Here We Go…

So, where to begin?First Time In Brussels

I think it’s important to say that Tracy and I are officially bloggers, and, thankfully, that is the least important and most obvious information in this post.

The appropriate follow on question, in case you aren’t hip to the blogosphere, is why. Many of you have already assumed that we are embarking on some sort of grand, life-altering adventure that would drive us to begin posting our thoughts, feelings, and emotions as verbosely as possible on the inter-web.

Having said that, I’m guessing that a few of you have jumped to the conclusion that we are having a baby. Well, we’re not.

I hope.

I’ll let Tracy quickly confirm that in her introductory post.

I’ll move on to the actual topic at hand. Tracy and I have decided to move to Brussels, Belgium. We’re doing it on a whim and don’t have any money so I will be working in a brewery, she will be ribbon dancing for hire, and this will in fact be our first and last blog post as we are taking exactly none of our worldly possessions with us!

Ok, I’m sure I didn’t fool anyone with that, and in fact I’m very proud of what I think is our preparedness for doing this. I’m going to be pursuing my postgraduate education at the University of Kent’s Brussels School of International Studies, and Tracy is going to teach English in an international setting. I will defer to her to explain all of what she expects that to entail and stick to my lane as best I can.

For those of you who don’t know the entire back story behind our arrival at this decision/opportunity/adventure/lack of judgment/excellent use of judgment, I will give the brief synopsis here and allow you to inquire if you really want to know more.

Way back when the conversation began.

Way back when the conversation began.

While Tracy and I were dating and imagining our life togetherone of the very consistent themes was a desire on both of our parts to see and experience the world. I had travelled many places thanks in large part to my awesome parents and family who made it a priority to demonstrate an inquisitive approach to the world. Tracy had seen most of the United States with her family as a youth, and took the opportunity to experience South Africa as a study abroad in college. Needless to say we were both pretty hooked early on.

When I joined the Marine Corps we looked at it as an opportunity to live and work abroad. That didn’t exactly pan out as we planned, and while I definitely “saw the world” it seemed much more Afghanistan centric than I hoped it would be. I ask that you please take that in the most respectful and proud way possible. I am extremely proud of my Marine Corps service, the men and women I served beside, and what I feel we accomplished in my two deployments to Afghanistan, but let’s just say months on end at war in Afghanistan is not exactly my idealized fantasy of taking in culture first hand.

Poetically, it was in Afghanistan that I hatched this brain child as a real concept. I started researching the best schools in the world; specifically those not named Harvard, Yale, Princeton, etc. I found virtually limitless opportunities to learn in well-respected academic institutions the world over and composed a short list of about 500 schools in 29 countries. I typed it all up and sent it to Tracy with a “which one do you like” note at the end. When I got home, we talked it over and prioritized by locations we thought we would enjoy living in. We tried to be objective and consider things like where can we live knowing only English that you can also teach English (not China), how safe is it to live there (not Syria), what cultures do we think we could reasonably assimilate within a few short years (not Russia), and so on.

–For those wondering, yes the locations mentioned above were all options at one point or another–

Time passed, decisions weren’t made, and I found myself in Afghanistan again. The question of whether to continue my service and career or terminate it came to the forefront, and I found myself reading the not so short list again. I knew Tracy was on board if I felt like this was the best direction for me personally and professionally so I began narrowing the list further. I came home this time knowing my Marine Corps career would end in a few short months with a list of about 12 schools.

Collectively we decided to go through with placing kids and jobs and life in the United States on hold by planning on moving to Europe in fall of 2014. We narrowed it down to about 5 schools, and then decided on the three schools and cities we would visit to make a final decision. In August of 2013, we got on a military transport plane and headed mostly unprepared for Germany. We embarked on a whirlwind tour of Brussels, Belgium, Gothenburg, Sweden, and Berlin, Germany spending a ridiculous aggregate of probably about 70 hours in two weeks on planes and trains. Ultimately, we loved all of the cities for their unique characters and deep histories, and I decided to apply to the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin and the Brussels School of International Studies.  I will let Tracy expand on the exploits of our trip beyond what I’ve mentioned here, but suffice it to say we didn’t feel like there was a bad option for our pending relocation.

Since that point, I have received admissions offers from both schools thanks in large part to the support of some outstanding mentors and leaders in my life, and we have wrangled with the decision of where to attend for about 2 months. We have decided on Brussels for a lot of reasons probably the most prominent of which for me is the accessibility I will have to the EU’s government institutions and the global policy makers who reside in them.

We will do our best to keep this updated as our story continues and we learn first-hand how difficult moving to Europe from Jacksonville, North Carolina actually is. Thanks for your support and interest.