While I was in Italy, I was asked if I’d like to participate in an article for Apartment Therapy about participating in The Remote Experience. I answered a few questions, sent in a couple of photos and last week, heard from the writer that the article was posted. The next day, it was highlighted in their daily email…with my photo featured! It was actually pretty cool seeing it in my inbox.
Here’s a link to the article if you’d like to read about my trip with The Remote Experience, Jessica with Terminal 3 and Dana with Remote Year.
The writer actually asked quite a few questions and significantly pared down my answers. Several were interesting questions, and things that we’ve talked about amongst ourselves frequently. So if you’re interested, here are a few:
What advice would you give someone who is interested in/will be participating in a similar program? There will be times that parts of the program annoy or frustrate you. But don’t lose sight of why you chose to be a part of The Remote Experience. Yes, you could have done this by yourself, and yes, for a lot cheaper. But would you have? Knowing you have an instant community, that you’re not flying off to some unknown country by yourself, was a huge comfort for me. And having a company focused on ensuring that I have the ability to work uninterrupted was a big seller for getting my company on board. After two months with The Remote Experience, I feel I can easily do this on my own in the future, that I would feel comfortable being an independent digital nomad. But there’s no way I would have ever gotten to this point without them.
What do you wish you had known before starting this program? That European summers are hot. Like, really, really hot. And AC isn’t used. So be prepared to sweat. A lot. I studied abroad in the fall and spent two weeks in Italy last year in the spring, so I haven’t been here in the heart of summer since I was 11. And I was not prepared for the heat, or the fact that you don’t really get a break from it since AC isn’t common in most stores, restaurants or apartments. On a more practical note, I bought an international cell phone plan through my phone carrier. It’s significantly more expensive than simply getting a new SIM card in each country. I wish I had realized how easy it is to switch out your SIM cards and saved myself a lot of money.
Is there anything that you thought would be hard about this process that turned about to be easy, or vice versa? To be honest, my biggest worry was about working – that others would be here solely to party or recreate their study abroad experience rather than as a professional. Luckily, that hasn’t been the case at all. My other worry was about the people. I was essentially going on a 4-month trip with a group of strangers. So while I knew that I would be living and working with everyone, I had basically prepared myself to be exploring and traveling Europe by myself in case I didn’t click with anyone. And thankfully, the complete opposite happened. Our group is varied in terms of backgrounds, interests and age, but we all share the same adventurous spirit. I feel so fortunate to be sharing this experience with them, to have made 15 friends that I never would have crossed paths with otherwise.
What has surprised you most about this experience? The welcomed flexibility of being social or taking some time for yourself. Most of us had been working remotely prior to coming to Europe. And many of us lived alone in our various cities. So we’re used to a certain level of independence. To be living and working with 10-15 others was a big change. But everyone seems to share the same mentality that if you want to do things with others, great, send a message out and see who is available. But if you need some alone time, everyone understands and there is no judgment; go have lunch by yourself or take a weekend away and meet up with everyone when you’re ready.
Would you like to continue working abroad or are you looking forward to being home again? Would you consider doing it again sometime in the future if not right away? This is a tricky question! Hypothetically, yes, I’d love to continue living abroad. But if I’m being truly honest with myself, it’s probably not a long-term reality at this point in my life. I moved to Chicago 10-months before leaving and am eager to continue to explore the city; at times I feel I know Split or Turin better than I know Chicago! And while my company was very supportive of my going to Europe for 4-months to realize a personal dream, I’m not sure they’d be on board to let me continue this living/working situation indefinitely. All of that being said, I can absolutely see myself living abroad again, possibly for longer than a few months. I’ll just have to see what doors open in the future.
Before I left for a 6-week solo trip to Europe, a friend gave me a card that had a quote inside that really stuck with me, and I think about it all the time when I travel—b/c traveling is amazing, but it’s not always easy—it said: “We don’t remember days, we remember moments.” What has been your favorite moment of the trip so far? I started writing about a solo-trip I took to Zermatt, Switzerland where I skied in the Swiss Alps on July 24th. While that was pretty incredible, I actually think my favorite moment is much more low-key. Our first night in Torino, we met our local ambassador, Chiara, who invited us over to her apartment to watch the Italy-Germany Euro Cup quarterfinal game. A few of us joined her and about 20 of her neighbors and friends in their apartment courtyard where they were projecting the game onto a wall. I looked around and couldn’t believe how lucky I was, not just to be in Europe, but to be so welcomed by these strangers into their everyday lives. Skiing in the middle of summer in the Alps is simply amazing, but anyone can plan a trip like that. Joining a group of friends to watch a game at their home isn’t something you can ever plan or organize, it’s an experience I never would have had if I weren’t on The Remote Experience. The program provides the opportunity to truly immerse yourself in the local culture, experiencing it as if you live in these cities rather than just visiting.