Why I Left the USA
Hey, I'm Hannah.
And most days I wonder how the hell I ended up here. Here, in France. Living with a British guy who happens to be my husband. It all just sort of happened.
My journey from home started when I left my hometown of Alliance, Ohio at 18. I fluttered around from college life to summer camp to studying in Spain, lived in Connecticut and Phoenix, and took lots of trips and travels in between. I was on a journey to find myself, what I wanted out of life and what was most important to me. And many of these fluttering experiences from 18-25 defined who I am as an adult.
But it wasn't enough.
So in June 2013, I quit my job, left everything behind, bought some jorts in Brooklyn, strapped on my backpack and flew off to...Belgium.
Now that might sound cliché, but my start to this journey was anything but. I didn’t get fired from my job. I didn't lose someone close to me. That big 'aha' moment never came. Rather, it came in drips and drabs, slowly setting on and sinking in deeper and deeper with each passing day. Until I had enough, and knew it was the time to leave.
I left because I was bored
Life was fine post-college.
But that was the problem, things were just fine.
I was living in a new city (what up Phoenix!). I had a job in an industry I was passionate about and a boss I looked up to. I was soaking up the sunshine, going to pool parties every weekend and making lots of friends. But it was surface level happiness. It was checking the boxes and looking good on paper but it wasn't fulfilling. I knew it wasn't where I was supposed to be.
I also wanted a challenge
I was coasting by just fine, but I wanted life to be more challenging. Which honestly sounds so pretentious to be upset that your life is too easy. What kind of brat was I? But it was more than that, I just couldn’t articulate it at the time.
I wanted a deep challenge. Something that was going to push my boundaries, challenge my core beliefs and make me question my worldview. I wanted to learn new languages, navigate unfamiliar cities and make friends with people who were nothing like me.
This was my opportunity
What really pushed me was working for a study abroad company. We were sending students abroad every semester to explore new cultures and step out of their comfort zone. And our international staff were coaching them through the process, being their mentors and watching them grow and expand their worldview. Whereas I was sitting in a cubicle updating spreadsheets with their course schedules. I wanted to be on the other end.
I knew if there was any time in my life that it would be feasible to travel and live abroad, it was then.
No house, no spouse, and no kids = prime time to flee home.
So I scoured Facebook and found my Swedish friend - who I'd worked with previously - was posting some really awesome pictures of what looked like a 'job'. So I got in touch with him, applied to said job, and when I was offered 5 weeks of work for the summer I thought, good enough.
Pretty much everyone thought I was living in a dream and that I'd soon return home, with little to show. I can't say I knew that wouldn't happen, but I was pretty confident I could make it work for a year or so.
Fast forward four years...
I’m still living in Europe. I met my husband the first day of that 5-week summer gig, and now we're building a life here in France. Literally. We have a ton of work to do on our (future) house. I didn't plan to live in France. Life flowed in this direction, and I was in a positive and open place where I could go with said flow.
Life in the French Alps has forced me to slow down (patience is the number one virtue here! - more on that later). I'm living closer to nature and more in tune with weather patterns. I'm surviving on less income but have a lot more free time. All of these lifestyle changes combined have given me the opportunity to explore what I value most in life. To decide how I want to live and what I want to prioritize. I have dove deep into self-development and I'm continuously working on becoming the best version of myself.
I now aim to lead a more intentional, mindful and simple lifestyle that is more rewarding than anything I had been doing previously.