If you’ve been following my journey for a while now, you know that I chose to work abroad after college.
I spent my first seven months after graduation teaching English in Thailand and am currently working in a hotel in France. What you probably don’t know is the amount of time I spent convincing my mom this was a good idea. I spent months preaching about how I knew this would benefit me in my future career goals. Many conversations revolved around persuading her that this was more than just a vacation. While I’ve never admitted this to her, I was just looking for a vacation (sorry, Mom! Guess you were right all along). I honestly wasn’t ready to face working life in America and I thought this would be a nice break from reality.
From the second I moved abroad, I started receiving more and more comments from friends. Things like, “I wish I had your life”. Or “living vicariously through you”! And “so jealous of you right now”! And while I may spend some weekends exploring different countries and taking on new adventures, choosing to work abroad after college has been far from perfect.
It wasn’t until about month two in Thailand, that I realized I wasn’t on vacation at all.
Sure, it wasn’t your typical corporate job in America, but it certainly was no walk in the park. I spent many days on the verge of tears trying to control my class. Most days consisted of me attempting to not scream at the five year olds sitting (aka somersaulting/running/jumping) in front of me. While my challenges may have stemmed from language barriers and culture shock instead of team meetings and spreadsheets, it didn’t make them feel any less real. If anything, they felt more real than many obstacles I’ve faced in the past.
Currently, I live in the South of France and am working in a hotel. Sounds amazing, right? It is. Except for the fact that I am working as a housekeeper (which is honestly kind of ironic because I don’t remember the last time I cleaned my own room). Except for the fact that I am essentially the only person that speaks English in my town.
For me, working abroad after college has proven to be both the greatest challenge and the greatest decision I’ve ever made.
It means I’ve been incredibly lonely at times. It also means I’ve met some of the most amazing people I know. It means I have been so homesick it hurts. And it means I’ve felt more at home, eight thousand miles away, than I have felt in a long time. It means I’ve watched as my friends get promotions at their jobs while I’m stuck cleaning up other people’s shit. It also means, I get to live in one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been that I wouldn’t have known existed if it weren’t for this shit cleaning job. It means I’m missing out on baby showers and weddings and graduations.
My point is, working abroad after college is a roller coaster of sacrifice and balance.
It will be the best decision you ever make, but it sure as hell won’t be easy. You will get to see places of the world that many people will never be able to see, but you may not be able to share it with the people you love the most. You will probably feel so uncomfortable in this new world that, at some point, it becomes your new comfortable.
Working abroad after college is different for everyone. But one thing I think we can all agree on is that it’s worth it. So if you’ve been thinking about it, stop questioning yourself and take that leap of faith. Because I promise you, you won’t regret it.