretty lucky because we went to an international school. We had neighbors from Samoa, Tonga, Hong Kong, Thailand, Korea, and Tahiti just to name a few. A good friend of ours from South Korea talked to one of his friends and within the next month we both had signed contracts. It is because of our friend that we have the jobs we have now. We picked Korea because we trusted our friend and the person he set us up with. If this is possible for you I would totally encourage it. Many universities have programs set up for you to look into. I know our school of education was always looking for teachers to go overseas. Our advice is to try to find a program like that before you try anything else. 
* Note: Don't do anything without a signed contract! 

Don't Be Afraid Of Change: This is a big one for me. It was hard for me to leave my teaching job in Hawaii. I had a pretty a good set up and if I stayed another year I would have had tenure! But every time I've had a major change in my life it's been worth it. Getting married was a huge change, but that worked out great :) Moving to Hawaii was just as good. Change is scary, but it doesn't mean it has to be bad.

{At Seoul Grand Park visiting the zoo} 

Last little tidbit- Do Your Research: This has been key with any trip Matt and I have taken. Become mini-experts in the place you are planning on going to. This will help with the big and the small things. It will help keep you safe, and it will things run a bit more smoothly. I find that Matt and I fight bicker less when we have researched more. Plus, the research will help you sort through all the 'good' advice that is being thrown your way.

I really hope these pieces of information give you a little more insight into our journey, and maybe even helped a few of you out. Travel is an exciting experience, but it is not one that everyone always understands. But I firmly believe, if you are true to yourself everything will be okay.

Thanks for reading, and I hope to see you over at our little home. I would love to hear from y'all.

Thanks again Chelsea.

Much Love- Alex