Tea Talk 8: Jane Streicher | English Teacher (Seoul, Korea)

Jane and I have known each other pretty much our whole lives, and I love that we both have a passion for traveling. Something I’ve written about before is how homeschooling opens up your mind to being able to do things like live in other cultures, or travel the world, because it encourages that sense of constant curiosity. Jane and I both had that as kids, growing up, and I love seeing her adventures as she lives and works in Korea. I’m so honored to have such amazing women surrounding my life, and being able to share their stories with you all! Without further adieu, here’s Jane:

1. What started your passion for traveling?

I grew up going on family road trips every summer including camping for a week a few hours away on the coast or cross country trips to visit relatives in the midwest. Because of these trips, I learned to love going places and experiencing new things from a young age.

2. What’s one travel tip you think the world should know?

Stay with locals. One of my favorite things to do is to find an Airbnb or hostel run by locals and get their advice on where to go and what to eat. They will usually have secret spots that I could have never found without their insight.

3. What’s your favorite cultural habit you’ve picked up (ex. food dishes, lifestyle changes etc.)

One simple thing I do subconsciously now after living in Asia for four years, is taking my shoes off whenever I am inside a home. I remember in high school and college, I would wear boots inside all day long but now I feel so unsettled if I have my shoes on for more than a few minutes.

Another thing I have learned to appreciate is gift giving. It’s a simple way to show someone you care about them or respect them after taking a trip or visiting their home. Obviously this is done in the US too but I never truly saw its purpose until living in Asia.

4. What would you suggest for other women who are thinking about traveling?

Don’t over think things. Be open and flexible to what can happen. Make plans and be smart but also have an open mind so if/when things go wrong you can still have fun and enjoy yourself.

5. What’s one failure that you learned a lot from, when it comes to travel?

Always check times (especially if its military time). When I was leaving Vietnam last winter, I accidentally missed my flight completely by 12 hours because I thought my flight was in the afternoon when it was actually late at night. Luckily I could buy another flight for $100 but I now make sure to triple check all times.

6. What’s one fear that you overcame, while traveling?

Being alone. When I first moved to Vietnam in 2013, I preferred doing things with other people and felt a little bit intimidated going places alone. Over the years I was there, I learned to navigate going out alone and now I love going to coffee shops alone to read or work. My introverted side as defiantly become much more dominate as I have traveled and lived abroad.

Accepting help. As an American, I think it’s ingrained in me to want to do things without help from other people. Living in Vietnam and South Korea, there have been countless times when I have had to rely on my friends from those places to help me get simple things done like going to the doctor or fixing a flat tire on my motorbike.

7. What is your favorite way to travel (ex. plane, train, automobile?) and why?

Plane. There is always such an excitement I feel when taking a flight. I love the whole process and especially enjoy the meals (?! I know most people think they are gross.)

8. What is one piece of advice that you wish you could give your past self?

Money will come and go. So much of the time when traveling and living abroad, money can be a huge worry. I am still learning how to be smart about it but as an expat I think I have to expect times when money is tighter.

9. What is one place at the top of your bucket list that you’d like to visit?

Japan! I am hoping to take a trip to see the cherry blossoms there next spring.

10. Let’s talk about your current adventure! What was your inspiration?

I was really curious about South Korean culture and learning the language. I had met lots of Koreans in Vietnam and decided it was time for a new challenge. Instead of wondering what life was like there, I wanted to experience it first hand.

11. What has been the best/toughest part?

One of the best parts is my job teaching English to kindergarteners and elementary students. I spend most of my work day with four and five year olds and they are so precious and curious. They make it fun to come to work!

I have also been loving all the food and places to discover here. There are so many tasty things to try and new coffee shops to go to! A tough thing is starting over and everything that comes with it – making new friends, learning a new language and new city.

12. What’s one thing you’ve learned?

Being uncomfortable is okay, especially when going through change.

I came to Seoul after living in Vietnam for three years. I loved my time in Da Nang and by the time I left last winter, I had a comfortable life with so many special friends and connections. I knew the city so well and everything was fairly easy and simple.

One of the main reasons I wanted to come to Seoul of all the cities in South Korea was because it scared me a little bit. It sounded so big and intimidating and I loved that idea. I wanted a new challenge of living in a highly developed city and learning a new language but what that meant didn’t fully sink in until I got here.

The last six months have been exciting and fun but also awkward and challenging. I have been able to study Korean with two amazing teachers and have also made friends and have a good job. But there have also been days where things aren’t perfect and feel uncomfortable.

13. What’s one thing you’ve learned about yourself from this trip?

I truly love to learn. I have always know this but over the last few years, it’s really hit me that I am a life long learner. In Vietnam, I was a part of a Christmas choir and also took a dance class. I had never done those things well but decided if I was interested I could do it.

14. Anything else you’d like to add?!

The experience of traveling and doing new things is always worth it, even if you have to budget or rearrange things!

Tea Talk is a monthly series featuring extraordinary women who travel around the world! If you know someone who should be featured, or would like to be featured yourself, shoot me an email at morehouseemilee@gmail.com or post a message on this blog post! Join me again in November for the next feature! 

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Pour One For The Homies: Confessions Of A “Good Kid”

I’ll admit it: Growing up, I was the goodie two shoes. I never really got in trouble, I didn’t experiment with illegal things or have dangerous friends. I got straight A’s and never missed a day of school.

In the grand scheme of things, I guess you could say I was a low-key, kind of “boring” kid. I was my high school class speaker, voted “most eligible bachelorette” in college (remind me why this was a thing, SPU?), and never touched alcohol until I was 21 (short-lived, since I stopped drinking at 22).

Why am I telling you this?

Well, the life of a traveler is definitely not a safe one. While on the road I’ve had some pretty scary, sketchy and downright dangerous stuff happen to me. But usually this blog only gets the fluff and smiles of the good days.

So, what turned this girl from yawn to yeeeeessssss? Here’s how it happened.

It all started back in 2013 when I met a boy. Yep. I know.
This boy was very very important to me, but ended up ripping my heart out and basically making me wish I was never alive…but that’s another story.

Anyway, after that experience I realized how much of my life had been about pleasing other people. This was also right about the time I had shaved hair, started getting tattoos and pierced my septum. Was I cool, yet?

But that wasn’t enough. I had wanted to travel to Ireland since I was a little kid. My grandpa is Irish, English and Scottish and I’d grown up associating a good story and a great (albeit corny) laugh with my Irish heritage.

I had basically all but planned the entire trip out in my mind. And I was ready to go. But remember that boy I mentioned earlier? Yeah, you guessed it—he talked me out of going. Not only talked me out, but flat out told me that if I did go he would break up with me. Nice guy, right?

So, naturally, the first thing I did after the *KABOOM* ending of that relationship was to buy a plane ticket. By myself. To Ireland and the UK.

Since that first trip I’ve learned a lot about myself, but one of the biggest things is how much fear held me back from doing a lot of things in my pre-23 year old life. To be clear, there were some benefits to that. I probably wouldn’t have graduated from college without the fear that my mom would kill me if I didn’t (Haha. It’s a joke, mom.).

But when it came down to it, what I wanted for my life, and who I wanted to be, was so dictated by the surrounding fear of not being accepted by those around me that I didn’t even realize I could make independent decisions to make myself happy. It sounds kind of sad, now, but I don’t think I ever considered the fact that I should/could pursue the things that made me happy—even if they didn’t make sense to other people.

To those of you who might be nodding your heads, this one’s for you:

I’ve learned so much more (and grown so much more) by failing royally. Like I mean big-time fails. I mean moving to another country and hating almost every minute of an experience most people dream about, F-A-I-L.

But you know, I smile when I think back on my failures because they’re a reflection of just how far I’ve pushed myself to grow.

What is fear holding you back from?

Maybe it’s travel related (if it is, call me) or maybe it’s just taking a risk to apply to that job, or move to a new place. Do it. Not because you’re going to have a 100% success rate, but because even if you fail you still gain so much. Believe me.

If your heart is pulling (or in my case, dragging) you a certain direction in life, follow it. And those people who threaten to leave or abandon or not support you? Get rid of them. I’m serious. Shake them off, and find your people and a community to support you. Even if it’s an online community or Facebook group or whatever, there are people out there who will support you. I will support you.

So be your crazy self. Take risks, and live your life as fully and completely you. Not because everyone else is taken, but because you are f*cking fabulous (sorry, mom), and why the hell would you want to be anyone else?

Tea Talk 2: Madison McGhee | Travel Videographer

Madison and I met through a Facebook travel community of women called Girls Love Travel. I knew I had to learn more about her travel adventures when saw some of her beautiful videos on Youtube. A West Virginia native she uses video to tell the stories of her travels and of the people she meets along the way. As a story teller in a different sense, I loved seeing another awesome woman traveller taking on the world one travel at a time!

What started your passion for traveling?

I think I’ve always had this inherent desire to see new places and meet new people. As a kid, I was never satisfied with the status quo and couldn’t wait to go to college. I grew up in a fairly small town and I think that had a lot to do with it. I knew everyone and had been everywhere. There was no sense of adventure or newness. Everything was the same. I went to university seven hours away from home and after meeting people from different places and doing some domestic travel with friends during our breaks from school, I knew I had to see more of the world.

What’s one travel tip you think the world should know?

Pack light. My friends reading this will laugh. I am the worst at this, but it really is so important. Not only is it inconvenient to carry around a 50-pound suitcase, but also it can be a pain at airports. You do not need the extra pair of shoes or your entire makeup bag.

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What’s your favorite cultural habit you’ve picked up?

The locals in Australia are really laid back. It’s partly why I love the culture so much – everyone is super chill. They walk around barefoot a lot and I especially noticed how strange it was that people go barefoot in supermarkets. In the United States, that’s not normal. So as simple as that sounds, was really a shock for me. Now I find myself slipping my shoes off when I drive or taking the trash out barefoot.

What would you suggest for other women who are thinking about solo traveling?

Plan and be prepared and be smart, obviously. But go!

What’s one failure that you learned a lot from, when it comes to travel?

Somewhere along the railway from Vienna, Austria to Budapest, Hungary all of my camera equipment was stolen on the train. As a filmmaker over 1,500 miles from home in a foreign country, I felt completely hopeless. It was heartbreaking. It was the biggest challenge I have ever faced while challenging. I learned to travel smart. I keep an eye on my stuff and have found the right suitcases, backpacks, camera bags, etc. that allow me pack efficiently and compactly.

What’s the best and worst part about traveling solo?

Worst: You’re by yourself. You can only share your experience with words and photos rather than share the actual moment with someone you love. Sometimes that’s hard, and other times it’s really cool to share something with yourself or a total stranger.

Best: You find out so much about yourself. I found this incredible sense of independence by traveling by myself. I learned how to live with a carefree spirit and it’s carried over into my day-to-day life.

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What’s one fear that you’ve overcome, while traveling? 

I overcame my fear of being alone. I used to hate it so much – being alone. As an extrovert, I never thought being alone would be my thing. But I’ve slowly become so comfortable with being myself. I think that has come in part with growing more comfortable with who I am. Because I love myself, I love being by myself. Now I have no idea what I was so afraid of.

What is your favorite way to travel and why?

I think all offer a unique way of seeing things and their own level of convenience. Planes are fast and becoming relatively inexpensive. Trains offer the beautiful scenery – places that you’d only see by taking the train. And then there’s that feeling you get driving down a long road with the sea out the window, the windows rolled down, and your favorite song playing. That’s a beautiful way to travel, too.

What is one piece of advice that you wish you could give your past self?

It’s ok if you don’t know what you want to do in 10 years. In fact, it’s normal. Pursue what you love and if that passion changes, let it, and pursue your new passion. Never “half-ass” anything. And always be kind to everyone you meet. There’s a soul inside of everyone.

What is one place at the top of your bucket list that you’d like to visit? 

There are so many places. I would really like to hike the Patagonia or Mt. Kilimanjaro. I haven’t done much “adventure” travel and that’s something I want to start doing more of.

Do you have any upcoming trips? Where to and what will you be doing? 

I’m planning a few trips that I’m really excited about. I’ll be filming all of them – of course. I’d like to do a Canadian road trip to see the national parks because they’re all free in 2017. I’d also like to see more the United States. Cuba is also on my 2017 list. I’m really excited about the opportunity to see more of the world and meet so many new people.

Anything else you’d like to add about yourself? 

Travel has completely changed my life – and my career. I am humbled by everything life has thrown my way and am thoroughly looking forward to what is next.

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Follow Madison along on her adventures on her website, Snapchat or at any of the links below! 

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Tea Talk is a bi-monthly series that is published on the 1st and 15th of each month. Join me again on March 1st for our next feature! – Emilee

Tea Talk 1: Jessica | Travel Blogger, Artist

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Welcome to the very first “Tea Talk”! I’m so excited to introduce you, twice a month, to inspirational women who share my passion for travel. From artists to bloggers to moms to videographers, these posts are meant to highlight the lives of women who dared to strike out and explore the world around them. If you feel inspired, share this post with your friends!

First up: Jessica.

Jessica and I met while working at a childcare center a couple years ago and found common ground around the issues of feminism, social justice and teaching kids the rules of consent. Having worked in childcare for the past 4 years, I’ve always found it interesting how many childcare workers are simultaneously world travelers (whether they know it yet, or not). Last year Jessica set out on a solo adventure around southeast Asia. An epic journey that left her with buckets of stories to tell, and me without her as a roommate (#shameonyou). But now that she’s back, I couldn’t be more proud of her exploits, and adventures. Be sure to check out her blog where you can find stories, travel tips and art!

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What started your passion for traveling?

I have always been a huge book nerd ever since I can remember, and it wasn’t until high school that I really started thinking, “Hey, I could actually visit some of these places one day.” The more I read, the more the wanderlust started to take hold. I began reading more biographies and memoirs and dreaming about place outside of Washington State. I just knew I needed to see as much of the world as I can.

What’s one travel tip you think the world should know?

Give yourself freedom. In that, I mean don’t schedule everything out to a T. Sometimes things don’t always go according to plan, and if you budget in a little flexibility, it usually ends up being okay. Or, you may get to a place that you absolutely love and want to stay longer than planned. If you get so wrapped up in the little pieces, you are more likely to be disappointed when things don’t go exactly “right”.

What’s your favorite cultural habit you’ve picked up?

This is probably less of a cultural habit and more of a “travel habit” but I care a lot less about how I look now. After trekking around in all kinds of weather, meeting strangers you are not likely to see again, it is easy to forget about makeup, smooth hair, and put-together outfits. Now I hardly ever wear makeup at all (my last trip I didn’t bring any with me) and I let my curly hair go free.

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What would you suggest for other women who are thinking about solo traveling?

Trust yourself. I think one of the biggest things holding women back from traveling solo is fear: fear of getting hurt, getting lost, or worse. In reality, those things can happen in any part of the world. What makes the difference is that you are going to a new place, so it’s expected that you will feel less confident and prepared than you usually do back home. If you carry yourself with pride and trust in your own strength and abilities, you won’t have time to be scared and paranoid. Solo travel is such a great experience because this can be a great way for women to realize their strengths and how capable they are.

What’s one failure that you learned a lot from, when it comes to travel?

When I traveled solo for the first time, I tried to make friends with as many people as I could right away. I think it was my own insecurity about being alone and unprepared. I quickly got a reminder that I am not that person – I am an introvert who likes her “Me Time”. I met great people along the way, but I couldn’t pretend to be someone I’m not. I started feeling burned out from trying to be a socialite party animal fashionista. I decided to stick with a few people I got close to and skip the daily bar crawls.

What’s the best and worst part about traveling solo?

Best: the freedom to do what you want, where, when, and how you want. I like being my own boss lady.

Worst: Getting tired and/or sick without your mommy or best friend to take care of you L

What’s one fear that you overcame, while traveling?

On my last trip I tried rock climbing for the first time. I am TERRIFIED of heights. I just sucked it up and did it. Now I love it.

What is your favorite way to travel and why?

I love traveling by boat. I think it is because I grew up on two islands and have always lived closed to the ocean. I love being on the sea. It’s is calming and usually not as crowed at a bus or a plane.

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What is one piece of advice that you wish you could give your past self?

Be patient. Good things will come.

What is one place at the top of your bucket list that you’d like to visit?

Morocco

Do you have any upcoming trips? Where to and what will you be doing?

The next country I am likely going to is Nepal. Otherwise, I hope to go on a longer backpacking trip through South America once I save up enough money. For now, I have a few connections in Nepal and really want to explore more of Asia.

Anything else you’d like to add about yourself?

When I was in high school I planned on taking my first trip to Thailand, but was unable to because my grandma passed away (she was going to pay for the trip). I went on my first trip to Thailand in memory of her.20170127_092943
Want to learn more about Jessica’s adventures? Hop over to her Facebook page or follow her on Instagram!
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Tea Talk: Coming February 1st, 2017

tea-talk-2When I first started backpacking I noticed something: all the people I knew who solo backpacked, were men. I knew girls who had studied abroad, or visited friends and family internationally…but I didn’t know any women who had solo backpacked. Why?

Once I bought my plane ticket I started to get a better idea.

There was, and is, quite a double standard when it comes to men and women traveling. The world is filled with endless possibilities for men, but for women? It’s a place filled with unimaginable terrors.

Three years ago I decided to stop listening to doubters, and followed the almost unbearable tugging of my heart. I bought a plane ticket on my birthday and explored England, Ireland and Scotland. It was the trip of a lifetime.

I didn’t know it then, but there are others like me. Women who throw their belongings in a backpack and buy a plane ticket to anywhere and everywhere. Sometimes we feel hidden. Sometimes we feel invisible.

We are a community of travelers living, learning, loving around the world. We are breaking down stereotypes and perceptions, and building foundations for a better world.

Join me, starting this February, as I uncover the mystery that is the female solo backpacker. This should be good…

Coming February 1st, 2017.

(Pst! This post isn’t over, yet! If you have someone you think should be interviewed, or you’re a travel girl who would like to be considered, shoot me a message at morehouseemilee@gmail.com or comment in the section, below!.)