What comes first: travel or career?

I leave for Spain in 6 days.

I’ve been planning on moving to Los Angeles when I return sometime next summer.  But lately I’ve been thinking that’s too soon.

By next June, I will be 22.  I know some of you crazies are getting ready to be married at 22, but for me 22 is, well, it’s only 22.

I’m halfway through Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer, a recounting of his climb up Mount Everest when several fellow climbers died in a snowstorm.  His description of the geography of the region caused me to browse through Google Maps, realizing, “So that’s Bhutan,” “So Nepal is south of the Himalayas.”  I was reminded of the blog of an old acquaintance who is spending several months in India.  He has a basic agenda there volunteering for an NGO, but he also has opened himself to socio-cultural opportunities just by being there.

There’s so much you learn about yourself and about a country, its people, and its politics when you travel.  It frustrates me to be sitting in my air-conditioned bedroom in Houston merely reading about the rest of the world.  I want to go there.  I want to see everything.  The U.S. is my home, but I want to see more and live more.thai

If I try to start a career one year from now, there’s no telling if, when, and how much travel I’ll be able to do for the rest of my life.  I should capitalize on my current youthful transience and avoid repatriation. I’ll just have to choose something that pays me, which means some type of program.  Getting a minimum wage job in a foreign country doesn’t allow much time for travel or exploration and just seems impractical when I could be laying down the foundation for a career in LA.

I’m also remembering now how it felt to come back to school after spending 4 months in Ghana.  Or how it felt to return for my last quarter of college after spending a quarter in LA.  It wasn’t easy.  Everyone’s lives went on without me and no one really cared too much that I had been missing.  And if I moved to LA at 23 or 24, getting yet another unpaid internship would be draining.  I also feel like no one would want to take me on at that age, although perhaps my traveling experience would be a bonus.

It inevitably depends on how I feel after I’ve been in Spain for a while.  It could be that I am more ready to come home than I am to evade it.  But the option’s on the table.


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