This is a story is about following your dreams.
It started five years when ago I decided I wanted to teach English abroad. It was November of my senior year in college; a very confusing time in life. I was clueless about my future, terrified of the real world, and hopelessly afflicted by the travel bug (which I caught from my incredible, life-changing semester in Perugia, Italy). I was excited to have “a plan” for after graduation. When I shared this news with my parents, they followed my smiling optimism with two words about what my life would look like one year from then. Student loans: the financial burden that all college graduates procrastinate to accept. The reality that life can’t be paid for by a check from the bursar’s office, and the acceptance that a 9-5 job is the only answer to the burning question of “what will I do when I graduate?”
So it was with great disappointment that I put the dream of teaching abroad on the back burner until later. I’ve spent the last 4 years working as a Study Abroad Advisor, sharing my love and knowledge of travel with others. I met a lot of amazing people, some of whom are now my closest friends. Sometimes travel opportunities arose. I lived in Barcelona, spent extensive time in Ireland and then in London. I visited California, Colorado, Oregon, and many other places – all paid for by someone else. What more could I ask for?
A little known fact about work-travel is that it’s really not all it’s cracked up to be. Hours of driving through cornfields in Iowa and traffic on I-95. Solo meals in places you’ve never heard of. The once-in-a-while travel I did for this job wasn’t fulfilling my passion for international travel, or my desire to live abroad. And my #1 client was The Helicopter Parent who is famed for calling at 9:01 Monday morning, angry because you STILL haven’t returned their last 3 emails – all sent over the weekend. At the start of every semester, I promised myself it would be the last.
Alas, after 4 years of being miserable in a sales position, and realizing that it was really now or never, I quit my job in June. And I’ve never looked back. I spent an amazing summer teaching English to international high school students in western MA, and I leave for Madrid, Spain in 10 days to embark on a year of teaching at a primary school. I’m 26, and admittedly I feel a little old to be doing this now (just as all my friends are getting married, buying houses, and having kids). In the end, taking the leap to follow my dream is the most fulfilling decision I’ve made.
For me, travel is so much more than visiting a new place. It’s about diving into the culture, trying to learn the language, and seeing the local way of life. I’ll be documenting my year through some thoughts about life, language, culture and more. My hope is that my story will resonate in some others who are putting their dreams on hold until a later that might never come.