nomad profile: Ryann
I grew up in a small town in upstate New York- the kind of place that country music songs are written about. Although I was happy with the slow-paced, everybody knows everybody way of life, I was interested in what else the world had to offer.
After graduating high school, I studied to become an ESL teacher (teaching English as a Second Language) and absolutely fell in love with it! I landed a dream job teaching Somali-Bantu refugee children in Syracuse, NY… whom I miss excruciatingly to this day. But I decided I wasn’t ready to settle in just yet, so after a coax from a close friend, I accepted a teaching position in Arizona.
I was happy with my decision to move to Arizona- I made new friends, re-connected with old, and most importantly, met Devin! Teaching a 4th grade class was a new welcomed challenge. But those 4th graders weren’t the only ones learning that year.
I recall one day teaching them about themes with the two books that we had finished: The Little Prince and Alice in Wonderland. I remember having class discussions about the importance of curiosity and adventure- while relating it to their lives. Of course, doing this I had no choice but to look at my own life. I thought to myself, “What kind of adventure have you had, Ryann? Let’s see, you moved from one side of the country to the other. Ok…You’ve been to Europe a couple times with a few intermittent road trips. Although you’re grateful and happy with the memories, will the rest of your life be work, work, work with an occasional vacation? What kind of adventure is that?”
I loved teaching, but I felt like I was more contradictory than inspiring. I was teaching them to follow their dreams, seek out adventure and yet I wasn’t doing it myself. What kind of example would that be?! That was the moment that I knew I needed to do something more. After a short settle in Arizona, I sold my car and whatever possessions I had and zoned in on a new location: Hong Kong!
Hong Kong, or the “fragrant harbour,” was home to me for five months. From corn fields to cacti, from cacti to high-rise skyscrapers. What a change! I was smitten with the culture shock and the people. I was working at an English language learning center and adored the students and fellow teachers. I was growing to love Hong Kong, appreciating her humidity, lush mountains, wet market alleyways, cozy beaches and dim sum! But, still, something was missing: Devin!
We were enduring the dreaded “long distance relationship” and during one of our scheduled Skype conversations, the topic of traveling came up. After discussing all pros/cons, what ifs and buts, we decided to embark on the ultimate adventure and curiosity of all- simply, traveling.
nomad profile: Devin
I grew up an only child in the mountains of Colorado in a home built by my hippie parents from the ground up. I spent my early days as a fledgling nomad building tree forts and catching slugs in the stream nearby, two skills which have yet to come in very handy… A few years later I traded in the slugs for a Louisville Slugger and discovered my first love: baseball. Two knee surgeries too many, curtailed my baseball career, but that was okay as I soon met my second love: Argentina.
While studying Economics and Spanish at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California I elected to spend a semester abroad. I decided to put my Spanish to use and opted for the only Spanish-speaking country. In the fall of 2007 I found myself in Buenos Aires, Argentina. After three months of consuming immeasurable amounts of Argentine asado, forging lifelong friendships with locals and shaking my you know what in the discotecas until 6 in the morning – I was hooked. Over the years, as I matured so did my tastes for particular parts of the culture; however, my love for the country only grew stronger with age, similar to a good Malbec.
After graduating from Pepperdine, I spent the next several years working in the financial services industry, save a ten month sabbatical to Argentina centered on microfinance research as a Fulbright Scholar. Over the next few years I grew both personally and professionally, though more emphasis was on the latter. In 2014 I made a substantial life decision to focus on growing personally. I left my position as the head of finance and accounting at well-established financial services firm and returned to school to pursue a Master’s degree in Management at the London School of Economics. While I sought to further my education at the LSE, I was also determined to grow personally, dedicating time and energy to focusing on the next steps in life.
Subsequent to making the decision to attend the LSE, and before leaving for London, I met my third love: Ryann! We met while standing in line for beer at the Phoenix Open golf tournament. After twenty minutes of intoxicating laughter, I scored her phone number and the rest is history. At the end of our summer of love, Ryann left to teach in Hong Kong and I set sail for London. We were both excited for one another, and our own respective journey, while equally confident that our relationship would survive and thrive even at a distance.
To even my own surprise, after a semester at the LSE, I made the decision to withdraw from the school. While it wasn’t an easy decision to leave the comfort of others’ approval of my life’s decisions, I knew at my core that I still wasn’t growing personally as I sought, and was determined to. I sent the official email, packed my bags and embraced the new titles of “dropout” and “nonconformist” just to name a few… but hey, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree and that’s a good thing as far as I’m convinced.
After discussing my big life decision with my rock, Ryann, I threw out the idea of traveling. It didn’t take much convincing and we haven’t looked back since. Learning through traveling, growing through traveling and simply, traveling have become what we’ve dedicated this chapter in our lives to.