How this rando came to be running around writing a blog
Recently someone pointed out to me that, in fact, not every person who sees this blog knows me from real life. As such there’s a decent chance I have some readers who haven’t heard about my trip incessantly for the last fifth of my life or so and might like to know how it came to be. This one’s for you guys.
So like five years ago, I realized I was not going to get to do a study abroad.
I had just started a magazine at school. It looked like, with the inaugural issue released at the end of the 2012 school year, I would need all of 2012-2013 to get it firmly established. The next year, my senior year, I wanted to be available to advise the new leadership. A study abroad could maybe fit if I squeezed it in to my graduating semester, but I wasn’t very comfortable with the idea.
Just like that, like the flipping of a switch, the decision was made. Everyone had told me I’d regret it if I didn’t get an experience with travel while it was still relatively easy. I was sure they were right. So if I couldn’t go during school, I’d have to go after.
Then it hit me that, if I wasn’t going as a student, there was really very little limit to where I could go, or for how long (visa restrictions aside), and look, if I was saving up anyway, why not really make the whole thing last? After all, who knew when (or if) I’d get a chance like this again.
It was with this attitude that I found what felt like a healthy compromise between saving up and still getting the kind of young adult growth experiences that middle class white kids like me get to consider standard. I found an office job and an apartment with some friends. The pay was high enough and the cost of living suitably low. I adopted a cat and perfected a chocolate chip cookie recipe. I was deeply, sometimes paralyzingly, depressed. You know, your mid-twenties.
I don’t want to skim over this one fact: coming to and enacting this decision has all been the result of immense privilege. For a while I thought about writing a post on how I saved up, but I realized that mine were simply exceptional circumstances. I stumbled into a scholarship that would allow me to attend a four-year school without taking any loans or getting help from my parents. After that, I stumbled into a job that would allow me to live on my own and still save. There’s no part of my story (except the depression, I guess) that maps out as a standard part of the millennial experience. I know it. I’m not trying to brand myself that way.
This incredible luck is what enabled me to translate sitting at a desk fantasizing about the future into actual, realizable plans. I wrote up a rough budget for a year of travel. I planned out my expected savings, and eventually decided to leave at a specific time, not a savings goal. I settled on Scotland (the most affordable country without a language barrier) as my first destination. Then maybe France, since I speak a little French. Then who knew. Somewhere else.
I worked and saved for roughly three years, and in that time I think it’s fair to say I grew rampantly. I realized my career lay in graphic design, probably freelance. I came out as nonbinary (except at work). I went from indifferent to broadly disillusioned with the US government. I decided to approach my trip partially as a fun travel adventure and partially as a genuine attempt to see what it was like to live in these other countries.
And that pretty much brings you up to speed. I landed in Glasgow in mid-October. I had a week in London and a week in York. I took late winter-early spring in Berlin, and as I write this I’m on my way to Zagreb, Croatia. I’ve learned a lot about each destination I’ve visited, and a lot about myself.
And that’s the story in a nutshell. I’ve been trying to introduce some structure into my schedule, which hopefully will include updating this blog a minimum of once a week. I’ve also on-again, off-again been using my free time to work on a few creative projects, which I may post about as they come to fruition. At my current rate, I can probably afford another year of travel, unless I either start earning some money or get tired and come home.
Whatever happens, you’ll be able to find me here.