WordPress has informed me that it has been a year since I created my account. Along with this anniversary, is the anniversary of graduating university and starting my bicycle trip on the Transamerica Trail across the United States!
Thank you to those who have followed me since the beginning and to those who have joined in along the way. I am really honored to share my experiences with you.
In honor of these one year anniversaries, I wrote a reflection piece to the recent graduates- Class of 2017 and what is “real.”
It’s been a year since I graduated. Seems like forever ago that president was congratulating the Class of 2016 and now Class of 2017, just walked across the same stage.
I applaud everyone from this class- you did it! Now it’s time for the “real” world as everyone says. But what is “real?”
Some would define real as: Working a 9 to 5 job where you learn how to budget your finances, learn how to deal with coworkers and roommates, and grow as an individual since this is the first time you are truly on your own- no Mom or Dad or a school to cushion you.
My definition is this: The “real” world is the act of grasping any and all opportunities.
Let me explain further.
An opportunity arose to bicycle across the United States and I took it. You can see my reflection here: https://myopenpassport.net/2016/09/12/faqstatements-and-thoughts/
Was I paying rent and working 9 to 5? No, but I was experiencing different cultures and got to know how strong (mentally and physically) I was to accomplish such a feat (4,000 miles in 90 days).
I then took the opportunity to come to Europe and travel. I didn’t have that much of a savings, but I didn’t let this stop me. I figured the best way for me to accomplish this was to teach English. I signed up for a TEFL certification course (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) in Prague, formerly Czech Republic, but now Czechia, and enjoyed my time immensely. You can read about it here: https://myopenpassport.net/category/the-tefl-experience/
While I awaited my visa, I toured around Europe, hopping from country to country, but mainly devoting most of my time to the Balkans. I even participated in a work away in Belgrade, Serbia. You can read about the experience here: https://myopenpassport.net/category/serbia/
Through these travels, I learned how to budget and I put my student cooking to good use in the hostels as I made a variety of simple pastas and sandwiches. Too bad they don’t have Easy Mac in Europe 🙂 Through these hostels, I also developed my people skills to gather more friends or to simply co-exist for that limited time in a shared space.
I had to think on my feet when I got to a new place with a completely different language than I’m used to. It is as if a boss would give me a surprise project or task to do. My work away in the hostel let me be in a work environment of different cultures giving me that international component that a normal office job probably wouldn’t have my first year.
When my visa did arrive, I went back to Prague and started applying for jobs. I applied for English teachers, waitressing, tour guides, and a marketing job (which was my major at university).
I ended up with teaching three classes four times a week in the morning and the rest of the day (and Friday) I work at my marketing job.
I am now working that typical “real” world, if you will, but it is anything, but typical. I pay rent, have a roommate, commute to work, budget my salary to afford necessities as well as that quick weekend trip to Brussels or Berlin. But, I’m living this opportunity I took.
My advice, from one not-so-recent graduate to the newly inducted alumni- don’t worry about the “typical” and the “real.” If there is a will, there is a way as the cliche goes. I wanted to travel and explore new opportunities and the ways presented themselves to me. Don’t let a chance slip you by.
My visa for Czechia is good through February and then….a new adventure (please stay tuned for Adventure #3 post).
I wish you all the best in this new year and I hope you will be able to look back when the next class crosses the stage and know that you are unstoppable.
More photos here