Wish I was there . .
My passport is ready and I can be packed in minutes.

04 January 2007

Some thoughts for the New Year

This is the first year that I haven't made any resolutions or come up with any great thoughts on how to improve my life for the future. I'm still reeling from the impact of my latest life changing decision and haven't decided whether I have made a mistake. For such a planner, I am at a loss for the future.

For the past four years, PH and I have been talking about a move. Although PH has a great job, it's not what he wants to do forever and I really dislike Florida (I know - surprise, surprise!) Our initial thoughts were to move North to New England. It would be closer to my family and I miss the change of seasons. Then after a few vacations, we began entertaining the idea of trying to find a job overseas. At first, it was just fantasies about winning the lottery, quitting my job, finding a good nanny, and moving to the Alps. The talk became more serious as we volleyed around ideas of how we could earn a living. No, we're not technology people, international business people, or military. And between the two of us, we speak some basic french and one of us is fluent in Norwegian [not a very useful language in most countries - sorry Renny :)]. Still, we are educated, with advance degrees; there must be something we could do overseas to earn a living.

PH and I were in the same line of work - law. I was working part-time to be available to parent our new children. Decent pay, great benefits, and part-time with something I had done for years. PH is a partner -- great salary, great hours but he is ready for a change. With the talk about moving, we decided that I would go back to school, take a few classes so I could work at a lower paying job that put me on my kid's schedule. I went back to school so I could teach. I never expected it to be easy but we thought it would be easier to find jobs once we moved if we weren't in the same business.

So, we had a plan. I'd change career. It would be better. It would give us options. Only it hasn't quite worked out that way. I'm working for a private school that is going through an administrative change. Because of the upheaval, parents are currently running the school. Not literally, but for all intens and purposes, they are calling the shots. I have been screamed at and insulted; I have had parents barge into my room ten minutes before class starts demanding I change my lesson plans; my credentials have been questioned; grades are changed upon the demand of parents. These are parents who would have never dared talk to me this way before I became their child's teacher. There is some assumption that because I have "lowered" myself to teach that I am fair game for attack. Additionally, the school does not have a mentor program and no one else is teaching the classes I am teaching, so there is no collaboration. Also, there is no set curriculum; other than asking other teachers what they have done in the past, I am responsible for developing my own curriculum. I have been told this is not a typical "first year" teaching experience.

I know I don't have to do this forever. I keep reminding myself this is for us to get out of here. I only have a year and a half left, and then I can start looking to move. But more and more, I'm realizing that it is not likely that we could both find jobs overseas and support ourselves. Today, I received an e-mail from a well meaning expatriate that sums up my fears. The e-mail discussed the average teaching salary, the tax code, the cost of housing, etc, etc, etc. What's the likelihood that two people, one who speaks only a smattering of french and one who is fluent in Norwegian, will find jobs in a foreign country? And not just any jobs, but jobs that will allow them to support their two young off-spring? Jobs that will not blow their saving that they have worked the last ten years to accumulate?

So now, I wondering why I'm sticking with a job where I am treated badly and I'm not sure if I even like it? If we're just going North to New England, why not just stick with my original profession? Did I make a giant mistake in changing careers? And at what point, do you have to grow up and become realistic, and give up on the idea of moving to the Alps?


Sunshine said...

Wow, that sucks big time.
You don't even seem to have the "light at the end of the tunnel" thing going for you as your future plans are not concrete. That would be the only thing to pull me thru that scenario, knowing the end is coming and exactly what it is.
My first thought is that if you are truly miserable in your current situation, you need to make a change somehow. Because the time you do have with the kids, they are going to get your "unhappy" vibe.
Maybe you should think of a move to New England with the possibility of an eventual move to Europe, perhaps later when the kids are both in school and your daycare expenses are eliminated and the routine having older children is easier?
You're in a tough spot. And I'm not giving advice, I'm just thinking out loud as if you were telling me your tale of woe while we were out for lunch.
But, you're clearly thinking out all your options while maintaining stability for your entire family, you'll figure out the best solution!
And I've gotta say, I think that situation at school sounds dreadful!

RennyBA said...

I know it is easy for other to say, but you should follow your heart and your gut feeling. My wife always tells me: It works if you work it, so work it, your worth it!

Btw: I don't think I have said it before... if so, I mean it: Happy New Year to you and your family:-)

Expat Traveler said...

Can you do anything with international law somehow? Corporate law? Corporate anything, council, corporate (insert law and another word here)...

But I so know what you mean! After getting my TEFL, I went through the same thing. I question what you question through tutoriing because the students treat me like a piece of dog you know what...

Maybe there is more - Check in Geneva - see what types of jobs the y need there...

Environmental something??

I'm just fishing for something to help you...

But also look at some of the jobs in the lake Geneva area for private schools - what do they need?

trying to get the brainstorming flowing again...

Hang in there: and I'll pray you get cooler weather.. ;-)

EuroTrippen said...

I know what it's like to live life in america feeling you'll never be 100% happy where you are and with what you're doing. We were lucky, my husband works in the semiconductor industry, so heading to Europe was relatively easy.

I know you've seen me talk about the good & bad of being an (almost a year now) expat. Overall, I'm glad we did it and I'd encourage anyone who has the desire to relocate here to do so.

We took a bit of a pay hit moving here, but really I don't notice much of a difference in the way we live. Still plenty of money for the basics and enough left for travel.

So I guess my advice would be to not give up! Maybe put it on hold temporarily, but don't lose sight completely. I think the benefits are endless, especially for children, who are exposed to a whole new way of thinking.

Megan in Munich said...

It's hard to find the right words of encouragement because I never actually planned on ending up in Europe, it just happened. I came over with no plans, not sure if it was a visit or permanent, and sort of just found my way.

I'm not in technology (although I now work for a technology company), I'm not an international business person and I'm not independantly wealthy.

Key for me was keeping my eyes and mind wide open to possibilities. I started with an internship (at 27), made friends and connections and through them ended up where I am today.

It seems like your family would also have to travel a more creative and less direct route to get abroad. It's not as easy but still very possible. I'd also encourage you to keep your goals, even if you're still not sure how you're going to get there right now. Keep looking for those opportunities, follow-up on them, talk to people, let them know what you're interested in, eventually you'll find your chance.

All it takes is for one of you to find a position, that will secure visas and work permits for the rest of your family. Once there, the second job is easier to find.

And if you really have your heart set on the Alps, consider this: last time I checked, it was really cheap and easy for Americans to retire in Austria. Maybe having this as your back-up plan would help.

Rhea said...

Don't ever grow up, I say! If you dream of living in Europe, give it a shot. I should talk. I get into ruts, too. I want to change but find it so hard. I do want to say, however, that I live in Boston and you should know that real estate prices are coming down like crazy. In two years or so you could get a real bargain on a house.

hexe said...

Thank you all for the encouragement. School began in August and so this has been a topic of conversation for six months in our house. We haven't given up, but in reality, I know that I have to stick it out for the next 18 months. I need two years teaching for my certification and starting over at different school next years means a new curriculum - at least by staying put, I will can use all the materials that I developed this year. I am also aware that the first year of any new job is a challenge and I don't think I can adequately evaluate my job change after one difficult year. Additionally, we have a financial goal and we need one more year to achieve it. We could leave now, but we would feel more comfortable having the extra security.

Whenever I return here from Maine, the adjustment results in a lot of negative resentment for a week or so. It doesn't mean these feeling go away, but after my "re-entry" I remember what we still need to accomplish. I'm not ready to give up on a move overseas and in a year we'll be looking for that opportunity, whether it be in New England or overseas. I'm just not very patient and I'm ready to leave NOW. Thank you again for all the kind words of encourgement - it helps to get feedback and encouragement and I can't talk about any of this here.

misschrisc said...

I'd say look in Geneva. Geneva has lots of jobs. Have you checked the ones available at the various international organisations (UN, WHO etc.)? They all have websites with their job listings. With a legal background you might find something. Teaching experience will definitely get you a good job and the pay is very lucrative in Geneva for teachers. It's a good way to stick a foot in the door.

And hey if you do come you can rent our house for three years! We're 45 minutes from Geneva :)

hexe said...

Thanks Miss Chris - I appreciate the encouragement and I'll keep you in mind if we end up in Geneva!

Jul said...

Hi there! I just came across your blog and wanted to tell you not to give up on your dream of living in the Alps.

I've been an expat on and off for a while now, and I've had so many people say to me "Wow, I would LOVE to live in Italy/Switzerland/anywherebuthere!" but then follow that with all the pessimistic reasons why it wouldn't work. But you know what, those are the people who will never live abroad. Because they've already convinced themselves that it won't work out.

In reality, all kinds of people live abroad doing all kinds of jobs in all kinds of circumstances. If the path you're trying isn't working, expand the parameters. Get creative, and don't let excuses get in your way. Best of luck getting out of Florida!

Jessica Brogan said...

Grow up and give up your dream of the Alps? Grow up and give up your fantasies? Wow. That's sad. What about grow up and live your dream, alps, new england or whatever. Go out and get it!