A year of being a digital nomad (Part 2)

Being a digital nomad means working remotely and being location-independent. It’s a lifestyle that allows people to live freely: to travel and work from anywhere in the world. It sounds like a dream, doesn’t it?

My previous post on the less glamorous side of being a digital nomad made its rounds online [1][2]. I didn’t realize how much it would resonate with fellow nomads and people interested in the lifestyle. I received some very supportive messages [3], which have been lovely to re-read in moments of doubt. But I also felt almost responsible to share a follow-up because it was heavily one-sided.

📍 Some secret waterfall area in Croatia (September 2022)

While I still believe that being a digital nomad is difficult, and there is an illusion that it offers a perfect life, the upsides that are talked about are true. These are three of my favourite upsides since becoming a nomad. Hopefully, this will help give a fuller picture of my experiences!

👋 If you’re new here: Hi, I’m Pauline! I’m originally from the Philippines but grew up in the UK, so my accent can be confusing.

For over a year now, I’ve been a digital nomad, solo travelling throughout Europe. However, I’ve found a “home” in Greece, where I’m enjoying the sunshine. ☀️

I work remotely for a tech start-up, and this is my special place on the internet — home to my chaotic yet structured thoughts. Welcome!

Read more about me or my blog.

1) Expanding your horizons 🌅

Growing up, I used to be too afraid [4] to take the bus into the city centre of my hometown. Eventually, I got over the fear and started exploring. This was when my curiosity about what the rest of the world was like took over, and my goal became to see as much of it as possible.

To achieve this, I shifted to a more flexible career path in tech and curated my social media feeds to include people living the dream I wanted to manifest for myself one day. My feeds were filled with folks in beautiful locations, typing away on their laptops and working on projects that made them feel the most alive.

Looking back, I realized that I had become like the curation I created, which was a proud moment. Talk about living the dream!

📍 Valencia, Spain (May 2022)

In the past year, I’ve been fortunate enough to visit Portugal 🇵🇹, the Canary Islands 🇮🇨, Spain 🇪🇸, Croatia 🇭🇷, Greece 🇬🇷, Austria 🇦🇹, Germany 🇩🇪, the Netherlands 🇳🇱, and the United States 🇺🇸.

I try to adopt a slowmad [5][6] approach as much as possible, giving myself time to immerse myself in the local culture fully. Some of my trips have only been for a few days for work, but even then, I’ve attempted to “live like a local” wherever I go, mostly by hanging out with locals who gave me the real “on the ground” sense of what it’s like to live there.

Out of all the countries I’ve visited, Greece has been where I’ve felt like a local the most. During my 184 days (and counting), I’ve tried to blend in more than anywhere else. I started learning Greek last month [7], and though I’ve only made 1% progress, I can even order my coffee with no English! Well, except when they ask me questions in Greek, and I have to admit that I’m still early in my learning. 🙃

Learning a new language, adapting to a different culture than what I grew up with, and seeing breathtaking places that feel like they only exist in photos have made being a nomad worth it.

📍 Meteora, Greece (October 2022)

2) Taking control and responsibility of your life 🏖️

The rigid nature of a 9-5 office job was not a long-term solution for me. Before the pandemic, I was already exploring other options, such as reducing my office hours or becoming a fully remote freelancer. I had a few ideas to get started, but I never launched them! Alternatively, I considered joining a fully remote company, but they were rare at the time.

When the pandemic hit, it provided me with the perfect opportunity to invest more time in evaluating my life. As I watched the world rapidly change around me, I knew that this was my chance to make a change [8][9] Without hesitation, I went all in when an opportunity presented itself [10][11]

📍 Zadar, Croatia (September 2022)

The full flexibility of my schedule allowed me to make decisions about when, where, and how I work. For example, I tend to work best in the mornings, so I prioritize my most important tasks during that time.

When I feel low energy, getting some fresh air and sunshine usually helps, so I can take a walk or go to the beach without feeling guilty for being away from work. I can always catch up on work later in the day when the sun is gone but I can maximise life as much as I can.

Being in control and responsible for all of my actions (from work and life) and having full ownership of my schedule has left me feeling the most empowered and fulfilled I have ever been.

3) A solid reminder that you can do anything 💪

When someone asks me, “What do you like about your life right now?” my number one answer is this: for the first time in my life, I feel like I can do anything despite the pessimistic stories I tell myself about not being enough.

…Actually, I have proved to myself time and time again that I’m more than capable. Talk about empowering!

📍 Berlin, Germany (April 2023)

In this chapter of my life, I have overcome my travel anxiety, started over in a new place, learned a new language, connected with new people, and achieved even my wildest dreams with time, effort and grit.

A friend recently said to me:

“Pauline, you have gone from living in Sheffield/Leeds to moving to a whole different country and, on top of that, working hard at your job. Cut yourself some slack.”

They are right!

It has been difficult adapting to an unfamiliar environment, mostly on my own, but I have become a better, more resilient person, and I am proud of myself for that. Pauline, in her early 20’s, wouldn’t believe it! 😁

Bringing it all together 🔄

Lately, my search for stability and setting down some roots has been at the top of my mind.

This might sound like it completely defeats the purpose of being a digital nomad, but I strongly believe it’s important for everyone to have some kind of roots, somewhere they feel like they belong and can call home [12]

In my case, it is the UK where I grew up, it is probably also the Philippines, where I’m from, but it can also be where I enjoy being the most, which is here, in Greece.

📍 Sheffield, UK (home, August 2022)

“Where are you from?” A part of me finds fun in the fact that, to this day, I still fumble over my answer.

Recently, I was in a café in Munich where a barista asked me where I’m from. I shamelessly replied that I was a “citizen of the world.” It’s a cringy response, but part of me identifies with the sentiment. I can’t help but laugh slightly now as I write this!

There will always be people who do not want to accept the free movement of nomads [13] and I totally understand, they have good reasons [14][15]

I am realizing on this journey that in my search for a home, it does not matter where I am as long as I feel at home within myself. And do I? I’m working on it. 😊

If you enjoyed this post, you might enjoy reading my other posts about this lifestyle change:

1. Where is home?
2. Welcome to the soundtrack of your wildest dreams
3. Saying hello!
4. That’s just life

Since 3 is the magic number, I plan to write a final post on my year as a nomad. However, I would like it to be completely reader-driven. So, if you have any specific questions, feel free to ask! 🫶

4 responses to “A year of being a digital nomad (Part 2)”

  1. Vibhusha Raval avatar

    Love this for you, Pauline. I’ve known you for nearly 3 years now and I can say your journey has been very inspiring to watch. The way you write these posts and put your ideas out there is truly admirable. Keep going x

  2. haha! citizen of the world sure cracked me up. Your journey is so inspiring, I am just a 18 year old, trying to learn new skills and work through my dreams, and one day possibly become a digital nomad. KEEP GOING. So proud <3.

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