Two years ago, I sat in my bedroom in Washington DC debating whether to take a leap. I had graduated college and really wanted to live abroad, but I was scared. I promised myself at a very young age that by the hook or by the crook I would make it abroad. During my undergraduate studies, studying abroad just didn’t pan out for me. I tried and I wanted it, but it just didn’t. There were roadblocks in place. I told myself, “OK, then after college it will be so.”
Now it’s after college. I am sitting here on my bed. The chance presents itself and I’m scared.
I worked multiple jobs and took out student loans to stay afloat, but I had no savings. I craved more than this. I desired to live abroad and I feared it at the same time. I didn’t like my jobs—they were just that: jobs—but hey, they paid the bills. I had great friends surrounding me and a large family just one phone call away. I loved the city I was in; I knew where to go and what to do. There were no shock inducing cultural barriers and I knew the language. I was fine…but I knew in my heart it wasn’t enough for me anymore. I wanted to explore!
I wanted more.
I went on my laptop and I searched forums, blogs, and travel and job sites. I weighed all the pros and cons in my head. I consulted with those around me and I prayed. Eventually, I sat there on my bed and I thought, what’s the worst that could happen? I could be stuck here and never live this dream or I could take a leap. Which option can I live with?
So I did it. I sent out my resume and did the interviews on Skype. I got the job teaching in China, in a city I had never heard of. It was a country I had never been to. It was a language I could not speak or understand for the life of me. It was a culture I did not know. It was a twenty four hour flight from home. I took a serious leap of faith.
Fast forward….Now here I am, again, a little over two years later. I’m in my apartment in Shanghai-one of the biggest, greatest cities in the world. I speak mandarin. I have great friends. I know the city and the culture. I have traveled throughout China. I have moved within China. I have one job and it’s good…teaching is fulfilling.
My boss tells me to stay, he tells me I’m doing a great job and to renew my contract. I have a little more money than I used to, though I’m not rich. I live comfortably. I am abroad, like I dreamed.
I have learned and grown but I want more.
I debate it. Weigh my options. I have friends here. I have this, that and the third….I finally learned the language!
It’s also a leap of faith because each time I move, I use my last paycheck to do it.
I research the documents I need, head to embassies and get it done. I borrow suitcases, buy them off of craigslist, and use the ones I already have and I pack them. I take all of my belongings and divide them into four piles: coming, dumping, donating, shipping. Only one of those piles comes with me so I have to decide wisely. Dumping goes in the garbage. Donating goes to whatever charity I find. Shipping is usually winter clothes that will take a few months to get to my destination. Do I really want to do this? Should I stay or should I go? I contemplate….and call me crazy but the answer in my heart is yes.
I send out my resume and I do interviews on Skype. After receiving a few offers I take a job in Japan. I can’t speak the language, haven’t been there before. I have taken this type of leap before. I can do this again. I’m scared, nervous, excited, and hopeful all at the same time. These are feelings that anyone would feel. There’s so much to see and learn and experience in this world. Fear and nerves be damned. I’m packing my bags! With a one way plane ticket, fresh hair braids, one paycheck and three pieces of luggage–I’m off to the next country.