One of the things that I love to do is to travel as much as possible. If I could do this more often, I would. Therefore, when I get asked to present at conferences overseas, I will make every effort to pack as much in so that I can have my travel bug sated.
This time, my husband couldn’t come with me but luckily for me, I’m not averse to travelling alone. I have done it many times before and will continue to do so in the future. Travelling alone is the ultimate self-care luxury for me and I value it so much because you are in charge of what you do during the day – it all comes down to you. Also, I love to dine on my own at restaurants because I actually find it empowering – and if you do it without using your phone – it’s even better. It means you have better conversations with people such as the wait staff and the other diners around you. (I had no access to internet so all my time was spent savouring the food and looking out the windows or at other diners in the restaurants).
For me, travelling is the ultimate learning experience because it challenges you every day. From the moment you enter a new country with its different languages, customs and culture right through to being out of your comfort zone doing every day things, it opens your eyes and your mind to new things.
It’s fair to say that both my husband and I work to travel – and indeed, this has been my driving force as to why I work and why I have made some choices in my life. Travelling to me represents both freedom, learning and humility. It allows me to break away from the routine and safety of home and the mind.
My plan is to retire from work in six years time to focus purely on ultimate learning experiences such as longer travelling time that involve cultural immersion experiences in country and spending more time on creative and community service pursuits.
While overseas this year before my invitation to present at LearnTec2020, Europe’s largest learning technology conference, I took the opportunity to spend 4 days in Frankfurt, 5 days in Strasbourg and 1 day in Ludwigsburg and the medieval village of Marbach (to visit the Palace and meet up with Kerstin, a friend whom I met on Twitter and who was my guide for the day) and then 4 days in Karlsruhe for the conference.
Every day, I took portrait videos (using Instagram) to capture my thoughts and travels although downloading them every night to the camera roll proved difficult due to the bad wifi situation.
These daily stories are just for my own use – simply as ways of recalling what I did every day and the first memories of the place. The quality of some videos are poor and for that I apologise but I don’t anticipate people watch these anyway.
However, I did use my new Canon G7x Mark III camera to shoot some long form “documentary” style videos.
Using the camera was easy and preferable to having my phone out which was useless for most of the time because it was not connected to the internet. I had to rely to asking for directions; using the paper maps and my own nous and observations to get around and it turned out alright for me. Sometimes it’s preferable that way and I’d certainly do it again. My evenings were spent planning and preparing what I was going to do and see the next day; the restaurants I was going to eat at (plus a little bit of catch up work). I also spent some time chit chatting with the hotel and bar staff as I preferred to work in the main areas of the hotel rather than my room – and get the low down on what life was like in the country.
Falling In Love with Strasbourg Day 1
I still haven’t figured out a best way to create a long form style video and it’s been years of experimenting with video but I was really happy with this first attempt. I captured at least 8 seconds of video everywhere I went that made an impact on me and then noted the shots down on a little pink paper pad I bought (I love handwriting notes). I then sat down and referred to the notes to create the narrative where I talked to camera.
That night, I edited the video in Camtasia (nightmare because I was using my Surface Pro and the program jumps) and had the music already downloaded on it that I used for some shots. I was quite happy with how it turned out.
I didn’t buy internet access because in the past, travelling Europe, their wifi is accessible, everywhere and faster than Australia so I assumed I would be okay. To my surprise, Germany was not like that at all so editing and uploading to YouTube was a nightmare.
Lesson learned: just buy your own fast internet access despite what you may think romantically of not being connected. It would have helped as I was hurtling along the tracks towards Switzerland when I took that wrong train…. (instead I relied on my own wits of seeking help out by talking to people and drawing diagrams in my note pad to communicate).
Falling in Love with Frankfurt Day 2
Once again, I headed out to visit the artworks at the Stadel Museum and queued up for the hour before the gallery opened with the crowds. While I travel, I make every effort to visit art galleries, historical museums and cultural sites to learn about the history of the place. I can’t wait to do more of it in future. This particular day, I spoiled myself by making sure I had a lovely lunch and ended the day at the top floor of a coffee house eating an apple strudel while watching the busy diners below before heading back to the hotel on the train. I will look back at my time in Frankfurt fondly.
Falling in Love With Strasbourg
Strasbourg was a highlight for me. Spending 5 days here meant that I did most of the 11 museums and galleries and plenty of walking around the island town. I felt comfortable here because I knew enough French to communicate with people and it was an easy city to walk around without needing train or tram travel.
Every time I go to Europe, especially a French speaking country, I come back with this insane desire to enrol into an immersive language class but then find excuses not to do it. My father taught himself Spanish many years ago and in recent years, honed his skills through continual practice as well as accessing resources from the internet and watching Netflix shows in Spanish. I think I can do the same for French. I did six years of French in high school and have only spoken it during times I travel overseas. It’s high time I start to focus on it fully so it can become my third language. (After English and Greek).
Learning a language is the ultimate form of respect you can have for another culture.
Travelling to Strasbourg in Winter
I thought I’d try for something different and just do a talking head video for YouTube on the one topic of travelling to Strasbourg in Winter. I have no idea why I did this but I had seen some pretty terrible videos on YouTube where the quality was shocking but people just shared their advice to camera and I thought, “why not?” I’ll do the same!
Once again, I took some notes in my pink note pad and held the camera out and talked to it. I used the annotation in Camtasia to annotate the topics through it. What you don’t see in this video was that there was a young lady and her parents who had arrived from Greece. She was obviously concerned that her father was taking photos of her not aligned to her Instagram image and she was ripping into him. She became quite argumentative towards him and berated him. He couldn’t see what was wrong with the picture. I understood what they were talking about as she rattled off her Greek. It was the one time that I actually felt that I “belonged” in Strasbourg. Having a connection to a language makes you feel that you’re not alone…even though I did not – and would not – engage with them. I did feel sorry for her parents. She was an utter nightmare.
As mentioned, I use these simply as memory joggers. The quality of these are poor because of the internet access to download. I apologise for these.
Friday 17 January 2020 First Day In Frankfurt
Sunday 19 January 2020 Frankfurt
Monday 2o January 2020 Frankfurt to Strasbourg (on the wrong train towards Switzerland….!)
Tuesday 21 January 2020 Strasbourg
Wednesday 22 January 2020 Strasbourg
Thursday 23 January 2020 Strasbourg
Friday 24 January 2020 Strasbourg
Friday 24 January 2020
I am still editing the videos from Ludwigsberg (bad internet meant I could not use Instagram or save the stories every night so I’m using an app called Video Shop to recreate the stories).