It’s now November 2014 and this year has gone faster than I ever imagined. Maybe I should’ve written a blog earlier, but I never was a fan of writing too much, I’m more of a spontaneous kinda guy who doesn’t find it appealing to spend the majority of my time boasting to friends or random weirdos on Facebook (#Travelling #YOLO!). Ok, so after saying that I probably sound like a cynical 50 year old man going through a mid life crisis, but I’m not, I’m Rick, I’m 23 years old and I’m from Manchester, England. This is my story of what I did this year, which for me was probably the biggest and most important year of my life.
If you’ve read any of Antony’s blogs then you already know a bit of my story. We are both currently backpacking around the world together, but, like him, I thought I’d give it ago myself and write about how I got here, why I quit my old job and moved to Germany earlier this year, and why I chose to leave everything I had back in Manchester behind me. I don’t want to go into too much detail about myself yet, as you will find out more as you read and besides, you probably already know me in person anyway. I don’t mean to steal the limelight from Antony, but if you’re interested in my story then read on. This is my ‘in-a-nutshell’ and pretty blunt blog on the reasons why I sold up, left home, and hopefully will find a new interesting life somewhere else in the world. Or at least give it a shot, I hope its not too boring… Cheers.
I love the summer, who doesn’t? But it was always slightly frustrating not having much flexibility when it came to planning holidays or joining some mates who had decided to go Inter-railing around Europe for a month or volunteering in South America, talk about first world problems eh? But for me, at the age of 17 I had just landed a cool job, so taking a gap-year or a short break just wasn’t going to happen for at least the next 4 years, I did still mange to see parts of Europe though. I kind of forgot that I still had a life to live, but, at that age it didn’t matter too much as at 21 I would be fully qualified and the world would be my oyster, right?
‘Collect Moments, Not Things’
The cool job I landed was as an apprentice Auto-Electrician, cool for me! Or maybe I should reword that, Automotive Electronics Engineer. ‘Engineer’ is the wore people use to big up their jobs right? …I’ll stick with ‘A sparky at Stagecoach’. The thing is, with every completed year of my apprenticeship the less my mind was heading towards the easy path that a majority of us imagine is a goal. A goal to settle with a nice house, a slick car, a trophy wife/husband and a luxurious 2 week all inclusive holiday to the Maldives once a year. I’m not saying that doesn’t sound great, but it’s just not for me I’m always thinking about the other 50 weeks in the year. I guess it’s your life though after all, I mean, how could one possible live without a £4 salted caramel macchiato from Starbucks on the way to the office every morning or a salmon and cream cheese bruschetta on your lunch break at the Savoy. Now I love a good piss up in town with my mates as much as anyone, and I know its hard to fund both lifestyles without help from daddy’s credit card, so I chose one. I always wanted to volunteer in less fortunate countries or teach English to children abroad. That was my goal. A dream to quit my job and make a start on travelling the world and hopefully find a new ‘Manchester’ somewhere else.
Another Day at The Office
At the end of my 4 years, remember that world is my oyster bullshit? Nah, that was a lie, I learned the hard way that my qualification or training wasn’t enough to get myself a dream job at Audi in Germany but still good enough to get a similar job in an English speaking country, which is fine for me and I do thank my previous employer for their training. But like I said, I’m 23 and the world still can be my oyster, so why give up? I’m not going to spend the rest of my life stuck in a garage working 9-5, I don’t think that could be anybody’s dream.
I would often brand myself as ‘anti-social’ as I didn’t particularly share interests with my work mates and I liked keeping myself to myself at lunch time. Mainly because I didn’t want to get involved in the usual canteen conversations which included the recent controversial mainstream media, upcoming holidays and occasional silence fillers with dry shop talk or cringe worthy David Brent style jokes. Oh and then there’s the cleaner who walks past, the one and only female in the garage, she was unbelievably beautiful, something really special. She was enough to kill any conversation with the power to make everyone stare as she walked past. Call me shallow, but four years on I still never could see past that cocktail of wrinkles, festival toilet odour and fag stained smile nor did I still want to ‘give her one’.
After my trip to Brazil for Rio Carnaval, I was chauffeured with the usual hard nuts at the back of the bus bringing on board with them their own portable orchestra with some sounds straight from the ‘Ghetto’ to Costa Del Newton Heath; the land of smiles and where the sun always shines through the bottom of a Lambrini bottle, the best reminder of my holiday. But sarcasm aside, a reminder of home. I figured it was time to quit my job. I thought I’d find it much harder to go through with, seeing as I had such a ball ache getting the job in the first place, but I soon realised that like most big companies out there I was just another number on their payroll being tamed with a reasonable salary to keep me sweet enough not to complain about the fat cats counting their millions in profit each year and with no sign of a pay rise equal to inflation. I love a good pay cut and a cupcake at Christmas to say thank you for all your hard work and a year of your life that you’ll never see again…
Lesson One: Wing It
I guess after meeting others in my shoes who quit their job it made me realise that it wasn’t such a big deal, and what’s the worst that can happen? I have an amazing year off doing what I’ve always wanted, then go home broke with no job and start again from the bottom. Or stay where I am with no chance of promotion and grow old wondering ‘what if?’. These were my original thoughts, but I’m sat here now writing this blog on my day off from work. Work. Yes I already have another job! This time teaching English in Thailand, the first job I applied for in fact (aside from volunteering) and I’ve only been travelling for 8 months, and I have the coolest boss in the world, I can’t remember the last time we had a sober chat… I could quite easily get used to this lifestyle of travelling and working. Its my dream, of course I could, but then here’s the best part. None of my colleagues speak English and there’s no middle aged cleaner, so all I do is turn up 5 minutes before the lesson starts, read the plan, do my 1 hour lesson and go straight back to pub, no questions asked, no homework to set, no assignments to mark, easy!
Did I waste 4 years training to be an Auto-Electrician? No. Time spent doing something, anything, is never time wasted. But I didn’t want to spend any more time there, so one night at Antony’s house I carelessly wrote my resignation letter the week I got back from Rio and after a lot of beer, partying and not a lot of sleep, trying to act sober and sincere to my boss was fun, but at least then it was all over. Well, I handed in my notice, it was the start of the end, I was officially free after one final working week and I could now look for places to start my adventure. I always knew I would start in Europe, I love it! My favourite country so far is Germany, so it felt like a great starting point. I could drink beer all the time there and no longer be labelled as an alcoholic, they’re always drinking the stuff, that’s something I could get used to and I sure was looking forward to a few cultural exchanges and becoming a traditional German along the way.
I know it’s hardly a tropical paradise with white sandy beaches and 30 degree heat everyday, but coming from the big city and nowhere near retirement age I can’t see myself spending much time in a place like that or even heading off backpacking around South America/Asia just yet. So my final decision was made partly thanks to Ryanair, who assume every customer is a dwarf and requires no leg room and that the smell of an old pasty coming from the armpit sat next to you is totally fine. But with their cheap prices, cheaper than lunch at the Savoy anyway and given that I already had some friends there in cool cities, I thought, ‘why not?!’ After a few weeks of searching online for jobs in Germany I had no luck because of the short notice, so in the end I settled for a volunteering job working 20 hours a week in a guest house in a small village called Sehnde, just outside of Hanover. My work was in exchange for (hopefully) great German food and a bed, so after a few emails it was all set in stone, I would be in Sehnde for 2 months and I could use my spare time there to look for some paid work in the area, but for me this volunteering deal alone was good enough for now.
‘Waste Not, Want Not’
As for money, I had a bit saved up, plus I’m pretty much an expert on living on a shoestring (thanks Mum!) and I was more than confident that I could find a job somewhere on my travels or even a volunteering opportunity somewhere else cool where I could live temporarily (#hobo). Not to mention the fact that I had the internet, (which actually has more uses than just Facebook and porn), so I guess when it comes to it I didn’t really have much to worry about.
Is There Really No Place Like Home?
Don’t get me wrong it wasn’t a completely easy decision to leave (and I’m not just talking about work, in fact I don’t even want to talk about work any more now, I’ve quit!), I was actually quite sad to be leaving home for a few reasons, one being I just started getting closer to some of my already best friends, but I reckon that was only because in my head I knew I was leaving for good and I was trying to make the most out of hanging out with them while I had a couple of free days before flying off to Germany. I know I’ve not spoken highly of Manchester, this wasn’t intentional, but in comparison with my trip to Brazil, it was like waking up from a wet dream involving a three way with two Swedish porn stars, only to realize that it was actually your dog licking your balls. It not a terrible reality, but its no wet dream either.