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“Pulling a Hemingway”: The Idea of Living Abroad

During my final semester at Cal, I remember sitting in class and looking at various flyers tacked onto the wall, one of which stood out in all its neon pink glory and boldfaced text that read: “SEMESTER AT SEA.” Like many people, I’ve always associated living abroad with studying abroad, especially since I had considered going to London for a semester. Though it never ended up happening, I still feel an itch to let my endeavors run rampant on foreign territory.

In light of the current economy and unpromising job market, many people are turning to the idea of living abroad because they’re more encouraged to make this change knowing that they’re not missing out on many job opportunities if they leave—in other words, riding out the recession as an expatriate. And in doing so, rare and interesting opportunities—both in work and leisure—could arise. This seems to be an attractive venture for young people, especially recent college graduates such as myself. I have many friends who are not only studying abroad, but also teaching English or just living spontaneously in another country.

I’ve never lived a geographically stagnant life; I’ve called New Jersey, Ontario, Alberta, and the Philippines home before moving to California 12 years ago. So given my nomadic history and the fact that today’s job climate is rather bleak, I am considering my next big move. I currently have my sights on England, France, and Italy. Given the past few years, I guess I’ve been gearing up for these destinations since I have spent amazing family vacations in those countries and have taken both French and Italian language courses. Okay, so perhaps the title of this blog post and epigraph reveal that the English major in me is allowing Ernest Hemingway’s expatriate European life to weigh additional influence. Literary works aside, I’ve also been consulting John Moretti’s Moon Living Abroad in Italy for a practical emigrate perspective. One thing I’ve learned so far is that the process won’t be easy —the laborious procedure of getting your work visa, relatively high costs of living, and overall culture shock—but Moretti stresses that the valuable, life-changing experience of foreign living is what makes it all worthwhile.

If you ask me, having a fulfilling time abroad during this economic downtime definitely seems worthwhile, as opposed to reeling in post-grad “now what?” frustration. A college counselor once told me, “With your degree, the world is pretty much your oyster.” Cliché, but I’ll have to agree with it quite literally.

“If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.” —Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast

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