“Mongolia, really? That sounds exciting … why?” I’ve heard that question many times over the last few weeks and months as we told family, friends and colleagues about our decision to accept jobs abroad. Initially when they asked me I answered a little nervously, explaining the various possibilities we’d had: Falklands; Singapore; Tanzania; and listing the pros and cons for our final decision. At first every time I responded I questioned myself, why were we going to Mongolia? Why are we moving abroad at all? Why are we going to take the children away from a school in which they are extremely happy and thriving? Question after question came to me in the early hours but whenever others asked me I always came up with positive answers. Maybe because deep down it was the right decision or was I just trying to convince myself?
For years we have discussed teaching abroad, it has always seemed to be something that we might do. Last year I discussed it with more and more people, my theory being that in the end if we talked about it enough, it would have to happen. The final push that we needed came just before Christmas when a good colleague of Pete’s passed away unexpectedly and we came to the conclusion that ‘life is too short’. We decided to go for it in the new year, and if nothing happened we (or maybe me) would put the idea to bed.
Applications were difficult. Where did we really want to teach? What year group? Should we both teach or just one of us? It was a time consuming business and Pete didn’t always appreciate being told he had 24 hours to complete an application if I had told a school in my application that he would be applying too. After 5 or 6 we’d heard nothing, I started thinking maybe it wasn’t actually going to happen. Then over February half term Pete was offered an interview for a job in the Falkland Islands and suddenly my mind set changed again. Now we started to think that this could truly happen. The Falkland islands though were rejected – too remote, too few opportunities, etc. Next up, Mongolia. Despite my geography degree I had little knowledge of this intriguing country but Ulaanbaatar sounded different and interesting, almost exotic, so we decided that we’d do the Skype interview as a practice! We told the children of our plans – in order that they kept quiet at 7am during the interview – and this started a whole new world of questioning.
Four days later we received our double job offer with a package that couldn’t be ignored … oh and 48 hours to make a decision! 2 hours later we then received a double interview offer for a school in Tanzania. Now it seemed that it would not be, if we move abroad, but, when will we be leaving? The school had said if they offered us the job the process would move quickly, “if we find someone good, we don’t want to lose them to another school” they said. My paranoia made me think: How many people applied? What’s it really like there? Is this all just a lesson in flattery in order to get us to sign on the dotted line? Whatever the reasons those 48 hours were tough – after 24 hours we couldn’t agree, in fact we were poles apart, but after another 24, several you tube videos, discussions with colleagues and a lot of soul searching and tears we sent an acceptance email to Mongolia and rejections to schools in Tanzania and Singapore. Now we began to tell people of our decision and the questions began, “Mongolia, really? That’s exciting … why?” Our reason, Mongolia? Why not Mongolia?