I met Ashley in a women’s travel group on Facebook. I was really moved by her personable nature, and her story was fascinating to me! She moved to Tijuana to save money, and created a whole new life for herself there! I was so excited to visit her one day in Tijuana, and she took me to some really cool places, showing me a different side of the city that I had never seen before! Shortly after, she moved to China to teach English and embark on her latest journey! I am so excited to have her here to kick off #CurvesandaCollab sharing her journey! -S
I’ve always had this inner desire for something more. As a young girl, I had dreams and aspirations of getting into Juilliard. Sadly, dreams shift and “adjust” as you grow older. The realities of life hit too hard, especially for a 12-year-old girl who seemed to bear the weight of the whole world on her shoulders.
High School Graduation came far too quickly; I wasn’t prepared. I thought to myself, “perhaps the military would be the best option so I can travel the world.” However, a rude awakening washed over me when I was medically disqualified due to childhood seizures (Epilepsy.)
By then, admission deadlines to colleges had flown by, and I didn’t have the means of transportation to get there and to work simultaneously. I was seriously unprepared for college as well: I never took AP tests, I never passed Algebra I, and I failed the one class that would have given the most direction: AP Art History. Actually, I arrived late every morning, with an Iced Coffee in hand. As well, I had below average grades. I was directionless.
Luckily, I was working part-time at the local diner and I made enough to move out on my own, two days after I turned eighteen. Fast-forward one year later, I bought my first car, I moved in to my own condo with a great roommate, but financially I fell apart. I couldn’t support the life-style I created. One year later, I lost everything I deemed “important”: my job, my friends, my car, and my relationship with my family. I had nothing.
I began working a minimum-wage job at a warehouse with Latina workers. Due mostly to their influence, I toyed with the idea of moving to Tijuana, Mexico and working in San Diego. I wondered to myself, “How difficult is it?” “What is the commute like?” The warehouse workers actually advised me against it. They said it was too exhausting. And what do I do when people tell me I can’t do something? I do it anyways.
A good co-worker and friend of mine took me down to party and it was drastically different than anything I ever imagined. The people were so kind and friendly. And all the stories I heard from the Media were dead wrong.
One month and seven-hundred dollars later I moved to Tijuana. My mother cried.
The commute was brutal. I woke up at 3am to cross the border by 5am to be in Santee, California no later than 7am. (Typically a 2 hour commute) I slept on the trolley, mostly. I came home by 6pm, ate tacos, fed the street dogs, and hit replay. Over and over again, living off of minimum wage. I barely made it. It was nearly impossible. Eventually, the commute became too daunting. I quit my job and immersed myself back into the service industry. Half the hours and my income inflated immensely due to the generosity of others (aka, tips). It was a lovely 3 years. I embraced the culture with outstretched arms, and a Mexican family even adopted me!
But what did I have to show for it? Where were my savings? I was making “great” money compared to my cost of livng, but I slowly grew depressed.
So 2018 became “The Year of Firsts:”
My First Real Breakup. My first time moving away from family. My first time saying goodbye yo my mom at a train station. My first Girls’ Trip (also my first and certainly not my last time in Vegas)! My first time being drunk for three days straight (and my last time gambling!). My first time watching someone gamble away a weeks’ worth of pay.
My First Time flying on an airplane. My first visit to Hawaii (in lovely Kauai). My first time eating Poke. MY first time watching Moana! My First Time in Kauai, Hawaii.
I then headed on a trip to Barcelona/Seville. This meant my first time traveling internationally, my first backpacking trip, my first Tapas experience, and my first time attending mass…at the Sagrada Familia (thank you, Gaudi)!
November brought new adventures…I headed to Morocco and experienced my first Muslim Country, my first time visiting a University and a Mosque, my first visit to a Medina in Fez, and the first time I ever ate Tagina in Marrakech!
I came home, only to pack my life into two suitcases for the first time, and begin my new journey: Moving to China to teach English!
December brought my first time in China, my first experience teaching, my first time experiencing all four seasons, and my first time creating a new home/family away from home.
Here I am now, 2 months into living in China. I currently work an average of 3-4 hours daily and have the luxury to pursue whatever my soul truly desires: perhaps linguistics, English Literature, Jujitsu, photography, working on business models/app developments, mastering the keyboard, cooking, and of course, writing.
Most importantly, I have discovered how to begin to love myself properly. To not fixate on my weight or the number on a scale. The rest indeed follows.
Traveling has changed my life in every single aspect. I am so grateful for the opportunities that have come my way, and I look forward to what else 2019 will bring me.
Much love and Happy New Year from China,