a life changing experience

I little while back I was faced with my first major (career – life) decision. I was on the brink of what I believe to be my first major job offer. This is to say that after a year of post graduation stress, I finally sensed it was close. I’m sure all of you have felt how I felt at one point or another, and it will be no major surprise that I had all the mixed feelings such as - wow did I make the wrong decision for a career, am I not as good at this as I thought, what am I gonna do if I cant get a job. As this was all happening I received an opportunity to work abroad at an agency in Lyon France. Which lead me to my dilemma, should I pass up the opportunity to go abroad for a full-time job, or do I postpone the fulltime gig for this chance to go to France. This was a question I had previously posted here in a discussion.

Without any hesitation you all told me to take the opportunity in France. And I’m glad I listened. So I thought I would tell you all a little about it as I feel it’s a relevant topic for a lot of young people entering the profession who might feel as lost as I did.

I’m now five weeks into my job and since day one its been amazing. First of all I think I forgot what it felt like to be challenged. As soon as I entered the office I was immediately put onto a project working to design and develop everything from the form to the technical features. I think I read somewhere before that professionals felt that a lot of young graduates had no real sense of reality. That is to say, what can be done and what cannot be. I think that’s true in some cases and definitely was for me. I know that in a lot of ways I have grown from that already. As soon as you’re faced with all the decisions to make in the real world, its amazing how much you start to respond to reality. So I’m fortunate for that

The second thing that has been pretty amazing is communicating with co-workers. We talk about a design language, a common vocabulary we all speak to one another about design. Well I’ve had to learn a whole new set of non-verbal communication here. The issue is that although everyone at my office speaks varying levels of English, I can still sense when words become lost in translation. Its easy to see when a statement means one thing to a person and to tell how it means something completely different to someone else. So I’ve had to step backwards and developed a new set of vocabulary. It consists mainly of hand gestures and sketches, but it has really been quite insightful to see how well it works and I think it will be a great skill to have in my future.

And without going on for too much longer, it really is amazing how much you learn about yourself when you’re faced to deal with strange things everyday. And what the absence of television does for the mind. Its been a truly inspirational time, a sad time, a stressful time, and a exciting time. I think I forgot how young I was and that there was plenty of time for grown up things like full-time employment. That’s really what I want to share with everyone young out there who might feel like I did. Take the time to learn things about yourself, you will be surprised, and most of all don’t feel rushed to work. Take the time to really figure out what you want out of life.

And thanks to everyone here who has encouraged me to leap into the unknown! Its been rewarding in so many different ways.

im sooo happy for you that you decided to go! I remember reading your post before. I did a similar thing but on a different level. i went to liberal arts college and studied politics, worked in an office and was basically set for the cookie cutter life until about 2 years ago. on a whim i dropped out of school, quit my job and took off to barcelona. ive been here ever since and its incredible how its changed me and helped me grow. there have definately been sad times and frustrating language/culture clashes but now i know i can do it. and i know who i am, and what i want. i’ll be at Art Center in LA next semester and I could never imagine myself going back to the office job and getting a degree in something just to get one. its amazing how big of a role influence can play on you (family, friends, co-workers, your city) and when you are away from them all on then can you really see yourself making decisions and thinking in a way that is only you, and no one else!

Glad to hear you are enjoying your journey. Its something how things work out sometimes and how opportunities present themselves. Have fun.


Congratulations! Sometimes one of the best things you can do for yourself is to just change your environment and start life over again with the lessons you learned in the last life. Good luck to you in your future.