Now What? The Short-Term Goals After Nearly a Year Around the World

I’ve been back in the States for a week, and I’m just now starting to settle in. It’s been a whirlwind of cleaning and organizing the stuff I carried around in a backpack for the better part of a year, meeting up with friends I haven’t seen in as long, going to one of my favorite weddings ever, and dragging my family along to my most-missed eating spots in town. But now it’s the second week here, the jet lag is behind me, and it’s time to think about what’s next.

Lots of this in my future

Lots of this in my future

As I’ve mentioned before, my long-term goals involve more travel and finding the money to make that happen. I will definitely be in the States through the end of September, and possibly through Christmas, depending on what kind of employment I find. But I’d like to skip winter again this year if I can, so in the new year (if not sooner) I’ll be heading off to Africa or Latin America.

In the short term, I’m readjusting to suburban America, which takes some doing–the politics, the modes of transportation, the distances from place to place, the foods, they’re all different. I’m also living with my parents again for the first time since I graduated college 8 years ago. That takes adjustment on both sides! We’re figuring out how to make it work for everyone; they’re quite content with their lives and I don’t want to get in the way of that, and they want me to be happy but also productive. Which sounds about right.

Here are my goals for the next few months:

1) Get short-term health insurance. This is easily the biggest difference between where I’ve been and where I am now. I’ve had health insurance through my various employers ever since I graduated college, and before that I was covered under my parents’ plan. If I were in the UK, I’d show the National Health Service (NHS) proof of residency and they’d assign me a doctor (who I could change if I wanted), and that would be that, no fuss. But as we know, it’s a very big fuss in the States. It’s scary to be without insurance here, so I’m shopping around to find a short-term plan that won’t charge a huge deductible or monthly fee. If you have any leads, let me know!

2) Find employment. If I stay through the end of the year, I’d like something stable, but I also don’t want to feel bad ditching after just a few months. I’ll be signing up with temp agencies, which will hopefully provide me with admin or data entry work, or something that will put some money in my pocket. Of course, I’m always on the lookout for freelance editing work, so I’ll keep that search up, and I might try pitching some pieces of my own to online magazines and such as well. Be sure to tell your friends and neighbors they can hire me for odd jobs, housesitting, babysitting–just about anything!

3) Focus on the writing. I’ve been cranking out blog posts for y’all Monday through Friday for all of 2013, as promised, and I’m happy I challenged myself to do that. I’ll continue to make that a goal, but I’m also going to try my hand at more in-depth essays and pieces that someone other than me might want to publish.

4) Keep within a budget. It’s easy to simultaneously feel like I’m still traveling about and should experience everything at least once and the extra dollar or two isn’t that much, AND to feel like I’m back on familiar ground so all the old spending habits can come back. But I do not have the steady job I used to, and the whole point of this interlude is to save up for the next adventure. I have to keep that in mind.

Of course, there are other things I want to do, too: visit my friends in Chicago, make the playlist for my sibling’s wedding, learn new songs to sing with my dad, take walks with my mom, enjoy the beauty of a Michigan summer, read new books, and finally watch the new season of Arrested Development.

It’s going to be a good few months.  

13 thoughts on “Now What? The Short-Term Goals After Nearly a Year Around the World

  1. Having lived with both short term insurance and NHS coverage (which we LOVE), I totally understand where you’re coming from. We used United Health, but it is a jungle of red and yellow tape to traverse. Good Luck!!!!

  2. Hi Lisa, you go girl. I totallllly understand your travel addiction and admire your discipline in keeping up with stowaway …. which sub is getting married, btw? My best to you and your folks . Nan

  3. I find that being an American without health insurance IS quite scary, but only if you think about it, which fortunately I generally manage to avoid.

  4. Well done, you — looks like you have it all under control. Reverse culture shock IS unavoidable when you’ve been away a long time, but seems that you’re adjusting nicely.

    Remember you still have the option to work in New Zealand AND Australia on a working holiday visa, if you decide you feel like being an expat. Just sayin’. 🙂

  5. Hi Lisa and welcome home! Hopefully I can be of some help:

    1) When I was between gigs, I found that Golden Rule insurance (through UnitedHealthcare) was fairly affordable, even has dental/vision options. You have to jump through a hoop or two but if you’re in good health generally, hopefully it’ll not be a problem. They were pretty nice to work with. Not sure if they’re available in MI/how their rates differ there, FWIW. The whole ball of wax may change in January, though, once the Affordable Care Act goes into effect — maybe that’ll be in your favor?

    2) I got good results from Creative Circle. There are some other good temp agencies, too. (I keep forgetting you’re not in Chicago at the moment, though) If you want to e-mail me off-blog, I can give you a list of who I’ve tried. Also will keep an ear out for you w/r/t freelance writing/editing opps!

    Good luck re-integrating back into your home base, and I’m glad we’ll still get more blog posts from you as you digest your experiences. Yay!

  6. Pingback: Back in the States Update | Stowaway

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