Meet Jasmine Mah, Canadian native and creator of Questa Dolce Vita. Jasmine currently lives in Italy with her fiancé and is inspired by all things travel and food. Here, Jasmine explains her travel style and her very own inspirations to living the expat life.
What inspires you to travel?
I caught the travel bug after doing a three month volunteer abroad trip to Nepal. I was eighteen at the time and ended up travelling solo to India and Europe afterwards, meeting so many expats who had seen so much of the world. I used to sit at the bar with them and listen like a wide-eyed little kid to all their stories and I knew I wanted to be able to one day tell my own stories and inspire people to travel.
When did you start your blog? What are three pieces of advice you have for budding travel bloggers?
I started the blog last summer when I was in Italy prepping to move and looking at wedding venues with my mom because I wanted to document the entire process of packing up, quitting my job, etc. For travel bloggers, I think it’s key to find your own voice and writing style, there’s so many out there so you kind of have to find something unique to your situation. Blogging about topics that haven’t been touched on by many bloggers is also important, for example venture out to lesser known towns or cities. Finally, I’m by no means a professional photographer but I certainly prefer to peruse travel blogs with inspiring photography, all you need is a decent point and shoot camera. Oh another tip is to blog about mix of amazing things as well as frustrating experiences or travel mishaps, it brings a blog more down to earth because travel isn’t all sunsets and Eiffel towers.
Where did you get your love for food and creating your own recipes?
I think that my love of food comes from my Chinese background, we’re all about the food! My grandma is just an amazing cook and she’s always been my role model because my grandpa used to say that before they came to Canada, she didn’t even know how to boil water. Which just goes to show that we are entirely able to re-invent ourselves and indulge in passions that we might not even be naturally good at. Luckily, being passionate about food and cooking is a necessity in Italy! I like creating or modifying recipes because it’s a way for me to be creative and inventive. I’ve always been an artist and cooking is just another art form.
What is your favorite part about traveling?
My favorite part about traveling is the food. I guess that’s why I was destined to move to somewhere like Italy that is famed for its food. To me, there’s no better way to really discover a culture than to taste what has sustained its people through history. Food truly brings people together, everyone is equal at a table. Most of my treasured travel memories are food-related: eating a dozen Portuguese custard tarts in Lisbon from Pastéis de Belém, peeling away buttery layers of croissant in Paris, downing vodka shots with salted cod on the Trans Siberian Railway, and (you’ll like this one) balancing a loco moco plate on my knee outside Rainbow Drive-In in Honolulu, Hawaii. The list goes on!
You have a huge love for food, how do you stay so fit?
Isn’t red wine supposed to be equivalent to going to the gym?
What do you enjoy writing about most?
I most enjoy writing about the Italian culture from an outsider’s perspective, mainly because a lot of the time it ends up being quite comedic. Every culture has its little nuances that make it unique but strange to a non-native so it’s fun to write commentary on those often-embarrassing cultural slip-ups.
What is the one thing you cannot travel without?
I absolutely cannot travel without dry shampoo. Seems really silly but it is a literal life saver. While I loved backpacking, I hated looking like a backpacker. I was more into the backpacking with heels movement, so dry shampoo is an essential if you want to go from the hostel to the hottest club in town.
How did you get into travel writing/blogging?
I got into blogging the way that most expats do, with the initial intention of keeping friends and family back home up-to-date without having to write fifty different e-mails. From there, I started to realize that there’s a whole community of travel writers and bloggers and “future-expats” who love reading about what it’s like to live abroad.
What’s next for you? What are your future travel plans?
I’ve just started tutoring English at a private school and English consulting, the typical expat route but I’ve always loved teaching so it’s perfect. We’ve just come back from a weekend in Florence actually. Our future travel plans include going to Sicily at the end of May, to a Hozier concert in Pistoia, Italy in June, to see AC/DC in both London, England and Oslo, Norway in July, and finally we have a wedding to attend in Ireland in August! So quite a mixed bag of destinations, but one of the perks of living in Europe.
What do you like most about being in a new place?
I’m a little strange, but I have to say it’s the not-knowing that I like the most. All the aspects of not being comfortable. I love that sometimes, I could find myself in a situation where I don’t yet know the word for something in Italian. It’s kind of like a mini-adrenaline rush every time that happens but so rewarding when you overcome it as well.
What song is always on your travel playlist?
I’ve always loved Marc Cohen’s Walking in Memphis and actually, the lyrics are somewhat travel-related!
What other hobbies do you have aside from travel, writing and cooking?
Does eating count as a hobby? Besides all that, I also like to paint and read. I’d been doing more of the latter until recently as I was waiting for my brushes and paints to make their way from Canada. I get really obsessive about reading- I used to insist on only buying hardcopy books but being in Italy, it’s hard to find English language books so now I’ve fully embraced both my Kindle and Kobo.