Last night, I had a heart-to-heart with my mother about my plans for a year abroad. The night before she sent me an email that included the lines: “Why are you rushing this? You have a once-in-a-lifetime job opportunity that pays well and has benefits. Are you ready to handle the change in your lifestyle when you are abroad and when you return? ”
Of course, I spent the day with a stress headache thinking about my mother’s email. It was odd that she sent her words of doubt only a few weeks after giving me her blessing. It turns out that my mother didn’t quite understand my plans—that I had a plan. I think she imagined that I was going to buy a one-way ticket to France and live as a street performer. That is not the case.
The good thing about yesterday was that it refocused me. I realize now how much I value an experience abroad that is professional in nature. Sure, I've spent hours researching university language program. I have even selected my top 4 choices (3 in Lyon and 1 in Avignon). While learning French is the fundamental objective of my break, I am reaching for more. My first choice is finding a fellowship or internship program that I can provide me with professional experiences and skills that directly relate to my career goals.
Reading articles like this one in The New York Times earlier this week, reminded me that I’m not the first person (nor the last) to contemplate a career sabbatical. Floyd did it for a year. I remember how skeptical I was about his plan. He is now one of my cheerleaders.
So, I’m going to continue to scour the web and talk to people. I need to amass as much information as I can. It is all stressing me out but it’s a happy stress. A stress that is motivating me to turn my deepest dreams in to a plan.
I want to do this break right. Sure, there will be hiccups along the way but I want to be sure that I explore all of my options and put in place a sound safety net for my time outside of the rat race and particularly, for when I return.