Shanti Leaves The USA – JoJo I Don’t Think We Are in Kansas Anymore!

shanti around the way curls, natural hair, motherhood,

So I have been keeping a HUGE secret from all of you. For the past six months I have been contemplating and planning a trip to leave the country. I have finally taken the leap of faith. I am in Guatemala! My family owns and maintains a beautiful farm in Guatemala. My cousin has lived in Guatemala since she was seventeen (she is originally from the US and is now 26). She teaches here in a bilingual school and has invited me to come to the school and teach in English to students. I rejected the idea for so long but I decided an opportunity like this only comes once in a lifetime so I took it. The coffee farm which I live on is lush and tropical. Banana, orange, avocado and lime trees offer there fruits generously. I just have to go outside and pick it. The life of Guatemalans is by no means easy. There is poverty everywhere juxtaposed against the environmental beauty. Even my daily life can be challenging surrounded by pollution and unpaved roads. My heart misses Philadelphia, my friends and family. This has been exciting yet terrifying. They say you take yourself wherever you go and still I struggle with my fears and dissatisfaction. I am not yet committed to staying here. I am taking it day by day. We will see.

shanti around the way curls
In Between two decisions….
Has anyone ever lived abroad? What were your challenges? Any questions for me?

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22 thoughts on “Shanti Leaves The USA – JoJo I Don’t Think We Are in Kansas Anymore!

  1. You are not alone I am currently in Switzerland and have been here for 2 months. It can be very challenging, But that’s the beauty of it. This experience is shaping me. Stay strong and enjoy the ride…

  2. I know your hair and skin are just loving that warm dewy climate. I lived in Puerto Rico for a couple years as a tween and I loved it.I think you should stay in Guatemala for a while, it gives Antoinette an excuse to take a vacation and go visit ya lol

  3. Hi Shanti!

    I left the country 4 years ago, went to the Dominican Republic, my home country. It was really an amazing experience and I would do it all over again. The biggest challenges for me were the crime rate, poor infrastructure (poor electricity and water systems), the lack of access to the commodities I was so accustomed in the US and the racial, political and economical state of the country. I wrote about on my old blog and that really helped me get stuff out of my chest.

    There were so many things that I did enjoy, like the people, the beaches, the fresh fruits, the local travel scene, the arts, so much! Living abroad is amazing! Best of luck and in all your adventures!


  4. How exciting! I’m so happy and proud of you! I haven’t lived outside of the country, but the travel bug bit me when I visited the Philippines years ago. Being outside of the US is just….different….in a good way. I’ve got some years on you, but my perception of you from social media says you’ll understand what I mean. 😉 Whether you stay or not your time there will be a valuable experience for both you and your daughter. Enjoy it and keep sending pics! Looking forward to hearing about your journey!! PS Hope Antoinette is able to visit like the previous comment said. <3 from Cali

  5. Hello! Congrats on leaning out on faith! I just got back from living and working in Rwanda for 1 1/2 years. Being away from home, you stretch emotionally and it’s a wonderful, scary and at times lonely experience. First few months (month 3-5) are tough, but once you push thru you open to a seasoned you. The hardest part was being in a different time zone as my BFF. We talk usually like 4-5 times a day, so not talking as often to her or talking to my family was difficult. Skype is your best friend( in most African countries, internet is pretty good) and I just spent my money on phone credits so I could feel connected. Upside, my hair loved the sun, dirt(Rwanda is very dusty) and the fertile ground. My skin was always clear and as a Nigerian immigrant to North America, eating paw paw, pineapple and fresh un-pesticides veggies everyday was what I was genetically programmed to do! It’s not easy, but give it a few months even if you decide to not stay, the act of considering to try something new is bravery at its best! What a wonderful example you are to your child and women everywhere.

  6. I have never lived abroad but I am first-generation American and have been overseas quite a bit. I think it’s great that you seized the opportunity for something different. Even if you don’t stay, it will provide a great set of memories and learning experiences!

  7. Shanti – I have lived abroad as a child and travelled abroad to several countries as an adult, and I say go for it! Even if you just moved to another state in the U.S , you’d still miss your family and friends and the life you are used to in Philadelphia. Missing home is natural. That being said, if you decide to stay, you’ll soon begin to discover joys that will make you glad you decided to take a chance. You’re young – take this time now to travel the whole WORLD if you want to! See what else is out there! Let your daughter see what else is out there. Trust me, neither you nor she will ever be the same. You’ll always want to know what other people are out there, what other foods and traditions are out there, what it looks like in this place or that one…it will open your world and your daughter’s world. And the best thing? You can always go home. Even if you do decide Guatemala is not for you, you took a chance. You added to both your and your daughter’s life experiences. I applaud you and wish you the best.
    Oh, and your hair looks fabulous! 🙂

  8. Beutiful pictures! I haven’t live abroad yet, but I plan to do some missionary work when my son gets older. Consider how God is using you to be a blessing to those children you are going to teach and the great opportunity that you and your daughter are getting to experience away from the hustle-n-bustle of USA, even if for just a short time should you decide. Rest, relaxed, release and enjoy the beauty of that country.

  9. No mean muggin in these pics! I really commend you for doing such a brave thing. It’s no joke leaving family, friends and country behind to pursue yourself and your dreams. No advice here since I’m also looking for an opportunity to live abroad but I think you always win when you do things to honor yourself. And it’s awesome to have a bff there to support you as you grow! Blessings on your journey!

  10. This is amazing! I’m planning to move out to Abu Dhabi in a couple of years to teach. One of my closest friends just came back from teaching English in South Korea for two years, she loved it. Sounds like an awesome experience, have fun!

  11. I live in the UK now. I thought it would be an easy transition, but it wasn’t. Nevertheless, I have learned so much about myself and the world…I am so glad I did it & you will too. Also, you will appreciate home more now than you ever did. PS: I am always looking to expand my experience & practice my Spanish, if you need any volunteers????!!!! (Let me know).

  12. I’ve been living abroad now for almost ten years come April. I lived in Honduras most of the time and also in Nicaragua, El Salvador and now Mexico. I’m a Missionary with my husband. We love it. Of course, there is a transition period but one day you may prefer to live there than the U.S. The simple life is the way to go. You find out what is truly important and you get to have a balanced life where you have time for work, family and God. In the U.S. sometimes the struggle to make ends meet can cloud out the more important things. Enjoy…..Do you speak Spanish? We learned it.

  13. I’m actually incredibly jealous of you being in Guatemala of all places. My grandmother grew up in Guatemala and her family grew sugarcane. She left when the civil war started and she never reconnected with any of her family members. So I’ve always wanted to see it all for myself, get immersed in the culture. I really hope that you get a lot out of your visit and just have fun connecting with everything.

  14. “They say you take yourself wherever you go and still I struggle with my fears and dissatisfaction.” You ain’t neva lie!!!!!

    Meditate. Pray. Ask for Clarity. Bask in the process. And your answers will provided from Most High.

    Blessing on your journey!


  15. Hey Shanti,

    I have been feeling the travel bug (and relocation bug)for a couple of years now. Right now I am feeling those fears you mentioned. Some of my biggest ones are the fears of leaving a steady paycheck and the fear of not being happy with my next move. It scares me to death to be honest! But all of the responses in this thread have truly inspired me to take the plunge next year. It must be time for a change when I am more excited about the possibilities of my future than my present situation. I have TONS of questions for you. But I am sure you will unknowingly answer them through future posts and videos.

    Thanks for sharing you experiences and being an inspiration. Keep us all updated on everything. You have people all over the world rooting for you.

  16. Shanti! You are a boss for going. I was raised abroad, then came to the U.S. then left a over a year ago to live in Germany for 1+ years, and comeback to the U.S. again. I will go out there into the world and live there again and probably do this all my life. I knot this at 26 for sure! I share many of your sentiments and can only say briefly that living abroad, for an extended periods of time, is living multiple lives though we only get one big life-journey. Seize it, bask, drown, and swim in it. Peace, harmony, serenity, and ever expanding growth to you.

  17. My husband, son and I moved to my native Jamaica in 2012. I hadn’t lived there in 18 years. It was great to wake up to the sound of birds and a beautiful view of the sunrise. I lived on a farm and enjoyed all the fresh fruits and vegetables. However, the unpaved roads, lack of infrastructure, crime, etc. forced us to move back to the US last year. The experience gave us a whole new outlook on life and we’re all the better for it.

    • That is something that has really unnerved me about my trip. I came onto the scene and my cousin’s children had the whooping cough! I was like wait… WHAT!??? It is something that I don’t think I can handle….

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