Sunday, October 15, 2006

Don't Postpone Joy!

Leaving your home country to face the unknown of a new culture, new career and new life style is never an easy decison and is not for everyone. The purpose of this blog is to share personal experience as well as practical advice for taking the big leap... travel and live abroad.

For many years, I was a disgruntled architect who moved from job to job and city to city hoping to find the right fit. I finally realized that the best option for me was to stop following the beaten path and create my own. However, the question was how might I go about doing this? What could I do to earn a living aside from architecture? What was I good at? At that time, as far as I knew.. not much else.

I began to ask myself, to remember, when was I happiest? Forget about money, (momentarily) forget about how. What times in my life was I happy? Well, I was happiest during the time I was working on a Master's degree in Architecture. More specifically while I was doing the study-abroad component of my training in Italy. It wasn't just Italy, it was the freedom I felt, the discovery process and being a foreigner that contributed to my happiness.

I decided that just the act of living abroad might be just the adventure I needed to jump start my spirit. I had not yet decided how long I wanted to spend outside of the country or what I would do when I returned but I knew for sure that the sheer act of travel was exactly what I needed to discover where my future lies.

After identifying what I would do post- architecture, the big questions were which country and how to make money. Ironically, this part was not particularly difficult for me. Since I had no interest in returning to school, there is only one career that is in demand in many parts of the world that I was qualified for and that is teaching English as a second language. I choose Japan because at that time it was relatively easy to find a job and no experience was required except being a native English speaker. Perfect!

From that moment on my life has been an endless adventure that still hasn't ceased to surprise me. I have no regrets and through weekly chronicles I will describe the events that have taken place since the fateful day that I left for Japan. After all, its been almost seven years that I've been living outside of the U.S. and after a few continents and many countries later, I've found myself in the south of France. I hope that by sharing my experiences and a little advice here and there that I can help others take that big leap.


Amy Hoskins said...

Hello, Having taken the TESOL course and with some summer school teaching experience I am contemplating 'the great unknown'of TEFL teaching. I find your comments re asking yourself "when you were happiest" to be a very useful self examination. The answer of course is - 'when living in warm foreign coastal places with interesting architecture, or painting exotic architiecture.' (I use it in my mural painting business) SO - the ANSWER for me is easy. I shall look for posts in North Africa, Southern Italy and Turkey, for starters! Even though I might consider the South of France the ideal resting place, I guess we all need hard experience in a foreign clime before we can come home to roost; and I don't consider France to be very foreign!

Anonymous said...

Hello Gyl

I have read your blogs with great interest and confirm many of your insights and perceptions about travelling, living and working abroad.

My wife and I have lived and worked in a few countries over the years, (i.e. England Germany Sri Lanka and in the Far East) and have since settled and set up our own recruitment agency business in Marrakech.

It has been a roller coaster ride in each place - from the depths to the heights - but we have never regretted taking the "leap of faith" each time.

If you ever want to take a risk in life - dont be afraid of the unknown and keep a sense of humour!