Life Abroad

Have You Ever Dreamed of a Life Abroad

Have you ever dreamed of a life abroad?  Ever since I visited Peru 12 years ago, I’ve dreamed of living in a foreign country.   I would catch myself talking to friends, and saying someday I’m going to move and live abroad.  To be perfectly honest though, even as I would hear the words coming out of my mouth, I truly did not believe that I had what it took to uproot my life, leave my steady paycheck, sell all of my belongings and make my dream a reality.

But you know what happened…a week went by, and then a month, and before I knew it another Christmas rolled around and a New Year would begin.  And there I was working at the same job, living my same life, all while daydreaming of that day—that someday —that maybe, just maybe—I would make my dream come true.

Life Abroad - Moving to Guatemala

It wasn’t that I was miserable— I wasn’t.  In fact, I loved living in Austin, TX.  The weather was wonderful, and the food trailers—oh, the awesome food trailers—, the BBQ, the live music, the year round outdoor recreational activities, the friendly people and the fact that I loved that weirdness was a way of life in Austin.  Yes, I truly embraced and loved ALL of it.

Yet, I was yearning for something—what that was I wasn’t sure.

Life has a way of throwing you curveballs and there were a couple of years that were difficult to say the least.  So when another opportunity arose to travel abroad, I was in.  Two weeks of hiking, kayaking, and exploring the vast and varied landscape of Guatemala and immersing myself in such a unique culture sounded like a welcomed change.

And as it turned out it was a welcomed change—a trip that ended up being a life changing experience.  It was in Guatemala that I felt free, happy and joyous for the first time in a very long time.  There was a new and surprising confidence within myself that came with pushing myself outside of my comfort zone.

Life Abroad - Moving to Guatemala

Returning from that trip I realized that it was either now or never for my dream of living abroad to become a reality.  So seven months after returning from that trip I quit my job and left my comfortable paycheck behind, sold my car and 95% of my earthly possessions and pruned my remaining belongings down to what fit into two checked pieces of luggage and a backpack and boarded my one way flight to my new home in Guatemala.

The reactions to my moving to Guatemala were mixed.  While a few friends expressed their support and wished me well, many—both friends and family members— thought I was crazy and were not so kind.  While some of their concerns were warranted, I was utterly flabbergasted at their limiting beliefs and their narrow minded views.

Was I scared?  Hell, yes!  I was ending my way of life as I knew it and I had no idea what the future held.  I was leaving my safety net and moving to a developing country where the environment was completely different from anything I had ever experienced.  But…I was also excited.

Life Abroad – Moving to Guatemala

So has my move worked out?   The answer is yes with a caveat.  While living in a foreign country sounds exciting, maybe even romantic it does have its catch.  Anyone who has lived abroad knows that living abroad is very different from vacationing abroad.  My friend Charles, who had lived abroad earlier in his life, counseled me about this prior to my move.  In his very kind way he wanted to prepare me for the joys, opportunities, challenges and culture shock that living abroad would bring.

From the honeymoon stage to the frustration stage, to understanding and finally to the integration stage it has been quite a journey.  Simple day-to-day tasks such as taking transportation, shopping or getting my hair cut were real challenges in my new environment only exacerbated by the fact that I did not speak Spanish.

So yes Charles you were correct, the honeymoon period did eventually end and it was replaced with day-to-day frustrations.  My entry into the frustration stage hit a few months after moving to Guatemala when my visit to the hair salon to get a haircut didn’t go as expected.  Thinking I was asking the stylist to cut an inch off of my hair, I left the salon with one inch of hair left on my head. True story.

I’m happy to report that I have moved from the frustration stage to the understanding and integration stage having become familiar with the local people and customs.  I still find myself making mistakes and putting my foot in my mouth—but you know what?  It doesn’t matter.  I can now find the humor in it and I can laugh at myself.

Lake Atitlan Guatemala

Life abroad certainly has had its up and downs.  It also has been one of the greatest opportunities that I have ever had in my life—amazing, crazy, and exciting while also being frustrating, challenging, and humbling.

Moving to Guatemala has taught me so much about myself and that by letting go of the fear and being willing to change, I can do anything!

Lake Atitlan Tours

Lake Atitlan Tours offers authentic, customized and affordable tours in the Lake Atitlan, Guatemala area that give you unique opportunities to experience first-hand some of the great traditional aspects of Guatemala highland life and culture.

For more information on Hiking & Trekking Lake Atitlan and other Lake Atitlan Tours visit Lake Atitlan Tours.

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