Not sure where to start with? Already have a travel plan and destination in mind but want to get a better idea of what this website entails and how it would help?
This is where you can find out more about my background and best experiences while being on the road, travel tips and resources, as well as stories and tips from other travelers and expats about moving abroad.
I will update this page at least once a year to reflect the necessary changes.
Welcome to A Wanderer At Heart ! My name is Danny Aw (or call me Dan).
Like the average person, I was taught that completing my education, getting a good job, having financial security, getting married and settling down with a family of my own would be the way to go in life. While this has been the case for family (and some friends), I have never once thought that it is the path for me. Instead of settling for stability and security in life, I choose to follow my heart and take the risk – to gain overseas exposure by traveling and moving abroad, and to start this blog.
Born and raised in Singapore, I was educated there up to high school, which was one of the most stressful moments of my life. We were led to believe that success in society is measured by how good our grades are, which university we go to, and what kind of career (and company) we end up in. Fortunately, I got to travel with family which has been a form of escape from the academic stress that emanates from high school and years of experiencing a demanding education system. Although I was too young to remember vividly where we went and what we do in each country, those trips were pretty much the only thing I looked forward to towards the end of the year. I guess that’s how I caught the travel bug!
After high school, I went on to serve in the military, which is mandatory for all males in Singapore. Then I got acceptance letters from all the top universities in Singapore. Having worked my way through the tough two years of high school, I was simply elated and accepted the offer right away without much contemplation.
But later on I felt something was amiss. When I got the chance to reconnect with a female classmate from high school, she told me about her amazing experience in a summer study abroad program in Switzerland. She also casually mentioned to me about another partner university that she briefly considered for her exchange – the university I went to in Vancouver (UBC).
I did some research online on UBC and found that a nude beach actually existed on its campus grounds! The institution was also well-known in Canada and internationally especially in the program I was interested.
But most importantly, I wanted to broaden my perspective of the world.
After two years of military service (in early 2012), I took on a contract position as a Banking Assistant for half a year before moving to Vancouver for my undergraduate education. To be honest, it also took me that two years to convince my mum that studying in Vancouver was worthwhile. There have even been times when we got into heated arguments over this.
For my first semester break in December, a couple of friends from Singapore decided to explore the U.S. for the first time. So we planned a road trip in the New England region and then to New York City (NYC). Not only was it my first independent trip abroad but it was a success!
Since then, the travel bug bite had gotten worse. 😀
I became more confident in venturing elsewhere on my own terms, traveled to Japan to visit friends, and planned a spring break trip to California the following year.
In my third year of university, I spent a semester in Birmingham (the UK) for my exchange program. Due to conflicts in our academic schedules, the friends I met on exchange and I couldn’t really make travel plans together. But since it was winter season, airfares in Europe were quite affordable. So not only did I try to catch up with European friends whom I haven’t seen in the longest time but I also explored several destinations such as Barcelona and Venice myself. Because why not? 🙂
Traveling solo for the first time, I never knew it could be such an exciting and rewarding experience. It’s like I just discovered another side of me, the bold risk-taker, that I never knew existed. So I thought maybe it would be a great idea to document my travels and move abroad in a blog someday.
Dilemma of post-graduate life
The harsh realities of post-graduate life soon hit me.
I graduated from university in the summer of 2016, and applied for an open work visa in Canada which was approved for three years. Everyone kept asking what I plan to do after graduation. But like many graduates, I didn’t have the answer. I just rehashed the same response every time this question was asked – that I’m open to many career options and will see how things go.
My post-graduation path was a rather unconventional one as I did not really have a stable, full-time career after university to start with. After taking on a temporary position as a Legal Assistant in a notary public, I got by mostly on the savings I have in university, and income earned from odd jobs, working in events and promotions, and hosting guests on AirBnB, and also by cutting down on drinking, eating out, and partying.
Not knowing what to do, I turned to traveling again.
So I traveled to Europe for the second time, and to Morocco later that year. This trip reaffirmed my purpose in life and convinced me that working towards it is the way to go. Every now and then I still believe in the possibility of finding a real job and establishing financial security but the commitments of being on the 9-to-5 grind made me think twice. I just can’t envision being stuck on the same job, with the same company and same environment for even just a couple of years. I couldn’t imagine living a life based on routine and would prefer freedom over anything else. Some of my friends and family didn’t understand what I was thinking and what good it would do to just keep traveling. They thought that since I have come a long way in Canada I might as well find a stable career and a niche for myself there.
However, I have found a purpose and goal in life.
Then how did this blog come about?
As mentioned previously, the idea of travel blogging first came to my mind while traveling in Europe during my exchange program. But I didn’t take it seriously until I met my Japanese roommate Ryo. This was right before my trip to Europe and Morocco.
After working as a journalist for four years, he quit his job to travel the world for a year. Not only did he travel to 50 countries but he also kept a travel blog, which looked really awesome. I thought that if he can do it so can I !
Just as Ryo inspired my decision to start this blog, I hope I’m able to inspire and help you to travel and make your move abroad a reality as well. Whether it’s traveling, studying, working, doing volunteer work in another country or moving elsewhere on a permanent basis, you can find more stories and tips right here.
You can also send me an email or fill out the form in the Contact page!
Travel Tips & Resources
Here’s some of the most essential tips and resources to consider for planning your trips and making the most out of them!
If you have questions or need help and inspiration on moving for your studies, internship, job, volunteer work, or even on a permanent basis, fret not! You can find some of the best stories and tips on living abroad here, and click on Moving Abroad for more information.
From canada to spain: how elisa moved & adapted to life abroad
Elisa Hicks moved to Vancouver as a student and to Madrid for a teaching job. Check out her story on living abroad for the past few years.
Moving abroad twice: turkish student in canada and spain
Having moved from Turkey to Canada and to Spain as a student, Tugce gave us an insight on preparing for and embracing everything that comes with moving abroad.
Moving to italy as an expat: an interview with emma
Settling for a stable job right after university isn’t for everyone, especially Emma. The British expat who resides in Italy shares her experiences on taking the road less traveled and moving abroad.
This section covers milestones in my life, whether it’s traveling the world or moving elsewhere. They reflect some of the top accomplishments that I think change or influence me in ways I never imagined, and hopefully they are able to help and inspire you.
7 most important things i learned from living abroad
Moving abroad has changed my life in so many ways and I’ve learned a lot from it. So here’s 7 things to know for those who are moving or already living abroad.