Having lived in five different countries before turning 20; definitely makes someone a third culture kid, a global nomad. Discover how life has taken Anke Ernst everywhere and why she cannot think of a life without traveling in our latest on the road interview!
- Tell us a bit about yourself and how you started to travel. Do you remember your 1st travel experience? Why are you (if that’s so…) passionate about traveling?
I never started to travel. I was born in Lomé (Togo) as a child of German parents. Since the very first second of my life the so called “traveling” has been my life. It wasn’t until the age of 19 after I had lived in Panama, Spain and Germany that I discovered what “home” means. By then I was living in Bangkok (Thailand) and was homesick for the first time in my life.
My home turned out to be Bonn (Germany). Nevertheless, the feeling of having so much to discover on this planet has never left me and is still driving me nuts when I’m not on the road.
- Now that we know where do you come from… could you tell us where are you heading to? Which are your plans for the future in terms of traveling?
Right now I’m building up my base in Duesseldorf (Germany). Not just concerning my private life but also concerning my job: I’m polishing my website, building up a network, planning, getting a more flexible structure in my professional life as a journalist and dancer. In the future I want to make my living by writing about travels and art while additionally being involved in art projects from time to time. I want to connect people and make them more open to the world we live in, hopefully on a deeper level than propagated in the mass media.
- What do you think of traveling with a purpose or meaning in mind? What do you look for when traveling long term?
To me, traveling and, as I said earlier, life in general, is a journey to help me grow. I love this Australian Aboriginal proverb: “We are all visitors to this time, this place. We are just passing through. Our purpose here is to observe, to learn, to grow, to love… And then we return home.” We can only do that by being open to all kinds of experiences. Everybody and everything is your teacher.
- How do you fund your travels? Have you found a job or income source that allows you to be on the road fulltime? Tell us what you do for a living.
I work part time as chief editor for the art magazine INDEX which I co-founded with my boss. The other “part time” is dedicated to freelance writing jobs. Until now I can’t afford a five-star hotel, but I know how to travel low budget. And this is exactly where the adventure lies. By the way, I highly recommend Couchsurfing.
- Did your job, studies, volunteering experiences or other projects help you to travel the world? Where have you been thanks to those? If so, tell us a bit about those experiences.
I studied Comparative Literature, Spanish and French. That’s why I lived in Paris for a while. I volunteered for a theatre group for children in Bangkok, where I also worked as a dancer and stage manager. I connect to people quite easily so I’m often invited to visit friends around the world. Last year, for example, I was invited to Ecuador. On this trip I went to a soccer match that included tear gas, beer and a lot of fun as well as a deeply inspiring concert by Jorge Drexler. Also, among other exciting things, I was invited to a wonderful house at the beach of San Clemente and to the news studio of Ecuador’s first TV channel. What a trip!
There is something else that makes me travel. When I think there is no other option left at home, I just go. Often people tell me that the situation back home won’t change just because I leave. I know that and maybe it won’t. But I will. This is why I left for a trip around the world in 2010 that completely changed my perspective on life – and therefore my life itself.
- What would you recommend to someone who wants to follow your steps? Which kind of training or studies is necessary? Would an investment be needed in the first place? Please, give 3 pieces of advice (you wish to have known before starting) of what to do and what to avoid in order to succeed.
I don’t think that following my steps necessarily leads to success. I’m happy with what I’m doing because it’s my way and I’m absolutely passionate about it. So the most important advice is: Look inside yourself, in silence. And follow this inner voice even if it tells you weird stuff and you’d rather not listen. Sometimes it’s hard to turn anxious voices down: “What the hell do you want with literature studies?” “Don’t travel now, go get a proper job!” “Why just a part time job?” But deep inside I know I am on the right track. I just wish I had always known with the strong conviction I have now that the world is always bigger than I thought. And if everything goes wrong I have at least learned a lesson.
- What does a perfect day in your life looks like? Do you follow any particular routine?
As hard as I try – I don’t have a routine. Actually I’m even happy when I’m working as long as I have enough time and leisure to sink into what I’m doing and forget the world around me. But of course I prefer some things before others. I love spending time with my family, my friends and open-minded strangers. I love the sun, laughing, dancing, yoga, reading, nature and being artistically involved in something. I enjoy making my coffee and going to my desk. I’m totally into languages, foreign cultures, art and intellectual challenges. And then I get thrilled when I pack my bag and leave home for a while to explore the world. I’m deeply thankful to be able to live like this.
- Where do you come from originally and where you call home now? Can you give us some local tips we cannot find in a guidebook but you highly recommend about your hometown?
You should go to see the old town in Bonn in spring; it’s full of delicate pink cherry blossoms. You’ll feel like wandering through a fairy tale. To get to know people in Duesseldorf who will take you to unconventional places check out the group on facebook “Neu in Düsseldorf”. Thanks to this I made friends instantly. If you want to know about art in Duesseldorf visit our (German) website Index-Magazin. Drop in for diverse amazing dance classes at the tanzhaus nrw.
- Do you read, write, draw, listen to music, sing, watch movies or do something else while traveling? How do you interact with technology these days and which gadgets you definitely take with you everywhere? What is your favorite book? And movie?
Wow, yes, I do nearly all of this. Of course I read, I have been since I learned my first letters. Among all the books I have read in my life, there are many I love, I wouldn’t want to choose one to name here. It would be unfair. Of course I write, I’m a writer. Maybe I could live without books for a while, but I will always find a bus ticket or a leaflet I can write on if I don’t have my log with me. Since I started blogging when I traveled around the world a small netbook and a camera have been my loyal companions. I also draw – it was in Australia when I decided that I should start again what has once been my favorite commitment beside the one to the word. And of course, as a dancer I can’t live without music.
It goes through my body and makes every experience deeper that it already is. I don’t usually watch movies when I travel, but I do have a favorite one: The Shawshank Redemption.
- Do you keep a bucket list? Which are your (craziest) dreams? Where are your favorite destinations on earth? (feel free to add any other information you would like to share with our readers here)
I don’t keep a bucket list because I let life surprise me. But in case it’s sleeping for a while I have some un-fixed ideas: explore the South Seas, travel on the Trans-Siberian Railway, hang out in Laos, learn Japanese in Japan, travel through Argentina and dance tango in Buenos Aires, cross the Atlantic Ocean with a freighter, visit New Zealand again, take dancing classes in New York, spend a few days on a yacht, become a yoga teacher on the Bahamas, do a safari in Kenya, help to protect animals on the Galapagos, learn Flamenco in Seville, write my first novel in a small house by the beach, search for my ancestors in Ireland, go back to Sri Lanka where I think I have lived in a former life. I think I’ll never get bored. PS: I absolutely recommend San Francisco, New Zealand, Cambodia and Sri Lanka.
Thanks to Inma and Jose from A World To Travel for featuring me. And thanks to all who took the time and attention to read until here J
More about her? Check her site anke-ernst.net