Per Besson is the American with the Scandinavian first name. He was born in Germany of a Danish mother and American father. At the age of four the family moved to his father’s birthplace (Oregon) where he remembers telling his mother “Stop talking to me in Danish in front of the other kids, It’s weird!!!”. From those shy, inauspiciously conformist beginnings, he has since been shamelessly learning one language after another with language acquisition being a key part of his travel journey.
He holds a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations with a concentration on Soviet Union/Eastern Europe, completed shortly after the end of Cold War. Communism was then out of fashion and he moved on to study capitalism – in the form of a MBA focused on International Marketing – which then pushed him further along a life of business across borders. A colorful spectrum of different jobs have included; Prozac brand manager for Brazil, organizing tours to Libya in the times of Gadaffi, internet gaming company in Beijing, National Bank of Kuwait in Paris, General Motors in Buenos Aires and Lisbon, marketing of American license plates as souvenirs to European incentive travel industry etc.
In his earlier days much of his travel was of the “slow and low” variety. No airplanes, just public transportation (by land and sea) covering long distances e.g. Hong Kong-Lisbon via the Transiberian Railway, Beijing-Bangalore via Xinjiang and the Karakoram Highway, Bali-Tokyo via SE Asia, China and South Korea, Milano-Milano via Sicily, North Africa, Middle East, Turkey and the Balkans. Recently however there has been a lot more travel by plane and fewer backbreaking fifteen hour bus rides.
He has thus far lived in ten countries (7 years in China, 6 years in Brazil, 5 years in Germany, 4 years in Italy…), and fluently speaks Portuguese, Spanish, Italian, French, German, Danish and Chinese, with his Russian lagging a bit behind. At one time he learned the basics of reading and writing in Arabic, where “reading” actually means being able to somewhat pronounce the individual letters of a written word and much less occasionally knowing what the word actually means. He has made a point to learn (and often quickly forgotten) at least a few words from the language of every single country he visited until 2019 when he reached country #193 – Colombia. He currently resides in London.