There is truly nothing more thrilling to me than being in a new part of the world. I love the excitement of not knowing what’s around the corner. In a society where so much of our day is decided for us and everything planned out, I thrive on the uncertainty of being out of routine. “If discontent is your disease, travel is medicine. It re-sensitizes. It opens you up to see outside the patterns you follow,” traveler and author Jedidiah Jenkins writes in his memoir To Shake the Sleeping Self.
I graduated from Point Loma Nazarene University with an elementary education major and completed a year of graduate school to get my multiple-subject teaching credential. Once I had finished in the spring of 2016, the only physical classroom I wanted to be in was none; I wanted to be a student in the school of life. Exhausted from learning out of textbooks, I was no longer passionate about teaching out of one. While I loved being with kids, I knew it wasn’t the right path for me to take at the time. Maybe at some point in the future I will go back but at the time I wanted to try something new. “Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire,” Jennifer Lee. We are so accustomed to the societal norm that if you study something in university, this career path is what you will do with your life and most likely, only this career. But I disagree, I believe life is too short to do only one thing. I need to stretch myself and grow through the different seasons of life. I want to live a great story filled with all types of genres and changes.
I moved to Portland, Oregon with one of my best friends in early 2017; we both had been feeling unsure about our futures, eager about the blank canvas we had in front of us but nervous about not knowing. We spent the next few months together discovering this new city and our souls were refreshed by all the glorious PNW rain and coffee and flowers. I left Portland feeling ready for a grand adventure. As much as I loved to travel, I began to feel burnt out of quick trips seeing only the bare minimum. I wanted to be somewhere long enough to feel a part of the community, to get know both locals and fellow travelers, to find a favorite café and neighborhood. New Zealand became that place for me.
In the late summer of 2017 I moved to New Zealand to work as an au-pair for a family living in Devonport, a harbor side suburb of Auckland. Being in a foreign country, I challenged myself to be bold and make the most of time. When you’ve moved somewhere completely new, not knowing a soul, it’s easy to feel lonely; you are trying to make friends and connect with the new culture but this takes time. I joined a local church, made friends with fellow nannies as well as a handful of locals, and had the best of times running around the beach and park with the three and six-year-olds whom I nannied for. I was like a sponge; I soaked up each and every day of my 7 months in New Zealand. Being an expat keeps you awake to your surroundings, you are constantly noticing what is around you and taking in every detail, color, sound. Days felt longer and more filled.
I left New Zealand with a full heart and an exhausted body; my spirit had been refreshed exploring and discovering this gorgeous country from top to bottom, with still more to be seen. I am always left humbled by God’s creation. I had grown as a person and had a new confidence and self-awareness. I felt incredibly blessed to have met wonderful people from all over the world, some I now consider close friends of mine. So much of life is centered on the company we keep. Develop relationships that will challenge and inspire you to grow. We are all connected as humans, something easily forgotten when you haven’t taken a moment to look around the corner.
Let’s never stop learning, growing, and expanding our horizons. As we continue to develop new passions, we come alive to who we really are. “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive,” Howard Thurman.
My challenge for anyone reading this is to try something new! Be bold and make a change in your life, small or big. Maybe it’s a new hobby you have been curious to try and can’t find someone to do it with. Go by yourself. Make a friend when you get there. Maybe you’ve had an itch to quit your current job and pursue your passion. Maybe you want pack up and move somewhere new. Why not? Be both a dreamer and a doer. “You can fail at something you don't want, so you might as well take a chance doing what you love,” Jim Carrey said this and I couldn’t agree more. Life’s short, live it well.
Kaycee is a 25-year-old who is currently living and working in London, England as a nanny for four kids. She grew up in Granite Bay, California and her childhood backyard is her favorite place in the world. After studying elementary education at Point Loma Nazarene University, Kaycee has been working in childcare and has a passion for travel. Her simple pleasures include nature walks, picnics, coffee shops, and chocolate labs.
Follow her journey here.