As the newest member of Oyster Worldwide, I am excited to join the team as a travel adviser.
My desire to explore exotic locations and meet people from other cultures stems back to my earliest memories of Kenya, the country where I was fortunate enough to be born. Although I left when I was four, I have been obsessed with Africa as continent ever since. I was lucky enough to revisit when I was 12 and loved the music, the friendly nature of the people, who believe it is rude not to say hello to strangers, and the spicy food (so far removed from my upbringing in Kent). I knew that I wanted to travel the continent and spent most of my time at secondary school counting down the days until I could return.
As soon as my A Levels were completed, I worked three jobs to save for my adventure and left in January 2008. I started in Ghana, working at The Daily Guide newspaper in Accra. I had heard that it was the friendliest country in Africa and the people lived up to that reputation. Living there during the African Cup of Nations, I got to witness the whole city come to a halt and erupt into celebration when Ghana won. Tro tros (the local transport) played blaring music and transported fans for free. Needless to say, when Ghana eventually lost, the whole city seemed to go into mourning. The passion, the colours and the endless dancing are the memories that I took from the experience. The journalism placement challenged me to write stories about court cases, the government, Michael Essien, sanitation… the list is endless and at the age of 18 I was officially a published journalist.
Leaving the north, I travelled to Cape Town (still the most beautiful city I have seen) and worked for 3 months as a teacher at a crèche. South Africa’s landscape is varied and you can divide your time spent on the beach, riding ostriches (for only 60p!), at a vineyard, visiting the big 5, climbing mountains (Lesotho) and driving across the savannah. The history and politics fascinated me and it seemed that the longer I stayed there the more I learnt about Apartheid and the impact it had on the people who lived through it.
It was at this point that I became a travel addict. It is true the more that you travel the longer the bucket list of ‘places to go’ gets. I extended my stay and back packed around Southern Africa, visiting Swaziland, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Namibia. The highlights included skydiving over the sand dunes, riding an African Elephant, swimming with sharks, visiting the Okavango Delta and the overall experience of hitchhiking with locals.
I went to Leicester to University to study English and worked at careers fairs and schools promoting Gap Years to students. I then trained as an English teacher (inspired by my time in Cape Town) and for 4 years I have worked with teenagers. Being involved in the students’ journey from school to ‘adult life’ has confirmed for me the importance of travelling as a way of developing a plan (even if it is a vague one) for what they want to do as a career.
Just returned from a trip to South East Asia, I am now ready to start my new role. There is no better job than to help others to create amazing memories and to pass on the ‘travel bug’.