TRAVEL INTERVIEW with Nomadic Samuel
Samuel Jeffery, aka Nomadic Samuel, has been out in the world enjoying his life immensely. He has taught English in Korea, traveled extensively in that region, and more recently has been honing his travel photography and video skills alongside running his popular travel blog, Nomadic Samuel.
Today we find out how Samuel got started teaching overseas, what he most likes and dislikes about that, his best and worst travel moments, behind the scenes of his successful ‘ Top 100 Travel Blogs‘ list, and what he’s up to next. Let’s dig in:
Q1. As you explain on Nomadic Samuel, you set off on your nomadic travel / expat life soon after university by moving overseas to teach English. (me too! I moved to Kyoto, Japan & stayed for 6 years)
Please tell us about that move/decision in life. When was that? What inspired you to do it? Where did you go first and why that place?
I’m really impressed to hear about your story of heading to Kyoto, Japan for six years. I was very fortunate in university to have a part-time job I loved during my final two years. I started tutoring ESL to foreign exchange students located on campus at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada. The majority of my students were Korean and I quickly forged some close friendships with some of them. It was during that time that the seeds of potentially teaching overseas were planted in my head.
I decided before graduating that I would spend a summer in Korea and Japan to find out whether this would be a good fit for me or not. I ended up having the time of my life and I was so eager to get overseas that I actually skipped my convocation back in 2005 to accept a position teaching in Seoul, Korea. I had always wanted to try living overseas and experience another culture, and when I realized I could also get paid and save money, it was a no brainer for me.
I chose South Korea mainly because of my former ESL students; however, it ended up being a great fit because with perks such as a free apartment, low taxes and a decent salary, I was able to save a lot of money for backpacking.
Q2. What are the best and worst aspects of teaching English overseas, from your perspective?
In my opinion, the best aspects are having the privilege of experiencing another culture, inspiring others to learn your native language, and saving money for future endevours.
The worst aspects tend to be the language barriers, extreme cultural differences, and unfamiliar bureaucracy that can at times be extremely frustrating to deal with.
Q3. You describe nomadic travel life as ‘moments of splendor’ and ‘moments of woe’. Could you share with us 2-3 of your best ‘moments of splendor’ and what made them so amazing.
I’ve had so many moments that I describe as being magical or splendid while travelling the world. Three that come to mind are as follows:
1) Taking a camel safari through the Thar Desert in Northern India.
2) Experiencing Machu Picchu for the first time with my own two eyes.
3) Meeting my girlfriend Audrey (That Backpacker) in South Korea and spending the weekends exploring new areas together.
Q4. How about detailing a couple of your worst ‘moments of woe’? What brought them about, and how did you cope with them?
There is always another side to a coin and although I’ve had mostly marvelous experiences on the road, there have been some demanding challenges I’ve had to face and overcome as well.
The worst moment of woe I’ve ever experienced was when I was in Malaysia. I had been ill for quite some time and I had neglected seeking treatment at a hospita,l stubbornly thinking I would get better without medicine. When I did end up in the hospita,l I had several infections throughout my body and I was severely dehydrated.
The doctor told me had I not got the hospital when I did it could have been potentially fatal. I ended up there for several days and at the time I was not travelling with life insurance. When you’re that ill, you feel relieved to just be alive, but the hospital bill I received was rather alarming and it certainly made me realize I had better take care of myself when overseas.
Q5. You mentioned that one of your hobbies (aside from traveling) is ‘fantasy sports’. What the heck are those? And where/how does one get involved?
Fantasy Sports is a way to play make-believe general manager of a ‘fantasy team.’ In a nutshell, you basically select players in a draft that form your roster. How they perform in real life is statistically associated with your entire squad versus another fantasy team. The idea is to out-perform them in as many categories as possible. It’s a highly strategic game that involves trades, pick-ups and other maneuvers. I used to play every year but I’ve since entirely given it up because of the time commitment it takes me to spend on Nomadic Samuel and Smiling Faces Travel Photos along with other projects that I’m currently working on.
Q6. When and where did Nomadic Samuel travel blog get started?
I started Nomadic Samuel on July 1, 2011, which happens to be Canada Day. I just celebrated my one year anniversary, but it feels as though I’ve been blogging much longer. I’ve actually been taking photos, videos and writing stories for years prior to launching my travel site; however, this is the first time I’ve really put it all together.
Q7. Your site is very well known among us fellow travel bloggers, besides your great content of course, for your Top 100 Travel Blogs List. Could you please tell us about how that list came about. When did you start it? How/why did you come up with the idea?
I hate to admit this but I came up with the idea to start the Top 100 Travel Blogs list largely based out of frustration with some of the other lists that currently existed. Many of the Top Travel Blogs lists were not accepting new blogs that qualified to be tracked according to their set criteria and others were simply not updating their lists at all.
I can admit that was my primary motivation for starting this list. More importantly though, SEOmoz was not being measured anywhere else an,d given its importance, I wanted to create a list that focused on that primarily.
Q8. Where are you right now and what are you up to this year?
I’m currently based just outside of Seoul, South Korea in the Gyeonggi-Do area. I’m here with my girlfriend waiting until she finishes her contract early next year. We plan on doing a lot of trips in South Korea on the weekends for the rest of the year. Next year we have huge plans to backpack all over Asia. We’re very excited about the present and even more thrilled about what the future holds for us both.
Q9. What do you see yourself doing over the next 5-10 years?
I plan on continuing to travel the world with the intention of seeing as many places and experiencing as many different cultures as I possibly can. I don’t necessarily know if I’ll still be backpacking exclusively during this time but it’s entirely possible. I would like to find a few different destinations I would describe as bases that I would settle at for months on end. I most certainly want to pursue a lifestyle that is location independent as a digital nomad.
Q10. What’s in the works for Nomadic Samuel this year and/or over the next few years?
I would like to continue growing my site, featuring as many travel articles, photo essays and travel videos as my readers can digest. I’m very excited about working on other new projects as well. I will continue to build more travel sites and upload as many travel videos to YouTube as possible. I’m very excited about what the future has in store.
Thanks very much, Samuel, for sharing your life and adventures with us! I look forward to your continued travels, photos and travel videos. Keep up the great work and hope to meet you on the road one day soon. cheers, Lash