• Kajsa Sagebrand

INTERVIEW: Matilda Engdahl, living and studying abroad, Sydney Australia

Name: Matilda Engdahl

Profession: Studying a bachelor’s degree in Business and Marketing, and work as a barista for Fika Bondi beach (a beautiful little Swedish café)

Location: Bondi Beach, Sydney, Australia

Matilda, for those who don’t know you, can you please describe yourself with 3 sentences. 

A positive and bubbly girl with a strong passion for traveling and meeting new people. I have a strong belief that everything will work out and that I can do whatever I set my mind to, and that makes me brave in my life decisions. I am very goal-orientated, resilient, and love growing both personally and professionally.

Explain your perfect morning! 

I wake up very early and have a little moment by myself for writing, such as in my calendar, journaling, or other types of life reflection, and then I make up a plan for the day and what I want to get done. Then I head down to the beach and watch the sunrise with my boyfriend Morgan, with a coffee in my hand. After that, I head to the gym before I finish with a nice breakfast and start my day.

Who’s your role model?

My dad. The most amazing, inspiring, funny, ambitious, and caring person. He taught me from a very early age that “Everything is possible, if you only want it bad enough”.

When you have an hour for yourself, what do you prioritize to do?

Some sort of exercise, depending on the day. Yoga, a nice run along the beach or the gym.

What is your all-time favorite song?

Midnight City with M83. It always makes me feel so excited!

What would you say to your 18-year-old self?

Care way less about what other people think, you are in charge of your own happiness and you can achieve anything you want. Also, always remember that there’s no other way to measure success, then in happiness.

I, Kajsa, have been following you on Instagram for years and have always been impressed by your traveling and also to all the places you travelled to and how easily, it has looked like, for you to adapt to new places, finding jobs and places to stay.

Tell us what you are up to at the moment! You have been traveling for years and have now ended up in Sydney to study, how did it all happen and how long are you planning on living in Sydney?

I certainly love traveling and have been on the move for years and years. I am so driven by discovering new places and meeting new people. Personally, I think understanding different people and cultures is one of the best educations you can get. For me, it has been so important to develop the independence of being able to survive and create life anywhere. However, I have always had a special love for Australia, and I always wanted to go back here at some point. I think both me and Morgan came to a point where we were ready to settle down, and 7 months ago, we moved back to Sydney. I have been wanting to study now for a while, but I did not want to move back to Sweden, so here we are! I am also currently working as a barista for a Swedish café here in Bondi Beach called Fika. I wanted to do something nice and not too stressful next to my studies that were nearby, and it could not be a more perfect fit! Morgan and I will be here for at least another 2,5 years (my degree is 3 years).

Australia is a dream destination!

What made you go travel to Australia in the first place in 2017? Did you then have a plan for how long you were going to be out? 

I knew for a long time that I wanted to go traveling when I graduated High School, so I did. However, I traveled around the world for 5 months and then came home and started working with my own photography business full time. I thought that was going to be it, but once I got the taste for it, settling down in Sweden did not really appeal to me anymore. So, I came back after my 5 months of traveling, worked with my business for a year, then I decided I was just going to travel to Australia and the surroundings for a year and come back home, but here I am 3 years later. I just never came back hehe!

Booth of us is actually from the same small area in Sweden and I can relate with the feeling of wanting to see more, travel, and expand. 

What were you doing before traveling? Tell us about your background in Sweden and your passion and jobs within photographing! 

Together with my strong passion for traveling, I have always loved photography. And one day after I turned 18, I started my own business. This was something I had dreamt about my entire life and knew I was going to do. I worked with it hard and after I came back from those 5 months’ travels, I was able to do it full time. I worked a lot with real estate photography, different marketing jobs, and weddings. I loved it so much, but for some reason, I just did not feel 100% satisfied. When I left everything to go to Australia, so many people questioned me “You have built up all of this, are you just going to leave?”. But I knew that if I had done that once, I could always do it again. And my heart told me to go back out in the world! Photography is however still a big part of my life, but now as a big hobby instead.

We are missing traveling like we were used to but are also thankful for all the places we have visited so far. 

With all the places you have been to, give us your top 3 destinations and why! 

Hard one! 1. Australia – I must say Australia! Simply because it is an enormous country and you can find everything here – there is so much to see! But it is also an incredible country to live in, the quality of life is just amazing. 2. Fiji – One of the most beautiful countries I have ever seen, and they also have the most incredible people. We have so much to learn from them! 3. Vietnam – Packed with so much history and interesting people, and absolutely stunning nature! Everything from mountains to beaches, very adventurous.

During your traveling have you also been working, what kind of different jobs have you been working within?

My first job abroad was in Australia, working in sales for a travel agency called Happy Travels. It was incredibly fun. I was working together with other outgoing people my age from all over the world. Then I continued to work for the same company in New Zealand as well. It taught me a lot about sales and business, and I also got to do plenty of activities for free (since it was a travel agency). For example, I think I have jumped at least 15 Bungy jumps, 4 skydives, and taken different helicopter tours over glaciers and fjords. It was absolutely fantastic. Then I went to southeast Asia and did some volunteer work. Together with Morgan we were teaching English to children outside Chang Mai in Thailand, we worked on a remote beach resort on Koh Rong in Cambodia (without electricity, running water, or wi-fi) and we also managed a hostel on Gili Trawangan outside of Bali. All of these jobs were great and memorable experiences. Now I’m back in Sydney and working as a barista for the Swedish café Fika, which I also love!

We believe that is so interesting with personal development and how growing and changing perspectives come by traveling and living abroad.  

What has been your biggest learning from living abroad?

That you can do whatever you want, and that life should not be so complicated. There are no such things as “musts”, you create your own musts. Small or big dreams - they are all possible. But also, as mentioned above, that there is no other way to measure success than in happiness.

You started your own company at 18 and has been working as a photographer back in Sweden before you started to travel.

Tell us more about being a Business and Marketing student! How is studying in Sydney, Australia? Was studying Business something you always wanted to do and was Sydney, Australia your first choice? 

It is really great! I first started getting into business when I ran my own business in Sweden. I loved photography (and I still do!), but I loved the part of running and developing my own business almost more, including the marketing part. When I later started working for Happy Travels, I realized how much I enjoyed sales, and that I was really good at it. I knew I wanted to study at university at some point, I have always enjoyed school and learning. Business and marketing seemed like a perfect choice, and when living in New Zealand (even though I loved that as well!) I realized how much I loved Australia and wanted to go back to the sun and beach in Sydney. I wanted to study, and I really wanted to go back to Australia, so it just made sense! It is a fun degree. I was very nervous to study in English first (my second language after Swedish), but now I am so used to it.

To put your plans into action can be scary and hard. 

What is your best advice to someone who has been thinking of traveling, or studying abroad? How did you find your courage? 

Honestly, just do it! Book a flight and then there is no going back. ;) Life I just too short not to. Regardless of how scary and difficult it might seem; you will make it work! If I can, you can. I truly believe there is nothing that will make you grow more as a person, and I swear that you will never regret doing it. And even if you would, just go back home again. It really is not harder than that. Just book that flight, that will be the hardest part. Regardless of what people around you say; “You can’t just leave your apartment/house”, “you can’t just leave your job/studies”. Yes, you can! That’s exactly what I did. Believe in yourself, you WILL make it work.

We love to hear about other people’s visions and get inspired by other people’s dreams.  

When you are thinking of the future, what are you visioning and dreaming about? Booth careerwise and personally! 

That is such a hard question! Traveling has really taught me to go with the flow, take things as it comes, and do what I want at the moment. I do know that I will continue to study for another 2,5 years, and I will definitely stay at Bondi beach for that time. After that, however, I really don’t know. I am not sure whether I want to go back to Sweden or stay in Australia. I would like to work with something in marketing/business where I can still use my creative side. Maybe I want to start my own business again. I just know that whatever I decide to do, it will be something really great. I really want to have children and settle down at some point, but there is still quite some time until that would happen. There are still so many places me and Morgan need to visit!

Thank you, Matilda! Find out more about Matilda here!