Europe

110,745 kilometers later: an update on Nomadderwhere

110,745 kilometers later: an update on Nomadderwhere

I'm watching the Vancouver Marathon from my apartment window and giggling as seagulls drift by at eye-level. Canada represents my final destination of this academic year, and though it was an exciting year and an important one for my own growth, I am glad it's behind me.

Traveling with a math expert this year introduced me to the beauty of slow data. With every car ride or room change, she plugged miles traversed or beds switched into a spreadsheet. By the end of 220 days "on the road," she presented to us the impressive numbers of our #cdtravels:

  • 110,745 kilometers of transit = 2.76 times around the world
  • Total hours on planes, trains & automobiles (not layovers or wait time): 246 hours / 6 work weeks
  • 50 beds roughly, averaging 4.4 nights per bed

If you're wondering why I spent the last year making an epic carbon footprint (not proud of that), take a peek at the TGS Changemaker Program and read my post on this curriculum development mission. If you're not sure how I went from travel media to writing curriculum documents for a high school, I understand your confusion. It surprised me, too. Here's something on my evolution.

Last year at this time, I was living in Florence, Italy with THINK Global School, plugging away at graduate school and enjoying as stable a lifestyle as I've achieved in the last decade. Between then and now, I changed jobs, visited ten countries, and wrote two years of projects with three colleagues.

Here's what it was like...

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The Sarajevo Boys Club

The Sarajevo Boys Club

Together, we ignore the folk music that fills every conversation gap and develop our bitter coffee breath. Turtle-Neck nudges the stool where my feet rest and quickly apologies with a wave. I crack a full smile, eager to be acknowledged, quick to prove I’m open to chatter myself, though we exchange none. The Daydreamer folds his paper and stands to deliver 1 KM to the bar for his espresso before walking out the door. He waits a beat before turning right, then walks straight towards his car. I notice the others don’t question his departure. He backtracks to the edge of the patio and turns left to saunter by the rest of the shops on the ground floor, hands in pockets–breaking for oxygen, I imagine. The patio door swings open again, and the newest member lifts a cheek onto a stool, pulling his Marlboros from a pocket as first order of business.

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When you're jetlagged in Bosnia

When you're jetlagged in Bosnia

I continue to mull over my initial impressions of this city as they compare to my pre-conceptions without extensive research. How do I explain the feeling of dropping into a new city whose energy I don't know? What are the true risks to safety? Where's the highest concentration of lively people, impressive food, and gorgeous architecture? What does life feel like in this city, and how ever-present is the memory of its recent war?

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Rain clouds blow through the highlands of Scotland

Rain clouds blow through the highlands of Scotland

I had heavenly expectations of the highland air. I thought it would be uncommonly sweet, a cold drink of water for my lungs. Instead, the air I invited in smelled like fresh biology, life and death but more of the former. Somewhere nearby, there was undoubtedly a cow sweating, a rooster breathing heavily, an earthworm realizing it could now slither back underground. From a 1st floor window, I sucked up all that biology in a moment of wonder and discovery, in the specialness of a start.

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In Scotland, searching for the core of creativity

In Scotland, searching for the core of creativity

When one has access to the world’s biggest showcase of artistic performances, one’s brain explodes as the prospect of selecting a few to attend. After many careful reviews of the 440-page catalogue, I landed on a visit to the Picasso/Lee Miller exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery, a couple walks through St. Andrews Square and George Street, some free comedy in the wee hours of night in Old Town, and stayed close to the Edinburgh Book Festival, also the largest fest of its kind in the world.

It was the Book Fest that slapped some perspective into this dream world of creative indulgence.

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Consume & Update: making it count, making good art & making it home

I've finally stopped moving for a while. Want to see what I've found as of lately?

World travel on Nike's dime

Nike made a new product that basically detects energy expended (a.k.a. Nike Fuel) throughout your typical, active day, and with this new product comes an intense online marketing campaign called #makeitcount. This video, created by Casey Neistat and Max Joseph, is reminiscent of the STA Travel Australia video "Move" and shows Casey plowing through his budget from Nike with 10 days of globe trotting. I just had dinner with one of the developers of this campaign. The world is small, people.

Advice for starting a creative career

This is good and giggle-worthy. Here are my favorite excerpts:

...it's true that nothing I did where the only reason for doing it was the money was ever worth it, except as bitter experience. Usually I didn't wind up getting the money, either.

IRS on your trail? Make good art. Cat exploded? Make good art. Somebody on the Internet thinks what you do is stupid or evil or it's all been done before? Make good art. Probably things will work out somehow, and eventually time will take the sting away, but that doesn't matter. Do what only you do best. Make good art.

The urge, starting out, is to copy. And that's not a bad thing. Most of us only find our own voices after we've sounded like a lot of other people. But the one thing that you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. So write and draw and build and play and dance and live as only you can.

The moment that you feel that, just possibly, you're walking down the street naked, exposing too much of your heart and your mind and what exists on the inside, showing too much of yourself. That's the moment you may be starting to get it right.

That was the hardest lesson for me, I think: to let go and enjoy the ride, because the ride takes you to some remarkable and unexpected places.

Other discoveries

Getting better production audio: who wouldn't want that? STA Travel's World Traveler Internship 2012 commences: Matt and Amma begin the documenting of their European jaunt with this video of a Czech beer fest. Reinventing the office, how to lose weight and increase productivity: Though these days I have no control over what my office looks like, I like to take these tips and think of how they could again be redefined for this transient setting. The new MacBook Pro: No Film School explains the newest version of the MBP.

Update on Nomadderwhere

Irene and Lindsay in NYC
Irene and Lindsay in NYC

Throughout June, I felt incredibly confident in my role as media specialist for this world-touring school, TGS. I don't know if it was the homey accommodation we had, the energy of Berlin, the enthusiasm of the students, or something else. I created a rhythm of working and playing that felt solid and sustainable, which is harder than it seems to create structure in a fluid, ever-changing environment. It was so successful that I had time and energy to document for myself.

A few weeks ago, I packed up my ephemeral life and reverted to backpack living for about 25 days. After train journeys through Prague, Budapest, Salzburg, and Austria, I flew to meet friends in Denmark and said goodbye to Europe from Stockholm. Landing stateside in early July, I quickly picked up again to visit my hometown of Wabash and then the third place I'd call a 'home': New York City. Home is a loose term for me.

This summer break from school will consist of portfolio tweaking, reading of many travel narratives, home creative projects, and the ever-important duty of reconnecting with my community.

Here's my latest work:

Videos and captions are those of THINK Global School. The opinions stated in this post are mine and do not reflect the positions, strategies, or opinions of THINK Global School.

Photoblog: a gray day in the Swedish village of Landsort

After the Berlin trimester ended, I flew to Copenhagen to begin a wee Scandinavian tour. The best part of this week was being with friendly residents and visiting their homes. Yes, homes. Not houses, accommodations, hotels, hostels, or dorms. In both Copenhagen and Stockholm, I stayed in city homes and then visited vacation homes by the water. Both cities are impressive and relatively unknown to me, but I valued most those moments where I was experiencing someone's place of hat-hanging. Rarely did I want to venture away.

 Kari and Kristian heading to Öja, Sweden

Kari and Kristian heading to Öja, Sweden

Landsort is a village on the island of Öja an hour south of Stockholm. It marks the southernmost point of the Stockholm archipelago. My new friend Kari took fellow TGS co-worker Andy and his two friends to his vacation home on the island of Öja by way of a flat-bottomed boat. The sky was gray and occasionally spitting, but we enjoyed some walks along the central road (rarely a motor in sight) and up by the lighthouse that gives the village its name.

 Andy on Öja island in Sweden

Andy on Öja island in Sweden

 Kristian on Öja island in Sweden

Kristian on Öja island in Sweden

 Kristian on Öja island in Sweden

Kristian on Öja island in Sweden

 Luisa, Andy, and Kristian on Öja island

Luisa, Andy, and Kristian on Öja island

 Kristian on Öja in Sweden

Kristian on Öja in Sweden

 The lighthouse on Öja island

The lighthouse on Öja island

 Wildflowers on Öja island

Wildflowers on Öja island

 Wildflowers on Öja island

Wildflowers on Öja island

 Andy staring into the gray Baltic skies

Andy staring into the gray Baltic skies

 Kari and Kristian heading to Öja, Sweden

Kari and Kristian heading to Öja, Sweden

 The southernmost point of the Stockholm archipelago: Landsort

The southernmost point of the Stockholm archipelago: Landsort

 The mostly-pedestrian streets of Landsort on Öja island in Sweden

The mostly-pedestrian streets of Landsort on Öja island in Sweden

 Öja island in Sweden

Öja island in Sweden

 Kristian, Andy, and Luisa at Kari's house on Öja

Kristian, Andy, and Luisa at Kari's house on Öja

To see more travel photography, view my Flickr collections.

My global kids romp through four countries in five days

My global kids romp through four countries in five days

Some of my students called it "the best five days of their lives." That kind of statement carries a good load coming from kids who visited the Galápagos, the Amazon rainforest, and the Bavarian Alps this year alone. At the end of the academic year, my students were given the great opportunity by the school to live out their own Amazing Race through Germany, Czech Republic, Hungary, and Austria.

I went along for the ride.

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What creating art in a world art capital looks like

What creating art in a world art capital looks like

The last three months of living in Berlin have been culture-filled indeed. One of our guest speakers this term expressed his belief that if Paris, London, NYC, and other global cities had their heydays in past decades, Berlin is having hers right now. While it's harder to find a contributor to culture living in New York City than it is a financier or business person, in Berlin the culture contributors are the vast majority and the makers of the dough. If you're going to study art today, this is certainly a place to witness a present movement gaining definition.

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Photoblog: Details of the hipster haven that is Berlin

Photoblog: Details of the hipster haven that is Berlin

Ten days ago, I descended into a brisk, foggy day at TXL, equipped with a new currency, my crusty old travel backpack, and a vague awareness of my new home's coordinates. In the time since my arrival, I've gotten familiar with the suburb of Kleinmachnow and explored my neighborhood on foot. Yesterday was my first wander around downtown Berlin, camera in hand. I've started my three-month exploration of the city at a popular hub, roughly the Williamsburg of Berlin: Rosenthaler Platz. Here are just a few moments.

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Guten tag and lederhosen and whatnot: Bound for Berlin

Guten tag and lederhosen and whatnot: Bound for Berlin

Today, I fly to Berlin, Germany. I'm not ready, but my bags will be in a couple hours time. And by tomorrow morning, I will have landed in my new home for the next three months. Take away this woman's sweet safari hat, nicely-pressed dress, and hat box, replace it with yoga pants, a sweaty brow, and a cheap tote filled with laptops and this is me today. Man, she's classy.

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Interview a traveler: the trailblazing travel bug, part 2

A self-starting, world traveling, commercial fishing, supremely athletic, go-getter. That's a whole lot of epithets. For those of you who haven't yet read up on Sierra, be sure to check out Part 1 of this series before reading on to learn more about her new project in Alaska!

 Sierra Anderson Fish

Sierra Anderson Fish

Sierra Anderson and I have only met through google chats and phone conversations, but being on such similar paths led us to becoming friends and collaborators. This series of Interview a Traveler continues to give kudos where they are due...to fellow travelers doing some very cool things.

You've recently just started a new venture called The Real Alaska. What's the premise behind it, and how do you hope to generate revenue from this?

 The Real Alaska

The Real Alaska

The Real Alaska, founded by Brett Veerhusen and myself, is a blog and reality web-show documenting our "re-admittance" into the commercial fishing scene this past summer. Brett spent his summer captaining for the first time in Bristol Bay, Alaska, while I worked as the “skiff-wo-man” for my dad in Chignik off the peninsula. We both grew up in the commercial fishing scene. In fact, Brett and I refer to it as our second lives, one that most of our friends don’t even know about.

Alaska is virtually its own country. It's a completely different element up there with very different people doing risky business around the clock. Through our own personal journeys, we hope to educate, entertain, and provide insight into what this industry is all about. Eventually, we'll broaden our scope to encompass all things Alaskan and bring in contributors.

Being that we both are entrepreneurs, we hope to pitch this to investors, get better equipment, and turn this into something more. We have a vision, but right now we're building credibility, a portfolio, and letting it develop organically, in order to have something to pitch down the road.

How do you deal with the ever-nagging issue of money, and what advice would you give my budget-minded readers?

I'd recommend developing a skill you can use on the road, something you can barter with to help you save money. This was the case with the SMU Travel Bug and hotels/adventure companies, because we had a marketable outlet for companies to use. It doesn't have to be a website or video editing skills. Photography, though, is a big one, and I just recently took this hobby up myself. Multimedia is huge in marketing businesses these days. If you can add to that or help a business out, they can help you in return.

Do some extra work for a family. Be an au pair. Apply for the Peace Corps. Networking is huge. There are plenty of WWOOFs along the way where you can trade work for rent, too.

 Sierra harbor mountains inspiration

Sierra harbor mountains inspiration

Why do you personally find travel documentation important, and what would be your ideal job/lifestyle in five years?

 Sierra thinking Greece

Sierra thinking Greece

I'm a bit of a dreamer and very inspired by what I see. Documentation has become my portfolio, but more than that, it's like therapy. It’s a way for me to hopefully inspire others to hop off the bandwagon and experience a world outside of their own. Although I don’t have a degree in journalism or multimedia, I am building credibility based on the experiences I document now. I’ve always enjoyed entertaining, so documenting allows me to do that and also educate.

If The Real Alaska takes off in the future, I can see myself taking people on adventures and documenting their experiences on camera. Anything having to do with multimedia and journalism would be my niche - where I can share my passion with others. To be a host and take people around the world, or in this case, Alaska, would be a dream job.

How to do you reason the unconventional and daring life you lead? I know many people would love to have their lives revolve around travel.

A professor of mine once told me:

In your 20s, always choose the option that you'll learn from the most and wait till your 30s to choose the option that pays the most.

 Sierra Anderson Venice sinking city flood

Sierra Anderson Venice sinking city flood

Regardless of what I do, I want this time in my life to be about building valuable experiences, not possessions. I don’t understand how everyone pushes us to spend the "now" getting ahead, jump starting careers immediately out of college, finding the perfect someone, and ‘settling down’ only to later question it all.

In my opinion, there are two types of people in this world: those who talk about traveling and those who actually do it. Many say they want to or wish they could but come up with a million reasons not to, money being the biggest excuse.

If I wasn’t doing what I am now, I would take off to Haiti and go work there for a year. They could use that help right now. Join the Peace Corps, Volunteer Abroad, etc. It doesn't necessarily take money to do that, nor does it mean you have to be single either. Two of my best friends who are newly married and tight on finances have still found ways to travel and work in different countries. Traveling is like jumping off the high dive in the swimming pool. You just have to take that first step, then you're in.

It's important to be practical, too. If you really want to travel like you talk, your going to have to give up and sacrifice other things. I gave up having a car for about three years to lessen my expenses.

 Fishing in Alaska

Fishing in Alaska

How do you know when a travel or work experience is right for you?

That really comes down to your personal goals and motivation. Sometimes work opportunities come a lot sooner than we anticipate, and we're afraid to jump in knowing we might be tied down. Everything we do is a learning experience; however, don't let money be the main motivator. Trust your instincts.

Being well-cultured and having a diverse portfolio of work experiences are very important in today’s world, so traveling in my opinion helps you go far no matter what career choices you make. If you can think in "bigger picture” terms, you’re already setting yourself up for success in the future.

Be sure to check out the first half of this interview. UPDATE: Sierra has a new TV show on TLC, Hook, Line & Sisters. Do you have any questions for Sierra about her future travels, The Real Alaska, or her experiences throughout 40+ countries? Leave a comment, and I'll make sure she gets the question!

Interview a traveler: the trailblazing travel bug, part 1

She self-created her own World Traveler Internship. She knows the ins and outs of commercial fishing. She's a star athlete with an extreme passion for satiating her wanderlust. Let's check her out.

 Sierra Anderson Hanggliding

Sierra Anderson Hanggliding

Sierra Anderson and I have only met through google chats and phone conversations, but being on such similar paths led us to becoming friends and collaborators. I've been amazed by her tenacity ever since. This series - Interview a Traveler - continues to give kudos where they are due; to fellow travelers doing some very cool things.

Her Bio: I am an Alaskan native, a local of Breckenridge Colorado, and a daughter of a commercial fisherman and world traveler. I grew up in the remote bush of Alaska, and when I wasn’t traveling, my summers were spent fishing off the Alaska Peninsula. Through university and travel, my zest for the outdoors and thrills increased exponentially. I'm a self-proclaimed "Curious George."

So you're a self-proclaimed "travel bug." How did you acquire this fantastic disease?

I’m a genetic byproduct of my mother, the globetrotter. Having traveled to 87 countries herself, I was fortunate during my formative middle school years to join her in many of these exotic adventures. Since then, traveling has been in my blood. My mother made each experience as authentic and educational as possible. That meant reading up on everything, never traveled in tour groups, renting cars and traveling cross-country through the continents of Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia.

My dad is the same way. This was the start of an impacting theme of my life. I learned what it meant to push myself to the limits each day and it carried over to how I live my life now.

Tell us about the SMU Travel Bug and how you went about creating your own school-sponsored travel program.

It was a team effort. Without Shelley, Cody and our new "bug" Tyler, none of it would have happened. I was motivated to try something new. I took a risk in doing it, and I made some valuable relationships that helped make it all a reality.

I was inspired by STA’s World Travel Internship in December 2009. I applied right away, but after finding out in March that I didn’t make the cut, I wasn’t ready to give up. I discovered that the competition was a great learning experience and opportunity to meet some very cool and knowledgeable people in the field, not to mention meeting this awesome chick interviewing me right now.

Motivation: I thought to myself, "What if the World Travel Internship could be sponsored by SMU instead?" I wanted the challenge of making it happen for myself and to use my travels to inspire others with the spirit of adventure. I knew the intrinsic benefits of travel, and I wanted everyone else in my school bubble to see it, too.

 Sierra Skiing

Sierra Skiing

Risk: Fortunately, I came out of college debt free but also with little to no money in hand. I needed the funding. In a matter of two months, I met my travel buddies, Shelley, Cody, and Tyler, then planned the journey to Europe with out really knowing whether or not it was actually going to happen.

Networking: After concocting a sponsorship proposal with our itinerary, budget, purpose and everything the SMU Travel Bug would do and provide, we presented these things to a number of teachers and faculty, including the International Department in hopes of gathering support. As an advocate for world travel himself, and mentor to me, Dean Niemi, of the Cox Business School, was on board and personally sent a letter to the International Department proclaiming his support and financial backing for the SMU Travel Bug. His support was fundamental.

Come May 1st, we got the approval of the Study Abroad and received enough funding to pay for my half of the journey (as a business school alumna). Halfway through our trip, Outdoor Interlaken, a prestigious outdoor adventure company in Switzerland, offered to sponsor that portion of our trip. The famous Hostel in Interlaken, Balmers Herberge, also hosted us for the week.

Where were you expecting the SMU TB to propel you, and what has actually come from the whole experience?

I’ve always wanted to start my own business, specifically in the adventure travel industry, and I thought this might be a means of working towards that. Unfortunately for the SMU TB, it ended up being too much too soon. I'm still trying to figure out what to do with it, but in the meantime, it's a resource and portfolio of experience. Now I take more a journalist and multimedia approach to things. I have developed different skills that will propel me further down this path.

 Sierra Anderson Running

Sierra Anderson Running

In your opinion, what are some essential characteristics of a compatible travel buddy?

Adventurous: It helps if they're a little crazy. But really, it's all about balance. Differences can be a positive thing, as long as they bring out the best and propel each other forward.

 Sierra renting a car in Corfu

Sierra renting a car in Corfu

Positive: Find a team player that can make it through the grime with little fuss. My travel partner, Shelley, is a great example of this. When we were traveling from Romania to Greece on a stinky train, Shelley was incredibly sick. She had every reason to be miserable but managed to find some sense of humor in the situation and make the best of it. Attitude is everything, and it’s quite contagious.

Physically fit: Most people don’t consider this as that important, but it is. You never know when you might have to walk five miles with 40 pounds of luggage on your back. Yeah, it happens.

Flexible: If you’re on the hunt to find the perfect travel companion, remember you have to first be that person to them. You have to be able to make adjustments and sacrifices yourself. You’re not only living together but having to make quick, sound decisions every day.

 Sierra Travel Bug

Sierra Travel Bug

What has this post-trip, post-graduation, “limbo” time been like for you, and how have you been deciding the next steps throughout this time?

The transition out of college is not often an easy adjustment. College is seriously a bubble. The SMU Travel Bug propelled me toward what I want to do, and since then, I’ve been working as a ski coach in Breckenridge, herring fishing in Sitka in the Spring, and salmon fishing in the summer. I’ve managed to deal with being ‘limbo’ from living in a resort town with varying seasons.

Presently, I am living in my hometown of Breckenridge, Colorado. Having just returned from 3 months commercial salmon fishing in Alaska, I am embracing the freedom of now before starting my job as a ski coach and instructor. These next couple months are about documenting my story of commercial fishing in Alaska. As of right now, I am traveling in Turkey and taking advantage of my downtime to hone in on video editing and writing.

What is The Real Alaska? Be sure to check out the second half of this interview with Sierra. Do you have any questions for her about the SMU Travel Bug, travel-centric entrepreneurship, or her experiences throughout 40+ countries? Leave a comment, and I'll make sure she gets the question!