Sage & Blunt: Potential Expat


Cornelia Di Gioia

Graphic by Cornelia Di Gioia.

Sage & Blunt

Dear Sage & Blunt,

I’m a fourth-year, and I’m not really sure what I’m gonna do with my life next year (tale as old as time). One option is that I could live abroad for a year teaching English and experience that glamorous European lifestyle (with its accompanying homesickness and potential isolation), or I could settle for a mid job in a Midwestern city, but I’d be around my friends and the people that I love. I’m just not sure what to prioritize — being brave and open to new experiences or keeping a support system of friends nearby during my foray into post-grad life. What do you think I should do?


Potential Expat


Dear Potential Expat,

Ah! Do you see it? Do you see what you’ve done there? Look at the pseudonym you’ve given yourself for these advice-seeking purposes. Maybe I’m jumping to conclusions, but you didn’t name yourself “Potential Employed Resident of Chicago.” Your imagination is already wandering overseas, which tells me you should follow it there, but let’s talk it through first.

There are so many situations in which my advice would be to go where your people are. The best part of college, as we all know, is living among a vibrant community of people who are your age and at a similar place in life. Entering the workforce post-grad is often jarring and isolating, and it would make a meaningful difference to be around your best folks as you make that transition. But there will always be mid jobs in Midwestern cities waiting for you.

However, you will not always be this young and untethered, and your bravery muscle will atrophy if you don’t flex it. It will become harder and harder to justify wild excursions with each passing season. If there is any time to run off to Europe, it is now. And like, for a year? No-brainer. Go. That’s like three weeks in U.S. capitalist hellscape time. Most of your friends will probably still be in that Midwestern city when you return, excited to welcome you back and hear about your adventures.

Besides the exercise of courage and openness to new experiences, this is a chance to form enduring relationships with people who live across the planet. Maybe a beautiful Sicilian man with whom to carry on a passionate affair and reunite after a divorce or two, or an English student you keep in touch with for so many years that you get to meet each other’s children. (I’m fantasizing on your behalf — I’m getting too excited!) Your world will just get bigger, and that’s pretty nifty.

There is always time to settle (your words, not mine!). You won’t regret putting it off for a year even though living abroad will be scary and uncomfortable at times — in fact, this is the most essential reason to go. It’s good to be somewhere significantly different than where you have always been, somewhere you may not fit in. You’ll learn who you are when everything around you is unfamiliar, and you’ll build the confidence to stay true to that person, even as your surroundings shift and shift again.

Don’t forget to send a postcard every so often for the folks at home who’ll miss you. Bon voyage!


Sage & Blunt