I’ve recently been struggling with a hard decision, a big life-changing decision about spending a year abroad to work and travel. Like most community-minded people, I asked my friends and family what they thought. This is the rundown of how it played out. Note: The names have been changed to protect the guilty and the responses might represent input from more than one person…including the voices inside my head.
The goddess, very excited: I found this program that provides you with housing and co-working space in exciting cities all over the world. It seems to good to be true. All the pictures show these cool, hipster millennials. I wonder if they would take an older person like me…?
Positive Patty: Of course they would. You are so smart and wonderful. And, their average age would climb right up; they would get a ton of diversity points.
Debbie Downer: I doubt if anyone really wants to travel with their mother (pause) or grandmother. No offense, just kidding. It’s pretty expensive, isn’t it? Gotta be careful about things that seem too good.
The goddess: Well, I think I am gonna apply anyway, see what happens.
The goddess, a bit surprised: Guess what? I already got an email from the remote program and this woman in HR wants to chat with me for 1/2 hour. I think it will be in Skype or something like that…you know, where we can see each other while we talk. Ugh, I’ll have to look bright and cheerful, can’t make faces or roll my eyes. I am not sure I am ready for this.
Positive Patty: That is is wonderful! Don’t worry, I am sure you will do great. You are so expressive; she will love it.
Debbie Downer: Maybe you should get a new haircut, not a Mohawk but something more youthful. Or just add lots of mousse and a few streaks of blue. Hey, how about temporary tattoos? You could put some on your arms and be sure she can see them. That would raise your cool factor, make you look younger.
The goddess: I’ll schedule a call, show up as myself, see what happens.
The goddess, even more surprised: This HR person is fast. I have a call scheduled for Monday. And, good news, it will be by phone, low tech, no Skyping. They seem so efficient and on-the-ball. It’s happening; I just can’t believe it’s happening so quickly. The speed of all this is making me nervous. So is the cost. It IS a lot of money.
Positive Patty: Honey, you’re fine. They know quality when they see it. Your essay must have impressed them. And, I think your mom would be happy if you spent the money she left you on an adventure. You so deserve it.
Debbie Downer: Are they efficient or desperate? Maybe they don’t have a lot of people applying? Their first trip got a lot of bad press. You know that, right? BTW: Have you told the BF about this yet? What does he think?
The goddess: Well, I know I have more research to do. Don’t expect to see me around; I’ll be glued to my computer screen for a few days.
The goddess, relieved: The call went really well, very casual and friendly, not like a formal interview. I am not sure I asked the best questions, mostly about the living arrangements, access to a kitchen — I can’t imagine eating out for 3 meals a day for a whole year — and about the chances of having other people in the group over the age of 40. She’s traveling with the program herself and seemed very positive about it. Said it’s not all frat parties. Can you believe that was IT? That was the whole interview (!!) and they will let me know in a week if I’ve been accepted. YIKES.
Positive Patty: Great questions. Those are the things that matter to you. You can always follow up with email or another call when you think of something else. You have a lot to process.
Debbie Downer: Of course she’s positive, she’s SELLING the program! Did you ask about liability? How about if they fold? They haven’t been in business that long. What happens in a disaster –remember the tsunami in Thailand and the earthquake in Italy? Did you talk about trip or health insurance? I don’t want to worry you but stuff happens.
The goddess: I’ll follow up with an email.
The goddess, feeling grateful: I had dinner with my BF last night and he is so wonderful. He fully supports this, said DO IT while you can! I knew my sons would be for it but I am relieved that he was so positive. It went a lot easier than I expected. He said he’d miss me and would come to see me wherever I was, whenever he could. So sweet.
Positive Patty: That right there tells me he really loves you.
Debbie Downer: That’s great, makes it easier for you. Hmm. I wonder if he’s looking for a little break himself. How have you been getting along lately? Things good in the romance department?
The goddess, nervously: The HR woman loved my follow-up email, her actual words. She wants to chat me up again to update my application. I wonder what that means. We’re set to talk again Friday. I feel like I am on a runaway train. It was only 10 days ago that this idea even appeared on my radar.
Positive Patty: Breathe. Do I have to tell that to YOU, a yoga instructor 🙂
Debbie Downer: Maybe it will be “We really love you, but… You are so great, but… Thanks, but no thanks.” and you won’t have to worry about it. Decision made for you. Then you can breathe again 😉
Positive Patty: Well?
Debbie Downer: Tell us. How did it go? What else did she ask you?
The goddess, stunned: She didn’t ask anything and said I’ve been ACCEPTED!! Yup, they offered me a spot for winter 2018. I kinda felt it coming, felt it creeping up on me, both the wonderful and scary parts of it. It always feels good to be wanted, even if you have to pay for it. Then we talked money and reality flooded in. I have three weeks to decide. Wow. I really have to do my homework now and figure all this out. What to do with my house while I’m gone, what other expenses I’ll have, what is it REALLY gonna cost? Airfares, visas, vaccines, everything. And, can I honestly live out of a suitcase with a whole new “family” for an entire year? You know, this went so fast that I wonder if they accept everyone who they believe can afford it.
Positive Patty: Oh, no. I bet they turn lots of people down, even those who have the funds. So… are you going to go?
Debbie Downer: I totally KNEW you’d get in. Never had a doubt. So…are you going to go?
The goddess, in suspense: You’ll have to tune in 3 weeks from now to find the answer.
Nice write-up about application experience.
Confession: Many of the positive and negative responses were in MY OWN head. It has certainly been a BIG roller coaster ride.
What did you decide and where are you going? I’m going through some changes myself and I found this to be hilarious and very real.
I decided that a year was too long and kept shopping other options. I chose a program that let’s you commit for a shorter time with the ability to stay on and continue. I am waiting for final approval (getting background checked now) and hope to be heading to South America in January. I already started an online program to re-learn Spanish and went to a few salsa dances!
Depending on where you are going, you may want to brush on on tango. Enjoy!
Yup, good suggestion! I will be in Argentina the first month! Check out http://pangea196.com/.