Dr. P was everyone’s favorite professor during my time in graduate school. Although he should have retired long ago – he speaks slowly, returns homework weeks late and often arrives to his own classes 20 minutes after they’ve started. He is overcommitted and overworked, but only because he pours his soul into each of his students. We all loved him because he wholeheartedly cared about our individual potential to influence our world. It’s far too rare in this life- he was genuine and cared without abandon. At the end of the semester he ended our course (along with every other one of his courses) with a quote by Alexander Smith, which has become my constant travel manifesto and personal life philosophy.
“Love is but the discovery of ourselves in others, and the delight in the recognition.”
At 26 years old I already see many friends working in unsatisfying jobs – to pay the student loans they didn’t understand, to drink craft beer on the weekends, to have a front lawn and matching dish-sets… What are we all afraid is going to happen if we let the “American dream” go? Maybe we will find something that we aren’t comfortable with? Maybe this will even make us ask questions that challenge our worldview. Maybe we will lose our front lawn. (Gasp!) What will this fear produce in our understanding of culture – our personality? On the other hand, have you ever thought about what you might love – what you may see reflected in yourself?
In order to receive fabulous opportunities you have to seek them…
I am regularly asked questions by friends (and friends of friends) about how they to can travel, find unique opportunities and not loose the ability to return home for a “real” job. However, they often ask these questions without any parameters, any goals or any connections. Basically – you’ve got this nagging feeling that you must do something different. Where do you start?
Step 1: Traveling is like any other job – in order to be unusually successful you must build a global network. Always take the opportunity to host an international traveler/student/employee in your hometown. You must first open doors for others before expecting other people to open doors for you… Then GO. Book a one-way flight by yourself. Meet people from other places. Listen to their stories. Genuinely care about their adventures. Find an organization in country that makes you excited. Be willing to work for free for a short period until they can source the funds to hire you on. Create a resume based on where you want to go and who you want to be – not what fell into your lap.
Step 2: Ask questions to real live people. Googling opportunities will only keep you on the beaten path. There are several online organizations who will help you identify credible opportunities – some of my favorites (which I have personally used) are Escape The City and GoOverseas.com – however, keep in mind that these companies are often paid by program providers to advertise travel and job options. This doesn’t take away any of their credibility, but it does mean that big travel companies can pay large amounts of money for advertising and prime slots on these sites. Again, shop around and have fun doing it but do so with the inherent understanding that travel is a BUSINESS.
Step 3: Read through everything with a keen eye and be willing to pay for the level of service that makes you comfortable. You may not have the emotional wherewithal to book a one-way flight without a plan or job but just know that if you want support, reassurance and an airport pickup – you must pay for it. If this is your first time traveling and searching for global opportunities – go ahead and pay for a program that provides housing, support and some sort of career/life experience. Any such effort will help you build a resume bolstered by new connections that will on day enable you to work in your dream job.
Authentic travel takes risk – but this uncertainty will teach you how to see outside yourself, empathize with the world and identify how you fit into the big picture. You WILL Love without abandon and delight when this love is returned back to you.