Plans Can Change
Isn’t it funny how you have everything planned out when you’re on your expat journey? Where you’ll go, how long you’ll be there. What you’ll do while there. Then maybe you’ve decided you’ll take advantage of a long-term or permanent resident program that may be offered in that country for non-citizens, and you lay out your strategy to make that happen. And then, change happens…
After being in Medellin, Colombia, over a year and a half, I needed to return to the U.S. My plan was to accomplish three major goals.
- Get Vaccinated
- Apply for my resident Visa through the U.S. Consulate
- See my new granddaughter
I was excited to see my family and get vaccinated so I could feel safe visiting family and friends. I also wanted to celebrate the upcoming birthdays of my son, my granddaughter, my dad and my own. I estimated my stay in the States for about 3 months and would return to Medellin at the end of July.
I arrived in the states May 2 and checked off my goal list –
- Got first vaccination – May 5 – Check
- Applied for Retirement Visa – May 12th – Check
- Spend time with my granddaughter – Check
Little did I know my carefully laid out plans were about to change significantly!
The Grand Offer – Unexpected Events Can Change Everything
Just as I submitted my application, my son approached me with an offer.
“Hey mom, you know Ashley (my soon to be daughter-in-law) is planning to go back to school to get her nursing degree. It would be a great help if you stayed and help take care of the baby. You wouldn’t have to pay for anything. In fact, you can pocket all the money you are earning now, travel during her breaks and you’ll have your own room in our new home, rent free, free groceries, everything included, he said.”
Man, I wasn’t expecting this. Giving up my freedom of travel whenever, wherever I chose? Giving up my apartment in Medellin for 1 year, thinking I was done with raising any more children? What would you do?
You never know what you’ll encounter that will upend all your expat plans. And of course, after applying and failing to get approved for my Retirement Visa last year, they approved my new application for 3 years!
After serious consideration, I thought how great it would be to have a hand in connecting to my granddaughter that I could not have thousands of miles away. And the idea of piling up my coins was quite appealing.
So I said yes, for at least one year, and we will re-evaluate after that.
I share this to say a couple of things:
The Unexpected – Real Freedom
First, always be prepared for the unexpected. Just because you have longed for what you believe is the excitement, adventure and freedom of being an expat, things can change in an instant.
Second, as a friend said to me, this is the ultimate freedom. The ability to take a year or so off and do something else you love. That your plans can be on pause, take off on a fresh adventure and then return to your original plans, but as a better person because you did something fulfilling.
As expats and immigrants, we always have to remain flexible and be ready to turn on a dime, and don’t be disheartened if you have to take a step back on your journey.
Remember, this is what freedom looks like! Did you have to make decisions that took turned your expat plans upside down or on hold?
by: Gail Turner Brown