The Top Three Things To Consider When Deciding To Move to Europe:
Be Your Own Worldly Diva
If you made the difficult, controversial decision of going into a field like performance, or the arts in general, and stuck to your guns, then you can tackle any challenge.
So you probably do not even need this guide, but I am going to give you some tips I've already discovered tackling mine.
- Listen to what you want to do over the opinions of others: Yes, this is a personal tip, but it is in the #1 spot for a reason: If you don't believe with real conviction and confidence that picking up and moving across the world is right for you, then you are going to second, third, fourth, fifth-guess it until you are broke and sad and going home on the next budget airline. Do it for you and your art, and no one else.
- Pick an easy starting location: 'Easy' is perhaps subjective. What do YOU need to feel stable once you've moved? A place to live? A NICE place to live? Good money? Food? A network already in place? A Job? There are many ways to decide this. If what you want is an Expat-supportive community from which you can travel around Europe and neighboring countries easily, then of course I recommend a city like Amsterdam, or London, where most of the population speaks English and there are many options available for work. If your main objective is going just where your job takes you, then follow that - go where you receive your first contract, and see if they can relocate you. Or, if you've visited someplace before that just inspired you fully and has what you are looking for to re-start, then go there!
- Money: Where will you find it? How will you keep it? Okay, so this varies with everyone. In my personal experience, having saved enough to live off of comfortably (whatever that number is for you: Mine was $4,000, spendable cash, in order to travel and live stably), is a must to start with. However, if you are coming over with nothing but your flights in hand there are a few options:
- Babysit: This is helpful immediately because you are usually paid in cash, which is necessary if you haven't figured out a VISA situation yet (or your visa requires a specific amount of income).
- Au Pair (to hop on the Babysitting one): If you like, or at least tolerate, kids and people... this is a good one and can work in almost every city. There are agencies that help pair you with families (in Amsterdam, I used Au Pair Amsterdam to help me out), and although there is typically some rigorous paperwork involved there, it helps you to feel like you have a real steady system of income. It affords you a free place to live, and usually some added pluses, food, in my case: a bike to get around Amsterdam easily, and so on. You're also automatically living with people who know what you're going through and (should be) are there for you.
- BLOG! Oh yes! Share those wordy, worldly experiences. Everyone sitting at home with serious FOMO will be happy to read about it, and anyone ready to make that big, dangerous break from their norm will keep checking you out. We all need guidance.
- Teach: There are many schools that want English teachers in Europe. However, if you are an artist and can teach your craft to locals, that is a wonderful and enriching way of supporting yourself. Find out what the best local medium for advertising your skills is (Craigslist, Facebook, or - in Amsterdam, there is a Family Market page), and go crazy promoting yourself to get going. Use what God gave you!
- Freelance: Okay, my main point: If you are an artist, or, more specifically, an opera singer... this is your designated time to shine. You made this leap here! You believed in yourself enough to get this far! What, you gonna come here and hide?? NO! If you are an opera singer in Europe, reach out to everyone. Sing for free a few times to make connections, and then set up recitals. You can ask for donations at the door. Sing in archways at museums for tourists. (With the holidays coming up, this is a great money-maker). Do auditions for the Young Artist Programs here. Apply for the competitions. Get seen by as many people as you can and keep moving. Yes, there will be rejections. There will be disappointing experiences. But you are only going to make something of it if you keep trying, every single day. Make it a full-time job, no matter how busy you are visiting coffee shops.
For my first post, these are my top three tips on taking the leap, but there will be many more from here. It is a scary, exhilarating, beautiful, wonderful time in your life. Make the most of it - and there are so many ways to!