Saturday, September 27, 2014

My interview to The Best Travelled ~ Intervjuu

Paar kuud tagasi ütles Linda, minu korterinaaber Santiago de Compostelas, et andis minu kontaktid oma sõbrannale, kes on kogukonna The Best Travelled ambassador.
Juba õige pea võttis Rami minuga ühendust ja küsis, kas mul on aega ning soovi vastata mõnele küsimusele. Muidugi mul oli - nii aega kui soovi :)
Couple of months ago Linda, my flatmate here in Santiago de Compostela, told me that she has passed on my contact details to her friend who is an ambassador of The Best Travelled community.
It didn´t take long when Rami got in touch, asking if I have time and I´d be willing to answer some of her questions.
Of course I had - both, time and willingness to do so :)


Could you introduce yourself – your name, where are you from, where are you now?
My name is Kristi and I am from Estonia.
However, currently I live in Spain in Santiago de Compostela where I´m taking part of an EVS (European Voluntary Service) project Culture on the Way.

Is it your first working/living experience abroad? 

 No, it is my forth time to live and work in abroad, before I´ve been living in England, US and Ireland.
It all started in 2007 when, at the age of 23, after listening tons of networking cd-s, reading Napoleon Hill, getting to know Kiyosaki´s philosophy about active/passive income and the importance of "always take a job where you can learn", felt like giving up my job as a marketing manager which I´d been doing for few years.
Our team of au-pairs in Summit, New Jersey
New and different life began and I ended up in various places. Being volunteer in Birmingham, staying in Indian asrham, teaching English in an Estonian high school, training young basketball girls and running a local youth house. Renovating our country house for half a year.  Being an au-pair in New Jersey.  Doing door to door sales and later working in a salt therapy spa in Dublin.
For the past year I have been once again doing some, mainly international, youth work and also worked as a camp manager in children´s summer sport camp.

How do you connect traveling with working?

To be honest, I wish I knew better how to connect those two things but so far it has turned out well. There has been great help of various programs, either au-pair or EVS, which offer accommodation and food and even some pocket money. In those cases it is kind of secure to move abroad as so many things are taken care of.
Youth exchange in Bulgaria
However, in Dublin I wasn´t involved with any particular activity but I just visited my mum who has been living there for quite many years and my “visit” turned out to be almost a 2 year stay.
While living in Estonia and being involved in youth work, I discovered that there are so many trainings and international seminars for youth workers and several options to also go with the group. For example, last year we went to a contact-making seminar in Finland and after that organized a youth-exchange in Bulgaria.
In the future, among other things, I see myself as a coordinator of various international projects, including EVS. 
Erasmus+ promotion in Estonia
The thing is that in my eyes, the European Voluntary Service program is not so much of being a volunteer but more like a full scholarship for non-formal learning and therefore a wonderful opportunity which I´d like to support and promote. I hope that my own personal experience is something which comes handy when I need to advise or assist others.
Also, being involved with international initiatives hopefully enables me to mix and match a bit of a traveling while, at the same time, I´m fulfilling my ultimate dream of home and family.

What’s your biggest travel experience?

Not quite sure about the biggest travel experience but surely, the biggest contrast while traveling, was the two Christmases which I was able to spend in completely different places. From December 2009 til January 2010, I stayed in Indian asrham and by the end of the same year, I had already moved to New Jersey and spent Christmas in New York City.

Which one did I like more? Well, those two places are, at least in my opinion, incomparable and therefore shouldn´t be put into the same pot. However, from my point of view, I know for sure, that the Indian experience was so much more close to my heart than the one in US. 

Do you keep a travel journal or any kind of memories from your trips?

Yes, I keep a journal and not only when traveling but all the time, no matter where I am. In addition to that, when moving to abroad the very first time, I also started a blog – mainly to keep my friends and family updated. Even though in daily basis I always prefer pen and paper, this is my “meditation”, I still sometimes post into the blog as well. 

Recently I have discovered a new hobby, I´ve started to combine pictures and sayings. In fact, I´ve always admired all sort of inspirational posters and sayings as I find the effect of putting together a word and a picture which support each other´s message, really powerful and influential.

How do you plan a trip before hitting the road?

Guidebooks, normally no, never.
Booking hotels, normally no, never.
Before I started to travel, I used to be the person who plans a lot but by now I tend to agree with Woody Allen who has said that if you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans.
Even though not religious, I do have a reason to believe that traveling has helped me to learn how to trust more of Life.
When it comes to choosing the destinations, even those kind of “manage themselves” and appear unexpectedly. For example, last year, when flying to Romania, I had to change my flights in Istanbul and spent one night there. It happened to be the time of Ramadan and during that one night I fell in love into 

this place so completely that I ended up going back couple of months later and stayed for 5 weeks.
Therefore, to be fully honest, I hardly plan anything at all. I´m the type of person who can easily hit the road without knowing almost anything about the destination and so far so good – in my case ignorance has been rather a blessing than a curse.
Maybe the reason behind is that I´m always more fascinated about people who I meet along the way than places I go and therefore, the exact route is quite irrelevant.
It may also be so because during my last trips I´ve been using lot of CouchSurfing (CS). Sending 
few of those requests is one of the few things I do before going somewhere.
gives me an extra confidence that no matter where I go, there are always plenty of people around who can help me. In fact, I actually believe that using CS has transformed not only my travels but also my life as it enables me to “kind of travel” even when staying at home 
because hosting others always brings some fresh air and new ideas into my own life as well. To sum it up, as you can see, my “travel habits” have been mostly influenced by CouchSurfing and therefore I´ll share a piece from my profile which most probably also applies to other similar

It is a brilliant way to become part of everyday life in whatever country and to visit friends who I just hadn´t met yet. 
CS enables to create a world-wide network of amazing people who all share, everyone in their own unique way, similar beliefs and values. 

As a host, it has been a great way of traveling without traveling:) 
CS community helps me to feel like home, safe and sound, where ever I go. Also, no matter the location and situation, CS people are like friends and family abroad, the most enjoyable international safety net I´ve encountered so far! 
Why to stay in a hotel/hostel where the only surprise moment is the size of a bed or how the bathroom looks like when it is possible to be surprised and amazed about everybody and everything ;)

The sign in the Puttaparthi´s bus station

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