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a little bit brave… life and love in the land down under…

Reader, I’m so excited to share the next installment of my series, “A Little Bit Brave.”

Each month, I’ll be posting an article by another blogger who took a leap and moved themselves away from everything that was familiar to find the next “right” step in their life. You can read other women’s stories here.

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Koalas. Kangaroos. Australia has this amazing mystique about it. It always has for me. I remember when I was 14 or 15, my mum told me she just had this feeling I would live far away when I grew up. I’ve always had an adventurous heart, but I can honestly say that I never expected anything to end up like this.

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When it came time to go to university, I left my parents’ house in Shawnee, Kansas to go two hours away to Kansas State. It was basically like high school, round two. Which wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, but wasn’t without its challenges. The day after we moved in, I played football with my roommate and two new friends. One of these friends would impact my life in a big way, and give me the illusion of a safety net that would help me to jump into the best decision of my life. 

I decided in December 2008 that I was definitely going to study abroad in Australia for my sophomore year. The whole year. Not the measly six months everyone else did. I wanted the full cultural experience. I was now also dating this previously-mentioned friend. I was in love. So I packed my two suitcases. Whoever invented the 50lbs/23kg limit never knew a 19-year-old girl packing for a full year. You have to be able to have nice things to go out.. Aussie summers are hot… Nobody has central heating… It’s a delicate balance!

I fell in love with Australia. Head over heels in love with Australia. But how could I stay? About as soon as I landed back on American soil, I was homesick. I can’t explain the tie this country has to my heart, but I knew I had to find a way back. I was prepared to make plans to leave my family, everything I really knew, to spend exorbitant amounts of money on finishing my degree, and to create a life halfway around the world.

 

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a little bit brave… and uncertain

Reader, I’m so excited to share the next installment of the “A Little Bit Brave” series.

Each month, I’ll be posting an article by another blogger who took a leap and moved themselves away from everything that was familiar to find the next “right” step in her life. You can read more of the series here.

So, without further ado, here’s a little bit brave… and uncertain. Enjoy. :)

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At 27 years old, I had finally decided it was time to test my wings. Like a free-spirited bird, I jumped from my nest with hopeful abandon. I spread my wings wide to the open sky and embraced the tickle of the wind in my feathers. And then I plummeted straight to earth.

At 26, life had been pretty comfy-cozy. I thought I had finally made it. I had the job, the car, the downtown apartment, and the professional wardrobe of my poor girl dreams. I had the PTO and the 401(k) and the HSA. I had the friends and the family and the kind of coworkers you actually look forward to seeing every day. I thought I had it all.

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So why did I feel like I was suffocating in a glass coffin every night as I lay in bed? Why did I want to scream and pound my fists against those imaginary walls as I tried not to cry myself to sleep? Why did I feel like everyone was skipping around outside my prison while I lay buried alive?

Perhaps I needed therapy, but all the psychobabble in the world wouldn’t have been able to tell me more than I already knew. I was simply afraid. It was fear that put me to bed every night and lingered with me as I went to work every morning. It was fear that made me dread waking up thirty years later only to realize I was still going to work every morning. It was fear that kept me wondering if I would hit retirement only to regret all the years I had worked to save for it.

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a little bit brave… in Taiwan

Reader, I’m so excited to share the next installment of my series, “A Little Bit Brave.”

Each month, I’ll be posting an article by another blogger who took a leap and moved themselves away from everything that was familiar to find the next “right” step in their life. Next up: Celeste Banks. Celeste is a family friend of mine from childhood and is living (as you guessed from the title) a little bit brave in Taiwan.

If you missed it, several weeks ago, I completed a project outlining the story of how I was a little bit brave and came to Korea. (You can read them all here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4…) In an attempt to share with you how others have been a little bit braveI decided to start asking some friends to share their stories with you as guest bloggers on this site. You can read the first installment by my friend Anna, who was living in the Philippines, here.

To read more of her awesome stuff, check out Celeste’s blog, From Kansas to Taiwan.

So, without further ado, here’s a little bit brave… in Taiwan. Enjoy. :)

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I was sobbing and hyperventilating, sitting at my kitchen table in my college apartment on April 14th, 2014.

I compulsively checked my phone’s email for months. Like any good senior in college knows how, I nervously evaded the consistent, droning,  “What are you doing next year???” I celebrated for all my other friends after every acceptance and job offer came in, all the while feeling so nervous!

I was talking to my sister on the phone, but squealed out, “I HAVE TO GO!” when I saw the email.  I had won a Fulbright grant. To move to Taiwan. For a year. I called my mother, screeching into her ear, “I GOT THE FULBRIGHT GRANT! I HAVE TO CALL DAD!”

A year before, a friend of mine suggested I look into Fulbright. I met with the head of National Scholarships at Emory, where I went to university, and started pestering professors about writing me recommendations. I spent 2-3 hours a week the entire summer working on the damned essays. Then I turned in my application to Emory and awaited my interview time.

In September I met with a panel of professors from Emory to explain to them why I wanted a Fulbright grant. I showed up in my brand-new $40 black blazer from Target and practiced power posing before hand. They asked me tons of questions, from “Why haven’t you studied abroad?” to “What do you want to do post-Fulbright?”

After a few days, the interviewer let me know that Emory would be recommending me for a Fulbright, so I officially sent in my application in October. I heard back in January that I was a finalist. Three and half months of Mardi Gras, spring break, sorority and frat formals flew by, and then I was at my kitchen table reading an email that said, somehow, I had been accepted to this program; and I was hyperventilating.


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a little bit brave… in the Philippines

Reader, I’m so excited to announce a new project I’ve been working on. Let me tell you how it started.

Several weeks ago, I completed a project outlining the story of how I was a little bit brave and came to Korea. (You can read them all here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4…) In an attempt to share with you how others have been a little bit braveI decided to start asking some friends to share their stories with you as guest bloggers on this site.

Each month, I’ll be posting an article by another blogger who took a leap and moved themselves away from everything that was familiar to find the next “right” step in their life. First up: Anna Wickham. Anna is a friend of mine from university and is living (as you guessed from the title) a little bit brave in the Philippines.

To read more of her awesome stuff, check out Anna’s blog, The Worldly Blend.

So, without further ado, here’s a little bit brave… in the Philippines. Enjoy. :)

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It’s not that I’ve never left home before. But when I was invited to come live on a remote island in the Philippines, where there are frequent “brownouts” (power outages) and many residents don’t even have running water, I had a few reservations. After all, the 6-month temporary position I was filling had been filled before by 7 people: all men. More than just my mother expressed concern about a young woman venturing out on her own.

To tell you the truth, the basic living conditions in my new home, Puerto Galera, and the 4-hour trek from Manila were the least of my worries: I was going to the Philippines on a sort of work sabbatical, to “get away from it all” while I started my own online business. Building a business proved hard in Arizona, where I was living before. The distractions of my social circle, as well as the pressure to pay rent interfered with my productivity while I tried to start up my business. That’s why I was going all the way out to this remote island in the first place: to learn how to sustain my lifestyle singlehandedly, with no employer.

But all of that fear was swept aside as soon as I got off the boat at the pier in Puerto Galera. Smiling, friendly faces greeted me at the dock, and everyone was so friendly and warm. I immediately felt at home in this small town so far from home.

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