UNC Around the World

Entrepreneurs, social workers, teachers, actors and volunteers are among the 800-plus UNC alumni living and working abroad. Ten graduates share their stories following their life-changing decisions to take their talents to countries spanning the globe.

DorieFamily Gains Global Perspective in Relocating

Earthquakes are as common as Colorado snowstorms, and the occasional typhoon makes her feel as if she’s living in a car wash. But Dorie Andrade refuses to live in fear.

She has no regrets about uprooting her life and moving her husband and three kids to Okinawa, Japan. She now works as the special education coordinator for the Okinawa School District.

Seven years ago, she’d been to Texas, Arizona, Wyoming and spent most of her life in Colorado. That was it. Then she looked online and then informed her family that she wanted to move to Japan.

“If I was going to do it, I wanted to go big,” Andrade says.

Everyone, even her three kids, thought it was a cool idea. But then she got the job offer and reality hit. She had two weeks to get to Japan. Her three kids, an eighth-grader, a third-grader and a 16-year-old, who had just gotten her first car, had second thoughts.

“They didn’t want to go at all,” Andrade says.

VideoBut after adjusting, the experience changed their view of the world, she says, and she points to one example of many: Her oldest went to college in Vermont and now is in international relations. She’s already spent some time in South America and wants a career in politics that will keep her traveling around the world.

“She had no interest in that until she actually saw another part of the world,” she says.

Her husband, Ron, adjusted after tying up his job with a concrete contracting company. He now has a landscaping business for a naval facility.

“We’re loving it,” Andrade says. “We spend our weekends out on the ocean kayaking instead of working like we had to in the States all the time.”

Okinawa seems like paradise, with its buffet of beaches, but dangers come with that. Earthquakes wake them up, but so far, the temblors have just rattled their home a bit. When the 8.9 quake hit, she was worried about the tsunamis that cut huge swaths through Japan in other places. Residents were being moved to higher ground after she came home from work. But her home was more than 200 miles south of the quake’s epicenter, and the waves went around them.

“The West Coast of the United States got more than we did,” she says.

The homes are built for massive storms and other events. The only damage from a three-day typhoon that hammered their home was a fallen palm tree. She feels confident that now she can take anything.

“I’d actually rather be here if something like that happens because we’re built to withstand it,” she says. NV

—Dan England is a Greeley journalist.



• Learn a foreign language — Many get a job simply because they can speak the language over there.

• Get some experience abroad — A stint in the Peace Corps or internship overseas builds the résumé.

• Teach or volunteer — Opportunities abound in those two vocations, even for first-year teachers. If you’re willing to go anywhere, you will get a job, and usually schools will help you with the paperwork.

• Do it — It’s difficult, and the transition, especially at first, will probably be tough. But it’s worth every experience.

• Think outside the box — The jobs available overseas are probably different then in the U.S. But that means opportunity as well. Find a way to combine your skills.

• Go somewhere you didn’t expect to go — Many interviewed for this story wound up in a place they didn’t expect to go but also wound up loving their lives there.

• Use an agency — There are many agencies and opportunities online. Just be careful about which agency you use.

• Understand it’s going to be different — You left the U.S. to experience other cultures, so enjoy the differences and embrace them, even if that means changing the way you dress or act in public. Life overseas is a new adventure. Treat it that way.

—As told to Dan England by graduates
working abroad