I really can’t believe it. The movers are coming tomorrow to ship our stuff back to the States! How did my contract end so quickly? I found it so hard many, many days but as they say, the days are long but the years are short. I actually have a lot of things I am going to miss. What are they? Here are my top 10 (in no particular order):
1. my new friends from all over the world
2. Coco’s school
3. fresh coconuts, mulunggay and mangoes sold year round
4. my tennis lessons
5. my condo and all the amenities (pool, mall, tennis, playground, etc. close by)
6. my salary
7. my travel allowance
8. not having to shovel snow or de-ice my windshield at dawn
9. having someone else help with cooking, cleaning, laundry and childcare
10. cheap mani/pedis and massages!
And here are the top 10 things I am looking forward to:
1. clean air
2. parks and beautiful outdoor space
3. spending time with friends and seeing my family more often
4. a large Ethiopian community
5. free activities (libraries, museums, street festivals, etc.)
6. decent radio stations
8. products not being out of stock
9. crisp fall air and with the gorgeous leaves and glorious spring weather
10. finding a church home
Here we are the day we left:I was really nervous and not sure I was doing the right thing. I had a job that I really liked and good friends and Coco loved her school but I knew I had to go though to get in control of my debt. My first year here was awful. I hated my job, I hated Manila, I missed home and I wanted to quit. But I had read that it takes about 12-18 months to feel settled in a new city and I was under contract so I returned to Manila after being home for the summer to get through year two. What surprised me was that about 18 months in I started to almost like living here! I still missed home but I had found our new normal and we were settled in. It helped that we moved to a new apartment and I gave up a leadership position at my job that was a time-sucker and our new yaya was much better. I also made some really good new friends and started playing tennis. And I was so happy to be paying down debt.
I really can’t believe it’s almost done. Living overseas has changed me in so many ways, and all for the better I’d say. I have paid off all of my credit card debt and everyone else I owed (well I still owe my cousin $10,000 but that’s sitting in my bank account to pay him when we get back home). That means when we return to the States in June I will only owe money on my mortgage and my home equity line. No student loans, no car payment, no credit card debt! Yes, living overseas was very, very, very hard at times; I was lonely and the stress and the sun ruined my skin but I will return nearly debt-free, having traveled all over Asia and more confident and clear on who I am and what I want –and that, in my opinion, made it all worthwhile.