Interview with Pilar Noriega of ‘Lifestyle Hunter’

Pilar Noriega, Lifestyle Hunter founder, is an ex-strategy consultant and addicted to travel. She has been able to travel studying, working and participating in volunteer projects throw different countries in Africa, Asia, Central America, Europe, and North America. She has more than 19,000 fans on Instagram and over 2,500 followers on Facebook.

On her website, you can find tools on how to improve your professional career to have a better lifestyle, how to win work-abroad internships and sections about travel, lifestyle and finances.

#1 Of the 17 countries you have visited, which of them would you particularly highlight or recommend?

India! It is a very interesting country where on the one hand I felt my first “cultural shock” but on the other, I left with one of the best experiences I ever had. I have had the fortune of being able to know 4 continents and in all the trips I felt in some way “normal”, in fact, I did not understand because the people said that they had “cultural shocks” because to me I love to know other cultures and I consider myself adventurous traveling alone, doing extreme sports and eating everything from among many other things. But India was something totally different, on my first day I arrived in Mumbai and it was very hot, the streets were chaotic and I felt that they ran over me in every step of the way, men were dressed in turbans and robes and some women were covered from head to toes. This was completely different from my life in the city. But also on my first day, I was hit by heavy rain and I was left alone in an unsafe neighborhood.

Fortunately, all this took a turn as I met friends who showed me Mumbai and New Delhi and all culminated by participating in a volunteer project in Dharamshala where I met an incredible group of volunteers from Canada, Spain, France, India and Italy. We had an amazing time helping in a school and venturing up the Himalayas and visiting the Golden Temple.

#2 Do you have any interesting or funny anecdote during your travel trips that would you like to tell us?

When I went on a study Exchange to Vienna, the University had a program called “Buddy Program” linking to Austrian students with expats students, so me and another girl Mexican we were introduced to 4 Austrian boys that us help us with emails since we were in Mexico also to pick us up at the airport and then show us Vienna and had fun on parties throughout the semester.
In particular one of them, Lucas, became one of my best friends and among the many experiences, we went on a Road-trip throw many European countries.
At the end of the exchange, Lucas got an internship at the city of Mexico and I offered myself to help him and if he needed a place to stay where you could come to my house. The only detail is that I was going to still stay 1 month in Europe and he was going to Mexico, so he went to Mexico and ended up living with my mom haha, a somewhat rare situation but the good thing is that everything worked very well. When I went back to Mexico and the 3 of us were living together which was the best.

# 3 After participating in 9 projects about studying, working and volunteering abroad what do you take from the experiences?

Friends from all over the world. I could say that I have been able to develop personally and that all the projects in which I have participated have been very different. I have been living with people who have the goal to travel with a purpose. I have found incredible people who have inspired me to travel more and to learn about life. I love that with many I continue to message them or keep in contact with their lives through social networks. Seeing them doing different things motivates me to keep looking for more experiences and now that I’m going back to Europe I will find many of them for which I am very excited about.

#4 Which countries are you planning to visit next?

My plan is to go to several countries in Europe and Africa, I am very excited because first I will do a Euro-tour arriving in Spain and then going to Hungary, passing throw Austria to the wedding of one of my best friends and from there to Czech Republic, Germany, England and France.
Then I will stay in Malta for a month because I won an English course internship and after finishing the course I will go to Italy and from there to Africa. I will visit Egypt and Tanzania to finish in South Africa where I will stay one or several years to work.

#5 In which volunteering, study or work programs are you planning to participate in?

I will tell you about the 3 types of programs:

Study programs:
in Malta, I will study an English course for one month thanks to a scholarship I just won.

Volunteer Programs:
in Egypt, Tanzania, and several European countries I will be collaborating with different organizations and businesses through the website

Work Programs:
I have just obtained the Critical Skills Work Visa to work in South Africa. Very briefly I will tell you that there is a list of professions that are needed in South Africa so if you studied any of them you can obtain a visa that will allow you to work in the country for a year (without necessarily having a previous employment contract). So you can enter the country, get the job and have the possibility to renew the visa for up to 5 years. In my case, I obtained the visa because I studied Actuary.

# 6 What are your mid-long term dreams? Where would you like to see yourself in a few years time?

After working for about 1 year in South Africa (or more depending on how much I love that country), my dream is to study a master’s degree in a top ranked worldwide university. I still have not decided in which country I would like to do it but I am thinking about an MBA or a Masters in Finance.
After finishing the master’s degree, I would like to work on something that really makes an impact, whether working in a large company, NGO, international organization or undertaking, I would like to do something that makes a change and helps others. And well I would also love to start a family and have about 4 children 🙂

#7  With your experience in projects around the world could you give us advice for those who are thinking about living abroad but do not dare?

Trying not to say the typical cliché of “travel changes your life, leave your comfort zone etc …”, I will say that I think we do not know if we have only one life so we have to take full advantage of it. Personally, I can say that the times when I have been happier is when I have been traveling, whether I am studying, working or just being a tourist abroad I feel truly free every time I do it.
There are many stages in life and some people do not travel because they are afraid to leave their student routine or a safe job to which I can say that these activities can be done in the same way abroad.
In addition to wanting to stick to the routine, many do not travel because they think it is very expensive but I can also tell you that there are ways in which you should not spend a lot, whether earning scholarships, working in programs abroad, or being a volunteer to travel with lodging and food covered. Opportunities exist, it’s just a matter of looking for them and doing our best to get them.

Feel free to follow Pilar and her future projects on social media:

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I write for curious and independent travelers that would like to maximise their time and costs, even having a full time job and not "so many holidays".

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