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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Why you should meet strangers on the Internet

The digital world can never replace in person interaction, connection and experiences. Life behind a computer screen can cause a lot of issues including comparison, unworthiness, and a feeling of “connection” but ultimately isolation. Then why would I tell you to talk to strangers on the Internet? Because in the past year and a half I have stumbled upon a few interweb connections that have changed my life and I want you to at least give it a shot. Here’s why:

You just moved to a new city- When you move to a new city, especially on your own (without a job or a place to live, wait is that just me?) your main concern should be finding a job and a place to live. If you are moving/ traveling abroad this might land you in a hostel where you could meet awesome people, (I met the love of my life) but you also meet a lot of people who are sleeping until 2 pm, partying all night, and complaining they can’t find a job. Let’s just say not the ideal crowd. If you stick to those friends you meet at the bar, you might not have the most motivated, positive, uplifting group surrounding you. CHOOSE your tribe wisely, don’t stumble into them.

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You can find out about events that peak your interest– Last year I found out about an awesome festival called Rad Livin on Instagram. It was full of inspiring stories from young creatives, live music, pizza, donuts and rad people. Their Instagram account followed me so I checked it out and it sounded like it was made for me. I couldn’t get any of my friends to join so I went alone and I made such cool friends and connections. Still time to go this year if it sounds like something you would like, just click this. I also attended many events in Sydney thanks to social media including Nike Training Tour, World Yoga Day Festival and Taste of Sydney. Cool events usually equal cool people and experiences are always worth the ticket price!

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Corey’s Heart

Anniversaries are traditionally special days where we celebrate important events. When the anniversary represents a painful event it sings a much different tune. Regardless, anniversaries make us nostalgic, reflective and in this case sad. But like John Green said, “It hurts because it matters.”

The amount of emotion the wells up in my chest, my heart, my conscious and subconscious brain around this time of year speaks volumes for how incredibly deep of an impact Corey had on the world and everyone who knew her. The amount of people who knew her should be remaining the same, but it seems as if the numbers grow.

The years creep past and suddenly, we have arrived at the ten year anniversary of her death. Ten years. That statement is surreal to me.  I swear that I can still hear her cackling laugh and I can still picture her mannerisms. I can chose what song she would play or which boy she would think was the cutest. Ten years. A decade without her sweet, beautiful, quirky self in this world.  

When I look back at one of the first pieces I wrote and shared publicly, Four Walls, I feel so much pure pain and emotion in my words- it always brings me to tears. I return to it now because sometimes I simply can’t say it better than myself.

“We are all surrounded by a new set of four walls. The walls are all different textures and colors. The wind whipping against the window pane smells different. The walls have different stories, and the rooms have different souls. Across the world, the country, through the state lines and the highways and the driveways, we still stare at our set of four walls.

No matter where we are, that insatiable pain is still there. We wrestle with the same thoughts. We breathe the same deep breaths. The breath you breathe so deep and so long just to know that you are alive. You’re still here.

Apart, we are solid colors, red, blue, white and green. We are strong and vivacious. We make an impact, cause a laugh, contribute to the team and shock others with our brilliance. That’s what we look like up close. We are separate entities that are just fine on their own. But much like the pixels of a television screen, when you look at us from a far…we are one. We come together to make a grander and even more powerful picture.”

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Chasing Summer

I will spend my life chasing summer. It’s been a few weeks since I’ve checked in due to my crazy schedule for my holiday in America.  I escaped the Australian winter and took off to the US for a month of fun in the sun. It has been nonstop since I landed in NYC and reunited with so many sorority sisters and friends from college and apparently, believed that I could still party like my former sorority girl self. I spent many of my first days in America hungover until the afternoon when I could finally recoup, exercise and then get back at it again. This lasted for my first weekend and then my body rebelled. It was so amazing to see my friends and my family and even though I haven’t seen any of them in person for a while we just carry on the conversation like it never stopped. It’s pretty amazing how that works. It’s also crazy to genuinely realize that you are past the age where partying is worth it. I enjoy a few glasses of wine. I always will, but I wholeheartedly would rather stay in with friends and family, or even alone, than suffer through the misery and anxiety hangovers bring. Is this growing up?

Luckily, I also managed to have a few “touristy” experiences in NYC because even though it’s my favorite city in the world I’ve been to countless times, I still want to be a tourist because I’m rarely there anymore!  I walked the Brooklyn Bridge, went on a food crawl, did an amazing hot yoga class, took my first Soul Cycle class and spent time with so many people near and dear to me. New York is one of the few cities that I believe has a pulse. You can actually feel how alive it is. Before I knew it I was on a plane and off again to Nashville to attend my annual coaching convention. I experienced this event last year for the first time and this year did not disappoint. There is something so tangible about gathering together that many positive and motivated people for a fitness convention to celebrate our successes, attend seminars and trainings, attend live workouts with our celebrity trainers and just bond with our teammates that we work with predominately online. This time it wasn’t the city that felt alive, but the energy from the people in it. I lost my voice the first day from having so many heart to hearts and possibly from belting out country songs at the crazy bars on Broadway. Just because it’s a bunch of fitness coaches together for a work convention doesn’t mean we don’t have our fair share of fun! It’s an awesome balance and one I attempt to emulate in all of my personal travels… until someone introduces the idea of a tequila shot.

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Cheers to you, Corinne Marie

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October is a month that many people look forward to. It is associated with fall weather and the start of the holiday season with Halloween. For the past decade, October has had a different aura attached to it. Nine years ago October 30, 2006 changed my life forever. To this day, I can not think of a single day that has impacted me more. Unfortunately, the whole month still puts a pain in my heart and an empty feeling in my stomach. Don’t get me wrong, I have slowly grown to appreciate pumpkin picking and carving, dressing up and fall decorations once again but there is a sadness attached to October I simply can’t shake. A huge part of my coaching business is personal development. The leaders on our team constantly demand and remind us how important it is to have a strong WHY for why we are in the business and why we decided to dedicate ourselves to helping others. Personally, as a writer, blogger, teacher, and self diagnosed over thinker I have always had a driving “why” in my life long before it became something I was asked to do for my career. The further I develop as a professional, a business owner, and a person; the more I realize how deeply intertwined my “why” really is with my life choices. If you know me well, you probably already know about my friend Corey and how deeply her life and friendship has impacted me. As time goes on and I continue to explore new countries, new horizons and add people to my ever growing network of humans I care about; I realize that Corey’s story is not something that is always at the forefront of conversation. October 30th and this time of the year is and always will be a reminder of her death but more importantly her life, her friendship and how her words are still a driving force and why in my life.

For those of you who don’t know Corey’s story I will give you a glimpse into who she was and what she taught not only me, but a whole community. Corey was an absolutely gorgeous girl from the inside out. She would befriend anyone and had an incredible talent at making everyone feel important. She gravitated towards people who needed an open ear or a shoulder to cry on, despite the fact that she was battling so much of her own pain. She was a talented cheerleader, a dedicated friend and student but deep down a huge goof ball. She was outgoing (once she got to know you) but extremely self-conscious and worried about her appearance and how others perceived her. She would randomly belt out singing as loud she could (usually Mariah Carey or a 90s boy band), eat tubs of raw cookie dough and spend hours listening to music or talking on the phone to her crushes or girlfriends. I had the honor of being her best friend for three years and have struggled to find a more loyal or supportive companion since. She sincerely wanted the BEST for everyone around her. She struggled deeply with depression and even in our tender teenage years she could verbalize a sadness that was hard for my mind to fathom. On October 30, 2006 Corey lost her struggle with depression and took her own life. The ripple she created is far more powerful today than any of us could have realized at the time.

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The Best Ships…

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Today, I am biding farewell to another one of my closest friends who I met at our teaching orientation and preceded to grow into a tight knit friendship with. On our last day of orientation our coordinators from our new school came to pick us up. There were over 200 people spread across two hotels at our CIEE Teach in Thailand orientation. I had the pleasure of meeting tons of awesome friends which I have stayed in contact with via social media and our various meet ups on weekends and holidays. When our van arrived to bring us to Suphanburi, Jackie and I were nervous, excited, and anxious to get to our town. We knew there were other girls placed at our school and apartment building but we hadn’t really gotten to know them at orientation. The two hour van ride from Kanchanaburi to our new home was the perfect, awkward time to get to know each other. The conversation didn’t feel forced but we had to go through the obligatory initial questions, “Where are you from?”, “Where did you go to school?”, “What was your major?”, etc. All of us were eager and excited for this new chapter of our lives to begin! Erin and Kelsey were best friends from childhood and grew up together in South Carolina, Maggie and Kelsey were random college roommates at FSU and ended up becoming best friends, Jackie and I obviously went to WVU together and were each others life line getting through our graduate school program. We all had our own “security” best friend, which made getting to know each other as a group an interesting, but fun adventure.

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