Sami Van Mathis is a published author, English teacher, YouTuber and passionate traveler, seeing 50 countries already and planning on experiencing so much more in the near future.
Born in San Francisco, California, she knew at a very early stage, that she wanted to learn more about the world, to see different cultures and meet new people. This thirst of knowledge took Sami to the vibrant New York, that was quite a different change of scenery from the sunny California. Soon after that, she received a job in Italy and it was then when the true adventure begins.
From Italy to Turkey, Albania to Croatia, Poland and Netherlands, Sami has lived in many countries, experiencing different cultures and learning more about the world and herself with every new story that unfolds.
We should celebrate every body type! There are things that we can’t control. I can’t control my skin color, my hair, my body type… We should all get to love ourselves!Sami Van Mathis
It was such a pleasure to meet her in Bucharest and talk about travels, cultures, body image, confidence and so much more. We met in the Old Town, on a beautiful sunny day and I loved the instant connection that we had and her joyful vibrant spirit.
Hi! It’s so great to meet you! You chose a perfect place!
Sami: Me too! Thank you! I’ve always wanted to try this cafe and the terrace is gorgeous!
They also have a great Aperol Spritz here! 🙂
S: Perfect! A great way to end my stay here in Bucharest. I will be heading to Timisoara tomorrow and then back to Netherlands.
You will love Timisoara. It’s a gem! What are your future travel plans?
S: I will probably go back to California for a couple of months and then I plan to visit Taiwan and South Korea next year, in Spring. I also have to return to Japan, because it’s so amazing! You would love it!
I think I would! Sounds like a great plan and I feel so lucky to have met you here. Thank you for being part of the “Your body is right” project!
You have seen and experienced many cultures. Were there any common things in the behavior of both men and women when meeting them for the first time?
S: Most countries have patriarchy and this reflects in the behavior of both men and women. Men are less likely to go against the status quo, they will act as expected. On the other hand, women are more open. They want to meet new people, new cultures and have new experiences. Maybe we are on a verge of a global awakening! I have met lovely people all over the world, but women have been more genuine. They didn’t have any hidden thoughts or desires and I knew that what I see is what I get.
Have you seen any differences in countries that have had a more restricted regime in the recent past, like Poland and Romania?
S: Yes, you can sense that people might have had restrictive parents or restrictive childhoods that left a mark on their behavior today, but this will change pretty soon. Younger generations are more confident and open minded. We have access now to all this information, we travel, we exchange ideas and trends with people all over the world, so the next generations will be so different and free. Another thing that I admire at the younger generation is that they take pride of education. Before, you might have been seen as a geek, but now young people love to be informed, they take lots of courses and they are proud of all the skills they have and acquire.
Back in the 90s, when I saw for the first time MTV and later on McDonald’s, I have associated US with freedom. How was growing up in California for you?
S: This economic boom that we have experienced in the 90s and the triumph of capitalism, fueled by globalization, came with a curse: You are not good enough. You have to be more! This is still present nowadays and even though there are so many campaigns of empowerment, especially for women, big companies still use this hidden psychology to sell their products. They make you say: I won’t be whole if I don’t have this product.
Did this impact your confidence when you were a teen?
S: Yes, on some levels and I am sure they still have impact on teenagers nowadays. But now, there is more information, there are many different examples, diversity is celebrated and we learn not only to tolerate, but to love the differences between us. When I was in high-school, things were more straightforward. You either looked like the popular kids or you weren’t a popular kid. Didn’t you have these in high school?
Yes, there were popular students, but the differences were not so big, at least in high-school, because we used to wear a uniform.
S: That is indeed better, because we had the rich kids who would show off their new clothes and then there were the modest ones who couldn’t afford fancy clothes and that deepened the gap between those categories. I also had an eating disorder back then and this didn’t help with my popularity level. I was curvy, I had curly hair which was again rare in my class and they used to call me buck teeth. I was so different from them!
I love your hair! I would have loved to have curly hair!
S: Thank you! We tend to want what we don’t or can’t have, don’t we? I believe that sometimes they were just jealous. You look at someone who is different and you make fun of them because you do not know how to react. Many times, it is about jealousy. This is true even later on in life, but it doesn’t affect you anymore. After an age you stop caring and you don’t need any approval. You get to love yourself and regain your confidence.
When was that moment for you?
S: The moment when I truly have started loving myself was when I was 23 or 24. I have started dating a wonderful Latin American who loved my curves and my body, so I have started to love them too! We would go out for dinner and I have started enjoying eating normal, without stressing out too much and embracing my curves and my body. We should celebrate every body type! There are things that we can’t control. I can’t control my skin color, my hair, my body type. We should all get to love ourselves and our beautiful diversity. The world would be boring otherwise…
That’s so true! You have recently published a book. Please tell me more!
S: It’s called The Adventures of Rebel Spencer Book One: The Unexpected Voyage and you can get it now from Amazon. It’s about a red-haired girl called Rebel Spencer who leaves Earth to explore the galaxy with her best friends. It’s adventurous and fun, great for young girls, but also for any age. It is about finding yourself in a chaotic world and fulfilling your dreams! I am working now on a second book and hope to publish it very soon!
Sounds so exciting! I can’t wait to read it! Before we dive into those Aperols, I want to ask you something. If you could have a superpower, what would that be?
S: Extreme foresight to see the future 🙂