Originally from the Mid West (Michigan), Jacquelyn is now a writer based in Epinal, France. She also runs her own blog.
Q + A with Jacquelyn
WHERE YOU ARE FROM IN THE USA? Bay City, Michigan
WHERE YOU CURRENTLY ARE BASED? WHAT ARE YOU DOING THERE? Epinal, France – working as a writer for U.S. companies, living out a fairytale love story.
WHAT BROUGHT YOU OVERSEAS AND MORE ABOUT YOUR STORY? One year ago, if you’d asked me where I’d be today, I would never have guessed how different my life would be. The past year has been filled with learning and challenge and personal growth, and I’m grateful for the surprising journey that ultimately led to where I am today as a young American expat. Most of all I hope it will inspire others to take the leaps of faith that lead to the kind of fulfillment and impact I’ve found through moving abroad.
My initial decision to travel came at one of the lowest points of my life, when I was completely burnt out after years of overscheduling and perfectionism in my education and in my career. I was stressed and emotionally drained, and all I knew was that I needed a change, so I booked a 1-way trip to Ireland (after being inspired by the beautiful scenery in the movie P.S. I love you) and planned on travelling for perhaps a few months to reduce my stress and sort of hit “reset” before returning to normal life. I transitioned to freelance communication work and placed all my items in storage with family members, figuring I could just pick back up where I left off, but little did I know my trip would turn into much more. Each step in my trip ended up leading to more opportunities and investment in the challenging but fulfilling experience of new cultures, and slowly but surely my understanding of the world began to change.
I made connections with people I never would have thought possible, and I surprised myself in my ability to settle into unfamiliar surroundings. I found myself feeling more at home than I’d ever felt in Michigan, thanks to wonderful people and a value system that simply fit me better compared to the one in which I’d been raised. I learned to appreciate the simpler details, and the slower side of life, and the experience of the unfamiliar. I’d grown up being taught to believe that these kinds of experiences were dangerous, and while I don’t deny that danger still exists in the world, my journey also taught me the value of bravery in the face of the unknown, and helped me realize just how much I’m capable of overcoming. Ultimately, my trip led me to the realization that I was much happier exploring the world and the cultures outside of the comfort zone that I’d left in Michigan (not to mention the fact that I’d fallen hopelessly in love) so I made the decision to move to abroad. I’m now living the good life in France, and continuing to encourage others to do the same in building their own good life.
The lessons learned from this story can really apply to anyone, whether or not moving abroad is in your future. The best advice I have for life abroad – and the good life in general – is to learn to listen to yourself and be brave enough to create your own path. I never pictured myself taking such a big leap and making such significant change in my life, but both before and during travel I started making an intentional practice out of listening to myself – what I wanted and what I felt was right – and it led me to a life that is 100% different from before, and 100% better suited to me. One of my early travel acquaintances calls this “following the golden thread” and it has made all the difference in building a fulfilling life. Listen to yourself, even when that voice indicates values or interests that are different from the mainstream. Your future is yours to create. Check out my blog for more stories from my trip and lessons in moving toward a more fulfilling life: www.jjmoves.me