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Wednesday, August 22, 2018

reflections on our semi-repatriation

I knew that it wouldn't sink in that we actually moved back to the United States until August 20th rolled around and we didn't get on an EVA Air flight headed to Taipei. Why August 20th? That's about the time every year we would head back to Taiwan to prepare for the school year ahead. Well, August 20th came and went, and instead of heading back to Taiwan, we started to pack for our upcoming Icelandic road trip.

Truthfully, we are a little sad. We miss our friends and city and scooters. However, we have had so much fun since we returned to Washington State, and we have even more fun waiting around the corner.

This is what we have been up to since leaving Taiwan 1.5 months ago:

A dear friend who I met in Taiwan came to visit, and I had a blast showing her around the Olympic Peninsula for a few days. We hiked the Sunrise Trail at Hurricane Ridge, visited Rialto Beach, hiked down to Second Beach and Third Beach at La Push, explored the Hoh Rain Forest, and camped at Mora Campgrounds. It was so much fun to see my home state through the eyes of someone who had never experienced it before; the Pacific Northwest is truly a magical place, and we are so lucky that we get to call it home!
We also went on a road trip to the Oregon Coast for our annual family holiday. This year, we stayed further south than normal at Rockaway Beach. It was a quiet, sleepy, coastal town, and I loved it. Bubu had so much fun running around like a mad dog on the beach, and Ruby had so much fun getting to know her uncle and aunt. Sean and I drove north to hike the 5-mile Falcon Cape trail, and it was totally worth the blisters I acquired for completing the hike in my Birkenstock sandals instead of tennis shoes. The only down side of our experience was seeing two large snakes. I always, always was on the lookout for snakes in Taiwan, and the only ones I ever saw were baby cobras or dead large cobras. On this hike, I almost stepped on one snake and then I encountered another coiled on the side of the trail ready to strike. Luckily, no snakes along the coast in Oregon are venomous, but the 2-foot long snake almost gave me a heart attack (and Bubu too). 
Obviously, we have also been spending a lot of time with our families. We went to the zoo, we attended a folk concert at the harbor, we played at many parks, and we have had a lot of barbecues. We came home to spend time with our loved ones after being away for 6 years. It has been so nice to have this time, and it's even nicer because we have another 10 months of it. 
We have also been doing a lot of work behind the scenes to prepare for our next overseas teaching post. First, Sean started his graduate program, which he will complete August 2019; its focus is K-12 STEAM curriculum and instruction. For my non-teaching friends, that just means science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics. Sean's talents have always been grounded in these pursuits, and after teaching four subjects-- mathematics, science, language arts, and social studies-- for the past four years, these were his favorites! Second, Sean is getting certified to teach grades 5-8 middle school science and mathematics. He is taking the Praxis tests in October, so he should have his certifications some time in November. Third, I just became certified to be a librarian! This is something I have wanted to do for a while, and now that I have the time to job shadow my middle school librarian friends, it seemed like the perfect time to get my official certification too. I am not ready by any means to exit the classroom to become a librarian, but I need to accrue hundreds of dollars worth of professional development classes in order to maintain my professional teaching certification, and I wanted a focus for those classes. Being a middle school humanities teacher and being a teacher-librarian actually have a lot in common, so this is also something that will help focus my own skills as a middle school classroom teacher.  

As Sean is working hard on his program and new certifications, I have taken over most of our job hunt. It may surprise many people to learn that international schools are already posting openings for the 2019-2020 school year. We are recruiting through two companies, International School Services and Search Associates. Why both? This is our long term career, and we want to know which company suits us the best. This year, we will compare and contrast our experiences with both companies in order to better know which company to use in the future. So far, we have one interview lined up for a school in Bangkok, and we have applied for jobs in Beijing, Amman, and Brasilia. We know very well that this process is not straight cut, and we know that anything is possible. However, we are very excited to embark on this next journey. We know the experience will likely be very different from our experience in Taiwan; however, we welcome the excitement and challenges that a new post will bring to our lives. 

Beyond that, we are preparing to leave for Iceland in 10 days. I still cannot believe that we will be driving a motorhome around Iceland for two weeks with our 15 month old daughter, especially because neither of us have ever driven a motorhome before in our lives, but I can't wait to blog all about our trip, so keep your eyes peeled for new posts. 

Overall, we are missing Taiwan but glad to be home even though we are excited about finding our next international post. That makes sense, right? 

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  1. So excited to read your plans to go back abroad for the following school year! FYI my husband also uses Schrole to search jobs, and he has really liked this recruiting company as well. Good luck!!

  2. What a fun update. :) My husband is actually in Taiwan right now for work. He goes there every few months and totally loves it. I hope to join him on a trip sometime. I agree with you about the Pacific Northwest! We're so lucky to call this place home. <3