Living in a foreign land, flying to other nearby countries, taking mini-adventures, eating all sorts of food; the expat life was for me! And now....I'm grounded. So to speak...
After ending my contract teaching English in South Korea and taking the long way back to the states through Thailand and Europe, I am now back in the good ole U.S. of A.
Preparing to come back home, I would read up on others' experiences re-adjusting. What was the hardest thing about going back home? What were their next steps? And what was the best course of action for me?
To be honest, I'm still figuring out the answers to most of those questions.
So far, the hardest thing is the feeling that my wings have been clipped. The loss of freedom to take off to other countries with little planning. Or just getting a group together to do some random things in a city no one has been to yet. As an expat, the first thing that I did was find a community where I could meet others. I wasn't in a big metropolitan city like Seoul or Busan where it didn't take much to find an English speaker. I was in a smaller city in a more rural part of the country. English was still taught, hence why I was there, but not many people could use it in conversation. So it just felt natural to make connections with other foreigners in the same situation. It was simple to find someone else to do things with. Just post a message to the group and wait for responses. Up for a game of ultimate frisbee? Done. Want to check out the lantern festival? "Okay!" Whatever it was, there were people always keen to go. After leaving the friends I made there (who also went back to their part of the world), I no longer had that convenience. Back home, people tend to be set in their ways or less eager to make new friends and go do whatever.
Hence, my current status.
It was my worst fear planning to come back home and I'm constantly fighting it from taking root. Stuck in the nine to five grind to support my travel addiction and no one around me up for exploring. Money is important and I'm planning my next steps, but damn if the daily grind doesn't do its best to suck the soul out of me in the meantime.HAVE - A - PLAN - !!!
Having a plan makes it all worth it, because now I know that my situation is temporary and can power through. I don't mean it to sound like I'm living under a staircase being fed scraps, because I'm not. Going from a job and lifestyle that was more go with the flow and travel to a lifestyle that's more restrictive has a funny way of getting in one's head after several months.
I'm getting closer and closer to where I want to be and working on some projects of my own. It all helps. I knew what I wanted and am figuring out a way to get it.
In the meantime, I'm trying to take a similar approach that I did in South Korea. It's not a big country, but one can still travel to every big or tiny corner of it.
I'm currently based in Florida and there's so much to see here that I haven't even bothered to explore before becoming an expat. I kick myself for it, but appreciate that I'm able to mini travel around the Sunshine State now. We have swamps, gorgeous thunder and lighting storms, wildlife galore, beaches, the oldest city in the country, and much more.
Traveling is something I love. And though my expat life has come to an end (for now), my curiosity will keep me on the path to new adventures.