Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture, Japan

Spotlight Sessions with Adaora King

#SpotlightSessions - shining the spotlight on everyday people with inspiring stories

In this Spotlight Sessions, I interview one of my long time friends Adaora King. Adaora and I actually met back in primary school (Year One, to be precise 😄) and have kept in contact since the early days. Coincidentally, years down the line - we also ended up studying at the same University! 

I was particularly keen to interview Adaora because of her passion for travel, her dedication to learn about new cultures through language, food and music as well as her interest in building cultural intelligence skills. Here's the spotlight on Adaora King. Enjoy!

1 | Tell me about yourself: your background, occupation etc.
My name is Adaora King and I'm 20 years old. Right now I'm half way through a year abroad in Japan as part of my joint degree BA Japanese and Geography at SOAS and also King's College London. 

2 | You seem to be a globe trotter. Where have you been so far and where are you currently?

I've been super lucky to go to loads of different countries! In terms of continents I've been to 3: North America (USA), Asia (Japan and Turkey) and Europe (Scotland, Wales (yes they're in Britain but they're different from England y'know), France, Belgium, The Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Finland and Switzerland). Next month I'm going to visit Seoul, South Korea for 5 days! 

I'm currently living in Kyoto, Japan. Kyoto is a wonderful city because it's a manageable size so you can cycle everywhere. It's the ancient capital of Japan so the best place to go to for traditional arts, architecture and food! Tokyo is a sensory-overload and overrated.

In the future I will definitely visit Nigeria, because it's half of my heritage but I'm very distanced from African culture and I'd like to reconnect. I'd also like to work in the US for a short time because I have an American visa and some family & friends there. Also Quebec, Canada is a future destination because the French there is really interesting, and Canada seems like it could be a nice country to live in. 

3 | Why is travel important to you?

Travel is important to mainly because I can learn languages. Even though I've been to a lot of countries, I'm not trying to visit as many as possible or anything. I really enjoy visiting countries that appeal to me, and exploring on foot. I usually stick to cities because there's more to do. By travelling to a different country, you can have new experiences whether they be small like trying new foods or big like working abroad. 

Travelling alone is especially exciting because you've only got yourself to rely on. I've travelled alone a few times and I don't regret it! I was an au-pair in France; worked in Germany and Japan as an English teacher/summer camp leader; and stayed in hostels in Germany and Denmark. Sometimes it was hard or lonely but each time I gained self-confidence, self-reliance and new friends.  

I really encourage train journeys over taking the plane if possible, because air travel is one of the many things ruining the environment. One thing on my bucket list is travelling from the UK to Japan by Trans-Siberian Railway and then ferry - the journey takes a week!

4 | Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?
I really don't know! I've recently been pondering and slightly worrying about this exact question. 

I'm more than half-way through my degree so I need to start preparing to find a job - but I don't know what career I want. I'm hoping that through experiences like volunteering or internships and asking others about careers I can figure it out myself. I do know that I do NOT want to be stuck in an office 5 days a week or living in a hectic, skyscraper city like London or Tokyo. I love languages but don't want to be a teacher because you get stuck in the job and the pay isn't so good. 

So, in 5 years I'd like to see myself living abroad, probably in northern Europe, doing a fulfilling job related to languages, diplomacy, culture or the arts. 

5 | Advice for people who want to travel?

My advice for people that want to travel is learn the language and go! You don't have to be fluent but at least know the basics because people will be so happy that you've put effort in, and you will be able to experience the culture more. Don't be that rude obnoxious tourist that shouts in English assuming everyone else should understand (they're the worst!).

Also if you're lonely while traveling use apps like CouchSurfers or MeetUp to meet others (be careful of course). I hung out with people in France through CouchSurfers and made Japanese friends in London through MeetUp.

Fire Round Questions

Cats or Dogs?
Cats. (bit allergic to Dogs...)

Summer or Winter?
Summer (though I'm that annoying person that complains in both summer and winter. Especially in Japan where summer means 30 degree days and humidity of over 80% ewww. Spring and autumn are the best!)

One thing you cannot live without?
I can't live without 3 things: my planner, learning a foreign language and hummus! 

I write all events and things to do in my planner so I'd be lost without it. That said I'm not good at being on time... (as Deborah knows - oops😅).

I've enjoyed learning foreign languages since I was little and it'll be a life-long hobby/a way of life even.

And hummus ❤ It's not a thing in Japan so I was super sad but luckily after like 5 months living here my friend managed to find an international food store that sells it and now I'm a loyal customer).

Last song you listened to?
Last song I listened was "Instagram" by DEAN. He's a Korean R&B artist who's getting really famous around the world for his mellow songs and not to mention beautifuuuuul face. 

Biggest Inspiration?

My biggest inspiration is... I'm not sure I have one. But my parents are quite inspiring as they often volunteer and work for the local community, and care for the environment. 

Life itself is pretty damn inspiring...

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