Since graduation 2012, I have been traveling and working abroad.
My family thinks it is a nomadic unordinary life that I have chosen and even though they are supportive, they are tired of seeing me leaving home each and every year. Society tells me that nomadic living is just running away from the mundane 9-5 life and teaching is just for graduates who have no idea what to do with their life. My mentors tells me that I’ve lost a few years and am now behind my peers – I’ve given up moving up the corporate ladder in exchange for exploring the world.
Besides the people who sees living abroad as a ‘cool factor,’ everyone around me is telling me I’m just doing something crazy – I’m living an unrealistic dream and freely traveling the world, and taking advantage in being an irresponsible 20-something.
Perhaps, on the outside, this is what it sounds like. It sounds amazing and wonderful and glorious.
But in reality, it really wasn’t.
My experiences came with a big price tag and one that has challenged me and pushed me off the edge time after time. I sometimes describe it as the ‘sink or sunk’ experience and it involved a lot of falling down and perseverance in getting back up.
These few years has been the most challenging and difficult times in my life. Living abroad as a foreigner, a minority, has forced me to think on my feet and encountered challenges I’ve often taken advantage of: language barrier, isolation, adaption to new city, finding new friends, or even basic essential needs (having a home and a bank account).
Every single time I move out to a new city, a new country, I start from ground zero. I begin the entire process again, but I do it because I believe the experience is worth it. I want to see, compare and contrast. I want to live these personal experiences to have stories to tell for the future. I want to say I have international experiences and I understand different education systems around the world.
Teaching gives me that opportunity to interact with people and to understand them on a personal level. I learn about the culture and lifestyle through my students.
To the outside world, I may seem to have lost a couple of my prime years in growing a career. To me, I have gained a couple of years of invaluable knowledge: solving real-life problems on my own, planning and traveling independently, experiencing culture shock, seeing and understanding how people learn and being inspired from friends all over the world.
I’m on a journey to self-discovery, a process of elimination of what I don’t like to find what I like. I will get there but the journey is more important than the destination.
Nomads are not running from the world. Instead, they are not letting the world run away from them.
Everyone has a story.
This is mine.