Before I left New York my friends frequently described me as the most typical American they have ever met, a direct result of my overuse of the word “love “ and total abuse of superlatives (not every weekend can really be the BEST one I’ve ever had).
I really do have a naturally happy disposition and try to enjoy life to the fullest but, last April, I started to think maybe it was time to de-Americanize myself. I spent my college summers and semesters in fast-paced professional internships rather than in the Duomo or Prado and was regretting these missed experiences abroad.
And so I began to think of a journey overseas. I knew I wanted to live in one place long enough to get to know the people and the culture of a city, rather than to pop through hostels. I worked for an AIDS organization in India for four months after I graduated from Northwestern and I would have found the country dirty, smelly and distressingly hectic if I had only stayed for a few days. It took time to develop a real appreciation for the craziness of the streets there.
Taking an extended leave was not easy though. I was working in the marketing department at HBO and I loved my job and my coworkers. I was scared to quit and anxious to think about leaving such an incredible company.
I originally applied to business school, thinking it would be a safe way to secure a semester abroad and a job upon my return. But when I got in, the thought of attending finance classes and honing my resume for the next two years left me feeling deflated. The skills I really needed for my profession were in new media.
When I heard about an opportunity to live and work in Italy for a travel website for six weeks, I decided to take it. Quitting HBO was incredibly hard, especially when I do want a long term career in media. But I needed to go. Instead of turning in a two thousand dollar deposit for B school, I decided to take that money and go.
I want to go back to the states and get married and have a serious career soon. But this adventure had to happen now, before mortgages, marriage and children. I have had an incredible journey and my experiences have certainly changed my life for the better.