I've begun to plan a new life, free of the old American way of thinking, with the whole career, house, thing. In fact, I can't imagine a life in which a permanent career would satisfy me. I don't like working, to be honest. I'm a lazy bastard like that.
But neither am I still infatuated with the backpacking life. The most rewarding kind of traveling I've found is when you stay in one place for awhile, build a bit of a life, make connections, learn about the language and culture, and then move on when you feel that itch to go.
Also, my life is all about experience. I want to learn things, I want to do things. I don't just want to see or go, but get right into it.
To that end, I'm currently learning Hungarian, learning the guitar (while I live a somewhat stable existence,) am improving my ESL teaching skills, studying everything I can get my hands on at the Foreign Languages library here in the city, and am finding everything I can about ways to live an unconventional life that's full of great experiences, people, and learning opportunities.
For instance, I'm going to use my vacation time at work to do a trainee sail on a tall ship in the UK sometime this summer/fall, and hopefully everything will go well and I'll get the opportunity to come back as a volunteer. Also, if anyone knows anything about youth charity organizations or some kind of funding or anything about tall ships, really, I'd be super interested to hear about it.
After my contract is up in December here in Budapest, I'd like to either volunteer on a tall ship or else do some WWOOFing somewhere in the Europe/Western Russia/North Africa part of the world. If anyone knows anything about opportunities for WWOOFing in the winter, I'd also be super psyched to hear about that!
And after that I don't know. I do have an opportunity to go teach English in Sri Lanka for a year, but that also starts in December and I'm not decided yet if I want to teach for another year. Sri Lanka would be an amazing experience, but there's no money there and I really want to build the measly backup fund I have, not destroy it. Ugh.
I like the internet and everything, but I'm not focused or dedicated enough to either make money off of my own blog, or else learn web design. I've dabbled in both and neither of them are right for me. It just turns the place you're living/traveling into the background of your work, for me. Id rather do some kind of job where I got to experience the local culture all the time. That is why I like teaching, because you get to talk to and make friends with natives in a different way than if you were just passing through or had no professional reason for meeting them.
I'm rambling. I'm not really sure what I'm getting at here. Ok. I know the kind of life I want to lead, and I know the things I want to do. The problem is achieving all these things, and no my problem isn't with how to actually contact and network and do my research, it's all about the money (as usual.) Right now I'm doing alright. I'm just worried that once my stable (albeit boring) job is finished, I won't be able to maintain momentum and will wind up back in the States, depressed without a penny to my name. I want reassurances from someone who's been there. Someone who has done this kind of bizarre skipping-about-the-world life and can tell me that it will all be okay. Hahaha. Tell me I'm not insane and this is possible and I will be able to do it! Grr. I feel so young and inexperienced and at the same time a lot older and very cut off from all my friends from school. I barely talk to them anymore, in fact. Bleh.
Anyways, I really don't know what I'm getting at. Maybe you'll be able to tell better than I.
Koszonom szepen for reading my drivel!
You will be fine - have faith...a few years ago i was miserable in a job I hated, but I took the steps to change my life and i continue to take whatever steps i have to to create the life I want. Im currently in London saving hard so I can hit the road permanently next year - so if you have a dream, it can be done...just research like hell and get on forums, twitter, anywhere you can to find the answer for you.
I also can't imagine being happy living permanently in my home country- or probably permanently anywhere, for that matter, although Turkey may turn out to call my bluff on that one. Yet neither does the permanent backpacker lifestyle appeal to me; I'm down with dorms and I love exploring new places, but certain aspects of it wear on me after a while (never having old friends around for a talk about old times, being asked the same questions about wherefrom-whereto-howlong twenty times a day, all that).
Somehow, though, I seem to have ended up living the life I always wanted but never exactly planned on. I'm 22, currently living in Turkey and working as a guidebook writer and programmer. Since I was sixteen, I've had ten homes in seven different countries, never really thinking so far ahead as to say "cool, I'm a perma-expat, I'm never going home!" It just kinda happened.
Opportunities WILL arise if you keep your eyes open. My current job, for example, is not only the most awesome fantastic wonderful dreamjob I've ever had, it also pretty much just fell into my lap. (I was working at a hostel in Istanbul last summer, and about two months ago when I was in southern Turkey, my ex-boss showed up out of nowhere in the bar I was then working at and offered me the job).
My advice to you would be this:
-ESL teaching is a great skill. Do you have qualification? If not, I'd recommend thinking about getting it even if you aren't sure you want to teach (assuming you can afford it). I have no real intention of teaching anytime soon, but I have a CELTA certificate and that knowledge eases my mind CONSIDERABLY whenever the oh-god-what-if thoughts cross my mind. Even if teaching isn't your dream... worse comes to worst, it's pretty much a ticket to a free job (almost) anytime, (almost) anywhere.
-NETWORK. Make it known that you're looking for work, and keep in touch with people. Good contacts are obviously important anywhere in the world, but I think they're doubly so where you don't know the language fluently or are somewhat of an outsider, so to speak. Hell, I got my current job SOLELY because I'm a native English speaker and knew the business owner already.
-Keep your options open. It sounds like you're doing a good job considering different angles- keep doing that!
And finally, remember that just about no matter where you are on earth, no matter how broke you are, SOMEONE will let you work in their hostel for free accommodation (and sometimes food) and SOMEONE will hire you in their bar, under the table, so you can make extra cash. It's not the path to riches, but if you're stuck in Armenia without a penny to your name, it'll put a roof over your head and food in your stomach until you can find something else.
There are a lot of us out here who didn't head out until much later (37 for me 22 years ago), so you are way ahead of the game. You can see, at least, that there are alternatives most people don't even know about.
If you wish to remain overseas, I would recommend that you - at some point - go get an education in something that will facilitate a life abroad and help you earn enough to have a more comfortable middle-and-older age.
Sometimes it works to just let it evolve and slowly the future will come into focus.
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