Story telling 4: Dave, New Castle

What's your story

Time for a change.

Hi, I am Dave. I am 25 years old and I´m from Newcastle in the UK. I am about to finish my studies in international politics and foreign affairs, and I don’t know what to do next.

I am considering three options;

  1. I could start applying for jobs and going for job interviews, mainly in London.
  2. I could continue straight away with the master studies,
  3. I could take a break, do some totally different things, and then take up the studies again or try to get a job.

I´ve been talking about this with my parents, my sister and some of my friends. My parents think I should go for the master studies, get finished and then find out what to do. The thing is that I don´t really know what I will focus on. There is nothing in this subject that interests me more. In addition I´m quite fed up of studying, Newcastle, the same people around me all the time and of living with my parents.

Most of my friends think I should start looking for a job, get some experience and find out if this profession really is something for me. They think I could then return to my studies after working for a couple of years.

My sister thinks that I should take a year off, the option that my parents absolutely like the least. (I´m sure she suggests this because she wants to do it herself, and now I will do it first so our parents will be prepared when she breaks the same news to them in a couple of years.)

My sister knows me very well, and she knows that I am bored with the daily life and routines here in Newcastle. Both of us feel that everything is kind of predictable.


You can close your eyes, turn off the brain because nothing new will happen, and no challenges need to be dealt with. Everything here is small, nothing new happens, and you hardly ever see any new people. When we were children, we would sit looking at the pictures in travel brochures for hours, dreaming away and making priority lists of where to go. When I went to bed at night, I would close my eyes and think of what I could do, hear, taste and experience if I stayed for a while in these foreign places.

A lot of times I would get worried, almost scared thinking about how different and strange it would be not having the usual people and things around me. How I could deal with daily life issues without communicating in English, maybe I would meet the “wrong” people, and I could get into trouble.

On the other hand, my impatience was growing, and I had already spoken with some people who had been abroad, either as students on scholarships or as travellers. All of them thought I should go abroad for at least a year. “There is always time later to take up the studies again.” “The studies will only take two years, so you will still be young when you start applying for jobs”, they would say.


So, I have been quite confused for a while. Whom should I listen to? What would be the advantages and disadvantages of the different options?

Would I spoil my future professional career if I took a break? If I didn´t take a break, would I regret it the rest of my life? Walking around in grey and foggy England and just be dissatisfied for not having taken the chance, getting more bitter and angry at myself every day?

Once, at a meeting with my tutor at university, he asked me about my future plans. I told him that one of my ambitions was to work in an international organisation, for example the United Nations, travel around and work in an international environment. He asked me if I had any experience living abroad or being exposed to different cultures.

He pointed out to me that this would be important in the “business” I wanted to be a part of, and people with experiences from stays in foreign countries would be preferred. I was sure that he was going to recommend that I continued with the master studies right away, but to my surprise he suggested that I should take at least a year off, to see something new and to discover new cultures and myself.” We are not going anywhere, so when you return, we will be ready to wish you welcome into our Masters programme, he said laughing.

Do it

After the tutorials I went back to the library to study a bit more, but that was impossible. My head was full of new ideas, and I realised that the chat with my tutor made the difference. I read the same sentence repeatedly in the article I was studying without really understanding what I was reading about. My head was about to blow up with the decision I had finally made What a relief! Now, I had to concentrate on passing the last exams, telling my parents and my friends that I was going to spend next year abroad, and start the preparations. WHERE, WHAT and HOW would have to wait, but the decision was made.

A week after the exams, I had no set ideas and I was aimlessly surfing the net.

Trinity College Cert TESOL course in Madrid, came up. Could that be something? Teaching English and travel the world at the same time?

I couldn´t immediately see myself as a teacher, but maybe because I had no idea about what that would be like? I decided to take a closer look at this web page tomorrow morning. I felt a certain relief falling asleep………

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