Meet Estherina Lukman of Estherina’s World
December 4, 2013
Estherina Lukman has never known what it’s like not to travel the world. Raised attending international schools across Asia, Esther, as she’s also known, learned to view the whole world—not any one part of it—as home. Self-evidently possessed of an acute visual flair, the sartorial smartie (she’s pursuing her law degree at Columbia) documents where she goes, what she eats, and what she wears in full, glossy color on her popular blog—aptly titled Estherina’s World. Check her out on Bloglovin’, Facebook, and Instagram.
We love reading about where you go, and what you wear and eat on your travels! Tell us about yourself and how Estherina’s World got started.
I’m currently a second-year law student in New York City. I created Estherina’s World in the summer of 2011. I had spent the summer interning in New York and become quite addicted to Tumblring my adventures. As I was preparing to move to London to study abroad for my entire senior year, I decided to start a new blog on which I could document my experiences and passions in a more organized manner, and so, Estherina’s World was born.
Since then, Estherina’s World has become my favorite pet project. I haven’t been able to update it as much as I’d like since starting law school, but I’ve vowed to be better about it. It’s my curated online diary, one that I can share with friends, family, or even readers I’ve never met. I try as hard as possible to keep my voice authentic, because I’d like to think a big part of the blog’s appeal is the personality behind it. So if you really want to get to know me, reading the blog is the way! But for brevity’s sake, I am: ambitious, energetic, and a total nerd.
We know you identify as a “third-culture kid.” Can you explain a little about what this means? How does this influence the way you travel?
When I was growing up in international schools in Indonesia and Singapore, we were taught from a young age that “third-culture kid” was the official classification for those in our community. My parents went to college in the US but remained, steadfastly, Chinese-Indonesian in all the ways that matter. Having spent my adolescence at an international school, I grew up to share many of their values and reject just as many. Being a member of the “international” community also meant that I was experiencing my current home through a different lens than that which a “local” might, though I don’t think I walked away knowing Singapore any less. Since leaving Southeast Asia, I’ve moved to the Bay Area, London, and now New York, spending all my free time jetting elsewhere too. Basically, I’ve spent my life straddling different cultures, and it’s led to the feeling of not fully belonging to any one. So that while younger me didn’t quite know what to do with being dubbed a “third-culture kid,” I’ve since come to fully appreciate having a classification with which to associate.
Its definitely true that not having a singular “home” can be quite lonely. There’s something heart-warming about the idea of growing up in the same house all one one’s life, returning on holidays even once one’s left, always knowing that one has deep roots somewhere—the type of roots that lodge one’s identity, reminding one that even when away, there’s a community to which one fully belongs. But I think my upbringing has also been a unique blessing. I belong to a close-knit community of global nomads, most of whom have had different life experiences than me, but with whom I share this trait anyway: that we feel at home nowhere but everywhere at the same time.
In that way, being a third-culture kid definitely influences the way I travel. It frames it. I tend to feel comfortable slipping into foreign cultures. In fact I crave the change. It’s always exciting to able to go somewhere new, because it allows me to meet new people, experience new ways, and expand my view and understanding of the world in the process. It’s not enough to just see the sights. I always want to walk away feeling like I grasped the essence of a place.
What’s your favorite stamp on your passport, and what’s one stamp you’re hoping to get soon?
This is a tough question! I love all my stamps! Seeing my passport stacked [with] them gives me a strange sense of accomplishment—not unlike catching Pokemon, for my fellow nerds/90s kids out there. Aesthetically, I think my Japanese visa page is my favorite. It’s just so gosh-darn pretty. Memory-wise, I think my favorite stamp in my current passport would have to be from Turkey. I had the great fortune to visit Istanbul for the first time in June, and I was absolutely blown away. It’s such a beautiful, exotic city. I only wish I’d had the opportunity to spend more time there! As for stamps I’m hoping to get soon, there are so many! But currently atop my travel wishlist? Morocco, definitely.
We love your fashion flair. What are your must-pack pieces or accessories for any trip you go on?
I am the worst person to ask this question as I am a chronic overpacker. I am quite an indecisive dresser, so I always like to pack a ton of options. That said, here are the items that I tend to lug with me each and every time: ballet flats in a color that matches most outfits (if going somewhere hot) or black ankle boots (if going somewhere colder), wedge heels that won’t cause you to break your ankle when strutting across cobblestones, black leather jeans, and of course, my cameras (a DSLR and a small point-and-shoot for when a DLSR is just clunky and impractical).
What are your favorite foods that you’ve eaten during your travels, and at what restaurants (or markets, or street carts, if applicable!) did you eat them?
When it comes to food, my priority is to try local specialties. I think food is such an important part of a city’s culture, so if you really want to grasp the latter, you’ve got to be adventurous when it comes to the former. This often requires proper prior planning. Before visiting any city, I try to research the best restaurant, market, or street cart even, to go to get the food I won’t get anywhere else.
I’m stalling, because I just can’t chose a favorite spot/meal. So I’ll give you three: the unbeatable mozzarella pizza at the Pizzeria da Michele in Naples, Mad Hatter tea at Sanderson in London, and satay stall 8 at the Lau Pa Sat market in Singapore.
You recently went to Miami. We’re here right now! Any special discoveries (restaurants, hotels, clubs, spas) you want to share with our readers?
How exciting! How smart of you to escape chilly winter-time New York for sunny Miami! My recent trip to Miami was my first, so I’m hardly the Miami expert. But here are my two food-related recommendations: Puerto Sagua for Cuban food and Los Pinarenos Fruteria for some fresh fruit and good company. I’d also recommend the Dorchester Hotel. It’s centrally located, affordable, and the staff is truly wonderful.
Are there any other travel blogs that you love to follow (besides The Diary of The Purple Passport, of course)?
I absolutely love Gary Pepper Girl. I suppose she’s technically a fashion blogger, but her travel photographs are really just stunning. This is true for her Instagram too. She has such a unique “camera eye.” If you ever decide to visit her corner of the internet, be prepared to do a lot of drooling and Pinteresting. I also follow a lot of full-time travel bloggers’ Instagrams. My favorites right now are: Hecktic Travels and Wild Junket.