Some stories simply can’t be told in a single article – their twists and turns too many to be explained in a single page of text. Instead, they should be broken down into many chapters to more accurately and with more detail document the events that passed. This holds true for my account of searching for a job in europe – an effort that spanned over many months and produced more decision points than I had anticipated. This adventure will be documented in a series I refer to as the Euro Job Saga.
Thus far my European vacation was just that – your none-too-special backpacking trip around Europe for the last five months – a plight performed by thousands upon thousands each year – and although I had only been travelling around for five months to this stage, I had seen enough to warrant wanting to stay longer.
It’s incredible to realise just how much can actually be done in the space of five months. Back home it was quite common to be sitting in the month of June and realise that the year had flown to it’s halfway point, feeling as it New Years Eve was only the day earlier, and without really accomplishing much in between.
This year, I had managed to amass so many unforgettable experiences that surpassed what I had managed to achieve in the entire decade prior to that. The most incredible feeling was that it was only the end of August.
My ticket to freedom was a French Working Holiday visa – easy enough to acquire for an Australian, albeit with some frustrating processes. With this I was essentially recognised as a French resident for all intents and purposes for the period of a year – April through to April. Now being the end of August, I still had seven months to continue exploring with this key to Europe.
Yet even at this early stage I could realise with ease that it wasn’t going to be enough. Yes, one can accomplish an incredible amount of travel and experiences in a short time, as I had seen first hand so far, but I had also came to the realisation that Europe was even grander than I initially envisioned, and the sights and locations seemed endless.
It became clear that I needed to stay longer than next April. I needed a way to get another visa.
And although the funds were still plenty at this stage, traveling via Couchsurfing and backpacking can be more tiring than the outsider would think, and I was beginning to get the urge to find a place to get an apartment, have my own space again and be able to relax whenever I wanted.
By living somewhere here, with the fantastic and relatively cheap transportation options, combined with the small distances here in Europe, I could easily continue to discover parts of Europe during weekends and holidays and have the comfort of my own place to return to afterwards.
I needed to find a job somewhere. Get an apartment and live in Europe for a few years to continue this journey.
Secretly this was really the plan from the very beginning. The traveling phase was more just to confirm my suspicions and to test if this corner of the earth was really what I had envisioned it to be, which it did in no time.
My thinking before arriving in Europe was to find a job in France, to live there for a few years and perfect the language I had invested so much time and money into learning. Therefore I also didn’t want to obtain a job immediately when arriving in Europe because I didn’t think my French was up to scratch. Give myself six or so months here, I thought, and I should have developed into a more competent communicator.
Of course, Spain, Portugal and now the United Kingdom had limited my time in France and so I wasn’t really at the level that I wanted to be. Honestly, I don’t think I ever will – I am my harshest critic – but I did admit to myself that I had improved greatly.
There was really no rush anyway. With seven months left on my current visa, I was relaxed and secure in the fact that I still had time to travel around and continue developing my french language skills before diving head first into the job market.
Still, I didn’t want to leave it until the last minute and have things fall through due to lack of planning. I felt like this was my best shot at having a period of living overseas, and I wanted to make sure it worked.
So I set myself the goal of trying to secure a job before Christmas, my logic being that many companies perhaps would lessen their search for new employees in the few months following the holiday period – not that this was backed up by any statistical evidence or research, mind you.
That gave me a bit less time – four months now – but I was still comfortable with playing it by ear for now. I had planned to do a few weeks traveling in Germany in September-October, so I figured after that I could come back into France and really start seriously looking around.
Then one night, in Glasgow of all places, an email threw a spanner in the works.
For the purposes of confidentiality I’m not going to mention any company names in this series of articles, but the people close to me will likely know anyway.
It hasn’t been mentioned so far on this blog, and with all these articles about discovering the history and culture of the place, you would be forgiven for thinking that this was my first exposure to Europe.
Yet that’s not the case.
Somewhat unexpectedly, just after submitting my application at the French embassy in Australia, I had an offer from my workplace at the time in Australia to do an assignment in Sweden. Of course I jumped at the opportunity, feeling somewhat guilty knowing that I was going to quit almost as soon as I would return.
So I arrived in Sweden on a cold winters day in January and stayed there for a month.
When I returned back to Australia I gave the news that I was intending to resign, but the company coerced me out of it and instead I signed a leave without pay contract, happy to have that job security beneath me.
This meant I was technically still employed by said company, and so when another opportunity for an assignment came up in Sweden later in the year, they figured they would contact me to see if I would be willing to take an absence from my traveling ways and help out the Swedes for a few weeks from mid October.
In many ways this offer wasn’t ideal and it was ideal at the same time.
The timing of it was good because it almost perfectly coincided with when I was planning to wrap up my German leg of the trip. Yet then again, I was intending to return to France and begin my job search. This would effectively shave off three potentially important weeks to find a job and if I were to take this offer I would instead return to France in mid November with the aim to find a position before Christmas.
It may have been cutting it fine, but even if I couldn’t find a job before Christmas during this time, there was still the period after Christmas and before April. Surely it couldn’t be that difficult, could it?
Besides, with this I could earn that bit of extra cash and have that space to myself to relax that I hadn’t had for the last six months and was starting to crave.
I could tell I was trying to convince myself into accepting this offer and that usually means that I genuinely wanted it so I replied the next day that I would accept the offer. The wheels were now in motion.
The plan still seemed pretty straight up and down. Get a bit of cash for the three weeks offered, get back to France in November, find a job and stay in Europe for a few years.
Yet I don’t typically plan much while travelling, playing it by ear and buying tickets last minute. This is partly because I’ve learned during my travels that, plans don’t usually eventuate.
This plan was to be of no exception…