Photo by: Cathryn Lavery
Photo by: Cathryn Lavery

Ignite your passions while living overseas

by Elizabeth Jones
Stripes Europe

As exciting as living in Europe can be, the honeymoon phase tends to fade away for most spouses once they’ve realized how difficult it can be to progress in their career field. Whether the frustration lies within feeling overqualified for open positions or falling short of landing ideal jobs, the frustration is still present and can send many into a downward spiral.

Take a step back and evaluate what is most important to you to achieve during this tour. Making strides in your career? Volunteering more? Enhancing your education? Focusing on your health? Discovering what your passion really is? Once you know, run with it and don’t give up.

 

CAREER

Where to start: USAJobs.gov, NAFjobs.org, freelancing, home-based businesses or on the economy.

Federal jobs - It’s good to start looking online at USAJobs.gov and NAFjobs.org before you PCS, especially for federal jobs that align with your professional background. Understand that the timing of the hiring process can be very quick or take several months.

Note: For the following options, check the SOFA agreement between the U.S. and your host nation as well as your installation’s legal office to avoid losing your SOFA status and ensuring you have all the required documentation to legally work in your host nation or can even pursue the options below.

Freelancing - Freelancing is a great way to work remotely and have flexibility. There are tons of job opportunities online that seek freelancers in multiple career fields. Check websites like www.freelancers.com, www.upwork.com and www.indeed.com.

Home-based businesses - Similar to the situation of freelancing, home-based businesses allow you flexibility and usually align with whatever you’re passionate about.

Working on the economy - Look into what places are hiring on the economy and inquire with the businesses about job openings. Give detail on your background and experience.

 

VOLUNTEER

Where to start: Stars and Stripes Europe, USO, Red Cross, A&FRC, ACS, FSS and F&MWR.

Unpaid experience is still professional experience and will look better on a resume than an empty gap to future employers. Love to help put on events? Interested in community outreach? Talented writer? Find organizations that align with your skills and start volunteering. Volunteer opportunities can also lead to a potential job. Worst case — you’ll gain experience, make great contacts and sharpen your skills.

EDUCATION

Where to start: Education Center.

Most tours last two to three years which is an optimal amount of time to work on your education. Complete your bachelor’s, tackle your master’s, pursue your doctorate's, or get a second degree in another field! Whatever it is you decide, there’s no better time to knock out an educational milestone than now.

 

PERSONAL GROWTH

Where to start: With yourself.

Depending on the season of life you’re in, sometimes you simply need to work on you. Bettering yourself can come in many forms so it’s up to you to decide which path you want to take.

Health - This can apply to your physical, mental and emotional health. Find a workout plan and stick to it. Eat whole foods but find a balance to indulge in the delicacies Europe has to offer. See a counselor or confide in a friend. Take a social media break. Plan self-care days as often as you need them. Call your loved ones — even if you have 1,000 other things to do. Discover what your body wants you to take care of and find a solution. Turn those solutions into habits and grow into a happier and healthier you.

Travel - See as much of the world as you can! Living in Europe is the perfect time to explore. Be more than just a tourist — embrace unfamiliarity and push the boundaries of your comfort zone.

Get creative - Write about your travels, try DIY projects on Pinterest, take a wine and paint class, practice knitting, dabble into photography or pick up online design classes — tap into your creative side and see what comes from it.

Find your passion - Maybe you’ve read this entire article and thought you aren’t passionate about any of these things. That’s okay! The beauty of this season can be discovering what exactly that passion is for you.
 

“Do what you have to do until you can do what you want to do” - Oprah Winfrey

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