Almost 20 years ago I embarked upon the same rite of passage as many young people who have completed university but not yet begun full-time work: a solo backpacking adventure around Europe.
The impact that travel has on a young adult should not be understated. Those six months that I spent travelling by plane, bus, train, boat and hitchhiking through 20 different countries expanded my perspective on life, planted seeds of possibility, and shaped my values in ways that were profound and lasting. It was, in many ways, the ultimate experience.
Upon my return, many friends and family members asked the same question: what was your highlight? What was your favourite country?
My answer was always the same: Turkey.
After following the well-trodden path of Italy and Greece during the peak tourist season, the gateway to Asia and the Middle East was a revelation for me. I’d been treated largely like just another number as I island-hopped across the Mediterranean, but the Turks welcomed me with open arms.
The sights, smells and sounds of Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar; the ghostly barren (and slightly phallic) sandscape of Cappadocia; the lush jungle intertwined with centuries-old Roman ruins and tree-top accommodation of Olympos; sunset alongside the majestic statues atop Mount Nemrut; and the sobering graveyards of Gallipoli on ANZAC Day all contributed to make my experience of Turkey one that was rich, memorable and defining. The people were welcoming, the nature was breathtaking, and the history was humbling. I developed a genuine affinity for the place.
Why am I telling you about a backpacking holiday I took 20 years ago? Well, next week I have the honour of speaking at UX Alive!, the second ever user experience conference to be held in Istanbul by the team at Userspots. It will be the first time I’ve visited Turkey since my seminal coming-of-age adventure.
The UX Alive! conference
To say that I’m excited is somewhat of an understatement. I’m giddy, beside myself, and bursting at the seams to return to Turkey—and to meet other UXers from the region.
I’ll be speaking on the first day about UX Careers, a topic Luke and I have spent a number of years researching, debating, and writing about. I’ll also be running some career counselling sessions, where I’ll be giving folks advice on everything from who to approach for a job, what to include in your portfolio, what questions to expect in interviews, and more. If you live in Turkey (or are considering taking a holiday there!) then definitely consider registering for the conference. It boasts an amazing line-up of world-class, international UX designers speaking about their craft. UX Alive! really is an event not to be missed.
- What: UX Alive! conference and workshops
- When: 11-13 May, 2016
- Where: Wyndham Grand Levent, Istanbul, Turkey
Register now and get a 15% discount using the discount code ALIVE15.
If you are attending the conference, please do come up and say hello. I’m a friendly guy and love meeting new people. I’d love to hear more about the state of user experience in Turkey and the surrounding region.