My Travel History
Everyone has reasons for lifestyle choices which can usually be brought to light upon digging into the past so I figured there must be a reason for my nomadic way of life. With that said, I decided to reflect on my travel history and how it brought me (literally) where I am today.
Until high school, My family often moved around a lot (within the US) due to my father's job. I was in 4 different elementary schools, 2 middle schools, and 2 high schools to say the least. Now, I have no idea if there is some sort of rooted connection to the fact that I have trouble staying in one place these days but it is something to note.
In 2004, my second year in university, I was accepted into a 9 month work-study program in Japan and left North America for the first time in my life. Until this point in my life, I had never lived alone or really been away from my family for more than a week let alone 9 months. The first few months in Japan my emotions bounced back and forth between being homesick and the excitement of living in a new country and learning a new language. I tried to block out any negative emotions I had by staying busy with studying and exploring. By the end of the 9 months, I had achieved a high level of Japanese fluency and was ready to go back and see my family. I said goodbye to all my new friends in Japan and flew back home. What happened after this flight, however, brings me to the major reason for where I am today as far as traveling is concerned.
Upon returning to the US, I was expecting my country to greet me warmly and have life go back to the way it used to be but something was different. Hearing English everywhere became strange. Seeing people of all different shapes, sizes, and colors became strange. I tried talking to old friends about my adventures in Japan but it was too difficult for them to relate so conversation topics soon changed to local happenings which I now found boring compared to the things I had seen and done. I was experiencing culture shock very bad and wanted nothing more than to go back to Japan. At this time Japan felt more like home than my own country. Other people that were in the same work-study program were able to assimilate to life in the US after some time but culture shock hit me so hard that at that point in my life I wanted nothing more in life than to go back to Japan.
So after some thought, I changed my major from Art to Japanese and looked for any route I could to get back to Japan ASAP. Two years later, in 2007, I got a job as an English teacher in Nara, Japan and I was happy to be back and this time with a real job. The first year was wonderful, I got to reconnect with all my old friends and live alongside the locals. I also got to travel to new countries outside of Japan for the first time such as Thailand and South Korea. Traveling brought back the waves of excitement that I felt my first time going to Japan and I couldn't get enough of it. The second year was also great as I got to travel even more but as I got used to the work, and way of living some things started to lose their wow-factor. And my third year as a teacher I was straight up in denial. I kept telling myself -
"You want to live here forever"
"You love your job"
"This is way better than living back in the US, so just stick it out"
But I knew it was all a lie.
Now, I knew that I was so far down the rabbit hole of travel that crawling back to my hometown in the states and getting a boring 9-5 just wasn't an option. However, I also knew that the direction I was going was limiting my personal growth and the excitement of living in a new country was starting to wearing off. It was around this time I realized that much like a drug addict, I had become addicted to the excitement of travel and experiencing new places. (I probably spent as much money on travel as some junkies do on drugs too). So at a crossroads, I weighed my options and made the decision to move to Korea and teach English.
By this point, I was already sick of teaching English but it was the easiest way I knew to keep up my lifestyle of living overseas and traveling when I had days off. What was only supposed to be a year, however, turned into 5. Half way through my time in Korea I made the choice to start studying web design/development to hopefully someday have a shot at working remotely so that I could work and travel at the same time.
Last year, late 2015, I finally felt confident enough in my coding skills to quit teaching English and start looking for a front-end coding job. The original plan was to find a 9-5 in the US for a couple years and then once I had enough experience I would look for remote work. After 6 months of job searching in the US with no luck, however, in April of this year, I got lucky with a remote contract right off the bat. After a month of prep, I condensed everything I own into a suitcase and in June started the digital nomad life. Over the past 6 months, I have lived and worked in Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, and at the time of writing this I am currently in Australia.
So that is my history as far as travel is concerned. If I never went to Japan there is a high chance that I might still have never left the US. But one thing lead to another and 2 passports and a couple dozen countries later I am here in Melbourne planning out the next country to go to.