“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain
I think we're all very aware of COVID-19 and the impact it's had on people's lives. Schools have been closed since March, businesses are just starting to open back up with restrictions and extra safety precautions (at least where I live), and life as we knew it four months ago is but a dream. Life has become intensely complicated yet simplified at the same time. Instead of focusing on the external world, many have been focusing on themselves and mending their internal worlds.
The last normal day of society [for me] was March 13, 2020. I found out in late April that my teaching contract was not renewed. Though devastating in the moment, it lead to a lot of soul searching, internal monologues, and really getting to know myself. The one constant that went through my mind was: this is the perfect time to go back to school and earn my Master's degree. This constant leads me to this day, July 10, 2020, where I share that I am going to graduate school abroad.
If you know anything about colleges and universities in the United States, you know a couple of things:
They are incredibly expensive. As of 2020, U.S. citizens [collectively] are in approximately $1.6 trillion dollars of student loan debt.
Many colleges are not reopening this fall due to COVID-19.
Both of those facts lead me to look into schools abroad. While I'm currently reluctant to share which country I am moving to on this platform in order to maintain some sort of privacy, I am moving to a country where it will take me 50% less time to earn my degree, cost me 50% less for my degree, and will have greater learning and networking opportunities for my field. Many universities are able to reopen to full capacity because of how COVID-19 was handled in this country and guarantee international students like me housing on campus. (Did I mention that this country has approximately 87% less COVID-19 cases than the U.S.?) This country also allows people entering the country on a student visa to access their universal healthcare system just like a citizen (with no co-pays, deductibles, and my one and only prescription is FREE).
Maybe you think I'm crazy? Maybe you think I'm making a terrible decision? Maybe you think I should reconsider? Your thoughts are valid.
So are mine.
I can't wait until there's a vaccine to move forward with my life, and I will be able to move forward safely by following this country's more extensive COVID-19 guidelines. I am a firm believer in masks, social distancing, and sanitizing. I do all of those things whenever I venture out, which isn't a common occurrence. I will make sure to quarantine myself in order to prevent any sort of spread. I will continue to follow the procedures in place to keep others (and myself) safe.
You know when you just know that you're making the right choice? That feeling in your gut? That's the feeling I get when I think about this decision. This was not a decision I made lightly, but it is a decision I have made confidently.
There are a few people I have to thank (without names for their privacy, of course) for helping me get to this place:
To the lovely humans I got to work with this past school year: THANK YOU. Thank you for being so kind. You're all amazing teachers and people. I wish you all nothing but the absolute best with this upcoming school year, whatever that ends up looking like.
To the lovely humans who wrote letters of recommendation for me on such short notice: I don't know how to repay you... but one of you (you know who you are) said that a live well-lived is the best response, so I am starting with that. I'm not sure what I did to deserve your kind words, but I am eternally grateful. I consider you both mentors.
To R. W. W. Greene (okay, breaking my privacy rule because he has an awesome book that you should check out): thank you for the great life advice throughout the years, always... and the tea. There were quite a few mugs of tea.
To my high school English teachers: thank you for being some of the most supportive people EVER. How lucky am I that I got to work in the same district as you when I did?! You were so helpful and always willing to lend a listening ear. I don't know how I got so lucky. I hope I have made you proud. (I think you could each fit in your own suitcases... just sayin'.)
To the "Family 💕” group chat: You are the family I chose. I'm beyond lucky to have you in my life. I don't know what I did to deserve your friendship, but I am the luckiest gal to have you two as forever friends.
To the "KWEENS 👑" group chat: Another family I chose with so much love and friendship to go around. The fact that you bestow some of that love and friendship on me is beyond my wildest dreams. We are all about to live our best lives and I'm so beyond happy for each and every one of you.
To my best friend (you know who you are): Thank you for always reminding me that the squeaky wheel gets the oil and always cheering me on. You are like a sister to me. I hope we can socially distance in person before I leave.
To my family: I know this is hard, but thank you for loving me. I love you with all my heart.
While on the topic of becoming an international student myself, please check out this petition to overturn the recent decision to deport international students studying in the United States if their schools do not return to in-person instruction in the fall. It is truly in everyone's best interest to continue to allow international students to reside in the country where they are studying.
My content will likely revolve around my international move for my graduate school program for the time being. I hope you come along for the ride. x