So it's been a little over two weeks since I landed in Thailand, which is crazy hard to believe. I've been slowly adjusting to my new environment, schedule, surroundings, and lifestyle. This digital nomad thing isn't for the faint of heart, but so far I am loving every minute. Even in the short period since I left the states, I've learned quite a lot about myself, my work style, and so much more. Here are a few of the things that have stood out to me as I've made the transition to the digital nomad life…
So Much To Do and Explore
Moving to a new country presents so many amazing opportunities and things to experience. Every day brings some sort of first; a new place to eat, new place to see, new activity to try out, new people to meet. As someone who is committed to personal growth and expansion, there's just something so wonderful about having so many opportunities to experience new things. From riding on scooters around the city to jumping into a waterfall… each experience brings feelings of joy, exhilaration, and fun! I could get used to this as my new normal.
Making New Friends
Getting thrust into a group of folks like my fellow Roamers has been quite an experience. Everyone has such unique and different backgrounds, careers, work hours, and travel styles. One thing that unites us all? We're risk takers who are seeking new experiences. Even though I joined the trip one month late, I feel as if I've instantly bonded with my group. Just this week we celebrated two Roamer birthdays, gathering 20+ of us around a table at a delicious local Thai spot. I looked around the table and I felt my heart swell. This group of people is incredible and I look forward to getting to know each one of them better over the next few months. There's always someone in the group who's up to do something fun and interesting, and many of the Roamers have been seeking out and finding activities for us to do together. It's a real group-sourced effort! A group of us are planning a trip to the Islands over Thanksgiving and I couldn't be more excited to see another part of Thailand.
Getting Outside of My Comfort Zone
Although We Roam handles much of our logistics and planning, there have been aspects of this trip that have pushed me outside of my comfort zone. When I landed in Bangkok on October 27th, it was my first time entering a foreign country by myself. I had no guide or shuttle service to transport me to my hotel… no local contact to give me the grand tour of the area. Since the majority of my international travel has been on press trips at this point, this was an entirely new experience for me. And in a country where I knew absolutely zilch when it came to the language. I've noticed myself being a little calmer, moving a little slower, and enjoying an easier pace. My patience has been tested and I think I'm making positive progress in that area, which was much needed!
Acclimating to the Time Difference
Other than visiting Hawaii in my high school years, I've never had to deal with such a drastic time difference. Southeast Asia is now 12 hours off from Eastern Standard Time, so I'm literally on an opposite schedule from most of my loved ones. It's made communication difficult and leaves only a few hours in the morning or evening to connect with anyone back home. And then there was the jet lag… it took me a solid two weeks to feel like I was back on a “normal” sleep schedule, but I seem to have finally made the adjustment.
Scheduling Work Time
Because of all the excitement and stimuli of living in a new place, getting solid work done during the first couple of weeks was quite difficult. My attention and focus were being pulled in an infinite number of directions as I was acclimating to my new surroundings, community, and schedule. It's made it more important than ever for me to work smarter not harder… a concept that I used to follow so well, but fell out of. I find myself getting more done in less time so that I can get out and enjoy my days in this beautiful place. With so many of our group members working different hours and schedules, it seems like there's always some activity or excursion happening that I don't want to miss out on. If I can make sure to get my work done quickly and efficiently, I will still have time to enjoy the various adventures that our group is taking part in.
One piece of my personality that I hate to admit is that I have severe FOMO. That's part of the reason this extended trip was so attractive to me… spending a month in each place will give me more than enough time to do all the things I want to do and see and taste and experience, right? Well… just like when living in New York, you still have to make time to get work done, sleep, and take care of your basic needs and household things. This means that inevitably there will be experiences I have to miss out on. I'm working on managing my Fear Of Missing Out, but it has definitely been a challenge!
Being thrown into such a different culture has challenged and stretched me in so many ways. From the language barrier to the various cultural customs, I've been learning to embrace the ways of the Thai people. From removing shoes before entering buildings to remembering not to flush toilet paper, to not pointing at anything (it is considered rude to do so), to dressing appropriately for entering temples… there are so many cultural differences to be made aware of and apply. The major mode of transportation in the area is via motorized scooters, so that's been an adjustment, too. People zip in and out of traffic on their motorbikes, and while it feels a little dangerous at times it seems that everyone on the road is hyper-aware of their surroundings. It's definitely a faster way to get just about anywhere, but I'm still getting used to it, even just as a passenger.
These are just some of the few things I've learned and noticed over the last several weeks. I can't wait to see what other revelations I have over the course of the next four months…
Until next time,