Brown Mom Abroad Interview Series
BMA: Introduce yourself!
My name is Melissa Holmes and I am the mother of a wonderful 8-year-old girl soon to be 9 years old in August. I am originally from Charleston, SC born and raised. I lived in Maryland for 2 and half years prior to accepting a position overseas. I moved to Kuwait in August 2016.
BMA: At what age did you and your child(ren) receive your passports?
My daughter and I got passports in 2016. I was 35 and she was 7. I applied for my passport while I was applying for jobs overseas. I applied for her passport after I received my offer.
BMA: Do you speak (or currently learning) any language other than English?
We do not speak any other language other than English. We have dabbled in Spanish over the years.
BMA: What made you decide to live abroad?
I have always desired to move abroad but was scared out my mind. What was a single mother going to do abroad as a teacher? Then I joined various Facebook groups that were tailored to my specific needs as a single parent kindergarten teacher and the locations I was considering (UAE was my first choice) I have heard great things about being abroad. The opportunity to save and travel. The tax free salary was also very tempting. I also did not want to get burnt out as a teacher and I wanted to continue to love teaching. So I took a leap!
BMA: How long do you plan on living abroad?
I plan to stay abroad and possibly teach in various countries and retire in either Thailand or Ecuador.
BMA: What do you miss most about home?
I am going to miss my family, food, American comfort and all four seasons.
BMA: What advice can you share with families thinking of moving abroad?
Advice I would give and have given is – go for it! You will never be fully ready just decide what you want out of the whole experience. Pick a country apply and go for it. Is it scary? Yep however the experience is going to, far outweigh the fear.
BMA: How do your kids feel about living abroad? Were they born abroad?
My daughter is excited about going abroad. She was happy that her school will have a pool and she gets to go to school with me. She is watching me and how I am responding to it all. As long as I am calm and happy about it she’ll be open to everything. I have explained to her she can still talk to family and even got her a cell phone. She wants to travel and have fun.
BMA: What’s your advice for moms who are thinking of traveling with kids?
My advice for mothers traveling with kids is similar to thinking about moving abroad. Make a plan and go for it. Involve the kids in the process. Ask them where they want to go. Make it an adventure.
BMA: What’s your traveling style? Are you spontaneous or detail-oriented?
My travel depends on my mood. I like to have a general idea and be flexible with what I will see and do. As long as we both have fun, I am okay.
BMA: What were you most anxious/nervous about moving abroad?
I was most nervous about moving to a new country. I was on an emotional roller coaster. One minute I’m happy and excited. The next minute I am questioning my own sanity. It is a whole new world. I don’t think I could be fully prepared for this experience so I keep an open mind and focus on the positive.
BMA: Did you feel prepared?
I felt as prepared as I was going to get. I downsized my apartment and I tried not to stress. When I do got overwhelmed I prayed and wrote in my blog. I was in contact with the school and it helped tremendously and calmed my anxiety. My school contact was also a single mom so that made me feel just a little better about going abroad.
BMA: What has been the hardest part with planning an International Move?
The hardest part was the transitions. My lease was up June 20 and school ended in June. So I had to move and downsize a two-bedroom apartment. I gave away a lot of stuff. I threw away just as much.
BMA: Can you tell us how you landed your contract abroad?
I landed my job after about a month and half of searching. I decided months prior that I wanted to go overseas. I had tossed the idea around for years but I finally said enough is enough time to confront my fears. I applied through one of the free recruiting companies that everyone talks about. I had a preliminary interview but everything kinda of came to a halt. I then paid for a website on a Friday evening and by Monday I had three interviews. Two weeks later I was offered a job. Kuwait was not on my list. I almost didn’t accept it. I took a deep breath and I signed my offer. The authentication process was daunting and time consuming. I ended up paying one of the companies to finish it for me. I left August 15, 2016 for my new adventure and chapter in my life.
BMA: What are your top 3 hopes to living abroad?
1. Save to retire abroad.
2. Get out of debt.
3. Have an experience of a lifetime.
BMA: Did your family support your move?
My family and friends have been very supportive in my decision. I was able to answer all their questions which shows to them that I have done my research and I was not doing this without giving much thought to it.
BMA: What did you do with all of your belongings?
I gave away stuff. I sold stuff. I left stuff at my mom’s house. Figuring out what to do with my stuff was one of the hardest and easiest thing to do. I realized I am a pack-rat every time I move. You just don’t realize how much stuff you have until you have to pack it up and move. However, I paced myself and when I gave it away or sold it or decided to leave it I was at peace with it all. I have decided that if it doesn’t fit in two large pieces of luggage and our carry-on bags then we don’t need it and it won’t go with us.
BMA: How can we follow your journey?
Thoughts on Melissa’s interview? Comment below!