What’s The Difference?
Living Abroad VS Holidaying
Most people I know travel to escape. To forget all their worries, exit reality for a while, and let loose. Most people I know have clearly defined where “home” is and when they leave that place they are, by default, on holiday.
Holiday is a time to remove oneself from places of responsibility like work, study, or family obligations and go bananas. And there’s nothing innately wrong with that.
But this is also why we see hordes of Aussies making dicks of themselves in Bali. This is why the Brits shag everything in sight in Magalouf. And this is why everywhere that isn’t America tends to have a general dislike of Americans. Well, one of the reasons, anyway.
It’s also why Contiki never struggles to find new punters, and why Cancun, Vegas, or Ibiza are popular and necessary places. They supply a demand for debauchery, lax sexual scruples, irresponsible revelry, and general letting down of the hair that the majority of holiday-makers seek.
Generally speaking, we all carry on this way at some point to varying degrees. Or at least if we come from a privileged enough country we do.
In 2008, my first overseas trip was a three-week party across Europe with my brother. Back then, I was on a nice six-figure income from underground construction work. I worked long, hard hours for it and, having spent most of my life as a poor, scrounging student, I was generally a great little saver. But I returned from three weeks of drunken, disorderly, and degenerate behaviour across Europe minus $10,000.
It was great fun and $10,000 for three weeks was worth it. For a holiday.
My next trip – a three-month visit to the US, Mexico, and Caribbean – ended up similarly wild, despite having the best intentions to keep things tame.
But some years later, I got my first serious girlfriend. Then lost said girlfriend. And in the mix of all that, something had changed in me.
I created an unusual and ambitious social experiment to test the old saying, “anything is possible” (so long as you’re willing to make the necessary sacrifices). For the experiment to work, I allowed other people to dictate where I live, what I do there, and how I should have a positive impact on the world.
My goals and purpose had been shifted a long way from “how much crazy shit can I get away with here?” to “how am I going to achieve these goals?” and “where can I make the biggest positive impact?”
There had been a distinct transition from “holidaying” to “living abroad.”
The first mission, or ‘chapter’, of this social experiment was to move to England, teach in London, build a website, and volunteer in India mentoring teachers. I lived in London – a veritable cocaine-fueled loose unit asylum – for 14 months so was constantly being invited out, but I can count on my fingers all of the nights that I actually went.
Partying just wasn’t my jam. I didn’t have time to waste on three-day hangovers with my brain not functioning properly. As much as parties can be fun, they’re not useful, and they are a “necessary sacrifice”.
I’m now living abroad in Brazil for “Chapter Two” because WSBD readers have issued me the objectives of getting 12 articles published about the environment as a freelance journalist, learning Capoeira, and learning Portuguese. And, of course, trying to stay alive somehow while I’m at it.
My plate is full.
Yet, from the questions I’m asked, I don’t think people have an accurate picture in their heads of what I do…
“Oh, I’m so jealous. You must be partying so hard over there!”
“Mate. Are Brazilian babes as hot as they say?”
“I’ll come and visit and we can go party!”
“You’ve been busy? What do you mean busy?! Aren’t you overseas?”
The grandeur of a beautiful picture in a far-off land on my Instagram feed might cloud their vision, or perhaps they just imagine what they would be doing if they were in Brazil – on holiday. However, the fact is that being in a different geographical location doesn’t necessarily mean you’re on a holiday. This is proving to be somewhat more difficult to explain than I anticipated.
Don’t hear me wrong: I love what I do. But it’s important to acknowledge both sides of every situational scoreboard.
Living abroad is not all sunshine, lollipops, & Piña Coladas on Copacabana Beach.
When living abroad, it’s true that I sometimes get to live in exotic locations – but the most magical places I live are usually out of necessity or by accident rather than by choice (more on this another day).
When living abroad, it’s true that I don’t have to go to work at a certain time, or at ANY time – but this also means I have to control & motivate myself, and means that I often work until 4am on things that will more than likely never net me any income.
When living abroad, it’s true that I get to meet new, interesting people around the world – but I don’t see my family and friends, I miss opportunities to build long-term relationships, and although I don’t have kids, I miss out on watching my god-daughter and other friends’ children growing up.
When living abroad, obviously it’s true that I’m in another country – but I’m not on a holiday. And they aren’t the same thing.
Life is about choices.
Anything is achievable and anyone can do what I’m doing, but with every choice we make there are consequences.
The hard part is being willing and able to make the necessary sacrifices.
Alone in Brazil,
Baz Out 😉