Sabbatical Stories

Oliver’s Goes Around the World in 52 Weeks

My sabbatical gave me a fresh perspective on life, opened my eyes to the world and the diversity of cultures within it and renewed my sense of purpose — it also reminded me how important it is to have fun!

We’ve visited 14 countries across 6 continents, traveled over 60,000 miles by plane, train, car, boat, bike, scooter, foot, railbike, etc. (Did you know that’s the equivalent of the circumference of the Earth twice?).

We’ve seen the most incredible sights, met the most incredible people, experienced various cultures, and tasted some of the best food of our lives.

We saw 3 wonders of the world (Taj Mahal, Angkor Wat & Chichen Itza) and 5 of the natural wonders of the world (Great Barrier Reef, Ha Long Bay, Puerto Princesa Subterranean River & Milford Sound)

We’ve swum in more oceans, lakes, rivers, and seas than we can count. We’ve hiked glaciers and volcanoes at soaring heights of 4,000 meters above sea level and dived deep into the depths of the blue ocean, ascended into deep, dark caves and cenote’s down to 30m below sea level.

The wildlife we’ve seen has been unparalleled. Leopards, elephants, whales, dolphins, turtles, rays, coyotes, snakes, spiders, eagles, vultures, and, of course, a lot of cute dogs!

“Each day is a gift. And to waste that day is inexcusable. Account for yourself. Be useful.” – Joyce Simmons Cheeka

Activities you engaged in during your sabbatical as possible:

  • Hiking (Mountains, Forests, Jungles, Wetlands, Desserts, Rainforests)
  • Swimming
  • Diving
  • Glacier Hike
  • Live Music
  • Lots of eating
  • Boat trips
  • Kayaking
  • Paddle boarding
  • Rail biking
  • Cooking classes
  • Meeting new people and learning their language
Oliver's experience on his sabbatical changes him

How long was your sabbatical (in weeks)?
52

What were you most concerned about when contemplating a sabbatical?
Money – it’ll cost too much!
Optics – what will colleagues, friends and family think of me?!
Responsibilities – how can I afford the mortgage/take care of my family?

Describe any changes you made in your life post-sabbatical:
Importance of protecting the environment. Need to work for an organisation with sustainability at heart and a clear purpose. My mind has been opened further to the world and the diversity within it.

How did your sabbatical experience change the way you thought about your employer?
Everyone was extremely supportive which reflected very positively on Vodafone

Why do you think others should (or shouldn’t) take sabbaticals? Are there occasions in life where it’s particularly helpful?

Sabbaticals offer the chance to recharge, reset and focus on something you love – travel, your family, a hobby or passion. This will only help with your physical and mental health.

There is never a good time to take a sabbatical during your career and others will say it’s a waste. But wasting time is not always time wasted.

You’ll return with new perspectives, life experiences and renewed drive to get things done.

You can connect with Oliver Pirozek here.

If you’re interested in more sabbatical stories involving travel, you might like Sarah’s story.

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