This week’s rockin’ featured female traveler is Oneika Raymond, of Oneika the Traveller. She has taught and traveled all over the world. Read what she has to say about her favorite international classroom, great phrases that get lost in translation and more!
GGG: Where are you from and how did you get your start traveling?
I was born and raised in Toronto, Canada. A bunch of my family members are scattered around Jamaica and the U.S., so I had many chances to travel to these places. But it wasn’t until my third year of university, when I did a study abroad program in France for a year, that I got to travel outside of North America!
GGG: Nice! You’ve taught in a number of places abroad. Do you have a favorite place you called your classroom?
This is such a difficult question for me. At this point, I’ve taught in France, Mexico, Canada, Hong Kong, and London. In France, I loved learning the ins and out of French culture from my students. In Mexico, I adored my students’ chattiness and enthusiasm. And in Hong Kong and London, I’ve been awed by the diversity and worldliness of my students. However, if I really had to pick one, I would say Hong Kong, simply because the school I worked at was extremely well-resourced technology-wise, and the students were really tech savvy and creative! I learned so much!
GGG: What do you like sharing about your own home country’s culture while abroad?
I’m a linguist at heart, so I love sharing “Canadian-isms” and slang. (Yes, I say “oot” and “aboot”, people!) People often want me to tell them about Quebecois culture in Canada, as well as how life in Canada differs from life in the U.S.- I happily oblige! I love sharing these little tidbits and snapshots of the country I grew up in.
GGG: You were one of the four vivacious ladies, along with another Girls that Go! interviewee, Jeannie Mark, who ran with the bulls at San Fermin this year. What was the biggest lesson you took away from that experience?
Running with the bulls taught me that having travel buddies—that is, the support and participation of friends in your travel endeavors—can be the greatest gift. I tend to be more of a “lone-wolf” traveller, preferring to do things on my own. But, quite frankly, I don’t know if I would have had the cojones to run with the bulls solo! Having a group of fun, fearless females as running partners gave me the confidence to go through the whole thing!
GGG: Excellent. You’ve been to more than 50 countries now, which has got to require a lot of getting to and fro. What’s your favorite mode of transport and why?
I’m a sucker for train travel, perhaps by default since I get carsick, seasick, and am afraid of flying LOL! Seriously, though, I love the chug-chug of the train, the gorgeous landscapes that fly past the window, the space to stretch out and walk around (non-existent in a densely packed plane or bus). Trains rock.
GGG: You’ve written for Huffington Post about what a bummer it is to get sick abroad. Any tips to share for keeping your chin up when struck by a stomach bug?
I’m the biggest baby when I get sick! But keeping a positive attitude and having a supportive friend or family member (even remotely, you’d be surprised how comforting an email or phone call from a loved one can be) is key. Let yourself wallow in your sorry state but for the briefest of moments, and realise that you are blessed to even have the opportunity to travel at all! There are plenty of people who get sick and are stuck at home… 🙂
GGG: You’re a self-professed polyglot. What’s your favorite phrase you’ve learned in another language that isn’t quite translatable into English?
There’s an expression that I learned in Mexico: Adelante, para atrás ni para agarrar vuelo, which basically means that we should live in the moment, that there is no point to living in the past. Great motto to follow – dwelling in the realm of “woulda, coulda, shoulda” is a time waster! I’m trying to adopt this as my own personal mantra!
GGG: Sounds like a solid mantra. You’re living in London now, but are there any plans for moving again in the future?
I don’t have any concrete plans as yet. That said, I thoroughly enjoyed my two years in Hong Kong, so I’m dying to move back to Asia! We will see…
All photos in this post are courtesy of Oneika Raymond.