My name is Savannah Grace. I am a 24 year old Canadian traveller and author who left everything behind to follow my dreams and my heart. I would almost be putting you on the wrong foot, though, by saying I gave everything up. In all honestly, there wasn’t much left for me to give up, as I’d just been on a 4 year backpacking adventure around the world with my family, that took me to nearly 80 countries. Perhaps this journey was what prompted me to take action to follow my own dreams. While I was on the family adventure, I fell in love with a Dutch man who we met in Ghana, Africa. At age 18, I decided to chase after him, and got on a plane to Holland with only 40Euro in my pocket, after spending all my savings on my plane ticket. A risk, indeed!
I always knew I wanted to be a writer,
but how, when and where was the big mystery. A million guesses never would have brought me to Holland. Fortunately, everything fell into the right place at the right time. That didn’t mean, though, that I was denied the sheer terror that came with taking the plunge. I had never been to Holland before and didn’t know what on earth would happen. When I saw the sunrise on the airplane, shortly before landing, I literally felt all the worries wash away.
Language and paperwork
Of course, I would be in for some big challenges. The biggest one sometimes has been the language barrier, but the ultimate one, that I think everyone will face, is getting the right legal documents to be permitted to stay. Again, I was lucky to be able to initially apply for a work visa (being a Canadian, and falling into the appropriate age range) and from there I transferred onto a partnership visa, which made things significantly easier, though it’s always a hassle when it comes to immigration.
Walking in a dream
These obstacles were what determined just how badly I wanted this dream. Staying strong and pushing through the challenges gave me the rewards I enjoy today. I love how being an entrepreneurial expat makes me feel proud, brave and confident that I can do anything and that this is just the beginning. Things never feel stale, because, gosh, where might I end up next? I love that I have the freedom in my work to explore and enjoy the beauty around me then classify it as work. I gain so much inspiration from the beautiful, foreign sights around me. Windmills, little wooden bridges, people whizzing by on bicycles and horses, swans begging from treats from the gentle flowing canals… it’s like walking in a dream. And to know that this has all become my reality because I dared to dream it, is the most empowering feeling.
There are few things I would do differently, because the ups and downs are all part of the learning process. But I know I could always work harder. Because I started off so young, I suppose I felt like time wasn’t an issue. Looking back, I see how incredible fast time has gone by and never want to let a minute be wasted. It’s hard to think that it’s been nearly 6 years since I arrived. If I were to do it over I would try to learn the language faster, take more drastic measures to embrace the culture, and really make a schedule for myself. I am self-employed, so that is another major challenge.
Fear is an illusion
The number one thing you need to avoid and steer clear of as an entrepreneurial expat, is fear. I still struggle with this, but every single time I am afraid to take a chance, scared that I might do it wrong, or it won’t turn out right, I am proven wrong, and shown, once again, how absolutely useless fear is. It is only an illusion, so don’t let fear get in the way of pursuing your dreams!
Savananah is the young author of two books:
- I Grew my Boobs in China
- Backpacks and Bra Straps
Sihpromatum (Sip-row-may-tum) is a memoir series of one family’s introspective, four-year, 80 country backpacking adventure.
In 2005, 14-year-old Savannah Grace’s perfect world is shattered when her mother unexpectedly announces that the family would soon leave everything they know behind to travel the world.
In Savannah’s words “The series title ‘Sihpromatum’ is a made up word that means a blessing in disguise because until now, there isn’t another word that I know of that means that. To me, the entire trip was a very big sihpromatum! I initially was very reluctant to go, but in the end it was the very best thing that ever could have happened to me.”