It’s been 8 years since we’ve lived in the USA, and much longer than that since either of us has lived on the west coast near our family. Two years in Mexico, four in Brazil, and two in Bulgaria. What an amazing time it’s been.
Back in 2010, we started this whole international teaching thing on a whim and had no idea where it would take us. We landed our first job at a good, but disorganized and poorly run school in Mexico City, but it got us a foot in the door and experience under our belt. We immediately fell in love with the city and country. At the same time, we craved more adventure. The AASSA job fair in December of 2011 landed us jobs at EARJ in Rio de Janeiro where we carved out a comfortable life for ourselves. We had a strong network of close friends and greatly enjoyed our teaching experience. It was also the place where Avery was born and so for all of these reasons, Brazil has a special place in our hearts.
The four year contract limit at EARJ forced us to look elsewhere and so we found ourselves accepting a job for Brian in Sofia, Bulgaria the day after Avery was born. At the time, we had no idea what challenges we would face with Avery’s health and development. Things got more complicated with Avery, but with the setup we had, we made it work. We lived on the ACS campus, giving Brian zero commuting time and maximized his contact with me and Avery while we stayed at home. As things with Avery settled, we took the time to explore Europe, an area of the world we’d only been to a couple of times.
After two years living in Europe Brian and I visited 28 new countries in the area. Avery’s country total is up to 32. However, not everything was easy. With all of Avery’s needs, we found sufficient medical care to deal with his basic needs. The language barrier really made things tough, and the lack of specialists nearby was also frustrating. We developed some close friendships and Avery got lots of interaction with the Bran Clan kids.
Personally, I have some mixed feelings about returning to the USA, but overall, I am ready for it. I will miss the international lifestyle, fellow international teachers who share a similar mindset, and I will miss the diversity of students. On the plus side, we will be much closer to family and Avery will have easier access to the doctors and services he needs.
Brian and I will be switching roles. I return to the classroom at the end of August after over 2.5 years away. I will be teaching second graders who are all native Spanish speakers. I am responsible for giving them their reading instruction in Spanish, though, at the beginning, I will be assisted by fully bilingual colleagues. Brian is looking forward to the break from the daily grind of school and to spend more time with Avery and his mom. We will continue to travel, especially around the west coast and whatever is within driving range. There is so much we haven’t explored and we are really looking forward to seeing more of our own country.