You always hear of people saying they want to move somewhere crazy and exotic…somewhere so different and so unlike anything they are used to back home. Sure, I’m sure we ALL have said it, because if you are anything like me, I don’t just fall in love with the places I travel to, I want to LIVE in those places (it’s a curse and a blessing). It’s so easy to get the idea in your head that it would be terrifically awesome and so spontaneous to pack up and just GO, no strings attached, no second guessing. But how many people have you met that have ACTUALLY gone through with this crazy idea? Sure, we occasionally hear of those people we may have once known in high school that have up and moved their lives to pursue their dream of living in LA or New York, or a friend of a friend who quit their 9-5 desk job and ended up joining the Peace Corps and is now living in Africa building huts out of mud, but those people are far and few between. But when you hear those stories, when you hear about those people dropping everything to do what is against the norm, and even moreso, when you hear that they did it SUCCESSFULLY and are not totally broke and homeless (those are our biggest fears, right?), well, let’s just say it makes those crazy ideas seem totally realistic and extremely do-able.
So, for the fourth “Through New Eyes” story, I thought it was appropriate to feature someone who has taken that risk of moving somewhere crazy, exotic, and flat out, really, really cool. Meet Sarah, my friend who I met in German Class at Ohio State, and ever since college graduation in 2012, has been leading one heck of a crazy life…aside from the fact that I have a feeling she doesn’t like the contiguous United States..haha:).
Here is her story, in her own words…
What did you do right after college graduation? Did you live at home for a while or did you stay in Columbus?
Right after graduation I moved out of my apartment, took all my belongings home, then packed up the car to head to Alaska! This wasn’t necessarily what I had planned to do, I definitely considered staying in Columbus to find a job right out of school, but the more I thought about it, the more it made sense to do it right then, when I had nothing tying me down.
Ok, so you made the big decision to move to Alaska. Did you move for a job or was it for fun?
I moved out to Alaska for a mix of work and play! My brothers were already out there in a small town in southeast AK and they said they could get me a job with the company they worked for if I was serious about coming out. Knowing that I had family and a job out there definitely gave me more of a reason to head out there. The job that would be waiting for me was guiding zip line and rock climbing trips in a small town where cruise ships stop. So work was fun!
What motivated you to want to move to Alaska? Had you been there before?
I had been to Alaska the previous summer and I absolutely LOVED it. The scenery was incredible, the people were so much fun, and there were endless possibilities for outdoor adventures. The mountains and the ocean were the backyard and were available whenever.
How long did you live in Alaska?
I lived in AK for about 4 months. The town of Skagway, in which I lived most of the summer, has a population of around 900 for “year-round” residents. Pretty small compared to even Ohio State. It’s much more populated in the summer because of the booming tourist season which runs from about April through September. Many people, like myself, are seasonally employed there, and go somewhere else during the winter–hence my move to Hawaii!
What was the coolest thing about living in Alaska? Anything surprise you or shock you that maybe you weren’t expecting when you moved?
I loved living in a small town, having a cool job, with amazing people. It was definitely a shock going from Ohio State, a huge campus, to a town smaller than it with the closest Walmart or movie theater a 2 hour drive to Canada, but it was a cool lifestyle and I loved it. Life is all about adaptation and making the best of any situation, which is why I love traveling and trying new things.
Was it always really cold? Or did it kind of warm up a bit? (Not sure what they consider “warm” in Alaska…lol)
The week I arrived in Alaska, during the Summer Solstice, it was 80 degrees and sunny every day, but all that changed pretty quickly. It was apparently a pretty wet and cold summer in 2012 comparatively. The average forecast was 55 and a chance of rain. So it wasn’t too cold or too hot, pretty mild. Most days I could get away with a t-shirt working outside and being active, but some days I needed 2 or 3 layers, gloves and a hat to make it through the day.
Ok, so after living in Alaska, you moved to Hawaii. What did you move to Hawaii for?
Basically as the tourist season was coming to an end, I needed a plan for the winter. Since I no longer had a car, I needed to figure out how I’d be getting anywhere, which at that point meant flying. I could literally go anywhere. So I started looking into flights and jobs anywhere and everywhere. I joined a website called workaway.info, keeping these options in mind too (you should check it out, it’s pretty cool). When I found out how cheap flights from AK to HI were, this was my first choice. I had always wanted to check off Hawaii from my travel list, and might as well knock off the two outer-lying states when I had the chance. I bought plane tickets first, then started looking for a place to live and a job to pay the bills – this was definitely the most stressful part, but I figured if things didn’t work out, I would just make it an extended vacation, then move on. I had a bit of money saved up from the summer in Alaska so it wouldn’t be the end of the world.
How long have you been living in Hawaii and how long do you plan on living there for?
I’ve been in Hawaii for almost a year now! It’s so crazy to say that, it’s gone by SO fast. But looking back, I’ve done so much since I’ve been here and so much has changed in that year. I’m not exactly sure how long I’ll stay here, it’s all up in the air. I just started working at a new job, and it has great potential, so I’m thinking I’ll stick around for a bit.
Did you move by yourself or did someone go with you?
I moved out with my boyfriend at the time, but we’re no longer together. It was nice having a support system in the beginning, since we were both in the same boat, jobless and homeless for a short time, but we made it work together, and now we’re just doing our own things.
How did you find a place to live in Hawaii? Did you know someone that you stayed with for a bit?
I didn’t know a single person in Hawaii. I stayed in a hostel for about a week while I searched on Craigslist for jobs and apartments. I personally didn’t want to live in a big city like Honolulu, having just spent 4 months in a tiny mountain town, but it was the best options, and where all the jobs were, so we ended up finding a place that was walking distance to all the essentials.
What are you doing in Hawaii now?
Right now I work for Expedia. I sell tours and activities, and plan people’s vacations when they come to the islands. It’s an awesome job. I get to make people happy, send them to do fun things on their vacation, and even do the tours myself.
What is the coolest & best part of living in Hawaii?
There is SO much to do here. I’m really lucky in that I’m able to go out and do almost any tour on my time off and really experience everything there is to do here.. really, that’s my goal before I leave the Islands. But aside from tours, the nature is amazing here. I love hiking in the mountains and jungles, and diving in the ocean. The wildlife is incredible. I live on Oahu, and I’ve only ever been to one other island, the island of Hawaii. I have SO much to do still and it’s super exciting.
Have you tried surfing at all?
Of course!! For a while I worked as a photographer going out on surf lessons and taking photos of the participants, so I got a little practice. It’s a lot of fun but way harder than you’d think. The hardest part is paddling out to the break! Great workout. I don’t surf very much anymore, but it was super fun trying it out. I’d love to try and get better!
What is a normal day in your life like?
I work a LOT. The thing about living in Hawaii, as I’m sure you’ve heard, it’s very expensive. Food and housing are ridiculous compared to the mainland. I haven’t found a gallon of milk under $5 since I’ve been here. I’m currently apartment hunting for a studio or a 1 bedroom, and they average about $1000/month in Honolulu. Anyway, so I work most days, but I try to fit in the fun stuff whenever I can! If I have a morning off I’ll trek it 4 blocks to the beach and do some snorkeling. If I have an entire day off I always try to plan fun things, explore the island, do a hike, pool hop at the fancy hotels, or be a tourist on a tour for the day. The free time definitely makes the long work-weeks worth it!
What do you do for fun in Hawaii?
Like I said before, there is so much to do here and I want to see it all. I mostly snorkel and hike for fun, but I love experiencing new things.. that’s what life is all about, after all!