Thinking of Living Abroad

April 11, 2022

Seed of an Idea

I was in my young teens when I read a story in the newspaper about some damage to Big Ben and that it may never sound the same again. I was saddened that I would never be able to hear Big Ben as it was originally created. Then immediate relief of “knowing” that I would never travel to Europe anyway so it wasn’t that big of a deal for me personally. We weren’t poor, but we certainly were not the type of family that would travel to Europe. This is how I came to realize what “limiting beliefs” were and that they can plant seeds that take decades to bloom.

Thinking of Change

In my early twenties I was married and had a daughter. I left college and got a series of part-time jobs which meant we really struggled financially. Like borrow-money-from-friends-and-return-cans-and-bottles-to-buy-groceries struggling. I dreamed of taking the family somewhere like Australia to reboot our lives and start fresh. The only reboot that happened was a divorce a few years later.

First International Job and Travel

I was fortunate to find work for a company with headquarters in Sweden. Not long after being hired I got my first chance to finally fly over the Atlantic, on the company’s expense no less. Which was a good thing since I barely had enough available credit on my only card to purchase a suitcase.

I cherished every moment of that first trip, from getting my first passport to boarding the plane at 10pm for an overnight flight! I remember the lineup of Mercedes Benz taxis outside the airport. Mercedes Benz, the ultimate luxury vehicle in the US are taxis in Denmark?! I loved all the differences, even the different sounds the birds made. I could write several posts on the differences between America and Europe, but that will be a different post. Over the course of the next 2 years I traveled to Europe 3 times and visited Amsterdam, Denmark, Sweden, and the UK.

The Next 20 Years

I wouldn’t get back to Europe for 20 more years. During this time I was fortunate to spend time in Canada, Mexico, and even Guatemala but I never considered living in any of these places. I knew on the those first few trips to Europe I was doing more than just enjoying the newness of everything, I was really asking, “could I live here?”

First Trip to Poland

Elixir Europe announced a conference in Berlin in 2016. I had planned to visit Europe 2 other times with friends, but both were cancelled beyond my control. The conference gave me a good excuse to travel to Europe alone. One of my grandparents was Polish so I decided to start my trip in Krakow. After a few days in Krakow I used my Eurail Pass to visit Berlin, Paris, Lucerne, and Prague.

The Next 6 Years

Not only did I fall in love with Europe, I fell in love with my future wife whom I met on that first trip to Poland. Over the next 6 years I would travel back and forth to Europe apparently 14 times. Over the last 9 months, I have spent 6 of them here in Krakow getting acclimated to the local way of life.

I will share more about my actual experiences as an American living in Poland in future posts.