Lately, I’ve had a few conversations with friends or family that have gone a little like this: “So, when are you going to move home and get a real job?” or “You should really start saving for retirement.” or “Some of us have real jobs we have to get up for.”
Um, excuse me? All these flavors, and you choose to be salty.
Let me lay this out there, in simple language that will hopefully help you understand that my life is being lived well and responsibly. First of all, I do have a real job. I am at work 40 hours each week, with at least 5 teaching hours each day. Fortunately, I am blessed with a job that I found for myself that does not require me to do a lot of work outside the office. A job that provides me an apartment that is a 3-minute walk from school. A job that allows me to have fun with elementary kids every day. A job that has me living in a different country. My job is awesome.
Furthermore, this job pays far more than I would receive for the same duties in my home country. I am paid more than most first year teachers in my home state. And while that is great for me, it makes me even sadder about the state of education in the US. On top of a great salary, I receive incredible benefits–health insurance, pension, housing, and airfare to come to Korea to start my job.
“I WORK TO TRAVEL, not buy a house, start a family, or retire…”
Secondly, I’m living my retirement now, while I can still hike mountains and skydive and eat anything without worrying about my teeth, stomach, or bladder. And honestly, I do think about retirement and how I will save the money to live comfortably. It’s just that right now, my priorities aren’t to work a 9-5 so I can live comfortably later. My priority is to work a 9-5 that makes me excited about life now and provides me with a platform to discover more of the world around me. I work to travel, not buy a house, start a family, or to retire in 40-50 years.
Thirdly, where is home? I call my apartment right now home. I call my mom’s house home, my dad’s house home. Hell, I’ve got two “home”-towns in Europe. Is home where your family is? Or your friends? Or is it where you part with pieces of your heart whenever you leave? And if that’s it, my heart’s left pieces of itself scattered around the world, and not necessarily in places I lived for a period of time. Stepping away from such philosophical questions, I do consider Iowa home. But I don’t know if I want to live there. I don’t know where I want to live. So even if I moved back to the US, there’s no guarantee that I’d be “home.”
And you know what, I still have adult responsibilities. I still have to budget my money, pay utilities, student loans, credit card bills, and buy groceries. Most weekdays, I go to the gym after work, head home and make dinner, then pursue myself in the evenings—my own hobbies, passions, or a really good book. My life isn’t suddenly better or worse because I live elsewhere. I am not brave or crazy because I live abroad. I am simply living. I have the same worries, the same daily routines as most anybody else. I enjoy a good movie or glass of wine. I just do it in a place that is unfamiliar and where I am abnormal. And I thrive.
So here’s the deal. Society, family, friends, and random webizens: I live abroad. I have a real job. I use my money to take care of pesky adult responsibilities and then to travel to my wallet’s content. How about you let me do me, and I’ll let you do you — deal?