I first met Charly through a mutual friend at a soccer game in South Korea in 2011. At first I did not realize who she was, and that she was quite a popular v-logger on YouTube, until my friend and I were discussing how he and Charly met. It was then that I realized I had watched a video of hers about being Black in Korea, which is a very heavily questioned topic that many YouTubers have addressed, and a topic question that I had been asked numerous times by my friends and family.
Recently I sat down with Charly to address some questions about traveling the world, her life in Korea, her experienced living in Mexico, and about v-logging on YouTube.
What are some of the cultural differences between South Korea, America, and Mexico? What are different things you like about each of the cultures that you wish other cultures would adapt?
Mexico and the U.S. are more similar to each other than they are to Korea but at the same time Mexico has more in common with Korea than the U.S. It sounds complicated but it really depends on what part of the culture you’re looking at. They all have their own distinct traits while at the same time all having some themes in common. The U.S. has a very independent minded culture. Generally it’s encouraged that young people move out early and start their career in order to start a family. In both Mexico and Korea it is not expected for people to move out until they get married except for certain circumstances such as attending University far away from home. Korea and Mexico’s cultures are surrounded by family and building the family and community while the U.S. is more so centered around the individual. In Korea it is not common for people to eat at restaurants alone while in the U.S. it might feel awkward but it is not like Korea where the setting is centered around group eating and sharing food. One thing that I wish the U.S would adapt from both cultures is the strength and the family unit of togetherness that both Korea and Mexico share.
When did you take your first international trip? What moment in your life sparked your travel for passion?
I took my first trip in 2008 when I went to Costa Rica with a church group. We worked at an orphanage teaching English and helping to build a fence near a hill where it was unsafe for children to play at on the playground. My passion for travel was sparked when I decided to fly to Korea. I initially was supposed to be going to China to stay with an old roommate and she was going to help me find a job there. 2 weeks before the flight she bailed on me without explanation so I canceled my flight and decided I still wanted to travel but to Korea instead. I worked really hard to find a job there legally without having completed my degree. I changed my major got a teaching certificate and found my way to Korea despite the obstacles I faced. This process made me realize that I am in control of my life and if I really want to do something, I will find a way to do it. There is always a way.
You are a very popular travel video blogger on YouTube. What inspired you to start video blogging? Who are your travel blogging inspirations?
Before I traveled to Mexico, people told me to be very careful because it is such a dangerous place. What are some things that you heard about Mexico before moving there? Are there any myths that you would like to dispel?
What countries have you traveled to? What was one of your favorite places out of those countries? Have you ever had anything strange or unusual happen to you on any of those trips?
What is your most memorable travel adventure so far?
My most memorable travel adventure that I can think of right now was my trip to the jungles in Mexico where I attended the Rainbow Gathering. It’s a gathering that is held in different locations around the world of people who love nature and want unity and love around the world. On the way there I traveled to different places in Mexico visiting Mayan ruins and seeing beautiful natural blue waterfalls. Upon arrival to the gathering, I was welcomed by like minded nomads who don’t believe in the country lines and divisions but that we are all children of the Earth, brothers and sisters and everywhere we go is home.
What are your upcoming travel plans?
I’m planning to go back to Korea in the next month or month and a half. I’m actually looking into living there for a longer term and just visiting surrounding countries. I’ve grown so much since Korea and this time around I’m motivated to learn more of the language, immerse myself more into the culture, and even build a better community for foreigners living there. Some of the locations I have in mind are Nepal, Japan, China, Laos, Cambodia and India. After some time I would like to move to Africa (where exactly I don’t know) in order to learn a 5th language and learn more about African spirituality and culture. I’m not a big planner. I like to go with the flow because sometimes life’s flow takes us on adventures much more enjoyable and interesting than our plans ever could. That has been my experience at least.
How many foreign languages do you speak? In your opinion, what is the best way to learn a language?
I speak 4 languages. English of course was my 1st language. Spanish was my 2nd language. From Spanish I started learning American Sign language and then Korean as my 4th. I can understand some things in other languages but I stick to those on my list. I expect to add on 2-3 more within the next 3 years.
The best way to learn a language is like a child. Be curious. Don’t jump into grammar. Did you understand grammar when you first started speaking and understanding your first language? Nope! Children learn from experience. When mom says milk and you get fed, over time you’re going to get hungry and remember the word for milk. Learn what you need to learn and potentially use first. There’s no need to learn medical terms if you’re not planning on being a doctor or working in the medical field. Learn what you need first and add on from there. For beginners, memorizing useful phrases first is always best. From there you start learning and adding on to vocabulary that you can switch out and create new sentences with the phrases you already know. Don’t waste time memorizing vocabulary lists. Learn everything in useful sentences. Make friends who speak the language and get a language exchange partner or two. Learn popular questions and answers and study the answers to them. Phrases, phrases, phrases! Over time it will all start to make sense to you and you will realize you understand sentence structures without spending hours of studying grammar. My personal motivation and best way to learn a language is being immersed in the language. This means going to the country that speaks the language and only using that language. Good luck!
Do you have any words of wisdom for fellow travel addicts?
Collect experiences, not passport stamps! So many people are motivated to travel in order to tell their friends the list of places they’ve visited. Many of these people travel fast and don’t take much knowledge or experience away from the country. They didn’t take time to learn the language, make close friends with the natives, learn how to make a traditional dish etc. They see the sights and move on. Don’t just look. Experience, be, learn, grow and most importantly contribute.
Compared to when you first began traveling versus now, have you noticed any big differences in relation to travel?
I’ve noticed more people who are at least curious or interested in travel. I’m not sure if this is because I have become a part of the nomad/travel movement and my eyes are more open to it now or if there has been a big surge of curiosity and passion that has sprung up in the last 3 years. Maybe a little bit of both. I’m just happy to be aware that I’m not alone on the road.
I’m Charly and I’m a full time traveler, travel blogger and English teacher. I’m 26 years old and I spend a lot of my time behind or in front of a camera filming or in front of the computer editing videos or learning languages. I’m a snail traveler. I opt to stay in a country a few months to a year at a time instead of just a few weeks as a tourist.