May 2011: an Evolving Idea

Posted on Jul 29, 2011 in stories | 0 comments

Our journey up to this point had put us in a good frame of mind. We were feeling free and excited and open to anything. In fact, the question “What would you do with $10,000?” had become very real to us.

The trouble was making the trip work so that we’d still have enough money left over when we returned.

When we started researching possibilities, we began to discover (1) what we wanted out of this trip and (2) what was feasible. Meshing the two became easier as we moved past idea after idea, stage after stage on our path to Europe.

Since Ryan had just graduated, the most logical place to begin seemed to be an internship overseas for a few months. We had several connections, and one internship in the bag in Germany. This idea seemed great at first because it was only a small sidestep from the traditional career path after graduation.

It became obvious very quickly, however, that these internships weren’t right for us. For starters, they paid pennies and still roped you into a 9 to 5, 40-hour work schedule. That would mean no money, no flexibility, no free ticket to Europe–but a visa to live there for a few months. And the companies available to us didn’t hold a lot of interest for Ryan, which means he wouldn’t be getting the kind of experience he wanted.

None of it added up, so we tossed that idea out the window.

What next?


Europe with No Internship

The second possibility was the internship idea without the internship. Basically, we’d just pick a place to live–probably somewhere in Italy; that was our dream destination–and stay there in an apartment or vacation villa for a few months.

There would be no full-time job to support us fully, but we were pretty confident we could live off my freelance income and our savings while we toured the place.

The flexibility of this idea seemed really exciting and fitting for us. We would have total freedom to do what we wanted, which meant we could shape our experience to fit us perfectly.

But money was a huge problem almost immediately. We did the math and found that we’d drain a good portion of our budget on housing alone–and that didn’t factor in food, transportation, and other needs. We’d only be able to stay for a couple months before we’d have to come home, and flights were expensive enough that that wasn’t an option.


Beyond a Sightseeing Tour

Around this time, it became clear that we were interested in much more than a sightseeing tour of Europe. We wanted a real, unhurried, back-door experience–one that would allow us to meet local people and live the way they lived for awhile.

If we could learn a language or gain some sort of skill while we did it, all the better. And if we could have these experiences in a variety of areas, we would be in heaven. Was there something like that out there for us? We didn’t know, but we kept looking.


Continue the story…
June 2011: Discovering International Volunteer Exchange 

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