Should you move abroad?

 

This is probably the most common and repeated question I am asked. Should I study abroad? I was thinking about teaching overseas, what’s it like? What brought you to Thailand…Australia.. New Zealand?When I sense this reoccurring theme I think… blog post. That’s what happens when you’ve been blogging for this long. It’s easier to just get out all the advice in one fell swoop.

So… you’re thinking about teaching abroad? Dreaming of leaving your boring job behind to travel the world? Want to meet a sexy foreign man and never return? Be careful.. It can really happen! Trust me, I’m speaking from experience here.

So let’s go through some pros and the cons and what I believe you need to be ready for no matter where you go or why.

Pros

Your life becomes a “holiday”— When you move abroad everything feels shiny, new and exciting. You always feel like you are traveling because, well, you are. You feel excited to do ordinary and mundane things and every single day someone comments on your accent. You are an outsider, which to me makes life fresh and unusual. And I love that.

You see so much-– I always say the best way to see a country is to live there. 2 weeks in a country. Forget it. You don’t actually get a real feel for the culture, the people, the struggles, the local spots and the hidden gems. Should you still go if that’s all the time you have? Of course. But the best way to see a country/ area of the world is to just move there already. Stop thinking so much.

You never have to say “what if”— I have had so many older people tell me that they wished they did what I did when they were young. I promised myself I would never be someone who looked back and regretted getting settled down too fast– and I am definitely keeping that promise. I would rather give it a shot and hate it, then never try and just dream about it for the rest of my life.

You gain a newfound respect for your home– You start to love and appreciate home more than ever. You understand what a gift it is to have familiar faces and places. You savor every second with loved ones. You realize how privileged you were to grow up where you did. (in my case, anyway) and you are proud to represent your country-no matter where you roam.

You find out what you actually like– Traveling and living abroad teaches you to actually figure out what hobbies and interests light you up. You can’t travel and see the world while having 17 random hobbies you only do because of your group of friends. You probably can’t get your nails done every two weeks and buy all the latest trendy outfits, but if you’re like me you’ll realize that shit didn’t really make you happy anyway.

You don’t define yourself the same way– When you live in your hometown, home state or even your home country: you are constantly defined by constructs outside of yourself. Your family, your church or religion, your friends, your college, your favorite sports team, your gym or your state. Once you cross the borders, you have to define you. Everything about your past is just a story and a memory. People meet you at face value–who are you today? You can be whoever you want to be. Sure, you never lose those parts of yourself but you get to decide how closely you let them define you.

You realize it’s not the only way– This was one of the biggest things for me. The perspective. The cultural differences. It’s absolutely mind blowing at first. I remember when I first moved to Thailand I felt so sorry for the young children playing in the streets with no shoes. I could tell that they lived in the small area at the back of their parents shop and I felt like I wanted to adopt them and “save them.” I quickly realized they had every single thing they needed and they were as happy as clams. I stopped feeling sorry for them and started feeling sorry for the  4 year old kids, glued to their iPad in the back seat of the Range Rover with 4 nannies and a serious lack of attention and interaction with their parents.

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Have a Mimosa

I have been in the LAX airport for almost 24 hours. My connecting flight from Chicago was delayed last night which led me to miss my connecting flight to Sydney. Little did I know that there is only flight from LAX to Sydney per day with United Airlines and thanks to poor customer service and my overtired frustration-it landed me sleeping in the airport. Around 5 am I peeled my eyes open, wiped the drool from my neck pillow and half way sleeping limped my way to the United Club lounge. I paid for the day to eat, drink, and lounge in comfy leather chairs as I wait for my flight to leave for Sydney tonight. I was sitting next to two young Australian girls in line at customer service last night who were chatting and laughing saying they were lucky their other friend went a different route home or he would have been pissed and miserable. They were in the same boat I was but just didn’t seem to be letting it phase them. I realized, although I was not their friend, and too tired to even form friendly words, I was the friend being pissed and miserable. I’ve spent 24 hours  in the airport after one of the best month vacations of my life. I’m alive, I’m in great health, my family is loving and supportive, I got to spend time with SO many people who I love dearly,  I have a sexy English boyfriend who is picking me up at the airport and the happiest little life to return to down under, WHAT THE HELL DO I HAVE TO COMPLAIN ABOUT?

It’s funny because while I was driving down to NYC with my parents, I was browsing quotes and musing about my trip and I came across a photo of a dandelion with the quote, “Some see a weed, some see a wish.” I discussed in my post how happy I was that I had the ability to see the worst scenario as a chance to grow and learn. And then, there I was in a shitty situation(a day later) feeling angry, victimized, and exhausted to the point where I contemplated a 5 year old brat meltdown as a viable option for my frustrations. I am telling you this not because I am still angry but because I want to remind myself how easy it is to let trials and tribulations in life overwhelm us. It’s funny, it was like I knew that my future self needed that advice.  It doesn’t matter how happy you are, what job you have , how much money you have in the bank- we all get overwhelmed by the stress and curveballs that life throws our way. Just because I consider myself to be a positive person, does not mean that I am immune from these feelings or situations. What it does mean is that I know how to fix these feelings… quickly.

I went to bed on the airport chairs with my tiny navy blue blankets and my possessions strategically stacked under me in case of criminals lurking in the night. I was still beyond annoyed but thinking about the chipper girls in line behind me just laughing it off and rolling with the punches, I felt even more frustrated because usually that’s me. I woke up to airport staff clearing out everyone from our section because they needed to rearrange the seats. I was startled and half asleep and felt like I was in some sort of homeless person village with all of the fellow travelers in the same boat as me. I woke up surprisingly in a better mood. I realized that this isn’t the worst thing that could happen and gave me a built in day to catch up with my clients, coaches, emails, messages, and now my blog. I’ve watched a few Ted Talks and YouTube training videos from a few entrepreneurs and people I look up to. I spent a lot of time in Podcast land. Sure, I’m a little bored but I’m using it as a positive, focused time to work on my business and myself. And, after a few mimosas life doesn’t seem so bad.  

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America: Enough is Enough

When I try to categorize my blog for others or even when I categorize my own posts on my page I often don’t know how to do so. My blog, much like my life, has so many idiosyncrasies that don’t quite fit into one category. I like to think that it’s a travel and lifestyle blog but I try more than anything to make it a blog of honesty, rawness, emotion and inspiration. Again, much like my life, I don’t think it has to have a specific category that makes everyone else more comfortable with digesting it. I can and I always will be unapologetically me. That being said, I am going to touch on ground that is controversial here. I firmly stand by the principles that we should focus on what we want more of instead of simply criticizing things we don’t agree with but in light of recent events; I feel compelled to voice my thoughts and I feel roused to be a voice in the madness.

In today’s world when any tragedy or newsworthy event happens our culture flocks to social media to voice our opinions on the matter. Some people go on angry rants, some offer messages of hope, and some down right attack ideas, people, and situations usually having minimal facts and strong biases attached to their statuses or articles or opinions. As someone who uses social media predominantly for my business but also for a hobby and a positive tool to connect and relate to friends and strangers all over the world; I want to keep my voice and message I leave behind in the digital world as a positive one. I try not to rant and rave about things that frustrate me but instead share things that inspire me and bring me joy. I try to remind my friends and family to be grateful, to take chances and to buy those plane tickets and go for adventures.

Today, waking up in Australia to the news of the largest mass shooting in U.S. history happening last night and over 50 innocent people killed and so many more injured and the news of a high school friend of mine losing his life to addiction, I can’t help but share my thoughts on the matter. As an American citizen, I grew up in a culture where guns are very much a part of everyday life. In my personal experience, I was brought up to fear guns and see no place for them. As I grew older, I realized why my father had such a strong hatred for guns and I also started to formulate my own opinion. I never dwelled on the issue, to me, it’s straightforward and simple, violence is unnecessary and guns are used, for the most part, for violence, therefore I see no point for guns. With the issue of gun control gaining more and more popularity and media attention in the last decade I realized that this is an extremely polarizing topic for American people. Since backpacking and having discussions with people from all over the world about a range of topics, I have seen the serious difference in gun control laws in other countries and the sheer shock that most European and Australian people have when we talk about the gun control laws in America. This is a topic that, for the most part, I keep quiet about because as I said most people are undereducated, over opinionated and biased. At this point, I can’t help but share my opinion now.

Violence has always and will always be a part of our world. Guns neither cause violence or  stop violence. Violence exists all over the world, not just in the United States.  Owning a gun is something that many Americans believe is their right, as is stated by the Second Amendment. Instead of looking at it from a biased perspective…let’s look at the facts. Since I was born in 1990, three countries(that I now have strong ties to) which have similar Western cultures (the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom) have all had mass shootings. In the UK there have been 3 mass shootings, in Australia there have been 16 mass shooting, and in the US there have been 75. The gun control laws are very strict in both the United Kingdom and Australia. Instead of debating the gun control laws, I think everyone involved can agree that the gun violence in the United States is out of control. When something does not work,  we change it. Just because something once was legal does not mean that the law can’t and shouldn’t be reviewed, revised and changed based on the current society and the issues it is facing. At one point it was legal to own people as personal property in the United States, clearly we realized that was not a law that was benefiting the population of the United States. Regardless of what the second amendment says, America needs to figure out how this law needs be adjusted, changed or revised so that it protects our people. We need ACTUAL background checks and qualifications to own a firearm. It’s harder to become an Uber driver than it is to purchase a firearm… that is what is wrong with America. When I lived in America, I thought that the mass shootings were devastating and horrible but unfortunately I was somewhat jaded by them. I didn’t necessarily question the gun possession but the sanity of the shooter. Now, being removed from our culture and living abroad in two vastly different countries on the other side of the world and seeing  whole new perspectives, cultures and ways of life… I can’t believe how normal gun violence and mass shootings are made out to be in America. It’s not normal. It should never be considered normal. In some countries, the active duty police officers don’t even carry firearms. It is an absolute disgrace that it is taking us this long to realize our country has a serious problem on our hands that IS within our control or at least within our influence.

I don’t claim to have all of the answers whatsoever, but I do know that ACTION has to be taken. It is painful to watch from afar and mourn for yet another group of innocent victims, their families and friends and everyone involved. The outpour of “Pray for Orlando” responses are heartfelt and wonderful. I will pray for them and send all of my good vibes into the Universe but bottom line; SOMETHING HAS TO CHANGE. How many times can we pray after a tragedy before we put measures into place so this can’t easily happen again 3 months later?  I don’t care what your religion is, your political views or your beliefs about the second Amendment: WE NEED TO PROTECT OURSELVES, not with more violence but with eliminating the problem at it’s root. Maybe it won’t work and of course, it won’t work right away but what if the people who were abolishing slavery simply decided they shouldn’t try to outlaw slavery because it’s been like that for years and it would be too difficult eliminate. We need forward progress so America can be a more peaceful, safe and positive environment.  

Despite the darkness, there is always light. I am such a fan of the goodness that exudes from all around the world to support and grieve with us. There are helpers everywhere and I do look for them. I hope you look for them, too. I think good will always prevail over evil but I can’t sit back and believe that everything is going to change. America, the ball is in our court and we need to figure out how to make it change. I don’t know about you but I would prefer to feel safe, free and supported in my country if I’m on a school campus, at a nightclub or at a movie theatre. The aura of violence is suffocating.Enough is enough. If we’re the land of the free and the home of the brave, why don’t we start acting like it?