Cultural differences are impossible not to notice once you have traveled as much as Dana Newman has. Language and these differences Dana has found between Germany and America have helped her make a home out of Munich, and to find herself in her surroundings. Dana Newman is an American expatriate, originally from Florida, in the United States, now living in Munich, Germany. Her YouTube channel, Wanted Adventure, explores the cultural differences between the U.S. and Germany and talks about the expat life, moving to a new country, and all that that entails. This conversation from two self-proclaimed chatterboxes covers cultural connections, environmental differences, how Dana got to where she is, and everything in between, as Dana shares pearls of wisdom from Germany.
After graduating from college, Dana Newman, like a lot of graduates, felt rather lost. She didn’t know what she wanted to do from her life, apart from have an adventure. She felt an invisible rope pulling her towards Europe, and so she packed up two duffel bags, obtained her very first pairs of boots, and bought a one-way ticket to Prague. Once she arrived in Prague, she felt distant, out of touch, and alone - before she took a deep breath and reminded herself that this was all part of the adventure that she wanted to have. She trusted her own process, and yet was still afraid that the Prague of her imagination was too different from the Prague in reality. She had to handle unexpected rooming situations and a topsy-turvy tunnel system, but, even though she wasn’t sure where she was going, she managed to make her way into the city center. She knew something good had to exist out in her new world, and she found it - everything that she had been searching for when she came to live in Europe. She knew, deep in her core, that her adventure had brought her to exactly where she was supposed to be in the world in that moment.
What is a normal Monday for you? For Dana Newman, it changes, depending on the week. Most of her Monday is spent preparing for her Wednesday, because she dictates her own schedule. Upon moving to Germany, Dana was able to discover that autonomy, and the difference between living somewhere and traveling through that same place. It took three years for Dana to feel at home in Germany, because it took her that long to build up traditions and to know what to expect around the corner. She started to decipher the language, to adjust to the culture. She taught herself the language, which was a difficult adaptation, but conversation was a vital part of living in any new environment. When you reach that understanding, you really connect to the people and to that world. Dana may miss the sun in Florida, and the ability to understand her environment entirely, but she’s happy in Germany. She loves the architecture, the ability to walk everywhere, and the home she has made for herself in Europe.
Dana Newman, besides being an expatriate, is also a YouTube sensation. Her videos highlight the differences she finds between cultures - differences that people often wouldn’t think even existed between two countries. She is fascinated by these differences, and couldn’t stop noticing them after she moved. Her friends were interested, and fellow Americans, but she soon realized that Germans liked her videos, too. They were interested in her experiences as an American living in Germany and witnessing how she sees their country. She likes to compare different cultures and explore the two sides of the coin between America and Germany. She can see these differences in her own life, in the ways she has changed her ways of doing things as a form of adaptation from Germany to America - for example, her laundry. She’s made friends, though, in Germany. She has a home, and the feeling that comes with it. She feels at home in Germany now, and never would have made it to that point if she had too many expectations. When she doesn’t have expectations, and tries to be open to what happens, she knows she’s able to continue her adventure regardless and keeps her mind open and let herself be open to new experiences. She encourages not putting restrictions on yourself when you travel; you have to be open to anything that can happen. Traveling can let you look at your home in new ways once you’ve traveled a bit, as well. Making a home and appreciating where you’re from is a glorious side-effect of travel.
Knowing why you want to do something is half the way to achieving that something. Understanding and developing your passion is the drive a person needs to becoming who they truly want to be. Taylor Zajonc, a writer, father, maritime historian, Explorers Club member, and shipwreck explorer who has literally been to the bottom of the ocean and back again, has endless pearls of wisdom just like these. He knows that approaching your own life with an “open heart, a lack of cynicism, and as little ego as you can” will lead to amazing places. What would you be willing to suffer through for an experience? Have you discovered your life’s true passion? What would you find if you played soccer in Kenya? Taylor wants to help you find the answers.
Taylor was involved in a deep sea shipwreck company years ago and took a trip to Africa. On the way back, he and his team stopped in Kenya, residing for the duration of their stay in a small rural camp, in a village where young warriors once trained. Due to this being an authentic slice of rural village life, there was a lot of downtime for Taylor to just sit down and think about what he wanted from himself, from his life, from his own future. There was also time to play soccer with the same little boy who showed up every day at the same time with a soccer ball. This, combined with the feeling of flying down a dirt road in a Land Rover, made Taylor want to be a father, and a writer. He wanted to capture that free feeling, and to make his life all about experiences like that. He decided to try harder to write, to get published, and to be a father. He now has two books out and a fifteen-month-old son, Sammy, all of which he can trace back to that little boy he played soccer with in Kenya.
Taylor, a native of the Pacific Northwest, is a firm believer in appreciating where you grew up and where you currently are. However, this has not once stopped him from diving to the deepest depths on Earth, a fascination which began at the age of nineteen. His father aided him in boarding a Soviet-era submersible on its trip to the ocean’s floor in the Bermuda Triangle, investigating an old wooden target. This target turned out to be an unexpected historical artifact, over sixteen thousand feet deep, and so, at the age of nineteen, Taylor was able to explore the bottom of the ocean with his own eyes. He had the sudden knowledge that no other human being had experienced what he was experiencing in that moment. He had a realization that changed the trajectory of his life, because he discovered his passion, and was able to understand, develop, and focus on this. When you come back from a journey like his, your overthinking, doubts, and second thoughts no longer matters. What matters is your transformation, and your realization of what is truly important to your travels and to you. Taylor thinks that it is both important to take a moment or two to reflect on your decisions, to make sure you’re safe and getting the most you can out of life, and to let the bad wash out of your memories, leaving only the good, the funny, and the passionate. It’ll help you realize how big the world truly is.
Traveling somewhere with a goal in mind, any goal, is important - it will advance your own understanding of what is in this world, and support your passion. Having a goal means learning what you would be willing to suffer through for a travel experience. For Taylor, it’s writing. What is it for you? Taylor believes writing has to come from an experiential place, that there has to be honesty and knowledge of a subject to make a piece more real, because authenticity cannot be faked. The need to overcome our own thoughts and fears to go through a transformational experience is vital. For example, anything and everything Taylor has done in his life scared the crap out of him before he did it. What something looks like in your head versus its reality can be two completely different things, and Taylor has learned that over and over again. Themes like these are obvious in his books - The Wrecking Crew, Red Sun Rogue, and an unnamed third book that will be arriving in 2018. His novels explore the trials and tribulations of a deep sea salvage diver and his unusual ragtag team as they battle pirates, mysteries, and something larger than all of them. His newest novel visits a Georgetown history professor who gets mysteriously summoned on an expedition out of Tanzania. Taylor doesn’t want to write what’s already out there, he wants something that’s got depth, and breadth, and really reaches the reader. He knows what’s important in life, and makes his writing reflect that.
Kristin Addis trusts the world, and she trusts her truest self, the one who hides inside and waits until she is alone to reveal herself. She knows a great deal about solo female travel, having adventured around the world since 2012, and she believes wholeheartedly in talking to strangers and in taking leaps. She offers support to anyone who will listen: if you don’t feel as though you’re understood, or if you don’t know where to look, there are people all around the world who will offer you opportunities to learn who you really are. Solo travel is the purest opportunity to discover yourself.
In March 2014, Kristin Addis found herself in the Tibet Autonomous Region of China. The snow was blasting her, filling up the grounds surrounding her with white, and Kristin herself was low on money. She had to hitchhike her way eight or nine hours back to her site, and she was in a small town, so not a lot of people were presenting her with travel opportunities. Being a foreign girl in China, though, does have its advantages, and one particular group pulled over their nice car and buckled her in for a white-knuckled ride. An hour outside the city, they stopped to eat with her, which is typically a normal experience, but this was not the case on that day. Instead, she selected a large, living fish to eat, and experienced an incredibly uncommon waitress. Her dinner was ridiculous, and her leftovers were maybe even a little dangerous. In the end, she was just this random girl from California, hitchhiking in a remote part of the world, who ended up with an unexpected gift or two at the end of the day.
Kristin Addis is currently staying in Berlin before she goes to Africa, as she knew upon setting foot in Berlin that it would be the perfect environment for her new home base. She utilized a freelance visa, one of the many ways that a lot of the world is opening up when it comes to things like travel. The world, Kristin believes, is opening up travel and accessibility and opportunities to a large chunk of the world, which is better than the past circumstances. Kristin’s grandmother, like her, was a traveler, who shared her photo albums with Kristin. She was Kristin’s only traveling family member, and, in being so, she unconsciously inspired Kristin. After she passed away, Kristin and her mother found her journal and embraced her legacy, exploring the world as she saw it, and imparting their own experiences, as well. Any place exists how you experience it, how you document it, and what you get out of it. Kristin firmly embraced her travel bug, spending summers abroad, saving her money, burning her bridges and returning to Asia where she felt she belonged. She wanted to learn about different cultures in depth; she moved without support and immersed herself. She stuck it out, and was amazing by her own ability to embrace different experiences and a new way of life. It wasn’t an easy decision; she was terrified, she agonized over it, but she didn’t want to wonder anymore. She found the right community to explore her options, realized her dreams were possible, and set out to find her true self.
Kristin Addis has been solo traveling for four-and-a-half years, but she doesn’t feel alone. She meets people locally, new friends that she makes when she immerses herself in a culture. She has been finding her real self; other people impact how you act, what you feel, but when you’re alone, nobody stops you from making decisions or having ideas. It’s freeing, incredibly powering, and a magnificent opportunity to discover your true self. You’re never alone, not really. Sometimes people approach Kristin, wanting to help her, to take care of her. She is never short of options for people to spend time with anywhere in the world. It’s easy to put up walls with people you don’t know, but making connections with those around you is easy once you let yourself understand that you are all traveling just the same. It’s pretty surprising how many opportunities can come up if you make seeking them out your priority. Kristin tends towards solo travel and a less touristy type of journey half-from necessity, and half-from distraction, as her experiences were so amazing that she felt comfort didn’t really need too large of a space in her life. Penny-pinching Kristin also learned how to trust those around her. She trusted in the pure, honest experience of trusting another person and, once she did, she let herself fully experience the world and immerse herself in the cultures surrounding her. She started Be My Travel Muse so that she could encourage other women to experience the world just as she did, so they won’t be afraid of the amazing experiences they can give themselves to learn about their real selves. The real you is waiting; will you travel to find them?