Not only is Richelle gorgeous, she is the perfect example of a woman who lives the East+Mia lifestyle and what the brand represents. She is strong, creative and oh so sweet! Read along as I pick her adventurous brain. Find out what she has learned from her experiences abroad in Asia! Richelle has been to 28 countries and is open for questions! Her blog Adventures Around Asia has absolutely everything you need to know about studying abroad, about the ups and downs of life away from friends and family and about you guessed it life in Asia. She also provides consultations for travelers and students. All the info can be found in her blog’s Travel Services section! Ready to get to know Richelle? This is a long post but stick to the end I promise it’s worth it!
Name: Richelle Gamlan
From Seattle | Currently in Ningbo, Zhejiang, China
Education: George Washington University Undergrad (International Affairs); University of Nottingham Masters in International Communication
I met Richelle through a bloggies network. I have coined the term blogg-ies, blogger-ladies. I digress, I posted a “tell me about your life” PSA and I’m so glad Richelle responded to my message. She has so much to offer to readers looking for travel information and just plain old life wisdom. Imagine picking up your life and moving to China for 7 months only to fall in love with your new-found culture. A new language (and not just ANY language), new everything. How do you hang on to who you are when everything around you is different? Richelle’s answer is your life changes. Many people have experienced studying abroad, many have been blessed with knowing cultures outside of their own. You are lucky. We are lucky.
On studying abroad…
I was so excited to experience a country and culture so vastly different from my own! I wanted to experience culture shock, push my boundaries, try new foods and have incredible experiences. I was also really nervous. I didn’t know anyone in my program and I had no idea if I would like China or not. I love traveling through Europe with my family, but I had never been to Asia before!
As a part of my degree, I had to study three years of a language. At the start of my junior year, I decided to study abroad with the Alliance for Global Education in both Beijing (Spring) and Xi’an (Summer). Thankfully, I loved China. It was everything I wanted and more so after graduation, I decided to move back to China and teach English for a year. To be honest, it was pretty rough. The kids were great, but my school was in the middle of nowhere, with no other foreigners for miles. I stuck it out for the year though, and decided to stay for another year to get my master’s at the University of Nottingham’s China campus. All of my classes are in English, but the school is 90% Chinese. At the end of the year I’ll have my master’s degree!
There are definitely a lot of other expats in China, especially in cities like Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen. Ningbo, where I live now, has a smaller expat community, but since I’m attending grad school here at a British university, the university is 10% international so it’s easy to make friends. My roommates are Russian, and I have friends from all over the world: UK, Ireland, Malaysia, Taiwan, Germany, Nigeria, Bangladesh… pretty much everywhere. I also have a lot of Chinese friends from my classes and my dance group on campus. Last year was a bit of a challenge because I lived in the Chinese countryside. That made it much harder to meet people and socialize. I was teaching English on the outskirts of the city and the bus stopped running into town at 7pm and it cost $10 USD to take a cab into the city. While that’s not expensive in America, it is in China when you’re making a Chinese salary.
I love writing about my experiences and sharing my tips and stories with others who are interested in visiting China. Expat stands for “expatriate”, and basically means someone living (and usually working) in another country. This can be really long-term or just for a year or two. I’ve been living in China for over two years, so I would consider myself an expat here. I started Adventures Around Asia right before I moved to China to study abroad. It was a way to keep my friends and family up to date. Over time, Adventures Around Asia grew from a small study abroad blog to a website I’m extremely passionate about. I love inspiring other to travel the world.
What’s next for you Richelle?
I’ve started giving Skype consultations for those who want to study abroad, teach abroad or work in China, and I make travel itineraries for China, Taiwan and Hong Kong. Eventually I’d love to start doing city tours and larger tours all over China for families and adventurous backpackers. I’m not sure exactly where I see myself in five years. I’d like to stay in Asia for a few more years at least, but I definitely don’t want to stay in China forever. There are tons of opportunities and jobs here, but the internet censorship and pollution have really been starting to get to me. I’ve been applying to a few jobs in China next year, so I may move to Shanghai. After that I could see myself moving to another country like Taiwan, Singapore or South Korea!
My favorite things about this month’s East+Mia woman:
She will try anything once. See the Weirdest Things she has ever eaten!
She loves learning about new and different cultures, ancient history and contemporary cultural differences.
She is unknowingly inspiring young women to pursue their dreams, travel desires, and their education.
She is a great example of a woman in society.
I can’t wait to hear updates from Richelle! Right now she is traveling in Thailand and probably enjoying every minute of it.