Christoph Rehage and his walk record: 5.000 km through China, only on his foot. He photographed himself every day along the way, never cutting his beard and always being in the same posture, creating a video that became viral on web. Here’s what he said to Goguin!
You became famous thanks to the walk you did from Beijing to your hometown in Germany which looks like an incredible experience. When was the first time you moved to another city/country?
When I was 16, I moved from my home village to Wichita, Kansas in the United States. It was part of a high school exchange thing.
After your walks and after having seen so many places, have you ever had the desire to move permanently to another country?
Yes. Every day.
What has been the most difficult aspect of your mover experience so far?
The most difficult aspect is always the same: to make the first step. I am a timid person, I get easily frightened by the sheer size of our world. Making the first step has never been easy.
Do you think is it important to make new friends when you move somewhere else (even for a short-term period)? What do you think is the most difficult thing about making friends in a new place?
New friends are important. It’s easy if you have a hobby that you can share with them. Basketball. Photography. Swimming. Something that excites you and others. It is difficult if you are stressed, if you have too much to do, so you can’t enjoy yourself.
How were you able to stay on a budget and how did you manage your finances, communication needs and health care in a new country?
Some countries are less expensive than others. It all depends on your own needs, too. If you want to live the lush expat experience, then any place can be expensive. I usually try to take it easy and learn a bit from friends.
The first time you moved to a foreign country, how hard has it been to learn a new language?
The first time was very easy, because I am German and went to the United States. English comes easy when you are German.
Which cultural differences (positive or negative) surprised you the most and why?
In the USA? Or somewhere else? I think every place has some aspects that are surprising about it. China is surprising because it is so much more diverse than you might think. The US were surprising because there was a strange mixture there between (religious) tradition and post-modernity.
What is your ideal city to live in?
I think that depends on your age. Right now, I would love to live in Paris again. Or New York. Maybe when I am older, I will like smaller places better?
3 suggestions for those who, like you, would like to do some long walks putting themselves to the test.
1) Don’t get intimidated by all those “experts” like me who seem to know much more than you. We really don’t. 2) Start your adventure somewhere near your house. If you walk around there, you will find that there are many new things that you have never seen before. 3) Don’t be afraid. It will be okay.
Looking back, would you do everything you did and would you live in all the places where you’ve been?
I would love to have lived more abroad. And studied less.