I don’t exactly know when I decided I wanted to live abroad, but I do know the desire has been there a long time. I grew up hearing about my Dad’s childhood overseas, imagining what it must have been like to live in a grass shack or watch monkeys torment golfers as daily entertainment.
My Dad, as an adorable 2-year-old in India, his turban wrapped by his Ayah.
I’ve always loved listening to my Gram’s stories about India, Pakistan, Japan, Hong Kong and Australia, laughing along at their exotic absurdity, imagining what her life must have been like.
My Gram in Ceylon (Sri Lanka) having been thrown onto a bareback elephant.
In the fourth grade, I became obsessed with Russia and checked out every book available in my school’s library. (And in a tiny little town in central Pennsylvania, there were about six. Shockingly, no one else had ever checked them out). When I was 11, our family went to England and France, staying with my Dad’s business associate in their ‘Hall’ outside of Sherwood Forest. Walking through the 14 bedrooms and choosing which I wanted to stay in was like living in a fairy tale.
Waiting with my Dad for the changing of the guards in London. When I asked my mom to send over pictures from this trip, this was her email: “The 1997 Europe pictures aren’t great…and not the most attractive stage of your and Patrick’s developments. How did I let you wear those clothes!!!”
When I was 18, I had the world’s best babysitting job – accompanying family friends to Australia to watch their 10-year-old while the parents took part in a race through the Outback. While I could easily call Sydney and Melbourne home, I was fine leaving Broken Hill to Crocodile Dundee.
Marley and I at a zoo in Sydney.
At 20, I finally had the opportunity to live in Europe. I spent 4.5 months “studying” abroad in Prague. Those that knew me then or have since heard stories know that my “studying” really meant tasting as much Czech beer as possible, eating delicious fried chicken sandwiches from street carts, and traveling throughout Europe to visit other friends who were also studying abroad.
My study abroad crew walking the streets of Prague.
I got back from Prague and immediately started thinking about how I could live overseas again. When I graduated college, I applied to countless jobs throughout Europe, only to be continuously turned down. (Correction: I wasn’t even turned down, I simply never heard back. Which we all know means I didn’t even come close to qualifying).
A few years ago, while working at Western Union, an opportunity arose in the Vienna office. I was confident it was going to work out; I could finally call Europe home. But once again, no dice.
At this point, I kind of gave up hope of ever living in Europe, or anywhere else overseas. And I was ok with it. I would make it a priority to travel as much as possible; experience other countries and cultures for short, two-week stints, which is better than nothing.
But then, The Remote Experience happened.