Friday, October 11, 2013

Interview (2) - let me introduce you to Merel

Merel... I am 30 years old and look and feel much younger. I was grown up in the german town called Ahlen. When I was little we spend our leisure time mostly at a camping site nearby. I have great memories of that time. Later my parents got divorced and I was happy when I had 2 weeks of holiday spent with a youth camp. 
I started studying Biology and medical research in Groningen, the Netherlands 4 years ago. 
Groningen is a cute student town up in the north.
 In 2012 I had an awesome time abroad in Oslo, Norway doing an Erasmus semester. (This was actually the best part of my whole study ;) and afterwards I made an Internship in Stockholm, Sweden. 
I always had the strong desire to explore the world, to see or live other countries. And I love to learn languages. So my first step was going to the Netherlands and learn dutch. This summer I finished my studies and went on my first journey outside Europe.

  1. What was your inspiration or the event/idea that made you want to travel?
It’s somehow in my blood (maybe from my dad, since my mum is steady as the sun) and I always want to explore. I can´t stay in one little boring place for too long. There is so much outside to see. So many nice people to meet. So many cultures and so many food I have never tried before. This world is so beautiful and exciting.

  1. What was your first travel experience?
Years before it was just all-inclusive tours by youth travel organizations. It’s a holiday, not travelling. The first short trip alone outside my country was a few days with ferry to Malmö, Sweden. I was travelling through Norway with friends and my first big travel experience was just now by travelling with the transsibirian railway and bus through Russia, Mongolia, China and Hong Kong.
  1. Have you ever felt lonely travelling solo?
I didn´t really felt lonely. Because all of the time I met nice people and we spent time together and as soon as we say goodbye I met new people. I made new friendships all the time. Somehow there were always people how helped and guided me and took care of me. For example when I was in the local train from Ulaan Bataar to Erlian in China. I was the only foreigner in the train, all were Mongolians. They were so friendly and shared their food and beds with me. And the ones who could speak English helped me a lot with information.

  1. Do you have any fun stories of things that happened to you that you realized even at the time, “This never would have happened if I had been traveling with someone else?”
I think just meeting other travellers and laughing together about current things that happened would never happened if I had been travelling with someone else I already know.

  1.  What was your best travel experience?
Puuh, that is hard to say! I learned so much from the countries I had travelled and I will stay in contact with the locals and see how these countries develop in future. Also that all struggles solved out easily by just keep trying and asking for help. During my journey I met my old friends I made in Norway again. I missed them a lot and to see them again in their home was a great experience.
  1.  Is there anything you would have done differently/ any regrets, if you could do it over again?
I would just go and do it again!!! Maybe I should have stayed longer in Beijing. I had some connection problems when I arrived there and could not contact my friend who has arranged something to host me. I felt totally lost in this huge city with almost no English and had no idea where I was. I managed somehow to go to the train station and booked my ticket to Hong Kong only 2 days later. Because I had the feeling that it is all too big and complicated in this city. I had written down a hostel address and the directions. So I went there and stayed 2 days. I have to come back one day to see more of the city. But I already have a great impression.
  1. What was your worst travel experience?
Being trapped by the famous tourist scam. The tea house scam. I was just too naive and too open to everybody. It was written in every tourist guide and on my hostels blackboard and on travel pages on internet. But I didn't read it before :/
  1. What’s the strangest situation you have found yourself in?
Probably the tea house scam. Sitting in a private room without window with the two chinese guys and drinking tea. I thought: well maybe it´s just normal in china…
  1. Where will you never return to?
I have no place where I never want to return again.

  1.  What advice would you give women traveling solo to your home country?
Just enjoy yourself. 
It's not a dangerous country for woman. But I would not walk through a park at night alone or stuff like that. Always take care no matter where you are. There are always mean people around everywhere on earth.
Another advice to see the different landscapes of Germany, you should visit different parts from the north to south, east to west or the other way round. Visit the North Sea and its islands far up north. The Baltic sea, the Alps and the black Forest. The rhine river area. And big citys as wel as little cute villages. If you visit Berlin, there a great museums, for example about the 

  1.  What are your future travel plans?
Since I came back a few days ago I surfer a post-travel depression^^ I just booked a cheap budget fly to Malaga and after I find a job I plan to work for 1 year or so and safe money. Then I want to travel to Asia again. Backpacking, but for a much longer time.
  1. What are your top three tips for women traveling solo?
Always organize your flights, train and bus rides so that you arrive and leave at daytime and not at night. And always mind that for safety reasons spending a little bit more money for a safer hostel room etc is always worth it.
Never get drunk with strangers or take drink s from strangers.
My last tip is: Just go and travel solo! It’s an amazing experience that let you personally grow a lot! Don´t wait for your friends or boyfriend to have time to join your plans.

  1. What would you tell women who are looking to travel alone but worry about their safety?
Look at the tips before. If you take care of yourself and try to avoid common risk factors and trust your own feeling, than I would say it´s even much less dangerous than at your home place.
  1. Couchsurfing..what do you think about that?
It’s great!!! I love it! You can learn a lot about the place by asking questions and talk to your host. They can show you around and show your beautiful places far away from tourism. You can cook local food together etc. It is a very intensive and private experience. You can feel by yourself the everyday life of the people living there. But when I travel alone I only stay with females or a couple. Just to avoid uncomfortable situations.

  1. How do you pay for a life of travel?
Since I am not a digital Nomad yet I will work an ordinary job. The one I studied and safe the money by not buying stuff I don´t really need. And then go for travel.
  1. Tell us about the best food you have ever eaten on your travels?
The best food so far was in Hong Kong. There I tried a lot of food I have never tasted before. It´s totally different. I eat jellyfish with wasabi. I eat fishball on Cheung Chau and they have the best dessert restaurants I have ever seen. And of course the spiciest food I have ever eaten ;)
  1. What is the most breathtaking view you have ever witnessed on your travels
Victoria Peak in Hong Kong.

  1. What do you miss about your home when you go traveling?
Just the luxury of having your own bathroom and bedroom. At home I have all my clothes and I can wash them anytime.
  1. What item will you always carry in your backpack?
Medicine, clothes.
  1. Who was the kindest or most generous person you met on your travels, and what did they do?
That´s also difficult, since there were so many kind and generous people. My couchsurf hosts in Irkutsk, Russia were like that. Also the Mongolian people I met on the streets by asking for the way or the ones in the local train. They did a lot of effort to help me. And again my hosts in HK. It is really hard to choose just one person out of so many generous people I encountered.
  1. What have you learned from travelling?
I see my own country different. Its very luxury here, but it seems the people feel not as lucky as in other places or luckier. I know what is really important in life and I am very minimalistic while travelling and also back home. I learned that there are many ways to live a life.

  1. Who inspires you? What other travellers do you look up to?
I got inspired by other travellers and digital nomads like Carina from Pink Compass or Connie from Planet Backpack.

No comments:

Post a Comment