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EmmaLucy Cole - The joys and challenges of being a solo woman researcher, explorer and biker.

Renata Chlumska  - Adventure athlete who became the first Swedish and Czech woman to climb Mount Everest and in 2005 did a circumnavigate of the lower 48 States of the United States by her own power.

EmmaLucy Cole is a UK-based speaker, writer, explorer and researcher. She is a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, Associate Fellow of Higher Education Academy as a lecturer and co-director of the Vicarious Festival of Travel Storytelling. EmmaLucy is currently studying towards a PhD at the University of Bristol, researching how travel writers represent Arabic and Middle Eastern (SWANA) cultures.

After over two decades spent studying and representing North African and Middle Eastern cultures, in 2011 EmmaLucy decided to sell everything she owned in order to spend six weeks with a Bedouin tribe in Sinai, learning Arabic and researching local culture. Two years later she finally left, not only having gained a ginger Bedouin cat (called Bryan) and a myriad of stories, but also witnessing first-hand some of the ways in which marginalised groups can be misrepresented.

With this habit of visiting places and forgetting to leave, she has developed the concept of Downward Exploration: rather than travelling long distances and seeing many places superficially, this type of exploration allows us to focus in-depth on communities and local environments, learning about the cultures, habits, food and history – and forming connections which allow for deeper understanding and more ethical representations.

In 2018 EmmaLucy attended the Adventure Travel Film Festival in London and decided that motorcycles could be a powerful tool for connecting with people in marginalised cultures; crossing gender divides and enabling mobility and independence whilst on the road researching. She passed her test within a few months, bought a Triumph, and began exploring. She has presented talks at events such as the Overland Event UK about the joys and challenges of being a solo woman researcher, explorer and biker.

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Show notes

  • Who is EmmaLucy and what does she do

  • Her early life growing up and spending time in the outdoors

  • Not being sporty

  • Doing a degree in Fine Art and a Masters in English Literature

  • Being interested in Nomadic Groups

  • Being inspired by the English Patient book

  • Being invited to spend time in Egypt

  • Bedouin culture

  • Her passion for learning languages

  • Learning Arabic for the past 12 years

  • Going for 6 weeks and ending up staying for 2 years

  • Not being able to earn money in 2008 in the UK

  • Selling everything she owned and doing some basic teaching to earn money

  • Living in Sinai and what day to day life was like

  • Living in a hut by the edge of the red sea

  • Wifi

  • Deciding to move back to the UK

  • Studying for her PhD at the University of Bristol

  • The concept of downward exploration

  • Wanting to learn more by going back to the same places

  • Writing (reflective and observational) while travelling

  • Film and photography

  • What adventure means to EmmaLucy

  • Learning how to ride a motorbike before her 40th birthday

  • Handling challenging situations

  • Vicarious Festival - Celebrating cultural diversity though travel literature and photography.

  • Getting into sports, health and fitness

  • Figuring out what she enjoyed and what felt good

  • Food and culture

  • Becoming a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society (RGS)

  • Coping during Covid and not being able to travel

  • Funding this lifestyle

  • Final words of advice and learning how to say no

  • Refine and create your own story

  • Don’t judge yourself


Social Media

Twitter: @emmalucycole

Instagram: @emmalucycole


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