Brexit: Into the Fog

Disclaimer: I am not a UK citizen, did not have a vote in the EU Referendum, and am not white British by ethnicity. I currently live in Iceland, but as I am married to an Englishman and consider London one of my many homes around the world, the UK is a big part of my life. I consider the United Kingdom my country, too.

If these things disqualify me in your mind from giving an opinion on this week´s developments, feel free to piss off to another corner of the Internet. May I suggest this page full of cat .gifs.

I woke up Friday morning late. 10 am, GMT.

We had gone out to the end of the lake on kayaks and canoes to jump from a bridge into the freezing waters below, and not returned until midnight. The fog on the water was a dreamscape; we floated on a mirror toward it in the late sunset near the local hill and eventually disappeared into it. One couldn´t see more than about 30 feet in the fog, and it gave our tiny kayak the impression of being lost in a dew-lit morning. No shores. No birds. No wind. Gray water reflecting the gray all around us. Beautiful, but a little bit scary at the same time.

We went to sleep when only the first four of the declarations had been made. Sunderland was declared Leave just as we turned in for the night.

At the risk of sounding hackneyed, the metaphor of the fog on the lake was not lost on me the next morning. I sat wrapped in a towel on the 1970s sofa in our shared living room, having not bothered to get dressed before checking the EU Referendum results. We had been fairly sure that the vote would be In. Quick check, then into the shower.

I sat in my towel for more than an hour, unable to unglue my butt from the sofa.

“Russell?” I said, a little alarm in my voice when the BBC´s ´UK Votes Out EU, Cameron to Resign’ headline came up on the window I´d left open from the night before. “They voted out.”

Into the fog, then.

I´ve been a spectator to the paroxysms that have taken over my newsfeeds. Social. Political. Economic. At least a few of the predictions from before the vote have solidified.  Our money will go 10% shorter in Iceland, at least the part of it parked in Sterling. We had been telling people that we came to Iceland because Russ could, in theory, have a job here and stay under current rules. I´m sure everyone´s seen a lot of fights on Facebook and Twitter, the #NotMyVote reaction, the #LeaveWins gloating, and the confusion of the global market. A selection of my favourites from the ‘airwaves:’

If we vote Brexit tomorrow I’m staying in the USA and going underground. If the US votes Trump then I’ll go to Canada and drown myself in maple syrup ‪#‎voteremain

Guys, just to be clear, we’re not desperate to stay so keep your marriage proposals. It’s your economy you just fucked, not us x

51.9% of you, can go fuck yourselves.

I’m so upset for all of my European friends who feel let down and heartbroken by the Brexit, especially those with a strong connection to Britain. Most young people in the UK, including myself, share these feelings with you.
Now we’re stuck with a decision that most of the people who voted to leave will only have 20 more years on this planet to live with. However, We cannot and will not give up hope. Love must prevail over bigotry, racism and ignorance.

Too many feelings for words, really. I feel adrift in the world, in a country that doesn’t want me, pleading for changes I never get.
I really wanted to build a life here, I really did. But I don’t recognise this place.

Welcome to the Idiocracy

It seems my friends on here have similar viewpoints to me. There must be alternate news feeds I am not seeing, full of posts about how proud everyone is that the economy is crashing and how everyone can go back to where they came from now. I am genuinely gutted about the news this morning. As long as half the population (not including Manchester, London or Scotland who apparently voted the other way) are pleased with what they have done. I hope they are proud that we are the laughing stock of the world.

I’ve lived in Hackney (as you know, a very multicultural borough) for over six years and today for the first time, I heard the word p*ki shouted at someone in the street. This may or may not have anything to do with the recent referendum but I fear this is the sort of ‘legitimised’ racism that these examples attest to and I totally understand how upset and desperate you feel.

(I anonymised these quotes from people I do genuinely know since I´m not sure if they wanted to be on my blog with their names on them. If you see your words up there and want to have them attributed or want to be included, contact me!)

That last one up there is the most worrisome thing about the EU Referendum result. Steady reports of idiots empowered by the apparent opinions of their country´s voters have been trickling in on social media, and although I do not accept wholesale that the reports are all sparkly bastions of Truth, it sure as shit is possible some racists will feel emboldened. Try as they might to protest that it´s all about economics, the Leave campaign deliberately stoked xenophobic tendencies in those it wooed. Even if it hadn´t, there would still have been underlying tension.

Immigration has long been a third rail in the UK. I´m no stranger to the ways that people felt long before this referendum about those who have taken advantage of the (now former?) freedom of movement to get jobs in the UK. My blinding whitness shielded me from a lot of criticism when I was a migrant myself in the UK 2013-2015, but it also made it so that those few people who were wont to go on and on about the job stealing culture ruiners we apparently are slammed on the brakes with a blushing, backtracking, ‘Oh, well I didn´t mean you….’ when I pointed out my immigration status.

This was followed by misunderstandings about how marriage does not grant automatic citizenship, right to family life, or leave to remain once we got married in 2014. I wrote in 2014 about my envy of British citizenship:

6. Can’t Beat EU Membership 

Oh, yes. Good ol’ Figel Narage and his UKIP kin are vehemently opposed to EU membership. But let’s be honest, the chances of the UK leaving are akin to those of Scotland voting ‘Aye’ on its referendum later this year.Which is to say, pretty slim. The benefits of being in the EU are farther-reaching than most who grew up with them can imagine.

Not being a card-carrying member sucks. UK citizens can travel the world with greater ease than I because of their EU membership. They can work in any number of foreign countries on the continent, or retire to them once it’s time. They can study without barriers, and should they happen to fall in love with someone who has a membership card to this great political experiment, the doors are open.

Despite the misgivings, the EU is often led by the UK. There is no one leader of the EU, but no one can deny that the UK has serious bargaining power. I’d love to be on the cutting edge of international politics, problematic and bizarre though it often is.

That post needs some adjusting now.

I couldn´t form an opinion on the couch on Friday, in my towel. I couldn´t form one later, while we scrubbed toilets on the campsite. I still had not found a way to reconcile my thoughts eight hours of mopping and wiping up later. Even now, several hundred words that started as an incoherent journal entry later, I am not sure what I think about Brexit. But I am fairly certain about how I feel.

I feel disappointed.

On a personal level, I felt the loss of what I had hoped for some time would be the future for my nascent binational family. Me and Russ might not fit in well back´’home’ in the US or the UK, but we could always move to an EU country and stay there. It might actually have been easier for us than if we wanted to move to our ‘own’ countries with a foreign spouse. It might still be possible to live in Europe, but I selfishly wanted it to be easier than it will now be.

Lately, I´ve been toying with the idea that my generation´s political and social inheritance will be one of profound sadness, above all. The Brexit vote shows a massive, clear, and undeniable split between the voter´s ages. On average, Remain was young. On average, Leave was older. But this is not a petulant post about how screwed over by previous generations we are as Milennials, nor a post about how everyone should kowtow to the immense knowledge and wisdom of our elders that wiped 24 years of EU contributions (£200 billion) off the UK stock market in a day.

I wouldn´t characterise the Brexit as a tragedy, as so many have. Tragedy is too close to home, coming from the USA where gun violence is treated like a natural disaster (out of our hands, tragic but as impossible to prevent as a hurricane or earthquake). Nigel Farage appears to have forgotten that his ‘Independence Day’ did not, in fact, come without a shot fired. Sadness is nonetheless the theme of Brexit for me, as it is the theme of so much social and political machination for me.

The sadness that I sense in the reactions of my peers to the news this week is not new to me. It feels oddly similar to the sadness I feel about Barack Obama´s Presidency. Akin sadness to what I feel about the endless two wars that started half my lifetime ago in Iraq and Afghanistan. Sadness that I feel about gun control and the huge check on my happiness that LGBT marriage was legalised in the US last summer in the form of the Pulse Nightclub shooting. The sadness I feel looking back on The Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street. The sadness of a lifetime of inaction and blustering on Climate Change, the single greatest threat to humans since nuclear weapons (which are still around and waiting, too).

I am part of a generation raised on the sacchrine distillation of the last days of the Cold War, our youths sandwiched between the fall of the Berlin Wall and September 11th. Told, through oft-repeated readings of the story of Rosa Parks and the deliberate condensing of complicated 20th century history into Narrative that change can be wrought by individuals. That change is real. That we are ready for it. That change will come. Often, as with The Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street, it felt like things might actually be changing. Then we are back to where we were, or worse.

That is one speck of hope I have in the confusion and disappointment I feel about the Brexit. I have voted for what I thought was a change, and gotten more of the same. I have participated in more direct forms of democracy, and gotten more of the same. I have fought for years on issues close to my heart to see them pass or fail, and received the great gray sameness of the grinding gears of the same as before. This apparent pendulum swing in the direction of nativism and bonafide right-wing politics in two of ‘my countries’ in the forms of Brexit and the Trump candidacy will not make 2016 a year that lives in any particular infamy. Change happens, but slowly and haphazardly. Unless we´re talking about the Great Barrier Reef or the Greenland Ice Sheet.

Therefore I have some hope that for all their current victory, Leave voters will feel some of the same sameness I feel when looking along the long lines of disappointments. The 10% drop in currency stablised and the recession in the UK assured, things will go back to grinding along as they have for ages. The people who thought they were voting for change and even an ‘Independence Day’ by voting Leave (if all of them understood fully what they were doing, since at least a few appear not to have known what, exactly, the EU is) will not get what they thought they were voting for, except in the knowledge that Leave won a hard-fought and divisive campaign. The fog is now settling on the UK, and if it even manages to come out of this referendum intact the fog of uncertainty will hang over the country for years.

Brexit is not a revolution. It´s not a democratic triumph. It´s not a tragedy just yet. It´s a massive disappointment.

Observations Of American and British TV (Telly)

Living in London was the longest I’ve ever lived abroad. The longest I’ve lived outside Colorado since I was very tiny.

Many things feel a bit off, somehow. The usual WHY IS EVERYTHING SO BIG except WHY ARE THE PINTS SO SMALL problems. But there are other things.

How few people there seem to be in…everywhere. Empty streets, day or night. Empty busses, most of the time. Large shopping centres, largely empty all day every day. Weirdly comforting Top 40s music drifting over the sofas and stairways that should hold many more thousands. Flatirons Crossing just is not Westfield in Stratford.

The unbelievable price of coffee, with its not-so-subtle notes of Burned and Acidic folded into the $15 per pound price (and yes, that’s more expensive than London even with the conversion rate). For that matter, the tea isn’t right. It’s far too light in colour and flavour. I never understood why British people insist on milk in tea. Now I know that US tea is quite a bit more watery. I may need some emergency PG Tips soon. 

But perhaps the biggest difference is the TV.

I’ve been in the US for a month, and I want my British telly back. No, BBC America is not (entirely) sufficient. I am starving for witticisms. Famished for brilliant historical documentaries. Peckish for political commentary that is actually mostly tolerable to watch. 

Television is a huge habit when unemployment creeps in. We’re sitting around my parents’ house, trying not to go crazy from boredom while we try to save money. No income coming in. My freelance gigs that I’d hoped to rely on fell through completely. Savings are flying out of hand at a rather alarming rate.

TV it is. Or would be.

There is so very little to watch. From the TV Guide menu: My 600 Lb. Life. Booze Traveler. Hannity. Nancy Grace. Skinny Gut Vibrant You. TMZ. Endless, ceaseless rerun marathons of How I Met Your Mother, Law & Order, Swamp People, and Catfish. (Ok, I might watch the endless marathons of Catfish. It’s one of the few I can stand).

It can be hard to put one’s finger on the reasons British telly is infinitely superior to US TV. It might be the fact that you don’t get bombarded with adverts every 20 seconds. Seriously. There are so many adverts that Top Gear lasts 1.5 hours instead of just one. Food, pharmaceuticals, and Full Tanks of Freedom. Repeat.

Even if we’d had a TV license at our London house, we would have had far higher quality telly to watch. It’s subtly different from TV in the US. There are intellectually challenging shows, and documentaries that have a deeper meaning than My Strange Addiction. Sure, there’s Benefits Street and Immigration Street. Guilty pleasures. Still, even the ‘trashier’ shows contribute something or challenge views. At the very least, they provoke the papers to write about it and make people think. Sorta.

Admittedly, I avoided Eastenders, Strictly Come Dancing, and I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here. There’s a lot of crappy British telly. It’s just that it doesn’t seem to be on all the time! I miss Winter Watch and Prime Minister’s Questions. I miss University Challenge. I miss the Undateables.

Thank all good things for my VPN. 

Escaping London

We dragged our bags through the narrow turnstiles and onto the platform at Dagenham Heathway station, a full five minutes later than I had scheduled. The first of three long journeys for 21 January, 2015 loomed ahead of us. Get to Heathrow. On the Tube. In rush hour.

The past week had kept us so busy as to seem like London life would just continue as normal. I worked six days in a row and had my last shifts at the bar. Russell worked a schedule largely opposite to mine. Between that and our leaving pub visits with friends, we didn’t have the time to begin packing our room until the morning we had to leave. The transition out of London, known about ever since I received my visa to move there, seemed utterly abrupt. We woke up in our room in Leyton, and it went from being our room to being a stranger’s in less than two hours.

Stranger's room

Stranger’s room

Of course, the District Line decided to give us the parting gift of ‘Minor Delays,’ which turned out to be a full 25 minutes of standing on the filling platform, contemplating going the exact opposite direction of Heathrow to Upminster and hoping for the faster trains. The train eventually crawled up to us, and the mash was on.

Even as a practiced London commuter with 16 months under my belt, this was torture. The train sauntered down the track at walking speed. Above the crowd, the husband and I exchange worried looks.

“Let’s just get off at West Ham. We’ll take the Jubilee Line.”

A few seconds later, “A notice to customers, there is no step-free access at West Ham due to elevator improvements.”

Of course. We got this.

We EXCUSE ME PLEASE’d our way through the crush, down one set of crowded stairs, up another, and then down one more. The Jubilee Line was crammed, but running as normal. Off to a station we’d never set foot in before on the west side of London. Through seemingly endless halls with changing directions (keep left! No, keep right!). Onto the Piccadilly Line.

I’ve always thought, in part because I took it so much during my unsavoury MA experience, that the Piccadilly Line would be the one Line of the London Underground where the zombie apocalypse would come to the City. It runs directly from the biggest airport into the centre. It’s full of confused tourists with built in obstacles in the form of their huge luggage. Very little ventilation. I’m not a huge fan of the Piccadilly Line.

As we wandered out of the tunnels into the grey day I realised London was fading behind us. In the fray of the ‘Minor Delays’ and the workout of carrying our meagre worldly possessions, I’d forgotten to say goodbye to some of my favourite places. London is odd; the edges of the city seem to wrap around like a parabolic curve and the neighbourhoods in the west look bizarrely similar to those on the fringes of the East that we’d left behind.

We alighted at the nearly-closed Terminal 1, one of five passengers checking in. Our bags were checked easily. We were sniffed by two different bomb finding dogs.

“Strange. They seem to be on some kind of alert.”

My husband pointed out the sniper on the second floor.

“Let’s go through security.”

Just like that, we were through. It was weirdly simple. Weirdly quiet. I got a full pat down and metal-detecting due to a zipper I’d forgotten on my bra. I was officially out of the UK, less than 24 hours before my Tier 4 visa was up. I am not allowed to return without a family/partner visa. I had to say goodbye, not knowing when I might return to the country that had been home for 16 months. We took off and almost immediately disappeared into the low London clouds, and that period of our lives was over.

My time in London is done, for now. That constant inconstancy of transition is back.

On to the next adventure.

Next Time- The Iceland Adventure. A preview: 

Glacial Ice Cave

Glacial Ice Cave

What to Know About Applying for Visas: Become a Bureaucratic Ninja

This morning I arose after a night tossing and turning, with visions of paperwork and stamps in my head. I turned on NPR and jumped in the shower, carrying my pre-laid-out professional-but-not-flashy in person application outfit. I grabbed my Go Folder and headed out the door into a mini-snowstorm. Fifty minutes of intense winter driving later, I was at the Colorado Passport Agency.

Today, I renewed my trusty passport in preparation for moving to Shanghai, China. My international life had taken up too many pages. The passport that ushered me across the borders of 25 countries was suddenly no more, with two precise holes punched through it.

This is normal for me. I have applied for more than five full-pager visas. This is what they can look like.

Full-page sticker for my E-2 visa in the ROK

Full-page sticker for my E-2 visa in the ROK. Chile’s is above. 

I don’t know which process was more intense, the E-2 work visa for Korea or the Tier 4 student visa for the UK. Both were months long, involved huge amounts of paperwork, and required various biological data (biometrics for the UK, a full-blown health exam and fingerprinting for Korea). Italy’s Schengen study visa was the first I ever applied for. India required a full application even as a tourist. Chile’s took me far longer than my programme said it would because I lived in a tiny town in Patagonia. In seven years, five major visa applications. And I’m in the middle of my sixth.

You could say I’m familiar with immigration and visas.

I know from experience that this amount of involvement can feel less like red tape and more like a bureaucratic Ninja Warrior course. It’s not something that many people mention when talking about study and work abroad, perhaps because it would re-traumatise those who make it through. Being able to get a visa is the step that can make or break a trip abroad.

My best advice for getting yourself into Paperwork Warrior shape is here:

Before you do anything else, make certain that your passport is in hand. It must be valid for at least six months after you intend to leave your destination in most cases. You also need to consider how many pages you have available. Some countries (ahem, Korea and China) may discourage the use of ‘additional visa pages’ and require the originals. Renew as necessary.

 

Get a folder. Label it on the front in black, permanent, HUGE letters with words to reflect the seriousness of the process. Something to the effect of “VISA DOCUMENTS. Do not move, touch, re-arrange, or put away this folder or I will chuck my passport repeatedly at your thick head!” (don’t actually write that….). This will be your Folder of Doom.

Organize thyself!

Organize thyself!

Take this Folder of Doom and make sure it has a home. Always put it back in that home. It gets homesick if it’s out for even a few minutes, if it’s not doing the work for which it was born. Be consistent. Losing this shit will make you lose out on your trip.

Depending on the country to which you are applying, and the nature of the visa you require, the list of documents that must go into the Folder of Doom will change. For example, a student visa will generally require a letter of enrolment (official), proof of funding and means, and more. A work visa is generally more intensive, requiring criminal background checks, degrees that have been officially recognised, letters of reference, you firstborn, etc.

An FBI Background Check for a visa (required for work and some student visas) should be your first priority to submit. It requires:

  1. A set of fingerprints taken at your local police station.
  2. A completed form and payment (you can pay with a credit card).
  3. 14-16 WEEKS for processing (an international embarrassment; the UK takes two days). According to the FBI’s website as of 4 February 2015:

On September 7, 2014, CJIS installed a new IT system. As a result of this installation, we are experiencing delays in processing. Please be assured that each issue is being identified and resolved as quickly as possible, but at this time anticipated processing time for an Identity History Summary is approximately 14-16 weeks. Allow additional time for mail delivery. “

As soon as you possibly can, submit this. Even before you have a job secured in Korea or a place on your year-long study abroad program in Spain or Chile. Before applying for a passport, if you need one.

Get familiar with your local notary.

Get familiar with the term ‘apostille.’ This is a special recognition of the authenticity and importance and general expensiveness of an official document like a university degree or a criminal record check. It can be quite stressful to obtain, and takes time. Check your state’s Secretary of State website for more details, and consider going with a channeler.

Get familiar with being fingerprinted. It takes practice, believe it or not.

Always show up early for appointments at the embassy or any other official office. Leave time for getting lost/a giant random snowstorm. Bring only what is necessary for that appointment, and leave the Folder of Doom in its home.

Be stubborn, but practical. If necessary, ask to speak to a manager. I once sat down on the floor of the Chilean equivalent of the DMV and refused to leave until they gave me my passport back. It had been two weeks that I’d been walking around passportless, and I couldn’t go on a trip to Argentina without it. I gauged the situation carefully, and I don’t recommend this except as a last resort. The woman eventually opened an unlocked filing cabinet (!) and attempted to hand me a Russian passport. I walked out with the passport and that damn sticker, ready to complete the next step of any work permit: the residency card.

Three different kinds of ID, lined up from three different adventures

Three different kinds of ID, lined up from three different adventures.

Keep all your receipts. ALLLL you receipts. You never know when you may need them. Put them in the Folder of Doom.

If your visa requires a health check, either before or after arrival, assume that you will be drug tested. Don’t take any risks. I live in Colorado now, and there are temptations. Just don’t do it. The laws regarding drug use of the country you are going to is all that anyone will care about. Get healthy and get used to giving up illegal activities. It’s just not worth the consequences.

Find something to do in offices and at home that will keep your hands busy while you wait. Crochet is a great one, I’ve found.

And finally, once you do send away the documents and your passport make certain that you get a tracking number. Put that tracking number into your Folder of Doom. Depending on the embassy and national holidays, you should get the package back in a few days to a few weeks. Make sure you have your ‘No Idle Hands’ activities ready.

 

Gathering all your documents and getting them to the embassy or consulate on time is enough to give me an ulcer. It comes and goes. It’s cool. Visas and immigration are a big part of my life, and it doesn’t look like they will be leaving it any time soon. When my husband and I go through the partner visa process in one of our countries, or emigrate to a third party country that will accept us both, I’ll post a guide.

If you have any questions, I will do my best to help you out. Contact me here:

The Transition: Moving Abroad. Again.

It’s coming to a close, this chapter. I began boxing up our things this morning; I slowly prioritised our wedding decorations and the Christmas decorations I totally forgot to put out this year, making them into small packages for a life on the move. Again.

I’ve written that phrase more in the last four years than anyone else I know. I’m moving abroad. Again. In February, which seems to be my month of international transition. Again. To a different continent. Again. I have no idea where I will be physically in three month’s time, much less six months or next Christmas. Again.

This time is the same, and it is different. We’re in the process to move to China. To teach. This time, it’s ‘we.’ My new husband and I are in the process, gathering bizzarely-phrased visa documents and wading through the abject tedium of a TEFL course.

The health form for a Chinese Z Visa

The health form for a Chinese Z Visa

As long as we don’t get cholera from our water here in east East London, we’re golden. I’ll be sure to wear my pomander on my petticoat to ward off The Plague as well.

The transition is opaque this time. More opaque than usual, for me. By this time four years ago, I had known for more than a month and a half that I would be leaving for Chile in February 2011.  Screen Shot 2014-12-29 at 12.21.29Screen Shot 2014-12-29 at 12.21.58

I knew what was coming, and I didn’t. The adventure in Patagonia was distant, but the flight was booked. A clear date (I thought; as it turned out the flight had to be delayed for an eardrum-puncturing infection that cost $450 and made me arrive in Santiago February 25th instead. The incredible mishaps of my flight to South America here.)  I had at least the illusion of clarity about my move abroad. I didn’t know which region of Chile I’d be in, but I’d requested Magallanes. I had an idea.

In 2011, it was the same deal.

Screen Shot 2014-12-29 at 12.29.11

Hah. I just realised I misspelled my future hometown in Korea. It’s Suwon, not ‘Sewon.’ I knew it would be February. I knew where I would be. I even knew my school’s name. It is difficult to Google things in South Korea, but I had a general idea where I’d be.

The transition was long to Korea. I left on one day and arrived two days later over the International Date Line. I endured chintzy magic tricks from the flight crew on Asiana Air Lines in that hour where the tenuous grip on reality slips closest to breaking…hour 13 on a trans-Pacific flight. I got in a cab in the freezing Korean winter with four other newbs, two of whom had never set foot in another country before. We set out for Suwon, across Seoul’s impressive girth. I later found out that a bus drops travellers off directly outside my school in Yeongtong. What I would’ve given to not be jet-lagged, lost, and full of pee after four hours of carsickness when I met my coworkers and students.

But I knew where I would be. The next year, I knew where we would be in three month’s time. Screen Shot 2014-12-29 at 12.37.30

We were heading away from Korea, into India. And I knew that in the end of 2013 I’d be somewhere, doing graduate school things. I knew that it would be a year of moving around and having no fixed place to call ours and living on three continents (four? India sure felt like a separate world, much less tectonic cluster).

And this year? No idea. There are less than three weeks until we have to move out of our tiny front room of a studio apartment. The date my visa expires is rather abruptly in the calendar I keep online. It’s been there for more than a year…waiting for this sudden transition.

Screen Shot 2014-12-29 at 12.39.43

Tomorrow at midnight, 2014 will be the past. This transition is coming. It’s practically here.

We haven’t bought a ticket. Even to leave the country. We haven’t a clue where we will be, although there is some vague indication that it might be the southern part of China. Shenzhen, maybe. But we’re not really sure. No way of knowing what our living situation might be, what city we might be in, or even if Russell can process his visa in the US or not. No indication of when we will go to China except maybe mid-late February. If we go at all. We have a vague Plan C: Get to Vietnam and meet in Ho Chi Min City.

The illusion of certainty was a lot stronger in 2010, 2011, and 2012. But it was just that…an illusion. Nothing could have prepared me for what adventures lay ahead in Chile, Korea, India, and England. I clung to the idea that by having a booked flight and a general idea of what I’d be doing, I’d figured it all out. I was able to be comfortable in the false certainty. But once I arrived in each of those places, the illusion faded away.

This time, there is no illusion to begin with. 2015 will bring at least two moves abroad. Again. This is all I need to know.