Contributor Post: Freelancing Around the World
By Lauren Reed
When I think back to waiting for my plane to take off from JFK last January, it’s hard to articulate exactly what I was feeling. After years of dreaming about an extended trip abroad, I was about to make it a reality. Yet the prospect of unlimited freedom seemed almost difficult to comprehend after a combined eight years of teaching and working for an e-learning company. But there I was: On the tarmac, with my life’s possessions in storage and a loose Asian/European itinerary for the six months to come.
The realization of my newfound freedom and its boundless opportunity for adventure slowly sank in more every day. No matter the city or the country, I never tired of asking myself each morning: What do I want to do today?
When I first started traveling, I embarked with savings and part-time curriculum work with one educational company. The projects were enough to slow the decline of my bank account, which was all I had initially hoped for.
As I traveled throughout Asia, I overstayed in cities to ensure that I could experience each place while still finding time to write when needed. I distinctly remember that my trip’s two-month mark was when I happily accepted my first unit project with Newsela.
At the three-month mark, I departed Asia for Eastern Europe with the full intention of returning to the States three months later in pursuit of a “regular” job. But a couple key milestones occurred during my first month in Europe: 1) I began receiving more opportunities for meaningful work, which led to 2). The realization that this part-time freelancing gig might just have the potential to become a fulltime career.
During the month of May, as I was staying in Paris, I therefore decided to begin accepting more work offers in an effort to emulate what it would be like to live abroad as a fulltime freelancer. I kept a regular schedule, tried different coworking spaces, traveled on the weekends—and I loved it.
I began to approach freelancing differently from that point on. While I had always taken every project seriously, I started to truly think about my work in terms of a longer-term career. And after a tour of Romania, Serbia, Montenegro, and Croatia, I stopped back in Paris for 3 days before flying home…This time to look for an apartment.
As I write this, I’m in a tiny flat in Paris’ 11th arrondissement—a city that is my home for now. While the six months of nonstop travel were an amazing adventure, there is also something wonderful about feeling more settled while still having the opportunity to live abroad. I continue to try my best to wake up every morning and embrace the “live-each-day-to-the-fullest” mentality. And as long as I’m able to contribute to important work that I’m passionate about, live in a city I love, learn daily about a new culture, and be a frequent customer at the patisserie downstairs, how could I not?
Photo 1: Thailand Photo 2: South Korea
Photo 3: Vietnam
Photo 4: Helsinki, Finland