Thursday, February 11, 2010


I've been meaning to write about this for awhile - over a month, actually - but finally getting around to it now. Life is so full of distractions. I wonder if I could just move into a monastery for a while? (not really)

A lot of people might think we're nuts for planning to move to another country - a country neither of us has ever been to before - just 2 months after having a new baby. Here is some of the backstory - although there is a little more to it that I won't put on a public blog, but if you want to know more you can e-mail me and I'll fill you in privately.

Back about two years ago, when we were expecting Valerie shortly, we started talking about what to do when Terry went on sabbatical. According to our calculations, I would be at the dissertation writing stage at the time when he'd be eligible. Since the writing can be done anywhere - and in my program, it seems like most grads do the writing away from the university, for family or other reasons - I told Terry that we could go wherever he wanted, we'd figure out how to make it work.

So this past fall he started scouting out options for next year. Of all the nibbles he got, the one the appealed to me the most was Albania - probably a romanticized notion of that part of the world - and the position they have for him is a really good fit both in terms of the qualifications they are looking for, his skill set and expertise, and the timing. So even though there were some other options brewing this one sounded really good.

Then we found out that there's another baby on the way... and we had to do some strong thinking and considering. There were two things that really came up for us in this conversation:
1) When we got married, we had the vision of living and working together overseas in some kind of service/development/social justice role. Ten years down the road, we haven't made that happen yet. We've taken a number of students on semester-abroad trips, and Terry has done a TON of consulting work in various parts of the world (including Mongolia!), but really LIVE somewhere? No. How much longer will we keep putting it off?
2) We want to raise our children as global people. Why not start now? What kind of clinched it for me, though, was when Terry said, "who are the people I admire most and want to be like? The ones who say 'oh yeah, we were going to do x and y, but then we had kids, so we never did'? Or the ones who backpacked across Africa with their 6-month-old?"

We did think seriously about taking an opportunity in Colombia, which is closer to my family, and where V. would be able to learn Spanish. But in the end it was going to be too much for me; in that situation, we'd be joining up as a couple and I'd have to work part-time as well as trying to write my dissertation and mother two small ones.

The week that we had to make our decision final, I was able to have a Skype-to-phone conversation with the wife of the program director in Albania and ask her a bunch of questions. They have 3 kids, and moved there when the youngest was 2 months old. She LOVES Albania, says it's a wonderful place to raise children, and answered all my logistical questions such that it all sounds doable.

So now we just have to figure out the logistics of packing up our house and getting it rented out. We're planning to be there for 2 years (actually a leave of absence for T.). It's true that there were some good reasons for postponing this move for a year, but in the balance of things, it felt like defeat to stay here. I think we'll be able to manage it.


Rachel said...

I had to look up Albania to figure out where it was, I guessed former Soviet republic so I was as least close. I think this sounds like an excited adventure!

Rachel said...

I mean "exciting".

Beth said...

So very exciting! I have been catching up on your life by reading your blog (after seeing the post on facebook), and am so excited for you guys!

Kendra said...

Elizabeth, that is so exciting! I got to visit Albania briefly a few years ago while my grandparents were living in Lushnje -- it is a beautiful corner of the world, with some of the most hospitable people!! Will you do Shqipe language study? Where will you be located? Terry will be in coffee heaven. :)
You two are now in the group of people WE admire! Best wishes and can't wait to see updates!