Hello there and welcome to my site! I might as well start at the beginning… I was born in the great state of Colorado in a tiny town that no one has heard of called La Junta. It’s literally in the middle of nowhere—60+ miles from anything worth visiting. After graduating high school, I moved to Golden, Colorado to attend the Colorado School of Mines. I received a large scholarship to pursue a chemical engineering degree. After two and a half years I transferred to the University of Colorado‘s Denver campus and changed my major to mechanical engineering. CU was a great school and I really blossomed as a student there. However, after another two or so years, I was fed up with school, life in Denver, and, basically, everything else, so I decided to move to Las Vegas, Nevada. I got a job working as a valet, one of the most coveted jobs in Vegas at that time. I worked at Caesar’s Palace and then moved up to the Wynn; I loved every minute of those jobs! One day I received a phone call that changed my life…
I was asked to go to Japan as a leader for a former youth group. I spent a month in Japan and absolutely fell in love with the people, culture, scenery, and food. I ended up going back later that year to see more of the country and to visit my host families and friends. After returning to Las Vegas, immediately knew I had to move to Japan. I knew the best option for a job there was teaching English. While I was in Japan, I had learned about the JET Programme, which is one of the best teaching programs in Japan. It’s a government funded program that’s been around for almost 30 years. It all seemed to be coming together except for one HUGE problem, I needed a bachelor’s degree to apply for the program. That was just the inspiration I needed to go back and finally finish my degree. I ended up graduating, with honors, from the University of Colorado with a Bachelors of Science Degree in Mechanical Engineering.
With a freshly earned degree in hand, I was all set to apply for the JET Programme. I did so and, after a very long application process, I was accepted and on my way to start my new life in Japan. I was placed at a prefectural high school where I taught English Oral Communication classes three days a week and I traveled to two other high schools for the other days. It was quite intimidating at first, but right about the six month mark, I really felt like I was home. I attended every festival I could, traveled everywhere I could, and met as many people as I could. I can easily say that my life in Japan was the highlight of my existence thus far. Japan is accommodating, kind, respectful, strange, mysterious, down-right weird, safe, quaint, insane, loving, delicious, beautiful, and a whole mess of other adjectives that I don’t have the space to list. Without a doubt, it’s one of the best places I have ever been and I wouldn’t hesitate for a moment to go back, to live or to visit.
Speaking of places I have ever been, my first flight over an ocean was to the Bahamas to do a little SCUBA diving. That beautiful blue ocean called me back two more times. This was all while I was living in Vegas making a decent wage. I was able to go to the Bahamas three times, Japan twice, and Belize, also for diving. After I moved to Japan, I took advantage of my proximity to the rest of Asia and, in five years, I visited Taiwan, Vietnam, Laos, Palau, Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore, China, Cambodia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Maldives, Macau, Hong Kong, and Thailand. Of course I also traveled all over Japan, in fact, I explored 30 of the 47 prefectures (similar to our states). Each is a microcosm of food, culture, scenery, and language dialect. I’ve traveled by train, bus, car, truck, plane, boat, bicycle, motorcycle, tricycle, bamboo raft, elephant, tire tube, and on foot.
I’d like to take a moment to talk about Thailand, specifically. This is another country that really tugged at my heart. Each winter holiday, while I was living in Japan, I spent Christmas volunteering at an orphanage and primary school in a small village along the Burmese border called Sangkhlaburi. I led a team of mostly English teachers from Japan but also former teachers or friends of friends from all over the world to work for a week each year. We taught classes at the school run by the orphanage, gave out presents that we brought from Japan, did odd jobs around the children’s home, and just hung out with the children. I was so attached to those smiling faces that, after my time with the JET Programme was finished, I moved to Sangkhlaburi. I did come back to the U.S. for a few months in between to visit family and friends. I volunteered at the school and orphanage for almost a year. When I say that living in Thailand is different than living in Japan and when I say that both are far different from living in the U.S., I’m dead serious. My place in Thailand was a concrete box with walls that didn’t reach the roof. I shared my flat with spiders, rats, lizards, small and giant geckos, mosquitos (that carry Dengue Fever and Malaria), termites, cockroaches, and ants. My front yard was a jungle full of all sorts of creepy crawlies. In the village were stray dogs, snakes, cats, chickens, and other obstacles to avoid while driving my motorcycle back and forth to town. Add all that to a rainy season that lasted six months and it made for quite the life experience!
I figured six years living abroad was enough and decided to move to Bakersfield, California (send me a message if you want to know more about why I chose Bakersfield). I’m currently working my way through University of La Verne‘s teacher credentialing program and working full time as an 8th grade math and Algebra teacher. It’s been a long twisty road full of detours that led me to this point and I’m looking forward to seeing where this next path leads!