Hi, I am Nisha, and I have been travelling around the world for the last eight years while working full time!
Over the last ten years, I have been to around 30 countries. I have been chased down by the greek mountain dogs, have been sent back from the border-checks twice, almost got mugged in Paris, actually got mugged in Prague, witnessed a dope high incident in Amsterdam. I have had enough embarrassing encounters for multiple lifetimes.
But I have also fallen in love with the extreme landscapes in Iceland, had an amazing bachelorette in Prague, stayed in an Igloo in Switzerland, witnessed the northern lights in Norway, visited the most pristine mountain villages in Greece and marvelled at the beauty of French Rivera.
Who am I?
Born and brought up in a small town in India, I am a restless human who is always planning a trip. Currently, I work as an engineer in a Green Energy firm in Norway and have a background in computer science, artificial intelligence, and neuroscience. In the last nine years, I have lived in four different countries (India, Germany, Switzerland and Norway) so far and visited many more.
I find it unreasonable when people assume all jobs are boring and unsatisfactory. I love my job and everything that comes with it. I like having a schedule. I like having a team and brainstorming solutions together to real-life problems. I like working on tangible projects whose final products are used in the real world. Among other things, I like having a paycheck coming at the end of the month.
As much as I love my job, my passion for travel is where my obnoxiously detailed planning skills find their release. Since I travel for short breaks, I want to have everything as planned as possible. If I am spending my hard-earned money on a trip, I need to make it as efficient as possible.
How it all started?
While in university, I never thought I would ever visit Europe, leave moving here. All my major life decisions have been taken at a whim. From one day to another, I decided I don’t want to work directly after my bachelor’s degree. I want to study more. The same thing happened during my Master.
While studying the artificially intelligent systems, I wanted to learn more about intelligence, about the human brain. One thing led to another and I found myself applying rigorously to Neuroscience Ph.D. positions.
My first trip to Europe was for a Ph.D. interview. Yes, I got invited to a one week all-expense-paid trip to Switzerland for a graduate school interview. In January 2012, I took the first flight of my life, all the way to Switzerland, the dream destination for many Indians. I mean technically, I took the flight to Doha and then took another flight to Switzerland but let’s flow with it.
I learned more about the outside world in that one week than the rest of my life. I learned that pedestrians have their own traffic lights while crossing roads. I learned that Swiss people like their water to be sparkling. I learned that not all McDonalds around the world offer Mc Aloo Tikki burger (they should though). I learned that Swiss love this dish of hot and molten cheese called fondue. I found myself marveling over every minute detail. I started imagining how my life in Switzerland would be like.
I didn’t get into the graduate program.
But it was too late. The bug had bitten. I couldn’t stop thinking about the world outside my hometown. What do people eat in different countries, what do they wear? What do they joke about?
And then one day, I got an interview call from a graduate school in Munich, Germany. Once again, they invited me and the other 100 students on site. That meant, a month after my Switzerland interview, I had another trip to Germany.
This time I got in!
I moved to Germany in September 2012 to start my Ph.D. While this was one of the most challenging things I have done in my life, I loved it. Anyone doing a Ph.D. can tell you it is more than a job. It is a transformative journey. It is a challenging job where you work 200% and get paid pennies. No wonder many people drop out in between. And when the weeks became too hectic and crazy in research, I found relief on weekends.
I learned about the magical world of the Schengen area. I learned that if I have a residence permit or visa for one of the Schengen countries, I can travel to the rest of them without any additional visa. This was life-changing. For someone from a third world country, this was a jackpot. Not only this made traveling cheaper, but it also made it easier to plan. Want to go to Prague? Great, take this 5-hour bus from Munich? Zurich? 4 hours by train. Everything became accessible. The perfect location of Munich certainly helped.
While travelling became quite frequent, blogging didn’t start until much later. Like the majority of my life decisions, Nerdy Footsteps was born out of a sudden urge. We went to Iceland for our honeymoon and I was mesmerized by how stunning it is. I wanted to share all the beautiful pictures. I wanted to share all my experiences from Iceland. I wanted to share how out-of-the-world the ice caves in Iceland were. How frozen waterfalls look like. And hence this blog was born.
Well, I should have probably introduced my partner before the honeymoon trip to Iceland but here he is now. Kshitij, the love of my life, is also a researcher. He works as a postdoctoral researcher in Norway. After his PhD and postdoctoral research in Switzerland (around six years!), he moved to Norway. Together we are trotting around the world one step at a time.
Through this blog, I want to convince you that you do not need to pick sides. You do not need to quit your job to travel around the world. Nerdy Footsteps is my attempt to give you lots of weekend itineraries, travel tips, travel hacks, and real travel stories. I want to share the itineraries that I have planned meticulously to make the best of every second at the new destination. These have been tested, tried and modified by yours only. I want to share what went wrong, what can go wrong and how to avoid it. I want to share the stunning pictures to help you decide on your next destination. I want to share the budget tips and travel hacks that I have learned over the last ten years.
Why? To transform your hard-earned weekends into magical abode because you deserve it! 🙂
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