Erin Power in Tokyo
I am a Girl Gone International because…
The first time I took a job overseas, a teaching job in Ho Chi Minh City when I was 23, part of the reason I took it was this “now or never” idea. I thought that there was a small time in my life where I would have the opportunity to take risks and live somewhere completely different. But once I got there, I realized it was just a totally different way of life (with no expiration date!) Living internationally, I feel more motivated to explore, take risks, be independently – and overall be a version of myself that I like better! After two years back in the States to complete my master’s degree – I’m overseas again in Tokyo and couldn’t be happier.
Where do you live or where are you right now and why?
I live in Tokyo and I am teaching Learning Support at the American School in Japan.
What piece of advice would you give a girl wanting to go international?
DO IT! It might be challenging, you might feel overwhelmed or stressed at times – but it’s 1,000% worth it. You’ll be pushing yourself to have a full life experience and grow as a person. And it’s nice, at least for me, when it is hard – to be able to tangibly see how my choice to be international made my life better.
Any love stories?
Might sound sappy – but through living internationally, I’ve really fallen in love with myself! Haha! I’m so proud of how independent and strong and resilient I’ve become. I’ve dealt with hard things living in hard places – I’ve been mugged, attacked by a dog, lost in the streets of a strange city where I know no one – and I’ve been able to get through it and smile when I’m on the other side. That wasn’t who I was before I went international – and I just think I’m pretty awesome, and have a deep affection for myself now. I think that makes me take better care of myself and watch out for myself – because I know I deserve it! Yay for self-love!
How did you get involved with Girl Gone International?
My wonderful co-manager Lindsay co-managed the GGI group in Belgrade. When we moved to Tokyo to work at the same school – early on she mentioned that she was interested in starting GGI here. When she told me about GGI, the best way to describe my reaction was… YES. This is an organization and mission that I completely gel with. I’m super excited to get our group off the ground. I completely connected with everything Lindsay was saying – and I really wished I had that kind of network when I’ve made other moves.
I’ve always said that I think an international move is easier than my last move before Tokyo (back to New York for grad school) because you immediately have so much in common with people you meet – you have similar internationally-minded, horizon broadening, growth mindset values. If I could have connected with GGI New York, I think I would have had a completely different transition there – because it’s hard to find those people if you’re not completely immersed in an expat community (like an international school) – and sometimes even if you are!
What are your thoughts on settling down?
I don’t like the words “settling down”! I think it’s always important to be moving forward – and that can include things like getting married, or getting a job that puts you in the same place for a while, or having kids! But, the not “settling” part to me, means never getting complacent – always looking for new challenges!
What does ‘home’ mean to you?
Where my parents are! I think it’s super neat that I can live where ever I want to in the world, and still have a base where everything is the same. I think it helps give me the motivation to live other places – knowing I have a place where I feel safe and loved while I’m off having my adventures!
Knowing what you know now, about this lifestyle, about the world and yourself. What would you go back and tell your younger self?
RELAX. I would say to stop worrying about how things are going to work out and enjoy things a little more. My first move overseas (to Vietnam) was when I was 23. I think in my very early 20s I got very caught up in that what’s-next culture – focused on hitting that next big life milestone. Moving overseas helped me live more in the moment and focus on milestones that develop me as a human being, not the pathway of things I think I should be accomplishing.