#WorkAbroadBecause you will never be the same

by Dr. Jessie Voigts / Mar 31, 2015 /
Dr. Jessie Voigts's picture

Todd Felton is a writer and digital strategist and a thrower of frisbees for dogs. He helps nonprofits tell their stories online and is the author of three travel books. He has also written for magazines like National Geographic Traveler, Backpacker, Skiing, Draft, and others. Please visit him at http://rtfconsulting.co.

 

What motivated your decision to work abroad? How/why did you choose where to go?

After graduating from college, my wife and I worked for a boarding school in Salzburg, Austria for one year -- a fantastic, life-changing year. Since then, we've always wanted to return and let our two boys have that experience as well. It took 23 years, but we finally made it happen. We enrolled the two boys in the same school my wife and I worked in many, many years ago.​

 

Mirabell Gardens, Salzburg. Todd Felton: #WorkAbroadBecause you will never be the same

Mirabell Gardens, Salzburg

 

How did you find your job? What resources did you use?​

My wife had a 6 month leave of absence, and I am a consultant working with nonprofits on digital strategy, so I brought work with me. ​This has proved to be one of the most difficult parts, though. I found it very hard to strike the balance between a professional life and the experience of living abroad. My professional life lost.

 

What was your experience like? Can you share some favorite memories - and challenges?​

In a word, our experience was unforgettable. Truly. I'd say "life-changing," but I used that already. There are so many memories that will stay with us, from the mundane (walking to the local bakery for fresh rolls, the boys taking the city bus across town to school) to the sublime (ski touring in the moonlight, night walks along the Salzach river) to the challenging (getting robbed in Geneva, being carted in an ambulance to local hospital for a concussion).​

 

the Salzach River and Salzburg Old Town. Todd Felton: #WorkAbroadBecause you will never be the same

The Salzach River and Salzburg Old Town

 

What skills did you develop from your experience? Do you feel changed from your experience abroad?

I've always said that my greatest skill is curiosity. I think that is true for the rest of my family as well.​

 

Has your experience helped you get to where you are today? If so, how?

Both my stints abroad have had deep and lasting impacts on me. The first time really defined a lifetime of travel and love of place that resulted in my writing career (alert: shameless plug for my books​!). The second changed our family in wonderful ways: we are more connected with each other and with the world around us. We now all have friends from all parts of the world.

 

Schloss Leopoldskron (where parts of Sound of Music was filmed).. Todd Felton: #WorkAbroadBecause you will never be the same

Schloss Leopoldskron (where parts of Sound of Music was filmed).

 

Any advice for students thinking about working overseas? What are some highlights or things that you gained or changed your perspective?

The hard parts become wonderful stories and the wonderful parts become cherished memories. ​Do as many things as you physically can. Walk as many places as you can. Eat the food.

 

Nassfeld, Austria. Todd Felton: #WorkAbroadBecause you will never be the same

Nassfeld, Austria

 

How has international education impacted or influenced your cultural identity?

Although I didn't formally study abroad, there are many things about European culture (many of these things are very present in other cultures as well) that we've internalized and try to make a part of our lives here: joy in community, love of doing things outside, making time to eat and taste good food, openness to meeting people. ​

 

The fortress Hohensalzburg and the Old City. Todd Felton: #WorkAbroadBecause you will never be the same

The fortress Hohensalzburg and the Old City

 

Is there anything else you'd like to share with us?

It was not always easy (and our experience was in a highly-developed country not too dissimilar to the United States).​ ​However, it was always very worth it.

 

Todd Felton and family in Salzburg. #WorkAbroadBecause you will never be the same

In Paris

 

 

All photos courtesy and copyright Todd Felton