full circle

. . .from an upward battle of struggles and emotions to a journey of healing, growth, and laughter. . .

a new adventure

{written January 23, 2001}

This story begins two years ago in October 1998 when I graduated university. I did a work-study program, better known as co-op to Canadian students, where I alternated between study and work semesters. It took me five years and experiences in different Canadian cities to finish my program. Graduating from university was one of my long-term goals which I accomplished with much excitement. But then I thought, “now what?”

Now what? University was the only goal I could and had to focus on for five years. I didn’t need anything else to think about. I didn’t have to think about what I was going to do when I grew up, at least not yet. Not until I finished university and had my convocation.

My last co-op placement was with the Ministry for Children and Families (British Columbia provincial government) and had led into a part-time position as I finished my last semester. I continued to work there after I graduated, but I still had to figure out what to do next in the long term.

I have always loved traveling. I especially tried to experience cities I visited from a local perspective, whether it was through local people I had become friends with or by actually living and working there. After co-op, I had fewer opportunities to get myself a job in a different city – at least until I was introduced to AIESEC. I had first heard of them through my sister who had been involved with them when she had been at university. AIESEC is an international, non-profit, student-run organization that facilitates international traineeship exchanges that provide practical learning experiences. I went to a meeting and discovered that it was exactly what I had been looking for. Living and working overseas became my next goal.

A month after I had graduated and joined the work exchange program, someone I had began dating and had become close to died in a motorcycle accident when he was hit by a drunk driver. Over the next few days, weeks, and months, I had lost all motivation for almost everything. I virtually isolated myself from everyone and everything except work. But even I couldn’t work that much. I coped as I could, went to Winnipeg to see my sister and nieces for the holidays, and then returned with just as less energy as before. I had decided to let AIESEC know that I didn’t think I was up for doing an exchange at that time.

As I met with my AIESEC representative, she understood and said she would inform the committee about my circumstances, but before she did, she told me about a position that had come up. It turned out to be a job in Italy, which was my first choice country in the world (incidentally, France and Spain were also in my top three).

A strange thing then happened. That one word ‘ITALY’ sparked something in my brain and in my heart. All of a sudden, all my enthusiasm for life returned. All in that instant.

I asked my AIESEC rep to look into the details and get back to me. The second wave of information I received was that I had actually been matched to the position (which was a position teaching English) in the worldwide computer database. Anybody know a synonym for Fate???

During the next couple of months, I went through the general frustration and real terror of coordinating overseas logistics within six weeks. I had to get specifics about the job, secure a contract, secure a place to live, resign from work, give notice to my landlord, apply for and be granted a visa, reserve, confirm and pay for flights, arrange for movers to take all my possessions back to Mom&Dad Storage, AND say goodbye to everyone.

My new adventure began on March 22, 1999.

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