It was March 2009. I had been working at my first “real job” in San Francisco for five months when I realized I didn’t want to sit in a cube. I wanted to travel. So, I quit. My new job, my new apartment, my new city, my new friends, and my new paychecks. I said goodbye to them all and traded them in for a one-way ticket to Cusco, Peru with some saved-up money. A bold decision, yes. But I knew that was best for me.
This didn’t just come out of the blue. Travel has always been a passion and a big part of my life. I had the privilege of going on exotic vacations to places like the Galapagos and the Everglades with my family while growing up. Since I was single and had very little tying me down, my decision to leave the United States was scary, but an easy decision.
While in Peru and South America, I volunteered, took Spanish classes, adventured to different cities and countries, and got TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certified with a fantastic organization called Maximo Nivel.
When I learned that I could teach and travel around the world with a TEFL certification, I got SO EXCITED. I never knew how easy it could be.
Fast forward a few months, and I was in Seoul, South Korea. I taught ESL (English as a Second Language) there to children for two years. AND, I traveled a ton around Asia with the money I saved while teaching.
Living, working, and traveling abroad changed my life in a number of ways. Here are just a few reasons how.
1) I boosted my self-confidence. Navigating around a foreign country (especially solo) is empowering. I did things I never thought I’d do. (Ex. rode shady transportation, learned to scuba dive, zip lined in the jungle, sang frequently with little kids with my not-so-great voice). Going out of my comfort zone made me a stronger person and gave me an “I can do anything” mentality.
2) I learned about different people. The rest of the world is really different from the United States. I loved learning first-hand about local beliefs, customs, food, and ways of life (Ex. having dinner at 10pm in Argentina, bowing in Asia, eating food I wouldn’t normally eat). Most importantly, learning and understanding about different people and cultures helped me open my heart more to those around me.
3) I saw amazing natural beauty. Natural beauty is everywhere. You don’t need to leave your country to see it. But, I guarantee that you will be speechless by some of the things you might see (Ex. ancient Incan ruins, crystal clear water, tigers in the wild, sand dunes). Some of the things I saw may not be around in the near future. I feel fortunate to have laid my eyes on them.
4) Reflected on my interests. When in college, I really didn’t make a lot of time to reflect on what I liked. I picked a general social science major because of its broadness. Traveling game me time to examine and develop my interests. It helped me grow and find love!
Here’s where you come in. Traveling can change your life too. With determination and motivation, living or working abroad long-term might be easier than you think. If you’re looking for inspiration, check out the newly-launched Atlas Sliced, the ONLY interview-based travel show serving up advice on how to live and work abroad.
As the founder and host, I am bringing on influential guests to share how they have made their dreams of travel a reality. Types of guests include career breakers, volunteers, teachers, musicians, unconventional travelers, diving instructors, journalists, bloggers, and many more!
Atlas Sliced is also bringing on guests to showcase sites that can serve as great resources for travel (ex. booking sites, volunteer programs, teach abroad programs).
So, check it out, and maybe you’ll be inspired to travel!
Have you ever thought about living or working abroad long-term? Are you already doing it? If so, what are you doing, and how has it affected you?