Unemployed, looking for an adventure
May 18, 2012 12:05 PM   Subscribe

I'm 26 year old guy recently returned from teaching in Japan, out of a job, and looking for a new adventure.

Hey all! This is my first question on AskMe. (TL;dr version down below)

Some backstory:

I am a 26 year old American guy who recently finished a 2-year stint teaching English in Japan. I have had an interest in Japan for as long as I can remember, and majored in the language in college (with an English minor).

I got a lot out of the experience - I learned how to speak Japanese fluently, discovered a lot about myself, and made some good friends. I also have about $10,000 saved up with all of my student loans paid off.

During my time in Japan, I did some traveling and realized how much exploring and learning more about different languages/cultures appeals to me.

So, I am back at home now (in Ohio), and realize that the wanderlust hasn't left me just yet. I just can't see myself settling down in a regular job at this point in time, even though doing so seems like the logical thing. I want to experience more the world has to offer.

The friends whose lives I admire and aspire to most are those that have taken an off-the-beaten path approach to life, not those with nice houses and high-paying jobs. (One's volunteering in Africa, one's teaching in Korea, one's hiking from Mexico to Canada on the Pacific Crest Trail, one's randomly picking blueberries on a farm, etc).

So I'd love some input from you guys:

I'd like to go on an adventure - see more of the world, and have an experience that I will be able to look back on and tell my grandkids about. Do one of those things you only read about in books.

Also, it feels corny and cliche, but I feel as if I am not my own person yet, and am still trying to "find myself." I had social anxiety and was a bit of a shut-in when I was younger, often preferring to read and play games at home over socializing. I really came out of my shell while I was in college/over in Japan. The more amazing experiences I have and new skills I learn, the more confident I seem to become as an individual. I would like to have another of these journeys.

Preferably this adventure would be in another country, but I'd be open to something interesting in America as well. I'm open to doing something outdoors. Also, preferably something longer-term (at least a few months) is desired. Learning another language or skill along the way would be a plus.

It doesn't have to be a job, but it would be better to have an income - or at least not eat too much into my savings. Then again, I realize that I might not have a chance to do something with absolutely no commitments (job, relationship, otherwise) again, so I am keeping that in mind.

Some ideas I've had so far:

Joining the Peace Corps - with my teaching experience, I think I've got a decent shot of getting in. Plus, I would be getting a stipend and won't have to spend too much money. BUT, applications have already passed for this year, and I don't have the requisite volunteer experience. South America, Africa and Asia all interest me, so I would be fine with pretty much anywhere they could send me.

Sailing - I was reading in another AskMe thread about someone sailing the Pacific. I have always had an interest in the ocean, and sounds like an amazing experience.

Studying abroad - Sounds like a good idea to have time to explore another country, but it would cost some serious moolah.

Backpacking - Possible! But would use up a lot of money. Would love to from people on here regarding their experiences.

As you can see, I am very much up in the air. Any suggestions are open to consideration. The more exotic the suggestion the better.

TL;dr: Suggest to me some once-in-a-lifetime adventures for a guy with no current commitments.

Looking forward to hearing any ideas you guys might have!

PS: I will be back in Japan teaching English part-time from June to the beginning of August, so I have time to plan for whatever I do next.
posted by Kamelot123 to Work & Money (10 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Work and travel in Australia for a year. (or two if you're willing to work on a farm for a few months.)

Volunteer on an organic farm in exchange for room and board.

Here are some ads from yachts and sailboats looking for crew. Here's another list. Here's another place to find gigs. (There are more; google "sailboat crew.")

Have fun!
posted by Snarl Furillo at 12:15 PM on May 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Applications for the Peace Corps don't close. You can submit an application whenever you want! Start volunteering now; applying is generally a long process (9 months to a year is average), and I've heard of people being asked to volunteer before service to get the necessary experience. It sounds right up your alley.
posted by quadrilaterals at 12:44 PM on May 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Teach in Qatar.
posted by ambient2 at 1:59 PM on May 18, 2012

You taught English in Japan for 2 years? Peace Corps teachers teach English in so many countries! You could go to Palau, China, Ukraine, the list goes on. With your teaching experience, I wouldn't fret at all about not having any volunteer experience. If you can answer these 2 questions in the affirmative, you are in great shape:

A. Have you been abroad for a long period of time? If so, you are less likely to leave your assignment early.

B. Do you have experience in a field with high demand? Peace Corps takes generalists, sure, but if you've taught before, you'll be such an asset wherever you go.

The sucky thing is that the application process can take up to 9 months. So, you've still got to find something to do between the time you apply and the time you deploy. The waiting is incredibly frustrating.

Definitely worth it though. Toughest job you'll ever love...

Also! A great way to figure out what you want to do is see what others are doing. Go read a Peace Corps blog, a Qatar teaching blog, a travel Australia blog...You could always apply for Peace Corps then go hiking and travelling for a few months, those are not mutually exclusive activities.
posted by calm down at 2:11 PM on May 18, 2012

What about working in Antarctica?
posted by stellaluna at 2:22 PM on May 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Like quadrilaterals said, the Peace Corps application process is rolling, as are deployments, but yes, it is a long process, so you should probably go ahead and start the process now if it's something you might be interested in.

Backpacking doesn't really have to be that expensive, especially if you travel slowly - ie, travel around for a few weeks/months, find a place you like, look for volunteer opportunities, stay put for a few months, travel for a few weeks/months, and so on. Assuming you travel and eat like a local, and stay in cheap hostels/guesthouses, it's not going to be any more expensive than living at your parents' house.

When I backpacked through Asia and then Central America, I was constantly offered opportunities to volunteer in exchange for room and board, everything from tending bar in hostels to teaching English in Himalayan villages.
posted by lunasol at 2:26 PM on May 18, 2012

Response by poster: Wonderful suggestions, guys. I truly appreciate it.

Did not know that the Peace Corps was on a rolling schedule. That will help. I will probably go ahead and apply, then.

The backpacking/sailing info is much appreciated as well. Teaching in Himilayan villages, eh? That sounds like something I wouldn't mind doing.

If anyone has any other ideas, feel free to give a shout out!
posted by Kamelot123 at 4:19 PM on May 18, 2012

As for studying, you can look for scholarships. The Chinese govt. gives away a lot of money for foreign students. Look for "Chinese Government Scholarship". Also, universities in other countries are cheaper than American universities and in some cases, free (I think).

You could look into the Fulbright. Peace Corps also sounds great. If you want to consider staying the US there's also Americorps.

English teaching jobs are not hard to find in Asia or in Latin America.
posted by bearette at 10:13 PM on May 18, 2012

Sure, you could go on teaching English in different exotic countries, but ask yourself: Is this really what you want to do for the rest of your life? Same with the Peace Corps: Great adventure for a year or two, but probably not a career for life.

You said that you majored in Japanese and became fluent in the language. What is your definition of "fluent"? Can you read and/or write in Japanese? If so, then that's a pretty big asset that you shouldn't squander.

So one obvious possibility might be to get a job in Japan. I don't mean teaching English, and I'm also not talking about a "fun" job like bartending or so. That can be fun for a few years, but eventually, you'll find yourself in a dead end. I mean a job in a Japanese company. There are endless opportunities for a 26-year old American guy. All you have to do is just knock on doors. Try to get something where you can develop some skill beyond being their go-to English-speaking foreigner, whatever that skill may be. Perhaps marketing, or programming or something technical, or design. Whatever your interests are. The combined skill set will keep you employed or at least employable for the rest of your life (yeah, probably not something that you worry about right now....)

One more thing: After two years in Japan, you have barely scratched the surface. The real adventure lies beyond those teaching gigs.
posted by sour cream at 12:10 AM on May 19, 2012

I know some people in Cairo that could hook you up with a teaching job. The pay would only be enough for you to get by on, but you would be living in a city I would describe as one of the most interesting places to be in the world right now.
posted by northxnorthwest at 2:52 AM on May 20, 2012

« Older Volunteering in Tanzania?   |   My name, please make a note of it. Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.