You know you’re back in New York when you get off a redeye and find yourself going non-stop until midnight. Oh NYC, this is why we are made for each other.
I must admit, I had mixed feelings about returning back to New York after all this time. Sure, it was only a few months, but those days were packed with such amazing and intense moments that I walked away from the experience with so many new ideas and insights about other cultures and even myself. Not working full-time during this period has really opened up my mind – I have embraced a whole new creative side of myself that I never saw when I was alone in my cubicle for hours on end each week. Walking into my studio was also rather odd; after living out of a backpack or suitcase, it took me a moment to accept that I’m back in a place where I can actually unpack and settle in. Who would have thought that being back in a completely comfortable environment again would feel so uncomfortable?
Well, part of the reason I love New York so much (reason #138!) is because of the vibrancy and diversity of its residents. A few days ago I stumbled upon an event at The Crooked Knife over by Union Square put on by Meet, Plan, Go. Meet, Plan, Go is a company that is excited about long term travel, and encourages everyone to take a career break and see the world. They provide information and resources to help you if you are considering taking a year off from your job to travel, and also host events so you can get plugged into a community of people who have traveled extensively or want to. When I saw that they were having a happy hour event the evening I was back into town, I knew I had to go. And I was impressed to see a decent turn out with quite a variety of people. Over the course of the five hours (yes, FIVE hours) that I was there, I met some very inspiring fellow travelers who were about to set off on their 1+ year travel adventures, along with one girl that had just come back from a year of working at odd jobs all over the world in return for accommodations. I also was more than happy to give out tips to people that were in the midst of planning their trips, including talking about the JET program and other teaching English opportunities in Asia, the best beach spots in India, and how to find a reliable person to sublet your pad to for a worry-free trip. It was a fantastic way to transition back into New York and cope with my reverse culture shock, and also great inspiration for my next big getaway. I was speaking with the one of the founders of the company, and one thing that truly resonated with me was how MPG wants more Americans to embrace travel career breaks as part of enhancing your career instead of seeing it as a scary or negative move. I wholeheartedly agree with that. Why is it that in other countries taking a “gap year” is acceptable (and often times the norm), but in the States it is met with so much hesitation? I hope that more people are able to step out of their comfort zone and see how impacting an experience like this can be for themselves, both personally and professionally. It’s surprising what you can gain when you give it all up for a little while.