“Is this it? Do I really just work 50 weeks out of the year to enjoy two of them somewhere else? I wanted to have more experience out of life than just working and seeing a new place once a year for a couple weeks".
Rika is a serial expat from Canada and has been living abroad for nearly 10 years. Most recently, she’s lived in Bali, Japan, and Honduras but is back home in Canada on hiatus now due to COVID-19. She's looking forward to getting back out into the world again when it is safe to do so.
Why I Travel
Honestly, I was working in a really boring office job. I had graduated university and was working a corporate job as a paralegal. I went on vacation for a couple weeks and thought, “Is this it? Do I really just work 50 weeks out of the year to enjoy two of them somewhere else?” I wanted to have more experience out of life than just working and seeing a new place once a year for a couple weeks.
I also come from a family that travels, so I think it’s in my DNA. One set of my grandparents traveled the world and lived in many developing countries while setting up technical schools. My mom lived in Ghana! After retiring, they spent their winters in Portugal every year. (I was always SO jealous of that.) My other grandparents also traveled extensively and had a camper that they explored Canada with every summer. And finally, my dad is an airline pilot! So, going around the world has always been a part of my life.
I've Been Lucky To Make Many Long-Lasting Friendships During My Travels
Because I live in these destinations and I’m not just passing through, I get to create lots of long-lasting friendships! I’m really lucky with that.
In Honduras, I was working as a scuba diving instructor, so that came with a built-in community! I have been gone from there for almost 5 years and I still have people from there asking me when I’m moving back. The connections I made there were really special, especially with the locals, and I hope that I can go back someday.
In Japan, I joined a traditional dance team and that ended up being my Japanese family. They were so kind to me and took really great care of me while I was there, which was amazing. I’m eternally grateful to them. I got to interact with people of all ages and practice my Japanese while I learned a new skill. Some of my best memories from Japan are with my dance team.
In Bali, I actually went there because of a friend I had met years and years earlier in Honduras. She was the one who convinced me to move to Honduras and become a dive instructor, and since then she had moved to Indonesia and started a digital marketing internship business there. She asked me to come work with her in Bali, so I went! That’s one of the best long-lasting friendships I’ve made on my travels. We’re coming up on 10 years and still working together!
I was a scuba diving instructor in Roatan, Honduras from 2012-2016
It was an incredible experience and I’m so glad I did it instead of wondering, “What if?”
I loved teaching diving. Getting to show someone a whole new world is a feeling I’ve never gotten from anything else. There was always a mix – some students got it straight away, and some really had to work for it. I got a reputation for working with nervous or anxious divers, and getting to calm people down and have them enjoy their dives was rewarding for me. One of my favorite memories was teaching a 73 year old woman how to dive! She was determined and it took us weeks instead of the days it usually takes, but she made it through and she continued to dive for several more years. I often think of her strong will and how hard she worked to achieve that goal.