The second installation of my “inspirational people series”, I’m excited to be featuring a friend I made on the road, Elia Müller. I met Elia through Couchsurfers, and actually stayed with him in his home in Munich, Germany. Currently, Elia is at University in Munich, studying Business Communication Chinese. He is twenty-two years old with a big heart and unique goals for the future. After staying with Elia and talking with him a bit more, I emailed him and asked if I was able to feature him on my blog! Since we are currently in two very, very separate countries (me being home in the United States and him in Germany), I sent him ten questions. Here is what he had to say (:
Quirky Pineapple: What is your passion? How did you discover it?
Elia Müller: Huh… passion, such a big word. I think curiosity is what I’d say is my passion – many of my interests such as travelling and (foreign) languages derive from it. My parents told me that when I was a child I would listen carefully to everything someone told me, but I would always ask “why?” for every little detail.
“Why” in German is “warum” [pr: varum], and I would ask it immediately and in a very fast way. It rather resembled “wrm” than “warum”, haha. I must have discovered my extraordinary curiosity at about that time.
QP: Where do you find your inspiration/motivation? What is your inspiration/motivation?
EM: I have never thought about that before… but I think it’s mostly people who inspire me. For example, the host I stayed with in Seoul – he definitely is the reason I started hosting people. Regarding motivation, it really depends… like when I need some motivation to do the dishes or to study, pressure is always helpful (eg: deadlines, etc). But the best motivation one can have is setting goals. The bigger the goal, the more motivation you can raise.
While staying with Elia, I had asked him about his own Couchsurfing experiences. His first time Couchsurfing was in South Korea, staying with a diplomat. The host he stayed with had over one hundred great reviews, hosted about 5-8 Couchsurfers at a time, and was able to speak eight different languages fluently! Elia told me that this person inspired him to host, change his lifestyle, and look at things differently. It’s great to think that a “chance” happening and meeting could influence you so much! But, again, that’s what I love so much about travel!
QP: What do you love most about travel? Why?
EM: There are two things – to wake up in an unknown place; nothing can beat that feeling. And, to see the world through the eyes of local people; trying to understand the world as they see it… because I’m curious (;
QP: Your best experience through Couchsurfers?
EM: I think when hosting people, you should not expect one outstanding “best experience”. It’s the little things that make it interesting. It can be everything, as long as both me, and the Couchsurfer, enjoy it. But one thing I’d like to point out is your, and some other couchsurfers’ homemade dishes! Just some food… I’m so easy to satisfy, haha!
QP: The biggest or most important life lesson you’ve learned so far?
EM: Oh, so many superlatives… but here is one: “Don’t consider your acquaintances as friends”. I used to think that it’s possible to sustain every friendship relation to everyone who was important at one point in my life. In reality, it’s more important to cherish the quality and the loyal friends you have out there.
QP: What are your top 3 travel destinations? Why?
EM: 1. China: I’ve seen a lot of it already, but it always kept its charm to me from the first day! There is so much variety, and it is really stunning! There are so many things to see, culture to experience, and dishes to try (; And of course, plenty of people to meet! (:
2. Europe in general: For its diversity and multiculturalism. Places that are especially worth going (from what I can approve): Prague, Czech Republic, Barcelona, Spain, Amsterdam, Netherlands, and Berlin, Germany. All are really dynamic centers of culture and sources of inspiration to me.
3. Peru: That’s because I really want to climb Machu Pichu (:
QP: Any advice for people who are interested in Couchsurfing or traveling solo?
EM: Just go and do it. Take the first chance, don’t doubt, don’t hesitate and don’t prepare for anything. It will be great!
QP: How do you define success?
EM: That is always related to one’s individual goals – for some it might be wealth, charisma, or just picking up countless women on every occasion. For me, success is just a concept or an idea that keeps us going. There will always be someone who is better, faster, or smarter than oneself. That means we are determined to struggle for our success and improve ourselves; not more and not less.
QP: Any upcoming plans (travel, goals, etc) for this year?
EM: Sure, I think I have told you about this really ambitious project of mine, which is basically to buy a motorcycle and just start off. First destination will be Eastern Europe, then over to Turkey, Iran, and then to India – from where I’m going, to either travel to China again, or South East Asia… or both! Further stops could be Australia and South America, as long as my funds are sufficient I will keep on going.
QP: Please describe and explain the most peculiar dish you have eaten. And also, please recommend one dish that you think everyone needs to try, at least once!
EM: I tried those stewed worms or maggots once in Korea… It’s rather a snack than a meal, but I really liked it! Couple of years ago, I would never have imagined I could swallow that stuff without vomiting (; But that shows that leaving one’s comfort zone is addictive! One thing I definitely need to recommend is Chinese hotpot. I don’t know how authentic they make it in the States; the original Sichuan one is a must try! Served with plenty of meat, seafood, mushrooms, and various vegetables, everyone can just fish for their favorite pieces and dip it in a self-composed sauce. It makes dining an experience! (:
Before reading Elia’s attached interview questions, he mentioned in his email that he used to apply the quote “Word Hard, Play Hard” to his life. But now, he finds that “All work and no play, makes Jack a dull boy” (The Shining by Stanley Kubrick) to be more appropriate! This quote would definitely have to describe my encounter with Elia perfectly. From what I learned about him, he is in school, and working two jobs. That, however, does not stop him from having a good time with his friends and being a great host! I’m glad to say that my first experience with Couchsurfers was with Elia; and being able to meet someone who is extremely open-minded, easy going, and an all around nice guy. I am inspired by Elia’s work ethic and play ethic! Be on the lookout for him in the future! I have no doubts that Elia will be making his way across the world on his motorbike, very soon.
Thank you, Elia, for allowing me to interview you and feature you on my blog! The pictures featured in this interview are pictures Elia has taken while he was living in China. If you are interested in seeing more pictures of Elia’s life in China, you can go to his blog, where he kept a photolog of most of his adventures. Stay tuned for more featured interviews with other people I’ve met along my journey… who knows, there might be one in a different language coming very soon (;