My name is Charlotte. I recently studied abroad in Rome, and after getting bitten by a terrible, never-ending case of wanderlust, anything and everything that has to do with traveling catches my eye. I’m a senior in college, and I’m getting ready to graduate in May. I always thought that I would head straight into the world of corporate America after graduation, but like I mentioned earlier, studying abroad changed all that for me. When I think about my plans for after graduation, I know that there is nothing I want to do more than travel. Everywhere. Anywhere! But it’s been hard for me, because I am torn between taking off and traveling the world, and the financial stability of having a job. I know this seems dumb–why wouldn’t I go travel if I know it’s what’s really going to make me happy? I tend to over-think things, and this might be my biggest problem (ha!) but I also just don’t even know where to start. I’ve been looking at employment opportunities abroad (I’m a marketing major), but it seems as though it’s hard to be placed in an international corporate job right after graduation. Usually it takes 5 or so years of experience. I’ve also looked at teaching abroad, but know a friend who actually ended up having to come home early because of how little she was being paid and because it was impossible to live on the salary. Lastly, I applied for the Peace Corps, but they were considering me for projects in Nigeria, which just doesn’t feel safe to me right now. Basically, I’m stuck and out of ideas. I’m not exactly familiar with your experience traveling, only that you’ve been doing it for a while. Would you mind telling me a little about your experience traveling? How you got started, where you’ve been (long-term), if you’ve had any employment abroad, etc. (I know that’s probably a lot, I’m sorry!). Any advice would be amazing. Thank you so much!
Trisha: Charlotte, I also studied in Italy but in Milan. I love Rome too and I was considering to move there in these coming years. But you know, as always, plans can change. I can see you are stuck between traveling the world and having a decent, financially stable job but let me tell you that traveling won’t affect your career — even if you don’t come back for years.
I had a very high paying job in Milan and in Manila (Philippines). I worked in the fashion industry and when I was deciding to leave home to travel the world, like most people, I had to debate with myself if I was doing the right thing. The people around me found this idea really insane. What? You’re leaving your job to travel the world? Why? What’s in it for you? They asked. To be honest, I didn’t know what was in it for me. What do I get out of this? I am from a country where having a degree and a stable job is a must (or a norm, I should say) and if you don’t have both, you’re basically fucked. But that’s their point of view, not mine. I figured, I am entitled to whatever I want to do in my life and I will never take shit from anyone.
I’ve been traveling Latin America for two years now doing work exchange. I work in bars and hostels in exchange for free accommodation and food. It’s not very comfortable, I tell you. I slept in dorms with 12 people all the time, there is no privacy, all the volunteers share the same bathroom, the same everything! However, a lot of good things happened in my life for doing this. I am now fluent in Spanish and Portuguese (Brasi), I craved less on material things, learned to appreciate every little thing around me and many more!
When I am sick of traveling, I teach English, like everyone else. I also stay with local families to learn how they eat, cook, sleep and live. I’ve been hosted a lot of times by big Colombian, Brasilian and Uruguayan families and it’s the best experience of my life. They gave me my own room, free home-cooked food and taught me their slangs. If you knew me before, you’ll never think I am the same person. Everything’s changed — for the better.
I can’t tell you what to do. No one can. But as a person who chose to live her life in a different way, I can tell you what most free people will: Don’t lament so much about how your career is going to turn out. You don’t have a career. You have a life. Do the work. Keep the faith. Be true blue. Has it ever occurred to you that our lives have expiration dates? Do something you love and start NOW.
Yara: Hey Charlotte, nice to hear from you and hey… you’re lucky for spending some time in Rome, I love that city! Well, I left my parents home 16 years ago, at a time where internet was not even available in Portugal, so I was totally clueless of what to do in order to travel the world, while feeling safe at the same time.
I had absolutely no money when i first left, I didn’t even have a bank account, but I knew I’d find a way to travel and even make money out of it. And guess what? I did! I actually made really good money on my first trips.
As a solo female, with no experience of the world, safety was one of my top concerns. So i found out about this cultural exchange program called Au-pair, where a girl can live with a host family from a chosen country and babysit. I had ALL my expenses paid and got some pocket money on top of that! So I took off to London and later on to the USA and Switzerland. I was able to save 6.000USD 15 years ago, which was amazing!
This could be a great option for you, especially in your age. You can learn a new language, get to know a new culture and travel around a lot on your free time with your Au-pair friends It might not be a corporate well paid job, but it’s an incredible learning experience. You’ll make friends for life and have a blast.
Financial sustainability is an issue for most of us, specially the long term travelers like Trisha and I, who don’t plan to go back home right after one of two adventures It takes some creativity, but it’s definitely possible.
I actually know people who made a lot of money teaching English abroad, you just have to see which program is best for you. China and Korea offer really good salaries for teachers. From one of these countries you can travel around Asia. You have a college degree and are a native speaker, if you’re into Asia, go for it! Dave’s ESL cafe is the best place to find Jobs abroad: http://www.eslcafe.com/
Good luck and let us know what you decided to do in order to take over the world!