And there we go.
Just over a year ago I was fresh out of college, living in the U.S., working as a waitress, and spending my free time and money on going out. I was terrified of people asking what I did for fun or questioning me about my hobbies because I didn’t really have any outside of partying.
At that stage in my existence I would never have fathomed that it was plausible for me to pursue a nomadic path in life.
I felt the quarter life crisis creeping in every time my parents asked me what I was planning to do after graduation. I didn’t know which direction to take since all of the conventional paths filled me with dread. Unpaid internships, barely paid internships, sitting at a desk staring at a screen all day, and moving back in with my parents were not on the top of my bucket list for this life.
“Don’t let the existential dread creep in, it will all be groovy” was my daily mantra.
People say that social media is a waste of time, but like any tool the true value lies in how you use it. Funnily enough, I wouldn’t be living in Thailand today if it weren’t for Facebook.
My friend was consistently posting photos that seemed to have escaped from a dream sequence and text posts featuring both heartwarming and hilarious stories about his teaching escapades. I eagerly messaged him to find out how I could make what I saw on his Facebook page a reality in my life.
My parents were not expecting the path I chose to include a 20 hour plane ride and moving to a different continent but they were supportive nonetheless. In retrospect, I think they were just happy that I stopped answering their questions about my future plans with ramblings about living in the now and how time doesn’t really exist.
I, myself, wasn’t expecting how easily the pieces would fall together to make this vision manifest into reality. Once I knew what I wanted and went for it with gusto everything I was worried about seemed to work itself out.
Taking the leap and deciding to go full in on what you want is the only barrier to getting it. The logistics like money, visas, flights, and everything else will work out.
It’s the start that stops most people.
I first moved abroad to Thailand in October 2016 to work as an ESL teacher and initially had planned on staying only one year.
Its been one year and four months and I have no plans of moving home or even settling down in one place for too long. There are so many places to go, new things to try, and inspiring people to connect with that I can’t imagine going back to a stationary life.
Working and living remotely seems like a daunting feat when just starting out, I should know because that’s where I’m currently at.
Starting off as a language teacher was an incredible opportunity that gave me the experience, know-how, and connections to switch gears to the digital nomad life. If you’ve considered pursuing the nomadic way of life but are hesitant to dive right into the deep end, consider ESL teaching as a way to dip your toes in and test the waters.
A whole new world, a whole new Jules.
Before my experiences abroad I was merely a shell of the person I am now. I used to shy away from talking about my barely existent hobbies and now I radiate with passion and excitement when connecting with new people about my interests.
Since living abroad I’ve taken up yoga, wakeboarding, hiking, and gotten two scuba diving certifications. All of this is just the beginning with so much more to discover just below the surface.
Teaching Thai high school students is quite possibly one of the most entertaining and fulfilling job I could’ve hoped to experience. It allowed me to explore new interests and delve into self development both at work and during my ample free time.
“Teachaaaa!” – Selfies, Swear Words, & Surprises
Everyday spent teaching is an adventure filled with surprises, like when I told my students I was going to be visiting the U.S. for two weeks I wasn’t expecting to hear “Teacha, you bring weed for me”.
This same student has an obsession with Snoop Dogg and hip-hop, you might think he has tourettes with the river of swears that flow from his mouth. I hand him a worksheet and his retort is “shit, mother fucker”, charming.
At least once a week I am interrupted mid lesson with a timid “teacha..” and giggles as my students ask for the umpteenth time “you have boyfriend?”. I tried to explain that boyfriends lead to headaches but I’m fairly certain they just think I have a boyfriend named Headache.
Class also stops for selfies randomly but frequently.
A student will call me over to their desk, making me think they need help, only to whip out their phone and snap a picture faster than sonic the hedgehog. Or there’s the time I came out of the school bathroom only to come face-to-face with three monks, I’m still not sure who was more bewildered in that moment.
Living in a tropical area where lots of fresh fruits and vegetable are grown locally helped me get really into cooking and researching holistic healing to ease my arthritis pain. Living and working abroad has been such a transformative chapter of my life,
I feel so light and content with every aspect of my life.
The personal growth this stage of my life has afforded me is exponential. I used to go out drinking as my sole means of having fun whereas now I haven’t felt the desire to drink, life is so splendid as it is that there is no need for it.
This setting has allowed me to be proactive about issues that I used to care about passively, like arranging beach cleanups and teaching my students about Environmentalism.
A sense of purpose and connection with others, as well as nature, is a recipe for a happy life.
In two short months I’ll be closing this unreal chapter of my life and taking the full plunge into the digital nomad life. I’ll still be teaching, but I’ll be trading in my physical classroom for a virtual one.
This trade off will leave me more time to dive deeper into passion projects like writing and literally diving in pursuit of becoming a dive master.
The more you open yourself up to the world, the more the world opens up to you. Thanks to my time teaching and the lovely souls I’ve crossed paths with along the way I am excited and confident jumping into this next adventure.
I’m just starting out on this digital nomad journey and I already feel myself getting hooked on the freedom and joy the lifestyle is capable of providing.
The internet has revolutionized the way the world works and in turn has transformed how human beings work and live.
Internet connection makes this life a possibility but what makes it really conceivable is human connection. Just like my Facebook friend that inspired me to start this journey, I wouldn’t be able to start this digital nomad chapter without the help and guidance of my fellow human beings.
I found the online teaching platform I will be applying with through friends I met teaching in my town. The path I’ve chosen isn’t always easy as it is definitely the road less traveled but the people who have trodden down it already have been happy to help lead me along.
The destination is unforeseen but there’s more than enough to see on the scenic route and the journey is where adventure lies waiting.
Now, as I find myself eagerly jumping into a life that my past self couldn’t have dreamed up, I can clearly see how much I’ve flourished in this environment.
All pics by Julianne Tierney.
I go by Jules. I like to write things and make people laugh, sometimes simultaneously. Fluent in English, Sarcasm, and Pig Latin, I'm from Philadelphia but currently living in Pak Nam Pran, Thailand. When I'm not writing or teaching Thai kids english, I like to do yoga, go hiking, scuba dive, cook, read, lay in hammocks, give dogs attention, and ponder the scope of consciousness as it exists within our universe.