living the dream


I have deliberately been hiding this news for a month now (for fear of jinxing it) but after passing the thirty day mark, I’m excited to announce my transition from the world of teaching into the world of full-time writing! On May 9th, I accepted a job at a local online magazine specializing in pop culture news and have been writing everyday since. Voicing this news out loud is still a bit surreal, like this change has yet to lose its novelty. But I’m happier than I’ve ever been and I can’t believe that for the first time in my life, I’m getting paid to to be a creative professional!

living the dream anyarena

AnyArena, Vietnam’s premiere pop culture destination

When I first moved abroad to Asia in the summer of 2014, I had a clear-cut picture in my mind that I would be solely committed to teaching. In Korea, my teaching obligations actualized itself into a full-time affair. I spent almost fifty hours a week at my workplace prepping, grading, and educating my students, completely neglecting all my creative pastimes. After a year of non-stop grinding, I had to reassess the teaching gig and decided on a seven-month backpacking trip around Asia to help me reorient my goals. To commemorate the start of my backpacking trip, I launched The Next Somewhere Blog and in writing, I found my refuge.

living the dream anyarena

The new workspace with my own desk!

Touching down in Vietnam four months ago, I was eager to jump back into the world of teaching. But a negative opinion towards educators of Asian descent left me with a really bad taste in my bad. After a strenuous search, I eventually found a good job with Tim which had pretty lad work hours. The low-key schedule allowed me to concentrate more on my passions. Teaching sadly became an afterthought. I was more engrossed in building a collection of stories about my adventures, and less about the children. Plus, I realized that the teaching atmosphere is way different in Vietnam compared to Korea and that working with younger kids just didn’t suit me.


My first day on the job

After an ad popped up on my feed announcing a job vacancy for an editor position at AnyArena, a popular Vietnamese pop culture and events website, I took a leap of faith and sent my resume in. It was a spontaneous decision and I didn’t put too much thought into it until a few weeks later when I received a text message from an unknown number inviting me for an interview. I couldn’t believe my luck! I went into the interview the next day nervous as hell. In the conference room, the company’s founder began his drill, asking me about my related experience. In truth, I have never done anything editorial. I love writing (independently) and I’ve always been interested in pop culture but to pursue these two things professionally was never in the plan. In the end, my interview ran over two hours long!

living the dream anyarena

A peek at the new office space

I felt good about my chances trying to put my best foot forward. But when I left, I didn’t realize how badly I wanted the job. It just felt like something meant for me. They also asked me to get six pieces done in 48 hours as trial assignments. I’ve never written with as much conviction as I did in the course of those two days. The following Wednesday, in the middle of a lunch date, I received a call from Jon. I picked it up nervously, expecting an invitation for a part-time position with my lack of experience (which I was still happy to grab.) Then the words spilled through phone: “We’d like to offer you the job as editor of AnyArena.” EDITOR. An editor of a Ho Chi Minh City magazine. It just wouldn’t sink in.

living the dream anyarena

Front row at Li Lam’s “Sands of East” Fashion Show

And here I am, today, celebrating a successful four weeks as an editor of a magazine where day in, and day out, I just get to do what I love doing most. As the only native English speaking editor, I head all the copywriting efforts in the office. I write 2-3 short-form articles today in the arenas of fashion, music, art, and lifestyle. We cover local, regional, and international news. The subject matter is quite niche and people may think it trivia but having studied anthropology in college, I find it really interesting to see what is relevant to the youth of Vietnam. Also, this is a communist country so to have to consider censorship and the political atmosphere, as well as the social topography, makes my day. I play a big part in our choice of content. It’s been a lot of learning so far but it invigorates me to see how much I still have to learn. I also feel my writing skills sharpening day by day.

living the dream anyarena

From the ‘True Story’ photoshoot via

Creative responsibilities aside, I have been given the opportunity to explore my new surroundings so intimately. From covering fashion shows to reviewing restaurants, I’m getting to sample Ho Chi Minh City in  a way that I would never had the privilege to had I not gotten this job.  What I’ve liked most is being able to interview all these creative personalities. I find the process of transcribing their words into something engaging so rewarding. I also love being in the presence of these talented folk and gaining a behind-the-scenes look at their work. In some way, I have joined the rank of those living out their dreams. Wish me luck!

living the dream anyarena

Wrapping up the shoot with street artist and DJ, Dan Nguyen aka Demonslayer


  1. Being treated to a staycation at Villa Song, the best hotel I’ve ever visited in my life
  2. Getting to “borrow” a piece from local designer Li Lam’s boutique to wear to a fashion event
  3. Discovering Station 3A, the coolest fix of street art and funky shops in HCMC


  1. Interview: The Boys of True Story Get Candid
  2. Interview: Looking Back on ‘Memory and Oblivion’
  3. Interview: Backstage with Li Lam at VDFW ’16
  4. Saigon Leather Workshop: Makers Gonna Make
  5. Interview: Insta Elite @foxtly
  6. The Age of True Romantics
  7. London Calling: Gucci Resort 2017
  8. Say Goodbye to Being Lost in Translation
  9. Chance the Rapper Goes Gospel in ‘Coloring Book’
  10. Obama Just Got Served

Stay tuned for a list of my favorite magazines and a special giveaway! With love, Izzy




Filipina-American Millette Stambaugh is a thirty-something former expat who has traded her nomadic ways for Philadelphia living. Corporate worker by day, content creator by night, Millette specializes in visual storytelling and joyful journeys and wants to help others find their "next somewheres." Follow her escapades on Instagram, Youtube, and Tiktok @thenextsomewhere.


  • June 10, 2016

    Wow! First, I am so happy for you! It’s incredible to see that you’ve found a job where you actually get to use your passions rather than a job just to fund your passions in your free time. Second, holy cow- EDITOR?! You are freaking wonder woman! That’s so awesome and you deserve it. After seeing how much effort and creativity in every single one of your blog posts I am not surprised. You are seriously talented and this job seems like it’s perfect for you. I am so glad you are finding your way enjoying life to the fullest and doing what you love. You’re an inspiration! That gives me hope that we can make something work other than teaching (not that that’s a bad option- it’s just not very stimulating work when you end up feeling more like a well paid babysitter). Anyways, congrats again and I can’t wait to see how the rest of our journey pans out!

  • June 11, 2016

    Congrats on the awesome job, Izzy! I agree with Megan — you’re very talented and they’d be crazy to not take you in.
    I’ve always been working in the airline industry but I quit quite recently to see if I can pursue my passion in a different field. So you’re my inspiration too!

  • June 12, 2016

    Congratulations!! I’ve loved your writing from the first time I visited your site, and am really glad that you got this job! Each of your posts just have so much passion and dedication which also makes me feel that this job is so meant for you! God bless your journey! 🙂

  • June 13, 2016

    This is an incredible opportunity and something you definitely deserve! Good for you for scoring a job and putting your positivity to something you love! Your talent shouldn’t be wasted and all the stuff you’ve done looks incredible! Great job and stay beautiful! <3

  • June 13, 2016

    Congratulations Izzy! Sounds like a sick job and a very unique experience which I’m sure you’ll treasure for a while! I dont blame you, working with kiddies is not for everyone and good for you for finding a non-teaching gig while abroad. Its very inspiring and I’m sure a lot of us will live through you and all your fantastic assignments, please don’t forget to keep us posted! All the best!

  • June 13, 2016

    Yay! You’re indeed living the dream. Congratulations, Izzy! I have a journalist friend who used to work with Korea Times covering culture. She covered concerts of intl stars, kpops and went to restaurants for review. She loved the job. Now she has moved back to the Philippines covering business and of course in a management position. Good luck, girl. Your experience there will bring you to places personally and professionally.

  • don

    June 13, 2016

    Congratulations on your new job!! It sounds like you found something that will really make you happy.
    It must just be amazing to be able to work on something that you love so much and earn a living from it!
    Hope to hear more about your new work and what comes up~


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