It was just over 5 years ago when I boarded a plane and moved to Shanghai China. I had no idea at the time, but it would turn out to be the best decision I have ever made.
I took the international opportunity for a number of reasons. Most notably, I had never lived outside my home country. I worked with many international athletes and I always asked for their insight of living as a foreigner.
Career-wise, at 28 years old, I was nearly fed up. I felt like there were only a handful of options to work as an athletic trainer: clinic, academia, or in the trenches of professional/collegiate/secondary schools. That's it. Counting 3 sets of 10 for 6-6.5 days/week with a below average salary.
I searched for other global options. In 2014, the only international opportunities were baseball in Latin America or... China. I took an outreach athletic trainer position for the promise of $500 a month plus an apartment. A 10-month internship turned into 4 years. The internship turned into a full-time expatriate package.
Now, I am happily living in Brussels Belgium with my girlfriend. In my 5th year abroad, I have been very fortunate to:
- Launch a Sports Medicine & Wellness program.
- Visit 40 countries.
- Found a professional association.
- Start an entrepreneurship.
- Added two languages (well... a poorly spoken survival level at least).
- Presented at multiple conferences.
None of which would have been possible without the support of many people along the way - and good timing.
It's a big world and athletic trainers can have a dramatic impact in the lives of others, their own, and our profession. You have to figure it out for yourself and have courage. It's not easy. There's no handbook. But, it can be fun.