First Things First

I am a caricature of myself. Really, it’s true. After graduating from college in May of this year, I suddenly found myself following in the grand tradition of thousands before me, looking at the Real World and thinking, “Uh oh.” Faced with the prospect of graduate school, I had suddenly become aware of the fact that I would merely be getting a very expensive reprieve from questions I’d never found the answer to. Questions like, ‘What do I want?’ ‘Where am I going?’ ‘What if I never find “My Calling” or “The One?”‘ ‘Should I even want that?’ ‘Did it matter?’ I had no idea, so I bought a one-way ticket to New Zealand instead.

This was a fairly drastic step, and of course resulted in a lot of “why” questions such as, “Why did you decide to do that?” and “Why not something else?” and “Why New Zealand?” In truth I have never been able to express it well in a way that sounded sincere (and slightly less cliché). The simple answer is that I needed to get out of a very deep, dark hole and back to a sense of self I had somehow lost along the way. It felt right. So, through a website called Workaway, I contacted a family who offered me a job on their 650-acre sheep and cattle ranch in the hills outside Gisborne, New Zealand.

For those wanting to travel for longer periods of time, hoping to get a deeper sense of a place or culture, or traveling on a small budget, I would recommend considering Workaway as an alternative. Like WWOOFing, Workaway connects traveling volunteers with hosts around the world. Unlike WWOOFers however, hosts can represent anyone from international nonprofits to families needing help around the home. Hosts feed and house volunteers for up to months at a time, and volunteers offer a few hours of work a day in exchange. For those of us on a budget it’s a great way to travel without having to worry about the expenses of food and accomodation, and it opens up a lot of unique opportunities such as sailing on a ship delivering aid supplies through southeast Asia, volunteering at a horse and dromadery station in Tunisia, working at a lighthouse in Norway, or helping to rebuild a historic fort in India (among many, many others!). Hosts/volunteers are expected to contact each other via email/Skype/phone several times before they visit, and then they provide feedback about one another to after their stay. It’s not the best choice for everyone, and of course it’s best to approach everything with caution (especially while traveling), but it’s a system built on mutual trust and good intentions. It certainly worked out for me (and many, many, many others)!

So yes, I am a caricature of myself. I moved to a foreign country after graduation in an attempt to find myself. And I’m blogging about it. But since this space was always intended to be a travel blog (and never really stopped being updated), it’s been resurrected as a space to keep in touch with family and friends along the way. I don’t know what’s in store past early February, and I can’t promise updates will be daily (or even weekly), but I hope you’ll keep in touch and find out with me along the way!

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One thought on “First Things First

  1. Sonia Kuch says:

    Hi Clariee! I enjoyed reading your blog and gaining a better understanding of how you chose New Zealand and how you found the work you are doing there. Good thing Barry forwarded your blog! Any pics you can send would be most appreciated….the countryside is so gorgeous and beyond words to explain at times. Hope your time there helps you to find “yourself” and what your vocation or calling may be. Enjoy this time in your life, it’s a speical time that no one can take away and which will bulid foundations to come. Much love my dear niece, Aunt Sonia

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