As Paul Theroux once declared, “All travel is circular…After all, the grand tour is just the inspired man’s way of heading home.” What travelers understand is that you can never really know what home is until you have left it.
But why should you pick up and move when you are so very comfortable with the life you have? As an artist, maybe you are already figuring out your niche, you are starting to establish a good network of creative friends and mentors, you are honing your skills, your mind is full of ideas, you are working on more and more projects.
Your creative pursuits may be doing just fine, but life doesn’t need to be boring to need an adventur. You don’t have to wait till things aren’t going well for you to go out and explore a world that is entirely different than the one you have always known.
If you’re looking to immerse yourself in a new culture abroad as you wait for inspiration to hit you, there are a slew of accessible options out there. Here are just a few ideas for studying or working abroad:
–Study abroad for a semester or two, whether you’re still in college or not
–Apply for an artist’s residency
–Be a Workawayer or a WWOOFER
–Become an au pair
–Do some house sitting
–Rent a room or an apartment on Airbnb or other short-term rental site
And now that you know how to make the move, here are some of the benefits of embarking upon a travel adventure or a short-term stay abroad:
1) Get away from the familiar.
Shake things up! Step away from all that you know, or as some people like to say, get out of your comfort zone. When you travel, you inevitably discover new inspiration, new people, new ways of thinking. You simply won’t know what’s out there until you leave everything behind. Don’t worry, it’s not forever (unless you want it to be), and if working abroad doesn’t work out, you can always return home anytime.
2) Study or live in the place that is relevant to your art.
If you’ve yearned to view that magical light under which Monet and Cezanne painted, this is your chance to experience France. Obsessed with Joyce? Spend some time in Dublin writing in his old haunts. Do you fall apart at the sound of fado? Only Portugal knows the secrets to this melancholy sound.
3) When you return, you’ll see the familiar with fresh eyes.
If and when you get back home, you’ll more than likely have a different perspective on all that you once knew so well. You might find that you weren’t appreciating your family or friends as much as you should have. You might discover that your community isn’t as boring as you thought it was—or on the other hand, you may finally realize that this isn’t the place for you to be if you want to take your career to great heights.
4) Learn new techniques and approaches, and acquire materials you can’t find back home.
You might find materials that don’t exist back home, so stock up while you can! And if you want to study painting from a French master, well, you can only do that in France. Sign up for all the classes you can handle and/or afford.
5) See a different way to live.
Perhaps having tiny espressos all day long as they do in Lisbon will really boost your creative energies. Maybe you’ll find that you prefer eating dinner at 10.30 pm as they often do in Buenos Aires, so you can really stretch out your day and spend more time on your projects. Or maybe the simple village life and beautiful nature of rural Bulgaria will inspire you more than you ever could have imagined.
Just make that first move, and things will never be the same.