MY STORY (I): The Redhead behind The Redhead Story
Hi. Hallo. Ciao. Salut. Julia Bell here, founder and writer of The Redhead Story.
It’s wonderful to have you with me; thank you for tagging along as I am on my way to step it up a notch, pushing The Redhead Story to an actual brand level and launching my new, beautiful corner of the internet in just a few weeks’ time. (It’s anything but boring; no, not like this space here, I promise! It will be completely revamped! Eeek, I cannot wait to show you guys.)
Who’s so excited with me?
It’s such a big step with a lot of scary moments, but I am still here.
Now, I know that some of you have been tagging along for quite some time, having seen this blog space changed, tweaked, filled with my personal stories mostly. And I know that there are new faces following, too. That’s why I want to give you more; create more valuable insights and content for you, my readers. Ultimately, you are the engine of what I do.
This is the first entry of an 8-post website/brand pre-launch series called “MY STORY”.
I thought those few weeks before the actual website will be launched and The Redhead Story be presented in a new light would be the perfect time to reflect back on where I have started - just to see how far I have come. Also, since integrity is one of my main values and I always want to stay true to myself, with my personality shining through in everything I do (for the personal touch and approachability, which is super important to me), it might be just the perfect moment to share a little bit about myself. A good starting point for all of us.
Ready? Grab a cup of coffee (I have mine right next to me, with a splash of whole milk), light a candle if you want (I am smelling pumpkin spice right now, my leftover candle from fall, but never gets old), and sit back.
This is why I am who I am.
A Lesson Learned
A German native, I grew up in a small town north of Hannover, where it’s flat, there are a lot of forests, and also wide open spaces with a lot of horses. Oh, and it’s super close to the North Sea. Going skiing in Austria and vacationing on Föhr (a dreamy North Frisian Island I love) have been my family’s favorite annual things to do. And I didn’t complain.
When I was 16, I, for the very first time, felt this desire to go abroad.
It was this time when a handful of people from my high school went abroad for an exchange semester or year.
Combined with my love for languages - especially English -, and my parents’ support, I took the leap and jetted off to America for the very first time in my life, to stay with a host family I had never seen before; to go to a school I had never been to; and to experience a culture I had never immersed myself in. It.was.hard.
But, spoiler alert: I had the time of my life.
My friends and host family (they are still part of my life and just recently flew out to attend my wedding here in San Diego, for which I am so absolutely thankful) were an integral part in my developing American love story.
Funny, how, now that I am married (expect more posts about how all that happened), the term “American love story” gets such a different meaning.
Then, upon my return home to Germany, I experienced an intense, reverse culture shock. I learned that people moved on without me, that I changed, and that some relationships are not meant to last forever. This living abroad experience should leave its mark on me forever. And I will forever be grateful for that opportunity that literally changed my outlook on life and brought me to where I am today.
As sad and intimidating as it was to see that some people were not who I thought they were, there was a greater lesson to be learned for me:
I’d learned how much more there was to this world. It sparked my fire for travel and new experiences, which has continued ever since.
From a Small Town Girl to a German Expat in London
Education furthered my travel bug. I finished high school. While working towards my Bachelor’s Degree in Germany for Political Science and American Studies, I continually hopped back to my previous host family in New York.
Then, London drew me in for my Masters.
I initially didn’t want to pursue my Masters degree but thinking of combining it with another study abroad experience just made so much sense. I saw this as an immense opportunity, both personally and professionally.
And so I started sending out applications. Goldsmiths College, University of London, is where I should be going; Political Communications it should be.
Fast forward, equipped with one suitcase and a carry on, I began a new adventure back in summer of 2013
While in the heart of the UK, I traversed Scotland, England and Ireland. I was over the moon with all these places I could explore so easily, as they were right at my fingertips.
With these red locks, I fit right in. (I always call specifically Scotland my spiritual home.)
It was my UK travels that launched this blog : The Redhead Story.
Fueled by a love of writing and need for a creative outlet, I began travel blogging to share my experiences. (I am a chatty little ginger, as my mom would say; this hasn’t changed throughout the years.)
As I poured in more energy, my skills and tools improved - like upgrading camera types and image styles (still a lot to learn in that realm, but already looking into a new camera now that a new website will be launching and high quality content is important to me). But that’s the beauty of life; both then and now, there’s always still so much room to grow.
This is also when I began writing for other blogs or even smaller travel brands.
By that time I already knew that this is something I want to do full-time at some point in life. But it seemed unreal. (And here I am now, just having wrapped up my full time job to focus on this little business, so near and dear to my heart.)
After graduation from my Masters, the next chapter was a mystery.
How an Opportunity Landed Me as a Travel Blogger in California
I returned to Germany in late summer of 2014, deeply unhappy. I wasn’t sure where my life was going but one thing I knew for sure: I needed to be somewhere abroad. I started a job in a marketing firm but day-dreamed of packing my back and jetting off to the U.S. in hopes I would figure life out, or simply back to London. But we all know: both would have been quite costly in the long run.
A new year, and I joined the team at the German American Chamber of Commerce California. Working in their Cultural Exchange program was the melding of my life thus far : bilingual language skills, international collaborations and, specifically, working with the United States, a place so dear to my heart.
I still found myself in Germany but hey, at least I communicated with people from the U.S.
But life is a beautiful thing and even though I am a planner, not knowing what comes next can be quite thrilling.
Then, THE opportunity came : The chance to continue as a part of the organization in sunny San Diego.
It was an immediate YES.
How San Diego Travel Writing Has Empowered a Balanced, Healthy Lifestyle
It was a matter of about what - 3 weeks? And off I was, California bound. This was all so very unreal.
I arrived in San Diego. I had my a room lined up. I knew the office address. The rest was a blank piece of paper. I needed to write my story. More so: I had the opportunity to write it in a place I have never been but dreamed of going for so long.
Being here has fueled my desire to see more of this diverse country. It has given me so many other new opportunities I am so thankful for. It’s not all roses and butterflies, but since I set foot on California’s southernmost city’s soil, I found a base, a home. Certainly, meeting my adventure pal over here who I will be sharing life with from now on (a separate post about that is to follow) plays a huge role in that.
Ever since, I have relished my work, America’s Finest City and pursuing my travel writing.
Throughout my time in the UK, Germany and the States since, I’ve written for a variety of outlets, collaborating with various publications to create content that helps readers to truly experience a place.
Because traveling isn’t just about seeing a site. Traveling :
- Expands your mind.
- Is a process of personal growth.
- Is my favorite way to achieve a balanced life.
With slow travel that is : Diving into one city or area for longer periods of time. Even if very active, it lets us slow down and gain appreciation for our surroundings.
Whether exploring the Arizona desert, hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park, or walking small towns in England, I also believe travel is the best way to internal reflection. Especially the more we can get outdoors. The chance to walk. To hike. To ride through a city by bicycle.
I’m passionate about seeing the world up close. Not from a car window. I love going slow, soaking it all in - reflecting.
As I continue life as a German expat in the U.S., I will continue writing, sharing stories of exploring my backyard, going on day and weekend trips, shorter and longer getaways in the U.S. and across borders.
A Journey of Traveling & Personal Growth
I invite you to join me on my very personal journey and see the world through my eyes. It is about personal growth - because that’s what exploring does to you: It changes your perspective on things, in a good way. It allows you to see a broader picture, interact with people, understand more.
By no means am I a travel expert, but I have one thing: passion. A passion for sharing personal experiences, creating my story and ultimately inspiring yours.
I hope the new The Redhead Story corner will be an inspiration for you and I am excited to hopefully hear more about your stories, about how exploring and “going out there - doesn’t matter where - has impacted your life and perspective on life and furthered personal growth.
Thank you for being part of this (life) adventure.
Because adventure is what you define for yourself.
I hope you got to know me a little better and understand where I am coming from. If you have any questions, I’d love to hear from you.
The next post of my 8-post website & brand pre-launch series will be highlighting my approach to travel and how this has changed. Stay tuned!