Wanderluster series: where we let the travelers share their journeys to inspire yours. Today we are pleased to present the story of Francien Ten Hulscher, a 25 year-old Dutch explorer.
I was 18 when I decided to go abroad. I was in my first year of a bachelor’s degree in tourism management but my decision to go abroad didn´t really have anything to do with my degree. My friends had invited a girl (whom I didn't like) to our holiday that summer and to keep things short, I knew I did not want to spend my holiday with her. So I told them I'm working abroad this summer to gain experience for my degree. Best choice of my life.
Now I had to choose where I was going to work abroad. As an 18 year-old I did not have a lot of options. Through the internet I came across a website that offered jobs at holiday parks in France. I applied, joined a meet and greet weekend in the Netherlands and got accepted. I ended up going there for three summers and had an amazing time. The pay was not great, but all the people who worked there had similar interests and because we worked and lived together for the whole summer we bonded. It was like a little family.
Because of my tourism degree I was required to do an internship overseas. I was lucky that my university had contacts. I got a placement at a small hotel on Bonaire which is part of the Dutch Caribbean (yes they speak Dutch!) For 5 months I was living in paradise. On the island there are no big dramas, no rules and no worries. I have to admit that I did not do a lot of university work, but it was all worth it. After this, my final year was over and now the 'real life' had started. Society expects you to get an actual job after you graduate so I followed the crowd and started looking for work. My first real job turned out to be amazing, even though it was only temporary for 6 months. The company was great, the colleagues were friendly but I was stuck in an office from 9 till 5 staring at a computer screen.
One day one of my colleagues told me about a summer camp that she used to work at in the United States. Straight away a child memory of 'Parent Trap' popped in my head and I got all excited. She gave me the email address of the camp director and one Skype interview later I had myself a summer job in New York State. This was probably the scariest thing I have done because nobody spoke my native language. The first hour at camp I was surrounded by people who all spoke English with different accents. I can tell you that it is extremely tiring to concentrate all day long to understand what people are saying. But as the weeks went by I started to think in English and a few weeks later I was even dreaming in English. Just like in France we were working and living together and became a family. I came back for another two summers after the first one.
In between my first and second summer I got a full time job in the Netherlands again, but I did not see the point in looking for a job in between my second and third summer. Well, at least not in the Netherlands. I came back in late August after camp and by the end of September I was in New Zealand. It´s the furthest I have ever been away from home in my life. The beauty of the landscapes, scenery and views of New Zealand is something you cannot ignore. I started to work at a hotel in a national park on the South Island where the highest mountain of the country can be found. Since I am from flattest country in the world you can say that I was blown away. Have you ever had that moment when you look around you and think: 'I am so happy and lucky to be here'? That is how I felt every day. After 7 months of New Zealand I went back for my last summer at camp in the USA. I just turned 24 and was not ready to go back to an office yet. Australia became my next destination and for the next 11 months I worked at the reception in hostels and lived with an Australian family as their Au Pair. During those last three months in the outback I felt that it was time to go home soon, but not before I travelled a bit of Asia as well.
Now, here I am 25 years old and sitting on a 12-hour flight back home. In one week I can move into my new flat and in three weeks I am starting at my old office job again. I do not know what I will be doing in six months but I do know that I have to try to find a balance between my desire for travelling and building a future. Because yes, one day I do want to have a husband, children and a dog and a cat. And I will be sharing all my stories of adventure with them. I will tell them that it is important to listen to your instinct and intuition. Do not follow the crowd. Because if I would have followed the crowd, I would have gone on that holiday with my friends, come back and still be the same 18 year old girl that was too scared to do anything on her own.