How to Become a Nomad: Embrace Uncertainty

Not Just Another "Dolce Vita"This is post #3 in the “How to Become a Nomad” series. If you missed the previous posts, click here and here to catch up.

I had just returned to Canada after three and a half months of working and travelling in Europe. I was out for a morning walk with my childhood friend and her dog, and we were discussing what I’d be doing next.

“So, it’s the end of August, and you still don’t know if you have a teaching job in September?” my friend asked incredulously.

“Nope.” I responded.

“So you have no idea what you’ll be doing in a week’s time? Where you’ll get money? How you’ll be filling your days?”

“Nope. Nope. Nope,” I replied again.

“And you’re OK with this?”

My mouth started to form another “nope”, but then I reconsidered. “I have to be,” I said with a shrug. “What can I do?”

“Huh.” My friend snuck a sidelong glance at me as her dog ran up ahead of us. “Well, you don’t seem that worried.”

“I’m not.” It was true. My application was in at a school I’d worked at before. I just had to wait until they sorted out their staffing situation. If I didn’t get the job, I’d find something else. I knew I had a trip to plan for mid-December, but hadn’t really started, so that was all up in the air as well, somewhat depending on my work situation and how much moolah I made between September and December. “Like I said, what can I do?”

I was even a bit surprised by my nonchalance. A bit. What surprised me more was that it wasn’t an act. I really felt fine with all possible outcomes. Cool as a cucumber.

uncertaintyIt was the moment I realized I’d learned to embrace uncertainty.

It’s a freeing feeling, really, being OK with many of the possible options of what could happen in your life, feeling like you can handle most any turn of events, as long as they don’t involve some harm to someone you love. It’s wonderful.

Get the job, not get the job. Travel now, travel later.

And it’s sort of the way you’ve got to be if you want to be a nomad, moving around all the time, new places, new faces, new challenges, new problems.

Make the train, miss the train. Make the flight, miss the flight.

You don’t know what’s coming next and you’ve probably got very limited control over it. You’ve got to work to not let that keep you up at night.

Sometimes, that’s easier said than done.

I’ll admit that I still think about the future and wonder what lies ahead. Like I said, I work contract jobs and never know until the last minute if I’m hired or not. I’m waiting on Italian working papers so I can’t plan much if I don’t know which country I’ll be in… But do I fret?


Does it keep me up at night?

Only the excitement of it all.

excited!That said, embracing the uncertainty of the future is a lot easier to do when you’re standing on a solid foundation. Read more about that in my next post, “How to Become a Nomad: It Takes a Lot of Planning to Be Carefree.”

How to Become a Nomad: Attitude Adjustment

Not Just Another "Dolce Vita"If you’re looking to become a full-fledged nomad, or simply integrate more (and more frequent) travel into your life, you’ve come to the right place. This is post 2 in the “How to Become a Nomad” series. Click here if you missed the first one.

Chances are, you are not currently living a nomadic lifestyle. Some people do, but chances are you don’t. To take the first step in living a life that’s full of travel and movement, you have to understand one thing. One big thing.

People won’t understand you.

They won’t understand your life. They won’t understand your needs and wants. They won’t understand what motivates you to do what you’re doing. They won’t get how you cope with the uncertainty. They won’t understand how you organize your life.

And you have to be ok with that.

Sure, people might envy you. They might say things like, “I wish I could do what you’re doing” or “I wish I could travel for months on end” or “I wish I could go somewhere new every six weeks like you do!” but they probably won’t understand how or why you do it.

Or they might be critical. They might ask, “when are you going to settle down?” or “have you got the travel bug out of your system yet?” or “when are you going to grow up?”

These are things I hear all the time.

But what’s most important is how you feel about the life you’re living. Whether you want to be a world-travelling nomad or a university professor or an astronaut or a concert cellist, you have to be OK with people not understanding your life choices. As long as they’re making you happy and they’re not killing anyone else, they’re good.

You’re good.

The moral of the story: Living a lifestyle, any lifestyle, that’s different from the norm is bound to bring about some criticism and unwanted, even if positive, attention. Learn to laugh and smile and be OK with it.

It’s your life. Live it the way you want.

Guest Post: Italian Immersion with Studentessa Matta

studentessaMatta_7Tonight I have the pleasure of welcoming a guest post from a great Italian language learning blogger, Melissa of Studentessa Matta. Melissa runs some amazing Italian immersion holiday programs in il bel paese. I’m hoping to be able to drop in on one sometime soon! Buona lettura, happy reading. 

Crazy in love with the Italian language!


Ciao amici! If you are here following Sarah’s blog, that means you are a fan of Italy and the Italian language. “Anch’io!” Me too! Although I don’t have a drop of Italian blood and didn’t grow up in a great big Italian family where my aunts, uncles and grandparents spoke Italian and served up heaping bowls of pasta on Sundays, that hasn’t stopped me from adopting Italy and her language as my own! In college I studied Art History in Florence because I wanted to learn abut Renaissance paintings and gaze adoringly at original works by Donatello and Michelangelo. I fully intended to explore every nook and cranny of the Uffizi gallery and climb to the top of Brunelleschi’s Duomo. I was also determined to spend long hours on Sunday afternoons sitting on the banks of the Arno River sketching views of the Ponte Vecchio. What I didn’t expect to do was to fall head over heels in love with Italy, let alone the Italian language.


Italy casts spells and weaves magic over unsuspecting travelers! I am well aware, because when I returned home from Italy I felt a tremendous void inside of me. I began to realize that I missed the Renaissance palaces embellished with colorful frescos, the silky smooth marble statues that stand proudly in front of public buildings, the crenulated medieval towers that rise high into a piercing blue skies, the sun drenched ruby red tomatoes that drip with sweet juices, the church bells that sonorously clang and vespas that ferociously whirrrrrr, like the hornets that they are named after.

In Italian they would say “mi mancava l’Italia” or Italy was lacking to me. To remedy this “nostalgia”, or this “lack of Italy”, I started casting about for ways in which I could renew my ties to il Bel Paese. Due to family responsibilities and work obligations, packing a suitcase and running off to Italy just wasn’t an option. Then it came to me! If I couldn’t return to Italy, I would make Italy come to me. The only way I knew how to do this was to start learning the language at home. My decision to learn Italian filled me with energy and gave me purpose; instead of wistfully recalling past travel experiences, it gave me something actionable to focus my energy on and it gave me goals for the future.


Over the past sixteen years I have discovered many wonderful tools to learn the Italian language and my language skills have progressed to the point where I now write a blog in Italian called “Studentessa Matta”. I chose the name “matta” or “crazy student” for a blog title, because I wanted to convey the idea that anything is possible if you go a little crazy and let go of inhibitions. In so doing, you are freer to take risks and achieve things you never thought possible. Life is an adventure and nothing can stop you, as long as the desire to fly is stronger than the fear of falling.

Through my efforts to learn the language, I found my way back to Italy. I now travel there frequently and all those empty spaces inside of me that were “lacking Italy” have been completely filled. Now I have so much Italy inside of me that I am full to overflowing and sharing it with the world! It is now my great pleasure to collaborate with partners in Italy to arrange small group language immersions for those who want to learn more about Italy and her culture from local Italians. We provide unique opportunities for small groups of language learners who want to practice their language skills in a relaxed and friendly environment.

I invite you to join us in 2015! I have designed three amazing opportunities in le Marche, Rome and Lucca.

LeMarch_BannerJune 26 – July 4th I will be co-leading a trip to Le Marche and Urbino with my partner Nadia Sparapani & Luisa Donati. We will be combining Italian language lessons with daily excursions to explore le Marche with native guides. We will live in a renaissance palazzo in the little town of Mercatello su Metauro. We will have daily Italian lessons, as well as cooking lessons, taste local wines and cheeses, learn to paint ceramics and even be entertained by a local madrigal group.


June 5th – 15th I will be co-leading a trip to Rome with Kelly Medford, an American artist who lives in Rome. We will be combining language lessons at Scud’It and Italian school near the colosseum with painting and drawing lessons in the parks of Rome with Kelly as our teacher. Evenings will be spent as the Romans due, attending open air cinema on the island of Tiburtina and dancing under the stars in Trastevere. Roman friends will also be stopping by to participate furthering our conversation practice.


September 11 – 25th I will be co-leading a trip to Lucca with the teachers of Lucca Italian School. We will spend morning learning Italian at the school and in the afternoons with the teachers as our guides we will explore Tuscany and the cinque terre. We will have cooking lessons and wine tastings, movie nights, and best of all… biking on Lucca’s famous wall!

I hope that you throw away your inhibitions and dive deeper into learning Italian language too! Perhaps I will even have the pleasure of your company next year and we can go a little “matta” in Italy together! A presto!


Please visit the Matta web site for more information about Italian language trips and Italian Home Language Stays. Also be sure to check out the language learning tips under the tab “Ways to improve your Italian” for new ways and resources to jump start your Italian language learning motors.