Three continents, twelve countries, thirty-five cities. No, I am not a rock musician or a jet-setting diplomat. I am just an ordinary guy who decided that I wanted to live and work abroad, so I did just that. Part of the reason I started this blog was to give my friends and family a way to keep in touch with me thousands of miles away anywhere in the world.
For about a year, I lived in my adopted country of Singapore where I finished up a graduate program and interned at a tech company. I also began keeping a diary regularly, the contents of which I may post someday. 2018 was possibly the year with the largest upheavals in my life personally and professionally. I got out of a seven-year relationship, moved four times, turned 30, and transitioned from higher education into an environmental NGO. It was also a year of firsts: I spoke to an audience that included the former Prime Minister of Singapore, hiked the French Alps, got proselytized by a scooter rental salesman who invited me to dinner in Taiwan, met with Ralph Nader for three days, and ate poutine. In each of these situations I was taken out of the familiar and set myself up for randomness. When there was an opportunity to do something that was somewhat different, I did it. Tell the graduation committee that you are interested in telling stories? That morphs into a speech in front of your entire graduating class with the former Prime Minister laughing at your jokes. Take a bus from New York with a Frenchman from Brittany you met online to Rowe, Massachusetts to learn from Ralph Nader for three days? That morphs into visiting his chalet in Saint-Gervais-les-Bains and hiking in the French Alps. Help a friend find a place to stay? He has a job opportunity open up for you in Geneva. The relationships I made during my travels make me consider living abroad to be one of the most important things I have done.
A question that comes up often is how was I able to afford this. A big part of my funding came from grants and frequent flier miles. Some of my friends have asked me how do you get started if you want to learn and travel abroad on the cheap. My advice if you want to do this is that there are so many opportunities out there for motivated people. Higher education in Asia and Europe is far more financially generous than the ones in the United States for ordinary students. Also, if you can learn to budget carefully, you will be surprised how far a stipend can take you.