I’m a twenty-something freelance editor/writer/language person and ESL teacher. I just finished my MA in some sort of media and communication stuff in the Netherlands, and before that I did a Bachelor’s in more languagey stuff in the US. I’m American, and I often say I’m half Dutch, which to be fair is not entirely true.* I only really speak two languages well (English and Dutch), but if we’re generous we could say two and a half (Spanish — active work in progress). I learned this year that between those three I could bullshit enough French and German to hitchhike through most of Western Europe, and I’ve made it my personal mission to learn how to say ‘beer’ and ‘shots’ in as many Eastern European languages as possible.
For the last two and a half years, I’ve lived mainly in Leiden, a smallish student town in the Netherlands. In Leiden I got introduced to Couchsurfing (seriously, click that link if you don’t know what it is) and learned how energizing life is when your main social circle consists of expats, compulsive travelers, and talented multilinguals, while also learning how much it stimulates your own personal growth to live in and integrate into a new place. I try to balance both of these, expat life and local life, when living somewhere new as well as when traveling.
I haven’t seen the inside of a hotel in years and I’d have no idea what to wear or how to act in a nice restaurant. For me, ‘traveling’ is synonymous with backpacking, Couchsurfing, staying in hostels, hitchhiking, local buses, discount airlines, and carrying around a bag full of nuts and fruit and canned tuna. If I ever learn what ‘disposable income’ is, maybe that’ll change, but for now I’m having a blast as it is.
I also like maps, the internet, and karaoke.
* I grew up in the States. My father is technically half Dutch but grew up in the Netherlands. And his father is not Dutch, but lived about half his life in the Netherlands with his full-blown Dutch wife (my grandmother). Math is not my strong suit, but between all that, half of my family living in the Netherlands, and the fact that I speak fluent Dutch and have lived there for several years, “half” seems like a fair simplification.