“Begin waking up in the morning with a smile on your face and a can-do attitude. Do not let anyone bring you down,” says Iwona Dziura, traveller, backpacker and author of the book “Dziura
w podróży” in an interview with Brin Best.
When did you first come to live in the UK and what brought you here?
“I first came to the UK in 2012, as a backpacker! After visiting several great places in England and Wales I headed up north to Scotland – to Edinburgh – where I planned to stay just one night before hitting the mountains. However, once I hopped off the bus in Edinburgh and took a first look around, I immediately fell in love with the city and decided to stay there ‘forever’. So I went back to Amsterdam, where I used to live at the time, gathered up all my belongings and moved to the UK. I eventually left Scotland in 2014, travelled and volunteered here and there, before finally settling in London at the end of 2015.”
How easy did you find it to settle into life here? Did you find you were accepted by British people?
“I found it easy compared to places in which I used to live and work (Turkey, Ireland, the Netherlands). First, it turned out I had some friends living in Edinburgh who offered me a room to rent, so I didn’t have to bother myself with looking for accommodation. Second, I spoke quite good English so finding a job was just a matter of time. I’ve always felt welcomed and accepted in the UK. I believe the main reason is that everybody can clearly see and feel that I truly enjoy living here, and I respect and share the British values and attitude to life!”
Describe a typical day in your working life today.
“I have a few jobs, each in a different field. I work as an office administrator in a construction company based in London. I’m also a qualified sports instructor and a freelance journalist. I share my day between various home-based work on my laptop and sport activities at the gym – constantly struggling due to lack of time, as you can imagine!”
It’s clear from your recently published book that you’re an adventurous person. Did this love of adventure begin in childhood? How did it develop in your life?
“It was my parents who sparked a sense of adventure in me. No matter if we travelled abroad, or just to the nearby city, they gave me opportunities and encouraged me to explore. They also supported my childhood passion for competitive sports, especially basketball which I played for eight years. This way I developed adult habits and hobbies. I travel when I have the chance, often on my own. In everyday life I challenge myself with various activities like boot camps, horse-riding, dancing, martial arts and many more. I cannot imagine life without an adrenaline rush!”
Tell us what you’re trying to achieve with your book? What would you say its key messages are?
“First of all, Dziura w podróży (Seriously Silly Adventurer) is a book to make you laugh! However, under the cloak of a silly travel story there is a message:
Leave your comfort zone and start making your dreams come true – NOW! Begin waking up in the morning with a smile on your face and a can-do attitude. Do not let anyone bring you down.
Dziura w podróży explains and popularizes the idea of backpacking, and gives practical tips to those who want to start travelling in this cheap yet joyful way. It encourages readers, especially women, to challenge themselves. My mission is also to show Romania and Moldova the way they really are, contradicting many ridiculous stereotypes, and allowing them to be seen from a different perspective. Finally, I share with readers how my perception of Poland has changed since I started backpacking.”
You recently spoke at the famous Explorers’ Club in Kraków. How was that experience? Is public speaking something you want to develop further?
“It was a great honour for me to be invited by the Explorers’ Club Śródziemie to perform at the iconic venue Piwnica Pod Baranami in Kraków in January. I put my heart into preparing the travel show I performed, so I found it very rewarding to see the amazing audience that completely filled the room. I’m glad I managed to reflect the spirit of my book on the stage. There was an element of surprise, as well as a fair amount of comedy, which generated good laughs from the very beginning of my performance. However, several serious subjects were also raised, and plenty of information given to make sure the educational aspect of the travel show was there too. I was very touched by the great applause and kind words after my show, and would like to take the opportunity to thank everybody for making me feel so special. I enjoy public speaking a lot, and thankfully the comedy elements come naturally to me. I will definitely be looking for opportunities to develop this aspect of my work further.”
In what ways do you think you’ve made a positive contribution to the UK?
“On behalf of myself and hundreds of thousands other Poles working in construction in the UK, I’ll mention just one crucial contribution. The construction sector output in the UK is worth more than £110 billion every year – and contributes 7% to the UK’s Gross Domestic Product.
I think this speaks for itself.”
What are your plans for the future?
“I’ll soon be going on a short trip to the Sahara Desert of Morocco, and cannot wait to ride camels there! I’m also giving a motivational talk at the Think BIG conference in Bristol on 19 March. Then, in May, I’m flying to Warsaw for the biggest book fair in Poland, to promote Dziura w podróży. I also hope to publish a second book and do a few more speaking engagements by the end of this year. But most importantly my plan is to never stop dreaming!”
Copies of the book are available from www.allegro.pl