Revisiting Pandora’s [Travel] Box: Expats Living Abroad

February 7, 2014

My mind wandered to all of the cliché European images I would see once we were expats living abroad. For me, abroad meant Europe. Dominican Republic never crossed my mind. Isn’t that an island people vacation to and book all-inclusive packages for? That isn’t a place where people actually live and work, is it?

expats living abroad

Turns out… it is.

It also turns out that I owe many thanks to this misunderstood island, a land that is much more than all-inclusive hotels and vacation destinations:

My children were born here.
It has given me the opportunity to live my dream as a writer.
I have met lifetime friends here.
It has allowed us to live the life we wanted.

Moving here made us realize that we made the right decision coming abroad and opened our eyes to the possibilities of it all…

Months ago, I wrote a post called Pandora’s [Travel] Box that resonates with a question I was asked recently:

Would/ would you not move to another country after this?

I find no reason to write another response since this one tells it quite clearly:

See, the teaching abroad life, in it of itself, is Pandora’s Box – a beautiful container with mysteries inside that curiosity pokes at you to open. It’s appealing. Mysterious. You think you shouldn’t open it but it entices you. Nature of the Beast calls to you and beckons you to take a look inside – just a quick peek – and then close it back up. But what that beautiful box doesn’t caution you is that once you open it, there is no going back. There’s no way to put all it’s belongings neatly back in the box and tuck it away under your bed. It’s out. It’s too late.

Such is the expat life abroad.

Husband and I made the decision to go abroad before we knew we were having Rafaella. And once we found out about her, the decision was harder to make but make it we did. After all, we could always leave after his two year contract, we could always pack up the box and go home.

Silly mortals…

Rice Fields in DR

As we enter our third year, we discuss endlessly without doing any planning, where our life will take us. We try to stay adult and responsible in our ideas like how we’d like our next move to keep us in a Spanish speaking country to continue raising bilingual kids. Ok, so, Argentina, Chile, maybe Peru? And we try not to let our own teenage wanderlust ideas get the best of us: Let’s live in Brazil to experience Carnival or Germany for Oktoberfest? or How awesome would living in Costa Rica be where we could teach by day and surf by sunset? (I think we know whose wanderlust is whose.) And what makes the discussion – the potential decision – so knotty is the same thing that makes it so gnarly – those endless possibilities.

Fried fish in Dominican Republic

Damn you, Pandora and your box and your seductive ways with your temptations of beautiful cities, and historical landmarks, and crystal blue oceans, and expansive mountain ranges, and cultural differences, and beautiful people that speak different languages but have the same heart and the same center. Daaamn you!

Dominican Baseball

Dominican Neighborhood Baseball Game

There are so many things to see and so many experiences to cross off that once you get a taste of life abroad its hard to imagine living a full life in one place. I want to drink café au laits in France while writing my novel. I want Husband and I to continue our tango lessons in Argentinian brothels, the seedier the better. I want my kids to eat Bratwurst in Germany and climb mountains in Peru and walk Great Walls in China. And since we are not yet millionaires (visualize, visualize) and can’t afford to just travel to any corner of the world, the most affordable way to see these places is to live & work in these places.

Since we have opened Pandora’s Box we have realized that we aren’t the only crazies that have itched to travel the world like this. There’s a whole gaggle of us. Some young, some old. Some single, some married. Some with kids, some with none, some with three! And we have realized that the kind of education we want for our kids isn’t only the kind they will receive sitting in a classroom. So for now, there’s no going back. This lifestyle that offers so many perks and too many opportunities is impossible to pack up and tuck away. Our Pandora’s Box is open.

And I see no reason to close it.

Las Americas Highway, DR

    1. Thank you! I remember where I was when I thought of that metaphor and I told my friend to send me a text message with that phrase. She was like “What?” Just send it, I said. haha. once you have a taste, it's a hard thing to go back on.

    1. Thanks Samantha. I find that to be a hard choice now as well. So many places and so little time. I wish I could call it bravery on this end, it was more fear. Fear that if I didn't do it because I was pregnant I would never do it and then fear that I would blame having a family for never having done it. It ended up being the best choice we ever made.

    1. What a great metaphor. It's so true, isn't it. I'm trying hard to resist the temptation (mortals!), but hardly know what to do with myself if we don't keep on with expat life now that we have a taste for it.

    1. So many places… so many choices… so hard to choose. You know, I really admire your bravery, jumping into a whole new world when you were about to bring a new life into this world. I can only imagine how much more interesting/challenging that would make expat life!

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