Let us begin with a brief summary.
- I left a good government job in the fall of 2011 to pursue a dream: exploring another country with my wife while she completed a fellowship. In the dream, our sojourn to South Africa would be life-affirming and empowering. I would build unique, emerging-market experience while we lived the good ex-pat life. Reality was far less simple.
- In August 2012, I wrote a piece about my professional struggles in South Africa for The Billfold, entitled "Things I've Learned While Looking for Work in South Africa." I discussed the perils of South Africa's broken immigration system and the Catch-22 in which I sat: I needed a job to get a work visa, and I needed a work visa to get a job. The piece was published under a pseudonym due to concerns that my frank words might harm my then-pending visa application. I need not have worried.
- I left South Africa in March 2013 in a cloud of frustration. The South African system had failed me. My employer -- and the used-car salesman of an "immigration practitioner" with whom they had set me up -- had let me down. I was done with the bullshine, so I returned to Washington, D.C., to find the next step.
- I promptly spent the next five months on a D.C. roller-coaster of informational interviews, job applications, rejection, and the eternal so-what-do-you-do. I am not out of the woods yet, but I am on the edge. And from this vantage point I can see the forest through the trees.