People who know me well will know that my overall time at university was extremely bitter sweet. A few years of ultimate highs, followed by a period of lows and, eventually, success. Five years, a few tears (and plenty of beers) later I found myself graduating with an honours degree in primary education and ready to embark upon a lifelong career of teaching.
In 2011 I was a fun-loving twenty-two year old with my whole life ahead of me. The number of cities that I had resided in throughout my entire life equated to only one – Glasgow, or home as I call it, to be more precise – and I had zero intentions of leaving, ever. Why would I? My family were there, my friends were there and I was happy. At this point in my life the craziest thing I’d ever done was tick a box entitled ‘preference waiver’ for my Newly Qualified Teacher induction year and ended up working in a lovely little school only thirty miles from my front door – This was no more than an inch outside my comfort zone, however less then a year later I would find myself another 4825 miles away from the safety net of home.
Now I go to bed most evenings begging two questions – how have I ended up living 4855 miles away? And why am I still here, four years later, with the sand of the Middle East holding a very special place in my heart?
I learned very quickly that teaching jobs in Scotland were few and far between. Every job advertisement was either temporary or part-time and the idea of a permanent job anywhere in Glasgow was merely wishful thinking. I don’t really remember making the decision to apply for jobs abroad – it was obviously an option I explored on a whim, somewhere between reading interview rejection emails and applying for supply work in every council within 30 miles of Glasgow. I do, however, remember the day I was offered a job in Dubai, only a couple of hours after a 7am phone interview. After quickly locating it on a world map, googling some general information and talking to relevant people, I had accepted the job within 24 hours. I had only eight weeks to pack my life into a 30kg suitcase and begin an adventure that would eventually become the greatest of my life.
So, here are my four reasons to embrace a challenge and move to another country:
Change Your Five People
Jim Rohn once maintained that you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. Whether you agree with him or not, and I am not sure I do, we cannot deny that the people around us have a heavy influence on our lives, sometimes good and sometimes bad – if those five people don’t change then neither will you.
Move away and become the average of five new people. Don’t replace your old five, but turn your five people into ten. My five people at home are the best in the world, but we all grew up in Glasgow, went to the same school or university, visited the same places, support the same football team, know the same people…
Having friends and colleagues from different countries, of different religions, various ages and diverse backgrounds has opened my mind beyond explanation and made me almost ashamed of how ignorant I was before.
Fall in Love with Something New
Unfortunately, some opportunities are limited to climate. You will never develop a love of surfing or dune bashing in Glasgow or have the chance to ride a camel through the desert in America. It doesn’t have to be a hobby. For me, it was traveling.
Having never left Europe, Dubai presented a world of opportunity when it came to the rest of the world. The number of cities you can get to in under eight hours is crazy! So far I’ve managed to get to Thailand, Vietnam, India, Singapore, Armenia, Australia, Indonesia, as well as inter-railing for three weeks around Europe.
Move away and give yourself the chance to fall in love with something new.
I have never been so in love with home, or the people that live there, as I am now. As soon as I land in Glasgow airport and I hear an all so familiar ‘awrite pal’ or ‘aye nae bother’ I get the overwhelming emotional feeling of being well and truly home.
I walk to the shops when before I would take the car. I appreciate the architecture as I walk through the city centre. I enjoy putting on layers of clothes for the winter December days and being wrapped in a blanket on cold evenings when it is pitch black outside. I happily share clothes with my sister and actually talk to my brother when I bump into him in a nightclub. I choose to go for lunch with my mum over going for a few drinks with friends.
Move away and learn to truly appreciate the little things, even the ones that once annoyed you.
Don’t Find Yourself Asking ‘What if…?’
Don’t give yourself the chance to regret not moving away. Throughout my first year in Dubai, when I was faced with many ups and downs, I thought about going home. I was lucky enough to have quickly met the most amazing group of friends and never felt the need to re-pack my suitcase and head back to Glasgow, however, I could have easily done it. Don’t ask yourself why you should move away, ask yourself why you shouldn’t.
I promise it is worth taking the chance, and you never know, you may just like it enough to stay four years and counting…