133 | International Teaching Lifestyle Decisions (Christine & David)

International Teaching Lifestyle Decisions with Kids
Explore the journey of a family turned expats through international teaching in our latest podcast episode. We'll discuss their adventures, challenges, and invaluable insights through the decision making process on where to live and the lessons from living in different systems. Tune in now for an inspiring tale of cultural immersion and educational exploration!

Our guests today are parents we met at a playground in Alaska.  Our lives intersect through many similar interests and after a 2-hour parking lot conversation, some time together geocaching a beach day with swimmers itch and swapping favorite RV stories we decided it would be great to have them on the podcast.  Originally from the Fairbanks Alaska area, Christine and David today align with International Teaching community with placements in Jamaica, China and Guatemala. Join us as we talk through how they navigate us through their adventurous lifestyle at various stages of life with kids.  

Key Takeaways

  1. You can find your people you just have to look for them.
  2. Not all adventures in your lifetime will be planned or obvious next steps.  As Christine stated she immediately deleted the initial email telling them about international teaching. For David it was an opportunity to explore an underlying desire to have a deep experience in a different country. International teaching could be a door into that experience.  Not just the drive by experience of a vacation but more immersive day-to-day life in another country.  
  3. What are the daily lives and daily struggles of ordinary people in other countries similar or different than in America?  It was a curiosity that drove David to dive deeper into other countries where they might live and work as a family.  Vacation in his eyes to these places felt like a drive by understanding of these people, countries and cultures.  
  4. The criteria used to establish which countries and schools made the most sense for their family included the travel distance, time zone they would be living in, and primary language which filtered many of their results down to South and Central America along with the Caribbean . They felt these criteria allowed for a soft landing for a first-time experience as opposed to being in other parts of the world.  
  5. International schools have a large role and taking responsibility to help settle the family in.  However some things like your first visit to the grocery store.  The expat teaching community were a great resource in the transition as well. 
  6. Easy and hard are relative terms.  There is no “right” age to adventure with kids, each stage offers different opportunities and challenges.  
  7. Following their 2 year leave of absence in Alaska they came back to what they thought was an ideal experience, only to realize they now identified as international teachers and were much more aligned with that over the Alaskan experience.  
  8. Having to teach online (at night due to the difference in time zones) in China they realized they had a really weird life.  Eventually they embraced the weird and decided to live in the RV and travel North America.  They followed the blue whale migration (unintentionally) to Baja California, East to Washington DC, South to Mississippi across to Spokane, Washington putting on over 18,000 miles to not only see destinations but also the people they wanted to reconnect with.  
  9. I empathize with her comment that when you have the location and time freedom to go anywhere, it is really overwhelming to figure out where to go, because there are so many amazing places.  
  10. Sometimes you realize after the adventure is over that it was classified as Type II fun, where it’s fun after the fact, but in the moment it’s hard. Looking back it produced a lot of fun and interesting stories and also the realization that we did it. 
  11. People may have an Instagram version of what living in a motorhome is like, but there are many more variables that are difficult to process or adequately put into words to help others understand the intricacies of our life. Living in the motorhome especially on opposite schedule to what everyone else was living allowed us to see a completely different version of our own country.  
  12. The thing that made the transition to Guatemala successful even though it was incredibly hard was that they had built such a strong foundation as a family following the years abroad in Jamaica and the time in the motorhome.  There is a level of empathy that your family builds living in a small space.  
  13. Sitting down and defining what really matters in the midst of everything being thrown at you was critical step in moving forward.  Once you have been a members of so many different types of systems and you are exposed to different benchmarks, you get to evaluate what goes on the top.  Being comfortable in one system creates blind spots and assumptions to others perspectives and experiences.  
  14. David Challenges us to think about the ,but… scenarios like what the carrier of retirement and healthcare.  What if you didn’t retire in the US?  Additionally Christine leaves us with the thought of Yes, and thinking allowing two things to be true.   It’s easy to think something is good and easy when it’s comfortable.  Challenging yourself to think through why something is comfortable what you are missing because you are stuck in your comfort, is really important to consider when considering a more adventurous path.  

Additional Resources mentioned in this episode
Placement agencies: Search Associates. Regional Agency for Central and South America Schools: Amisa
Geography Now YouTube Channel: Bite sized videos to help expose their kids to different countries around the world
Metrics of Thriving mini-course
Downloadable Joy Audit Tracking Form

Where to Listen

Apple Podcast, Spotify, Stitcher,  Google Podcast, anywhere podcasts are played