A little under two years ago we left Oklahoma and everything we knew for something completely different. From the planning stages to today- to (probably) the end of our stay in Korea, we’ve heard many of the same phrases and sentiments repeated. Most of our family and friends understand why we are here and really support our adventure but it’s as painful for them as it is for us. Sometimes comments are made hastily without much regard to how they might be perceived, so we thought we’d take a moment to discuss some of the phrases repeated the most and lend our perspective to the mix. It’s sometimes easy to assume that our own feelings are universal and we often forget that our decisions are as much as a mystery to others as their choices are to us.
“When are you coming home to visit?”
It may seem like we travel a lot, but what many people don’t realize is how expensive it is to go home. For example, our recent trip to the Philippines cost us a twelfth of what is would have cost for a flight to the states. It’s not that we don’t miss you! We have bills and budgets and have to make ends meet too. So, let’s Skype! We can still see you and talk to you, and you probably underestimate how much these video chats mean to us!
“When are you going to get a real job?”
Who says this isn’t a real job? We go to work from 8-5 everyday, we have meetings, schedules, and we get paid. The fact is, we make more money and have more benefits now than any job we’ve had in the states. Just because it’s in a different country, doesn’t mean that it isn’t a real job. Just as you would congratulate anyone for landing their dream job, celebrate our lives and how happy we are!
“You are so lucky!”
This one has also come from some of our co-teachers here in Korea. Luck has nothing to do with it. We put in a lot of hard work, research and planning to be here. We’ve also made a lot of sacrifices. We don’t have our families with us or the comforts of home. However, it was a choice we made, and we don’t regret it!
“I promise to come visit you.”
Many people entertain the idea of boarding a 15-hour flight to come see us, and we wholly support that prospect! But sometimes life gets in the way. Things happen, financial situations change. It’s understandable if you can’t come visit. It does hurt sometimes, but we just want to show you why we moved here! We want you to see why we fell in love with this place. We want to see you!
“When you are moving home?”
This one is said the most often to us, and we understand why. You miss us, you love us, and you want us to be a part of your lives. Trust us when we say, we feel the same. The truth is, though, we don’t know when we are coming back. It’s not that we are running away from the real world, we are simply on a different path. All we ask is for your love and support.
We really hope that the tone of this post is not misconstrued! We simply want to share our feelings with you! Everyone perceives the world differently and not all who wander are lost.
-Ryan and Stephanie
22 thoughts on “Not All Who Wander Are Lost”
Great post!!! I agree with all of the above!!!!
Echoing Elicia here. Well said. People think we’re running away but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Just finding our way, in a different way than others. Bravo.
I think I have had all of these things said to me…..
As for the one about luck, people have also said this to me and I responded similarly to how you did. It wasn’t (isn’t?) luck. It was a choice with a lot of research and consideration to uproot and move to a place with no foundations or support systems.
My favorite has to be “When are you getting a real job?” I can’t even tell you how often I’ve heard that one…
Love this post, will definitely share it!
Thanks, Elle! We have been hearing these comments for some time now and we know how many other expats must have similar experiences. We like to share a lot about our travels, but every once in a while it’s good to discuss the mindset that many of us share.
This is a great post. I never thought of how my family and friends felt when we left home. My uncle had the funniest comment. He asked if were moving to “Korea, the country Korea?!” Yes, I don’t believe there is a city in the States named Korea.
Haha! Many of our friends and family didn’t even know how modernized Korea is. They thought we would be living in huts 😂
A few weeks before I moved to Korea a family member said, “We didn’t think you’d go.” What?! Seriously… I had been telling them I was moving for almost a year. I wasn’t saying maybe or I’d like to, I was spending a lot of time filling out applications and money gathering documents and they still didn’t think I’d go. I was really hurt by it. I guess it’s just such a foreign concept to some that they can’t imagine anyone actually moving away, especially to a country that so few know about.
I’ve been fortunate to have several friends and a few family members visit and it was great to show them around the place that I love so much. I know exactly how you feel. You just want them to see it the same way you see it.
Great post. I think every expat here can relate.
OUCH. Though my parents have recently told us how they are so proud of us, their initial response to us moving abroad was, “We don’t approve.”
Sometimes people don’t realize how certain comments can be taken. We really wanted to give our perspective so perhaps they could more easily understand our way of living.
Wow, great post! I think I’ve gotten every single one of these from family and friends.
I’m pretty lucky, my parents are pretty supportive, but they make it very obvious that they want me to stay in the States. I’ve actually gotten to where I don’t discuss my options with them until I’ve made a decision. Easier to think about something without a heavy bias 😉
I think the one that resonated most with me was the, “You are so lucky!” one. I wholeheartedly agree with your response to that. I planned so much to set up my move overseas, and it took a lot of resolve to make it all happen. Luck had absolutely nothing to do with it.
Thanks for writing this! Maybe I can show it to my parents when I visit next month ^^
We definitely try to keep our plans under wraps until a definite decision is made! I think it’s easier for both us and our families.
If you do share this with your parents, I hope that I helps to give them a better understanding of the mindset of an expat 😊
Well written, it would be great for the country (US) if more would leave and travel or work in other countries. Life is to be lived.
Nice idea to explain these things out. Like you, it’s rare that a friend or family member says something like this to me. But when they do, it’s usually awkward and I’ll just say “I don’t know” and kind of laugh.
I have to say I disagree a little with the one about luck. I think luck does play a certain degree. For me, if I weren’t from an English speaking country I’m not sure how I would have been able to travel. Sure, I probably could have found a way but the availability of jobs for us native English speakers is pretty incredible. I have European friends who speak perfect English but could never get an English teaching job as easy as me. Also, I have friends who couldn’t go to a 4-year university for whatever reason which of course limits opportunities as well.
Of course, luck isn’t all and I’m totally with you that it takes a lot of hard work and sacrifices to travel. And I definitely don’t like it when people who have the same opportunities as me tell me I’m lucky. I simply tell those people, “You can do it too”.
I understand what you are saying about luck because, yes, we were born into a country that is privileged. However, hard work, research, and determination go a long way for shaping a future that is aligned with your goals and aspirations.
My friends and family have come to terms with my nomadic lifestyle, but my husband’s family is still pretty tense about it. They didn’t understand why we couldn’t come home for Christmas. Well, because we only get ONE day off work for Christmas here. It’s not really a thing. Over time I think the people with harsh things to say realize that you are happy and their judgments become support.
I really enjoyed this, and think all us wanderers can relate. The “when are you going to get a real job?” question always pisses me off, because I feel like most people just think I’m on a permanent vacation because I’m not working the daily grind in the States. But, I think unless you’ve actually done the move and lived the life you can’t relate and that’s just what it seems like. I think you did a nice way of conveying what it is though, but will probably still fly over people’s heads. Nice post 🙂
You made some really good points here. I’m going into my third contract and my mom is nagging me to come home and visit but she doesn’t realise that an entire trip to Japan or Hong Kong (aka expensive asian countries) costs less than my flight home. I also agree that I hate when people say “wow, you’re living the life” or “you’re so lucky”. Of course we have fun and get to travel, but I only actually travel in school vacation time, so the rest of the year I’m working just like the rest of the world with the exception of being a million miles from home comforts. Great post.
The interesting thing is that a lot of foreigners here even say those things, and somehow don’t feel like they’re living a “real life”. That always pisses me off, like maybe YOU aren’t living a real life because you slack off at school and just party outside of school, but a lot of people are actually living life here.
I really liked this post, keep it up!
Oh the party foreigners. I agree completely with being frustrated with some of their points of view. Many think of Korea as just a temporary fun experience and aren’t serious about their jobs and lives here. 😕
A great post, Ryan and Stephanie! Wishing you the best of luck on the rest of your journey…
I don’t typically get asked this set of questions, perhaps because of my age or the fact that I haven’t quite gone through a lot of life’s “typical” journey’s yet… so maybe moving here was seen as an adventure by most of my family and friends. I’m not sure… but there are a lot of questions that reoccur more along the lines of “You’re so brave, why Korea?” and “Aren’t they being bombed!?” I do have a lot of friends with the prospect of visiting who probably never will, but I commend them for their ambition. Great post! And kudos to the two of you for taking the path less traveled.
We used to always get calls and messages from family and friends who were concerned about North Korea invading / bombing us when we first moved here. They see only what is sensationalized in the news unfortunately.
Really love this post guys, I’ve heard these phrases sent so many times and it can be so hard when you feel you are disappointing people. I think that communication is key though and the fact that you’ve written it all out here will probably dispel a lot of doubt for those at home.