“What were you doing before the boats,” I asked.
“Teaching English in China,” replied Natalie.
Nats is just one of those people who is always on the move. In fact, I haven’t seen her since the day I met her. One minute she’s in Montenegro, the next she’s in the Caribbean. And it’s her absolute wanderlust that I admire the most. Meet the woman who’s made the world her home…
Swedish-born Natalie came from a family where there wasn’t enough money to travel so she spent her childhood and teen years only in Sweden. She graduated from school with straight A’s and in her words “an exhausted heart”. She kick-started her travels in London, where she spent half-a-year polishing up her English. It was then off to Australia, where she worked in bars having the time of her life. After getting kicked out of Aussie for not renewing her visas, she was a little shaky on what to do next.
“Someone told me I could make money on the boats so I went to Antibes [France] and ended up doing two Med seasons and one Caribbean season,” says the laid back Natalie. In true traveller spirit, she then took 14-months off, backpacked through Asia and landed a job in Shanghai, China, teaching English at an international kindergarten.
Natalie’s now back on the boats with another Caribbean and Med season under her belt. She reckons she’ll be on the ocean for another year and then travel for two-and-a-half years, when she plans to see parts of the Middle East, Asia, Eastern Africa and South America.
“Then I’m going to do a master in International Relations and grow up. Well, kind of.”
1) Tell me three things about you that make you interesting.
I went to the best private school in Sweden, and most of my friends now have a Masters degree and an apartment. I have a duffel bag with clothes, no degree, no home and no partner. And I am the happiest I could be.
I decided a few years ago that I would never be embarrassed about anything I did and that I would stop yawning. So I did.
When sudden changes occur in my life, I always give myself a limited time-frame to be sad. When I got sacked from a job earlier this year, I thought my world would end. So I gave myself a day-and-a-half to be upset and said to myself: “On Thursday morning I’m going to stop crying. I will wake up and I will have a clear plan on what to do next.” I woke up on Thursday morning and had a structured plan on how to move on.
2) What do you love most about being a yachtie?
The travels of course. I still cannot believe that the view from my breakfast table varies from massive green mountains in Montenegro to sapphire water and palm trees in the Caribbean.
3) What’s the worst job you’ve had to do on a boat?
On one of the boats, there had to be a stewardess present in any area where the guests were. I basically stood still, in the corner of a room all night with my arms behind my back, trying to look somewhere, but not at the guests. [They’d wave their hand at me and say] something like “hand me that thing on the table 1.5 metres from where I’m sitting.”
4) What’s the best thing you’ve learned from someone you’ve worked with?
I met my best friend on the boats and she has the most positive spirit I have ever come across. One thing that she always says is: always see the good side. Like if a guy walks past you and his expression towards you is hard to read, choose to think: “he looked at me because I look nice” rather than “he looked at me because I look ugly”.
5) What’s on your bucket list of things you still want to do?
I still want to do EVERYTHING! That’s my problem. I want to see all the countries in the world, climb all the mountains, ride a camel through India, sit under a tree in Madagascar, trek in the jungle of Amazonas, see the mountain gorillas in Uganda, swim with white sharks in South Africa, and ride around Mongolia on a horse.
I decided a few years ago that I would stop yawning. So I did.
6) What do you get up to when you’re not yachting/travelling? What makes you tick?
I am really scared of any new physical activity (because I am fat and weak), but it gives me the biggest rush once I’ve accomplished something I was scared of and didn’t think I could do. Recently, I learned how to water ski, did water-rafting and did zip-lining really high in the trees.
7) What is your advice to other people?
Always do everything you are scared of doing. Absorb positive energy and refuse to let negative energy get to you. Life is too short for unhappiness. Decide that you have no room for things that upset you and every time you think about anything negative, switch it out with a positive thought immediately. You can only think one thought at a time.
8) What has travelling taught you?
That you can never trust anybody to do what they say they will. (Besides your mum of course. You can always trust your mum!)
9) What do you miss about home?
To actually have a home. Somewhere where you have chosen the furniture and decoration, a place that is only yours with your bed and a living room. God I miss a living room sometimes! I miss my family and childhood friends. The people you grew up with can never be replaced.
10) What’s your best travel memory?
This little boy in the mountains in Nepal who ended up walking with us on a two-hour walk. He was 12-years-old, spoke almost fluent English and knew so much about the world. He knew my Converse shoes were from America, he knew that Obama won over Romney with whatever percent, he knew that Switzerland had beautiful nature and mountains and he knew our famous football player from Sweden – Zlatan. And then I go to the States and the majority of people who have been to school until they were 18 think Sweden makes good watches and chocolate. People never cease to amaze me, if you want to learn and grow you can, never mind where you come from!
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