One of my hobbies for some time now has been sketching out where I want to live for the foreseeable future. I learned very quickly back in 1998 when I first lived overseas (as an exchange student here in Vienna) that there is no substitute for living in a place if you want to get to really know the people that live there, what makes them tick, and above all, master their language. Given that moving around becomes severely more disruptive once future children start heading off to school, now's the time to seize this bull by the horns.
And so today on the back of a napkin while I was downing a falafel, I sketched out precisely where I will be for the next ten years of my life. Of course, tongue is planted somewhat firmly in cheek here, and obviously, plans will change on a daily basis, but for now, here goes:
thru Dec. 2009 Vienna
Jan-Oct 2010 Scandinavia
Nov 10-Aug 11 St. Petersburg, Russia
Sep 11-Mar 12 Italy
Apr 12-Oct 12 South of France
Nov 12-Oct 13 Marrakesh or Fez, Morocco
Nov 13-May 14 Barcelona
June 14-Feb 15 Latin America (3 months in Mexico, 1 in Central America, 2 in the Andes and Southern Cone, and 3 in Brazil)
Mar 15-Oct 15 India
Nov 15-Aug 16 China
Sep 16-May 17 South Africa
And then after that back to the states- either New Jersey or Vermont. Now count the languages: 1. English, 2. German, 3. Swedish (with additional Scandinavian languages possible depending on where I end up) 4. Russian, 5. Italian, 6. French, 7. Arabic, 8. Catalan, 9. Spanish, 10. Portuguese, 11. Hindi, 12. Chinese, 13. Afrikaans, 14. Zulu
Here's the best part too: assuming I can make a go of professional genealogy, writing books, getting a doctorate in security studies and doing independent consulting work, helping friends with their projects, setting up my international club idea, and setting up the American Student Ambassador Program (ASAP, ha ha) there's really no reason I shouldn't be able to make a go of this. And clearly, additional entrepreneurial ventures will come along, as will more traditional jobs like working for AFS. Also, I just found out I can earn up to $2000 a year selling blood plasma in Vienna- which, don't laugh, actually works out to about $35 an hour.
And while the above listed timeframe might not allow enough time for perfect fluency in the above languages, I know that I can become conversational within 3 months in any Romance or Germanic language, or 6 months for any other language. It just takes a lot of grunt work, but that's okay.
So there you have it- with luck I'll be about to turn 36 with kids about to start kindergarten and be able to speak 14 languages. You only live once, so why the hell not?