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Reflections, Observations, and Rants about life abroad

If you were to tell me 1 year ago that I was going to quit my job and live in a foreign county, my response would have been, “yeah right…”. But here I am, living in Chiang Mai, Thailand and loving every minute of it. Just about.

I have been very privileged to have had the opportunity to travel to many countries as I was growing up. My parents traveled for many years and passed on the travel gene to me! They have always been supportive of my crazy adventures and I love them for it!

Until, my trip to Thailand, I had never lived in a foreign country. I have learned a lot about myself, and the world around me in the last 5 months, since I hit the road.

Until my decision to drastically change my life, I had been working for 3.5 years at two separate universities. I had done most things that, we, as a western society, are programmed to do. Go to school, go to university, get a job, and work, work, and work some more. Maybe along the way, you will also get married, have kids, buy a house, and live happily ever after.

Although, there is nothing wrong with the status quo. I have tried to live my life alternatively, by emphasizing the experiences that I can afford myself, the interactions that I have with other people, and pushing myself to do new things.

A great quote that I heard recently, reads as follows:

“Life begins, at the end of your comfort zone.”

Neale Donald Walsch

This quote is how I would describe my life since I have moved abroad.

Prior to making this life altering choice, I was pretty content. I had a fun job, a great community of friends, access to a lot of biking (my favorite hobby), and general contentment.

Then, randomly, I had an epiphany. A very basic question, “why do I wake up everyday?” Why do I work? What do I want to accomplish? Why?

In life, there are two major variables that dictate how we allocate our time. They are time and money. Some of us are fortunate to have one but not the other, some are less fortunate and have neither, while some some have both.

While living at home, I found myself, working hard, so that I could have money to provide myself with basic amenities such as food, housing, clothing. Basic things that western societies take for granted. I would work for an entire year in order to have 7-21 days of “time-off” to do the things that I was truly passionate about and I was fortunate to have that time.

The adventures that I did with that time include, circumnavigating the big island of Hawaii by bicycle and riding my bike across the state of Alaska from north to south. These two adventures among others is when I felt most alive, a feeling that is indescribable with words.

So, while in reflection I wanted to find a way to alter my life so that I could have exciting adventures more regularly. I wanted to find a way to travel more, meet more people, learn new things, and explore the world around me.

So, I quit my job, sold some things, moved home to Seattle, took a TEFL course, bought a one-way ticket to Thailand, got a job teaching english, and have been loving it ever since!

It is amazing what you can accomplish when you set your mind to something, it is even more gratifying when you realize your goals. I have no idea how long I will be here. I have no idea what I am doing next year let along next week, but I have learned to try to live in the moment because that is all that I can control.

Some friends and family do not understand my rational. Some question my thought processes. You are going to do what?!?! Why!?!? I maybe thinking the same thing about you. It is not important to question other people, but rather, to be supportive of others and their passions. Because that is truly what fuels us. Think about it. What makes you get up everyday?

This post is not intended to criticize anyone or rationalize my life decisions. It is not intended to convince you that my life is better than yours or vice-versa. It is simply an observation about the pursuit of happiness and living life alternately to the status quo.

In conclusion, regardless of what you do in life, regardless of what you are passionate about, or who you choose to be around. Remember, that you can always change it, but you have to take life by the reigns and make it happen.

Thanks to all of you that have impacted my life in one way or another, friends, family, and everyone that I have met these last few months. You make life worth living, you are the reason I wake up everyday.

Now, get after it!

HERE is a blog post from a fellow traveler that graphically illustrates life abroad. CHECK IT OUT! It is hilarious!

Nathan currently lives abroad as an American expat and is based in Hanoi, Vietnam. He enjoys learning new languages, meeting new people and exploring new places. Nathan has been living abroad since 2014 and likes to stay busy plotting his next trip.

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. VDM, you continue to be an inspiration. While you are sorely missed stateside, I know you are spreading the high fives of awesomeness around the globe!

  2. […] I took a cue from one of our college friends who had moved abroad to teach English. I read his blog, looked up other blogs, researched qualifications to teach abroad, and came to the conclusion that this could really be a plausible thing. One blog post in particular struck a chord with me. It was a post about not being satisfied with the status quo: (check it out here: […]

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