Judging by the response that I have received from various people to this news, you probably fall into one of the following categories: “India?! Are you crazy?” or “Wow! What an amazing experience!”
If I’m totally honest with you, my emotions are swinging wildly between the two.
Let’s start at the beginning. A few months ago I wrote the blog post entitled ‘Too Afraid to Seize the Day’, but I didn’t post it until only a few days ago. I had been watching International teaching vacancies come and go, but something was holding me back from applying for them.
Put simply, I was afraid.
I am living in one of the world’s cleanest, safest, and most beautiful cities, where I have access to the best social welfare system, the best healthcare, and I’m close to my family. No doubt about it, giving up this comfortable life in Stockholm is a crazy thing to do.
But life has lost its colour, and I’m restless. Rent alone costs almost half of my monthly salary. A meal in a restaurant only happens once every few months: the guilt about spending so much money on it lasts even longer. I live to work, and there is not much beyond that. My boyfriend’s night shifts mean that his work schedule is the complete opposite of mine, and when I travel he can’t come with me. In Sweden it will be years before we can save enough money to put a deposit on an apartment, and it will most likely be a tiny studio apartment. Stockholm’s crazy rental system means that we have to move at least once a year (three times last year). I feel like I am living like a student. Is this what I want for the next ten years of my life?
The answer is, of course, no.
Last weekend I attended a Recruitment Fair organised through a teaching agency called Search Associates. I, alongside 200 teachers and 160 schools from around the world, descended on a hotel in Kensington, London, to participate in an intense 4-day scrabble for jobs. I arranged interviews for schools in Hong Kong, India, Malaysia and Vietnam. I accepted a job in Mumbai.
India is filthy, chaotic, and desperately poor. The country is at the bottom of every Quality of Life Index. And on top of that the Delhi rapes, and cases of sexual harassment, have marked India as unsafe for women. These reasons, and probably many more, are enough to frighten even the hardiest traveller.
When the school made their offer I had a lot to think about. I posted on my Runaway Brit Facebook page to gauge a general reaction and received an overwhelmingly negative response. The same concerns came up repeatedly: poverty, dirt, and safety. Many said that India is great to visit, but not to live. I didn’t disagree with them, yet still I felt that I should consider the offer.
For some reason, in a way that I cannot begin to explain, this feels right.
I have been to India before: there is absolutely no sugar-coating the scale of poverty, and, of course, safety is the biggest concern.
That afternoon and evening was spent gleaning every bit of information I could about living in Mumbai. I met with my advisor who knew the school well and only had good things to say. I found expat groups on Facebook, and a British blogger who has lived in Mumbai for two years. I contacted her straight away and asked her primarily about safety. I read websites, my boyfriend watched documentaries. By the time I woke up the next morning, I was ready to say yes.
Arriving at the hotel an hour before my meeting, I sat in the candidates’ lounge where a woman asked me if I was having any luck at the fair. I told her that I had received an offer in India and her eyes lit up “How wonderful!” she exclaimed “What an amazing opportunity”. The lady next to her chimed in—her father lives in Mumbai and she knew of the school. Buoyed by their positivity I went upstairs and signed the paper.
I am moving to Mumbai in July, and I couldn’t be more excited about it!
I know that people will continue to think that I am crazy, but isn’t life a bit more interesting with some crazy thrown in?
Am I crazy to move to Mumbai? Leave a comment below.