Why did I decide to pack up and overturn my life by moving to another country for an indefinite period of time? Or perhaps more to the point, as I already have lived overseas for the last two years, why did I decide to remain overseas and now move to a country where I actually have to have a visa and will no longer be paid in US dollars?
I have a number of reasons, both personal and professional, but these are among the top.
I love to travel. I started collecting postage stamps when I was about 5 or 6 years old, as I like to dream of all the places the stamps have been and their history. While there is so much more of the US that I want to see, there is even more of the world I want to see as I have the opportunity, and there are some places that I may have a better chance of exploring and learning about sooner if I live somewhere else like New Zealand (e.g., NZ itself of course, and Australia being the most obvious first choices…cheaper flights and more vacation time means I’ll be able to see and learn more than if I was just there for a couple weeks’ visit).
I will also have the opportunity to learn some new things, like here in the Marshall Islands I learned to scuba dive, and went sailing and deep sea fishing for the first time. Not that I couldn’t do any of that in the US of course, but depending on where you live, some activities may be more accessible and economical. In New Zealand, maybe I will learn to ski or snowboard, further advance my scuba certifications, go bungee jumping, etc.
Kwajalein has certainly challenged me in many ways, but now I need some greater challenges in my career and perhaps in my life. Moving to the Southern Hemisphere where cold fronts come from the south, winter in the middle of the year, and forecasters report temperature in Celsius and winds in kph, may not take too long to get used to (I remember it feeling weird at first having Kwajalein’s showers come from the east, and now I think nothing of it when in the tropics). However, New Zealand weather will give me plenty of forecasting challenges that I expect will keep me happy and humble. And let’s not even start on what it will be like getting used to driving on the “wrong” side of the road….
The global economy is a mess, and the US has been struggling with producing jobs; even for those with years of experience, there is often a lot of competition. I had hoped that things would improve by the time I left Kwajalein, but the job market still looks pretty bleak, especially now with the National Weather Service hiring freeze in effect, in an effort to reduce furloughs. As much as I love my country, I wasn’t willing to sit around for perhaps some time for the right job to come my way, when I could be happily living in another beautiful mountainous rainy/snowy country (in some ways reminiscent of where I grew up in the Pacific Northwest) with some similarities to the UK (I love that country) and a good job.
After the high turnover of Kwajalein (always seem to be meeting new folks and saying goodbye to others), I knew for a while that wherever I ended up next, I wanted it to be somewhere I liked well enough to settle there for some years. I couldn’t be happier with the idea of settling in New Zealand. My camera is certainly going to get a work out, and a new lens or two soon as well!