Hi Friends! Recently I had the chance to interview a fellow traveler and budding entrepreneur, Marinella Yule. She has extensive travel insight to offer, having lived abroad in South America and Europe and regularly traveling between Canada and the US with her dual citizenship. I’ve enjoyed following her through Instagram and know you will enjoy hearing about her experiences as much as I did. She’s also created an affordable course for those interested in building their own business, whether you’re wanting to work while traveling or are an aspiring entrepreneur but just aren’t sure where to start! Here’s the interview!
Can you share a little about your background? Did you major in a field related to travel?
I am originally from California, but I am currently based in Montreal. I am hoping my base will change in the near future haha. From California, I moved to Boston for university.
I double majored in Marketing and Film with a minor in Spanish. The only thing at face value that is related to traveling is the Spanish haha
Were your parents involved in a travel related occupation to allow you to see so much? What states do you have left to visit?
I joke that traveling is in my DNA. My mother is from the Philippines and we went traveling to visit family. Traveling from California to the Philippines is a long flight so we would then tour around Asia to take advantage. My father was born in Canada (but raised in America) and so we still have family in Canada. Every summer we would drive North to visit them and do stops along the way (National Parks, other states, etc).
Both my parents are accountants. My father was a big proponent of travel and was my main cheerleader in taking a gap year (a few gap years haha) and still encouraging me now to be a digital nomad. I do have dual citizenship through my father- USA and Canada.
I still have 2 states left to visit! Nebraska and North Dakota. I am hoping to cross them off this summer when we go to bury my grandmother in Manitoba. I have driven to all of them except Hawaii (of course). I also have bicycled many of them too.
Did you encounter resistance from anyone when you decided to take a gap year to travel? Did you save up before this trip or work along the way to pay for your expenses?
Pretty much the only person who thought my first gap year was a good thing was my dad. There was a big fight with my mom.
I just convinced her to let me go to Boston for university and then like a week later I sprung my gap year idea on her. I don’t have a good relationship with her in general, it was a lot worse when I was a teenager. Her and my stepdad were trying to blackmail me to not go.
Truthfully, I come from parents who are very financially minded. They planned accordingly for my university education (it is even in their divorce agreement that they would pay 50/50 for my education). My mom told me she wouldn’t pay for my university if I went to travel. That’s when my dad reminded her of the contract. She caved.
So, I traveled for a year and then went to university. During my first semester, my mother admitted that traveling was a good thing for me as it helped me grow (she also took some credit for it).
The main thing was people were saying that I wouldn’t amount to anything, I wouldn’t go back to school, I would be behind, etc. Well, that wasn’t true at all haha. I even graduated before some of my friends that started a year earlier than me (difference between public and private schools).
My biggest advice for anyone looking to take a gap year when it comes to finances. When there is a will there is a way. There is Woofing, couchsurfing, workaway, teaching English, etc.
This is what I did when I took my next gap year(s). I went to Europe for about a year and half then 6 months around Asia. I worked for about 9 months in Prague teaching English and working marketing in a start-up. But being Europe, I was able to travel every weekend.
I also did a workaway in a hostel in Serbia for 3 weeks.
Also, South America and Asia are a lot cheaper and North America and Europe so where you go definitely helps with your finances.
Traveling also allows you to meet and make international friends. I ended up staying with some of these friends which helped with housing costs.
I also don’t like spending, so I would make my own food at hostels a lot.
In regards to disrupting my education, I think it was perfect. It gave me a break from studying so I was fresh for 4 more years and it actually helped me get jobs/internships. Employers were impressed by my traveling as it showed different characteristics (such as determination, maturity, etc.).
Tell us a little about your Build a Business Course and who would benefit from it.
I quit my 9 to 5 cold turkey- that is a completely other blog post. As I started my freelancing career, I realized that not many future/potential entrepreneurs knew what to do.
One of the things I HATE is when people tell me “I can’t do what you do.” YES THEY CAN!
I know many people want to be an entrepreneur to travel or to be able to have flexibility at home with kids. Either way, I decided to build this course (no pun intended) to help those people achieve their dreams.
I understand finding all this information on website hosting, SEO, networking ,etc can be difficult, but all that information is in one place and the information is provided for a lifetime and it gets updated with new free or budget friendly programs the entrepreneur can use.
The course covers 10 chapters that can be purchased individually or in a package:
Business planning/target market, branding, pricing yourself/contracts, networking, website hosting, website templates, plugins, SEO, basic coding, and further marketing and productivity.
How many languages do you speak? Do you find it easy to learn new languages?
I speak English natively, Spanish fluently, and French conversationally (as of now).
Well, I haven’t learned Chinese…so maybe that would be difficult, but for Spanish and French, yes I find it easy. When you learn languages from the same family tree (Latin, Slavic…) you can find similarities that will help you. Vocabulary that is similar or grammar rules.
In English, we use A LOT of French words and now, a lot of Spanish words. Between Spanish and French there are a lot of similarities.
Learning Spanish was harder due to also learning the grammar. Spanish has a grammar tense called Subjunctive, which in English we don’t have. In French, I just need to learn pronunciation and vocab because I understand subjunctive already.
But, when I was in Germany, I was able to read signs (like tourist description plaques in museums) that were in German. Because I could see the pattern with English. Like with – mitt. I just see that it is the same meaning.
When I was in Czechia, the few classes I took in Czech, the pronunciation was similar to Spanish and the rules of creating a sentence was also similar so I was picking it up quickly.
German would be my next language. Though, I am partial to Serbian.
I can understand Italian in a basic conversation. Reading Italian and Portuguese is easy as well. Romanian is interesting because there are similarities, but it has the Slavic component so my knowledge of Czech helped when I was there.
Can you share a little about your experience traveling through the Balkans and what it was like working in a hostel there and how that came about?
I LOVED THE BALKANS!
Serbia was my favorite, Belgrade was my favorite. But maybe I am bias because I did the 3 weeks there working in the hostel.
I also am bias with Croatia because I met so many amazing people and remet a friend I originally met on my gap year when I was 18 (6 years prior).
Romania was absolutely beautiful. Their castles are my favorite out of all of Europe. Bulgaria holds a bias for me too because I met my first boyfriend there.
Skopje, Macedonia was so fun! It reminds me of Disneyland because of all the statues and decorations. It is just a fun little city.
Bosnia & Herzegovina was a bit sad for me. You can still see the war from the 90’s. And my hostel owner told us personal stories from that time period. It really hit home how lucky I was to be born in the States.
I was traveling around for about 3-4 months and was tired of moving from hostel to hostel. I signed up for workaway to see if I could stay somewhere for a little bit in exchange for work. I also wanted to get out of the Schengen zone. With this search criteria, I found the hostel in Belgrade. What I did was just make the beds when someone checked out. I worked 5 days of the week. Either morning shift or afternoon. It was really not much work haha. I also got free breakfast at a restaurant of my choice (out of 5).
If you had to choose a favorite place you have visited worldwide, where would it be and why?
If I had to pick one I would say Buenos Aires, Argentina. This city is a mix of New York and Paris. It has the European vibe of Paris, but the new world energy of New York. Plus their Spanish accent is amazing!
I was there when I was 18 and fell in love with it. So I returned for study abroad when I was 22 for 6 months. I took classes at a university there. I was the only non-native Spanish speaker in my two classes, the only non-Argentine in one.
The food is great. The wine is great. The scenery of Argentina is diverse.
I also took tango classes when I was there (where it started) and painting classes (fileteado).
What type of traveler are you? Do you prefer to try to see as many cities/countries as possible in a short time or make your way through each destination more slowly?
I am a slow traveler. I don’t understand how anyone can see anything in 2 weeks! Haha
I love being able to take my time. Many times I have extended time in a place or sped up time in a place. I love that flexibility. I also enjoy looking through a place from a local lens. When I travel fast, I only get a little bit of things.
This is similar to my time in Albania. I was only there for 4 or 5 days. It was nowhere near enough. I just got a little taste. I would love to spend 2 months or more in Albania. In Croatia I spent about a month
How has your travel shifted during the pandemic? Have you still been able to venture outside of Canada?
For most of 2020, my travels were stuck to Quebec province. Which was still nice because I didn’t know much of it before. However, at the end of 2020, I flew to western USA to be with family.
Now, I start 2021 being a digital nomad, bouncing around in Utah skiing with my dad and California with my mom. In total, I will be gone for 3 months from Montreal.
Where can we find you on social media?
Anything else you’d like to share?
I bicycled across the United States and down from Alaska to Washington state border 🙂
What did you think of Marinella’s journey? Inspirational, isn’t it? She’s a great example of turning dreams and goals into reality – her story is a great reminder that taking risks does pay off!
Thanks for reading,