I am here in Spain through a scholarship/fellowship program hosted by the Ministry of Education in Spain. I am not sponsored through the US or the US government in any way. Spain wants to increase K-12 exposure to certain languages and that is what this program is for. I teach at a high school in…
Update: Application period is January-April 1 I believe. But start checking around November 1 if you’re interested in moving to Spain for a year or two!
I titled this blog as such because as I looked back over my life, I’ve spent quite a bit of time outside of the US. While the bulk of that overseas travel happened during college, a few experiences involved community service, interning or working. I realized that for anyone contemplating traveling abroad for more than a vacation (on a temporary or long term basis) finding a job and supporting oneself would be the primary barrier to actually DOING IT.
Many of us have the preconception that living abroad requires:
a) The swanky “expat package” from a MNC
b) language skills
c) a trust fund
d) a built in network of high-ranking people to show you how to live there
When in actuality, it requires none of these things. I’ll tell you a few things it does require:
a) An open-mind
b) Some planning in advance
c) Great budgeting skills
d) A will to do research and “life hacks”
e) Knowing what “living within your means” actually means … i.e. the deft ability to separate ‘needs’ from ‘wants’.
g) A certain level of independence, or a fiery desire to develop it.
While having all 7 of these is the most beneficial, I think you could get by just fine with any 5. I will note that having some savings is advisable, but not a prerequisite and the amount depends on where you’re relocating to. While in graduate school I saved over the course of 5 months enough to get me to Spain and get set up where I worked for a (school) year. The savings didn’t last the entire year, but I was making money so I didn’t survive on just that the entire time anyway. The key is … I had a plan.
I don’t have rich family members funneling cash to me nor a huge retirement account that I’m draining. I think the biggest sacrifice I’ve made is the lack of retirement savings. But given than most people spend their 20s not saving anyway, I think I’ll be on target with my peers even if I’m not in the “best” situation for retirement that I could be.
Living abroad for a few months to a few years is a great experience, and one that can help you hone some skills that will serve you all your life including:
- Learn a foreign language
- Learn, experience and interact with a different culture
- Make global connections and networks; Networking skills
- Strengthen your independence
- Budgeting, Saving and Goal Setting
- Increasing your confidence
- Random new skill sets and hobbies like salsa dancing or graphic design (In some places it is cheaper to learn)
- Adaptability and thinking on your feet
- Contextually-based Problem-solving skills
Anywho, here’s some great resources if you’re contemplating a trip abroad for the long-term (say, 1 month or more) and some motivation.
Links & Blogs
Over at “Practical Adventurology” they’ve got quite a few articles:
Around the World in 80 Jobs
These aren’t long term solutions, but a great way to enter a country, makes some friends, work/volunteer, practice your language skills and sort yourself out in the first few months. Sometimes the people you first meet are the most helpful in finding you a job or place to stay long-term!
Resources for Finding International Housing
Ask An Expat
I’ll add more soon …
Peru, Portugal, Atlanta, Spain
I’ve lost most of the earrings featured in these photos, SMH.
BWAAAAA HA HA HA HAAAAAAAAAAAA!!! + Celebratory raised, shaking fist when I discover this post which led me to this store that carries …
REFINED COCONUT OIL. ****jazz hands + spirit fingers*****
Seriously ya’ll. I’m in my apartment releasing a guttural, excited evil villain laugh while shaking my fist to the sky; triumphant. I am so going to this market tomorrow. What if they actually have … almond oil and flax seed too??!! **clutch my pearls and faint**
Beyonce’s not the only one with her own beehive … lol!
Based in Detroit and dedicated to producing American-made products, including watches, bicycles, leather goods, and journals of the highest possible quality.
Check out the NYT article
decrying explaining the marketing message and product placement strategy: The Next Branding of Detroit
I think this is brilliant, and in terms of Detroit and other struggling American cities, smart entrepreneurs that can combine multiple American obsessions (consumerism and brand name clothing + ideological support through purchasing power + hate of offshoring/particularly Chinese manufacturing) results in good public policy. Although, you really can’t strategically create this type of thing through government means, only through expanding the innovation and entrepreneurship base through business-friendly policies and hoping an entrepreneur/investor can put the pieces together.
So you’ve decided to travel around the world. This is an excellent thing to do. It’s a precious place, this planet. We should see it. Forthwith are seven tips for turning your dream into reality.
I pretty much agree with all of this. I’d venture to add the following:
a) If you’re not studying a STEM field/ medical / law / accounting/finance; go to school abroad if you can (for cheaper).
b) If you decide to go to school in the US anyway (like if you have a full-ride somewhere or something) upon graduation leave the country for like 2 years if you don’t have a job offer in hand. Why? It’s just a good thing to do. Especially if you learn a language in that time of the country and learn to be self-sufficient and bootstrapping etc etc. I do not suggest you just travel the world on your parent’s dime cause that = fail. Go make your own way in another country and then come back to the US to tell everyone how you conquered the world.
c) Go to places where you can get a work visa and make some moola during your travels. Check out: Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Canada, UK (?), Spain (teach English through the Ministry of Education), and possibly a few more. A friend of mine started this site that can be a great resource: http://www.visahunter.com/
Either way, get out of your American bubble and see the world!
The great thing about cities, and cities in places that are developing fast is that they’re offering all types of services free to the public. Here’s what I’ve found thus far just walking around scanning QR codes in the metro and peeping the flyers and banners advertising events in Chile:
- Free Museum Admission on Sundays. I wandered in Museu Bellas Artes on Sunday and found a entire exhibit on the history of Chilean Rock Music with a focus on a group called “Las Raivas”. I think they did a concert here recently too. http://www.mnba.cl/Vistas_Publicas/publicHome/homePublic.aspx?idInstitucion=70
- BiblioMetro. I am so excited about this. It’s a MetroLibrary, they’re at various stops on the metro. GENIUS!! Only costs the equivalent of $6 per year; free if you’re a student or senior citizen. I am getting my card TODAY. (Not free, but dangit I love libraries!) http://www.bibliometro.cl/bibliometro/como-hacerte-socio.html
- Free Workshops by the Municipal Government.
There are workshops for aerobics classes, self defense, pottery, arts & crafts. I have to do more research and find one near me. http://www.municipalidaddesantiago.cl/paginas/ver/TALLERES-DIDECO-2013-2
- Israeli Symphony Orchestra Free Concert.
At the end of August the Israeli Orchestra is doing a free concert sponsored by Banco Santander. I’m going to check if there are any more tickets! http://www.agendamusical.cl/zubin-mehta-y-la-orquesta-filarmonica-de-israel-2013
- Sundays “Open Air” Santiago.
Not sure the details on this one, but on Sundays from 9am-2pm areas along the Mapocho river are designated activity areas for people to walk, bike, and do other outdoor activities and games to get people moving. “It’s provocative, it gets the people going.” http://www.munistgo.info/crv/
Seeing snow capped mountains is free everyday!
Friends, Romans, Countrymen, lend me your ears …
After almost exactly a year, I am back in the habit and out of the US of A
. I liken my penchant for international travel to someone with a drug habit, really. I get this rush when I get on the plane and go through customs (well, not really at customs or immigration) and then I take that first cab or bus or tren from the airport into the city or wherever I’m staying. This was no different. I landed in Santiago on Friday after a family member straight up hooked me up with a buddy pass to fly in business class. Suffice it to say, economy SUCKS in comparison. However, I am glad that I have traveled many an 8+ hour trip abroad in economy because I was able to fully ENJOY and APPRECIATE the amazingness that is business class. I mean, the seats fully reclined. They gave me a little goodie bag with: a sleep mask (a la Whitley Gilbert), some socks, some luscious lip balm, lotion, toothbrush and paste and some other stuff I haven’t even looked at yet.
So I was already geeked up by the time I landed, and I was well rested to boot! #winning
So Friday I landed, caught a TRANSVIP bus to my flat and checked into my flat. TRANSVIP is like SuperShuttle and I found my flat on AirBnB like 3-4 days ago. I admit that this time around I sort of winged it. I had a hookup on a buddy pass, but as you know with those you don’t really know if you’ll get a spot. I started looking for housing last week and just picked a place last Monday. I didn’t have a TRANSVIP reservation, I just walked up to the counter when I got off the plane (my coordinator at my job here suggested them and said they’d reimburse me).
I landed at 8am and arrived at the flat around 9:30, met the administrator at 10am. The administrator (property manager) for my flat met me and let me in, then helped me get my cell phone and showed me around a bit. Then I went grocery shopping for toilet paper and some essentials to get through the night. It gets cold her, so the administrator called the gas people and finally the delivery guy showed up with a tank of gas for me to put in my heater so I wouldn’t freeze at night. While I was waiting on him, I went across the street and ate at a Peruvian restaurant: ceviche, bread and arroz con pollo.
At first I was nervous about the ceviche, being almost raw and all but then said #yolo and went for it. No one in there was vomiting or looking sick, so I took a chance. Over the weekend I mostly just chilled, got more groceries from the super cheap open-air market:
Mapped out my commute to work, got my BIP (metro) card, and visited the Museu de Bellas Artes which is free on Sundays (score!). Unpacked everything, rearranged the furniture, etc. It was a very productive first weekend. So productive that I didn’t have much else to do once it got dark. Howsomever, I live at least hood-adjacent if not directly in the hood, so due to the cold and the supposed sketchiness of mi barrio, I haven’t ventured out past dark just yet. I feel like I live in a vampire movie (Edward, are you there? For the Twi-fans, my flat looks like the flat he’s in in Twilight 2 when he ‘learns’ that Bella died going cliff diving, even though it’s in Rio). I’ve been mistaken for Brazilian or Colombian already, and I feel really comfortable walking around and doing things. My Spanish is rusty (by my standards) but haven’t had a problem having conversations with anyone just yet although the Chilean accent is different and fast!
and ate + enjoyed a brew on the patio:
I think this has been my smoothest move abroad yet, since I’ve been doing it all on my own and not through a school or anything.
Bienvenidos a Santiago de Chile!!!
I’ll drink to that!!!
Sissy has decided to go vegan and she’s been on this journey for a few weeks now. Hence, my post about “What’s Next” and clean eating, etc etc.
Now, I’m no vegan. I’m no vegetarian, pescetarian, gluten-free, diabetic or anything. What I am, is a cook (and currently unemployed person). I like cooking for people and learning new recipes. I love fully stocked kitchens with gadgets like blenders, choppers, mandolins, Vita-Mix, Kitchen-Aid stuff … OH, MY!
The stuff of legends
My daily routine is online job searching and applying, a little bit of TV (I forgot how much selection we have here for TV shows, geez!!), and ‘playing house’. By playing house, I mean brainstorming what delectable dish I will whip up for dinner and trying to perfectly time it to be ready when the roomies arrive home from making the bacon. I enjoy cooking for folks (as long as their not picky eaters, ugggh that rubs me wrong), to the point that I’ll prepare lunches and the like for the working gals cause I have nothing left to do (and my eyes hurt from staring at the computer screen and I’m in the danger zone for developing carpal tunnel syndrome from all the job applications I’ve been doing). I think Sissy was a bit taken aback when I presented her with a fixed lunch for her to take to work today. And yesterday our other roomie came home to a dinner of salad, no-beef vegan beef tips and pasta with smoked sun-dried tomato pesto. Yeah, I go hard in the paint. Sissy’s a kitchen appliance collector and the kitchen is stocked well enough to make my heart flutter. There’s a quesadilla maker for godsakes!! All we need is a dehydrator and it will be ON LIKE POPCORN.
I get one of these, my nights will definitely be around a table!
So like I said, I don’t adhere to any special restricted diet. I do however, pull recipes from vegan, vegetarian, pescetarian, gluten-free, diabetic, and raw foodie sites, blogs, and inspirations cause I love to expand my repertoire.
Sissy recently suggested we plant a garden in the backyard. The main barrier being that she has no green thumb. My thumbs have a green tinge, although it’s been years since I’ve activated it. I’ll have to put in a call to The Struggle (my dad) for some pointers, but I’ve begun mentally plotting our backyard container garden. We’re going to start with a container garden cause you know, baby steps. I figure I have to keep busy and occupied until I get an awesomely fabulous job so between planting and cooking I should be fairly busy.
Last Night’s dinner: Stuffed Bell Peppers - stuffed with black rice stir-fry and marinated veggies.
1. Public libraries having ALL SORTS OF SERVICES
2. In the city I’m relocating to, a good working metro.
3. Eventually, my CAR!!! I MISS YOU NEW-NEW, MOMMA LOVES YOU AND IS COMING TO GET YOU!!!
4. Free nights and weekends on the cell phone.
5. Connectivity and integration of the internet with everyday life in the US. Here, nobody has a website or at least an updated one.
6. Living in a large city. Marbella is nice, but it is a tourist TOWN and I’m a CITY girl.
7. Not having to light the stove with a lighter.
8. CENTRAL HEATING
9. CENTRAL HEATING
10. CENTRAL HEATING
11. Networking and living where tons of young folks live and gather regularly.