Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Looking for a change of scenery?

Here's what you'll need...

In-depth. Impressive. Full of tempting opportunities.
Becca and I spotted this book at Powell's in Portland and bought it to use as a tool to help us figure out our next move after Spain. We wanted to weigh every option possible and not just assume that immediately returning to the States was the most sensible or best option. Don't worry mom and dad... It's an option. It's just not our only option. 

We decided this summer that by February of 2011 we'd like to know what's next for us. Well, this book has proven to be a worthy investment. Seriously so... It presents so many mind-boggling options and a vast array of information about different laws, cultures, immigration processes, etc., in virtually any country or place you could want to live. It really helps you see just a little more clearly how many options you really have.

Now, don't think that this book can answer any of the tough questions for you. For example, what your clear-cut next step is and a how-to guide on how exactly you can acheive it. Unrealistic. It simply lays out a whole lot of information and resources to get further information. Then, you have to do the hard, dirty work, make the difficult decisions and make it happen all on your own. Obviously. It's like anything else.

Here's a sampling from the intro of the book... The author, Mark Ehrman, is talking about leaving the U.S. and why a sane person could possibly ever want to do such an unimaginable thing: 

Anyway, the reason I bring this up is because I have had a ton of people - people that I haven't heard from in years - contact me about my program and how exactly me living in Europe came to fruition. They were weighing options for their next step as well. 

Eventually, in this blog, I will detail further exactly how I "got out" of America and how others I've known "got out." For now, though, if you think it might be for you, you'd do well to buy this book and give it a look-see.

Traveling and exploring is something that appeals to almost everyone. I've had family friends with children about to leave for college and who've established themselves in their careers in impressive fashion over periods of 20-plus years tell me they're considering moving to Spain once their kids have left home. At the same time, people who graduated college with me in 2007 and more recently came out at exactly the right time to probably not get hired - but if they did, to get quickly laid off. Why not see if it's possible to explore a bit while the economy takes it's sweet time to recover back home?

The book also includes testimonials from people who have left the States as a sort of way to help readers get up the cojones to leave as well. It's serves as sort of a rallying cry at the beginning of the book to show why the rest is relevant. At times they are just rants. At times they are well-reasoned. At times they say they left just because. As I scanned to choose one to show you, this one caught my eye (I'll explain why after...):

OK, so, the reason I chose this particular testimonial...

I was riding home from my school with a teacher yesterday and talking to him about his past. It turns out that 10 years ago he had been a teacher in California. He said he absolutely loved Cali and he absolutely loved all that he saw and experienced while he lived in the States. He went so far as to say he can't wait to go back and has actually been planning a trip for some time. Well, I asked him, why didn't he stay there if he loved it so?

He said he got a call from the Andalucian government (Government of the region of southern Spain) and they offered him an opportunity to be a substitute teacher. He began talking about how it was an incredible opportunity and one that he could not turn down.

I was confused. A full-time teacher in California, or a substitute teacher in Malaga... How is that a golden opportunity? Well, I probed further... He said that it is very difficult to find teaching jobs in the south of Spain and being a substitute was a sure-fire way to get his foot in the door for a full-time gig.

But, still, if he loved California as much as he did - why leave?

"Life is very, very different between the United States and here," he said. "There, you live for your job. You know? Here, you live for... your life."

I laughed.

He got flustered and said, "No, it's true," he said. "I am quite serious."

I know, I thought. I am seeing the difference on a daily basis. Becca and I always comment on how a business will turn away customers and forfeit sales and profits. Either to shut down their store to honor their long-time tradition - the siesta, or just because... To us Americans, it's insane... "Take our money, man! That's the point of running a business," we always say when commenting on the lackadaisical approach the Spanish have to turning a profit.

I guess it was a nervous laugh. One of surrender or something because, of course, I agree. I think I've always agreed. In fact, I used to get really worked up about it and rant and rave to my family about it.

Hell, this was the photo for my column in my college newspaper, The Western Front, titled "Bound & Gagged":

Subtle, eh?
Anyway, this is getting long-winded. This post is not meant to bash America. I don't have the energy these days to bother with that. If America is your thing - your cup of tea - awesome. I'm not even necessarily saying that it's not mine. This is solely a reminder that there are alternatives. And, not only that, but there are many people who are showing genuine interest in exploring them. 

When my teacher said that and I had my moment of clarity in response, I immediately pictured myself remaining in Spain for the rest of my life. Don't worry though, family and friends, Becca already made me promise that wherever we are next year - it won't be Spain. Alas...

If you are interested in exploring ways for extended traveling or looking for a big change in your life - check out the book. If not, no worries. 

If you think this post is one big crock, say so in a comment... You are always welcome to respond - favorably or unfavorably!  

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