Hey there. I’m Maureen and I’m glad you stopped by.
I’ve loved traveling ever since I was a child. I used to ride “shotgun” with my parents when we drove cross-country in our campers back in the 70’s. I always took command of the road atlas, telling my parents where to turn.
Then, when I was brainstorming a blog name, my dentist, Dr. Rudy, told me that the ‘Atlas‘ is the first vertebra between your head and your spine. He said, ‘call it Moe’s Atlas‘. It resonated with me on so many levels.
My first International Living Experience
The best experience of my life was when I was 20 when I moved to Italy to study abroad for a year.
I came from a small town in Wisconsin and set out to study in a land unfamiliar to me, in a language not my own. I don’t even have Italian roots! Any rate, my stomach made the decision. I thought about the food. What could I eat for 12 months?
So that was it! I crammed 2 years worth of language courses into one, and said, ‘arrivaderci!’
My life would change forever on September 5, 1985 when I got on that plane for Bologna, Italy.
In 11 months, I visited most of Europe, met many lovely Italians, and cool US and international students who were studying in Bologna.
The following July, I returned to the US kicking and screaming, but I had to finish my last year of college. I finally finished the following December with a double major in Journalism and Italian. I knew that living in Europe was my dream. But how?
Reverse Culture Shock
Once returning to the States, Italy started to seem so far away. None of my friends were interested in hearing about my experiences in Italy because they simply couldn’t relate. And I couldn’t let it go.
There were no systems at that time for students with reverse culture shock, but I was feeling it big time.
Over the months, I adjusted, but Italy was always on my mind. I wanted to get back, but the bureaucracy of how to get back there when unemployment was so high weighed heavily.
Coincidentally, Lisa pictured above, wanted to do the same thing and did. She said ‘fuck it.‘ Three weeks after she finished her degree she was back on a plane back to Italy. No money, no visa and no job lined up. Just an Italian man she fell in love with. I wished I had done the same, but my parents were weighing heavily on me. ‘You need to finish school, get a good job…’ I didn’t like the thought on not being legal. I was miserable.
Just let it go. I integrated back into the pace of life in the US.
I finished college, moved to Minneapolis for a few years, then New York City, always moving up the ladder.
While in NY, I met my future husband at a wedding, moved to Chicago where he was, got a good job with a prominent hotel chain, got married, and decided to put my nose to the grindstone, always with the hope that I’d find a way to get back to Europe.
I started working for a Chicago-based study abroad organization who was building a dorm in London, and needed someone to market their beds for a month to local universities. They asked me to go given my prior hotel experience.
I jumped at the chance. While my husband was supposed to come with me, my company made other plans, so I went alone.
What was supposed to be a 4-week stint turned into a 3-month stay, and I started to think, either I get a permanent position back in London or I’m going to have to find a new job.
I couldn’t go back to my desk job after what I tasted in London. I couldn’t go back to being a suburban wife.
The new working environment, the trips I took with the students, working day and night to get the dorm set up and operational, new colleagues who became friends at the study abroad center… My life was in turmoil.
On the Rocks
Within a week of returning to Chicago, my company decided they would send me back to London. I was going to go with or without my husband.
My husband made it clear he wasn’t interested in leaving his good job to live with me in a student dorm.
Fine. I wasn’t going to compromise on my dreams. My path was set. We divorced 6 weeks later.
On to new adventures!
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