Oh, the places you’ll go

James+D%27Amico+graduated+from+the+graduate+program+at+National+University+of+Ireland+Galway+Nov.+19%2C+2019.+Photo+courtesy+Mary+Maloney.

James D’Amico graduated from the graduate program at National University of Ireland Galway Nov. 19, 2019. Photo courtesy Mary Maloney.

The world is big a place, with much to explore. For many, college years and the subsequent job search are times to consider the possibilities of where to live and work.

Some Marquette graduates have found themselves moving abroad after graduation.

“I knew I did not want to spend my life purely in the States,” James D’Amico, a 2014 Marquette graduate, says. “I was always going to go on some type of adventure and it basically came down to whether I was moving to London or moving to Galway, and I chose the latter.”

D’Amico’s mother is from a county just north of Galway, so he grew up visiting family in the area and has Irish citizenship.

“(Galway) is a beautiful, artsy community that still has a medieval street setup,” D’Amico says. “It’s one of a kind as far as I’m concerned.”

D’Amico lived there for about two years, during which he studied for his graduate degree in information systems management at the National University of Ireland in Galway.

“I think it’s really beneficial to sort of get out of just American customs and see how the rest of the world does college life, how the rest of the world does projects, how the rest of the world just views us as a country and as citizens of the United States,” D’Amico says.

He says studying abroad taught him how to collaborate and work in new ways. His only regret is that he may have played it too safe.

“If I had to do it again, even though I absolutely loved living in Ireland and living in Galway, there’s a little bit of me that wishes I had got myself even farther out of my comfort zone.” D’Amico says. He says he might have liked to study somewhere like Germany or France, places he is far more unfamiliar with.

Adam Waerzeggers, a 2013 Marquette graduate, found himself in that situation of unfamiliarity.

A few years after graduating, Waerzeggers moved to Iwata, Japan, for his work at Showa Corporation. The city has a population of nearly 170,000 people, and he says he might have been the only American in town.

“I didn’t get much socialization as far as speaking English is concerned,” Waerzeggers, who spoke very little Japanese prior to moving, says. “But one of the perks of living abroad is you’re fully immersed in the culture and you pick up languages, you pick up diets, everything that coincides with living in a different country.”

Waerzeggers says general politeness and cleanliness, for example, is much bigger in Japan than in the U.S. When he moved overseas, he noticed different practices in etiquette, such as turning on your flashers as an apology after cutting someone off in your car.

“Now that I’m back in America, it’s a little weird doing stuff like that because no one else seems to care or even notice it,” Waerzeggers says. “But when you’re in a different culture and you see that, it makes a big difference to you, so hopefully you can bring a little bit of something good from somewhere else back with you. I think that just makes the whole world a better place.”

Waerzeggers says he misses his time in Japan.

“When you’re living abroad, it’s something that’s kind of temporary, and you always keep that in mind,” Waerzeggers says. “So you live a little more adventurous and a little bit more free than you would if you know that you’re gonna be living here for the rest of your life.”

Although Waerzeggers says he enjoyed his time in Japan, he had never actually planned on moving abroad.

“Be open to any opportunities that might come at you,” Waerzeggers advises. “I myself had no inclination of living abroad, ever. But it was a really good opportunity.”

Waerzeggers says moving abroad is a great opportunity for recent graduates to consider, especially if it is for work. But he warns them against aimlessly moving overseas.

“You have to treat it like a means to an end, rather than the end itself,” Waerzeggers says. “There was definitely a disconnect between people who wanted to live abroad just so they could live in a beautiful country or travel a lot.” Waerzeggers says he bonded more with those who left to fulfill a specific goal, similar to himself.

Unlike D’Amico and Waerzeggers, when some Marquette graduates move abroad, they do it for good.

Jim Feng, a 2004 Marquette graduate, has lived in three countries over the course of his life. He grew up in China, went to school in the U.S. and moved to Australia after graduation.

He says he chose Australia because a classmate from Marquette visited the country frequently and spoke very highly of it.

“I thought ‘well, I should give it a try,’” Feng says. “Once I moved here, I found it very, it’s very interesting. It’s a great country. It’s a good work lifestyle.” 

Feng says he was attracted to the good work-life balance he found in Australia and opted to stay. He says he also admired Australia’s landscape.

“It’s not very crowded,” Feng says. “So yeah, it’s like a big countryside and you see a lot of wildlife. For example, if you drive away from the major city you see more cattle and sheep than you do people.”

He says living abroad has taught him a lot about seeing things from others’ perspectives.

“It’s really opened my mind to go to a different country or even a different city, different places,” Feng says. “They take you out of your comfort zone and you have to understand and respect other cultures and people, you really learn from other peoples and cultures a lot which I think really improved myself.”

After all of his time spent living overseas, Feng has one piece of advice for Marquette students and graduates interested in moving abroad.

“Don’t be shy,” Feng says. “And take action. You can think about it, you can plan about it, but in the end, you should take action if you decide to move.”

This story was written by Charlotte Ives. She can be reached at charlotte.ives@marquette.edu.