Ever since my first trip overseas back in 2008 for a month-long, summer study abroad in Santander, Cantabria, Spain, the proverbial travel bug has taken hold and hasn’t let go. I’ve managed to do some short-term travel between then and now, both for pleasure and business, and reached my tenth country in November 2012. While every trip has been incredible, it has only served to deepen the void I’ve felt regarding a longer-term life in another country.
I’ve had it in my mind for awhile now to make a major move abroad, but it hasn’t happened for one reason or another. First, it was the “impracticality” of leaving fresh out of school to teach English abroad. I had my mind made up, but didn’t feel like I had much support from my parents. Granted, I could have gone whether or not I had their blessing, but I value their good opinion. Of course, looking back, they meant well – I had no real job experience, hardly any money, and had not really experienced life in the real world. They were simply looking out for me. Honestly, I think it was a smart move. Sure, tons of kids practically walk across the stage at graduation and onto a plane and do just fine. But, seeing the path I’ve taken, I think that at the time it worked out well in my favor.
That first year post-undergrad was definitely a struggle. I graduated a semester early in ’08, during the peak of the recession, naively thinking that I would get a jump on the job market. Naturally, my job search was a total train wreck. I took whatever odd jobs I could from a temp agency which had me doing everything from working as a secretary at the local newspaper to rearranging grocery shelves at area supermarkets. I had moments where my pride crept up on me and said, “you’re a college graduate, this is beneath you.” I quickly beat down those thoughts. As my older brother wisely said, I was “on the grind.” Making money wherever there was money to be made, no matter what. I was living with him at the time; he was well aware of my circumstances and extremely skimp bank account, and graciously let me move into his 3 bedroom condo rent-free. My parents had opened their door too, but living with him allowed me the freedom I wouldn’t have felt back in my old childhood bedroom.
So there I was: miserable about my prospects in life, trying to brush off the bitterness of missing the opportunity of an exciting life overseas. Before long, I caught a break. I was admitted to the Masters in Applied Sociology program at UMBC. I started attending full-time, working during the day at a school for autistic children, and commuting from Rockville to Baltimore County 3 evenings a week. The stress was unbelievable and I was permanently exhausted. Then suddenly, the pieces began to fall into place. I applied for a graduate research assistantship that October and got an interview. Among a sea qualified candidates, I was selected. The position was 20 hours a week at the office in Baltimore City and was to start straight away. I had managed to save up enough money over the past few months and decided it was time to start a new chapter in Charm City, closer to work and school.
For the sake of breaking this introduction down into manageable chunks, I’m going to stop here. Till next time!
Happy travels, Dre