"One word of advice: Less bottle popping and more country hopping!" [Interview 12 - Ced]
Social media consumption is one thing I try to be very mindful of. As an online-based content creator and entrepreneur, maintaining a social presence is undoubtedly non-negotiable. Getting caught up in the virtual world of followers, likes, distractions, and other people's lives is a slippery slope that I want no parts of.
But on the beautiful side of this ultra-connected universe, social media has quickly become an incredibly powerful tool for us to launch platforms and make our dreams come true, almost barrier-free. Thanks to Twitter, FB, and IG, I’ve found community even in the furthest places from home. I’ve made friends and maintained connections with vibrant, one-of-a-kind souls that I’m beyond grateful to have encountered.
Cedric (Ced) Hutchison is one of these people. A friend introduced us on IG when she saw that Ced and I were both living in Kuala Lumpur. Before we knew it, he and I were hanging out with the squad in KL’s infamous rooftop pools and lounges, living it up like old friends.
An explorative teacher who’s already traveled to over 20 countries in just 3 years since obtaining his passport, Ced’s making his mark by inspiring people with his authentic stories and photos from his adventures around the world. Below, he shares about taking the leap to change his life, the power of social media, and how he wants to make a lasting impact.
Tell us a bit about your journey around the world. How long have you been traveling, how you sustain it, and what's your favorite experience you've had while traveling so far?
My journey around the world thus far has been extremely enriching. I left the states August 2016 and I've only returned once for a surprise visit last Thanksgiving. Since moving abroad I've been working in education as a teacher. I've taught preschoolers, elementary-aged students, preteens and now college students. This has allowed me to learn and experience many different cultures and I'm truly thankful for it. Through teaching abroad I've been able to see 21 countries in 18 months.
My favorite experience would have to be when I went to Seoul, South Korea and reconnected with family I hadn't seen in almost 10 years, as well as meeting new relatives. My grandmother was Korean and migrated to the states in the 70's. Over the years she lost touch with her family and only reconnected with them once before passing away in 2006. Since I was living in China at the time, my mom came to visit me, so we went and visited our family in Seoul.
This was also extremely special to her because she hadn't returned home in 20 years and the last time she visited was with her mother, so it was very sentimental for her. I felt as though this trip was essentially me traveling to my motherland for the first time since I had never stepped foot on South Korean soil. The trip was everything you could imagine a family reunion to be. Full of smiles, hugs, tears, dances and most importantly amazing food. I still feel blessed for having this opportunity.
What fear(s) or reservations did you have before moving abroad, and what made you overcome them?
A fear or reservation I had before moving abroad was whether I'd quickly make friends, where would I get my haircut (important!), and whether I'd find other black people.
It's crazy because the internet is so powerful. Through social media I actually connected with other expats who were already living in China which made the transition easier. They coached me on everything to look for in a job, what kind of jobs to avoid as well as picking the right schools to work at and neighborhoods to live in.
What made me overcome my fears was the yearning to be completely out of my comfort zone. One of the things I looked forward to the most was everything being completely different from what I was used to. I was excited about getting lost, wandering aimlessly in a foreign country... so I knew any fear or reservation I had would eventually pass. Before moving I just told myself every obstacle I will face will be a part of the process and make me a better man.
You’ve been able to attract an engaged IG audience through sharing your adventures so vibrantly and magnetically. Was that intentional? How important is having a platform, growing your online presence, and sharing your story with the world?
Thank you, it definitely wasn't intentional. I knew I wanted to showcase my story and travels but I never thought my audience would grow in a way that it did.
Since I've been traveling one thing I've noticed is the lack of black Americans abroad. I meet tons of people from Europe, Asia and Africa that have left their homelands to venture and grow and I truly feel the lack of an African American presence. In my opinion, it's just not ingrained in our culture.
My dream is to eventually own a nonprofit that helps young African Americans study or live abroad through home-stays or study abroad programs. Therefore, I find having a platform to show my experience is really important.
I try to be extremely welcoming and transparent about my experiences, and show that through my posts. I've been lucky to have some big travel pages feature my posts as well as being invited to a couple different Instagram hubs which have really helped me promote myself to many different people.
In terms of feeling fulfilled - how much does your environment affect your level of happiness? Has switching the scene up help you raise your quality of life at all?
I didn't realize how much my environment affected my level of happiness, until I wasn't happy. I bring this up often, but I lived in Prague for 4 miserable months and the one thing I just couldn't shake was the weather and environment. Before I left Asia to go to Europe I did a two week backpacking trip in which I was on the beach everyday for 14 days.
Leaving Bali and exchanging my swim trunks for sweatshirts was a horrible decision because I literally dreamed of being on the beach daily. In Prague, I was extremely cold and just didn't feel like myself. For some reason I couldn't connect with the culture there and found myself drinking all the time, which was probably a result of it being the beer capital of the world.
Being part Korean, I feel super connected to Asia and the entire time there all I could think about was getting back which is why I decided to apply for positions and move to Kuala Lumpur. After about 2 weeks of applying, I accepted a contract and was on the first flight out of Europe. The second best decision I've ever made in my life, the first being leaving America.
I'd say switching up the scene has definitely allowed me to be happier and having a better quality of life. Believe it or not, once upon a time ago I was a gym rat so I find myself getting back to those healthier ways. The food and lifestyle is a lot healthier in Malaysia which is one of the things that attracted me to this city. Overall, I'm much happier now than I was in Europe.
What's one tip you'd give a peer who also wants to drastically change their life by moving abroad?
My tip would be to just do it. Especially if you're young and in your 20's. You'll never get this time again and home isn't going anywhere. Being away from home I don't feel as though I'm missing a single thing. A lot of my friends are still doing the same stuff we were doing a couple of years ago and that's just a routine I'd never want in my life again. I love being an expat. Everyday is a new experience and I'm never bored.
I can say hello in 15 different languages and I've met friends from all over the world that I could visit tomorrow. Traveling and living abroad is easily the most rewarding experience I've ever had. One word of advice, "Less bottle popping and more country hopping!"