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About Me

About Me

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Hi, I’m Elaina and I want to help you live life on your terms, find a career you love, and travel as often as you want. 

 

I’ve lived, worked, and traveled to more than 60 countries, including some pretty off-the-beaten path destinations like Mongolia, Ethiopia, Nigeria, and Paraguay. I’ve also lived out of a suitcase as a full-time nomad for the past 4.5 years, ever since leaving my management consulting gig in New York back in 2013 when I landed an international role at a media company that sent me all over the world to work. You can read my full story here

 

What makes my story unique is that I’ve traveled AND built a professional career, working for companies like IBM and Uber over the years. I’ve also spent long stretches of time freelancing and traveling adventurously through South America, Asia, and Africa. I’m currently freelance writing, coaching professionals through career transitions, and working on a few small business ideas while splitting my time between Berlin, the US, and India. 

 

I write about self-development, digital nomadism, charting unconventional life paths, finding REAL jobs overseas, pursuing long-term travel, and living more purposefully in a fast-paced, confusing world. There’s simply no one-size-fits-all model for creating a life you love. I’m not a full-time digital nomad and I’m not a full-time corporate professional: I’ve done things a bit differently and I think it’s feasible for more people to live “off the beaten path” this way. I hope my blog lets you see that it’s both possible and practical.  

 

I started this blog because I want to help you find an exciting career, travel the world, break the norms, and develop yourself both personally and professionally. Read on or get in touch to set up a 1:1 session with me: elaina@lifebefore30.com.

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When Traveling Raises Big Questions

Posted on April 28th, 2015

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Sipping tej in southern Ethiopia

 

The electricity was out for who knows how long. There were so many power outages in the town that the people had stopped caring, knowing they were ignored by the government. We sat in darkness, scooping up shiro by candelight, our glasses filled and refilled with sweet tej. I sipped the thick honey wine while everyone around me spoke in quick, high-pitched Amharic. My thoughts trailed off, coming to with the next round of coffee and popcorn, traditional Ethiopian in every way.

 

Occasionally my friend translated to me in between breaths and refills. His 28-year old friend was in a coma in Addis Ababa and the doctors were meeting to see if they could operate in Ethiopia or if the local medical care was too poor to save his life. He had been jumped outside of his home in the capital a few nights ago, left for dead. The Amharic went back into a heated whirlwind and after awhile, more was relayed back to me: they think they know who did it, but they are relatives of the federal police so their tracks will be covered.

 

I sat quietly, unsettled, my problems seeming a million miles away. And in a way they were. We had driven two days straight to get to this minuscule town in the south, heaving a well-worn 4×4 over unpaved roads, inching between herds of cows and donkeys that trotted along un-phased by traffic. I barely knew the guy who invited me to come; he was a local introduced to me by a friend of a friend I met in Argentina 3 years ago, so naturally I clambered into his truck and spent 15 hours driving through dust storms and windy roads, swerving between pot holes and oncoming minibuses – just for the hell of it.

 

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Stopping for mangoes during the journey

 

I was snapped back to where I was, sitting in that small living room in that small town, feeling very small myself. Finally, a question for me, coming from a young man no older than 25, swaying with drunkenness and blind in one eye. The flurry of village news had subsided and curiosity turned towards the awkward blonde girl in the corner. Where was I from, my friend translated. The drunk man nodded woozily at my response, then laughed as he shot back a few words in Amharic and covered his face. Everything was still for a moment and then the translation came: “He said, ‘American? Well then please take me out of my godforsaken country.'”

 

I blinked, unsure of what to say in the face of an irrefutable truth any privileged traveler traversing the developing world will eventually stare down and struggle to swallow: why are some people unable to escape what plagued this very town: lack of jobs for educated young people, a deaf government, poor basic infrastructure, petty violence, and inadequate healthcare? Why could others like me beam down into their world so neatly packaged and sit back and observe these chaotic injustices?

 

We drove all the way back to Addis Ababa the next day, with the windows rolled down and the wind and dust whipping my dirty hair, the smell of the countryside filling our truck. As I stared out the window in a daze of all I had experienced on this impromptu road trip, I realized that the problems – and charms – of a country I didn’t have a clue about before landing in Bole International Airport a few weeks ago had suddenly become real and warm to the touch, possessing an audible heartbeat and a familiar gait. No headlines, no statistics, and no fluffy anthropology course on East Africa could have had this same effect.

 

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On the road – driving through Ethiopia is breathtaking

 

That’s when it dawned on me. The beauty of travel is the capacity it gives us to humanize the world. To really feel the weight of it, to let it fall around us and squeeze us tight in both pleasure and discomfort. Travel brings us near to the world, to a place of understanding that stems from lived experiences, from the blinking eyes and soft breath of the people who told you themselves, from the stories where you sat in the drivers seat.

 

It can only be from the living rooms of obscure towns in Ethiopia, with people who fed you and poured you honey wine and coffee and told you about their lives and made you upset and confused about the world, that you realize traveling is not about coming up with all the answers, but about knowing how many questions are out there, and understanding how very humiliatingly, paralyzingly capable we are to respond to them. It is about flipping on the light in our hearts and minds, and bringing us close to things that once upon a time seemed very far away.

 

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When have you faced difficult or awkward situations while traveling? How have you coped with these situations and the big questions they raise? How can we move from just being travelers to being enablers of change? Please comment below.

 

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About Me

About Me

IMG_5937

Hi, I’m Elaina and I want to help you live life on your terms, find a career you love, and travel as often as you want. 

 

I’ve lived, worked, and traveled to more than 60 countries, including some pretty off-the-beaten path destinations like Mongolia, Ethiopia, Nigeria, and Paraguay. I’ve also lived out of a suitcase as a full-time nomad for the past 4.5 years, ever since leaving my management consulting gig in New York back in 2013 when I landed an international role at a media company that sent me all over the world to work. You can read my full story here

 

What makes my story unique is that I’ve traveled AND built a professional career, working for companies like IBM and Uber over the years. I’ve also spent long stretches of time freelancing and traveling adventurously through South America, Asia, and Africa. I’m currently freelance writing, coaching professionals through career transitions, and working on a few small business ideas while splitting my time between Berlin, the US, and India. 

 

I write about self-development, digital nomadism, charting unconventional life paths, finding REAL jobs overseas, pursuing long-term travel, and living more purposefully in a fast-paced, confusing world. There’s simply no one-size-fits-all model for creating a life you love. I’m not a full-time digital nomad and I’m not a full-time corporate professional: I’ve done things a bit differently and I think it’s feasible for more people to live “off the beaten path” this way. I hope my blog lets you see that it’s both possible and practical.  

 

I started this blog because I want to help you find an exciting career, travel the world, break the norms, and develop yourself both personally and professionally. Read on or get in touch to set up a 1:1 session with me: elaina@lifebefore30.com.

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Five years ago, I changed my whole life in 30 days. I scored the job of my dreams, quit my job in New York, sold everything I owned, moved to West Africa, and never looked back. Read about it here.

 

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Currently in: Malawi

 

 

Previously in: Berlin

 

img_6015

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s Hot

Recent Posts

Coaching

Coaching

Step into my office!

 

Five years ago, I changed my whole life in 30 days. I scored the job of my dreams, quit my job in New York, sold everything I owned, moved to West Africa, and never looked back. Read about it here.

 

Now I use Office Hours to help my clients do the same.

 

Do you want to travel but are scared to quit your job?

Do you want to find a job overseas but don’t know where to start?

Do you wake up in the morning dreading what’s ahead?

Read more

Like Me on Facebook

Like Me On Facebook

Follow me on twitter

Follow me on twitter

Instagram

Elaina on Instagram