In September, I embarked on a six-week trip to Angola, Germany and Spain. I spent two weeks in each with no purpose other than to experience these new places before I entered the real working world. During the trip I blogged about my travels and the people I met. I also came up with five generic questions, printed them on a business card and asked participants to pick three and answer them on camera. Why? To see how people from such different walks of life would answer the same questions. If the people I interviewed are any indication, despite our cultural differences, we're all very much alike.
One month into my trip and I was in love with seeing new places. Germany and Angola were very different but I had a blast in both. Now, I was off to Spain for my final two weeks. I flew into Barcelona around 10 p.m. and caught a bus to Plaza de Catalunya, the closest plaza to the hostel where I was staying. After finding my bearings in the dark and checking into the hostel, I decided it was now or never to meet people. I headed down to the bar, conveniently located inside the hostel, and found an open chair with a couple of people. That's when I first met Syahmi (pronounced she-ah-me). Syahmi, like most people at the hostel, was very friendly and open.
Syahmi, 26, was an English teacher in Singapore, where she was from, and a solo traveler like me. She was full of energy and always had her days planned. After sleeping in my first day in Barcelona, I left the hostel to grab a bite to eat and ran into Syahmi. She asked me what I was doing that day, and I told her I hadn’t really figured it out. She then listed museums, churches and plazas she had already been to that morning. I knew I had to step my tourist game up. When you visit a new place you always have to walk that fine line of doing touristy stuff but not just touristy stuff, because then you don’t actually experience the culture that the locals live. I suppose sleeping in wasn’t really a part of their culture.
Over the course of my weeklong stay in Barcelona, Syahmi proved to be my best friend. And those are hard to come by at hostels, with travelers coming and going all the time. Often you meet someone cool that you are compatible with, only to find out they are headed to Portugal or some other country tomorrow. The hostel experience forces you to appreciate people’s company in the moment because you will more than likely never see them again. Luckily, Syahmi was only leaving a couple days before me, so we were able to hang out and be familiar faces to each other.
Syahmi was the least hesitant of everyone I asked to help me with my questions project, giving great answers to every question I asked. Watch the video above or read it below:
What does love mean to you, and when have you felt it?
Love means to be calm, I guess, to be doing something or maybe even being with someone and feeling at peace with yourself. You know that you are doing it right by yourself. You’re not conforming to other people’s standards and you just feel at ease and you feel happy and you are content and everything is right. I have felt it when—I guess I haven’t felt it with someone yet. I have felt it when I was climbing a mountain. It was so beautiful—the sky was misty you could see the top. It’s just so nice.
What are you most passionate about?
I am passionate about helping people. If I could make their lives easier or more content I would do it. I would give money if I had but I don’t. I would give food, I would give directions. I just like to help people.
If you could choose how and where you die, what would you choose and why?
I don’t know yet. But I hope I don’t die in a hospital, I don’t die with tubes and needles in my body. I hope I don’t die with someone having to worry about the bills or someone worrying. I hope I die alone I guess. The end.