A huge part of travel for me is the people I meet and the friends I make in the places I get to experience. Some of, well most of my best friends are people I have met while living overseas or travelling and the number one thing we have in common is that we get it. Get what? The whole travel life. The coming and going frequently, the moving towns often and regularly. The face that we will rarely if ever live in the same place for long. And the feeling of saying goodbye/reuniting with each other. Soo when I meet people who share this passion and understanding I immediately want to know more about them and where their adventures have taken them. I find myself drawn to these sorts of people even if I've never even met them in real life, enter Instagram, Facebook & Twitter. The whole wide World of blogging has given me the opportunity to (virtually) meet people I would never have if it wasn't for this passion project I have.
Happy 2020 everyone! Celebrating the new year with the first feature in the WanderWomanWednesdy series this year with a fellow Canuck. I'm gutted that I never got the chance to meet Giselle from GiselleTheExPat.com while I was living in the UK. Not only is she currently living in the UK but she's even lived in Montreal (my hometown) which is so fun! She considers herself as a global citizen and has travelled the World around, and now is living in England with her husband and super cute pup.She posts weekly youtube videos on topics from being an expat, life in the UK, Canadian slang and so much more, she is studying law which is absolutely badass and is still finding time to travel. Impressive is an understatement, to find out more about Giselle and her travel life keep scrolling.
Alright girl, tell all these wanderers about yourself…
Hey y’all! Thanks, so much for having me on this series, Laura! My name is Giselle D., a Persian-Canadian expat, postgrad law student, youtuber and hopefully soon to-be lawyer! I currently live in the UK with my British husband and our feisty chihuahua, Nala.
Living abroad has been a huge learning curve but finding an extraordinary expat community to share that with has made it that much more enjoyable. The inspiring conversations I’ve had with other expats has encouraged me to create my upcoming Instagram live weekly series called #ConversationsOverTea.
What is something people might be surprised to learn about you?
I’m an extreme arachnophobe. There is no spider too little or too big that won’t cause me sheer panic! 😂
Did you always want to travel/what made you start?
I won’t lie, I used to joke around with my friend Zita when she would go on and on about this “travel bug” she contracted, that it was just silly and a waste of time. I genuinely believe that I needed to focus on paying off debts and once I was debt-free, I could finally enjoy life.
I think the moment that I moved here to England, I realized how short life is and how much of it I have not enjoyed yet. Bills will always need to be paid but you never know if you’ll wake up tomorrow. Might as well live life to the fullest while you can.
I think now I’ve got this serious “travel bug” that may be permanent. I’m looking forward to the numerous trips we’ve got planned in the upcoming year!
How do you decide where to travel to?
It depends if there’s a flight sale or not. In general, my travel list has been growing thanks to all the other inspiring travelers on Instagram and other expat blogs. I end up doing so much research on the city/country that by the time we book the flights, we have an entire itinerary planned 4-6 months in advance.
What is your travel style?
I’m a Type A personality so I like to plan our accommodation and transportation well in advance so that we find the best deals for the best prices. I used to be a 4+ hotel traveler but since I got married last year, I’ve learned to live a little more spontaneously and less worried about the stars of a hotel and more about the experience that I’ll have.
Top 3 bucket list places you’d love to visit?
1. Amman, Jordan
How long have you been living in the UK/what brought you across the pond in the first place?
It’s been three years at the end of December! The biggest reason I moved over was because of love. I met my now-husband on Tinder in July 2016 when I was on a solo trip and made a last-minute layover in the UK to visit some family. Naturally, as a bored 20-something year old, I was on Tinder and happened to match with a guy who had a hilarious bio on his profile. We were complete opposites in personality and cultures, but we clicked so well, and it was hard to leave two weeks later. We ended up doing long-distance for six months before I finished my studies at McGill and made the decision to move over on a Youth Mobility Visa!
What is something you wish you could share with your pre-travel life self?
Step out of your comfort zone. Life is too short to sweat the small stuff!
Best & worst travel moment?
Best? Exploring the non-touristic Paris that most people don’t know about! Paris is my absolute favourite city in the world—I’m not sure why, but there’s something so magical every time I visit. This last trip allowed me to see Paris the way most Parisiennes do and it was oh, so lovely.
Worst? I haven’t really had a bad time travelling (so far!) but I think if I were to choose…it would be when I was stuck at security in Tel Aviv for nearly 5 hours. It was probably one of the most terrifying experiences because I felt so vulnerable and upset that I was being re-examined over and over again with all of my personal belongings out in the open for everyone to see as they passed by!
3 things you miss most about Canada (besides family & friends) and do you ever think about moving back?
The first is Tim Hortons (a coffee/donut/sandwich shop)—for those that know, know how good a Timmy’s is on the way to anywhere you go. I know that they have opened locations here in the UK but as far as I’ve been told, it’s not the same as back home. The second is the hiking trails. I miss the beautiful mountains, the fresh air and the many, many trails around where my parents live. The last one would definitely be the city of Montréal. It is one of those cities that I can’t forget because of its rich culture, the social life and the festivals. I loved the festivals!
I do think about moving back often, but I don’t think it would be any time between 3-5 years unless our circumstances change. The UK is currently where we’d like to call home. Travelling is just so much cheaper from Europe, haha!
Has living in The UK Changed you at all? And if so, how?
It definitely has. From my accent to my outlook on how to live our way of life. Many argue my accent has become confused between a Wiltshire/Bristolian and a Canadian accent. That’s just what happens when you’re only surrounded by Brits!
My social life has definitely changed. I went from going out every evening to a new restaurant/lounge to now choosing nights at home more. I’ve slowed down more, taken more risks and finally learned to be comfortable being uncomfortable.
Do you think social media has changed travel, and if so, how has it changed?
I think it 100% has. Instagram has changed the way we discover new travel spots and has increased the number of filters we apply to the journey of travelling. Thankfully there are some who give us the raw account of their travel experiences but many on social media just post for the “likes” and attention it can receive. I think what we need to remember is that not all the best tips and guides can be found on social media. Asking a local for advice on the best restaurant, accommodation or site to visit will probably give you a more genuine experience than the travel influencer who is paid to promote it.
Famous Last words for all the wanderers out there...
Great things never come from comfort zones!