When I was getting ready for my move to South America , many friends, coworkers, and family members did not hesitate to weigh in on my big decision.
In fact, they offered their worth-their-weight-in gold thoughts with me on a daily basis.
Most of them sounded like this:
“Oh honey, do those things while you still can –– before you’re saddled with a husband and kids!”
“That sounds amazing. I wish I could do that, but I have bills and responsibilities.”
“Enjoy your adventure! You’ll eventually have to come back to the real world.”
Real world. Real world. Real world.
But what is the real world, really?
Life abroad looks like paradise.
Just look at any travel magazine, hostel website, airline advertisement or [choose your own propaganda].
You’re promised gorgeous sunsets, sandy beaches, and delectable cuisine, with new, lifelong friends surrounding you at every turn. Laughs, smiles, and warmth abound. In no time, your new culture will embrace you, treat you as family, and give you a home away from home.
As you may have guessed already, reality paints a very different picture.
Before the specifics, a definition: living abroad means living abroad.
Not studying, not travelling, not a monthlong volunteering stint. Living abroad, generally, involves a job, an address, and settling –– at least for several months –– in another country.
Maybe you moved somewhere with a spouse, friend, or organization. Maybe it’s just you and a one-way ticket. Maybe you have extended family there. Maybe you’re in a remote village that no one’s ever heard of.
No matter your situation, you’re going to discover that some things you thought would be true of your experience, just are not. I could spend many-a blog post (and I plan to) talking about all the things you discover when you uproot your life and move to a new country.
Something weird happens in your twenties.
In a flash of thrown graduation hats, moving trucks, and mismatched pots and pans, you realize something profound: you have no idea what you’re doing.
If you’re among the group who has secured a well-paying, full-time gig in a field you adore, have a loving, faithful, eternally attractive partner you plan to spend your life with, and feel fulfilled, happy, and motivated all at once…
You’re probably fictional.
Or maybe you resemble some version of Linus from Charlie Brown, only with the cacophony of dust and dirt replaced by a fog of student loan bills and rejection letters fluttering through the cheap wine-soaked hyperventilating breaths you’re taking. Alone.
More than likely, you’re somewhere in the middle, which means that you’re in the process of figuring out what you want to do and how you’re going to make it happen… and that can be confusing as hell. Times like these make us want a magical road map with answers, but as of this writing, no such guide has been uncovered.
Luckily, there are some tools out there to help make this process a little easier.
It's never been easier to be a native English speaker.
Look around you. Even if you live in a foreign country, you probably see English somewhere nearby, whether it's a subway station sign, a Starbucks, or an advertisement for a Hollywood film.
Beyond the global deluge of American culture, it also seems like everyone, everywhere is trying to learn English. As some, like entrepreneur Jay Walker, have attested to, English is becoming the language of problem-solving. The international commonality.
So, it begs the question: If you've been saying "Hello,""Goodbye," and "Where's the bathroom?" from a young age, why should you take the time to learn a foreign language?
For novice urban-dwellers and scaredy cats, city biking can be, to quote Aladdin, a whole new world.
But given the financial and health benefits, many opt to commute on two wheels.
Many novice bikers learn lessons the hard way: on the street. Luckily, you don’t have to.
Here's a shortlist of tips for biking in the city, whether you're fresh off your training wheels or a Tour de France veteran.
Let's change the world.
Who wrote this?
Gina Edwards, Impact Explorer founder and lover of all pun jokes, making a positive change in the world, Stephen Colbert, Jif Peanut Butter, and staying inside on rainy days. Order may vary.