Monday 21st of December 2020, four days before Christmas… and already the last article of my Advent Calendar! I had a lot of fun testing different writing styles for all these short posts, and I hope you enjoyed reading them. For this last one, I’m going to write about a very personal subject: me! I don’t often show my face on this website or on social media, so I thought that it was a good occasion to do it for the first time.
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For those who don’t know me at all, my name is Matthias; I was born in Saint-Nazaire on the French Atlantic coast in January 1988, which means that I’ll turn 33 in less than a month (you can send your birthday wishes by private message 😉). My father recently went through a lot of ancient pictures, so here’s a selection of photos of young me that he found.
I think I owe my parents my curiosity and my appetite for hiking. As far as I can remember, we always walked and explored a lot during our holidays. Overall, I had quite a normal childhood; I had good grades at school, I played football with my friends, and I was a happy kid. As I liked to run a lot, my parents signed me up in an athletics team, which was I very good idea. I was relatively successful in long jump or sprint at a regional level when I was young, and even if I’m not competiting anymore, I still go for a run at least twice a week.
I spent my first 19 years in Saint-Nazaire, and then moved to Rennes in Brittany for my studies, one and a half hours away from home. I studied chemistry and eventually graduated as a chemical engineer in 2010, after two internships, one in Germany (my mother’s country, even though she now has the French nationality) and one in Quimper, a little city west of Brittany.
It took me a little while before finding a job; almost eight months after my graduation. But during spring 2011, I began a new chapter of my life as I moved to Switzerland, more specifically to the little town of La Chaux-de-Fonds, close to the French border in the Jura mountains. Winters were extremely hard there (it could snow as early as in September, and as late as in May, and temperatures often dropped below -15°C) so after a year I moved to Neuchâtel, a larger city down in the valley where the weather was much more enjoyable (even though I still had to drive for half an hour to my chemistry lab in La Chaux-de-Fonds every day).
I stayed five years in Switzerland, and I liked it a lot. I spent many weekends exploring the country, hiking in the mountains or visiting the cities. I also went skiing for the first (and only so far) time of my life, and I signed up for the local athletics team where I met some great people. But I eventually got bored, for many reasons, professionally and personally. After a few months thinking about what I wanted to do, I decided to leave and took a plane to the other side of the world.
My Australian adventure began at the end of June 2016. This was the trip that changed everything. For one year, I did dozens of things I never expected to do: I drove thousands of kilometres alone in my van; I discovered the hostel life; I worked as a barista, in an orchard, as a fundraiser (for one day); I lived 3 months in a sharehouse with 11 other people from all around the world. I learned a lot about myself, and I found out that I could never go back to the life I had before. I still see these 12 months as the best of my life, and I miss Melbourne and Australia every single day.
It’s at the end of this trip that I launched this website, after meeting a few people who inspired me a lot. I already had a blog on which I described my everyday life in Australia, but at some point it felt like I wanted to do something different than this quite basic project. That’s how Inside My Backpack came to life.
When I went back to Europe, I knew I didn’t want to go back to Switzerland but I still had no clear idea about what my future would be like, so I decided that it was too early to settle down somewhere and I kept on travelling. I road tripped around Europe, went to Canada, to Hawaii, I worked in a restaurant in Auckland for a couple of months, I went back to Australia, I spent six weeks exploring New Zealand, flew to Japan during the cherry blossom season, and eventually, after another month and a half of road trip in the United States, I went back home to France.
It was at that moment that I began my conversion, far away from the chemistry field I came from. I had the opportunity to work for the summer at the Tourist Office of Saint-Nazaire, and I absolutely loved it. It was a door that I opened, and I still haven’t closed it yet. A few months later, as I was back in Melbourne but quite unsure about what I really wanted to do, a permanent position opened up at the Tourist Office of my home town. I applied, got hired, and I’m still happily working there today.
What future will be like, I have no idea, especially during such an uncertain period. All I can say is that I’m currently working on a new project, but I will tell you more about it soon… And if you want to know anything else about me, just ask me in the comments!
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