After going straight from high school to university for two years, I realized I didn’t know what I wanted to do and it’s very expensive to study if you’re not sure what you want as a career! So, I stopped (or quit, but quit sounds negative and I still think it was a good decision to stop going) and worked in that small town in the Midwest for one year.
Realizing I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life in a small town, I asked my friend from high school for advice finding an au pair/nanny job. I imagined somewhere in California, near where she was living, but when she got back to me a week later, she suggested I go to Switzerland. Not quite California, but ok. Sure! Why not? Nothing else to do but watch corn grow here! 😛
So, off I went to Switzerland. The job wasn’t the best experience in the world, but living in another culture, even just for a few months was amazing. Summer in Switzerland is beautiful.
I was hooked.
Unfortunately, I had to leave after 3 months because my tourist visa was ending and I didn’t have any idea where or how to travel. So I went home.
I was 21 at the time and decided I wanted to go back to Europe before I was 25 for a longer trip.
When I returned home, I moved to the East Coast with a friend and worked for a few years.
I still had in the back of my mind that I wanted to go back to Europe, but it wasn’t until I was 23 years old that I realized that meant I actually had to save money and make an effort to go back! Imagine that! Europe wasn’t going to come to me- I had to take the initiative to go there!
I’ve always been an independent person, but it took sacrifices to make my dreams come true and I called my parents. I asked my dad if I could move back home to save money for a trip. I thought that one month at home would equal about one month of travel money, so maybe 3 months at home for a 3 month trip. His hesitancy was encouraging when he said, ‘well, yes, I guess you can come home, but… well…. if you’re going to go to Europe, you should really go for 6 months or a year.’
Ok. Sure! Trade off! I give up some of my independence to live at home so I can get to travel longer and my parents get to see me every day for a year!
Well, one year turned into two but just 3 months before my 25th birthday, I packed up my bags and took a one-way flight to Europe.
I stretched my budget in ways I never knew I could and my one-year budget turned into 20 months of traveling with a good chunk of leftover change. It was a great experience and I am very glad I did it.
In December 2010, I returned to the States and a few months later, I returned to Europe. This time, not so much to travel. I had a job teaching English in Italy and enjoyed every minute of it.
After the summer finished, I traveled to London and met a nice English boy. After months spent in London with him, a visit together to the US for Christmas and time apart (so I didn’t overstay my UK tourist visa), we decided to get married.
I’m now living in London. Relocated to England. My travels abroad have become living abroad. Permanently.
Now I’m experiencing new culture shock through resident things…. not tourist things. Figuring out utility bills rather than bus schedules is certainly a different way to see the country.
It’s a lot to take in, but it’s fun and keeps me on my toes!
I think it’s great to travel. It broadens your perspective and teaches you how to look at things from someone else’s point of view. After traveling, you look at the news differently, you read wine lists different, you hear music differently. Traveling makes you more open-minded and respectful of other traditions and cultures. It’s something I think everyone should do at some point in their life.