Hi Everyone! Some of you already know me from camps, training and seminars but for those that don’t – just wanted to take a moment to introduce and tell you a little bit about myself.
I was born in Belgium, but grew up in USA – first Alaska then Arizona. I think I’ve always had a bit of an adventurous streak. I can remember, from a very early age, reading with awe and admiration the stories of other travelers, and imagining what it would be like to go explore unfamiliar places myself.
In 2015, I decided I wanted to get to know Belgian culture and my Belgian extended family firsthand. So, I quit my job, ended my apartment lease, sold most of my things, gave my car to my parents and moved to Belgium on a one way ticket!
It sounds so simple and fearless when stated like that, but the truth was – this was a HUGE first step for me! It wasn’t without planning though – I spent almost the entire previous year saving up funds for the upcoming trip. Having family there was immensely helpful and reassuring as well. I’d been to Belgium a couple of times before on family vacation trips, so it wasn’t a completely unknown destination.
Still, this was more than just a short vacation. There were many moments of extreme doubt when I questioned every aspect of the decision to move. It’s difficult to leave the security and comfort of a familiar and stable routine in favor of the unknown. But, it’s also very exciting. And, a part of me felt that I just had to go. Even if it ended disastrously, I knew without a doubt that the regret I’d feel for not having had the courage to pursue this dream would have haunted me for the rest of my life.
I look back on it now as one of the best decisions ever made.
For the previous 10 years or so, I’d been a somewhat athletic person, trying a variety of sports from yoga to indoor rock climbing to jogging to power lifting, all of which I enjoyed to some extent.
I first heard about jiu-jitsu from a friend who was practicing the sport, and talked about it constantly. It piqued my curiosity enough to look up a gym in my city and try an intro class – I was instantly hooked!
Shortly thereafter, I booked my first Globetrotter Camp (Leuven 2017) which through pure amazing luck was located just an hour away by train from my home! I had some second thoughts about the wisdom of attending a multi-day training camp without knowing anyone, being a somewhat shy and introverted person, and still being so new to BJJ. But, I ended up having the BEST time!
I really can’t say enough good things about my experience at the Globetrotter Camp. The training, organization, and venue were wonderful, but what made the biggest impression on me was the people involved. From the moment I arrived, participants and organizers were friendly, welcoming, and excited to train regardless of age, gender, rank, gym affiliation, language or nationality. It made me realize that BJJ was much more than a casual sport – it was a passion that connected people from all paths of life, an entire community!
In regards to traveling, BJJ is one of the big unifying factors of my trips. With every new location, everything might change – my home space, the neighborhood, the people around me, the food, the language, the currency, the climate, the culture etc. but despite all this – the experience of training BJJ remains very much the same. Every new destination only feels foreign until I step on the mats then, with a fist bump and a smile, it suddenly feels like home again.
A New Adventure
While living in Belgium, I had the opportunity to visit many of the neighboring countries in Europe for short trips, sometimes solo and sometime with friends. These countries included France, Netherlands, Germany, Portugal, Italy, Hungary, Slovakia, the United Kingdom, Malta, Cyprus, and Ireland – all of which further increased my love of traveling desire to experience different cultures.
Towards the end of 2018, I took the very big step of leaving behind a fixed location in favor of slowly traveling the world for the upcoming year, relocating every couple weeks/months.
I’ll be returning to USA to visit family December/January (as I do every winter), then plan to begin exploring the Asian countries early 2019. My past travels have been largely restricted to Europe, so I expect this to be quite different than what I’ve experienced before. I’m still in the process of researching logistics, but will probably start with Bali then country-hop from there, returning to Europe for the big BJJ Globetrotters Germany Summer Camp in July/August!
My criteria for choosing a location is loosely as follows (not in priority order): good public transportation system, has stable fast wifi, reasonably cheap, reasonably safe, has at least one place to train BJJ, and has decent weather/climate (I hate the cold). Of course, not every destination will meet all of these points, but these are my general guidelines.
As I’m budget traveling, great deals on flights and accommodations might mean choosing some unexpected locations, which I think is a great opportunity to visit a place I possibly wouldn’t have otherwise considered. Of course, I’ll be training in every city, with the goal of visiting 200 BJJ gyms around the globe! I’m still very much in the process of learning the ropes of traveling and living this way, so will undoubtedly learn a lot in the upcoming year. Besides BJJ, my interests include art/graphics, nature, beautiful spaces, animals, and desserts. Therefore, you can expect future posts to touch on some/all of these of these topics to some extent.
So… cheers to the adventure, new experiences, and to the ongoing BJJ journey! Hope to see you on the mats :)