From the moment she entered college, Julianka B. knew she would spend at least one semester abroad. Initially having her mind set on some place in Europe, she realized one day that she wanted to rediscover her mother’s genealogical roots. So she nixed her plans for Europe (or any other developed country) and set sail for a 6-month stay in the Philippines. We asked Julianka 7 Questions about her travels and the role they’ve played in accumulating an impressive collection of vintage clothing & accessories, a part of which she’s begun selling via online clothing boutique Etsy. Here’s what she had to say:
ND: What aspect of traveling abroad appeals to you most?
JB: Stepping into the element of surprise. I can spend hours on end wandering aimlessly.It sharpens my edge on life. On my most recent trip, I stumbled into an antique store and found the most amazing cocktail rings from the 1950s.The shop owner, suffering from a bout of nostalgia, shared his fondest memories of the rings and the women who wore them.Wandering aimlessly has led me to mysterious waterfalls, abandoned train stations, amazing conversations and so much more.
ND: When you returned home, was your outlook [on life] any different?
JB: Definitely. Everything that I returned to was viewed from my post-study abroad, microscopic lens.I came home about a week or two before the presidential election — perfect timing. For a couple of months, my thoughts were in the form of a venn diagram; food, customs, patriotism, etc. — similarities and differences.
ND: What would your ideal destination include?
JB: A word-of-mouth, off-the-map utopian island, with random tea shops, vibrant spice/textile/jewelry/fruit markets, enclaves of story-telling travel gurus, sunshine and a local medicine man.Ideally, it is a place void of chain stores and massive, over-populated resort hotels and that embodies hassle free living while embracing innate style.
ND: What was the inspiration behind your love of travel?
JB: My father was in the military for 29 years and visited over 30 countries. Growing up, my house was full of trinkets from my parents’ escapades - twin bikes and chandeliers from Italy, Korean ceramic dolls, a handmade dining room table from the Philippines and mounds of photo albums detailing their adventures. As a child, I prodded through keepsake boxes and collected anything related to travel; seashells, stamps, postcards, coins, etc.The inspiration to travel is innate and an inheritance from my parents.I thank them for passing it down to me and surrounding me with a museum of trinkets from around the world.
ND: What’s the hardest part about being abroad?
JB: Leaving the known for the unknown. During my 6 month stay in the Philippines, I found it difficult to let go of the familiar.So I left one foot in America and one foot in the Philippines. Half of the time I spent wandering aimlessly, the other half I spent indulging in social networks and blogs.
ND: Three things you don’t travel without…
- My I-pod: I usually upload a massive amount of music at one time and unearth it en route to some place. I’ve had some pretty poignant Proustian moments listening to Santigold’s debut album and Esthero’s “Wikked Girls” album. New albums always make for amazing memory association and evocation.
- White lotus blossom:I’ve been using it consistently for the past 3 years.It’s great for headaches. Just rub it on your temples and feel the pain dissipate. It’s also good for my random bouts of sea sickness too.
- Black leather journal: I like to document my feelings the old fashioned way and then reflect on it later. “Hindsight is always twenty-twenty.”
ND: Travel philosophy
JB: Based on my own experiences, my travel philosophy is to absorb your surroundings and leave remnants of your culture tucked away in a box for future reference. Put down the blackberry, revoke ordered motions and commit to the moment.
Top photo: courtesy of Lacy Lennon