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The Leaving Journal

About elcastleberry

23 year old American gal with a penchant for animals, argument and adventure.

I have dreamed about a long-term travel lifestyle since I was young. I am passionate about the slight discomfort and insecurity that is inspired by being in a place where you are the stranger and your language and habits are not normative.

When my dream started to take shape in early 2013, I took to calling it (quite epically) “the leaving.” As such, this is The Leaving Journal.

My answer to this question is basically a series of cliches. At the beginning of 2013, I took a look at my life and felt very uninspired. I found myself bored with my day-to-day and hungry for adventure, excitement, experience… blah, blah, blah, string of jaded reasoning. So I started researching options for getting the hell out of the US of A and doing something different.
Why not take up a new hobby? Apply to a new job? Move to a new place in the US? [Cue up second string of cliches: The time is now! Carpe diem! Today is the first day of the rest of your life!] In Colorado, when I explained this plan to people, I would get one of two reactions: “I always wanted to do something like that, but never got around to it,” or “I did that when I was your age and it was the best decision I ever made.” I’m confident that someday Ill find a city I love and settle down, maybe even go to graduate school or have a relationship that lasts longer than a few months. Right now, I don’t have any commitments keeping me from jetting off. I don’t think I’ll be able to say that for very long.
Have you looked into teaching English abroad? Being an au pair? WWOOFing? Please believe me when I say I have done exhaustive research about all options for life and travel abroad. I am no stranger to the many organizations that set you up with hosts. I have avoided them for a number of reasons, the primary one being that I am stubborn as a mule and insist on doing things the hard way with the least amount of help. I also want this experience to be freeing and unscheduled. Many of these options, like au pairing and teaching, require a committal contract as well as charge a hefty fee for their services in connecting you with hosts. Not that these organizations won’t crop up later on in this venture, especially when my bank account starts getting low and I need a source of income (which will happen sooner rather than later).

At the beginning of the year I read a wonderful, inspiring book: “Vagabonding: The Art of Long-Term Travel” by Rolf Potts. I recommend this read to anyone looking to incorporate travel into their lifestyle beyond the annual, week-long beach vacay. The information is thorough (though a bit outdated) and the narrative is beautifully written. This book led me to the website where I’ve spent every last minute of my free time for the past 6 months: workaway.info.
It was on this site that I met Linda and Simon, as well as my original host, RayChel.

I set my sights on Western Europe because what I’ve seen of it is beautiful and it offers a lot of variable, different cultures within a small area. I want to hop on a train for an hour, get off and be in a place with a different language, geography, custom and food. I originally wanted to be near a coast (I’ve been landlocked in Colorado for far too long) but that became less important as other factors presented themselves as more important (nature of my hosts, safety issues, etc). Cyprus fell into my lap and then France followed suit.

For as long as possible. My ticket out of the states is one-way. Without a paying job, I am hopeful my funds will last me 3 months… and that’s a liberal estimate. I am already in pursuit of a paying position in Europe. This adventure is entirely open-ended and relatively unplanned.

If I have learned on thing in the long, trying process of planning this exodus, it has been this: everyone, and I mean everyone, has an opinion. The opinions of others are something I try to welcome and embrace and understand, but they are not something that I will let define, or even thoroughly influence, my life experience. There will be things readers disagree with about this venture, things one might think I am doing “wrong.” And while I am always open to healthy criticism and different ways of traveling and living… Bear in mind that this journey is all my own, just as yours belongs only to you.

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