How do you get the most out of living and working abroad? Do you root yourself into the culture and community, or take advantage of your location and explore as much as possible?
Lately these are the thoughts that I have been mulling over while cleaning the apartment biweekly, attempting to learn Italian, applying for jobs and feverishly planning our upcoming trip to England—pretty much anything to keep busy and find fulfilment without having an actual job.
Feeling like you’re standing still while watching everyone around you chasing their dreams is torturous. However the thought of working another unsatisfying job with less than ideal hours and having to fight for time off to travel just seems wrong—especially with all of Europe right at my fingertips.
The thought of working an unsatisfying job and having to fight for time off to travel just seems wrong—especially with all of Europe right at my fingertips.
I have always striven for "the best of both worlds." Enjoying my life by grasping at every exciting opportunity while simultaneously getting it done. My purpose in moving to Scotland was all encompassing: to be with my boyfriend Dalton, to create a new home, to explore Europe and to start some sort of career. So when contemplating what my life here would be like it was quite easy. I imagined that I'd get a meaningful job where I could take my first steps in a career, with hours that coordinate with Dalton’s, and have the freedom to travel during his breaks. (Reading that, you probably think I live in la-la land, which isn’t totally inaccurate.)
But my current reality is that I'm jobless, dealing with daily bouts of "apartment fever" and end each day with a slight feeling of un-fulfillment. Being as my future worldly explorations are quite limited by Dalton’s all-consuming school schedule and my ever-dwindling bank account, it’s time to make some compromises and take action.
I think the temporary answer to my quicksand swamp of cyclical thoughts is to just make one decision at a time. It’s so easy to see one opportunity, go on one date, get one job offer and then ruin a potentially wonderful situation by hearing wedding bells, or getting cold feet by imagining the anguish of taking coffee orders while you could be on a beach in Portugal. Obviously perspective and planning is important—but you’ll never know "what could have bee" if your focus is on next year or even next month.
It’s never to late to quit or say no; there is always some way out. However sometimes it’s necessary to just take the plunge and make a decision. So in answer to my questions? Maybe the most advantageous way to live and work abroad is simply to live and work abroad. Say yes to the opportunities that present themselves, dive head first into what you're passionate about, and know that you can always just pack up your bags and chalk it up to a great campfire story at the end of the day.Add this article to your reading list