about me…

November 11, 2017:  Over the last ten years, I’ve been a nomad, wandering around the world, from Asia to Europe to the Middle East to Africa and back to Asia.  I taught English in Korea for one year.  I taught for nearly two years in the Sultanate of Oman, came home for a year, and then went to the south of China for another year.  I spent the spring semester of 2017 in Kanagawa Prefecture near Tokyo, Japan.  All told, I’ve traveled to 30 countries (including all around the U.S.A.) and one U.S. territory – Puerto Rico.

I have been searching for something, but I’m not sure what. I know it’s a cliché to say I’ve been searching for myself, but I think that’s exactly what I’ve been doing.  I’ve been searching for self-acceptance, for deep and abiding friendship, for adventure, for self-confidence, for independence, and for inner peace and happiness.   Sometimes I have found these things, and sometimes I haven’t.  I hope to continue this journey in America, with a newfound appreciation for a land I admittedly took for granted.  I hope to see the U.S. with fresh eyes.

me in Lalibela, Ethiopia in October 2012
me in Lalibela, Ethiopia in October 2012

I’ve been filled with wanderlust my whole life, and this journey was something I had to do.  Now I am ready to return home, a nomad, interrupted.  I don’t know how long this interruption will last before wanderlust whisks me away again, but for now, I feel like Dorothy on the Wizard of Oz, clicking my heels together, closing my eyes, and saying, “There’s no place like home.”

I returned home from Japan in August, 2017, and in late-September to early October, I traveled with my husband to Hungary, Austria and Czech Republic. In the summer before I went to Japan, we traveled to Iceland and to parts of Philadelphia and West Virginia.

It has been challenging reconnecting with my homeland, family and friends, many of whom have fallen by the wayside over my years of living abroad.  There’s plenty to explore in my own backyard: in Washington, in northern Virginia and parts further afield in my home state, in places along the whole East Coast and all through America.   So be on the lookout for me, a white-haired girl with a Canon and a notebook in hand, walking through the land of the questionably-free.

me in Busan, South Korea, April 2010
me in Busan, South Korea, April 2010

Here’s something I wrote about my “self” in a Friday Meditation I wrote for my blog: a nomad in the land of nizwa ~ friday mediation: the elusive “self”.

What is the upshot?  About identity, I don’t know the answer.  I only believe that my self is in flux, constantly evolving, ever-changing.  Just as Buddhism teaches.  My self is a composite of all the books I have ever read, all the interactions I have ever had, all the people I have ever loved and hated, all the places I have ever been, all the hobbies I have ever pursued, all the aches and pains and heartbreak I have ever felt, all the happiness and sadness and anger…. as well as that blob of gray matter that is in my rather large head.  It is all my hopes and dreams and goals, which are always evolving. Plus.  Many more things known and unknown, things remembered and forgotten, things experienced and only dreamed about.

me in Busan, South Korea in April 2010
me in Busan, South Korea in April 2010

Who am I?  I don’t know.  But, whatever my identity, I cannot become attached to any erroneous or self-important idea about it.  It is always in flux and cannot be contained: it is a stream running down a stream bed, a snake slithering through grass, lava flowing from a volcano.  I can only catch glimpses of it as it passes by.  It’s not mine to keep, so I should simply let all notions of it go.

I love this poem, written by Charles O. Hartman, because it describes the thrill I always feel at the possibility of reinventing myself: Writer’s Almanac: Ticket by Charles O. Hartman

me in Oman during one day of rare wadi flooding
me in Oman during one day of rare wadi flooding

Some of my most well-loved quotes:
“The dangers of life are infinite, and among them is safety.” ~ Goethe 

“Don’t be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” ~ Helen Keller

Here’s a list of the 30 countries I’ve traveled to or lived in as of November, 2017: 1) USA – spent most of my life here plus have traveled extensively. 2) Canada – several times. 3) Mexico. 4) Great Britain. 5) Bahamas. 6) France – twice. 7) Germany. 8) Egypt. 9) Singapore. 10) Thailand. 11) South Korea – lived there one year. 12) Turkey. 13) China – twice & lived there one year. 14) Japan – twice & lived there 4 months. 15) Vietnam. 16) Cambodia. 17) India. 18) Oman – lived there 2 years. 19) Jordan. 20) United Arab Emirates – twice. 21) Greece. 22) Nepal. 23) Ethiopia. 24) Spain. 25) Portugal. 26) Myanmar. 27) Iceland. 28) Hungary. 29) Austria. 30) Czech Republic.  AND Puerto Rico, a U.S. Territory. 🙂

21 thoughts on “about me…

  1. Beautiful blog! I hope to be able to travel as much someday and go ahead and follow all my dreams. Also, sorry, but going through your blogs, your son, Alex is rather good looking how I wish you could be our match-maker. 😛 Kidding!

      1. Well this is where my job is at the moment, and I’ve been here for almost 9 years now. But soon my husband and I going to hit the road become a nomad like the current “trend”…. 🙂

  2. Nice to stumble upon another nomad, and one who went home with fresh eyes. I may be doing that…after 20 years away. It’s fascinating to be able to rediscover the wonders of home.

    1. Great, I’m glad you found me. I’ll hop over to your blog so I can read more about you. Where will you be returning to, and when? Twenty years away is a long time. It will be greatly changed. Be prepared for reverse culture shock! Thanks so much for visiting and for your comment! 🙂

      1. Yes, if I end up returning, it will be really surreal. Not only have I been away for so long, I’ve had very little contact with other expat Americans. And I have purposely avoided the media and pop culture. At this point, it’s the most foreign place I can move to.

      2. Which area of the U.S. would you return to, Julie? When will you return and where are you now? I can’t imagine having been away for 20 years and then to return! It would be so hard to take the U.S. after the adventure of living abroad so long. The close-mindedness of America is difficult to live with. I have had a hard time returning each time, even though the longest I was gone was 2 years in Oman. Since I wrote this “About me…” in July of 2016, I’ve also been to Iceland, Japan for 4 months, and then Budapest/Vienna and Prague. I stupidly started blogs for each of my expat experiences and for each region of the world I’ve visited, so my travels and fiction are spread out over 16 blogs, which can be accessed via my menu! Ugh. Not a very good move, but to me it made sense at the time. I hope we can stay in touch. I look forward to following your readjustment to life in America.

      3. I’m in France now, but I’ve lived in 5 other european countries and on 2 Pacific islands. I think I could only deal with the US if I can find a way to live in northern Michigan, close to my family, and have a job where I don’t work with a lot of people. Haha. I know how close-minded the US is and that’s difficult, but it’s the self-righteousness (from all sides) that I can’t stand. But I’m tired. Living overseas – far away from family and with little to no local support- is difficult, too. We’ll see what happens. I’ll be making an extended visit in a couple of months. I have followed your America blog (had to use a non-wordpress email, because I never got the confirm link when I followed when I was logged in) so I will keep in touch. Thanks for connecting on Instagram, too.

      4. Lucky you to have lived all over Europe. Most of my living abroad has been in Asia, with 2 years in the Middle East. I hope you find your perfect situation in Michigan, close to your family. Thanks too for connecting. Keep us posted about your return home. 🙂

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