Jin Jeong has, as the title of her talk would suggest, cycled around the world for the past 6 years. Having ridden through 67 countries across 6 continents, she is what some would call the epitome of a fearless female traveller. But it wasn’t always so. She starts her ZafigoX talk candidly, asking the audience, what their childhood dream was in school. Jin then sheepishly admits that she never had one; “I didn’t know what to live for.”

It had worried her parents and her teachers in school. So at the age of 19, she decided to list down her goals and objectives, to give herself some semblance of a purpose. Little goals like, reading one hundred books consumed her quickl. Fast forward a few years, after hacking through the to-do list of sorts, Jin then finds her true passion; to travel the world. A snap decision and some quick investments later, she began her trip around the world on bicycle. In her ZafigoX talk, Jin shares the top things that she’s learned in her ’round the world trip thus far;

Fear can be good in order to push you forward

Despite (occasionally) being hit by cars and (quite constantly) being harassed by locals, Jin has rode ahead on her journey. (Photo Credit: Facebook / Cycling Around The World)

Young Jin was afraid of everything, so much so that she could never even take a midnight toilet trip without turning on every light along the way. But on her first solo adventure, travelling to Canada when she was 24, Jin decided that she loved adventure. Her love for travel greatly outweighed her fears. And so she went from Canada to the United States to begin her journey of a lifetime, “I flew from Canada to the United States to start my cycling trip. I bought everything; bicycle, camping gear, and so on in one week, with very little research.”

It’s important to find your own pace as you go

On just her second day of the cycling trip, Jin found that her dream might have been harder than she anticipated. “I was crying in my tent. It was too hard.” Instead she told herself, just head to the next destination about two weeks away and then rethink the plan, “When I reached LA, I was so happy and proud, and told myself again, to try for the next destination. And the next, and the next.”

Jin recounts the time she saw her favourite signboard, in Kenya, “It said, ‘Believe me, you will get there. Slow down!’ So, as the sign suggested, she slowed down, moving slowly through the villages she chanced upon and eventually cycled from the south to north over the period of a year. “I always cycle like this, I don’t look too far ahead. If I look far into the future, it becomes too big and I feel like I could not do it. I always made small goals.”

The world is (almost) never what they tell you it is

Jin finds that her form of travel opens up her eyes to the other side of life that no one talks about (Photo Credit: Facebook / Cycling Around The World)

At the end of Jin’s Latin America journey, she wasn’t sure what her next move would be; to go back home or continue on to Africa. She then decided to try cycling through a little bit of what she was told is a scary continent, thinking that if she felt unsafe in any way, she could always just fly to the next continent, Europe. But it turns out that her fears were unfounded as South Africa pleasantly surprised her, “It was more developed than what I had seen on the media.”

As she went along, Jin’s view of the world and what people say about the world began to change, “This unique experience (of cycling through towns and villages) allowed me to see their culture and glimpse into their real lives. While traveling this way, I have seen many different views which I could not hear from the media. When the media talks about Mexico or Colombia, it’s only about drugs. When the media talk about the United States, it’s about firearm incidents. Africa? Starvation. Muslims? Terrorists. But when it comes to Europe, they focus on great welfare systems and superior quality of life. The media only talk about one side, but I have seen the other sides of the world.”

Do not reduce yourself to what they tell you you are

Perhaps the most important lesson that Jin learns along the way is that focusing on who you are instead of what you are, is as powerful a motivator as any. “Don’t focus on your sex, skin colour, age, or any other level. Don’t reduce yourself with any tag if you really want to make your dream real,” Jin says. If she had focused on the fact that she is just a small Asian girl, then she would have never have gotten as far as she has, “The most important thing is to go beyond who you are. Your life is not defined by who you are or what you look like, but by what you do.”

“I am not a female Asian traveller, I am just a traveller.”

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