This article initially appeared in the Miami University study abroad newsletter on October 7th, 2019 as the first entry in their Miami/MUDEC Mergers column. It covers Erin and Davey's journey from undergrad students in Oxford, Ohio to expat adventurers living full-time in Europe.
"You're waiting for a train. A train that will take you far away. You know where you hope this train will take you, But you can't know for sure. Yet it doesn't matter, because we'll be together."
If you boil us down to parts, Erin and I are two kids from Cleveland. She grew up a west-sider, and I’m from the east side of the tracks. As if shot from each side of the hadron collider, we came together in Tappan Hall during the first week of our freshman year and experienced Oxford together, sharing smoothies and stir-frys at Bell Tower dining hall, studying psychology at Benton and taking road trips with the club hockey team to East Lansing and South Bend. After we maxed out on weekend escapes to Newport and the mega-malls in Cincinnati, we decided to expand our horizons the summer after sophomore year. Our study abroad experience in Europe became the true inflection point for the life abroad that we now share together.
We signed up for Miami’s summer program in Florence, Italy, where we spent six weeks studying art history, travel journalism and film while supplementing our classroom studies with weekend trips to neighboring countries with our all-encompassing Eurail train passes. Together, we honed our skills in adapting to new situations, overcoming language barriers and planning adventurous itineraries. Stride for stride, we spent unforgettable weekends hiking in the Swiss Alps, wandering the streets of Paris, imagining ourselves alive in ancient Rome and getting lost in the canals of Venice. When we returned to the States, our concept of “home” had transmuted from the familiar to the unknown.
We continued on our path of adventure and exploration together, skipping our Miami graduation ceremony for a road trip to Boston, where we’d eventually enroll together at Boston University for law school. While in Boston, we finally made it back to Europe, first on a spring break trip to London and Paris, then the following year on an overambitious itinerary along the western coast of Spain, and, once again, we skipped our graduation for a trip to Iceland and Budapest. We maintained travel and adventure as a priority, but we shifted our focus to building our professional lives. In a compromise of those two interests, we moved to San Francisco after school, where I worked as an Assistant District Attorney under Kamala Harris and Erin worked at a Silicon Valley law firm. After a few years, San Francisco’s luster wore off, so we migrated south to Los Angeles. Although the sunny beaches, rugged hiking, street food, and comedy scene tempted us to stay, we often talked about our time abroad and wondered how we could return to that lifestyle. But, it didn’t seem realistic with our increasingly adult responsibilities.
About four years ago, we committed to our dream to live abroad before we fully settled down and started a family. We started our search by applying for jobs at US companies with offices in Europe, and, within a few months, we received an offer to relocate. We packed up our little cottage in Westwood, sold our jeep, and landed in Luxembourg near the MUDEC headquarters. Luxembourg is located smack-dab between France, Germany, and Belgium in the center of Europe. Invariably, every European destination you’d ever want to visit is within a two-hour flight. We’ve taken full advantage of Luxembourg’s central coordinates to explore our surroundings as travelers, not tourists. We’ve documented our experiences in photos and films, and we’ve created helpful, DIY travel guides in each place that we’ve visited to inspire others who are in search of adventure. From dog-sledding in the Swedish Lapland to crawling inside the Great Pyramid to overnight trekking through Northern Vietnam, the ethos of Far Out Expat has always been to live as if there was no tomorrow. Our blog and Youtube channel have been recognized amongst the top expat content for the past two years. When we look back on this journey together, we hope to tell a story of great distances, and starlight.
Out of my entire Miami study abroad experience, the Travel Journalism course, taught by Dr. Mark Bernheim, has played a surprisingly impactful role on the trajectory of my life and career. The exercise of travel writing taught me to observe the relativity of social customs and beliefs. It taught me to remove the “right vs. wrong” dichotomy in the cultural differences I noticed between my old home and my new surroundings. I realized that culture is a consensus reality, and the more I traveled, the more I witnessed the infinite spectrum of lives one can lead on this planet. My initial introduction into travel journalism metamorphosed into my work now as the Associate Editor for The Outdoor Journal, an international adventure travel magazine. I collaborate with some of the most inspirational athletes and explorers on the planet to dissect the psychology of what it takes to push past fear and come out on the other side.
Like the principal characters in Christopher Nolan’s film Inception, our life in Europe can feel at times like a dream that we’ve conjured up together. From our destination wedding on Mallorca to our weekend trips to Paris and Amsterdam, our study abroad program through Miami taught us that no matter where we are on the planet, we can feel at home because we are together.
Bertrand Piccard, the first man to complete a non-stop balloon flight around the globe, said, “Adventure is a crisis that you accept, and a crisis is an adventure that you refuse.” As Erin and I move through the chapters of life, we approach each new challenge as an adventure. Just as I promised in my wedding vows to Erin in the mountains of Mallorca, I will follow her to the ends of the Earth.
To follow along with our adventures, visit FarOutExpat.com, where you’ll also find travel ideas and trip itineraries.
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