In 1996 I made the most positive decision I’ve ever made for my family; I decided to move abroad.
I was a single mom of four, working as a DJ at a nightclub in Los Angeles, going to school during the day to get my degree in Psychology and not seeing a whole lot of my kids. In addition to that, my twins were about to turn 12 and would be in junior high school the following year; I was becoming increasingly alarmed by the fast pace at which kids in California seemed to be growing up, experimenting with drugs, and engaging in other less than healthy activities.
I wanted a change. I wanted to get my children out of California and raise them in a different kind of environment. In addition to that, I wanted to be able to be home with them for meals in the evenings, afford them a private education and give them the gift of a world view that went beyond the U.S.A.
I was considering a few different places abroad, including Australia and Mexico. Having spent some time in Cabo San Lucas, I had a number of expatriate friends and knew it was a great community for expats. Australia, admittedly, felt a little scarier given the distance, though the language thing was a big positive.
Then one day, out of the blue, a good friend of mine called and said she had just returned from Costa Rica where her husband was opening a customer support call center. Knowing I’d been thinking a lot about Mexico, she suggested that I take a trip down to hang out with her and check it out.
The minute I stepped off the plane at San Juan Santamaria International Airport in San Jose, Costa Rica, I knew that I was home. Nevertheless, with a mind toward due diligence, I spent about a week exploring the area, doing some fun “touristy” kinds of activities and checking out housing, schools and basic living necessities. At the end of the week I knew it was right and I asked my friend’s husband for a job.
Since the company was just opening, they were able to “sponsor” me for residency by saying that I was a principle in the company and needed to perform certain tasks that required special training, including that of training new local employees how to do their job.
Back in California I had 6 weeks to get ready. I ordered passports for the kids, and sorted through all of our belongings to decide what we should ship down in our container via the moving company I’d contracted, what should be gifted to those in need, what should be trashed and what should be sold in the massive garage sale I’d organized.
Once all that was done, accounts and services were closed, the car was sold, and our bags were packed, we were off for our new life in Central America.
I was excited. The kids, on the other hand, weren’t very happy with me, given that they were 11, 9 and 5; I heard things like “there is no Disneyland there”, “I’m going to miss my friends”, and “but we won’t be able to surf” (They were later delighted to learn that Costa Rica actually has some of the best surfing in the world) but, I stuck to my decision knowing it was the best thing for all of us. Thus, I countered with things like, “yes, but you’ll know how to speak Spanish” and “ you’ll get to see monkeys in the wild” and “I know you’re bummed out about this, and I felt the same way at your age when my parents decided to move, but trust me; you’re going to like it and we are doing this because I love you.”
Once in Costa Rica we settled into our new digs. Since I’d had so little time to prepare, our shipping crate had not arrived yet, so we didn’t have our television, video games, bikes, skateboards, board games, toys or books; what a blessing! During the two weeks that we waited for our things, the kids got really creative and we had some of the best family time we’ve ever had together.
That was nearly 18 years ago. Today my children are successful, bilingual adults who consider the entire world to be their backyard. Having experienced life abroad, their
perspective goes far beyond the boundaries of the United States and they have a multi-cultural understanding of humanity to take into life with them. Best of all, each in his, or her, own turn has expressed to me their gratitude for having had a different kind of upbringing. Turns out, Disneyland wasn’t such a big loss after-all; especially when they realized that airplanes go both ways!
Lynette Garet is a copywriter with over 20 years of experience and proficiency in traditional marketing, digital marketing, copy writing, editing, optimized content creation, SEO, project management, voice-over work, narration, script writing, and production.