[Remote Year] We’re Famous! In Uruguay.

Last week, a reporter, videographer, and photographer from El Observador, an Uruguayan newspaper, came to Sinergia to profile Remote Year and interview some of us for an article and video.

my instagram pic of our workspace on day 1 at Sinergia

I was one of four people that spoke to them one-on-one. First, we did a nice Remote Year 2 group photo in the main workspace of Sinergia, and then the each of the four of us went upstairs to do our on-camera interview before taking photos in the office and down by the water on La Rambla near our office.

Here’s who they talked to:

  • Sam Pessin, co-founder of Remote Year
  • Rik Buddhdev, RY2 member, marketing expert
  • Katherine Conaway (me!), RY2 member, it says graphic designer on the video, but that’s translation confusion — I’ve been a producer for graphic design projects. same same but different ;)
  • TJ Lee, RY2 member, youtuber
Rik’s photo in the article — they used very flattering mid-sentence shots of him and me ;)
“You can read about culture and things to do around the world and people to meet and see, but immersing yourself in a culture and community is a whole different ballgame. You get to actually feel what people go through, see it with your own eyes, and be part of something a lot bigger. The minute I heard about Remote Year, it just opened up the door for the possibilities of experiencing life.” — Rik Buddhdev

Sam outlined what Remote Year entails:

  • the fees for Remote Year ($27,000 USD for the year / 12 months)
  • what our fees include (accommodation, travel between cities each month, workspace, cultural + community + professional events and activities)
  • the point of the program (connect people to other people and support them while working remotely)
  • demographics of our RY2 group (age 23–63, 15 nationalities).
“There are two things we want to do: and the first one is change lives, change individual people’s lives, and we hope to have that impact on everybody who does this program in the past, in the present, and in the future. And in the future, what we want to do is change the way that the world thinks about work.” — Sam Pessin

During our interviews (obviously not all of the footage was included), the three participants talked about why we became part of Remote Year, how we work remotely, why we love traveling, what we think of the experience so far, etc.

They got some great quotes from me and my fellow Remoters that are important messages for people who are curious about this program and the digital nomad lifestyle in general.

“It’s kind of like a social experiment to throw a bunch of adults together who are different age, different profession, different personality.” — TJ Lee

The video included some footage of me eating and walking, which is even less beautiful and glamorous than it sounds ;) But at least that shows some of the realities of our daily life here at Sinergia in Montevideo, which includes eating lunch on the upstairs terrace, having frizzy hair because it’s humid, and living with a limited wardrobe.

my article interview pic: taken mid-sentence during my interview. lots of gesturing!

Given that they interviewed us 10 days into the program, it was hard to have a good answer to questions about what this experience means or what I think about Montevideo / Uruguay. It’s all still so new to us that we’re very much still adjusting to this lifestyle and being together as a group and being in South America.

“Just as it’s great to come to Montevideo and see what people are like here, you know, it’s great to be with people who are from Canada or England or Columbia or Singapore and are in this program with us, and the way they see these things and the way that they work — that’s so wonderful to learn.” — Katherine Conaway

Before, when I was traveling alone, I had only myself to consult about the things I was seeing and feeling. Now I have 75 other people around who are theoretically experiencing the same things I am.

That number alone is enough to ensure there’s diversity of perspectives, but when you factor in our age range, nationalities, professions, academic experience, hobbies and passions — there’s a broad spectrum of backgrounds that increases the variety in how we react to and perceive everything. If we’re open to those differences, it can be even more educational and enlightening.

“A lot of people always ask me, how do you do this? And I do not have a lot of money. I do work. And you just have to make a choice — you have to get rid of what’s comfortable. Whether that’s emotional comfort or physical comfort. But if you do that, you can go a lot of places.” — Katherine Conaway

This is a touchy subject for me — when I tell people that I’ve been traveling since June of 2014, they assume that I have some kind of trust fund or came from a job where I made enough to save and live off, and it couldn’t be further from the truth. I’ve never made a lot of money and no one is bankrolling this experience for me — I am able to travel and live all over the world by virtue of work, planning, very careful budgeting, and relinquishing the trappings of standard adulthood.

Another (often invisible) requirement for this lifestyle is the sacrifice of comfort. It’s not comfortable to travel all the time, to not have a home. It’s not comfortable to miss friends and family and feel lonely (even now with 75 people around). It’s not comfortable to feel overwhelmed and confused on a regular basis — so much of our confidence comes from knowing and understanding how things work. It’s not comfortable to work remotely and never know how or when your job and income will change while you’re in a random country or village. It’s not comfortable to live in cheap hotels or travel 20 hours across the globe. It’s not comfortable to not have a consistent time zone. This lifestyle is not comfortable.

People often think that the digital nomad lifestyle looks glamorous, but that depends entirely on how you define glamour. If glamour means new experiences and adventures and the unknown, then yes, absolutely it is glamorous. But if glamour is about luxurious vacation spots and comfortable beds and cleanliness and new outfits and delicious food and never feeling sick — that is not the experience of this lifestyle.

Anyway, that’s all better addressed separately in another essay, but it felt worth including since my quote on the issue made it into the video.

“I think this program will help me figure out if this is a sustainable lifestyle to travel and work and keep traveling the whole year. I hope that it will, I hope that it will teach us it is possible to be a digital nomad full time, and hopefully we can share that with the world.” — TJ Lee
TJ is the actual best. Please watch her youtube videos about the program — you will laugh out loud.

Lastly, here’s a rough translation of what they wrote about me — a bit got lost in their translation from English to Spanish in terms of what I was trying to say, but overall, it’s roughly accurate.

“From Texas, she is 29 and is a freelance advisor [producer] for graphic web design, which is a job that can be done remotely. In the summer of 2015, she was working from Hong Kong when she received an email with information about the program and immediately got excited. This is a unique opportunity for her; she had never traveled for so long at once. What stood out about the program is the opportunity to meet people from various countries and work with them.”

Check it out! The article features the video at the top — the video is in English with Spanish subtitles.

Katherine is a digital nomad, working remotely while she travels the world — living on the road since June 2014. She’s a member of Remote Year 2 Battuta, living around the world with 75 other digital nomads from February 2016 to January 2017.

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