1. You can make a boatload of cash.
Contracting take one away from home. In many cases, it puts one in an isolated area and military contracting places one in some dangerous locales.
But! It also affords most folks an income opportunity that would be nearly impossible in a 9 to 5 Wage Slave position Stateside.
2. Travel Abroad.
I saw a good slice of the world when I was in the Military. Since I started contracting, I’ve been able to experience parts of the world that I never dreamed that I’d see. I have been able to afford to travel to all corners of the Globe.
China — the Great Wall (twice), Beijing, the Forbidden City, Shianghai, Xi’an, the Terra Cotta Soldiers.
Israel — Jerusalem, Acre (Akko) and the Crusader Fortresses, Tel Aviv, Joffa (where Jonah landed after his fabled belly of the Big Fish adventure.
Egypt — The Great Pyramids and several others, Amarna, Luxor, Aswan, Abo Simbel, Giza, Saqqara, Cairo, Alexandria as well as many other locations with a richness of history that is indescribable.
Turkey — Istanbul, Izmet,The Temple of Artemis, Pammukale.
Europe — Athens, Rome, Pisa, Paris, Santorini, the Acropolis, the Parthenon, the Forum, the Coliseum, Temple of Zeus. the Leaning Tower and on and on.
Southeast Asia — Cambodia (Angkor Wat, Phnom Penh), Thailand (Sukhothai, Chiangmai, Ayuthaya, Bangkok, Koh Samui, Koh Tao), Laos (Luang Prabang), kayaking on the Mekong, the Mekong Delta, Saigon (HCMC), Hanoi, Hoi An, Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur, Batu Caves) and much more.
More and more and more…
One is not tied to one location. There is much freedom to not having a home tying one down in America or Europe or wherever one calls home.
4. Meeting interesting people across the Globe.
I have met people from nearly every corner of the globe and drank a beer with them in cities as geographically unconnected as Siem Reap, Cairo, Delphi, Santorini.
In Santorini, I sat and drank with a couple from Paris, France in a heavy metal bar that looked like a scene out of Mad Max. Everyone was sporting leather and men had hair and beards longer that would have made ZZ Top proud.
I’ve had similar experiences in Phnom Penh, Bangkok, Athens, Paris, London and Beijing. Speaking of Beijing, I wish I could find the CD of the band that played in a rock bar there. Rock Opera. But it was Chinese Opera. Madame Butterfly meets Metallica.
5. One’s eyes are opened to the World.
It’s nearly impossible to travel, meet people, see pieces of the ancient world and the modern and not come away feeling part of a broader association with humanity.
Sit and talk to a Buddhist Monk, a Taoist Monk and a Coptic Father and a Sufi Mullah and it’s impossible to come away feeling the same old trepidations, prejudices and separation from the people of the world as one had merely moments before.
I believe in America and I believe that America has been and will continue to be exceptional. We have been thus because of our ability to absorb the people and ideas of the world and to mesh them into a way of living. We must continue this.
6. The experience of spreading America to other people and places.
I’m not talking about an arrogant America running around screaming; “U S A, U S A, U S A!”
I’m talking about intelligent intercourse with folks from around the globe whom one will encounter out in the world.
America is a great nation. We have done great good along with some heinous acts that make any human being cringe.
When one speaks to others realistically and with an open mind, ideas exchange. Good will passes between peoples. Folks from other nations learn that Americans are not all George Bush or Barack Obama. We’re just as human as the rest of the world. We are willing to learn, to adapt, to overcome.
We are also willing to share with the world in a positive way. That’s important. Americans traveling the globe as positive ambassadors is an important way to spread the message the democracy and republicanism can be a good thing.
There are some damn good beers out there in the world. Budweiser isn’t the only beer worth washing down a urinal. Actually, if I can help it, I don’t drink Budweiser. Give me a decent heffeweisen from Bavaria or a Tsingtao from northern China. I’ll drink those over Budweiser any day of the week.
8. Saving for the future.
This kind of goes along with earning power in number one. But! Not everyone saves. If you squirrel away some of those fat paychecks, you can have a good chunk of money in the bank in no time. Finance that dream business. Go back to school when you return home and have the money to do it right. Buy a house or a boat or both. It all depends on how long you are out there and how much you save each paycheck.
Savings is possibility. Don’t forget to pay future you for all of that hard work and sacrifice.
9. It’s a fresh start on life.
Getting out there in the world is eye opening. You will experience life in a way that wasn’t possible in America. America is all about the 9 to 5 for your average Joe. It’s a Monday to Friday run to the weekend. In contracting, you work and dream. You can make plans for great adventures. You can dream big. Forget life at home for a while and open your mind to the possibilities of the world.
The world is waiting.
10. It will change your life, if you let it.
Contracting is mostly a single person’s game. Don’t get me wrong. There are thousands of married folks out there. I don’t know how they do it. Especially the folks with kids. How a mother or father can stay away from their child for months or years at a time is beyond me.
I don’t have children so it’s not something that I can comprehend.
When you sign that first contract, you don’t know what is out there. You have no idea about how your life is about to be changed. You will not return home the same person. That, of course, can be good or bad.
For me, it’s been a positive. I feel that my eyes were opened to the world. I’d been in the military for a decade prior to contracting. It’s not the same. In the military, you live on a base. You are insulated. You can always retreat back into the safe confines of your little America.
It’s not the same with contracting. You are forced to get out there and meet people, feel and experience your surroundings.
This is especially so for those who travel frequently on their off time. Once you set foot on those exotic and foreign lands, you are on your own. Life is there waiting to slap you in the face. You can enjoy it and feel it…experience it and live it or you can hole up in your hotel room and stay the same as when you arrived.
Frequent travel changes a person. Tasting new foods, smelling new aromas and even new levels of funk that you never dreamed could exist, hearing different languages spoken in their homelands where you are the foreigner, being in a place where no one speaks your language and finding ways to communicate despite the language barrier, talking to those folks despite your lack of knowledge of their language, sleeping under the skies in a Southeast Asian landscape, conversing with ten people who all speak a different language and are all from a different corner of the globe.
I’ve been in a room full of English speakers in a bar in Bangkok. Every person speaks English. Yet, each person is from a different country. Scotland, Ireland, America, Canada, Wales, Australia and New Zealand. Even though, we all spoke English, we still needed translation at times. The Aussies were incomprehensible to all of us. The Kiwis spoke slightly different.
The Irish guy would speak. The Scottish guy would translate to the Brit. The Brit would translate to the American who would attempt to translate to the Aussie. That’s just English.
We live in a big world. There are so many differences. Even amongst the English speakers.
Humanity is fascinating.
When you are afforded the opportunity to get out there. Get out there and experience it.
Contracting is one way to get that opportunity. If you get it, don’t miss out.
Coming up: Top Ten Negative about Contracting Overseas