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The Most Venturesome Campus Celeb: Tedde Jones

At some point in life, everyone wishes to break free of their daily routine. They might get the urge to quit their job, possibly break up with a significant other, or just simply quit the life as they know it all while craving a sense of adventure and the unknown. Maybe she didn’t study abroad when she had the chance, or maybe he said no to the most epic road trip of the summer because of some other minor obligation. 

Tedde Jones, a 22-year-old student at the University of Iowa, has been giving into her sense of adventure since she was a child. Currently in her third year at UI, Jones is studying French, Spanish, International Studies and is also working on a creative writing certificate. Although she spent most of her young adult life in neighboring Cedar Rapids, Jones is orginally from San Diego where she learned to love surfing, writing, reading, being outside and above all-traveling. 

She’s studied abroad in Belgium right after high school, lived in Alaska while working in a tough fishery and recently set foot in Guatemale with no itinerary, just a backpack.

Jones is this week’s campus celebrity because she is an inspiration to the wild spirit in us all.  Even when her traveling experiences may not have gone to plan (like losing her passport in Guatemala!), she never lets it stop her from continuing forward with a smile on her face. Trust me when I tell you that you’re going to want to get to know her.

What was the first major trip you’ve ever taken?

The first major trip I ever took was Belgium. Not only was I fresh out of high school and not ready for college, but it also started as kind of a joke. I was a senior in high school and sitting in my Spanish class when someone come in to give a presentation about Rotary, a youth organization that sponsored young adults to go abroad for a year in a foreign country. I texted my mother asking if I could be an exchange student. Thinking she would say no, because she couldn’t bear to let me go, I was shocked when she replied, “Absolutely!” After the most grueling application and waiting process, I was on a 10-hour flight to Fays, Belgium to live with three host families over the course of one year. I had amazing, wild experiences, fell in love and have a couch to stay in over thirty countries thanks to the life-long friends I made from all over the world. 

Where all have you traveled to?

As far as countries go, I’ve been into Mexico, France, Germany, Ireland, Britain, Belgium, Italy and Guatemala. Some of my favorite American cities and places include Alaska, Seattle, Lake Tahoe, and Ocean Beach (San Diego).

Why do you like traveling so much?

I love traveling, because to me, seeing the one world we live in is the most important thing in life. It’s astounding to think of all the places and people and ideas I have yet to fall in love with. Traveling, especially with just a backpack, gives me a sense of simplicity. I don’t need to spend a lot of money to have a wonderful time. I stay in hostels and meet other weary travelers from all over the world and make friends. I see the beauty of a place I may only see once in my life and appreciate everything I feel, take a picture, write an excerpt in my journal, take a deep breath and just know that people everywhere are dying to do exactly what I’m doing in that moment: to feel utterly blissful, at peace and completely free.

What inspired to do the Alaska fishing trip last year and to go on it again?

Alaska – most people want to go. When we think of Alaska, though, we think of the wilderness and the mountains and the simplicity and nature. We don’t typically think of working in a salmon factory for sixteen hours a day, seven days a week, for a month straight. I wanted to do something unconventional and weird, something people would question me on. I made good money, worked very hard and met some of my soul mates while there. After work, six of us took off for the back-country of Alaska and went camping for a week. When I say camping, I mean we filtered our own water and everything. Denali was truly breathtaking. I decided to go back this year to make more money for my next trip, invite a few friends to come work with me, take our time getting there and back to see some more of our own country, and because why not? I try not to do the same thing twice, but if I do, it must’ve been really special the first time.

Where do you think you got your sense of adventure from?

I think my sense of adventure has been with me since I was a kid. I was always getting in trouble for staying out past curfew or getting dirty, I was always beating up the boys, doing things to ruffle my mother’s feathers, etc. I guess I just thought life was about doing things you weren’t supposed to, being unconventional and making your own fun. I think that’s where the majority of adventure comes from; going outside your comfort zone, going off the beaten path and just doing things for the hell of it! Traveling, however, came to me because my family lives all over the country. I have family in California, New York, Texas, Florida and Ohio, so traveling has always been a part of my life. I didn’t have the sense of international travel, however, until I was about 18 and moved to Belgium for a year. I came back and realized I never wanted to stop seeing places and falling in love with them.

Where do you still hope to go? 

I have a million places I would still love to see including Thailand, Spain, Chile, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, Greece and India. I can’t even list all the possibilities and countries I have yet to experience and I’m so excited for it all!

Recall 2 or 3 crazy moments during traveling…what are they?

A few examples of crazy experiences I’ve had include having my passport, ID, debit card, school ID and brand new Guatemalan purse stolen. I sure had a fun time getting out of the jungle of Livingston, Guatemala and into the city to the U.S. Consulate. But I got back home and that’s what matters. I could’ve definitely stayed down there longer, though….

Another crazy experience was when I was living in Belgium and a bunch of other exchange students and I met in Brussels to go to a pub and watch the American Super Bowl. While walking there from the train station, we met a couple American gentlemen who flagged us down, wondering where they could find the Super Bowl coverage. We all go to the pub together, have a few beers and get to know each other. It turned out that while in France on a company snowboarding trip a few days before, they were roommates with my brother who worked for a similar company. They were actually really good friends with him! These two guys knew about me before even actually knowing me and by a random, crazy coincidence we ran into each other on the way to a pub in the middle of Brussels. How weird is that?!

Another great experience was taking the train from Ottumwa, IA to Seattle, WA. It was last summer (2014) and I was due to work in Alaska for part of the summer. Instead of flying, I decided to take the train seventy-two hours west, stopping in random cities like Reno, NV and Sacramento, CA. It wasn’t exactly comfortable not being able to sleep in a bed, but it was worth it!

What advice do you have for people our age when it comes to traveling or just adventuring out of their comfort zone?

Here’s my advice to anyone with the desire to travel: work hard. Save your money. Don’t stay in a nice hotel – stay in a cheap little hostel. Remember that you get one life and we have one planet. Treat it kindly. Explore it. Dare to go beyond what you’re used to. Embrace being occasionally lonely and homesick while you’re away. Enjoy the happiness you receive from being out there. Make friends you’ll remember forever and swear to see again, even if you don’t. Write it all down, take a thousand pictures. Get a little too drunk and open up to a complete stranger. Hug people tightly, kiss them sweetly, love them with everything you’ve got – even if you hardly know them. Breathe in deep, open your eyes wide and feel the life and the unknown that courses through you. Throw away your plans and just wing it. Pick up other travelers and take them with you to the next stop. Be who you are, whether people at home think maybe you talk too much, laugh too loud or wear odd clothing. Just be insane and happy and do whatever you want in life, but I promise you traveling and tasting the hidden corners and contours of the world is the path to true and unconditional ecstasy.  


She is a senior at the University of Iowa majoring in Journalism with a minor in English. On top of being a campus correspondent for Her Campus, Adrian is also a brand ambassador for Quad, a communications intern for Pearson and the marketing director of Iowa's Ed On Campus chapter. When she isn't rereading Harry Potter for the hundredth time, Adrian is playing with her English Bulldog, Stella, or looking at pictures of French Bulldogs on Pinterest. She hopes to someday move into a bigger apartment that can accommodate many pets, write the next greatest novel that will take the world by storm, and be a contributing editor or EIC of a major publication or publishing house.
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