A few months ago, I graduated college. With no job offers and no idea of when I would get a job offer, I decided to take the first step in guaranteeing myself a place to stay and a monthly income. There was no way I was going to be yet another post-grad in that unemployed students statistic.
After researching programs recruiting native English speakers, I found one that would pay for my flights to and from the country, a blessing for someone on a budget. I can't exactly say I was ecstatic the country was the Republic of Georgia, because I knew less than nothing about it, but over the past few months since I've been accepted to the program, I have found a lot of research on the country that proves Georgia will be just as much of an adventure as any grad's dream trip to Europe would've been.
Most of the students I knew at graduation already either had a job offer, a current internship ready and willing to hire them, or parents who would become their safety net because they could no longer afford to live on their own. I had none of those. Even if I was able to move back in with my parents, I didn't want to. Sitting at home stewing and applying for jobs seemed like a waste of time and a letdown to me. I had spent at least six months prior to graduation applying for anything I was qualified for and when that didn't happen, I took it as a sign that maybe my post-grad road was different. I also did some soul-searching. I asked myself, What if I had been hired for my dream job? Would I have taken it?
While it would've been amazing to have been hired for a women's or travel magazine, working in the glossy offices à la The Devil Wears Prada like a lot of young women dream of, I would've been left with that lingering question everyone hates: "What if?" And, crazily enough in this economy, I wondered if having a great job was worth that feeling.
At first I really thought I'd made a mistake choosing The Republic of Georgia as my first abroad experience. Who does this? Who chooses a completely odd and unusual part of the world to see their very first time out of the country? It's either the adventurous or the insane. I had always planned on seeing the same countries my friends had seen: France, England, Mexico, and maybe one in Africa. Because I wasn't following their footsteps, I was and still am kind of a nervous wreck. I have no one to show me the ropes, leaving me in charge of everything.
Now, instead of staying in the same town I've lived in most of my 23 years of life, I'm taking off on an adventure to a country whose culture is not often written about. I've had to do some real digging these last two months to figure out what the weather is like, what the voltage is, what women typically wear, how many letters are in the alphabet (there are 33), what the main religion is, what typical traffic is like and why it's recommended pedestrians stay to the side of the road, and so much more. I've bought things I might never have if I was staying in the U.S., including but not limited to, thermal underwear and Iodine tablets.
The Republic of Georgia is no Europe, that's for sure, but that's the beauty. While every other country is in the headlines effortlessly for its own news, Georgia, a country roughly the size of South Carolina, has been fighting for exposure. It's in the middle of a transformation; in the middle of trying to become a member of the EU and being considered "modern." I'm quite lucky to be in a position to see this tremendous effort of growth instead of a stereotypical sunset view of the Eiffel Tower or a seaside view of clear blue waters in Greece (not that those wouldn't be nice).
By this time next week, I will be in the Kakheti region in eastern Georgia. I don't know much about it other than that in addition to it being the most visited region of Georgia, it's where the famous traditional wines are made, and the Georgians love their wine.
Other countries have their false, stereotypical negative reputations. France: not necessarily friendly people willing to go out of their way to help a tourist if they don't speak the language. Mexico: drug smugglers and unsafe for women at night. Maybe the only reassurance I can ask before I embark on a solo, post-grad trip, is that not only is there not a negative word about Georgia, but its reputation is "one of the most hospitable countries in the world."
It isn't guaranteed staying in the U.S. and job hunting for something worthy of my degree would have been awful, really difficult work, and/or a waste of time, but there is something I don't have to do that other post grad's do. I don't have to take that gamble.
"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference" - Robert Frost