Take a chance, learn a new skill

Hello world! I have been using my other blog more often than I even think about this one. I went back to camp this year! Just having reread my camp post from last year, wow this year was WAYYY different. I still made intensely tight friendships, but there were many more frustrations with people. I still adored the job and the kids. Being back in the swing of the archaeology season makes me realize I think it’s time for me to make a choice. I keep switching back and forth with “careers” and I think I want to dive in and try to make teaching English a full time gig (at least for now until I change my mind again!). So I’m taking an online TEFL course now (not a fancy / expensive one, just one that will refresh what I’ve already learned on my own and teach me a bunch of new ideas). I want it in my back pocket in case I want to take an in person course or use it for online teaching. I don’t have any ideas for what I actually want to do for a long term job, but I have a lot of options and I think it’s exciting! Just wanted to update this blog as to where I’m at right now in concept (physically I’m in South Dakota; I haven’t stopped being mobile). I also had the thought recently of moving to the East Coast? I finally came to the conclusion that I don’t need something lined up first. There’s nothing stopping anyone from just going first then figuring it all out! But then again I could use that same line of thinking to move anywhere in the world! The possibilities are endless and exciting! Here’s hoping I figure something out because I only have about 2 months left at this job.

So you want to travel and get paid?

I’m sure if you are here on my little blog you’ve already scoured the internet and read blog after blog on how to do this. I know I have, and I’ve done it. I can’t say much about the dream life of traveling wherever you please and blogging about it. I would love to know how people actually manage that (all the blog posts seem to be leaving /something/ out). I can however speak to more concrete options, tried and tested ways to get out in this world and explore all while making money and if you aren’t too spendy, actually saving up money. There are many options, but I will speak to those with which I have personal experience and/or have close friends who have used those options.

  1. Probably the easiest and most structured way to go abroad and be paid is through government sponsored / partnership programs to teach (or assist in teaching) English. These exist is MANY countries, I did TAPIF which is France’s version. I personally know people who have done this in Spain and Austria as well.
    • PROS
      • These are very well structured programs that have existed for decades. There are plenty of online resources to study up on the ins and outs and also personal experiences of past assistants.
      • There is usually a lot of support from the program both on your home country’s side and the country you will be working in. If you run into trouble, just let your host teacher or another teacher know and trust me they will do whatever they can to help, even if it’s housing you in their home.
      • The salary (at least in France) is awesome for the hours you work. TAPIF runs on a 12 hour a week schedule. There are many times where teachers cancel your hours, but your pay is constant. You can’t really bet the pay for the work.
      • You get to work with awesome kids and help them have fun learning English! I love laughing with students and playing educational games. Sometimes there is a specific structure a teacher wants you to use, but there’s always room for creativity in the classroom.
      • Plenty of different locations to choose from. You may not get to pick your exact location, but at least for TAPIF you can choose your regional preferences. Every site is a different experience.
      • You can often renew for a second year. (or if you are lucky to permanently relocate, like get married to a French national, you can continue the program and side step some of the requirements).
    • CONS
      • So just like every move, there are start up costs. It’s recommended to have like $2000 saved up for the start, which is way more than you should need, but things come up. Remember you’ll probably have to pay extra security deposits since you aren’t a resident and will only be there 8 months give or take.
      • Housing can be a pain! I was lucky in that one of my teachers knew where past assistants lived and it was a great set up. I could skype the landlord (in my terrible french) and secure my room before I got there, but this is not always the case. I know assistants who where also in my department (I worked in Reunion Island, I know it still seems fake) who were without a permanent place for a couple months. Luckily they were able to find couches to crash on, but it can be extremely stressful. Make sure to ask your contacts in your location early to start looking out for housing for you.
      • You only work 12 hours a week. I know I put this in the pros as well, but this aspect of the schedule leaves you with A LOT of free time. Trust me, you won’t spend every second of that out on some crazy adventure. Get some hobbies, find cheap wine, and coordinate schedules with friends because otherwise you’ll spend your days marathoning Netflix (which is good sometimes, but don’t waste your fleeting time. Trust me it’s something I regret). Seek out things you can do on the cheap- maybe go to a cafe, go hiking, to parks, to the beach if you are lucky to live close by. Boredom is a huge threat on this schedule.
      • The bureaucracy is a nightmare. If the French paperwork wasn’t already a nightmare, you’ll have extra with opening a bank account (avoid La Banque Postale!!), settling details of a rental agreement, and doing everything for your visa and government requirements and your school paperwork. Don’t expect things to go smoothly. Be ready to ask for help. It’s okay to not understand what’s happening.
      • You must think ahead for this one. Applications are often due in January for a term beginning in September and going through May. It’s sometimes difficult to carve out that chunk of your life and coordinate everything.
  2. Another simple option is working in English Summer/School Camps. There are many different companies for this around the world. My own experience is with American Village in France, but I have friends who’ve done this in Italy, Croatia, Romania, Thailand, America (for those non-Americans), the list goes on. This requires a little research on your part and I’d seek out people with personal experience so you can get an honest idea of what to expect (and find the best options), but once you’re in you’ll get hooked and see how many more opportunities are waiting for you.
    • PROS
      • It’s a pretty quick turn around for applying and getting to work. I think I applied in January and was at camp by early March. Mostly the application process is simple (cv, answer some questions, a skype interview, waiting, and then securing flights/trains/busses). If you know people who have gone through this process, definitely get their advice as you are working through it.
      • Everything is set up for you. You’ll have meals and housing provided which is a great way to save money! Some programs also help out with transportation to an extent.
      • It’s camp! I never got to go to overnight camp as a kid, so this was super exciting for me! Lots of silliness every single day, but it’s still educational.
      • You will meet and work with amazing people who will inspire you to keep traveling. Trust me, it’s dangerous. I got so many ideas on where to go next!
    • CONS
      • The days can be really long. You are with the kids all day and then you have to have team meetings afterward to plan the next day. It get get stressful, but it’s all worth it to make things fun.
      • The pay isn’t great. I think after French salary deductions for healthcare and such I banked about 40 euro a day. Then they had to wire tansfer that to my American account which cost like $10 each month. You won’t get rich from this, but it’s plenty to live on since you are working all week and your only expenses are alcohol (if you can get to a store for it) and travel. Everything else is provided.
      • You’ll probably be in the middle of nowhere. It’s summer camp after all. But you do get to run around outside all day. My camps were both about an hour walk from town, which is actually a nice walk on off days. Don’t expect to be in town. But don’t worry, you will still have chances to travel with your team on the off days even if it’s not popping over to another country for a few days (but depending where you are, this is actually quite possible. Geography is weird to my brain).
      • You won’t have much private space. I was in a small room with two roommates and a shower and sink at my first camp and one roommate with our own bathroom at my second (but there, other counselors had 5 to a bathroom). However, remember that your whole team is in the same situation. Hopefully everyone is awesome that you room with (I was really lucky in this sense) and it won’t be a problem at all. It will actually be fun.
      • You can’t take much. Pack a hiking bag and that’s what you get for the summer. I actually enjoyed this aspect. It was refreshing to not have to dig through and/or think about things. You are more free (I’ve written another post about this previously). It makes traveling much easier and less stressful. Weird how that works.
      • Kids can come with a lot of drama, but the good times outweigh the bad. Expect tears on dance nights though. We kept tallies.
  3. TEFL/TESOL/CELTA teaching in classrooms through independent organizations or schools. I don’t have personal experience with this option, but I know a lot of people who are currently teaching English abroad in this manner. There are numerous options and the most difficult part is choosing your program. Dave’s ESL Cafe is a great resource to search teaching job opportunities abroad.
    • PROS
      • Many options come with great pay, great locations, and help paying to get there. It depends on how qualified you are, what type of program you are looking for, and where you want to live.
      • It seems that there is a lot of support for teachers, from what I’ve heard from friends. It also is a great way to get settled into your new place.
      • These programs are usually for an entire school year, though some may be a semester or a few months in the summer. It gives you ample time to really experience your new place.
    • CONS
      • Usually TEFL/TESOL certification is required, for which there are plenty of programs to sift through to get certified, but they can be pricy or not up to par if you don’t do your research. I’m not actually TEFL certified, but I’m currently looking into the seemingly millions of options. I personally know three people who did a month long course in Prague and they rave about it and are well employed with teaching jobs now.
      • It’s overwhelming to set up everything while knowing so little detail. Do you go through a company or straight through a school? Where should you get certified if you need? Where should you live? How is life in the areas of the schools?
  4. Private Tutor – This one’s probably the most stressful at the start and the most risky, but if you are extremely adventurous go ahead and travel somewhere and put up ads that you offer English tutoring. I’ll let you think about the pros and cons of this one yourself.
  5. Find a business that hires Americans (or your nationality) and provides visa sponsorship if you plan to stay long term. There are SO many jobs out there, but it’s often difficult to know where to start looking. If you meet people, often word of mouth can land you unbelievable jobs. I haven’t done this myself, but dang some of the stories I hear are amazing.
  6. Work with an NGO or aid organization. This can be stressful work, but if you are lucky you’ll get to travel to some awesome places while helping people! The pay’s not great, but you do get paid. I’m not too familiar with this, but I have a few friends who’ve done this and they’re still doing it. One friend worked the Ebola epidemic and was sent for weeks at a time to Europe (several times) to destress after so much intense work. Another is with USAID right now traveling and working in Tanzania. You might not get to travel to luxurious castles in France, but you will get to experience awesome culture and have unique adventures.
  7. Volunteer with the Peace Corps. Again, I only know what I’m told from friends, but one of my friends is on her second year in Madagascar. Volunteers get a stipend to live on, so it’s not like other volunteer programs where you must pay to participate. There are so many awesome locations offered. There’s amazing support from a tenured program. Also, they will pay for your schooling afterwards! Awesome benefits! It is a commitment of more than 2 years (2 years of volunteering plus 3+ months of on site orientation, and don’t forget the lengthy application process), which can be a lot to take in. Many places are very rural and poor, as you are there to help people. This doesn’t take away from the traveling experience. If you’re a veteran traveler, you know that the beauty in the world is not only found in Western city streets.
  8. Get an awesome job that allows you to travel. I may be biased here, but I studied Anthropology and I’ve been working as an Archaeology Technician. The saying goes “have trowel, will travel”. This line of work isn’t glamorous nor is it lucrative, but I’ve been lucky to travel America and have solid, full time seasonal work. There are opportunities worldwide, but funding is very limited so there is a lot of competition. Many gigs are only weeks at a time, but the pay for private work can be great hourly plus per diem. Other areas of study have these kind of opportunities I’m sure.
  9. Working Vacation Visa in Australia and New Zealand. This one’s great if you want to stick to an English speaking area and have extra cash on hand.
    • PROS
      • If you work on a farm for 3 months there’s even an option to renew.
      • I know someone who went on this visa and got hired full time with visa sponsorship and has stayed many years since. So really, sky’s the limit here if you have a valuable skillset.
      • There are a few companies who help with finding jobs and/or housing, but mostly it seems you are kind of in control of everything.
    • CONS
      • They require a certain amount of funds because this is technically a tourist type visa, but it allows you to work your way through either Australia or New Zealand for a year.
      • Remember that last pro how you are in control? It can be really stressful and daunting to go to a country without knowing anyone then try to locate a job and housing.
      • I’m not sure exactly, but it seems a lot of the jobs are crop picking, hostel work, bartending, housekeeping type work, so if that’s not your thing it may be more difficult to find something you enjoy.
      • The cost of living and traveling to Australia is pretty steep.
  10. WOOFing or workaway. These won’t actually make you money, but you won’t spend much. Okay so this one seems amazing but I’ve yet to try it because my schedule’s been hectic. Everyone I know who’s done WOOFing raves about it and are always looking for their next adventure. If you don’t know what WOOFing or workaway is, basically you exchange work for keep, so you work on someone’s farm (that’s most of the work) for say 4 hours a day and in exchange you get free housing and usually food too. Not a bad gig at all! From what I’ve seen, every host has their own time requests, so you’ll have to do some research.
    • PROS
      • You get to choose where you travel and for how long and you can hop place to place if you want.
      • You will meet so many interesting people along the way that you can connect with which may lead to future work.
      • It’s not much work and you get to live in awesome places!
      • I see this as a good option between other work to fill time without having to pay hefty hotel prices or flights.
    • CONS
      • You won’t be making money. It’s basically volunteering but you are provided food and housing.
      • Sometimes the schedules are strict which doesn’t leave much time for traveling and exploring, especially if the location is far in the countryside.
      • It will require having money saved up to get around unless some pretty sweet deals are arranged.

 

Okay I know that the con lists are all longer than the pros, but trust me the pros far outweigh any cons. I just wanted to thoroughly explain myself so you aren’t disappointed in anything. Also sorry my style changed so much throughout this. I wrote it in pieces over an entire day. I hope it’s informative. I might add more or edit style later. Let me know if you have questions!

Happy Adventuring!

Best Wishes,
Amy

We Must Do Better

The situation of violence and hatred led by Alt-Right (Nazi/KKK) groups in Charlottesville sickened me and I could not tear myself away from following what was happening via Twitter all weekend. I weep for those injured and killed in an act of terrorism. I cried a lot this weekend. I’m still working on turning those tears into action, trying to figure out how I can help. There are many ways, one of which is to SPEAK UP! We must reject hatred fully and not let it slip by in our silence. This isn’t the first time something of this magnitude has happened. We defeated it in the past, we will do it again. I wish we needn’t have this conversation, but here we are 2017 dealing with thousands of individuals who came to “march” armed with batons and rifles, turning to violence because they feel oppressed or some other unfounded idea. Hint: whatever they say they are marching for, it’s actually masking their disgusting racism and xenophobia. They marched wearing shirts quoting Hitler and the KKK. They carried Nazi and Confederate flags. They used chants traced back to the Nazi regime and even included salutes. They claim they are victims. Then one of them raced his car into a group of people marching for equality and love, injuring 17 and killing one woman, Heather Heyer (whose last facebook update was “if you are not outraged, you are not paying attention). But all of us who followed the events of the weekend know this. What about the world outside of the US?

I teach English online and many of my students are at a fairly high conversation level and want to discuss articles and current events. I said to a few “okay sure, do you know what’s happening right now in America? In Virginia?” No one knew. I mentioned briefly, in easy to comprehend (the words, not the reasoning) terms. They were horrified. No other reaction. Horror. We discussed the evil and crazy people all around the world. The Nice and London were mentioned. I am assuming it was because the events were still unfolding that they hadn’t heard. They were sad. Not one person questioned the evil. Not one person asked about the violence “on many sides”. One of my French friends linked me an article (in french, so it took me forever to read) that France was reporting on Charlottesville as it was happening. The world is watching. How we respond matters. I’ve honestly had many students tell me they used to want to go to America, but not now (this is before the weekend, but due to politics of today).

I am still processing and I am scared. I will work to end hate in this country and I hope you will stand with me. I urge you to watch Twitter to know more and more ways to help (but take breaks. It’s emotionally exhausting). There is hope. Millions of people are standing against this terror and hate. It’s sad it wasn’t denounced before now as killings in the name of these groups have already happened (remember the two victims, Ricky John Best and Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche, in the Portland stabbing). We cannot continue to accept these are fringe, isolated incidents. Also, I am disgusted that Trump did not actually take a solid stance and speak out against the Nazis/KKK/Alt-Right nor call it an act of terror. We must do better.

Seek the light in the darkest of times. Try to stay positive. I don’t know.

Best Wishes,

Amy

What You See Is Only Part Of The Picture

Online identities. What are they? I have several and they are all quite different. I don’t mean that in a fake profiles kind of way, but I act differently based on with social media platform I am using. I post certain things to certain platforms. I occasionally think about this when posting something and i catch myself “no this is more for twitter” or “this isn’t big enough for Facebook”. How I use each morphs over time based on trends (sarahah has changed the look of my Facebook dramatically for the moment), but for this post I will focus on Facebook due to a sarahah I recently received. It said you are life goals. And I was very confused. What about my life is that astounding and better than anyone else’s? Hint: nothing.

We sculpt our image online. On Facebook I usually only post the biggest news, the most exciting life events, the things that make me look the coolest. I post travel highlights and awe inspiring landscapes. I leave out the boring bits and the everyday lulls.  Everyone does and it’s normal. We’re all in subconscious competition to at least look like we are keeping up with our peers in life.
Here’s the thing though, it’s dangerous. I’ve found myself over thinking and comparing myself unfairly to others because of Facebook posts. It makes me feel small, like a failure who’s done nothing in life. That’s obviously not the truth; I’ve done so much! But I don’t think I’m the only one who experiences this, and I’m sure there are more drastic forms of this experience.
I’m not trying to but ungrateful, just honest. I have chosen an unconventional work path for my life and because of it I’ve had great opportunities to travel. And if you want to do it, it’s 1000% possible. If that’s your goal then go for it! Join the club! There’s some great people on this kind of path. But please don’t think that my life is always butterflies and rainbows. I’m just like everyone else. I leave dishes in the sink, if they make it there. I am forgetful. I get bored. I binge watch shows. I just happen to also do these things in places far from where I grew up.
I am honored that I am life goals for someone, but im not life goals for myself ha! I have so much to experience still! Should I make a post about how it’s possible to work and travel? I’ve mentioned it briefly, but honestly if anyone is ever interested with how I do anything in my life, please don’t feel scared to ask. I am constantly reaching out to others saying “how??” and getting inspiration and advice back.

Take it easy folks.
Best Wishes,
Amy

Let’s talk about American Food and Health

I know this is a travel blog and I created it to mostly discuss overseas travel, and this post won’t directly concern travel, but I will be making comparisons I’ve found /because of/ traveling.

So these past two years I’ve been around the block or two. I’ve lived in Kansas, Oregon, Reunion Island, back in Kansas, France, and back in Oregon. They all have vastly different cultures, and most apparent to me is the food culture. Another component is life/work environment (ie, access to cars versus walking, how time is used, heat and humidity, etc). This all seems boring, right? But let me tell you, my health REALLY cares about this stuff.

Overall I find I am much healthier, losing weight, clearer skin, fewer headaches when I am living overseas. Now I’m a month back from my last trip abroad and my skin is on a rampage, I’ve already had a debilitating headache, and I’ve gained weight back, and here I am TRYING to be healthy here.

____

My reasoning for jetting off to France was spontaneous and a mix of several thoughts. As I mentioned in my last blog post, the political climate was getting to me and I wanted an escape from having to watch it on every channel. Building on that I felt I was too tied to social media and I wanted to go where it just wasn’t an option to constantly be on my phone, and wow it was refreshing. But also, I could tell my health was not good. In May I returned 40 pounds lighter than I was before I went to live on Reunion. There, I walked and hiked a lot and ate fresh food for the most part (though I also ate more than my fair share of frozen fries and chicken nuggets). Then January came around and I’d gained all of that if not more back and other health concerns were popping up too. I knew from memory I generally felt healthier while living abroad so I wanted a sort of 3 month cleanse with fresh food not packed full of high fructose corn syrup and preservatives. It made a difference. I don’t know all the comparisons of food between America and elsewhere, specifically France, but I know that I feel better and lose weight (without crazy amounts of exercise) when I am eating food outside of America.

When I look at their yogurt labels, of which it’s basically all the same companies, the first ingredient is NOT high fructose corn syrup as it is here. Yogurt is supposed to be this healthy, great for you food, but in America it’s packed with sugar and I really can’t figure out why besides the fact that it’s a cheap filler. There are some ‘brands’ in America where this isn’t the case, but hilariously it’s probably a sub-brand of the major brands (ie, Dannon, a global, french company). American yogurt doesn’t taste better, that’s for sure. French yogurt, or yogurt from other countries too (iceland also has great yogurt), is thicker and more flavorful and based on the nutritional facts, doesn’t have as much added sugar.

Another difference is preservatives (don’t say preservatives in French, it means condoms, it’s conservatives). They just aren’t as much of a thing elsewhere. I got frustrated a few times in Reunion because it’s hard to buy for one person and use it fast enough that it lasts and doesn’t mold or spoil even while in the fridge. I didn’t realize how quickly it happens because it’s not really something I worry about, except for fruit and veg, in America. Things just last and last and here I was always thinking wow refrigerators are amazing! But really I think it’s all the preservatives in our food because I could by the same product (example, spaghetti sauce) and it last an unbelievably short time, so much so that I didn’t even think there was an opportunity to go bad. So there are pros and cons because I wasted a lot more food since I was only one person and couldn’t physically consume the items fast enough. In America I just throw it in the fridge and don’t worry, which now that I’ve seen the other side, is a bit worrisome. I’m not saying America is trying to kill us, but I am paranoid a bit that Monsanto (the largest supplier of produce) and Bayer (Big Pharma) are now one in the same company. That could be an entirely different post though. All I’m saying is cheap fillers in America, even in our “health” products might be letting us down. And it’s sad that it’s so hard to find things without them in it, and when you do they are outrageously priced. It’s a challenge to be a healthy eater in America, and abroad it’s not even an afterthought.

Another huge difference is I drive a lot more in America. When living abroad I’m in situations where I don’t have a car and sometimes I have to carry heavy groceries an hour back home. Sometimes the weekend fun is walking an hour to town then hiking up the hill to the castle and view. Sometimes I couldn’t rely on buses and walked an hour to work in scorching southern hemisphere sun, 80+ degrees, 90% humidity because it sounds like a good use of time. So even when I’m not actively choosing to hike mountains (which actually I did choose in Reunion), I was in situations where physical activity, at least walking a lot, wasn’t really an option. This coupled with the nutrition and I didn’t even have to work out like I would here in the states and the weight just came off. (to be fair in Reunion I think I sweated most of that out from just existing. I drank like 3 times as much as I normally do in America just to avoid dehydration from sweating and the heat.)

What are your thoughts? Have you felt differently health-wise living abroad? Do you notice food quality differences?

 

Best,
Amy

(ps, this wasn’t a fully thought out blog post, I kind of just wrote in the afternoon and didn’t edit or add in everything I was trying to get down. I just had thoughts and I needed to write. I’ve been enjoying writing more frequently and I think it’s a good practice to begin, so I apologize if the coming posts are very frequent and not the greatest quality.)

Let’s talk about camp

I have returned from my overseas camp adventure that I may or may not have jumped into spontaneously because I get itchy about staying in a place too long and it just happened that that limit was fast approaching KC and I needed to run. I ran, or flew rather, to France to be a camp counselor and live in an extremely tight community setting. I mean tight as in relationships but also space. It was the experience of a lifetime. I learned more than I could have ever imagined from people I would have never been able to imagine up myself. I was immediately hooked and jealous of all the other places and camps my new friends were going to set off to after we finished with this camp. I’ve been home a month and though I’ve been able to throw in a few funny camp stories here and there, as with other travels no one really wants to hear about it. I need to talk about it because this experience provided me growth and recharging in a much needed way. I will never know if it was because of the people, the setting, the job, or the kids, but I am thankful for all the hectic days and long nights, all the laughs and frustrations, all the memories and moments. Thank you to everyone who was a part of this experience with me.

So camp life. Remember when I said space was tight? My first camp room had three single beds lining the walls, two wooden shelving units, a sink, and a shower. The three of us in there always made it work and it surprisingly never actually felt too cramped, probably because we were rarely in there for long periods of time except to sleep. We shared our toilet room (remember france does this thing where it’s just a toilet in a tiny room with a door. expect to feel claustrophobic and paranoid that everyone can hear everything) with 4 or 5 people depending on the week, but during meetings, which also happened in the building/cabin where are bedroom was, that things could attempt to support 7 people at a time. I say attempt because it took like 10+ minutes for the water tank to refill, so things got interesting at times. As hilarious and frustrating as this all was at times, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. There was never a dull moment. I spent almost every night chatting and every weekend playing ping pong and card games. I was surprisingly social (as I sit alone in my new bedroom writing this) and I loved it. Being around people helped me to put down my phone and live. I didn’t have time to overthink things as I so often do. I think this is why it was such an important experience for me, it was a detox almost of the internet and social media and a good distraction from everything that was/is happening politically. By no means am I saying that I completely stopped, but as my coworkers can vouch, I lose my phone a lot and it was to a point where I could just not care that I was too busy to scroll and I’d rather sing baby shark annoyingly ha!

The days are long and draining. It takes your whole self. But I never once regretted it or thought “hey maybe let’s not try our best today”. Every time a kid smiled up at me or laughed it made every ounce of effort worth it. And honestly it was fun. There were days I got tired and grumpy at night meetings, but really it wasn’t bad. More often then not I stayed up past our meetings by choice to hang out with my fellow counselors. There is not really enough time to think about much else besides camp, which is either a good thing as it was for me or a bad thing if you have a different perspective. Life morphs into a weird camp bubble and you relive jokes of the camps and hear stories all day and nothing else in the world exists with the same intensity at the time. I thought it was hilariously fun. We would take family trips and scream camp cheers walking along a river or inside Roman ruins. This separate world intensifies bonds and I was lucky to be with awesome people who I honestly enjoyed spending all my time with, because there really wasn’t an option to be alone for long ha!

I encourage anyone who think they might like teaching and laughing with kids in a fun setting to jump into it! The pay is not great, but you are eating good food prepared by french chefs and don’t have to pay rent! Also you laugh and smile all day. I genuinely have never gone that long with continuously being in such a good mood. I might have gotten sick a lot, but man the days were fun! Know that teamwork is a HUGE part of the job and if one person is slacking it makes things that much more difficult for the rest of the team. The whole point is to have fun, so if you aren’t one to throw yourself into silly situations and be up to do a stupid dance or get a water balloon popped over your head, then this maybe isn’t the job for you. But I never was that person before camp, so if you are up for growing and trying new things, give it a whirl. Who knows how it will change your life!

 

(I might add more to this later)

❤ with all my love.

Best Wishes,
Amy

Things weigh us down

Hello again world!

I often have so many thoughts that I think “I should definitely, 1000% blog this!” and then I never do. However tonight I had one that was quite relevant to the idea that I pretend to run a travel blog. So here goes:

I’ve spent a good part of this year trying to sort through and clean out my parents’ basement, and subsequently failing. There is so much stuff in the house that it would blend right into the show Hoarders without anyone blinking an eye. I tend to blame my mom because she has an emotional attachment to everything (I found an unused trashcan filled with used birthday balloons from years past, I can’t explain, but “we need it” apparently). However it’s unfair because a large portion of the stuff we have is mine from over the years. It doesn’t help that I’ve moved from this home base now seven different times and each time I somehow acquire new things to bring home. I bring home souvenirs from traveling. I save books and notes from school. I bring home apartment furniture sets. I lose things and buy replacements. There’s a lot of stuff and I am well aware it’s beyond the typical American excess.

I’m set to jet off again for a significant portion of the year and as I am trying my hardest to limit what I take with me, I have also found myself giving things away. So if you want anything, I’m the girl to ask! I know they say giving things away is a warning sign, but honestly I feel my stuff has become a burden weighing me down, financially, spatially, and mentally.

The nomadic lifestyle doesn’t mix well with the consumer lifestyle of buying in excess. As I am settled in places anywhere for 2 or 6 or 8 months, taking a lot with is not ideal nor is it possible. No matter how hard I try or how much I work to give away there will still be stuff sitting around my parents’ house waiting for my return. And who does that benefit? No one. If I want to travel I can’t really have a lot of things because logistically it just can’t work.

Now I am very lucky to have a home base because I am looking at living out of one backpack for the upcoming 2+ months and I don’t think I’m ready to let it all go yet. But I’ve found when I am places where I have less stuff it frees up energy. I can create more and focus more. I’ve found that being in a clean room versus being in a cluttered / busy room is vastly different on productivity, though much of my time I’ve not had an option. After 2 months I’m heading somewhere for 6 months and plan to take what I can fit in my car. Everything else is up for grabs.

Parting with the feeling of needing things is also freeing mentally. I always thought I needed a souvenir from every place I went, but I got to going too many places and there wasn’t enough space in bags so I moved to postcards. Now my thought is, who really looks at these postcards? The memories are still real even if there’s no physical item to remind us. I think I am taking a complete break this year from buying physical things at all, with a few exceptions (like if electronics break). I don’t need more clothes (by all means, I need far less clothing), nor do I need more tchotchkes to watch gather dust or to forget I own until I am cleaning.

A lighter backpack is less to worry about overall. If there are less clothing options I can’t think as long about what to wear. If there is less weight on my back I can explore more of the world for longer before tiring. This might all be a grand metaphor for life, I’m not sure, but I’m still figuring all that out.

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How do you view things? Have you ever let it all go? What do you think of American style purchasing habits? Any advice for getting rid of stuff efficiently?

 

<3All the best,
Amy

Scattered Resolutions

2017 note to self:

Here’s to brighter days, bigger smiles, louder laughs. Let’s hope the cursed year ends, but just in case things are rocky in our future: be kind, listen, be uncomfortable, learn, and surround yourself with people who bring you happiness.

It’s a battlefield out there for all of us each day and we cannot know from our screens what each other is going through. Remember that we share our best and for the most part hide our “worst”. Be brave and be there for one another.

Create! This one is personal. Even if you know it will be terrible, do it anyway. Maybe you’ll surprise yourself. Even if you are terrible at finishing things, you finish zero things you never start.

Be open and get out of your comfort zone. Don’t be lazy. I know it’s easier to curl up and just watch Gilmore Girls all day, but there’s a whole world out there to explore.

Be generous. I may not have much, but I will share it with you. The act of giving is fun! Volunteer and help out.

Explore. Everything. The town around you, oceans afar, and that space between your ears.

Return texts, like photos, and comment. When you can. Don’t let social media control your life, but pressing a button can make someone’s day.

Support each other. :]

Make friends with people you wouldn’t usually choose as friends, the elderly especially.

Make time for the friends and family you already have. Tomorrow is not guaranteed; make today count.

Use your words for good. Communicate even when upset.

Let it go. Forgive. Move on.

Don’t be mean.

 

Bring it on 2017.

Signed,
Amy

Difficult Decisions

One of the hardest things I come across in life on a regular basis in making decisions. Not those “what do I order for dinner?” kind of decisions, but like big decisions. I made some pretty big ones in 2015, then 2016 it feels that every time a decision arose things got muddled. Now I’m sitting here again debating grad school or another teaching job abroad or more crm work. A big problem I’ve discovered is I have no idea what I want to do and that leads to me doing nothing at all then regretting it. If I would pick a thing then change my mind, at least I would have done something. Yet here I am lost at the fork in the road staring at the map with a bunch of information about what lies along each path from which to choose, but it’s just impossible to choose.

Fun fact, as part of my IEP in middle school decision making an entire semester. Back then I had the problem of saying “I don’t care” to everything in order to not sit there and not be able to decide, I’d lean on others to decide for me. Now I care too much ha!

The problem is I want to do all the things! and here I am doing none of the things! ah the frustrations.

Anyway, one of the things I wish I would have kept up with is blogging, so here I am trying (probably in vain) once again to get going. I have a lot of thoughts and have had so many over this past year, but I’ve missed the chance to write them out.

Here’s to 2017 being brighter than 2016. Be there for one another. I am going to try to work towards bettering myself, working toward a career, and adventuring a lot!

Best,

Amy

Everything Changes

It’s March! Insane! I have only 2 more months on Reunion and I have written all of 2 blog posts (more than zero I suppose).

The other day I was walking around and all of a sudden it hit me- 2 months is no time. I’ve been here 5 months and though at times it felt like forever, it’s actually gone extremely fast. Reminds me of that metaphor about time being like a roll of toilet paper, as you age time seems to move faster. Who knows really, all I know is last I checked it was December and I was concerned about filling my long days of vacation since the flights to South Africa ended up being too expensive. I was walking around thinking of all I still have left to do during these 2 months, all the time I have had here and didn’t do things I wanted to do for some excuse or another, how I am going to really miss this island when I leave though I’ve had my issues with it.

As I’ve hinted at on here before, I’ve not always had the best time here. I get frustrated about silly things and complain a lot(on the grand scale silly, when I’m frustrated it is the worst thing in the world of course). I never really settled into my new home and threw myself into a sort of survival mode during some periods of time- “just make it though today, then that’s another day closer to leaving this situation”. I secluded myself and watched a lot of Survivor (though let’s be real, I watch a lot of Survivor no matter my mood). So I wasn’t in the best mindset for the majority of my time here. But now it’s March and oh how things have changed.

Maybe I am just in a good mood recently and I’ll fall back later, but I am enjoying the moment. And in that I am trying to understand why I am happier now.

Since the start of the year the time has legitimately flown by. Partly because it was spent relaxing at beaches or preparing for a trip to Madagascar, or being on that trip ill or returning and getting sick again, or school starting up without a set schedule. Partly due to a change in my choices. I am horrible at socially venturing out of my comfort zone. As in even when I would love to meet someone I will say “I would love to meet them” over and over annoyingly instead of just going over and saying hi. I’ve always been like this. Also, I am in constant belief that everyone is annoyed with me or I say the wrong things or I overstay my welcome. Because of this I didn’t make solid connections on the island, especially after I went into “I’m so horrible at french, I give up speaking it” mode (which had some negative effects, but I’ve been trying more recently). I wouldn’t message people because I didn’t want to bother them. I mean when I met new people and exchanged contact info or made possible plans and I hadn’t heard from them, I just assumed they didn’t want me around. Never really thought of putting more effort into it, because survival mode.

Things have changed for me recently and maybe I am annoying and it won’t last, but I have been opening up and reaching out to people around the island to plan things to change up my situation, and thus far it has really helped. I’ve been more at peace, in better spirits, ready to actually try things. I’ve spent several lovely weekends and weekdays with friends from different cities adventuring. I’ve given up frustrations with the buses and tried to embrace them and all their oddities (and have caught up on my podcasts :] ) and just went out of the apartment more. Last week I was in other cities more than my own place! I bought a surfboard (still uncertain if this was a sound plan… not worried about the sharks because there are now nets for protection, but the whole never surfed before thing…). I’ve gone places on a whim with people which never really happens unless I’m the one to initiate the idea. I’ve seen new places on the island and tried new activities.

I think one of the biggest differences though is I’ve been invited to do things that I would usually decline, and after legitimately having internal arguments said might as well go (I only have 2 months left after all!). It’s resulted in meeting great new people and doing new activities and has made me excited about the island again. Usually if something is out of my comfort zone, I decline and that’s that. But I have given things a go, like some hikes that I wasn’t to keen to do (which reminds me I have another blog to write…), or an entire evening with people I had never met or only just in passing which I really almost didn’t go to (thanks social anxiety) but in the end had a great time.

It took me 5 months here, but I can now really see my personal growth. I am still as awkward and nerdy as ever, but I am forcing myself to be more adventurous and make new friends. I wasn’t happy with my situation and was down a lot, but I made the active choice to be a little more vulnerable and uncomfortable and it’s so far been a huge positive factor in my experience. It’s made me see that my entire time here could have been better if I had done this earlier, but it is what it is. I can only grow and change for the future, the past is done.

Thanks for following me on my little journey in the Indian Ocean. I’m sure you’d rather see beautiful photos of palm trees and sunsets, but they will eventually be uploaded to facebook… probably after I return home if I am being honest.

 

❤ with love,

Amy