If you are not following me on social media then it might come as a surprise that my time here in Europe is coming to an end; at least for the time being. If this all seems sudden — don’t worry — it is. I had been exploring the possibility for about a month now but ended up making the decision and following through with it within a span of 8 hours. Oh yeah, and did I mention that I leave in just four days?
There were so many factors behind this decision and while I won’t go into exhaustive detail on all of them, I wanted to explain the situation. This was an incredibly hard decision and I would be lying if I said it doesn’t feel like a defeat of sorts. I feel confident that I have made the best decision given the information I have right now and so I really have no reason to feel the way I do. But enough rambling, let’s get to what really happened.
The biggest factors behind my decision are very much intertwined; I’m out of money and I need a job. I paid for all of my studies with US Financial Aid (which was very, very expensive) and so now that my studies are finished, I have begun to run out of the extra loans that I have been living off of since moving to Italy and leaving my job at the Frankfurt School. This wouldn’t be a bad thing if I had a job lined up to start in August, but after almost two months of intensive searching all over the world and without so much as a single interview, I began to worry that I would run out of funds before finding a job. (Update: literally moments before publishing this I got an interview lined up!)
For most, while this situation wouldn’t be fun, it wouldn’t be dire or cause to lose sleep over. Unlike most students, especially those abroad, I’m really on my own financially and have to make my decisions considering only what is in my bank account. My parents can’t help much other than maxing out the few credit cards they have room left on. With those cards being in US dollar and my cost of living being more expensive with the exchange to Euro, those credit cards wouldn’t buy me much time, not to mention the fact that I would feel terrible subjecting them to all of that interest and removing what little security those cards provided.
After paying my rent last month, my account balance dropped below €1,000. Less than €1,000 and I was worried that I couldn’t afford a plane ticket or a deposit on a flat even if I did miraculously find a job in the next couple weeks. I knew I would likely have to move back home in the near future so that I could avoid rent and grocery bills and what-not, but the €1,000 could have theoretically afforded me to live in my current flat until August or so which would buy me a bit more time to find a job. The biggest argument against moving home was the concern that I would fly all the way across the world only to have to turn around and fly back for a job a few weeks later.
I faced a month of indecision. Should I move home to save money knowing that I will most likely have to pay for two plane tickets later, or should I take the gamble that I would be able to find a job before my funds ran out and was stranded in Europe?
I eventually came up with a solution I felt comfortable with (spoiler alert: that plan got blow to pieces). I had found a Eurowings flight for July 30th that was only about €500 (plus baggage) which is an almost unheard of good deal. I decided to monitor the price and seats remaining and make my decision whether or not I would buy the ticket when it looked like the price might increase. That way, if a job offer came in or my situation changed in some other way, I wouldn’t be locked into a plane ticket that I couldn’t use.
When I made that plan, there was a ticket for the same route leaving the very next day (literally only a few hours from takeoff) also for only €500, so I had good reason to believe that unless they ran out of seats, the price would remain low right up until the day of the flight. And so I watched and waited until one day, out of the blue, the ticket cost €2,000! I was so shocked. Since Plan A got thrown out the proverbial window, I quickly started up my search again from scratch and found out that all of the flights from basically anywhere in Europe to anywhere near home were incredibly expensive all of a sudden and continued to be all the way through mid-august.
At this point, I knew that things would play out the exact same way next month as they did this. I would be reluctant to buy a ticket home a month in advance for fear of getting a job offer right after (flexible tickets were way out of my price range to begin with) and that I wouldn’t be willing to purchase a ticket until the last minute when they were too expensive to afford. And in one more month, I’d be in even worse financial condition than now.
And so with that realization, I found the cheapest flight available this month and bought it.
The flight I ended up purchasing is through Condor from Frankfurt to Portland. It’s really not ideal since I will have to take an 11 hour Flixbus from Milan to Frankfurt, wait 8 hours before boarding, fly for 11 hours, and then I will still be an entire state away from home. My grandma will pick me up from PDX (thanks Grammy!) and take me to her motor home where I will stay the night on here little sofa bed before hopping on a train to the town closest to home for my mom to pick me up. In total, I will be in transit for 54 hours!
I have thoroughly mixed feeling about how things have turned out. In the end, I really can only blame myself. Blame myself for not starting my job search sooner, blame myself for taking my latest trip around Italy, blame myself for not taking out more student loans to cushion myself a bit longer, the list could go on and on. At the same time I know that placing blame, even on myself, is not helpful.
None of these things I’m blaming myself for were snap decisions and I know I made each decision to the best of my ability with the information given at the time; just like I am doing now. For every less than perfect decision I’ve made, there have been at least as many that I do not regret in the slightest including coming to Milan for my last semester.
So now what I’m left with are feelings of regret that I know I should not be feeling, feelings of excitement for getting to go home and see my parents and animals, feelings of defeat that I was not able to stay abroad, and feelings of hope knowing that whatever situation may be, I can make the most out of it.
I make every decision making sure that it is a step forward and progressive towards my life, career and happiness, but I do not have any specific goals I am working towards. I like to remain flexible and I know that there are many routes to the same destination. So long as I continue to move forward, even if in the most general of senses, I cannot allow myself to regret and place blame. That’s easier said than done and I am still struggling and will probably continue to struggle with these feelings until there is some sort of resolution, but I am at least aware of my emotions, their reasons and their impact on me.
So that’s where I’m at for the moment. A couple of days from now I will lug all of my suitcases down the three flights of stairs and set off for home. A couple of days after that I will finally get to rest and hopefully everything will work out after that.
I know a lot of people struggle with the decision to move home after college and the international aspect of my situation only exasperated the problem. I have spent a lot of time thinking about this decision, my future, and my emotions and so I hope this post is able to help someone and I hope I have communicated everything as clearly as possible.
As always, I’m an open book. If you want to ask a question or hear my thought on your situation, just leave me a comment or find me on social media. Next time I write to you I will be back in the US of A. Until then, I wish you all the best.
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