As a student fresh out of university and with no full-time work in sight, I struggled to decide what my next steps were going to be. I had stayed at home with my family for all four years of school, deciding to go to a local university and save money. While this was a great idea for my bank account, I definitely felt a little left out when I met up with friends over the summer who would share their stories about on-campus life. Going away to school is a pretty major rite of passage into adulthood, and something that I missed out on by choosing to live at home.
I graduated with a degree in French language and literature, and I’d always been drawn to French culture – the food, the wine, the clothes! Having been to France a few times on vacation, I knew I had to go back and spend more time there if I could. With no definite plans in place for myself professionally, I started looking into different programs that would allow me to live and work in other countries. Eventually I heard about a government program through a co-worker that recruited students and recent grads from around the world to come to France and teach as a language and culture specialist.
Fast forward a few months (and through a ton of paperwork), I was packing my bags for a city called Nancy, France, where I would be teaching elementary students all about Canada and the English language. Making the leap to a new country was scary and exciting all at once, but one of the best decisions I could have made.
I consider myself a shy person, so it was a big step outside my comfort zone to move somewhere I had no friends or family around. Moving away did come with a lot of loneliness and homesickness in the beginning, but experiencing it made me appreciate my friends and family even more than when I saw them every day. Once I embraced living on my own, I learned that I was way more capable of looking after myself than I thought.
By moving to a new country, I was able to make new friends that I never would have encountered at home. I was also able to travel around to nearby cities in my free time, and get to know more about new cultures as I went. On top of all the new friendships and experiences, I also got over a lot of my fears by being on my own for a year.
So for anyone considering moving to another city or country, I’m a firm believer that everyone should try it at least once in their life! Although my move started out as a response to an unknown future, it turned out to be one of the best things that happened to me. I was free to choose anything I wanted to do next with my life, and by choosing to move to a new place it felt like I finally reclaimed that phase of life I skipped as a student.