Hi, I’m Jules of @finding.jules! A Los Angeles Native, I packed my bags and moved to New York City in search of an art and travel-filled life. I am a lover of words, all things that come in the form of lists, and camping out under the stars. Now more than ever, I aspire to live every day deliberately and intentionally. I aim to write it well and live it well, be it on the road, or anywhere life takes me. I want you to know that there is enough art and poetry in your life to write your story the way you want to write it. I’m currently dedicating this chapter of my life to travel and self-discovery, and I’m excited for you to come along with me.
One of the most common questions I’m asked when I come back from a trip is, “did you feel safe?” Whether I’m traveling solo, or with friends, (especially other women), I feel like any and every place I’ve traveled to can or has posed a threat. Some of my absolute favorite countries, including Turkey and Morocco, have had safety advisories of some sort. But I don’t believe fear or misconceptions should prevent anyone from seeing different parts of the world, nor stop them from experiencing new cultures and people. What’s most important, regardless of where anyone goes, is to be cautious and careful by doing proper research. It’s very important to know the current political climate and policies that are enforced, as well as cultural expectations such as how to dress. Even learning basic phrases like, “Hi, how are you?” and “please and thank you” come a long way. When I first made the decision to go to Turkey, I definitely had reservations. But once I was there, I felt so safe and welcomed by the locals. This doesn’t translate to suddenly letting my guard down, or forgetting I was in a foreign territory, but it definitely made me realize that pushing myself out of my comfort zone is entirely worth it.
Now more than ever, I believe that millennials are traveling so much because they are tired of a life of security and conformity, and they’re finding new ways to push themselves out of their comfort zones. The reward in this is self-discovery and self-awareness. I love seeking humility and being reminded of what a small and tiny human I am in the scale of this world’s magnitude. Traveling has always been a way for me to put things back in perspective and re-evaluate what my life goals or priorities are. I believe that the more you learn about yourself, the more you can give back to your community and contribute to those communities around you. As Jon Krakaur said in Into the Wild, “the very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence, there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.” The idea of having a new and different sun every day is quite the opposite of having a consistent 9 to 5 and working in an office, which, I feel is the expectation of our current culture and a standard of success. But I do believe that more and more people from my generation are starting to prioritize the open road, the romance of youth, and the endless absorption and hunger for knowledge over stability.
In the span of one year, I’ve had the privilege of visiting Morocco twice. And both times that I've gone, I've found new ways to fall in love. There’s an overwhelming sense of enchantment, mystery and wonder in this country. Being at the tip of Africa and a boat ride away from Europe, Morocco is the epicenter of East meets West — the Spanish and French influences are constantly embedding itself on a traditional Arabic and Muslim culture. The mix is alluring in every way, different to anything I’ve ever known. The call to prayer brings me to chills. The bustling streets, noisy with the chatter of five different languages, keeps me alert. It is safe to say, of all the places I’ve ever traveled to, Morocco holds most dear to my heart. Long before I booked my flight there, someone cautiously told me, “Marrakech is known as the city of thieves.” If you don’t know what to expect when going there, the Souks and Medina can be one of the most intimidating and challenging aspects of the city. The store owners and workers can be abrasive and assertive, overwhelming and confrontational (but all in good nature). I’ve quickly learned that you just have to match their aggression. At first I felt rude saying no so many times or being so curt, but they can be so persistent and won’t leave you alone unless you are very clear about what you want. But the bantering can be a game of charm, and the markets are one of the absolute best parts of Marrakech if you let it be.
Another one of my favorite places is Banff National Park, in Calgary, Canada. I took this trip last year, toward the end of summer in 2017. I’ll never forget the way the lakes blush blue, and the mountains kiss the sky, full of more softness and strength than anything I’ve ever known. As I’ve said earlier, one of the main reasons why I travel is to chase humility, to find firsts, and to experience new ways to view this world, in all its glory. I’ve never felt so small, than next to the mountains of Banff. My soul lives for these moments, and I hope I am never too comfortable to stop chasing these moments, or feel like I’ve seen enough, or seen it all. There is just something so serene about being in the here, that allows for reflection and growth. Whenever I plan a trip, I try not to go to the same place multiple times because there are just so many countries out there! But with Banff (and Morocco), I feel a burning desire to return, always. I want to experience Banff in every single season, with the lake frozen over in the winter, with the autumn leaves changing in the fall, with the blooming flowers of the spring — I just feel like it would be a new experience and going to a new place every single season.
People also frequently ask me how I take and edit my photographs. As much as gear and fancy cameras make a difference, I firmly believe that you don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on equipment to get a great photograph. I shot with my iPhone for so long until I decided to purchase my dream camera, the Sony A7rii. But for those that do travel far and often, I highly recommend purchasing at the very least, a point and shoot camera! One of the main reasons why I love taking photographs so much is because I love documenting the beauty of the world around me. And I love being able to look back on my photographs and remember the exact moments I took them. People often say, “pictures don’t do this place justice,” but I want my photographs to do any place I travel to justice, or as close as I possibly can. It’s a hobby turned passion of mine, and I hope to constantly improve on it every day. As a content creator, I also want my photographs to inspire people to visit the same places I’ve visited and encourage them to explore new places!
Jules Nguyen is a Los Angeles Native, who recently moved to New York in search of an art and travel-filled life. She is a lover of words, all things that come in the form of lists, and camping out underneath the stars.