Capital One Supports Finding My Life Meant

“What’s in your wallet?”

When deciding how to fund my #LifeMeant, I was careful in choosing which credit cards to use. It’s important to make sure there are no hidden fees, or foreign transaction fees.

Several months back, one of my cards was switched over to a Capital One card. I thought nothing of it. It had a zero balance and I never used it. A few days ago, I looked into what Capital One had to offer for my world adventure. To my surprise, they totally blew me away.

It started with a call to Captial One to inquire about the rewards attached to the card. Customer service representative, Kathleen – XCV805, answered with great enthusiasm. How refreshing!

I began explaining to Kathleen about my needs. Then shared my dream of finding my #LifeMeant my plan to travel the world while pursuing my dream to teach abroad.

While she explained how Captial One could help, we discussed my world travel plans. Kathleen was very excited about my journey and told me how to switch my card over to the flight based reward card and informed me that I would not need rental car insurance because they had me covered. I was thrilled. Also, she said couldn’t wait to read my blog adventures to come.

But, that’s not what really blew me away. A few days later, I opened the mailbox and found a package from Amazon. I didn’t remember ordering anything. When I zipped open the package, I found this note from Kathleen at Captial One. Also included was an RFID wallet that would protect identity theft while holding my passport, ID, credit cards, etc. and two luggage tags.  

I couldn’t believe my eyes. Kathleen, a complete stranger, and Captital One went above and beyond to encourage my dream to travel the world and teach abroad while keeping my passport, ID, and chip enabled cards protected.

So, what’s in my wallet? Capital One for sure!! Thanks Kathleen at Capital One, wherever you are. I love my gift and I will be sure to use it as I start my journey to find my #LifeMeant!

Amy

Moving Abroad: ALL the details not mentioned.

Considering Moving Abroad? It’s not as simple as packing up your bags and heading out. There are a million little details that no one ever tells you. Things you would never think of until you are in the thick of it. 

The excitement of moving to a new country far outweighs the daunting tasks that will take up all your free time in the months preceding the big move. However, with careful planning, you can get yourself on track.  

Home Owners

If you own a home, you either have to rent or sell it. This is an overwhelming task on its own. I suggest starting early to help ease the stress. I started that process a year in advance and glad. It took almost 6 months for the entire process, including moving to a smaller place.

Whether you sell it just before you move abroad or a year in advance, timing is important. For me, a year in advance meant moving to an apartment for a year. This included downsizing enough that when ready to move abroad, what remained had to fit into a 10×15 storage unit.

Also, make sure the end of a lease coincides with leave dates. Don’t cut it too close. Leave time for goodbyes. Lucky for me, I was able to leave about 40 days to return to Chicago to stay with family. But that is not an option for everyone.

Bank Accounts

This extremely important detail not mentioned to me early on. I recommend allowing 4-6 months for this process. I had to carry out this monumental task in the last two months while trying to move. This is not a good when addresses are changing to a new home base in a different state. It can affect the process.

Also, You must allow time in “business days” for processing, time for money to transfer, cards to be mailed, and transferring over automatic bill pay, as well as time for mistakes from both parties. Trust me…MISTAKES WILL BE MADE!!!

The most important part of changing banks is picking the right ones and knowing what they will be needed for. Don’t forget to think about foreign transaction fees.

foreign transaction fees must be considered. These can really add up over time.  Thanks to Nomadic Matt’s Blog and his book, he literally has saved me thousands. He recommended Charles Schwab due to its no foreign transactions fees and refunds of the fees if there are any. I just received my chip enabled debit card. It was the perfect choice. I was also able to obtain an investment account for retirement. Thanks Matt!!!

For more info, visit his blog at: http://www.nomadicmatt.com

Understanding A Tax Free Salary 

Moving to the Middle East also has the bonus of earning a tax-free income. That has its own set of rules for an American. You must consider applicable tax laws based upon the country you will reside in. It could become a huge problem later if you are not aware of how the country you are moving to does business with the U.S.

For example for me, to keep my salary tax-free I must live 330 days of a year in a foreign country. (Physical Presence Test for tax form 673.) While the days don’t need to be in the same year or consecutively, you can not be in the U.S. more than 30-35 days per year. (Ex: Aug-Dec 2015 through Jan-July 2016) When the first full day starts is even more complicated. Know and understand the fine print when working abroad.

If you are lucky enough to earn a tax-free salary, be careful how you invest it for retirement. The last thing you want is to pay taxes later on something that could remain tax-free with the right investment. A Roth IRA can keep your money tax-free long-term.

I am by no means an expert, therefore I recommend consulting two important people: an international tax accountant, and a financial advisor. These two have played an important role in the process of setting up the correct accounts and filling out paperwork correctly. Later, the international account can help you navigate filing your taxes. That first year abroad will be a challenge because you would have part a year in the U.S. and part internationally.

I am sure there is so much more to this tax thing that I have not a clue about. Maybe you are reading this and can offer your advice or expertise. Perhaps you have experience and want to offer some enlightenment or encouragement to us newbies to international life.  Please comment below.

Endless Amounts of Paperwork

Like the two sections above weren’t overwhelming enough, seriously, prepare yourself! There is additional paperwork, paperwork, and more paperwork. New employment paperwork, international health insurance, tax forms, new bank accounts, gathering important records, updating passports, international drivers license, passport photos, and so much more. I have worked on these details for months.

Let’s not forget about sorting out visas. I am lucky that my new employer is handing that. Work visas are more difficult than travel visas. At the time of this blog post, mine is still being processed. Along with moving abroad comes residency cards. In Bahrain it is called the CPR card. It is necessary to obtain things like internet, or purchase a car, etc. What ever country you pick, make sure you know what you need well in advance.

Electronic Devices

In the age of technology there are some big considerations here. For example, make sure you have an unlocked cell phone so you can change out SIM cards for the country you are in.

Also, it’s a good idea to have portable chargers. When traveling internationally, you must enter the country with some charge left in your devices. I am still sorting out which to buy. Plus, its easy to drain a battery using a map app. Don’t forget about the adapters for different power sources too.

I invested in the Bose QC25 Acoustic Noise Cancelling headphones. Nothing like being able to drown that noisy passenger and the hum of jet engines on a long flight.

There are other devices for my move abroad that I am bringing due to their high cost in Bahrain. This includes things like a laptop, Ipad, bluetooth portable speaker (can’t be without music in my new house), Apple TV with a VPN so I can stream U.S.Hulu and Netflix (a great tip from another international teacher), and of course, power adapters for international power sources.

There really is so much to consider when moving abroad and planning for the future. It is not for everyone. The other day my mom asked, “How has your head not exploded?”  I just laughed because I know in the end it will all be worth it. Seeking out your #LIfeMeant is not meant to be easy, its all about the journey.

 


New Chapter, Not Goodbye!

I really grew to love my Florida “Salt Life.” Bidding it farewell was tough. I’ll miss the salty soft air of a sea breeze, the sunshine on one side of the street but not the other, and the endless white sandy beaches that traipses it way into the car and house. But, I will miss the people I have met the most.

My friends became like family, as I already lived away from my hometown of Chicago. For the last several weeks, I have spent time with my friends, saying many goodbyes. However, All these goodbyes somehow don’t feel like goodbyes. It’s more like see you later. Over the last 8 years of living in Florida, I have been so lucky to build lasting friendships.

“You are forever characters ingrained in the pages of my life”
                                   Amy O’Meara

I know that this is really not the end of my days in Florida. I will be back again. The Tampa Bay Area has become my home away from home. In a way, it has always felt like home because I traveled there since I was three.

me and gramps 1st fish

My grandparents spent every winter in Florida since I can remember. When I was four, I caught my first fish off the old Clearwater Beach Causeway with my grandpa. At the time, they would stay at The Traveler’s Motel on Clearwater Beach which still exists today. I even bought my first home in Clearwater. Over the years, I have built many memories and shared amazing times with friends and family.

I will really never be able to say goodbye to Florida because it will always be like home to me. Instead I will say, “See you Later!” After a few life adventures and a few new chapters, I plan to resume my “Salt Life.” Until then, I bid Florida a fine farewell.

Be Brave, Be Bold! Find your #LifeMeant

“You are so brave!” The most common statement said to me after sharing that I am moving abroad to teach in Bahrain. This comment has pilfered through my mind since I made the decision to move abroad, one rainy November afternoon back in 2013.

While packing my life away today, I happened upon a poem I wrote in 1996, during a college poetry class.

After reading the poem, it seemed apropos as I embark for the greatest adventure of my lifetime. Finding one’s  #Lifemeant is no easy feat. It’s intimidating and invigorating.  There are those who revel in the security and comforts of home, being in the same place their entire lives. Then there is me. The wanderlust gypsy of change. I am clearly suffering from resfeber. Ha!!


“I could never do what you are doing!” Yet another phrase expressed when I share my dream. I never know what to say back. I think…I’m just following my dreams. I don’t want to look back in 20 years and say I should have done this. Besides, its on my list of 100 goals in 100 weeks. (2-1/2 years) The urge travel and experience new things runs like fire through my veins. The Germans call it “fernwah” or better known as wanderlust.

The other day I read a fantastic post on www.lifehack.org. Diana Reid writes about “How To Put Meaning Back Into Your Life”

http://www.lifehack.org/articles/communication/how-put-meaning-back-into-your-life.html

One of the ideas that she shares is “Do Something You Have Always Wanted to Do.” Well, I have always wanted to live in a foreign country. It so happens that also involves following my passion – teaching.  Another suggestion by Reid.

So it seems, I am on the right path. Are you? Are you happy or bored? Do you have meaning in your life that is just your own dream or goal? Are you afraid of change or do you embrace it?

“The road of life lies in our hands.” Amy O’Meara

So here is my challenge. Don’t wait. Try something different that you have always wanted to do. Start working on your own #LifeMeant. It can be big or small. Set the goal and go for it! What do you have to lose? Life is short. Have no regrets!

I would love for you to share by commenting on this post. Also, please include the following hashtag: #LifeMeant If you are following your #LifeMeant, then please share that too!

Also, please include that hashtag on any other social media outlet that you use, be it Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, your blog, link my blog to yours, etc. Share a photo too! This way we are all linked together.

“Be brave! Be bold!” Find your own #Lifemeant

I look forward to your comments!! Good luck!!

Amy

Why Bahrain? A Dr. Seuss Perspective

“Oh, the Places I’ll Go” by Dr. Seuss was my favorite book as child. The red-bound Encyclopedia Britannica set, lining my basement book shelves, had worn pages from looking up all the “Places I’ll Go” someday. So, it comes as no surprise, to those that know me, that I am moving abroad. For as long as I can remember, I wanted travel the world and experience new perspectives. 

Upon sharing that I am teaching abroad, people smile and congratulate me. Then the ask, “Where are you going?” Usually, surprise and shock ensues when I say, Bahrain. Most of the time, they haven’t the slightest clue about where Bahrain is located. Then, I wait for their reaction. “Why go there?” they exclaim. “That’s the Middle East! What are you thinking?”

That last question always makes me shake my head. I have started to link it to either fear of the unknown or what is called the CNN/Fox News effect – a media portrayed understanding of the world from a U.S. fear mongering perspective. 

My favorite questions have been, “Aren’t you worried it’s dangerous?” “What about civil unrest?” To this I reply, we have the same dangers and civil unrest in our own country. I won’t go into detail, but just turn on CNN or your local news. What do you see?

It’s all perspective (point of view) or perception (individual interpretation through awareness). Pick one, they both apply. Perspective changes when perception is changed. Perception is changed by life experiences and discovering the unknown. From this, we create our own insight of the world. 

I chose Bahrain. Better said, Bahrain chose me. (See my post, Reaching For A Dream.) Moving to Bahrain will change my way of seeing the world and expose me to new life experiences. Interpretation only changes through awareness,

Let’s start with awareness of location. Click here to see it: Bahrain – Google Maps

The Kingdom of Bahrain is located just off the eastern coastline of Saudi Arabia and the western coast of Qatar in the Persian Gulf. It is a small archipelago of 33 islands, with the largest island being Bahrain Island. It is rich in art, culture and history that dates back a millennia.

Watch this video to make yourself aware of this amazing place. Call it a different perspective to change your perception.


Video by Irhal. For more info on Bahrain visit http://www.irhal.com/none/Bahrain/Bahrain/Travel-Guide

Perspective and perception can only be changed by you. When I was small, Dr. Seuss inspired me with the words below.

Want to refresh your life perspective with Dr. Suess too? Check out this great blog post by Joesph Micheal on www.efficientlifeskills.com

Oh, the Places You’ll Go!
by Dr. Seuss

Congratulations!
Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.

You’ll look up and down streets. Look ’em over with care.
About some you will say, “I don’t choose to go there.”
With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet,
you’re too smart to go down any not-so-good street.

And you may not find any
you’ll want to go down.
In that case, of course,
you’ll head straight out of town.

It’s opener there
in the wide open air.

Out there things can happen
and frequently do
to people as brainy
and footsy as you.

And then things start to happen,
don’t worry. Don’t stew.
Just go right along.
You’ll start happening too.

OH!
THE PLACES YOU’LL GO!

You’ll be on your way up!
You’ll be seeing great sights!
You’ll join the high fliers
who soar to high heights.

You won’t lag behind, because you’ll have the speed.
You’ll pass the whole gang and you’ll soon take the lead.
Wherever you fly, you’ll be best of the best.
Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.

Except when you don’t.
Because, sometimes, you won’t.

I’m sorry to say so
but, sadly, it’s true
that Bang-ups
and Hang-ups
can happen to you.

You can get all hung up
in a prickle-ly perch.
And your gang will fly on.
You’ll be left in a Lurch.

You’ll come down from the Lurch
with an unpleasant bump.
And the chances are, then,
that you’ll be in a Slump.

And when you’re in a Slump,
you’re not in for much fun.
Un-slumping yourself
is not easily done.

You will come to a place where the streets are not marked.
Some windows are lighted. But mostly they’re darked.
A place you could sprain both your elbow and chin!
Do you dare to stay out? Do you dare to go in?
How much can you lose? How much can you win?

And IF you go in, should you turn left or right…
or right-and-three-quarters? Or, maybe, not quite?
Or go around back and sneak in from behind?
Simple it’s not, I’m afraid you will find,
for a mind-maker-upper to make up his mind.

You can get so confused
that you’ll start in to race
down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace
and grind on for miles cross weirdish wild space,
headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.
The Waiting Place…

…for people just waiting.
Waiting for a train to go
or a bus to come, or a plane to go
or the mail to come, or the rain to go
or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow
or the waiting around for a Yes or No
or waiting for their hair to grow.
Everyone is just waiting.

Waiting for the fish to bite
or waiting for the wind to fly a kite
or waiting around for Friday night
or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake
or a pot to boil, or a Better Break
or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants
or a wig with curls, or Another Chance.
Everyone is just waiting.

NO!
That’s not for you!

Somehow you’ll escape
all that waiting and staying
You’ll find the bright places
where Boom Bands are playing.

With banner flip-flapping,
once more you’ll ride high!
Ready for anything under the sky.
Ready because you’re that kind of a guy!

Oh, the places you’ll go! There is fun to be done!
There are points to be scored. There are games to be won.
And the magical things you can do with that ball
will make you the winning-est winner of all.
Fame! You’ll be as famous as famous can be,
with the whole wide world watching you win on TV.

Except when they don’t
Because, sometimes they won’t.

I’m afraid that some times
you’ll play lonely games too.
Games you can’t win
’cause you’ll play against you.

All Alone!
Whether you like it or not,
Alone will be something
you’ll be quite a lot.

And when you’re alone, there’s a very good chance
you’ll meet things that scare you right out of your pants.
There are some, down the road between hither and yon,
that can scare you so much you won’t want to go on.

But on you will go
though the weather be foul.
On you will go
though your enemies prowl.
On you will go
though the Hakken-Kraks howl.
Onward up many
a frightening creek,
though your arms may get sore
and your sneakers may leak.

On and on you will hike,
And I know you’ll hike far
and face up to your problems
whatever they are.

You’ll get mixed up, of course,
as you already know.
You’ll get mixed up
with many strange birds as you go.
So be sure when you step.
Step with care and great tact
and remember that Life’s
a Great Balancing Act.
Just never foget to be dexterous and deft.
And never mix up your right foot with your left.

And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.)

KID, YOU’LL MOVE MOUNTAINS!

So…
be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray
or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O’Shea,
You’re off the Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So…get on your way!

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