A new word has entered our daily vocabulary: repatriation. Once we examined all of our potential options, this is the one that makes the most sense for us right now. I have such mixed emotions about the term and the process itself. I feel like we just got here, and I’m not ready to go back yet. However, this may be a temporary status. I’ll try to explain.
We have been looking for jobs here in Germany for Jeff, but the only positions available for him are as a kindergarten teacher in bilingual programs. Although this is a great place to be an educator (with excellent pay and benefits) kindergarten is not recognized as part of the educational system– it’s more like daycare. Jeff can’t do work with kids with disabilities, since he is not fluent in German. He has had a lot of interest from kindergartens in several different cities, but the pay is simply not enough for us to feel secure.
Jeff’s agency will pay to fly us home and offer many benefits associated with repatriation, but all of this must be accomplished within 21 days of the last day of his job (February 18th.) Once they sent us our repatriation info, they asked that we decide right away whether or not we want to go through with it, since it is a major undertaking. Talk about being under pressure! However, considering the ways in which they would be taking care of us (flights, moving expenses, hotel stay and per diem for two weeks, logistical support) we decided that it was probably our best option.
Currently we are in the application process for a position in Misawa Japan with the same contracting agency. They have been very good to us, and we have felt so thankful to be under their care and protection through this tough time. We have heard of some agencies that will not fly families home when they lose their job, or who actually fine them for not finishing their contract! So, we feel like staying with them would be a good move for us. The processing time for the position will be at least three months, so we cannot stay put in the meantime.
Because we want to go overseas again as soon as possible, we are not approaching this transition as a real move. However, there is no guarantee that we will be offered the position, and to be honest, I would much rather take an assignment somewhere in Europe. We are still trying to figure out whether we are willing to take a contract for two years in Asia. Inevitably, another position will open up in Europe, but it is a big gamble, since we don’t know how long it will be, or whether Jeff will get the job. I figure that there will come a point in time when we decide that we either need to settle for a position we’re not thrilled about, or repatriate for real. Or, an ideal position will come up in the next couple of months, and we will be on our way again to life in Europe without too much drama. That one’s got my vote, for sure!
All of these unknowns make this repatriation process really tricky. We’ll be moving some things back with us, but they’ll go straight into storage. We won’t have jobs, a home, health insurance, or cars. We have four sets of family members in Oregon and Washington, and friends in Portland. That’s where we’re being flown back to, and we’re really excited to see everyone, but so unsure about what to do with ourselves. Jeff has applied for a job at a clinic in Seattle, and getting it would make the move a bit easier. There would be less anxiety about income, and less questions about where we should hang out while awaiting other overseas options.
There are so many unknowns, but it does feel good to know our next step, at least. We are trying to just embrace our inner Gypsies! We shared the news with Amelia today, and she is super excited to continue her traveling career. She really wants to go to Africa the most, but she’ll settle for just about anywhere. Although we are really sad to be leaving Germany, and severely disappointed that we can’t stay here for a long time, as we had planned, Jeff and I both feel profoundly thankful to have had this experience, and that we were able to live in Amberg for 7 months. We have absolutely loved living here, and consider ourselves lucky. We also feel glad to see our friends and family again, and to have the world as our oyster, so to speak. We know something stable is coming down the line, but we want to be present today and tomorrow and the next day, not just waiting around for a sense of permanence. It is comforting for me to think, “This calendar will hang in my next kitchen.” We have eleven months to make that happen.