11 December 2010

From Russia, with love

In international teaching, most schools require teachers to declare their intentions for the following school year in November. Last November, Lexi had been home a month and I wasn't ready to think about where we'd go next, so I signed on for this year. But, even then, I knew that this would be my last year in Russia. Six years in Russia is a L-O-N-G time.

Shortly thereafter I started thinking about where we'd go next. My friends were leaving and, as they looked at new schools, I mentally tried them on to see if they'd fit us.

I put it in the back of my mind for our big summer trip, even though it tried to force its way to the front on more than one occasion.

Back in Russia in August I wanted to wait until the year was started to think about this. When September came, I was debating and debating. I didn't have a clear sense of leading. I just went round and round the possibilities and crossed them off one by one.

-Our school would mean keeping many friend, our home, our car and everything that has become familiar and homey to Lexi. It would mean changing grades for me. (I don't think having Lexi in class is a good thing. She gets LESS of me because I'm worried that it will look like she's getting more. Not fair. But, changing grades can be managed.) It's a small, supportive community of students and parents which is nice. They've seen her come home and grow. There is little to be explained here about her background, and she is accepted at school. However, it's a small school and it's in Russia, which rules out so. much. that she needs. Few resources. No recreation. (You either train for the Olympics/Bolshoi/etc. from the time you're three or don't bother taking lessons in anything. You can't just learn how to do a cartwheel here. And, the shame-based educational system is NOT to my liking.)

-Our Moscow school is big, has more resources, and has *some* recreation opportunities. Life is easier and teachers are more "taken care of" than we are. I would keep my salary. (This is big as most international schools only allow you to enter the pay scale with a max of +/-8 years of experience.) It's a big school and I think she'd get lost in it. And, the commute is extreme in the afternoons. Most teachers consider it an early night if they're home by 6:00. For us, 6:00 is the beginning of dinner-bath-bed. I'd miss out on all our after school time together.

-There are many Eastern European schools that are reputable and in cities I'd like to explore. But...many were small and seemed like they'd offer about what our school does, but without the consistency that remaining here afforded. Or, they were big and very similar to Moscow but wouldn't let me keep my salary. And, after visiting Slovakia, I'm not sure that "Russia light" in the Baltics would be enough of a change for me.

-Singapore, Shanghai, New Delhi, the Hague...all are good schools. They're big, so they've got many resources. But they'd be NEW. I'd have a new curriculum. We'd both have a whole new world. And I was afraid Lexi would feel lost.

I was talking over these options with a friend (okay, I was probably whinging to her about them, if we're honest) when, if I remember correctly, I said I thought I'd apply to them all and see. But, I hoped no one would hire me and we could come home to the US and live off savings for a year and homeschool.

Friend (oh wise, wise friend) asked why I didn't just do that.

And I was stumped. Why didn't I?

And so, that is what we are going to do. In June we will leave Russia and come home. I'm not sure where yet...but it will be near a friend and have low cost-of-living.

I'm REALLY excited. I know this will be best for Lexi. It gives us time to work on academics in a place she feels safe, take all sorts of music and dance and gymnastics and swimming lessons, and work on all sorts of things.

I am living proof of the value of a sabbatical. I taught seven years before going to Oxford and hitting the boards full time. Now, I've been back in the classroom seven more. I'm ready for a year off. Or four. (Yeah right--if only I could afford THAT!)

Of course, I'll still be teaching next year. I'll even still be teaching second grade. I'll just have a very small class!

I highly recommend international teaching. I am so grateful for the opportunity I had to live and teach in both England and Russia. It's so different from going on a vacation! I like experiencing different cultures--not just in my host-country but also through the families in the school. International teaching has enabled me to save enough money to stay home for a year--or maybe even two. Yes, this was earmarked for us to use to buy and furnish a house. But, I think that this year off together is more important than a house. It's still being spent on our family. And really--it's just money.

I know that there will be people who think this is crazy; that this is not the economic climate to do this; that I'm being irresponsible. But, I think this is right and good. It's a big leap. But, I've leapt many times before and always, always been caught. I think I said a while back I was feeling nudged about that to do next year. This is the nudge I felt. So I'm leaping.

I'm very excited about our next adventure!

38 comments:

Suzanne said...

I'm excited for you. Will you seek out new curriculum? or teach from your repertoire?

Any idea what part of the country you will land in?

Annie said...

Well, it does sound exciting, and I am very envious of the freedom you have. I'll miss St. P though!

Rachael said...

Wow! I think it's fantastic that you are able to do this. It sounds wonderful, and well deserved.

Lea said...

Awesome! Good for you both! And well deserved. It is so wonderful to see someone who is so disciplined that you can afford to do this and I am sure it will be good for you both. Congratulations on your decision. I am happy for you both and will look forward to keeping up with your journey.

p.s. The Tulsa area is very inexpensive and people are friendly:).

Maura said...

Congrats on making this very important decision, and being able to take the year "off"! And how wonderful for you both to be getting the best of all you are looking for right now...you get to come home to the U.S., get to have complete control over Lexi's education for at least a year, you'll get to expand both of your social and recreational activities. You have so earned it. :-)

Carrie said...

I don't think it's foolish. I took more than a year off when Miss G. came home. And it was worth every cent. I won't lie...it's difficult to save now, but like you said, it's only money.

I wish you a wonderful year (or two)!

Jennifer said...

Bravo! Wonderful decision. I vote for the South. Low cost of living. No money spent on heavy winter coats and boots. But I will miss your musings of life where our son was born.

Jackie said...

Truly wonderful. I certainly wish you well and look forward to hearing about this adventure :) Jackie

boltupright said...

Sounds like a great choice for you guys! I'm sure Lexi will flourish.

Kathy Friend said...

Here is the beautiful thing about this decision. If (9 months into the new year) you see that you need to work, buy a house or whatever...you can do that! You are home, in the US with more possibilities and options...for you AND for Lexi. YAY for you!

Tammy said...

Wow, what an incredible decision! Given the options you described, I can certainly see how this is the best one of them all and it is clear that is truly where your heart is. Let's face it, once we becomes parents the only real priority is our child. I have always said I didn't adopt a child to have someone else raise them. Unfortunately in my case I don't have a choice and I have to work but when I am done with work, it is all about my boy. The time is going so fast already and I'm sure you feel the same way. It will be good to enjoy all those precious moments together and to hopefully give her a real solid start to her education.

BTW - Wisconsin is nice too. Ok, I'm sure your sick of winter but....I live in a smaller town, cost of living is reasonable and we have a great (and cheap!) rec department!

Kay B said...

Wow! Great decision! If you happen to end up in Texas please do let me know!

Oahu Mom said...

I'm with Jennifer, I'll miss hearing about St. Pete which is where my daughter was born, but I think you've made a great decision. I recently read the 4-Hour Work Week which is all about not waiting 'til retirement to do things like take time off. Happy planning! Oh, and Hawaii's out if you want low cost of living. Sadly, we don't have that here.

Lindsay said...

I think that is fantastic and I am so excited for you. (Yeah I'm also sad you won't be doing Russia lite, but a long time in this part of the world is a *long* time!!)

I can imagine that Lexi is going to have an absolutely wonderful time with you home schooling her. Are you nervous at all at doing it?

Dawn said...

Glad to hear you've made a choice you feel good about. Too bad our overseas schedules are opposite! Hopefully, we'll make it back to Kyiv in time for at least a quick visit. I'd love to meet Lexi!

Jim said...

It's wonderful that you are able to provide a safe and nurturing environment for Lexi, especially as she transitions into a new culture in the US. I would love to see you land in Southern California, but unfortunately, we don't have a low cost of living here, either.

Can't wait to hear more abut your plans as you make them!

Lauri said...

sounds like a plan

can't wait to hear the details

Liz said...

Very exciting! Good luck on your next adventure! I hope you'll keep us all updated as you go!

Jen said...

How exciting! The one-on-one time of home schooling will do wonders for both of you. How exciting!

Tina in CT said...

I was wondering when you would make the move back home to the US.

Do you have family in the US?

Sounds like you've done a lot of soul searching and made the right decision for both of you.

kristin said...

Sounds so exciting! I currently homeschool my daughter and love it! She does so well! If you want any ideas (I know you probably have a bunch) just email! If you are in the Atlanta area, we just moved her and I know our daughters would have a blast together! Kristin kollis22@hotmail.com

Team Bedzyk said...

I think it's an awesome idea. Good for you for taking a leap of faith. It will all work out, and Lexi will really benefit from it. Hope to meet you in St. Pete before you come home, but if not, come to Lehigh Valley!

Debbie said...

Such exciting and wonderful news!! I'm behind you 100%! Would love it if you settled this direction :). Can't wait to see how God continues to lead you.

rolise said...

Think it is a great idea. Try to pick an area you can find a job the next year thought so you can have some continuity if possible.

beckyww said...

Man, I'm staying tuned to this blog! Your life is INTERESTING, girl!!

Matt and Carla Morgan said...

I'm thrilled for you and for Lexi!

cm

A Room to Grow said...

I think this plan sounds great! Can't wait to hear about were you end up!

Barb said...

I think it's absolutely fantastic that this is what you're going to do. You have the opportunity - take it! When you are ready to get backinto the workforce, you will undoubtably find a position - you are a gifted teacher and a plus to any school! Lexi is so lucky to have you!!

Denise said...

Northern Virginia does not offer the low cost of living but there would be many well-paid teaching opportunities when you'd be ready to get back in the business. Something to consider. Also, it has very good resources for children.

Grace said...

I believe you know my choice as to where to live,neighbor. :)

I am so proud of you. I am so happy for your clarity. Can't wait to come along on the adventure!

Katie

Conethia and Jim Bob said...

What a great Plan!! We would love to have you back in TN!

The Holmes Crew said...

Sounds great! Homeschoolin' has worked for us - and will give you some quality time with Lexi as you sort it all out!

Lindy said...

Best wishes, Kate. I know it is time for you to leave Russia. Can't wait to hear how sweet Lexi does!

P.S. The U.S. job market is like nothing I've ever experienced. Don't let the job hunting go too long.

Cindy said...

Wow!! I haven't checked in with your blog in forever....sorry Facebook sucked me in for a while. Anyway, I'm so excited about your big move and think it will be fabulous for you both.

You may remember that my husband and I lived in Japan for two years where I taught English. It was an amazing experience and 10 years later one of the highlights of my life. I know you will also have many great memories of your time abroad.

Wishing you both the best!!!

Cindy

Suzanne said...

Word: Of the Alpha-Omega products, Monarch would be my recommendation. We went with Switched on Schoolhouse as it works for more than one kid, but if I only had one, I'd have chosen Monarch.

martha68 said...

how exciting:) glad you can do this. best wishes in this exciting change.

Suz said...

It sounds really exciting! Texas has a really low cost of living Kate!! Lexie could swim year round :O)

What a grand adventure!

Pinkie said...

I'm so pleased to read this kate. It's been just over two and a half years since we made the journey from Spain back to the UK and it's the BEST thing we did - for all the right reasons. I found love too Kate, its been nearly a year since i've been dating a fantastic man. I'll keep reading your blog and a big hug to you both...you both look great x