The World is My Book

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about life, it’s that everything is transient. I left my study abroad director position in 2013 because I had a great opportunity to live and work in Italy with my family. I loved my job at EIU and I loved my life in Tuscany, but in 2016 it was time for another change and we moved back to the U.S.  In 2017, I was divorced after twenty years of marriage, but my ex and I are good friends and that makes it easier on all of us.

I have full custody of the boys, and we’re contemplating what next. I’ve always been an adventurer—when I was fresh out of college, I joined the Peace Corps in Africa and then in South America. Life was a lot easier then, since all I had to think about was me. But now I’m thinking about me, alongside the well being, health, and happiness of my two boys (ages 11 and 15) who are both very different with contrasting needs. Anyone who walks with me has to think about them too, and this makes me a complicated woman, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. These boys enrich my world in ways I could never do on my own, and I want the best for them.

Saint Joseph is a beautiful city during the summer, but bitter cold for most of the winter; needless to say, it’s not a long-term establishment for me and my boys. After we left Italy in 2016, it was meant to be a short-term solution. We bought a fixer-upper and got to work, and we’re still working! There were four of us then, but now I only have to think about three, so it’s a little easier but not much different in terms of planning. A home owner, with no international education offices nearby where I can work, I’ve been consulting and teaching myself finance, investing, and stock and options trading. So far, I’ve not done very well, but I’m hanging in there, trying to be patient and learning in the process. Before Trump was elected, I bought some stock that went a lot lower, and now it’s a waiting game to get out of the hole.

Nonetheless, life in this sleepy Michigan town has given me loads of time to think, write, and travel.  I’m working on a memoir, and I’ve been back over to Europe, several Caribbean islands, and many more places over the past few years. I’ve thought long and hard about the next phase of my life, and I’m ready to get things rolling. One thing that went wrong in Italy was my oldest son wasn’t prepared for public school in Italian, and private schooling wasn’t an option where we lived, not to mention the cost. He didn’t learn the language well enough to follow lectures all day or read antiquated text books  in Italian, and after quite a battle with the school system, we finally enrolled him in a U.S. online school. This resolved the academic issues, but there were no home-school networks around and no way for him to develop a social life with his quiet, introverted personality.

When we get out of the financial hole, we’ll be ready to move on, but life isn’t bad in limbo. We went on a cruise over Christmas break and to Colorado and Utah for spring break. I’m thinking about relocating us to a beautiful town in Costa Rica with a fantastic private school. Or maybe we will go back to Italy, only this time with a private school that allows my son to be successful and feel good about himself. Then there are other questions. Will I be able to move forward with the man I’ve been seeing for the past year and a half? Will I get married again or was once enough? Hmmmmm. Several big events need to happen before I can leave limboland. No hurry, all in the right time.

If plans don’t change, I’ll be heading to Costa Rica in a few weeks to check out some options for the future, and I’ll post what I learn. It’s the first working trip I’ve taken in a long time. My partner and I will travel to the central valley around San Jose, the Nicoya peninsula (a Blue Zone), and leave part of our trip open for discovery and change. It’s the beginning of the rainy season, so I’m sure it will be an exciting journey.

By Wendy Williamson, international education consultant, nomad mother, and author of Love Evil: To Whom my Heart Falls Prey and Study Abroad 101



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