Is the world REALLY your oyster?
Updated: Dec 10, 2019
If there's one thing that has always made me laugh in the past, it's when I read articles or hear the older generation talk about how millennials don't spend money anymore. Millennials don't buy diamonds, millennials aren't buying homes, millennials aren't having big families. And, the list goes on. But, what they never take into consideration is how God awful our economy is and how that restricts millennials from doing the things that we WOULD have done if we actually had the coinTs to do it. That's just the truth. If we were ALL financially stable, I know that without a doubt, we'd be taking advantage of that to its fullest extent.
HOWEVER, what I've come to realize is that we can still enjoy our lives and what's left of it (before climate change wreaks havoc and the earth swallows us into the ground) if we pursue our passions, take risks, improve our money management skills, and learn about fiscal responsibility. This, OBVIOUSLY, may not have the same effect for those who are living cheque to cheque and just cannot afford to save and switch up their lives at the drop of a dime. We have to be honest with ourselves. But, for those of us who have the privilege to allocate some money here and there into a savings account, this one's for you.
I reached out to one of my childhood friends who I know is using every chance she has to explore all the world has to offer. Her name is Alexandra Liraxis Pedro and just like me, she is only 21 years old. She is a Comprehensive Makeup Artist who graduated from the CMU College of Makeup Art & Design in Downtown Toronto in May 2018. As you read further into the article, you'll note that she's currently an English teacher in China, but what makes this all the more beautiful and interesting is her story of how she's able to realistically afford this lifestyle despite also just being a 'millennial'.
I hope you enjoy the following interview! Let me know what you think down below in the comments.
1. Most young adults feel like travelling the world at such a young age is near impossible, so what inspired you to just get up and do it?
I completely understand that feeling! It actually took me a little while to decide to leave because I wanted to be certain that I wouldn’t end up in a bad financial situation while abroad. After doing quite a bit of research however, I realized that there is an endless amount of opportunities for young travelers that makes it near impossible to end up in this situation! For example, you can easily find English teaching jobs online or use really great websites like aupairworld.com and workaway.info for countless paid jobs abroad with food and board included.
I knew that I wanted to explore the world and I also knew that the only thing preventing me from going was a fear of the unknown, so I found a teaching job in China and decided that this would be the first step to begin my travels.
2. How many places have you been to so far?
I grew up going back and forth between Venezuela and Canada but since beginning my recent travels as an adult, I’ve been to Paris, France, Abu Dhabi & Dubai in the UAE, Calgary & Banff in Alberta, Canada, a few cities/towns in Hubei Province, China, Phuket Island in Thailand, and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia! (I still can’t really wrap my head around that).
3. How were you able to manage your money and afford to take on this exciting adventure? What advice would you give other readers who may be interested in travelling, but don’t think they would be able to afford it?
The first step I took was finding a job abroad that would pay me enough to save for more of my travels. I also chose to start my travels in Asia, where the cost of everything is extremely inexpensive. So, before getting paid for the first time, I wouldn’t need a lot of money to live decently. I knew that by doing these two things, I wouldn’t have to stay back home working for too long.
My advice to other readers is to line up any paid job within your first month of travelling, and to be aware of your first payday, then save up however much money you’ll need until then. This shouldn’t be more than $1000 CAD for a whole month in Asia.
You can use skyscanner.com in a private window to find one-way tickets to Asia for less than $500 CAD and if you use aupairworld.com or workaway.info to find a job abroad, you can choose from thousands of job opportunities in any country of the world, and they usually pay you weekly, so you'll need less savings!
4. Out of all of the places that you’ve travelled to thus far, what would you say your favourite place to visit was? What had the best food? Where did you go on the most adventures? The friendliest people to foreigners?
It’s very difficult to pick an overall favourite place because they have each added value to my life in different ways.
Food-wise though, I’d definitely choose the UAE because I love middle-eastern food, and they also have so many extremely delicious restaurants, with food from all over the world.
Adventure wise, it’s definitely a tie between Phuket, Thailand and China. In Phuket, I did the most sight-seeing and exploring, but in China, your average day as a foreigner is quite an adventure, mostly because of the language barrier.
The people in Malaysia are by far the friendliest to foreigners. The Malaysian people touched my heart like never before, in less than 48 hours of being in their country. I was very surprised by this, considering how friendly the people in Thailand are to foreigners, as well.
5. You’re currently teaching in China. How long did it take for you to pick up some of the language? Will you continue until you’re fluent, or do you just want to be able to understand the basics?
It took about a week or so before I could order food at a restaurant by just saying “I’d like this.” or “I’d like two.” and pointing at whatever it is I wanted. After two months, I basically just know how to order food and ask questions at a restaurant like “Is this beef/chicken/fish/lamb?”, the numbers, and random phrases like “I am Canadian” or “I am a teacher.”
The Chinese language is extremely difficult to learn, especially because of the four tones that they use. So, while being fluent would be amazing, I think that it will be a huge accomplishment to just understand the basics. In order to speak Mandarin fluently, it will definitely take me at least two years, and I don’t think that I'll be staying in China for that long, unfortunately.
6. What place would you say is on the top of your bucket list to visit next, or if given the chance?
So far, it’s definitely a 3-way tie between Morocco, India and Egypt. They are all so rich in culture and absolutely beautiful in so many different ways.
7. Do you prefer to solo travel or travel with someone else? Why?
I don’t really prefer one to the other because I think that they both contribute to my life differently. For example, I mostly travel with my boyfriend, Hassan, and I absolutely adore every second of it! We both bounce ideas off of each other and push each other to be more adventurous. There’s never a dull moment when we’re together, so we always have the most amazing time. Travelling alone however, really pushes me to be more self-reliant, outgoing and courageous. I’d say travelling alone adds to my growth and confidence more quickly, but I could travel with Hassan for every trip of my life.
8. What is the best piece of travel advice that you’ve received? And, what is YOUR top travel tip?
I think the travel advice that impacted me the most was to basically JUST DO IT. Making the first step towards leaving the comfort of your own city/town is definitely the hardest and you can come up with a million reasons as to why now is not the time to.
My top travel tip is to really focus on your growth and do a lot of reflecting while abroad to accelerate it. Really immerse yourself in the culture of every place that you visit, reflect afterwards, and you will realize how much your travels are shaping you as a person.
9. What is one thing that you CANNOT travel without?
It’s definitely a tie between my phone and my camera, as annoying as that may sound. I can’t travel without my phone because there is an immense number of apps that really makes travelling so much better and easier! For example, in China, I couldn’t survive without Microsoft Translate to read Chinese characters, and there also so many networking apps that you can use to meet locals and/or foreigners while abroad, who contribute to your experiences. I can’t travel without my camera because photos and videos are the best souvenir! You can look at either and be taken back to the exact moment that you took them.
10. What is the worst piece of travel advice that you’ve received?
I can’t really pinpoint any bad travel advice that I’ve received. I think that travel means something different to everyone, so if something someone says doesn’t apply to you, then you can identify why that is and use it to your advantage.
11. What was your most embarrassing moment when you were travelling abroad?
My most embarrassing moment while travelling was within my first week of living in China. I went to a local shop where they sell chicken drumsticks and I wanted to order two. Because I didn’t know how to say the numbers yet, I had to rely on their number hand symbols. But then, I accidentally ordered six drumsticks because I confused the two and the six sign while ordering... They still smirk and laugh every time I go to that shop.
12. What is the most interesting story that you can share about one of your travels?
My most interesting story about my travels was when I went to a hot spring resort outside of Wuhan, China for Chinese New Year. During this time of the year, mostly everything in China is closed and you barely see anyone on the streets, because everyone is spending time with their families. My friend Victoria and I were walking around the small city at around 10 PM, looking for somewhere to buy food (good luck) and we saw a group of people our age lighting up fireworks for the holiday. They saw us taking videos from across the street, then came over and asked so innocently if we wanted to “play with them”. They literally gave us their whole pack of insane sparklers, helped us light each one of them, and took videos and pictures of/with us. It was such a memorable experience.
13. What is the scariest (or weirdest) moment that you’ve experienced while travelling?
I haven’t had any scary or necessarily weird experiences while travelling, but something that I found really funny when I first got to China is that people will often ask to take pictures of/with you because you’re a foreigner. It’s almost like they’re fascinated by your presence! If you go to a local shop though, the owner will sometimes ask for a picture because they’re just grateful that you’re contributing to their business.
14. Do you ever plan on coming back to Canada and settling down here, moving to a different country permanently, or continuing with travelling for as long as you can? Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I don’t really think that I will be settling back down in Canada, unfortunately. I absolutely love Canada, but it’s a little too cold for my liking, haha. God-willing, Hassan and I are actually planning to settle down in the UAE- somewhere we love and where there are better opportunities for us and our careers. We do plan on travelling as much as we can before we settle down and have a family though. This could be anywhere between 5 and 10 years. I hope that in 10 years, I will have acquired all of the experiences abroad that I need/want, and be proud of the person I’ve become.
15. What was the most challenging thing that you’ve done whilst travelling?
Definitely living with the language barrier in China and leaving my family/friends back home. Being far from my family/friends however, makes me value my relationships way more and especially, our time together.
16. Is there anything you wish you’d done before you left home?
The only thing that I can think of is maybe packing a few of my favourite snacks for China. It can be very difficult to access western food while in China and I definitely miss it sometimes!
17. How have you changed as a person since you began travelling?
Travelling has contributed to my growth in more ways than I can explain! It has made me much more self-reliant, which in turn has made me more confident and surer of who I am as a person. Going new places also requires you to become more patient and open-minded. Each day away from home changes me for the better.
18. What do you think about the quote, “You can’t run away from your own feet?” and the idea that travel is a band-aid solution for acquiring happiness?
I agree that “you can’t run away from your own feet” because each moment of your life has led up to the person that you are, and the person who will carry you forward, as your life goes on. I think that travel is definitely a band-aid solution for acquiring happiness because the world is such a beautiful place and it transforms you into a better human being, which will only make you happier as the days pass. You will meet people who incredibly impact your life and acquire the most memorable experiences.
19. What is the biggest sacrifice that you’ve had to make in order to keep up this awesome lifestyle?
I’d say living outside of my comfort zone, where my everyday life can be extremely unpredictable, is the biggest sacrifice I’ve had to make. Along with that come small sacrifices like not eating the food that you want all of the time, or simply not shopping at stores where you know things will fit you like you want them to. I still wouldn’t change my lifestyle for anything in the world.
20. How are you documenting your trips?
I take pictures that I post on Instagram, but I think that what documents my trip the best are the vlogs that I post on my Youtube channel with my boyfriend called “Alex & Sam”. I hope to inspire people to create the life that they want for themselves and achieve all of the happiness/success that they desire and deserve!
Here is a link to their most recent video:
YES! The world IS your oyster. This interview really helped to open my eyes to the endless possibilities that not only people my age have, but everyone - as a whole. Without a doubt, I know that we can't delude ourselves into thinking that every single person can afford to travel because we know how often this system disenfranchises those who are incredibly financially disadvantaged. But, that doesn't mean that you still shouldn't try to make the active effort to enjoy your life.
I don't know what that might mean to YOU, but find ways to add value, happiness, and positive experiences to your life every chance you get. It could be something as simple as taking up a new hobby to expand your skills and interests. Or, maybe that means trying to find a new job that you're actually interested in and won't dread waking up for every day. Or, that could mean travelling to another city, province, country, or continent. Whatever that means to you, don't allow what's going on on the outside to hinder you from experiencing all that this world has to offer. Take a chance. Be open to new opportunities. And, be daring. This is YOUR life anyways. Craft it the BEST that you can.