As my time in Croatia is coming to an end I want to reflect back on my first month abroad. First, I am the happiest I have been in quite some time. For the first time in many years, I am finally living in the moment and enjoying each and every day. For two years, I planned for this trip and thought about it each and every day. I was never fully present because I was always thinking about what was next and how I could get there. Even in high school, you are always ready for college and in college you are ready for the semester to end. Once graduated, you are looking for that dream job. I can finally say that I truly am living my wildest dream and loving every minute of it! As long as I get my work done, I have nothing to do and nowhere to be. If someone asks if I want to do something, I can almost always say yes and that is an amazing feeling to have.
When I started this journey, I was unsure of how it would go. I had never been to Europe before, but I committed to living there for the next 6 months. I had never traveled long-term before, but I committed to living in 12 completely new cities. I had never met these crazy 60 people, but I committed to living with them for the next year. Some people like to dip their toes in the water, I prefer to dive in head first. This month has been an eye-opening experience in many ways and so far they are all positive. First, I want to talk about my fellow remotes. We were 60 strangers less than a month ago and now I feel like they are all family. We work together, eat together, drink together, dance together, exercise together and more. It is so fun to always have someone to do something with. When you have 60 people in your community, you never have to do anything alone (unless you want to). Everyone has different jobs, different backgrounds, born in different countries, or speak English as a second language. We all have this beautiful thing in common – we are Remote Year – Balboa, the 10th edition. Everyone of us had different reasons to come, have different financial situations, have different personalities, but we all joined this year long journey. Having that in common is all we need. I can’t remember the last time I went out to eat with 25 people or on a vacation with 35 others, but these happen daily/weekly now and it couldn’t be more fun!
I found Remote Year from a Facebook ad. I clicked on it, read a bit about it and signed up that day. That was it, everything I had always wanted to do, they provided. Travel for a year – check! Work remotely while traveling – check! Travel with a community of like-minded individuals – check! When I applied, not a single Remote Year group had completed their year, yet I knew everything would be ok. So far, Remote Year has blown me away! Everything has run so smoothly. They are organized, the staff is amazing, the workspace is perfect, my accommodation is incredible and the organized events are new and exciting! I honestly have zero complaints and if you are reading this and are on the fence about joining a Remote Year program, stop what you are doing and sign up! I promise you will not regret it and will thank me later. Sure, it was scary putting all my faith in such a young company and I know there will be bumps in the road but so far they have exceeded all of my expectations!
I knew very little about Croatia before I arrived. I had never even heard of Split, the city I now live in. Croatia, like everything else, has continuously exceeded my expectations and it really is a diamond in the rough. It is amazingly beautiful with crystal clear water, a coastline of beaches and hundreds of islands in the distance. I have never spent this much time in a more aesthetically pleasing place and I know I will miss it when I leave. A 30 minute walk along the amazing ocean and you’re in Old Town, one of the oldest and coolest cities I have ever seen. The stone walkways, the tall towers, the castle-like feel, the tiny and twisting alleyways, the hole in the wall bars and restaurants, it is all there and it is all amazing. The overwhelmingly welcoming and hospitable Croatian people was maybe my biggest surprise and revelation. Here we are, 60 new people coming into their city and the people couldn’t be nicer. We don’t speak the language, but everyone tries their best English for us. From getting invited to a private cigar bar, to a traditional Croatian peka dinner, to going out with some locals we met, to just having friendly chats with the uber drivers, every single person has been so nice to us and it is SO much appreciated. Living in a touristy town like Charleston, it makes me want to be more hospitable to tourists when they come.
Overall, this has been one of the best months of my life and I have eleven more of these to come! I will only have fond memories of Split and Croatia in general. I am 100% confident that I made the right choice by joining Remote Year 10- Balboa. Knowing this makes the next months even more exciting to me. As we continue to get to know each other more and start having friends and family come visit, maybe it will start to feel like real life, because right now it certainly still feels like a dream. Next up, Prague – here we go!