Author Interview - Joe Santini
Joe is currently living on the beautiful, island nation of Sri Lanka. It just so happens that his hometown of Denver, Colorado is on the exact opposite side of the globe (Sorry mom!). He graduated Colorado State University with a degree in business administration, with a concentration in marketing. This, and some sort of misguided confidence, has enabled him to become a freelance marketer here in Sri Lanka where he works with up-and-coming brands and runs the world’s least popular milkshake blog.
"Throughout my travels, I found food to be the best introduction to a culture and the quickest way to forge friendships."
At GoAbroad, we’re all meaningful travel experiences. Share with us your most meaningful experience to date. What made it meaningful?
It’s tough to choose! As much as I would love to declare my semester abroad as the most meaningful, as it was non-stop fun and made me fall in love with travel, I’d say my time spent in Sri Lanka has been more meaningful. There’s a dichotomy to life here that I find addicting. I’ve spent months living within an amazing global community and I’ve spent months learning how to be alone. I’ve balanced three jobs at once and I’ve been unemployed for long stretches. It’s been a whirlwind for so many reasons, good and bad, which is why I think it’s more poignant. Let’s just say I have an answer to every possible interview question thanks to Sri Lanka.
Since this seems to be the great travel dichotomy: would you describe yourself as mountains or beach, and why? (Maybe neither?!)
Honestly, my gut instinct says the beach. Despite growing up nestled beneath the Rocky Mountains, I find the ocean absolutely intoxicating. It’s a world where humans aren’t really meant to be so to love it feels like an act of rebellion. The mountains can be harsh and challenging while the beach is accessible to everyone which is how I would prefer to be described.
Has food played a major role in your travels and in what ways? Is it true you can know a culture through your stomach?
I’m probably the world’s worst foodie; I know very little nutrition, regional delicacies, etc. yet I am relentless in my pursuit of food. Did I mention I run a milkshake blog? Throughout my travels, I found food to be the best introduction to a culture and the quickest way to forge friendships. I once lived with two chefs in Sri Lanka and watching them curate meals and talk the anthropological evolution of food was more entertaining than Jersey Shore season 4. Personally, I think I’m at my best when travelling with someone who knows where to go and what to eat otherwise I’ll happily settle for McDonalds (which I believe to be a greater cultural experience than most people like to admit).
What is the strangest, most unexpected life lessons you’ve learned while traveling?
During my first few weeks in the Czech Republic, I came to the realization that I had forgot to make friends. It sounds a bit crazy but it had been a few years since I had to really make any new, meaningful relationships. I had plenty of excuses as to why I wasn’t connecting with anyone until I came to the conclusion that I was actually being a bit of a prick. It was a strange realization since I always thought of myself as this personable, friendly figure, but until you reach out, shed the facade, and show genuine interest in others, connections are just not going to happen. It’s a lesson I carry everywhere and one I’m so happy I got to experience. My friendships from my semester abroad are still some of my favorites.