Casting a Roving Eye on World Travelers

by Matt Vega and Dan Vukelich

Matt Vega and Dan Vukelich are Fathom readers who wrote to tell us about Roving, a video series about young Americans living around the world. They're currently fundraising for the project on Kickstarter. We asked them to tell us about it.

On a recent trip to around Europe, we found ourselves in Berlin, scrambling to catch a train at 7 a.m. to make a flight to Paris. Now this may sound like a run-of-the-mill late train scenario, but if we missed this train, we missed the flight, and a domino effect of bad news would follow.

Gratefully, we're no strangers to travel time woes: Dan is a producer/editor for a notable soccer web show that occasionally travels to cover games. Matt is a media planner by day/ videographer/producer by night, who's traveled extensively overseas and domestically for both work and pleasure. Both of us are based in Brooklyn, a place where just traveling into Manhattan sometimes requires extensive planning and re-routing.

Half-asleep and weighted down by our bags, we were just able to make it on board. It was a packed train, but as luck would have it, we quickly found two seats. We sat down, and the chatty girl sitting across from us started talking. She as an American on vacation with her English boyfriend. They were based in London but were constantly on the go for work. She was a photographer; he was a lawyer.

After introductions, we quickly noticed the gentleman had been bandaged around his knee region, and not very professionally. After inquiring what was wrong, she reluctantly told us how he had hurt his leg at an S&M bar the night before. She noticed our puzzled looks, and explained: "We heard about this legendary S&M bar in Berlin that we just absolutely had to check out." She couldn't recall the name of the bar, and neither of them really looked the bondage part in their very casual yet conservative garb.

"I don't particularly participate in S&M," she said, "but I have always been curious. I literally had to drag him with me. And now he's left like this! Poor baby!" The bandaged British gentleman looked away, clearly disgusted. To make matters worse, the morning after their adventure, he woke up with pink eye. Pure misery.

We sat there, feeling slightly awkward and awestruck by their story of S&M gone wrong, when she told another story about moving from the United States, "one of the best things I have ever done." It was undoubtedly frightening at first, given the  logistical, financial, and cultural hurdles that expats face. She overcame these issues, set up shop in London, and now travels the world logging photos of the people she meets along the way. She was sure that it would have been much harder to get established professionally in her native California due to the level of concentrated competition.

Her stories got us thinking about Americans who actually take the plunge and leave the United States for extended periods of time. Many of our friends who graduated in 2008 are still unable to find work despite their college and graduate degrees. Those with solid careers have found themselves disenfranchised, laid off due to consolidation of the workforce and competition from those willing to work for less money.

We believe that given these realities, it's now more important than ever to consider the world as a platform for success, and to look beyond our domestic comfort zones. Inspired by her story, we went loking for similar stories, and decided to create a web video series called Roving about global wanderers. The series will focus on Americans aged 22-35 who are living and working outside of the US, either by choice or from necessity. The show will span the globe, focus on the expat's daily life, work, and cultural challenges, as well as perspectives of America in 2013 from the outside. We're currently fundraising for the series on Kickstarter, with the hopes of making our way to Santiago, Chile, for our first subject: a 27-year-old Texan who has traveled the globe and has spent the last three years in Santiago as a tour guide. A global wanderer, in other words, who really knows how to explore. Our kind of world traveler.


Donate to their Kickstarter campaign for Roving.