Post by Natasha Lo
I think we’re all guilty of making decisions to travel and live abroad due to certain events in our lives. Sometimes these difficult events and hardships tend to make travel getaways the perfect remedy. I’ve known Cassandra all my life. Growing up with her, I knew her story was one to tell. I really wanted to capture a different perspective which was travel as a remedy. She left Hawaii after graduating college to Au Pair and live abroad in Bermuda as well as Melbourne – and has yet to come back home after several years. Her strong, yet adaptable free spirit has always been an inspiration to me so I hope you find a connection with her as I have.
So how did it all start? What made you decide to Au Pair and live abroad in a different country?
I’ve always had the desire to leave Hawaii. That thought was always there especially as I watched different shows, read books about cool places or just saw others traveling. I imagined myself in those places and wanted to immerse myself in the culture. But to be honest I always thought about it but never actually did it. I was pretty scared of the idea. It wasn’t till a break up that I decided to just do it. I definitely took it to an extreme level where I didn’t even care where I was going – I just wanted to leave everything that reminded me of him, our relationship and disappointments.
I did however want a job. I didn’t really care where. Being an Au Pair was a chance to not only live abroad but to actually have a plan going into it. I went through a long list of places and eventually got really lucky with Bermuda.
When the decision was made and the documents turned in, I was excited but completely terrified. There was no turning back especially with everyone knowing I was going to leave. I knew nothing about being an Au Pair or living in a different country. Here I was, a girl who lived in Hawaii for 24 years of her life in the same town and all of a sudden going across the world.
How long did this whole process take?
It all happened within a year. First I had to make the decision that I was going to do it for myself. Then from there did everything to make it happen. The part that took the longest was the visa situation.
What was it actually like getting to Bermuda knowing you were going to live there for a year?
Adapting was so hard. I definitely felt overwhelmed, but at the same time felt empowered. I didn’t know anyone so I basically threw myself into everything. It was like a fresh start. Learning the culture, the people… Even learned how to drive on the other side of the road! When people travel, they sometimes just stick to their comfort zones doing the touristy stuff, surrounding themselves with people they may already know. The easy way out. They may never try new things or meet new people. It can be such a shame. For me, I had no choice but to leave my comfort zone.
It wasn’t easy making friends especially because my job had no co-workers, and I also didn’t drink at the time or didn’t party – which was what everyone did there. I did make time to volunteer, host bake sales, join workout and dance classes, walk the city and just talk to people. Generally I’m an outgoing person but this was a whole other level where I really had to engage with people in a completely different way. It wasn’t like I was just there on vacation – I was literally trying to set up a new life.
So I’m assuming you did some research on Bermuda – was it everything you expected?
I did do some research. Tried to get a feel of the place, watch videos on YouTube, read some book and articles. But honestly when I arrived it was COMPLETELY different. I realized that everything I read or saw about Bermuda was very surface level. It was like it had a tourist lens/filter.
Looking back – what are some other thoughts that you have about your decisions?
As impulsive as I was making the decision to live in another country, after meeting more people that have done the same, I realized that I took the safe way to live abroad. Basically I had a job which happened to cover many living expenses that I didn’t have to worry about. For other people I’ve met, especially here in Australia, they just got a visa and moved – not finding a job or anything beforehand.
When you move to a new country and decide to be an Au Pair, you automatically become apart of a family. They give you some idea about the culture, way of life and how to get around which is pretty comforting in a sense. I probably would’ve been even more scared if I just picked up and traveled without a plan.
What do you think has changed the most about you?
I think the biggest change is my ability to literally talk to anyone. I have no problem talking to or approaching people. Also when I engage with people I’m a lot more curious about them – their lives, their story. I want to know their background, what brought them where they are now… Just because I think everyone has a story to tell. I genuinely love hearing other stories.
I also appreciate my family and home much more, and I’ve realized that Hawaii will always be home. As much as I miss them I knew that what I was doing exactly what I needed to be doing. I needed to step out of my comfort zone. Mormon-ism and Hawaii was just two big bubbles I was stuck in.
Lastly I lost myself in my last relationship and now I can say that I’ve definitely gotten myself back. I am so much more independent and no longer afraid to take risks. It’s crazy to think about where I was and where I am now – mentally and emotionally.
In your opinion, what was the hardest part about living abroad?
The hardest part was having to say goodbye. I hate saying goodbye and I’ve had to do it ever since I started living abroad. You make good friendships, but sometimes they’re traveling too so it never gets easier. Luckily technology gives you options to still try and connect while apart.