I was 25, living in Toronto, I had great job in marketing, I owned my first apartment & car, I had accomplished all these “goals” I had set out to achieve after graduating from University. I had all these things I thought would make me successful and happy. I felt like I could see the next 5-10 years unfold before my eyes: continue working, continue paying a mortgage, possibly get married (everyone I know was starting to get married), I just wasn’t excited about the future, I felt so bored.
Looking back I can’t pin point the exact moment that I started exploring moving. I think it was just the fear of the mundane. I always wanted to live or work outside of Canada but never got the opportunity through work and I didn’t want to give up on this goal of mine. So I began looking at International companies and applying for jobs but nothing seemed to work out; I still didn’t want to give up on my goal. I started narrowing down which countries I wanted to target. This part came pretty easy because I was mainly looking for safety, warmth, and a country that had many multi-national companies so I would have ample opportunity to continue my marketing career. I had already lived in England as I did part of my University degree there, so I didn’t want to do Europe again. I’ve always been intrigued with Latin culture so I started looking at Central and South America. The decision was pretty easy because the only 2 countries I considered that met my criteria were Panama and Chile….but Chile was too long of a flight from home so there was my decision, I chose Panama.
Within 3 months I put together a plan, a plan to leave my job, a plan to rent my place out, a plan to move..without a job, without an idea of what to expect. My parents were confused at first, they didn’t know why I would give up stability for so much uncertainty, but they also knew that when I set my mind to something, I’m going to do it! So with their support I made it happen. I moved out, closed up my life in Toronto, and bought that ticket. My mom who has always supported every crazy decision I’ve made flew down with me to help me settle in.
Within 2 weeks of moving there, I got a job and found an apartment. I wasn't expecting for things to happen so quickly but I took it as a sign. I started teaching myself Spanish right away, I would spend hours nerding out to books and good old rosetta stone. I was determined to be fluent and finally achieved that goal after 3 months. Everyone I met in Panama were so kind and helpful, I made some amazing friendships. The culture in Panama and most Latin countries is so laid back and fun-loving. I would spend evenings and weekends socializing, beach hopping and exploring the beautiful country.
My absolute favourite part of this country were the San Blas islands. These islands also known as Kuna Yala are an archipelago comprised of approximately 378 islands, only which of 49 are inhabited by the indigenous Kuna indians; it is located in the Caribbean coast of Panama. From the day I discovered this paradise, I fell in love. From then on I would go back there every chance I got. These aren't your typical islands with all-inclusive resorts; it is rustic and basic and beautiful, no air conditioning, you sleep in huts or camp in your tent and the floor is sand. I loved it! I would say Panama definitely helped bring out my more adventurous side! I learned to appreciate a more basic way of living, a minimalist approach to life and what true happiness really means.
I spent 3 years in Panama and had some of the best years of my life. It was such a big challenge in so many different ways but I loved it. I'd like to think this journey I went on was meant to be because I also met my husband in Panama! He was on vacation out there and the rest is history.
I guess if you're going to take anything away from this, it's DO IT, don't look back, challenge yourself, try it out. You won't know unless you try.