I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Jamie Remmers, a graduate student in NYU’s prestigious International Education program. Jamie is building her career to help other young people make their wanderlust dreams a reality. Jamie and I got to know each other when we were both living in New York City and day dreaming about our travels. When Jamie isn’t hitting the books, she’s traveling the world, and inspiring others to do the same.
Meg: Tell us a little bit about yourself and how did you end up traveling so much?
Jamie: It started with my parents; they loved to go on family trips when I was a kid. Although we had a lot of typical family vacations, my parents also loved going off the beaten path. I think my upbringing stayed with me. It wasn’t until my junior year of college that I finally got to travel by myself, and that was when I studied abroad in Wollongong, Australia. That’s definitely when the travel bug got me.
You are a student too; tell us a little bit about your program and how got started and what you plan to do with your degree.
I’m currently working on my Master’s Degree in International Education from New York University. The program is 4 semesters and attracts students from all over the world. Students come with a variety of backgrounds; studying abroad, volunteering internationally, The Peace Corps, and teaching abroad. I started the program because I wanted to work and travel. Eventually I stumbled upon NYU’s program, and honestly, I couldn’t be happier. I was even able to study abroad this past summer in South Africa, and I have met some very interesting people in this program.
Why is travel important to you?
Travel to me, is two-fold in its importance. First, you travel to find yourself while being immersed in something you have never encountered. You are your truest self when you are away from home. You are faced with challenges and adversities you normally wouldn’t see and being put totally outside your comfort zone. The perspectives gained by one’s journey are what most people talk about when they come back from a trip, and I believe it. You see things differently, think about things differently, and you are forever changed. Secondly, the importance lies in what we leave behind. Tourists take photographs and leave behind lots of money they spent on souvenirs. Travellers leave behind their stories, friendships, and an impact on the people they touch. I always try and immerse myself into local culture when I am away, and I have been so fortunate to meet amazing people interested in my story that hopefully I have taught something in return.
Tell us your favorite destinations in the entire world
The hardest question! I would have to say I am biased towards Sydney, Australia because I lived there for a year after college. It is the most beautiful city, with everything someone could want, beaches, mountains, adventures, shopping, and a great music scene. I think a close second would be Cusco, Peru. The northern jungles of Chiang Mai, Thailand are also very special. I have never experienced anywhere as quiet and peaceful.
What destination is still at the top of your bucket list?
The world! One day I would like to spend time in Madagascar. I had a friend do the Peace Corps there for 2 years and his stories blew me away. Iceland is appealing but only during the time it is best to see the Northern Lights, and the Middle East is extremely intriguing to me. Unfortunately we just hear and see what the media portrays, but there is a lot of beauty to be seen in the Middle East.
Tell us one of your wildest travel memories
Can I have two? The first, I was in a hostel in Lima, Peru, and I started chatting to this Australian guy. We talked for about 15 minutes about our mutual connections to Australia. He had to leave so we exchanged Facebook information and made plans to meet again. We weren’t able to meet up, but we did stay in touch. Fast-forward a year later, we met up in San Diego and rented an RV to travel across the US. I then invited them to NY where I am from. A few months later, Damien and his friend come to my place and spend just under a week. We were having beers with my parents in my backyard and talking about how funny, it is that this one 15-minute conversation led to such a good friendship.
Second, just for the novelty of wild. I bought a machete in South Africa. Yes, a real one. My friend and I were on safari in the Serengeti, specifically Ngorongoro Crater. There was hardly any light at the camp, which was a glorified hut. We took a flashlight, the machete, and two giant Dixie cups of crap whiskey and decided to have a walk about. We literally walked into a field of zebras! We were a little tipsy, holding a machete, with the Serengeti stars overhead. We decided to try and blend in so we sat down and stayed still for a half hour till they forgot about us. We eventually slowly got up, chased the poor buggers, for a moment we felt like we were in a stampede. When we got back, our friends weren’t too impressed, an elephant already invaded the camp and there were lions roaming about. Things machetes and whiskey will make you do.
Anything you want to say for those readers with a strong wanderlust but still dreaming of adventures
Don’t be afraid of the unknown! Even more so, don’t think everything you see in movies is the truth about traveling. I can’t tell you how many times I say the word “hostel” and someone refers to that terrible movie a decade back. I have met some of the best people in my life traveling, and a majority, at hostels. Don’t think that you can’t afford it. I have stepped foot on six continents and I have done it with hard earned money from waitressing, bar-tending or working random gigs. The flight is always the kicker, but once you get to your destination you will realize how every dollar for that flight was worth it. The benefits gained from a trip are invaluable. Try it, you’ll see.
All Photos by Jamie Remmers