A Re-cap of My Journey to Nomad-hood

May 13, 2015

Almost two years into my nomadic journey and I have finally started a blog. Now it’s time to catch you up on why I left, what I’ve been doing and where I am at in my current journey. I don’t want to bore you, so here it is, in a nut shell……..

I graduated from college with a political science degree, framed the most expensive piece of paper I have ever purchased and continued my waitressing career, simultaneously applying for and denying pointless desk jobs and slave wage offers for selling my soul to local political campaigns. I was passionate, driven and scared to death about my pile of debt.

I had been thinking of moving abroad for years and teaching English seemed like the most feasible option. When I stumbled upon a Groupon for a discounted teaching certification course, I took it as a sign, completed it online in under two months and started applying for jobs in Asia. After a successful interview with a school in China, I started to plan for my much awaited move.

Arrangements were made, I sold my stuff, packed up everything worth saving and said goodbye to my family, boyfriend and cats. Once in China, I learned to be a teacher, started a new career, learned some Chinese and broke down new cultural boundaries. I traveled around China by myself, took a solo excursion to Japan and saw South Korea and Taiwan with new friends. I struggled, I missed my boyfriend and I even traveled back to America, only to realize why I left in the first place.

After a full thirteen months of learning, growing and experiencing, I was finally re-united with my boyfriend who came to China to begin a nomadic journey by my side. We spent a month together in China while I finished my contract with the school. Again, I gave away all of my stuff, mailed home my souvenirs and we caught a six hour train down to Hong Kong. Here, we sorted out our tourist visas for our next destination, Vietnam. In Hong Kong we wandered around the city, catching up on all of the international cuisine we couldn’t get in main land China.

Once arriving in Hanoi, Vietnam, we shacked up in a hotel and used our social media sites to find an apartment and a motorbike in only three days. I delved into exploring the city and taking yoga classes during the week and spent the weekends visiting famous landmarks like Ha Long Bay and the villages of Sapa. In theory sounding fantastic, I actually struggled with having too much free time, no job and endless opportunities to do anything I wanted.

After a month of getting used to a life that didn’t involve working and paying bills, we took a train journey through the length of Vietnam until we arrived in Saigon, Vietnam’s most popular southern city. I broke my record by finding an apartment and motorbike in only one day and we moved into a studio apartment, much nicer than the last. With five weeks ahead of us in Saigon, it started to really get to me that I had nothing to do. We joined a gym, eventually I started writing and I even found a teaching job at a new English school for a couple hours a week. Some friends from China came to visit during our last week there, and after finally enjoying the city a little bit, we left our Saigon life for a few weeks of travel.

Our vacation started on the Vietnamese island of Phu Quoc and continued in the historical and laid back city of Phnom Penh and Siem Reap Cambodia. After a bout of bus sickness, strange anti-malarial pill dreams and bicycling around the gorgeous temples of Angkor, we flew into our next destination, Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Surprisingly, we have stayed fairly consistent with our travel plan which originated back to our time spent living long-distance. After months of little to no paid work for me, we had decided that Thailand would be the place that we settled down to replenish funds. We had heard that Chiang Mai was the place where entrepreneurs, digital nomads and the inspired and motivated individuals lurked, so it was here that we decided to settle. During two weeks cooped up in a hotel room, I went around to the markets finding bargains on teacher attire and visited local print shops to make official copies of my resume. I spent days walking around, dropping off my information at schools, going on interviews and performing demonstration classes for potential employers. We were starting to grow crazy in the hotel, so after having a promising interview, we took the chance and found an apartment without knowing whether or not I had secured a job.

My intuition was spot on and I was hired at a bilingual school as an English subject teacher. Things started to perfectly fall into place and the school has already been an advancement on my teaching career. Not only can I actually converse with my students now but I get to be a homeroom teacher, a health teacher and oversee homework club once a week. My boyfriend taught me how to drive the dreaded motorbike so I can commute back and forth to work and we started meeting some inspirational friends outside of work through meet-ups.

And this is where my journey ends, or slowly continues rather, here in Chiang Mai. I will continue to teach, write and network with the driven and passionate crowd that congregates here and enjoy this incredible city until it’s time to move on.

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3 Comments

  • Reply Kelly June 2, 2015 at 10:22 pm

    I really enjoyed reading this! I’m looking forward to hearing more about your adventures, I’m sure you have some great stories to tell. Now, if only I could convince MY boyfriend to adopt a nomadic lifestyle 😉

    • Reply shannonbullman@gmail.com July 10, 2015 at 5:45 am

      Hey Kelly! I’m glad you enjoyed it. Just keep nudging your boyfriend along, I feel confident that one day he will jump on board.

      -Shannon

    • Reply Livesabroad August 13, 2015 at 8:45 am

      Hey Kelly! Sorry for not realizing that I never responded to you! I hope you are having some amazing adventures of your own. Just go to amazing places, take beautiful pictures and then hang them up where your boyfriend can see them! Maybe then you can convince him!

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