To be abroad, or not? That is the question.
After a long vacation of margari—….I mean relaxing, I discovered something: I still don’t know my life’s “it” factor.
I thought for sure I would find it while strolling through palm trees, cruising some ocean waves, or between cocktails, but I didn’t. I can at least say I had a hell of a good time looking for it though.
No matter what I seem to do or where I seem to look for life’s purpose, I always find I am happiest on the journey. That’s probably because I have completely immersed myself in new cultures while trying to find it, and that is something I have always loved to do. So, if there’s one thing I am terribly good at these days, it’s finding a way to go abroad.
While it may not always seem justifiable to leave your own country for a life with little money and slim friends, I always veer in that direction. After graduating and realizing that working three part-time jobs was less than glamorous, I set off to teach English in Spain. I got my TEFL Certificate, created my international resume, and bought a ticket. Period. That seemed to be enough to start a new life in a foreign land. On second thought… well, let’s not give it a second thought.
So, for weeks in Spain I hauled my gringo self around Madrid’s metro, inviting myself to unscheduled interviews wherever possible. If the building turned out to be an old theater and the office was in one of the semi-converted changing rooms, so be it, I was there. Only after much trouble and finding myself on the verge of admitting this was a terrible idea, I found a Spanish family that wanted an English exchange. After living in a hostel for weeks, I was more than ready for some serious Spanish living. So without blinking, I accepted and ended up living with them for a year. Some might call that lucky, and I would have to agree.
While my living arrangements weren’t even half the battle I had set myself up for, I still managed to make a year’s worth of work for myself while I was there and even met some great people along the way.
I can honestly say putting myself through such life struggles was riveting. I somehow managed to overcome homelessness, no job, no money, and no friends in a foreign country within a few weeks time. I had never felt so helpless and yet so accomplished all at the same time before.
By the end of my year abroad, I learned a few things: One, teaching is not my life’s “it” factor even though I did enjoy it. Two, traveling abroad and overcoming unnecessary obstacles could be my life’s “it” factor, but that’s quite expensive, and I am quite poor. And three, I am not the only confused 20-something year old out there.
If you’ve had a similar experience, or any experience living abroad at all, please share!