1 year Discovery Channel
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Finally, after five intrepid weeks trotting the globe, trying local foods, taking in new sights and creating new memories, the biggest part of my journey as Discovery’s first global Intern has come to an end. Am I sad? A little, but more than anything, I feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude for the opportunity I’ve just had. Six months ago, this was all fun and games, then March rolled around and I found out I had been chosen to represent Discovery internationally, while sharing my experiences with you. Throughout this journey, I was able to explore six countries across four different continents, all equally beautiful in their own way. There were so many amazing memories made, it often feels surreal when reflecting on the trip, but thankfully I had my camera in hand to capture highlight moments every step of the way! Below are some of my favourite moments and the lessons they gifted:
Witnessing the diversity in Singapore, with people of different cultures and religions working together, respecting each others’ differences. Agree to disagree.
Learning to find the beauty in urban environments, cluttered with people. I found buildings with huge creepers growing up the sides providing homes for birds. I experienced a canopy walk on top of the world’s first Super Trees, housing hundreds of plants from around the world. Nature and humanity can and should work together.
Making a local friend in Brooklyn, who showed me the city from his rooftop and then sacrificed his night to accompany a friend and I around his neighbourhood. Never avoid a country based on another person’s experience. Step out of your comfort zone and converse with new people.
Missing a ferry to Staten Island, then stumbling across a random ad for a helicopter ride, which happened to be half price that day as a couple had cancelled last-minute. Acting on impulse (and adrenaline), I jumped on the deal and experienced my first ever helicopter ride over the iconic New York City with my feet dangling off the landing gear, 25,000ft above the city. If your first plan fails, don’t dwell on it, instead make a new one.
Losing my luggage in Iceland, which conveniently held my equipment chargers, clothes and foreign currency (rookie mistake!). I was left to improvise so I used a hotel bath robe to withstand the harsh elements of the Arctic. Never fall victim to circumstance.
Possibly the greatest road trip of my life so far, crossing the famous Great Ring Road which encircles Iceland in a 1.5L hatchback with a fellow Kiwi, passing harsh terrain, arctic-blue ice lagoons, mountainous glaciers and towering waterfalls. Remember to view the world with your own eyes rather than your camera or phones lens from time to time.
Exploring history in Italy. Dining in 2000-year-old Jewish synagogues-turned-wine-cellars in Trastevere; walking the halls of the great St Peters Basilica in the world’s smallest country, Vatican City; and learning about the end of the longest reigning super power of all time, the Roman Empire. Even the greatest things fail if there’s problems within.
Going back in time to a place where industrialisation doesn’t exist, hiking from town to town in Cinque Terre under the warm Mediterranean sun, using no cars and enjoying locally grown foods for dinner from locals who still follow simple, “outdated” traditions of the past to live. Self sustainability doesn’t always come from wealth.
Trading a night out in the city for a hazy orange sunset on the oldest bridge in Florence with my partner, enjoying some pistachio flavoured gelato alongside other globetrotting couples. The best things in life are free.
Returning to London, a multi-cultured city struck by a series of unfortunate events, only to find its inviting charm and social culture still alive and well. Choose love not fear.
Meeting alternative locals from the psychedelic days of Woodstock in a sunny beach town south of London, then downing a cider on the beach, watching the full moon rise, illuminating the placid waters of the English channel, followed by a day hiking the chalk-white Seven Sisters at the break of dawn. England isn’t just grey and gloomy.
Visiting five different bases around the world and the official headquarters of the Discovery Networks, spending time with the employees and hearing their stories, and of course having the honour of hosting their global John Hendricks Innovation Awards at 1am! Always step outside of your comfort zone – and have fun while you’re doing it!
Finally, meeting all the people I’ve created memories with on this trip. I know in this day and age, it’s easy to blame society and people for the wrongs of the world, but I truly think there’s so much good out there. From what we’re shown digitally, it’s easy to paint a cynical picture of the way the world is and the people in it, but we have to remember the good. The good that’s never televised or broadcast, the good that’s overlooked and under-appreciated, the contagious smiles that trigger a string of positive emotions; all of these things are easily brushed under the rug. I think it’s fair to say that as humans, we tend to be antipathetic and dismissive of all the positives around us, only to home in on the negatives. But this journey has shown me that it’s the little things we all do for each other that count. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a material item or anything tangible, just time, undivided attention and thoughtfulness. As mentioned above, I was often met and welcomed by complete strangers who were more than happy to help in anyway possible, who showed me all these things through action.
Also, seeing and learning the history and cultures that completely contrast each other has inspired me to continue to story tell using all the different media I can. Coming from a less fortunate background, surviving on the bare minimum, to seeing the world and being humbled in the presence of those who lack daily essentials has really put things in to perspective for me. This is what I love and why I pursue travel wholeheartedly, because there can never be a price tag on moments, and life should be lived doing what you love; it’s all possible.
I hope I’ve shared some meaningful stories of my experiences with you from around the world during this journey and ultimately have provided some sort of inspiration. Lastly, thank you to Discovery for the amazing opportunity to go out and share what I love with the world, it’s been an absolute pleasure!
Discovery Intern, signing out (for now).
– Ben Mikha
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From Thursday 7 December
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