teach english abroad

Almost exactly a year ago in November 2013, I spent a lot of time applying to jobs. You could say it was my job, except I was also balancing two part time positions and trying to figure out where I wanted to be. What I wanted to do. What my future would hold. It was a stressful time, and there were points when I genuinely believed that I would never find full-time employment. 

I applied to jobs left and right, on the west coast, on the east coast, and even abroad. I had decided that since my dream of being in publishing wasn’t being immediately realized, I needed to branch out and broaden my horizons. You never know where a path will take you or where a door will open to, and I wanted to run down as many roads and throw open as many of those doors as I could. 

Fast forward a few months and I was living in New York City and working at a job in customer service. I hadn’t heard back from many of my job applications, so starting a job at my current company was a dream, because I not only heard back right away once I applied, but I was passionate about the position, the company, and their mission.

I had since put thoughts of other jobs out of my mind, including my application to teach English in France. The program offered a year-long position working as an English teaching assistant in French public schools, and would grant me my dream of living abroad again. Due to the nature of the application, I had applied almost a year ahead of when I would actually find out about acceptance. In that time span, I would find, apply to, and receive a job offer to my current company.

You may be wondering about all of the back story, but I promise there’s a point to this path I’m taking you on. You see, like many companies, my new job in New York had a probationary period of about three months so that both the new employees and the employer could determine if the job was a good fit. Initially, I had a lot of trouble adjusting to my new environment, and working in customer service can be very hard, especially when you’re first starting out.

So, as I was coming to the end of my probationary period, I was trying to determine if I was making the right choice. As I mentioned earlier, I love the company I work for, as well as my coworkers, and I wanted to make things work. I was just nervous about making the commitment, which is understandable after a challenging year of making decisions that seemed to determine the direction of my life.

Then, I received an email about the teaching program in France. I had been wait-listed. To me, that was a sign that I was on the right path in New York. When I had the meeting with my manager a few days later and received my official offer, I felt confident that I was on the right road and ecstatic and excited about the upcoming challenges and experiences I would conquer.

A few short weeks after the initial email about being wait-listed for the teaching program, and just a week after my official job offer at my current job, I received another email from the teaching program that I had been removed from the wait list and accepted into the teaching program. I had been placed in my top location, in my top education level preference, and would be permitted to live in France for a year.  And, I had just committed myself, happily, to my current job, and had made peace with being wait-listed and let my dreams of living abroad to rest for the time being.

So, what’s a girl to do?

On one hand, I thought to myself, “I am 23 and have no attachments. I don’t have children, am not married or in a serious relationship, and have very little tying me down, which won’t be the case forever. This may be my only chance to go abroad again for an extended period of time!”

Then, I would play devil’s advocate and think to myself, “You’ve dreamt of living in New York City, and you’ve arrived! You just accepted this job and have a lot of potential and opportunity to grow. If you leave now, you’ll only be setting yourself back.”

As I battled mentally with all sides of the situation, I realized that in the past two years I had been constantly chasing and searching for new, exciting opportunities. Finally, I had two presented to me, and I was stuck. It’s hard to know where one path will take you, and it’s hard to imagine yourself one year further in your future. Where will you be? Who will you be?

I thought about where I had come from; physically I had moved from the East coast to the West coast and then back to the East Coast. Emotionally, I had moved away from my friends and my family, my familiar surroundings, and I had challenged myself, took risks, and braved adventure.

I realized that the excitement I had been craving had been here all along, and all I needed to do was recognize it. While I would love to live abroad, especially in France, for a year, I do not need grand travels to have grand adventure or important personal growth.

I decided what I truly needed was a space where I could work on learning the ins and outs of the adult world and the working world, a space where I could try and fail and try again. I wanted a city to explore, I wanted to find interesting people to meet and befriend, and I wanted to work and find my passions.

I could have easily done that by moving abroad and teaching English and then come right back after the year was up. I know it would have been rewarding, and challenging, and hard and amazing, as all adventures should be.

But I already had started my adventure, living in New York City and working for a wonderful company, full of interesting, creative people, and I knew that I owed it to myself to follow this path wherever it may lead me. As scary as it may be not to know where it’s going, I know it will be a worthwhile journey.

Have you ever had to decide between two grand adventures? Which path did you choose?

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