In my last post I described how that first overseas working vacation to England was both a professional and financial success. But even more important is that in those three plus months I started my transformation from someone far too comfortable with his surroundings into, if not yet an experienced world traveler, at least someone open to new experiences and no longer afraid to venture beyond self-imposed boundaries.
I came to realize that this no-cost working vacation to England was not a once-in-a-lifetime adventure that came about because of some fortuitous lunchtime conversation or a miraculous alignment of stars, and it certainly did not happen because I am a world-class scholar with one-of-a-kind skills available nowhere else. This realization was the real travel epiphany.
I began to understand that, even though I was an unheralded and little known academic at a small Midwestern college, my skills might still be of use to not only Imperial College, London but dozens of other schools around the world. With a little bit of thought, planning, and effort, I should be able to locate additional opportunities to combine work and travel, mix professional, personal, and cultural growth, and contribute to and learn from others in my field. What is so stunningly obvious today—that I possess knowledge and skills of sufficient interest to overseas institutions that they would willingly pay me to live and work in their country—struck like a thunderbolt thirty years ago. I was determined not to let decades pass before my next working vacation.
My goal in this blog is for you to have that same travel epiphany–to learn that living and working overseas is a doable, affordable, enjoyable, and intellectually exhilarating experience whether for a month or a year; whether teaching, engaging in research, or consulting; whether in Asia, Africa, Europe, or the Americas; with or without family. You don’t need to be a superstar to take advantage of these opportunities, and you don’t have to be in computing. Institutions around the world are eager to welcome and host professionals in a range of fields, including business, infrastructure development, genetics, women’s rights, constitutional law, family medicine, urban planning, community theater, and conflict resolution, to name but a few.
You need to discard the mistaken belief that you have neither the résumé nor the reputation to apply for and secure an overseas position. What is most important is not your pedigree or field of specialization but simply a sense of adventure and a willingness to open your mind to the possibility of a short-term sojourn in a new locale.