Abandoned in a Third World Country

This post’s title is definitely an exaggeration. But sometimes when I reflect on my situation, that’s really how I feel. Things weren’t supposed to be like this. Let’s rewind two years, to winter break 2010.

I was in love with an American living in Central America. After years of traveling back and forth across oceans to spend time together, we finally decided it was time we try to make it work in the same country. My plan? Get to Latin America by any means possible. Was it my first choice? NO!!

I took Spanish in high school and college because it was convenient. I had traveled to Peru because my uncle the flight attendant conveniently got my mom and I free flights there. I had volunteered in Ecuador summer of 2010 because my best friend from home wanted to spend a summer practicing Spanish and volunteering.

I don’t regret any of this, I just don’t know if I would have picked Latin America if it were up to me. Asia, the Middle East, and Europe all call to me. Bolivia, not so much.

I was finishing up a Florida teacher’s certification and a Master’s degree in Education. Why not go meet my special someone in South America and get a job at an international school so we could be closer together? It never occurred to me that maybe our relationship only worked from different countries. Excitement, jealousy, expensive plane tickets, longing, care packages; these are what fueled our relationship.

So I got hired in Ecuador. I had a two-year contract, and I saw it as a two year commitment to my guy. The plan was to spend the summer in Guatemala together, and then move on to Ecuador together in the fall for me to start my contract and him to find work in the tourism/teaching English industry. What could go wrong?! I would be in relationship bliss, living a fantasy in a cute apartment in the Andes Mountains with the boy I loved (or so I thought).

Except from the minute I arrived in Guatemala, nothing went according to plan. Who was this person I had just moved to another country for?! Without the thrill of train rides and Skype sessions, I felt like I barely knew him. I tried to convince myself that I just had to get used to the fact that our relationship had a different dynamic now, but it came to the point where I had to admit to myself that things were not working. I wasn't happy.

This came as a colossal blow. I had signed a two-year contract in Ecuador, and now I would be going there alone. Breaking the contract and heading home with my tail between my legs was an option, but that would kill my international teaching career before it even started.

So I went to Ecuador on my own, terrified of what lay ahead. I made the most of things. I found a roommate, I made awesome friends, I dated locals, I practiced Spanish, and I traveled and went on crazy adventures. At first, I was sad. In fact, I probably freaked my roommate out by how much I stayed in bed watching Six Feet Under and letting myself wallow.

Having an image in your head of how your life will go, and then having that image shatter overnight is not easy to cope with. But eventually I just had to get over it and let things go. And I’m so glad I did. I didn’t necessarily choose to be in this situation, but here I am. Having no future plans feels liberating.

In January, I’m going to a job fair in London and I will be applying to international schools all over the planet. Whichever school I pick will be completely for me and no one else. Whether I end up in Tel Aviv, Seoul, Santiago, Sofia, Istanbul, Belgrade, Hong Kong, Mumbai, Bangkok, Bogota, or NYC, it’s going to be exactly where I choose to be on my own terms, and I can’t wait.


  1. I found your blog last Sat. Nov 10th and have had a reading marathon catching up to date. I think you have made fabulous choices for whatever reasons. Both of my kids are graduating with teaching degrees in the fall and I have begged them to do exactly what you have done. However,they do not share their mother's want of TRAVEL travel travel! It has such an enjoyable experience reading about all of your adventures! I hope to keep following you wherever you go. I sit in "mi oficina", here in the midwest and vicariously join you. Good Luck! ;)- Faith

  2. Faith, thanks for stopping by! If either of your kids is interested, I could send them some info on some of the different international schools and recruitment fairs. My email is mckenzieaday@gmail.com, let me know!


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