As many of you already know, I applied to teach English in Spain last year, but decided not to go through with it for some personal reasons. However, this year I’ve applied again and will be going through with it, barring me receiving a teaching placement. Teaching and living abroad is something I’ve wanted to do since studying abroad, but haven’t done yet.
Wanderlust captured me back in the spring of 2010 in Granada, Spain, and it never let go. The yearn to travel and explore the world has never left me. Like many recent college graduates though, I got stuck in the lifeless world of the dreaded 9 to 5 cubicle. Photographs of my travels and maps decorating my cubicle walls, exploring Google Maps street view when I could, and screensavers of faraway places couldn’t cure my desire to escape and explore. My two weeks vacation (3 days a year when I first started) were hardly enough to cover trips to places, especially for any extended period of time. I mean, how can you honestly get somewhere across the world with only two weeks vacation a year? Maybe that topic/rant is for another post.
I decided it was time. Life abroad and all it entailed – the ups, the downs, the exciting, the scary – was calling me. I needed to go, and I needed to go now. So, I applied to teach English in Spain, the country I had fell head over heels in love with 4 years ago and turned down the opportunity to teach in last year.
Now, before you assume I had a terrible job I should say that, yes, I had a safe, stable, and secure job that paid me very well; however, I didn’t love it. I never went into work feeling excited to be there and passionate about my work. I landed the job right out of college and was very happy, especially when I saw my salary written in the job offer. Plus, it was new and exciting and encompassed everything that I was supposed to be doing with my post-college life. I could easily have worked there for 35+ years without worrying about job security, been paid handsomely, and collected a swell pension when it was all said and done, but if there’s no love or passion in it, why do it?
College was an exhilarating place for me filled with endless opportunities to socialize and learn. My direction in life was wide open, and I felt like I could do whatever I wanted in life. Entering the workforce was initially exciting with the feeling of limitless opportunities to make a difference the second I stepped into my office building wearing my shirt and tie, but soon this life became rather monotonous and routine. My ideas were not taken seriously because I was “young,” and I was expected to “work hard for 5-10 years and then you’ll be in a position to have meaningful work and make a difference because then you will have put your time in.” Each day was as if I was living in the doldrums, a waiting place. Every day was almost identical to the next. I began just floating through day to day life where I knew exactly what to expect day in and day out. If you don’t want surprises, excitement, or or anything that makes you feel alive it was a fine position to be in. That’s not what I wanted though.
I craved for exploring new places, learning new languages, meeting new people from other cultures, and most of all the unknown. I wanted to have to deal with unexpected circumstances that were more than a check engine light on my car. A quote from the travel documentary 180º South sums up my thoughts exactly,
“If I don’t get on that boat, I know exactly what I’m going home to. If I do, my future is unwritten.”
If I stay where I am at, I know exactly how the rest of my life will be. I know that the longer I stay at my job the less likely I am to ever leave, and I can see that with a lot of the older workers there who got sucked in and put their dreams aside until retirement. You know, like we’re supposed to. However, if I take the chance and teach abroad, my future is completely unwritten. This is the unknown I’ve been craving, the one I’m looking forward to.
There are many, many, many posts out there with reasons why you should teach abroad, and while all these reasons to teach and live abroad play into my decision, the main factor for me is leaving my monotonous, unexciting life for the unknown. Yes, it’s scary, and some days almost petrifying, thinking about leaving my stable paycheck, friends, family, and everything I know to go out into the world and live in a different culture in a different country where another language is spoken and do a job that I don’t have much, if any, experience doing. Those days are few and far between though. I’m up for the challenge and cannot wait for it to begin.
I could take my two weeks vacation and fly to Spain, but I will never get a chance like this one again.
A chance to learn the language, understand the culture, and be a part of all of it and live like a local. It’s all a mystery as to what it will be like right now, which is what gets my blood pumping. Knowing that I’m taking this leap of faith into an unknown future has me feeling alive, even if I still have a few more months of paycheck collecting before leaving. That’s where the name of my site came from after all. I like living life without a map (see: mapless) of where I will be going next, but rather seeing what each day has in store for me and making the most of it.
There’s no fun for me in knowing exactly what each day will bring. I need the new, the challenging, the unknown. It makes me feel alive. This is why I have decided to teach abroad, live abroad, follow my passions, and face my fears now. I don’t want to know what the rest of my life has in store. I want my future to be unwritten.