Fabian Sixtus Körner


the travelsplainer

[note: I’ve been reading the German original]

The story: in the early 2010s, German designer Fabian Sixtus Körner decides he wants to see the world. He draws inspiration from the German tradition of the “journeyman years”, where young men, after completing their apprenticeship in the crafts, set out to roam about the country and learn from other masters. A sort of medieval “work & travel” if you will, and a tradition that is still alive in Germany today.

Körner comes up with a plan to become a sort of self-styled “journeyman” himself. He sets out to travel the world and work as a designer wherever the road takes him. He does this for two years, hence the title of his book “Journeyman”.

Fabian Sixtus Körner’s internships

The book is okay. Let me mention something that I liked about it first: its design. The whole book looks very slick, and it comes with some nice (if partly overly processed) photographs shot by the author.

Now about the story: it’s a fast and easy read, but you’re quickly going to recognize a pattern: most of the time when Körner moves to a new place, he already has some sort of contact person there beforehand.

He then arranges for a work opportunity (like an internship) and some form of accommodation. He stays for a few months, then he is off to the next place. He does all this on a tight budget, which he bumps up with some online jobs he does on the side.

the writing

There are some cultural observations here and there. There is some romance and some heartbreak. We also get to hear quite a bit of what he has to say about the theoretical implications of travel and self-discovery. But there is a certain paleness to it all.

Instead of diving deeper into his story, instead of allowing us to discover more and ultimately come to our own conclusions, Körner often takes a step back and starts explaining his motivations: why did he choose to do what he did, why did he choose to not do what he didn’t do, etc. etc.

another Wigge?

This book reminded me of Michael Wigge‘s account of his own world tour, which was short and bland. Körner’s writing, however, was a bit better than that of Wigge, and he seems to have put more effort into it.

who might want to read this

Körner’s feat of doing work and travel in a few countries isn’t much. His storytelling and his writing style are both okay, and the info he shares is okayish.

If you’re interested in the work and travel experience, check this one out.

Also read: Dennis Gastmann, for a travel book that’s more entertaining.