I moved to Houston, Texas. What inspired me to move to Texas? A year ago I said I would come back here. The people I told that too probably didn’t believe me. Maybe I didn’t believe myself. Nonetheless, I actually did move to Texas. It’s still weird change for me. It was the only way I can see my life continuing. My life in the Bay Area was stagnant. I was living at my parent’s house, working and Jiu Jitsu, no real forward progress in life. It was nice to spend time with family and see my friends, but something wasn’t right, a little off. I accrued lots of debt from traveling and working as a line cook or barista wasn’t cutting it. I thought that I better move and start a career so I can carry on with my life. The only plan I had was Texas. I researched the school, GI Bill compatibility, welding career salary, cost of living in Texas, Jiu Jitsu school and support system.
I train at Maven Jiu Jitsu in Spring, Texas. I met the instructor, James, on Guam while I was stationed there. I felt the quality of his instruction is unparalleled to what I have seen in my years of Jiu Jitsu training. He is someone who really thinks deeply about the subject. I’m excited to learn and understand Jiu Jitsu on different level. The school has fairly young ranks of white belts and a few blues, but that doesn’t stop the place from being a great gym to train at. My friend, Kevin, whom I also met while I lived in Guam had moved to Texas to train with James. My time in Texas will be a life experience that I will never forget.
I enrolled in welding school in Houston, Texas. My tuition is being funded by my GI bill I earned from my enlistment in the Navy. I will graduate 9 1/2 months from now as a welding specialist with pipefitting. I finished my first week. My day is school, Jiu Jitsu, rinse repeat. I should explain a little bit more about my life but this will be all for now.
A few days after the Copenhagen Camp I ended up in Porto, Portugal. I wondered what I would do when I got to Porto. From the start of my trip I knew my family was coming to Portugal. I had to decide what to do before I met them in Porto. My options were I would either walk another Camino from Porto to Santiago, hang out in Porto for a week, or…. wait for it. Go to a surf school.
Porto will be an unforgettable chapter in my trip. I learned to surf and met other beginners from all parts of the world. I trained Jiu Jitsu in the afternoon and nights after surfing. I drank and hung out with cool people whose couches I could use in the future. I was reunited with my family and I had old fashion family vacation.
I booked the camp when I was in Vienna after talking to Tina, from Leipzig post, who described her love for surfing. I thought that I should try it out. One should push themselves outside of their comfort zones. How else can you grow as a person? I found Surfivor on Google. A great place with very comfortable accommodations. Bruno and Albert are very good surf instructors. It seems they still have a lot of enthusiasm for it after many years. There were plenty of beginner students just trying it out. Most nights the students ate dinner together and drank together. This experience has made me really enjoy surfing. I will continue to surf in the future.
I get my recommendations where to train from the BJJ Globetrotter Facebook Group. I simply remember or search where people go to train on the forum. So far every place I’ve trained at has not disappointed me. I account that this is also a very open community that loves the sport and showing people their love for Jiu Jitsu.
Focus Jiu Jitsu in Porto, Portugal was one of the best places I’ve trained. Manuel Neto, the head instructor, was very friendly and welcoming. Focus has Jiu Jitsu three times a day Monday through Friday with one class on Saturday. The location of the gym is located inside a bigger gym/crossfit/MMA place about three blocks from the beach. I rented a bike and it took about 15 minutes from my hostel. A large amount of higher belts, one them just came back from Worlds and was awarded Black Belt. The facilities are clean, showers and a large mat space. The majority of population of Porto could speak English and the gym was no exception. I will definitely return to this place in the future.
My family visiting Porto before they attend a wedding in Lisbon was my favorite part. I love Jiu Jitsu and surfing, but I enjoy spending time with my family. It’s a good recharge from the months of travel I’ve been through. There were many times on my journey where I get homesick. I would call my sister and see how things are doing back home. I did this more on this 4 months of travel than my 7 years in the Navy. I took them to the restaurants that Tiago, the surf camp owner, recommended to me. They enjoyed the Francesinha, Restaurante Ababia do Porto and eating at the grilled fish street. We spent roughly two days in Porto together but I instilled them the love for Porto that I felt.
My plan is to come back for a month to Porto maybe next summer. The surfing, Jiu Jitsu, and the amazing Portuguese food are a few reasons why I will return. I’m already planning my return to Portugal. I want to continue surfing when I return to California so I will be better when I come back. The lifestyle is very similar to something I imagine myself I would be when I grow older.
A summary of Bratislava. I arrived on a Monday and I left on a Monday. I stayed in a Botel. I attended my first Polyglot Gathering. I also helped the event as a volunteer. I went on a tour of Devin Castle and a wine tour. I added a few more friends to my Facebook network. It was incredible new experience.
I took a bus from Vienna Erdberg to Brastislava Einsteinova. The worst part was if I just stayed bus till the end of the line I would have been closer to my hotel. Since I got off a bus stop before the end I had to walk an extra 30 minutes to my accommodation. Lesson learned for Bratislava. It wasn’t a big deal, it could have been avoided if I possibly knew German or Slovak. The growing pains of traveling, its almost impossible to not a make a mistake, cultural or logistics during travel.
I stayed in a Botel, not quite a hotel, not quite a boat on the Danube River. It was the more economical choice when it came to lodging options for the Polyglot Gathering. It’s location was the selling point. It was about a 10 minute walk to the bus stop and it was a 10 minute walk from the city center. It was very convenient for the conference. Many other attendees or polyglots were also staying there. My roommate was from Lithuania, he spoke many languages. We mainly conversed in English and Spanish, the only languages I can converse in. Having a roommate made the experience better and put my whole anxiety at ease.
My first Polyglot Gathering in Bratislava, Slovakia. I felt very intimidated because I only spoke two languages, and one of them wasn’t at a high level. There were people there that spoke 4-5 languages fluently, then there were Rockstars in the community like Richard Simcott who can speak as many as 20 languages. I felt at awe when I was walking around and seeing all these people I watched on Youtube. By the second day I realized that these people are just human beings, like me. I started talking more as I got over the intimidation factor.
I helped as a volunteer since I got there a few days before the event started. As I wrote before I was apprehensive of my language skills so I decided to volunteer to help get over my anxiety. By being a volunteer you see more behind scenes and how things operate from a stage left point of view. It’s something I learned in the Navy, by being behind the so called magician’s curtain we can see that some things aren’t that special or magical. I met other people that spoke only three languages, a few didn’t even speak English, they were from Slovakia. I even saw Esperanto exist on a working level with the volunteers. I enjoyed volunteering and had more one on one time with the other staff. I was glad that I was able to help such wonderful event.
I took some tours that the organizers of the Gathering had set up. The first day was non-stop talks in the morning and afternoon, it felt like school. My tour of Devin Castle was in the afternoon of the second day, it was a good break from the talks. It was good to meet and talk with the other people from the Gathering in another setting. I didn’t want to go to Slovakia and not see some historical monuments. Another was a wine and old town tour. On the afternoon of the third day we walked around the old town and heard the history of Bratislava. Which ended in drinking wine in a cellar near the center. I enjoyed the tours more for the socializing with the other attendees than hearing the history, though it was interesting. I was engaged with a lot of interesting conversations about languages and where people are from.
I ended up connecting with more people in the end. I was able to open up more by the end of the conference. I think the tours were a good icebreaker to meet other people, especially when wine is involved. I practiced as much of my Spanish as possible, usually when I practice Spanish it’s with native speakers. I hope meet all the people I talked to at future events.
If you are a language learner or if you are wondering about attending one of these events? I recommend it and I plan on going to the next one. Whether you only speak one or 13 languages, everyone is welcome. As long as you have an openness to learn and speak. Where else would you meet people who are as passionate about learning languages, travel, food, and cultures. I’m glad I was able to stop by in Bratislava for this conference. I’m incredibly fortunate to attend all the events I wanted to do this year.
Langfest- Montreal, Canada.- August 25-27, 2017
Polyglot Conference, Reykjavik, Iceland.- October 27-29, 2017
“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” – Benjamin Franklin
A summary of a week in Austria. I shaved my beard and started growing it again. I met some cool young travelers at my hostel. I trained at Roger Gracie Vienna. I met some cool Globetrotters that shared stories of the Globetrotter Camps. I ate some Schnitzel, drank some beer and attempted speaking German.
I trained at Roger Gracie Vienna with Orlando Neto. I trained six times there. We went over some techniques from sleeve grip from butterfly/sitting guard to a couple combinations. i.e arm bar, turnover. On another day we drilled a Fireman’s carry take down. Then open mat the last three sessions. The people there were really friendly, like most gyms. I enjoyed the diverse culture of the city, it showed very much in the gyms demographic. There were Germans, Italians, Brazilians, Croatians, South Africans, Czech Republic, Slovakia, and I probably left out a few. Most classes that were taught by Orlando were in English. I had a really good vibe from the gym.
I stayed at the Meininger hotel on Rembrandt street. It was a clean, modern hostel with wifi everywhere in the hotel. As a normal European hostel experience you meet many young travelers solo or in pairs. You exchange info and back stories. Solo travelers tend to flock together and go out together. That’s one of the best parts about traveling solo in Europe, there’s always people to go out with. There was Tina, a German on holiday, Chase, a Canadian doing Erasmus in France, Elie, a Frenchman traveling around Europe, Michelle, a Penn college student coming back from birthright from Israel and many more people. My life seems to gravitate towards being around a motley crew people. Or do I gravitate towards being around several different types of people that have distinct backgrounds than my own?
I met Ähn and Karla, German BJJ Globetrotter veterans, at the open mat at the gym. They showed me around parts of Vienna. We had several conversations about Jiu Jitsu. I rarely have these types of conversations outside of training, it was very enjoyable. They shared stories of all the camps they attended and funny stories that happened during the camps. I’ve never been to a Globetrotter camp. After meeting these two it gives me a great impression of the camp’s attendees. I hope the rest of the globetrotters I meet love to have fun, eat, and train. I can’t wait until the Copenhagen Camp.
A good part of being in the military that was easy was not really worrying how you style your hair. There were hair regulations and dress codes. It was easy to adhere to those rules. I’m out of the Navy now, traveling the world, unemployed with no hair regulations. I’ve had the same hair cut for the last four years and I was not allowed to grow a beard except when I was on Leave. I grew it for two and half months. No one would really understand this unless you were a male in the American Military. I decided to start over and cut it all off again. I’m searching for a balance.
I enjoy stories. I believe every good story has a great beginning. The origin of how Yun-Jin and I met has an interesting start. We met in Spain on the Camino de Santiago. The first time I met her was in an albergue in Pendueles, Spain. We had just finished dinner and the table started singing songs from the different countries they were from. There was Germany, Colombia, Poland, and three old Spanish pilgrims recited a dirty song in Spanish. Then when it was her turn, she beautiful sung a Korean song and won the prize of another carafe of vino tinto. She, of course, shared the prize with rest of the table.
We ran into each other the next day on the Camino. We walked together that day from Pendules to Po, I think. It was a long day. But it was full of adventure and learning from each others story and history. There was scattered rain along the path. At the end of the day we walked close to 8 hours. An ice cream truck pulled up to the albergue and we bought ice cream. We enjoyed the fact that the day was finally over, while enjoying our ice cream. I have heard shared adversity and overcoming it brings people together. I think that its true because we both recall that day vividly.
We ran into each several times, obviously, because we were going to the same place. I took different paths some days and walked at my own pace. During the last part of Asturias and all the way to Santiago, we walked together with Thomas, from Germany. It was mostly just of the three of us. It was an interesting crew. Rasmus, a pilgrim from Denmark, said we reminded him of the Harry Potter Crew. I’ll take that reference.
Fast Forward to seven months later. I’m on a Jiu Jitsu/ travel world tour. I choose to stop in Seoul to visit Yun-Jin. Food, hiking, and adventure were on the itinerary. It was an amazing experience. After getting over the initial language barrier and metro system I was able to really take it in the culture. Especially when you have a guide. It was a busy week of activities and trying new food.
We did many activities while I was there. I have to summarize a lot of it. We walked around Myeoung-Dong and had ramen at a very old restaurant. We hiked up a mountain to a Buddhist temple where they fed us lunch for free. We took a bike ride to Yangsae-Myeon and stopped by a strawberry farm. There was a night where we just ate chicken, drank beer, soju, and rice wine. We saw Guardians of the Galaxy 2 in a really fancy theater. Afterwards we ran into a music festival in Yeouido-Dong. There were many food trucks and we sat by the river eating poutine and steak while drinking Mojitos. It was a great week. I’m very thankful I had a local guide to take me through the city.
Currently I’m in Guam. I will go back to Seoul for three days to finish my time in Asia. I will reunite with Yun-Jin again and my long time friend Carolina. More to come.
How to get to Seoul:
Incheon International Airport (ICN) Bus 6002 can take you to Hapjeong station for $10,000 KRW.
I have a lot of emotions in me. I’m about to embark on a year of travel. This type of travel has been something I’ve been thinking about for a long time. It seems to big of a task to undertake. I’ve chosen a handful of countries to see and maybe I’ll see some more later.
Last night I was especially anxious because it is actually happening. Why? Is it that I’m going to a continent I have never visited? Or the long time frame? Being homesick? The inevitable return home? The unknown?
It’s that unknown feeling. That feeling of not knowing. It hits your stomach so profound that it only happens a few times in my life. Like when you approach a girl you like, when you have a big test, or when you are about the compete in your respective sport. I don’t get that feeling anymore. You would think I would get that feeling in the military, but alas I probably felt it twice. The moment before you enter boot camp and my first day at dive school from the fleet. Now when I think of it, I smiled during those times of unknown. I search for the feeling again.
I invite the adventure. For whatever comes out of it. I’ve wrapped my head around the scenarios of what could possibly happen to me. I will continue because I would rather do this than not living out my dream.