Back To Work 9-5 After Travel: A Post Hurricane Maria Story
Everyday we listen to different travelers writing about the perks of leaving their 9-5 lives and go abroad for their dreamed adventure. Before I begin saying anything about me, I really want to congratulate all you guys. I was once in your team. I left my 9-5 a few years ago and started my own adventure. I’ve done almost everything since then: pursue my Masters, work abroad, volunteering, working freelance on many things and I will say honestly that I don’t regret nothing. I loved that phase of my life and I am totally sure that you will love yours too. Maybe it’s not a phase, maybe it’s the lifestyle you’ll get to build for the rest of your life. I am sure you will make the best decisions and you will get to enjoy them.
I went back to work 9-5 and now, I get to tell you my story on Hurricane Maria, coming back to Puerto Rico and how I ended up here.
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This is the story of my decision…
And today I get to celebrate it, embrace everything I have done, and feel proud that I did the complete opposite. I don’t regret it either.
When this story begins?
It’s a little hard for me to set the point where this story begins, but let’s go back to September 2017. By then, I was living in Spain, I was finishing my Masters Degree in Cultural Tourism with a specialization on Herritage. I defended my Thesis, I was waiting to know if I was finally accepted in the PhD program at my university. My residency was about to expire, I had to wait until I have my answer from the program. While this was happening, back in the Caribbean something big was about to happen: Hurricane Maria.
So Hurricane Maria happened…
My residency expired on September 15. Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico on September 20. On September 24, I received the reply from the Doctorate Program. My application was rejected. By the moment I read that e-mail I still didn’t know nothing about my family back in Puerto Rico since the hurricane hit. The island was on a black out. I didn’t even know if I had a family by then, but I already knew I was rejected from PhD, which at that point also meant that I needed to move out soon from Spain. Fortunately, my mother finally called that same day. I cried because of, everything. I know I was lucky enough to not live Maria the same way many people home lived it. This was my own disaster abroad that can’t really be compared, but it was special on its kind.
I had to move out from Spain: I was living on my 90 day tourist visa and, I actually did not know what to afterwards. Was I really supposed to go back to a country which resources were limited after that emergency? I went everywhere I could asking for help in Spain. Red Cross laughed at me because my passport is US, my country was OK, I could go back home. Caritas said I was using the situation to stay in Spain. Yes, I was asking if there was a way I could overstay legally those three months and work to help my family.
According to he ONG’s, what I was asking was impossible. I went to see Immigration Lawyers. The Lawyer asked if I didn’t know someone I could marry with to stay legal. Those were the worst days ever for me. It was obvious: I had to go back to Puerto Rico, to my family, even if there was not enough clean water, their food was limited, there was no power yet.
So I had to move…
I had to start moving my stuff. Luckily, I know many angels in Orlando, Fl. I sent my stuff there, I found a ticket to get there for $200 (thanks Skyscanner!). The next thing I had to do was leaving my tutoring job in Girona. I worked as a Spanish reading tutor and I was totally happy doing that. I was offered an English teaching position I couldn’t accept because there was no legal way I could stay. From Hurricane Maria, to the day I finally left Catalonia there was a month and a half. A month I used to get ready, to leave everything set and complete a few things. The most ironic one? My biggest #blogwin came right in that period.
My biggest #blogwin so far
I always dreamed about going to the Eurochocolate Festival in Perugia, Italy. I wrote the perfect e-mail at the worst time. The invitation arrived. Everything was ready for me to cover the event in Perugia. I must say I was feeling a little bit guilty of making one of my biggest dreams come true while most of my friends were having it so bad back home. My mother told me: “go, you deserve it”. I did it. It’s still one of my favorite memories, as a blogger and as a traveler.
Back in America
I came back to America. Reverse cultural shock is real. It took me a lot to readapt. Back in Puerto Rico, I became truly depressed for many different reasons. It was not only the hurricane, I felt defeated as a traveler. I was not able to update this blog. Suicide even felt like an option. I felt my life did not have any meaning. It was a tough process accept that this was my new life.
My new life in Puerto Rico
Back in April, I finally got a position as a Copywriter. I felt it was the opportunity of my life. It was a company I truly liked, it was basically a freelance position so, I spent the Summer home, but I was doing something I was passionate for. I went seldom to different job interviews for doing different stuff: teacher, translator, copywriter, but, no one called back. In July something pretty awkward happened…
Back to Work 9-5?
I was asked if I knew anyone who could teach Italian and, of course, I raised my hand. Since my B.A. is in Foreign Languages, I worked before using Italian (in fact, that perfect e-mail I wrote in the wrong time to attend the Eurochocolate was in Italian): this was a job I could totally handle. That same week I had a job interview and in less than two weeks it was a reality: I was back to work at my High School, as an Italian teacher. Yup, the same place I took my first Italian class ever. I still think its a sign.
That same week I got my Italian teacher job, I got a call from the company I’ve been working as a Copywriter. I started to have a lot more responsibilities in the office. I was lucky enough that both jobs were part time and, in fact, they allowed me to create my own perfect 9-5 job: I teach Italian in the mornings and I work for the coolest Tourism Start Up (yay Local Guest!) in the afternoons. Never thought that I could combine everything I studied so perfectly. And, I still can’t believe that in fact, I got regular jobs, went back to work full time, and I am happy and in peace with the fact that my time to travel has changed.
Traveling is not that easy anymore…
I am living a life that doesn’t allow me anymore to find a cheap ticket anytime, anywhere and just jump into a new adventure. I am living that routine I always ran away from. If I want to travel as I used to do, I’ll have to wait until school recess if I want to do something exciting. Maybe I can do weekend trips, but I am actually enjoying being a local, go into happy hours with my friends, and even, giving a shot at dates. I am noticing that it is not as bad as I used to do before all of this started.
Life has always crazy ways to put you through phases and situations. I know I needed to go back to work 9-5 someday. Maybe someday I will write again how I went back as the “semi-nomad” I used to be. I am still writing my own story and now, I am totally conscious that nothing last forever.
That was something that all that weird experience from September 2017 taught me.
No te conozco y al terminar de leer desee poder darte un abrazo. Si supieras lo mucho que puedo identificarme contigo. A pesar de no ser la misma experiencia, he sentido esa desesperación y ese dolor. Rechazos, malos tratos, metas interrumpidas, sueños rotos… yo también consideré el suicidio por mucho años por sentirme sin propósito y por la frustración de sentir que todo me iba mal. Hace poco me levanté finalmente de una crisis. Me alegra saber que has hecho las paces con tu nuevo estilo de vida y que has decidido doblar la esquina y ver lo que hay adelante. Que bueno que estés bien y con un propósito. Eso es lo importante, porque los viajes vendrán y las oportunidades con tu blog también. No conozco los detalles, pero te ves encaminada y ese es el primer paso para que tu jardín vuelva a florecer. Al igual que tú finalmente las aguas se han calmado y veo el panorama claro. Voy camino a cumplir mis metas. Tuve que hacer las paces con varias cosas, buscar ayuda y seguir caminando. Te admiro muchísimo y eres otro ejemplo para mi lista de inspiración. Testimonios como los tuyos son esos ejemplos que ayudan cuando nos sentimos derrotados. Esperando esas publicaciones de turismo interno quedo 😀
gracias por tus palabras!
Firstly, I am so glad that you and your family are okay, and that you found such perfect jobs for you once you got home. I totally agree that reverse culture shock is real, but it sounds like you have handled it fantastically. 🙂
Thanks! I was lucky enough to handle it the best I can even though it was a tough process.
I can relate to this so much. Coming back to reality from traveling has been a real hit for me, but your perspective is so positive and inspiring! I’m sorry you had such a tough time in Spain, but glad you’re enjoying this part of your life!