I remember the first day I walked into D.C. Airport: I was the first C35 Fellow to arrive that very day. First feeling: loneliness. I thought I did a huge mistake, I recall thinking I should have gone directly through my Master studies. However, the first positive emotions did not wait too much before showing up: many other people coming from the remotest parts of the world were in the same situation and the majority of them went through a way longer trip. Ten months later: this is what I think.
Experiences. There are so many things you can do with money: you can buy cars, you can purchase gifts to your partner or your relatives, you can hang out with friends, but there is no better way to spend money than investing them in something even more lucrative than buildings: experiences. When you are 85 and you are there, on a sofa, waiting to leave the earthly world, there is no way you will be happy by looking at how many ‘things’ you have been able to buy during the course of your life. Instead, you will be positively recalling all the great memories you had while young and wild, traveling as much as you could, getting to know all those cultures you always dreamt of, eating all those dishes your grandpa always told you about. This is what the Atlas Corps Fellowship seems to me.
Friends. Love is great, really, but friendship… well, friendship is something else. Girlfriends and boyfriends come and go, but true friends remain. I cannot complain about that: I have met incredible souls from all over the globe and I can’t wait to visit all of them by going to their respective home countries. Take advantage of that: meet people, laugh with them, get to know them, and that is going to be the best thing you might have done in your life.
Career. I know many people, some of them way smarter than I am. You would expect them to achieve any possible goal there may be in the world. Not at all. If you are not exposed to other cultures, languages, and religions, you might be the smarties guy alive, but you will never succeed. Being open-minded is what made me become a friend with so many wonderful human beings from all over the globe: I got friends in Japan waiting to show me how big and overcrowded Tokyo is; I have friends in Pakistan who can’t wait to show me how friendly their country is, and so on. You make friends, but you also make connections. You meet people, but you also meet opportunities. Always think about that, but do not make friends in order to achieve professional goals: it’s just too sad and it doesn’t leave you any good feeling.
Conclusion: If you think about it, it won’t be hard to see all the pros that being a fellow has. However, there will be times in which you will miss your home, your family, your friends, your daily routine, etc. Someone might say: “Is it worth it?” I would say: “It’s not worth it at all: it’s essential”.