50 People #9: Geek Girl Goes

 

“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.” But isn’t that just incredibly exciting?”

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>> PROFILE

Name: Danielle | Currently in: England, UK

 

Danielle – the face behind Geek Girl Goes – had zero clue what she wanted to do when she graduated. But with an education degree in one hand and a love for travel and all things geeky, Japan was the obvious choice.

Unlike Australians, who flock to the UK in herds, working in a dodgy pub until their visa expires and they get deported, or the Germans who make their way ‘down-under’ to spend a few months fruit picking, Danielle made good use of her degree during her time abroad and headed to Kyoto to become an English teacher.

As for embracing her inner geek whilst she was there? “Any country in the world can be a geek haven if you try hard enough!” she says…

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>> INTERVIEW

Tell me a bit about yourself

My name is Danielle and I’m originally from Bolton, a town in the North West of England famous for pies and comedians. Before moving to Japan I was studying for my degree in Education at Liverpool John Moores University. I’d also done a fair bit of traveling before moving to Japan. When I was 19, I worked for six weeks in Portugal for a British travel company, teaching musical theatre at one of the kids clubs. I then did the same job the year after in Turkey. I also volunteered for a month teaching English in Nepal as part of my degree, and spent 3 months traveling the east coast of America teaching circus skills! So I really did my best to fill my time with traveling wherever I could.

Why did you decide to move to Japan?

When I was getting ready to graduate from university, I knew I didn’t want to settle into a normal job, 9-5. So, I decided the best option for me would be to find a teaching job abroad. To be honest, I didn’t put too much thought into where I would go – as long as I could go somewhere! My brother was out in Japan teaching English, and was having a great time. Since we get along so well, I decided to follow him there!

Tell me about your experience teaching English?

The first experience I had teaching English was when I was gently pushed into a classroom full of children in Nepal with no lesson plan, and no idea what I was going to do! That was an initiation to remember, I must say! My degree was in Education, and for it, we had to complete 4 weeks of a teaching placement. While most people went to their local primary schools, I jumped on a long-haul flight to complete my placement in Kathmandu. I had a great time, and learnt so much about teaching, and what it’s like to live in other countries.

Teaching English in Japan was a very different experience. I worked for a large company, with schools all over the country. I had to wear a suit to work, and deal with the office bureaucracy alongside my lessons. Here, I wasn’t planning lessons – instead, I was delivering the same class as hundreds of other teachers across the country. I got to know my students really well, and had a great time. But it was a bit of a restricting experience for someone creative like me!

What has been the best thing about living in Japan?

People ask me this all the time, and I find it so hard to pin point an answer. The people, the food, the places, the history, the culture…The list gets longer every time I think about it! One of the things that always sticks out for me though is just how helpful the people there were. I remember getting lost during my first weeks in Japan, and timidly asking two passers by for directions. When they realised I couldn’t understand their answer, they actually turned around and walked me to my destination! You don’t get that back in Bolton!

And the worst?

The worst side of things for me was the few instances I had negative encounters with men. While I know these can happen all over the globe – they did seem to happen more frequently in Japan. I was followed home, flashed, and stared at throughout my time there. And while I always felt safe, I often felt extremely uncomfortable too.

Your blog is called “Geek Girl Goes”. How do you combine your love of geeky things with travel?

I always spend hours and hours trolling the internet for the most obscure and awesome things to do in every country I visit. Any country in the world can be a geek haven if you try hard enough! From making my own knife through blacksmithing, to comic-con events, you’d be surprised how much you can find!

Do you have a travel philosophy?

“I’d rather see something once, than hear about it a thousand times”. A slightly over-used quote, but I’ve come to really appreciate it’s meaning over the last few years. After seeing the devastation caused by the Nepal earthquakes, I was go happy that I’d had the chance to experience their fantastic history and culture, before it was destroyed.

What’s one experience on your bucket list?

I’d really like to go to Venice during Masquerade. They hold balls all over the city, and it was would be just like a scene from Casanova, or Romeo and Juliet! And it happens in February, the same month as my birthday!

What’s next? What are your plans for 2017?

Well, right now, I’ve moved back into my parents’ house so I can save money for my next adventure! I haven’t decided yet if it’ll be a round the world, all in one extravaganza; or whether I’ll split it into smaller sub-groups! Either way – I hope to be ticking lots more countries off my list soon!

Any advice to someone thinking about doing a trip like yours?

To all you other anxiety-ridden nerds out there – don’t be afraid of travel! What did Bilbo Baggins once say? “It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.” But isn’t that just incredibly exciting?

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You can learn all about Danielle’s Geeky Travels over here on her blog.

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Want more like this?

Loved this story? Read more interesting accounts about how and why people travel around the world in the #50people50places series here

 

 

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