6.19.2010

Big Decisions

A rare weekend post from me,
I know.

But something's been weighing on my mind heavily for the past few days, 
a big decision I need to make in the next week...
and I just need to get it out.
To blog it.
Sometimes getting things out helps you to see the situation a bit clearer,
plus it never hurts to get the perspective of others...
even if they are, technically, strangers ;)
Though I, weirdly?, see many of my blog readers as 'friends'
Weird eh?

Anyways, it's kind of exciting news...
and scary...
but definitely exciting...

You see, I have the opportunity to go abroad to live & work in 
New Delhi, India for 1 year.


How did this opportunity come about?
Well, last summer - after much thought - I put in an application with the Canadian branch of an international volunteer/work abroad organization and, after a phone interview, reference check, and in-person interview in Ottawa,  I was accepted.
Like why I decided to apply and what the organization does...

Well, since being accepted almost 1 year ago I've received two offers to date.
One for Rwanda, the other for a rural part in Southern India.
Both were for 2 years and, despite my initial excitement, just didn't feel like 'the one.'
So I declined both. 
Plus, I really was interested in a 1 year placement.
Which, I've been told by my adviser, is few and far between (2 years are the norm).

So for the past 7 months I haven't received any offers.
Then about two weeks ago I started to feel restless.
This full-time job hunt is wearing me down and the process of starting my own business is something I'm moving pretty slowly with - I dunno, call it fear. That's a whole other story...
Anyways, I began to feel restless.
Like a needed an adventure.
And I've been itching to travel (something I LOVE to do).
To go somewhere...just hit the road for a bit.
But, financially, I'm just not in a position right now to go the places I really want to go to.
It's then I remembered:
"I haven't received an offer in a while...I wonder if my file is still active?
I mean, can the deactivate it with out letting me know?"

So, two weeks ago, I called my placement adviser and asked if my file was still active.
He assured me it was but also let me know that because I'm interested in a one year placement - 
things might be slow.
"1 year placements are not as common," he told me.
"It would be easier to get a two year placement, if that was on your file I'm sure you'd have gotten more offers by now..."
I told him I would need to seriously think about whether I wanted to change my file to a two year in order to increases my chances of receiving offers and that I would call him back...

And then earlier this week, I got an email from him.
I'd received a placement offer.
A one year placement offer.
In New Delhi, India.
And when I read the placement offer it felt like...this could be "the one."

To be honest, which I always am here on my blog, India has never been a place I've had high on my list of places to visit, much less live. I mean, of course visiting the Taj Mahal is on my list of things to do...so I guess, technically it has been on my list....
But over the past few months I've gotten little glimpses of India through the blog posts of others that had me seeing India in a different light. 
"Oh the colours are so beautiful," I'd think while reading.
"Oh I'd love to see that in person"
"Oh so cool/interesting/different"

So here I am. 
Thinking about whether or not I should accept this offer.
I always say I want an adventure. 
To live abroad for a bit. 
To travel and explore countries that are more off the beaten path.
This would definitely give me that opportunity.
I did some google searches and to travel to countries in South East Asia, Asia, and even Australia would be fairly inexpensive. 
I could scratch a lot of countries off of my list....
Plus, I'd like to think, through my work/volunteer efforts I'd be making a difference.
And in the process of it all I'd be writing a better story.
Or at least a different story.


And now some images...because this post has been really text heavy :)


This, my friends, is New Delhi (which is the capital city of India)....



perfect for an afternoon picnic?



And I know, this is New Delhi too....





But so is this ;)




4-5 hours to these...a perfect day trip....

The Taj Mahal in Agra
photo taken by one of my favourite photographers Punam Bean

The Amber Fort in Jaipur
photo by Punam Bean


12 hours to this....a perfect weekend trip....

The Kama Sutra Temples
photo by Punam Bean


Fairly inexpensive and short flights to anywhere here.....



Definitely LOTS to do, see, and experience.
More than I actually even knew there was before a few days ago

(google + various Indian search terms has been in heavy use for the past day or two for me ;)
And really, how interesting and exciting would blog posts from India be? because I'd totally still blog...



I'll be doing lots of thinking over the next few days...
I can say, without a doubt, the number #1 thing holding me back is this guy.



*to see more of Punam Bean's amazing photographs from India click here

45 comments:

Leslie in Adams Morgan said...

I'd say go .... but can't you take your cute little pup with you? I'd find it hard to leave my pets behind for a year. That would be the only thing holding me back.

2 Hounds Design said...

Oh what a wonderful opportunity! I would definitely encourage you to jump on it. Such a rare experience. You are blessed with this gift.

I fear you will pass it up and regret it. You may not be in a position to take advantage or such an opportunity in the future...if one like this fell in your lap again.

One year, countless countries/experiences and the opportunity to blog about it! We will live it through you.

Follow your gut. I'll be crossing my fingers that you go!

*bisous*
Dane

Jason said...

DO IT.

Kay* said...

@Leslie - Hi! Thanks for your comment :)
Two weeks ago when I spoke to my advisor I asked if I could bring my dog (because if I could I would consider changing my profile to 2 years)...but they said no. Basically it makes it a bit more difficult. Plus, I can totally understand. It's not like I'd be lounging everyday - and I'd hate to leave him alone during the day in a new environment. I don't even leave him alone during the day now. Plus, part of doing this would be so I could explore & travel through other countries and regions on my spare time, I wouldn't want to bring my pup along for those jaunts. And it would be enough for me to get used to the culture difference - I can't imagine my little guy. If this was going to be longer term I would definitely bring him.

In my heart I know he would be well taken care of for the year. My family adores him with a capital 'a'. I'd still miss him though....

@2 Hounds Design - thank you for your comment! i totally agree with you about perhaps not having this opportunity again - it's something i keep reminding myself about. right now i have no real obligations. no mortgage. no car. no boyfriend. no full-time job. there's not much (besides howard) holding me back (i can always talk to family through skype..my best friend has already said she would definitely come and visit...and friends can keep up via my blog...) it really is the perfect time. right now, I can just go...who knows how different my life will be 3,5,10 years from now. I could have a family, a house, a career...and i keep reminding myself that, really, a year goes pretty fast. i'd come back and have 15 more with Howard...whereas who knows what life will be like in 15 yrs....

@Jason - lol. straight to the point, eh?

Rebecca said...

Total lurker here for quite a while, but I can't resist commenting this time. Do it. If you don't you'll always have a heavy "what if". I know the idea of leaving your puppy behind is very difficult. But, if you have place he can go to be safe and loved while you are away, rest assured he will love you when you return. I traveled to India for 6 weeks during college. It was an experience I am so glad I had.

Anonymous said...

i did something similar when i was 25 - it was very tough to leave my cat (who i absolutely adore) but my parents took good care of her.

today, i am 35 with a mortgage, career, and my beloved cat! i would love to get away again but the mortgage, career and 15 year old cat make it very difficult. my point is - DO IT! the only regret will be if you don't!

Jai said...

Hi Kay,
This sounds like an AMAZING opportunity. I completely agree with your hesitations to leave cute little Howard behind--it almost tore me up last summer when I was gone for 2 months (yes, 2 months are not 12, but still), and for a while I had the hardest time without my dogs. But you know what? That feeling passed--and though I did miss them like crazy--because I was too busy with other stuff. I left them with people I knew could care well for them and have no regrets about not going.

The bottom line is this; would this opportunity be an adventure that would eventually shape the direction of your life? Lead you to your destiny, so to speak? If so, then you must go.

Also...I got to say...be very, very prepared for the smell of India. You'll be bombarded with it as soon as you step off the plane, and it might make you a bit sick at first. Just a heads up--because I don't think they advertise that in the travel agencies!

Good luck! And thanks for opening up your life to us strangers ;)

wisdom goddess born said...

Go Go Go! You know this is the one. Go. Stay safe and God speed.

DaVida Chanel said...

You know I can be a bit wordy so I'll try to sum it up in one word ... GO!!! OMG KAY!!! How exciting!?!?!?! I'm so proud of you and it seems to me you are being rewarded for your patience in holding out for what you really wanted! I also feel the fact you hadn't been planning on India makes it such an awesome adventure. Remember the Alchemist?!?! This is one of those moments. Follow your gut which I think from your blog desires to go! Also as far as Howard something tells me his auntie, uncles and grandparents would LOVE to take care of him for a year!!! Best of luck and I can't wait for your decision!!

lipstickfashionmascara.com said...

GO GO GO GO GO!!!! I have a cat so I know how you feel. But dammit. GO. OMG what an amazing opportunity.

Designwali said...

GO. It will change your life FOREVER. I have frequented New Delhi, but vacationing is very different from living there. You will have to get use to the smells, sounds, maddening poverty, corruption, so many extremes and a billon or so people and not to mention the "strange looks" you will bound to get....but amidst all of that there is a beauty like no other. Plus what's the worst case scenario? Your only one flight away from home. I would recommend you chat with my blogger friends who actually live out there and get their perspective.

Adrienne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kay* said...

wow!
i’m really blown away by the overwhelming support and votes of ‘go!!!!’

@Rebecca - yes, that “what if?” is what i don’t want to have years from now. and howard would be able to stay with my family. they adore him and as it stands when i have to go out now, to the movies or out for the day, they dog-sit him :) plus we are usually at my mom’s house for the weekends and he is totally spoiled there. so i know he would be very well taken care of and loved. (btw thank you for delurking!)

@anonymous - thank you so much for sharing! really, what you shared is exactly my thoughts in years to come i’ll have a house, career AND howard :) but how easy will it be to pick up and leave then? your comment lets me know that others, you, had the same thoughts i did.

@Jai - thank you for sharing and your comments. i don’t know for certain if this opportunity would shape the rest of my life. it might. it might not. but i do know that that year would be an adventure of epic proportions.... (and yes, i’ve read and been told plenty about the smells of india!) thank YOU for reading about this life of a stranger ;)

@wisdom goddess born - :) thank you.

@davida chanel - :) girl thank you so much for commenting :) my gut is really saying “go! have an adventure!” and yes, howard would be very loved by his grandma and uncles :)

@lipstickfashionmascara - lol thank you for your enthusiasm!

@Designwali - i agree with what you are saying totally :) i know there would be so much to get used to and a great culture shock - but that is part of the adventure. plus, as you say, there is so much beauty! so much to explore. i would love to send an email to your blogger friends who live there! thank you for the offer - i will touch base with you for their details! the organization has also give me the contact info for 4 volunteers (2 returned) in New Delhi and I’ve sent each of them emails as well.

Amy said...

I'm not sure I've ever commented here, but I've been reading for awhile. All I can say is DO IT! I am very regretful of my decisions not to go on some adventures when I was a bit younger and had fewer obligations. My sister went on many and though it was sometimes hard, and she was sometimes lonely, I know she doesn't regret a thing. Good luck to you whatever your decision!

Mandy said...

I think you should go for it. Open up yourself to an adventure. The opportunity and timing seem to have matched up. You're drained from full time job searching and imagine the inspiration that you will be surrounded by. It sounds like an opportunity of a lifetime.

In the Christmas card you sent me last year you wrote "Lets make 2010 the year we both embrace our passions and follow our dreams." India may not be your passion or dream but helping people, making a difference, living a better story, these are all things that you want to accomplish.

You can do this, Kay. Its terrifying and exhilarating. It will change you in ways you can't even in your wildest dreams imagine. It will be spectacular.

Go for it!

Thalla-Marie said...

DO IT! I'm so excited for you, i love india! I spent a semester in Darjeeling and LOVED it! I loved it so much i married an indian guy! India is not for everyone, i want you to go so badly and fall in love with the colors and sounds of the most vibrant city in the world (NYC has nothin on Delhi!). I HIGHLY recommend reading this book "holy cow" it give a very accurate account of the craziness and general annoyances that india can be, as well as why its great to just roll with the punches. It may help you decide if this could be a place that you could love (even tolerate). India is intense and its not for everyone (do you know what kinda of toilets they use there? let me just say there is no paper...) but i think this book will help you sort out that. I hope you go, I hope you love it, I hope you buy beautiful silk saree's , i hope you take a quick trip to thailand and eat 20lbs of mangos in one sitting. I hope for the very best for you!

http://www.amazon.com/Holy-Cow-Adventure-Sarah-Macdonald/dp/0767915747/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1276991682&sr=8-1

Kara said...

I'll add my voice to everone else's and say GO!!!!!

When I was 26, I quit my job, "gave" my cat to a friend for a year, and moved to a cabin in the middle of Alaska. It changed my life - seriously and in ways I could never ever verbalize fully.

You will never have an opportunity like *this* one again - where you have no commitments, no ties (other than Howard), no reason to not go. And since you know that Howard will be loved and cared for exactly as you would want him to be, you know that's not a worry. (Although of course you'll miss him like crazy!)

GO. Gogogogogogogogo! :) Take lots of photos, blog like crazy, and revel in the opportunity.

Chinye said...

Kay, it's been said already, but Imma say it anyway: GO! and GO NOW!

I'm 22 years old and am in a similar situation. No kids, no financial obligation, no "real" job, no excuses! I'm trying to get out of the states as well just to experience another culture. The last thing you want is to look back and say "what if...". Girl this is an amazing opportunity/blessing. Please please go! I'll still be reading your blog :-)

Tiffany said...

What an awesome opportunity and of course it doesn't matter what me or anyone else says as you need to make the decision and feel comfortable with it but I think it would be such an incredible experience for you. I think that you will learn more about yourself during that year than you ever will and you will have such amazing stories to tell and to look back on.

I hear you, I'm as attached to my dogs as you are to Howard, but if your family is willing to take care of him and loves him as much as you do, then you have nothing to worry about! Do this for you and love every moment of it!

teeea said...

Go. It's an awesome opportunity whilst you're still young and single. :)) You get to travel and live in exotic places that most people only dream of doing. That's the beauty of being young, we get to be spontaneous and no one will care (I think?!). Hahaha. Go for it!!

And while you're there, do visit the Philippines! Hehehe :))

Sunny said...

I think of bloggers as friends too, lol.

honey. boo. have you seen Sex and the City 2???? By all means, GO. Plus you don't want to regret it later in life. You'll be that grandma that has stories for days for the grands!

Anonymous said...

Go! Go! Go! It's an amazing opportunity.

Kay* said...

@adrienne - though your comment now appears deleted i read it before it disappeared -- thank you for your encouraging words!

@amy - thank you for your comment...and de-lurking :) you’re right - years from now i don’t want to regret not haven taken this opportunity....

@mandy - you are perhaps one of my longest blog friends and i thank you for sharing your encouraging words. i’ve responded to you by email :) but i’ll say here that i agree with everything you’ve said. it is definitely terrifying but also a very exciting thought...

@thalla-marie - wow, your enthusiasm really jumps off the screen :) so beautifully written as well...it really made me take pause. ‘holy cow’ is definitely on my reading list now. thank you.

@kara - wow. thank you. and thank you for sharing your experience.

@chinye - it’s interesting that you are in a similar position - what steps are you taking to go abroad...or is it an intense want at the moment? i’d love to know :) thank you for your encouragement - and it’s nice to know you’d still be reading along...unless of course you found yourself in india too....

@tiffany - so nice to read your comment here :) i know how much you love your dogs so i’d say you know exactly how i feel about howard. my family is more than willing to take care of him for the year - they are madly in love with him and spoil him to pieces. i have no doubt he would be very well taken care of and loved (and spoiled!). i love your last line particularly - do this for YOU and love every moment of it....thank you....

Stace said...

I say go!! It's a great opportunity -- one that doesn't happen very often. While you are able to go -- go for it!! It will give you an experience of a lifetime and will expose you to a whole different part of the world. Let us know what you decide and I've gotta tell you - you are one of my favorite blogs!! I've been lurking for awhile.

Jessica (Bayjb) said...

Wow this is quite an opportunity!!! If you feel in your heart that this is the right placement, then I think you should do it. Howard will always be there when you get back and if 1 year placements are difficult and this came through, it may be meant to be. Plus, at least it's a big city in India and not a small town. Keep us posted!

Kyla Roma said...

That sounds like an amazing opportunity! My mom spent a lot of time in India & I know that Andrea from Kempt Life has lived and worked there too. From what I know if it, it's definitely a very different and intense country but beautiful and wild. Good luck making your decision! That's going to be a tough one (but don't bring your puppy! You can skype with him, but I can't see the heat & strange food being fun for him)

D said...

I don't want to say "you have to do this" but what an amazing opportunity. Coming from a girl that is moving from LA to Chicago by herself, I know how scary the idea of all this can be. And I'm moving within the states.

It does sound pretty incredible though!! I can't wait to hear what you decide. What a journey that would be!!

SogniSorrisi said...

I'd say go. It seems like one of those things you'd regret if you didn't.

LindsB said...

I say go, go, go!! Call your advisor back up and sign up this second! I think after your previous two offers this one is most def. "the one". Often times I think the hardest decisions or the ones that were not my original choices work out to be the best. I think you will have the most amazing time there and I wish you could pack me in your suitcase :)

Kay* said...

@stace - thank you for de-lurking (this post has brought out a few silent readers :) and thank you for your encouraging words.

@jessica (bayjb) - you pretty much summed up how i feel. thank you for your comment :)

@kyla roma - thank you! i would love to touch base with the ppl you know who have spent time there...i will email you :) and i agree with you, i think it would be harder for him to adjust and then, perhaps, by the time he’s adjusted it would be time to return...plus i wouldn’t be able to travel much around the country (and beyond) with him.

@D - yes, very scary! i will definitely share my decision on the blog :) thank you for commenting.

@SogniSorrisi - quite possibly i think.... :) thanks for the encouragement!

@LindsB - :) thank you so much for your energetic comment!

amy anne said...

That's really exciting! (And congratulations on the offer!) I have many friends who are in (or planning on)the peace corps and they have such amazing experiences, that I think you wouldn't regret going in the least. It's an amazing opportunity and a special way to see the world. I'm really happy for you to get the offer you wanted (and quietly think you should go!) Good luck contemplating the options, that is a complicated decision.

Rachel Q said...

Go, go, GO!!!! It's only a year, and just think of what that year will bring you—in terms of life experience, knowledge of the world and other cultures, memories, and the opportunity to travel cheaply. It may be something you look back on and regret if you don't. Good luck making the decision!

gia said...

I am more cautious... How will you be sure to be safe, traveling alone? Will your advisor help you with that? Who can you call if you run into trouble? I think it's important to feel like you CAN do it. And you should feel like you WANT to do it. In ten years from now will this benefit you? It would look great on a resume, I presume.

Kay* said...

@amy anne - thank you for your such an enthusiastic comment!

@rachel q - thank you! your thinking is how i feel too.

@gia - thank you for your comment :) the things you’ve mentioned are all things i’ve given serious consideration before i applied and was accepted to this volunteer organization. i think you make valid points and have very valid concerns.

the volunteer organization has a great reputation and aren’t a new place that just popped onto the scene - they’ve been in operation for 50 years. there are several other volunteers from the same organization (though not necessarily working at the same place) in the area and country as a whole and also there is also a large expat scene there. one of the volunteers that i’m currently corresponding with there is a female, in my age group - and has made friends with many of the other volunteers - they hang out and do social things. the volunteer organization also has an in-country office. when you arrive, before you being work, you have a few weeks of in country training classes and language classes with the other volunteers who have also just arrived. the office is also there to assist you if you need any assistance or should you run into any trouble.

i agree with you. it’s important that i feel like i can do it but also that i want to do it. i feel like i can do it and want to do it - but it’s still a scary decision to make...new experiences, and ones that are so different than what we are familiar with, are always a bit scary, i think....

in 10 years from now will this benefit me? i guess it depends on how you look at it. i don’t know where this experience will lead me. i know that (at least i think i know) that i want to work in international development and live abroad in the future. so if that’s the case - i guess this could put me on that path. but who knows. i may change my mind in the future...i do think that the experience would be one i’d definitely remember 10 years from now and talk about for years to come - good or bad :)

So Haute said...

I'm a little late weighing in here but GO!!! When will you ever have this opportunity again!? And it's a crazy twist of fate that the organization just happened to have this one year placement come up. A year will go by before you know it and this opportunity would leave you with a lifetime of amazing memories and experiences. Keep us posted on your decision!! xo

Erin said...

An adventure is an inconvenience rightly considered.


Go for it, and go all the way!

Anonymous said...

so previously... i said GO! i stand by this.

but...as gia @ 33 says - be cautious and be prepared that things won't always work out as planned. the best things tend to be paired with the worst. such is life. expect to be changed, to never look at things the same way.

expect to lose some of the things you hold dear. expect to have your heart broken. expect to witness suffering in a way you've never considered.

everyone says GO. you should go, but know that things will never be the same. make safe choices, expect the worst ... embrace the best. you are ready, aren't you?

Chinye said...

@Kay-

I'm currently finishing up my undergrad and I feel as though the best way to fulfill my desire to live abroad is to do it as soon as I graduate. Because of this I have been looking into different programs (peace corps and fellowships in particular) that will allow me to work and/or do research abroad, but are kinda backed by their strong reputation and history. My focus while in school has been in economic development. I'm so focused on working to improve such in 'underdeveloped' (not sure I like the term) countries. I can seriously go on and on, but definitely email me if you would like to chat more. I'd love to chat with you about the desire to live in another country. It'll be hard- no doubt about it...but the experience is like none other.

Kaki said...

Hi Kay,

I wasn't going to comment given all the "yes's" you've received, but I thought I'd add my voice. You need to do this. You have nothing holding you back (except your beloved furbaby), and you have no job. You've turned down 2 2 year opportunities because they weren't right for you and then you get a 1 year offer that are few and far between. You could put all your cool stuff in storage for a year and go to an amazing country to learn, grow, do good and get some really awesome souvenirs ;). I set off on my adventure 5 years ago (http://kakimeanspersimmon.blogspot.com)and while I have somewhat settled into an "ordinary" life abroad, the adventure continues (tougher that I ever could have dreamed, but an adventure in a way nonetheless).

I'm 32 now. I'm looking to return to Canada with my memories, souvenirs, life lessons and my husband next year. Despite and because of everything I've done, seen and been through, I would encourage anyone considering such an adventure to just do it. Good luck.

Kaki said...

To add: I totally second what Anonymous at #37 says. Things will go wrong. It will be hard. You will be sad, sick, isolated and often alone. You will suffer culture shock and you will have to wait x amount of hours to call your family at a reasonable hour to cry down the phone. You'll question your sanity and sometimes hate what you're doing. But more often than not, it will be worth it.

Julia said...

Go! If you don't you'll always wonder what life would have been like if you went.
I'm moving to Toronto soonish - I'll sublet your apartment while you're gone! ;)

Anonymous said...

PLEASE GO! This will be a wonderful life experience for you, you'll have ups n' downs, drastic change of lifestyle, homesickness -yeah but if you're only there for 1 year...it will go by very FAST!! Just remember, you already know you're coming back to the U.S. so GO and make the best of it! I guarantee you won't regret it. :)

When I went to work/lived in Spain & Sicily for 2 years, I didn't want to come back to the States because there was soo much to see and do! I LOVED it over there and wish I go back soon this time with my family to show them where I lived and the places/people I visit! :D

Wishing you the best of luck! Now GO!

-jenel in AZ

Leigha said...

What an amazing opportunity. From one stranger to another...this seems like the type of thing that would result in MASSIVE regret if you don't go. Start packing.

A Casa da Vá said...

Wow India will be an awesome experience, what a great opportunity!

Sonal said...

Hi, I'm new to your blog and this post caught my attention. My sister did a similar thing--she volunteered in Mumbai for 6 months. My family took a 2 week trip to Indian. I got to see the Taj Mahal and the forts in Jaipur. My parents are from Ahmedabad, so we spent a good deal of time there. Being in India seemed like a 180 from the US. My advice is to bring an extra suitcase for all the AWESOME shopping. It'll definitely be tough adjusting to life without all the amenities we often take for granted (like toilet paper-bring plenty!), but it's 100% worth it. It's a beautiful, different, crowded, and amazing place.

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