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How Living Abroad Changed My Perspective As A Mom, Wife, And Professional

By Leah Freeman-Haskin

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Six months ago, my husband and I packed up our lives into five suitcases and moved to Costa Rica. We were leaving behind ten years of roots we established in Los Angeles in hopes of finding adventure, change, peace, and health. I look back now at our five months abroad with pride and a new sense of confidence and clarity.

Photo via @costaricalanding

Los Angeles is a competitive city and before we decided to leave, we were on the daunting independent school circuit replete with campus tours and applications. The whole thing felt a little absurd for a four-year-old. In Costa Rica, our son attended a school in the jungle where the sand and sparkling water of the Pacific Ocean was the backdrop of recess and his classroom sat on stilts among the Guanacaste trees. Just about every minute of the school day was spend in nature, exploring the woods and beach with unstructured play. I didn’t worry if he could add 2+2 or count to 100, he was learning Spanish and respect for life at all levels. My perspective on education and “school” has changed completely. For now, play and exploration should be the focus, he’ll have plenty of time to sit in a classroom once he’s older.

Photo via @costaricalanding

RELATED: 5 Music Festivals In Central America You Must Experience

Health was a huge motivator for us to spend time abroad. In making our decision on where to go, clean air, access to the ocean, and an emphasis on outdoor living were high priorities. After only two months in Costa Rica, we just felt different. That weight of stress and anxiety was gone. Our minds and our bodies felt lighter. We were able to communicate better and spend time with each other while being fully present. As a wife, I understood that the health of my family is a top priority and I wasn’t willing to return to the hustle and stress of Los Angeles life. How we felt physically and emotionally in Costa Rica is how we should feel every day and finding the right place to call home was essential in creating that space.

Photo via @costaricalanding

RELATED: What It’s Like To Be Black In Costa Rica

In Costa Rica I wrote every day, I read, I sat by the ocean, I did yoga in the jungle, I meditated at 5:30 every morning to the sounds of howler monkeys and roosters. I had a lot of time to think and gain clarity on a cycle I had lived of choosing the “right” job — the one that looks good on my resume and the one that would make my family the proudest. Looking back, I made self-care a priority in Costa Rica because I had time for it, but self-care shouldn’t just be held for weekends or vacations. Finding that balance will always be a struggle, but it can start with pursuing a job that fulfills you at a deeper level and allows for the time you need to work on yourself.

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