Travel Bliss Interview Series: Alexandra – The Adventure Classroom:
As promised in my earlier blog post: The Year 2019 – The Leap of Faith Continues, I am back with my Monthly Interview Series, wherein each month I feature two interviews with people from around the world – who may be a home-maker, a traveler, a blogger, or a biker or a painter or a potter or an entrepreneur or a writer or just about anyone who has chosen to follow their bliss against all odds.
This time my very special interview is with the very young and dynamic Alexandra. Alexandra is a travel blogger with a passion for traveling and teaching. She is the owner of her website: The Adventure Classroom.
Alexandra’s interview is sure to inspire us and motivate us to continue to strive and explore and try out new things or just excel in whatever we put our minds to do.
1. Tell us about yourself:
Hi everyone! I’m Alexandra. I was born and raised in Canada, which I really believe is the best country in the world for me. No matter where I travel to, or how long I live abroad, I am always proud to call Canada home, and I am always happy to return to this beautiful country. If you haven’t visited Canada yet, I suggest you add it to your list! 🙂
I caught the travel bug when I was finishing high school, so I saved my money for two years in order to take 6 weeks off at the end of my second year in university. I backpacked around Europe during that time, and that trip is the cornerstone of all my travels. Since then, I made it a priority to save money for more travels, despite only working part time and studying in university full time. I made it work, because it was important to me.
Now, I am a teacher in an international school in China. I’m starting my career while combining my love of travelling and discovering new places. When I travel, I always try to find a nice sunset or sunrise spot, see the stars at night if I can, and spend time in both cities and nature. Some of my favourite places so far are South Africa, South Korea, Ireland, the Philippines, and of course, Canada!
2. Canada is on my bucket list for sure! I love your Travel Blogging website: The Adventure Classroom and the logo. How did you come about to choosing this name for your blog?
Thanks! Choosing a name was difficult because I had a couple that I liked. In the end, I wanted a name that was simple and made it easy to understand that my blog has something to do with adventures and school.
In school, there are always special classrooms like the music room, the art room, the computer room, etc. Usually, that kind of learning only happens in that room; usually, you don’t make music outside of the music room. That was the idea I had behind The Adventure Classroom. I want my blog to become a space where people can come to find out more about opportunities around the world, where they can continue their lifestyle abroad – whether that is by living, working, volunteering or interning.
3. What are you absolutely passionate about? And what drives you to achieving it?
Aside from the obvious passions – travelling and teaching – I love writing. Ever since I was young, I’ve been practicing creative writing. I don’t really show my creative writing to anyone, I just write for myself. I write because I have so many ideas in my head, and I want to see them come to life. I would love to take creative writing courses, so I can boost my confidence and learn more of the craft. Then maybe I will start to show my work to friends and family. 🙂
There’s a quote by Toni Morrison that says, “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it”.
I think all writers – or anyone pursuing their creative abilities – should keep that in mind. Even as bloggers, it feels like the market is very saturated already… but there is always room for your voice and your perspective.
4. True. Tell us about your decision to move to China. What was the thought process behind it? And do you have any regrets? How do you fund your travels?
I am a certified teacher in Canada, but I knew I wanted to explore more of the world before starting my career at home. As I said before, I work at an international school. It is affiliated with British Columbia, a province in Canada. That means I can still use this time to gain valuable experience in a Canadian school. This made me realize that moving to China was the right choice. I didn’t have the same fear of ‘wasting my time’ that some people might feel if they are contemplating walking away from jobs in their home country. It’s understandable to be nervous, because in the end, most people will want to return home and find a good job. However, you gain experiences while you’re abroad that you would never get at home. From my move to China, I am essentially able to start my career, save money, and travel around China and the rest of Asia during our holidays.
How it started:
I had met a recruiter at my university while I was still in school. I contacted her a year later, when I was ready to start thinking about the future. She was very clear about what it’s like to work at an international school in China, and she explained everything thoroughly. I could trust her judgment because she was a retired principal from a school in Canada, and she had visited many of the international schools in China. That meant that she knew what kind of standards there were and whether or not they met expectations. I knew I was going to a reputable school.
All of that alleviated most of my worries, but I was still anxious about making such a big move across the world. In the end, I knew that this is something I really wanted to do, so I just had to get it done. I do not have any regrets!
Thinking of working abroad at the start of your career? Check out my reflections on how I survived my first year teaching in China!
5. You are a very young solo female traveller. Please tell us about your journey.
I actually don’t really consider myself a solo traveller! I am more of a solo adventurer… I like to go off on my own to new places, but once I am there, I travel around with others that I meet.
A solo adventure in my university days: I spent 3 months as an intern for a Non-Governmental Organization called Nature’s Valley Trust, in South Africa. My university had partnerships with different organizations around the world, and I was accepted to participate in that one. I applied and received scholarships to fund part of the expenses, which most people don’t even know exist! (Check with your university or online to see what kind of scholarships are out there!). During those 3 months, I would sometimes venture out on my own, but I would usually travel to neighbouring places with my fellow interns.
I do most of my travels with my sister – she is my original travel buddy! We have visited over 20 countries together, and still travel together at least once a year! If I don’t travel with her, I usually travel with my boyfriend; we take weekend trips to different areas in China as much as we can.
6. Did you face any challenges / difficulties during the course of your journey?
The biggest challenge I faced when I moved to China was, of course, the language barrier. After just one month in, I wanted to go home! I had suffered the worst culture shock ever. However, all that was to be expected. I have since been learning Chinese, which is a big challenge. I’m trying to keep myself disciplined and practice every day!
All in all, there aren’t too many big challenges that push me the wrong way. With my job, the place I live, and the opportunities I have, I am very happy… and not many people can say that’s true for them. I love my life abroad!
7. Any one lesson learnt or travel moment you will not forget?
I remember a lot of the bad moments – the ones that taught me to be cautious, or that made me feel awful. But, those aren’t the ones I keep with me. I like to think of the good times.
There isn’t one specific moment that made me learn this; it is something that I came to understand over time: people are generally good. There are a lot of misconceptions or biases that instill fear in people. A lot of time, you might hear “Why would you go there? Isn’t it dangerous?” Fear makes people think the worst of others and of foreign places. I’ve learned that despite all that, people are good on the inside. No matter where you are in the world, people just want to have a good life. People want to do kind to others. Individual people are wonderful, even if you might have heard different things in the media.
8. Any words of wisdom / advice to all the people out there? There are so many of us who have certain dreams or passions that we want to pursue, but are struggling within ourselves, are not sure or are second guessing and having doubts about it.
Start by writing down specific steps you need to take in order to achieve your goals, and then take those steps. It shouldn’t be a big thing all at once. That’s where a lot of people feel overwhelmed and then freeze up, making it difficult to accomplish what they want to.
For example, if your goal is to become stronger and more fit:
- Understand why you want to achieve that goal (Happiness? Satisfaction? Money?)
- Start with finding the exercise you like best that targets the area you want. Core? Arms? Legs? Full body? A rotation of all of those?
- Start with doing that exercise 2 times a week, maybe for 20-30 minutes each.
- Once you feel that is easy to accomplish, try to increase it to 3 or 4 times a week.
- Slowly build up your strength by making the exercise more advanced (in time or difficulty).
- Still acknowledge that you need time to rest. Instead of doing intense exercise every day, do lighter activity on 2 days to let your body recuperate.
- Eventually, your actions will become part of your habits, and you are on your way to achieving your goal!
I am not a personal trainer or anything, but that example shows how to build up to your goal of getting fit, by taking small steps that you can actually achieve. If your first step is to work out for 30 minutes every day, that is very difficult!
I recently finished reading “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield. The main message of his book is that you are the only one stopping yourself from achieving your goals. If you make excuses like I’m too tired, there’s no time, or I’ll do it tomorrow, then you really will never achieve what you want. The hardest part of working out is not the actual exercise; it’s the act of getting ready and actually starting the exercise.
9. Wow!! That was really good, practical advice! What is your idea of Bliss? Are you following your Bliss?
To me, bliss is being happy with yourself and with your life. All aspects of your life should be something you are proud of or happy with. If they are not entirely there yet, then you should start actively doing something to reach it. And I definitely am following my bliss. 🙂
10. Awesome! One of your travel goals was to complete visiting 25 countries by 25, which you completed when you were 24 years old! What is your ultimate Travel Goal?
Yes it was! I actually made it to 29 countries by 25. My ultimate travel goal is to visit every country on every continent in the world. There is no place that I think: I would never go there. I am eager to explore them all. There are many places that are going through turmoil right now, but I hope that in this lifetime, they will finally see some peace.
I am in no hurry to finish that goal, and I know it won’t become my lifestyle where I travel permanently, forever. I do enjoy returning home for extended periods of time after lots of time abroad. I have already accomplished more than I imagined I would 10 years ago. If this is what my first 25 years is like, then I’m excited to see what the next 25 years will bring. 🙂
Yes, very true Alexandra and I wish you all the very best and hope that you continue to follow your bliss and continue to be passionate in whatever you set your mind and heart to do.
Thank you Alexandra for doing this interview with me! Your journey and all that you are doing is truly an inspiration for me and all those reading this blog.
Till then, keep traveling and keep sharing your stories of inspiration here.