The Well Travelled Man

“Admittedly, I (Steven) was so excited to inspire and motivate fellow humans to explore the world, that I woke up one morning and looked into the world of blogging”.

It all started for work and became a way of life.Steven grew up in South Africa and his job business trips around the world (Australia, United Kingdom, Hungary and USA) brought him many benefits professionally, but mainly enriched him personally. “The people, the culture and things you see every day expands your thoughts and somehow creates a common connection with almost anyone and everyone you meet”, he says. Steven shares this adventure with his Australian high school love Jenna. They are two like-minded individuals dreaming to discover the world, who are about to move to Australia these days.

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During the preparations and finishing the last packing suitcases, Steven tells us in detail how to manage a distance relationship between countries with 9 hours of difference, the benefits of jumping into the unknown and enjoy an experience you cannot through books or blogs but being the protagonist of one of them.

You have lived in Australia, Hungary, United Kingdom… Are you the same Steven that grew up in South Africa? What has changed?

I would like to think I am the same person, but I know I would be lying if I said yes!

Travel truly is the best form of education, living in 3 countries, exploring 31 countries, walking on glaciers and camping in deserts has completely changed my perspective and allowed me to understand the world we live in. You honestly can’t appreciate the various cultures, the natural wonders of the earth and historical events that took place from reading a book.

image91How did start your globetrotter adventures? Which are your feelings when making this big decision?

The ‘globetrotting’ really started as part of my career, which is with one of the big 4 accounting firms. The firm has taken me to a few places, I believe this triggered the love affair of seeing the world. I have worked in Brisbane (Australia), Sydney (Australia), London (UK), Budapest (Hungary) as well as Atlanta (USA). Living abroad can benefit your career, but more importantly benefits your personally. The people, the culture and things you see every day expands your thoughts and somehow creates a common connection with almost anyone and everyone you meet.

As for my feelings for making the decision … excitement for the unknown!

I enjoy being a bit adventurous, trying new things and taking more risks. I never want to regret deferring a decision or saying no. If it ends up being a mistake, you simply need to follow another path.

img_4533Now you have a travel partner (Jenna), how did you meet? How is the experience of travelling together? If you have ever kept the relation in distance, how was it?

You could call Jenna and I high school sweethearts! We didn’t go to the same school, we met in high school and have been inseparable since! We are two like-minded individuals who travel well together.

I have frequently travelled for work, however this is usually for less than 2 weeks at a time. The longest we have been apart was in 2010 when I went on a 3 month short term assignment to London. This was quite challenging given the 9 hour time difference, finding time for a quick call first thing in the morning or last thing at night.

The time passed quite slowly at the start, however the last few weeks was great as Jenna was joining me to start a 7 week European adventure.

Could you explain to me how do you prepare when you are moving abroad (new home, job, food, culture, luggage, health, making new friends…)?

Quite a loaded question!

I would summarise it in 3 points:

  1. Moving abroad can be quite stressful, there is a lot of paperwork and thought that goes into the process, including applying for bank accounts, new phone contracts and health insurance. Quite a few of these you can really only do once you arrive in the country and whilst I did some of my own research before relocating, the best way is absolutely getting some advice from the people you work with in your new organisation.
  2. If you are able to, get a relocation specialist. This was absolutely worth it and in my opinion the only way we were able to find our new home in such a short period of time. The process in a nutshell involves filling out a form with what you need (bedrooms, parking space, balcony and so forth), the preferred location and your budget. The specialist does the rest, they find the properties, drive you between appointments (helpful as you’re unlikely to have a car at this stage), advise you based on their experience and follow through on the paperwork with the property agents.
  3. The culture and quirky customs is tricky. But luckily there is always someone for everyone. You’ll no doubt find colleagues who have been in similar situations or know someone who has been, straight away you’ll have something to talk about, it’s just finding out who you ‘click’ with. The easy bit is to ensure you sign up to the social club, the hard bit is to make the effort to go to events and build that relationship!

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How do you manage to keep in touch with your family and friends?

This consider this to be the most challenging aspect of living abroad.

I mentioned earlier that Australia is a 9 hour time difference, this in reality only gives us a small window in the morning to speak with our friends and family, meaning we generally need to wake up early on Sunday morning’s and do a few calls back to back.

We also travel quite frequently and aren’t necessarily home, so we found the most convenient way was to use Facebook messenger for short messages, and buying Skype credit to make calls to directly to their phones as long as we have internet access.

You share writing and photography, what does it mean to you?

To tell you the truth, I never really enjoyed writing when I was younger, but when I write about something I love its easy!

We recently started our travel blog http://thewelltravelledman.com simply to capture our thoughts, memories and comments of the places we explored, enjoyed, and loathed over the last few years. It’s a modern day journal and I’m thoroughly enjoying reliving the experiences and going through our photos as we continue to write the content of the blog.

dsc00706What are your plans about living as an expat in the future?

It’s funny you ask, today (at this moment) we have removalists in our flat packing our boxes and loading it on a ship to move back to Sydney, Australia!

Initially we will look to stay in Sydney for a minimum of 2 years, but who knows where the future may take us!!

If you want to know how the adventure of Steven and Jenna continues: Thewelltravelledman !

EXPATS IN BELGIUM

If you’re starting your own adventure expat in Belgium, you need expert information or to meet people that are in your same situation, join the e-community of Settle & Connect !

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