by Erin Elaine
I recently had a bit of a revelation about how out of the ordinary my life is right now. I’ve been living in Spain for 4 months now, and it feels normal and settled. I feel comfortable here, I feel like I belong. Most of my friends here are in the same position of moving away from their homes to teach abroad, so I’m kind of living in a bubble of people who are all in similar situations. When you surround yourself with people who are similar to you, it can be easy to forget how unique you are. But every now and then I’m reminded of how different and out of the ordinary my life is compared to most people I know back in the states.
People tell me they’re jealous of my travels, but when I ask them why they don’t come teach abroad, the response is that they just bought a house. What? You’re young and single and unattached and you just bought a 30-year anchor? I’m sure this person had their reasons and I’m happy for them, but I wouldn’t even consider buying a house at this point in my life. Anyone who buys a house at this age is basically giving up the option of working abroad, and giving up the option of long-term travel. No thank you.
Another friend is reluctant to work abroad because they don’t want to interrupt their career path. My response being, there’s always time to focus on your career. You’ve got your whole life ahead of you. The time to do this is now, while you’re still young and unattached. Don’t wait until it’s too late. You will not regret going abroad. When you’re 50 and looking back on your life, would you rather think I’m glad I focused on my career or would you rather think I’m glad I went abroad before I got tied down. To me it was an easy choice, but not everyone thinks like me.
A lot of people don’t realize how many paths and opportunities are available to them. It’s like they’re wearing blinders that only let them see the narrow path directly in front of them, the predictable path, the path they “should” take. They have no idea they are at a fork in the road, because they can only see straight ahead.
Some people choose to take those blinders off, and then they have the opportunity to make a choice. But some people want to keep the blinders on. They don’t want to hear that anyone in the states with a Bachelors degree can go teach abroad. They don’t want to hear that you can work abroad in any field you choose. They don’t like knowing that, because they want to keep their blinders on. They don’t want me to send postcards. They don’t stay in contact with me. They don’t want to hear about it. The blinders are comforting to them, because if you can’t see the other paths, then you feel a bit better about taking the predictable path.
My advice is, if you’ve ever considered living abroad, do it while you’re young. If your career has hit a stall, come teach abroad, shake things up. When you return, your resume will stand out among all the others. Whatever the reason, whatever the rationalization, just do it. Do it! You won’t regret it.
I was just in Sevilla for 3 days and I met people from Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Romania, Armenia, Italy, Germany, Holland, Spain, Chile, Brazil, Canada, and the US. Life is pretty f*cking awesome right now.