Doing What I Want Instead of What I Should

Doing What I Want Instead of What I Should - Navigating My Quarter Life Crisis
[Prague is a great place for a quarter life crisis, in my experience]
Oh howdy ho, fellow blogreaders!

LOL who am I? Please ignore that sentence and read on. I promise the cheese stops there.

SO. There have been some pretty big, like WHOA life changes as of late, and I really wanted to address that before publishing the other posts I have waiting in my blogging queue! So here’s what’s up:

I quit my job, and am traveling through Europe for the next few months. How’s that for a big, giant cliche?

Side street with red and brick buildings in Amsterdam, The Netherlands in winter
[Really pretty quiet side street in Amsterdam; all I wear now is my giant scarf, the woes of traveling through Europe in winter and trying to pack light]
I don’t think it’s really a secret that I LOOOOVE Europe…Which is why I keep finding myself back here…

And thanks to cheap flights, I can fly here for the same price as a round trip ticket to Colorado!

But anyways…I digress. Back to the whole quitting the job thing. I really did enjoy my job for the most part, and was truly sad to leave. (I was working at an environmental nonprofit focused on the education and conservation of birds – I worked mostly in the education realm, but since it was a nonprofit, we all wore a lot of hats!)

However, I’d been there for over 2 years, and I was tired of living in the Bay Area. The Bay is great, but I’d grown up there and rent prices have skyrocketed from all the tech companies moving in. And of course, nonprofits are notorious for not paying AMAZING salaries, so I wanted to go somewhere that living was more affordable.

I make it all sound really easy, but in reality, it was a really tough thing that I agonized about for months and almost felt a loss of identity even just thinking about quitting. I’d ALWAYS wanted to work for an environmental organization, and I basically had what I thought in college was my dream job – but for whatever reason, it just no longer felt “right” and I really didn’t want to live in the Bay Area any longer.

Colorful apartments in Prague, Czech Republic
[However, if you do want to avoid the EXPENSIVE prices of so many other European countries, try going to Prague! It’s quite a bit cheaper]
Enter Europe. And travel.

Now, I know Europe is not necessarily the first thing that comes to mind when I say “affordable” (especially Western Europe, darn you, as much as I love you), but to be honest – pretty much ANYTHING is cheaper than the Bay Area at this point, save for New York and London.

Ice Bar in Stockholm, Sweden
[The Ice Bar in Stockholm was touristy but still really cool and I’d recommend going at least once! They have them in various cities all around the world.]
Travel has always been one of my main loves, and as aforementioned, I love Europe, so I wanted to figure out a way to stay long term(ish). I knew I eventually wanted to transition to a more remote/freelance lifestyle (my dream is to have the freedom to travel where I want, so I can stay somewhere for a month or two before moving on), so I was just trying to figure out exactly how to do that.

Then something serendipitous happened. My mom rents out rooms in her house on AirBnb, and I happened to be visiting her at the same time that Destiny (who also has an amazing blog about helping milennials adult!) was staying there. And she was doing exactly what I wanted to – working remotely and moving around. But to keep costs down, she was house sitting!

Walking a dog at a house sitting gig in Glasgow, Scotland
[Walking the dog at our first house sit in Glasgow, Scotland]
I’d heard about house sitting before, but always brushed it off as something that was too good to be true (I’d tried Couch Surfing my second time in Europe without any luck). However, she said it was pretty easy for her to get sits, so I decided to try it out. My friend Stephanie/soon to be travel buddy was also about it because we both love animals, and we felt it would give us more of a local experience.

We got pretty lucky – we landed our first sit within a couple weeks of signing up for site. So we bought our plane tickets and I gave my notice at work (I tried to be nice and gave them over a month’s notice, since we were a nonprofit and all).

Kelsey looking at colorful buildings along a canal in Colmar, France in winter
[We went on a day trip to Colmar, France from Switzerland, as per our AirBnb hosts’ suggestion]
I was also trying to figure out what to do for work while abroad – and stumbled upon See Nic Wander, a blog all about house sitting and traveling through Europe! And she was earning money with VIP Kid, a site that connects Chinese students with native English speakers. And due to my background in environmental education (and education in general) I thought it would be a great fit!

And so, I applied, went through the interview process, and was hired! I haven’t taught my first class yet – I want to get a little more experience so I’m taking VIP Kid’s free TESOL courses and workshops before I jump in. And watching a LOT of YouTube videos – luckily, there are some awesome teachers that help with a lot of the concepts.

I decided against getting the official TEFL since I’ve heard that it’s helpful to have, but also focuses a LOT on how to structure the curriculum for a classroom, etc. which I won’t be doing with VIP Kid. They have all the curriculum set for you in various powerpoints, and you just have to teach it to your students! However, there are lots of important techniques to learn regarding teaching new English speakers, so I think it’s important to learn all of them before diving in.

Vegetarian haggis, neeps, and tatties for Burns Day in Glasgow, Scotland
[Vegetarian haggis, neeps (aka turnips, the mushy orange stuff), tatties (aka mashed potatoes), and peas and corn that our house sitting hosts in Glasgow fed us as an early Burns Day celebration meal!]
My friend Stephanie and I landed in London a few weeks ago, stayed there for a couple days, and then took an overnight bus to Glasgow, Scotland (would not recommend – the overnight bus, that is; Glasgow is great!). We had our first week-long sit in Glasgow for the most adorable dog, and the most wonderful couple. They even made us a traditional Scottish meal the night before they left, and brought us back some goodies from the festival they went to!

Then we went to Switzerland for a week and stayed with the nicest and coolest people at an AirBnb in Basel. They gave us so many tips, totally changed our itinerary for the better, and cooked us a traditional Swiss fondue dinner. We absolutely LOVED Switzerland (minus the stupid expensive prices!!!!!).

Basel, Switzerland
[Trying to be candid in Basel, Switzerland]
We celebrated Stephanie’s birthday in Amsterdam, which was really fun! It’s such a beautiful city, and I indulged in my obsession with stroopwafels, soooo no complaints there.

Which leads us to now. Currently in Prague in an AirBnb, where we’ll stay for a few more days. We’re focusing on slower travel this time around, and are staying allllmost a week, if not more, in every place. This will really give us some time to get to know a place better, travel to nearby cities if we wish, and allow me time to teach English and work on my blog.

Basel, Switzerland
[Scenery in Basel, Switzerland]
We have our travels planned out until mid-March, currently – a combination of AirBnbs and house sits – and are planning to stay until late April/May. Then we’ll both go home to California – her permanently, and me, probably not. I want to stay for a month or two, visit family and friends, regroup, and figure out my next step.

Houses on a hill on a boat ride near Lucerne, Switzerland
[Houses on our boat ride from Lucerne to Rigi, a mountain in Switzerland]
I honestly have no idea what’s going to happen after this trip is over in May – but I’m pretty sure I want to be doing some sort of remote work, probably a combination of teaching and freelance projects and this blog. I want to mix in my love for the earth/conservation, something creative (photography/writing and soooome graphic design are my strong suits), and teaching/connecting with people.

I’m thinking of house sitting in Seattle or the UK (if you want to start out, the UK has soooo many house sits!), or anywhere I see that looks appealing and is more longterm (at least a month or so). I’d also like to try volunteering in exchange for food/accommodation on Workaway, too, and I’m considering taking advantage of New Zealand’s one year working holiday visa. We’ll see how it all goes!

Canals in Amsterdam
[Amsterdam is always a favorite]
I’ve been using Mind My House and Trusted Housesitters to find house sits. Mind My House is cheaper – only $20 per year – but I haven’t had as much luck with it as I have with Trusted Housesitters. Trusted Housesitters costs considerably more (hence my hesitation at first) at about $119 per year, but definitely seems to have a LOT more house sits! If you’re interested in reading more about house sitting, here’s a great article from Half the Clothes comparing different sites. I also found this article really helpful in terms of what to expect, how to create a great profile, etc. If you wanna sign up for Trusted Housesitters, please do so here because it’ll give you a discount, and me a couple months for free πŸ™‚

Thank you for reading – I know this post was quite long and very stream-of-consciousness, but I just wanted to get it all out there. I hope you enjoyed my word vomit!

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2 thoughts on “Doing What I Want Instead of What I Should

  1. Hi Kelsey!

    I miss you! I just visited San Jose and drove by your moms house on the way to my parents. I always appreciate your honesty! I’m beginning to see the light as I continue through my own crisis. A loss of identity is exactly what I felt when I left my old job – well said.

    If you have time to read, I hear the book “When’s Happy Hour?” details the mid 20’s crisis many suburban kids like us face transitioning into “real life”. It’s on my list next after I finish “Lies My Teacher Told Me”.

    I just got back from visiting Chicago with a friend and I had the beeeesssst time. It was 20 degrees consistently as I explored the city from Museum Campus (South) through downtown and the lake front trail (North). I even made it out to Wisconsin for a bit. I’m totally going to move here, the decision is final.

    Anyway, keep on kicking ass! Tell Stephanie I say hello! πŸ™‚

    Valerie B.

    1. Hi Valerie!

      I miss you, too!! Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment – it means more than you know πŸ™‚

      I’ll definitely have to add that book to the list! Thanks for the suggestion, and very happy that you’re getting through your own crisis! I see so many people our age having very very similar dilemmas. It helps to know we’re not alone, I suppose!

      I’m so excited about your decision to move to Chicago!! I’m sure you’ll love living there and can’t wait to visit πŸ˜‰ Will do, and same to you girl!

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