Tuesday, January 3, 2017

The Future is Murky

In five days, my family and I will board a plane and head to Jyväskylä, Finland. This journey began nearly a year and a half ago when I learned about the Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Program.  My husband, Jerod, had recently quit his job in corporate America to stay home with our girls full time, and I was feeling the itch to experience some sort of change or growth in my professional life. This opportunity appeared at nearly the perfect time in our family’s life for me to consider doing something this crazy. When I asked Jerod if he wanted to live abroad, he casually said, “sure”...so naturally, I applied.  In the wise words of one of my good friends, YOLO!  

The timeline went something like this:

  • August, 2015 - I became interested in this possibility.
  • September and October, 2015 - I spent a lot of time talking to colleagues and music educators getting advice on which counties I should explore and ideas about what my proposed project might look like.  
  • November, 2015 - I submitted the most beastly application I’ve ever completed.
  • December, 2015 - I waited.
  • January, 2016 - I waited some more.
  • February 2016 - I waited a little longer, and then late in the month I learned that I was being considered for a finalist and that I would take part in a phone interview to discuss my application and project.
  • March 2016 - I participated in my phone interview on March 2nd...and then I waited again.
  • April 2016 - On April 5th, I received an email from the Department of State congratulating me on being selected for the Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Program.  

The time between April and now has been full of so many preparations.  We had to:  Find housing in Finland, find renters for our house in Minnesota, complete many house projects to be ready to rent our house, clean out closets and throw out a TON of stuff from our house, attend the Fulbright orientation in Washington D.C., visit the Finnish Embassy in person to secure our Finnish visas, research how to pack for an entire family for a five month trip abroad, find a long-term substitute for my teaching job, continue to declutter our house, make sure all of our prescriptions and doctor appointments were up to date, get credit cards with no international transaction fee, figure out how to buy Sunbutter for our 5 year old daughter, Ruthie, in Finland, find English schooling for both Ruthie, and our 3 year old daughter, Lydia, in Finland, make contact with the two youth choirs I will be working with during my stay, throw out more stuff from our house, and so on, and so on…

Now we are less than a week away from leaving and I can hardly believe it.  I keep saying that I’m ready to finally get going, that this has been looming for so long and I’m anxious to rip the bandaid off and just DO THIS!  But it strikes me every time I say it that I actually have no idea what all of this will be like.  There is so much unknown.  “The future is murky” has become my mantra - not only for my time in Finland, but also for what my life will look like after we return.  I went into this thinking that the Fulbright was the final destination, but I have learned that for most people, the Fulbright is a stepping stone that opens many doors.  And what are those doors for me?  I have no idea.  But the way everything has fallen into place at every step of the way gives me a sense of peace about the unknown.  I’m confident that taking this wild risk is the right move for us to be taking, and good things will come from it, even if it is hard to know what that means.  

While I don't know what exactly lies ahead for me, here are a few things I am excited about and am looking forward to:
  • Seeing the Northern Lights.
  • Having a sauna in our house.
  • Unplugging with my family for five months.
  • Visiting new countries - hopefully more than just Finland.
  • Learning how to live more simply.
  • Working closely with two world-renowned youth choirs: Tapiola and Vox Aurea. I can't wait to see what I learn!
  • Going to Lapland to visit the REAL SANTA CLAUSE!!!! Maybe even staying in one of those glass igloos while we're at it...
  • Being in Finland during 2017, which is the 100th anniversary of Finnish independence.
  • Experiencing life in a socialist country.

One side note as we get ready to depart:  Preparing to leave the country for five months has sure made us feel loved!  It’s amazing how many people seem invested in this journey with us.  All of the well wishes, help with the girls, requests for updates, people who are making us meals this week, friends who want to make sure to see us before we leave - all of it is amazing.  It makes me so grateful to know that we have such a beautiful community of family and friends to return to on May 30th, 2017.  Until then, we’ll be seeing all of you here on the blog, and on Facebook!

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