We’re already into our fourth month of Remote Year and time is ticking by faster than I ever imagined it would. In a previous post I touched briefly on the concept of time on Remote Year. Our daily lives are still a constant buzz consisting of working, participating in organized events, exercising, exploring the cities we’re currently in, making plans for the coming days, weekends or months, sharing meals, going out, packing up and moving cities every month, and whatever else might come along.
The other day while trying to give some structure to my week I had my google calendar open, looking at the week ahead. It struck me as a very typical week, and a rather accurate representation of how my time is spent.
As with all weeks, my work schedule is based on Eastern Standard Time, with a set schedule from 7:00am to 3:00pm, Monday to Friday. In Sofia that translates to 2:00pm to 10:00pm local time. I woke up without my alarm set, somewhere around 8:00am. After a shower and breakfast I headed out with my camera and notepad to explore the city and look for interesting sites to see and things to do. There are lots of cozy cafes scattered throughout the city so I stopped at one to enjoy a coffee and try to dial in to the pulse of the city. After a couple of hours of wondering and pondering I headed back to my apartment to grab my work gear and head to the work space. The work space is a 5 minute walk from my apartment and there are a handful of good restaurants nearby. After stopping for lunch at one of the better vegetarian restaurants in the city, I arrived at the work space, set up my laptop and got to work. For those who were interested and whose schedules allow it, a yoga class was being offered at 6:30 by one of our City Managers (more on that later). Somewhere around 7:00pm a couple of fellow Remotes and I were feeling hungry so we headed out for a quick dinner. Then back to the work space to continue working until 10. That’s was pretty much it.
The dynamic of Remote Year is really interesting in that there’s a group of approximately 70 people from different professional, unrelated backgrounds, who have never met before, suddenly sharing a work space and travelling together. While we’ve all gotten to know each other on a personal level quite well, most of us don’t really know what the other person does for a job.
As a way for us to get to know each other on a professional level, one of our group members decided to organize a professional speed dating event to take place this morning. About 20 of us signed up for the event and we were all given a list of everyone’s name and job title, plus 1 question that we were to ask everyone else. We were given 5 minutes with each person to ask our question, answer their question, and continue the conversation until time was up. There were some great questions/statements, such as define your job in 3 hashtags, describe the biggest challenge you are facing on Remote Year, and what is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned through travelling.
Our speed dating event finished at 12:30, just in time for lunch roulette. Lunch roulette is a weekly event organized by Remote Year in some of the cities that we visit. It just consists of going for lunch, but everyone who’s interested on any given day – typically anywhere between 8 and 30 people – is broken up into random groups of 3, 4 or 5 people. And we go for lunch. The idea behind it is that you get grouped with people outside your normal circle of friends, people you might not normally share a meal with, and share a meal with them. It’s a great way to get to know the cohort a little better, and also a great way to explore the city’s restaurants, restaurants you might not choose on your own. After lunch it was time for work.
For those who were interested and whose schedules allowed it, a night of knitting was being organized by another one of the group members. They met at the yarn shop and while stocking up on supplies, they bought extra yarn and needles to donate to largest Refugee Camp in Bulgaria. Here, local women are being taught to knit as a therapeutic pastime, and they graciously accept donations.
Another day for the books.
Communication is a topic that is treated with a lot of importance on the program and every two weeks we have a Town Hall meeting. This is where any important announcements are made – both which affect our group and also the larger Remote Nation. If it’s the first Town Hall in a new city we discuss the feedback that we submitted on the city we were in the previous month. Feedback is given on topics ranging from accommodation to the livability of the city, and among other things, it’s considered by the Remote Year Ops team when planning future programs. We discuss any topics or issues relating to our shared work space, such as accessibility or events taking place which are unrelated to our group. There’s talk about events which are taking place during the week, month, etc., and any upcoming holidays. If it’s the second Town Hall of the month, we’ll talk about our upcoming transition to the next city – pick up times, flight schedules, arrival details in the new city, basic details pertaining to our new living situations, etc. It’s also an opportunity to give shout-outs to anyone in the group who has gone out of their way to do something exceptional (one of our cohort recently published an eBook which is now available on Amazon), or who may have overcome a personal struggle.
There aren’t always events planned in the evenings, but on this particular evening a cinema was rented out so we could have a private movie night.
One of the coolest aspects of Remote Year is the opportunity it provides us to interact with and get to know people from such diverse personal and professional backgrounds. We’re very much a sharing community, and anyone who has any specific skill set or knowledge or interest in, well, anything at all really, is encouraged to share their knowledge and passion with the group. One of the girls is a native Spanish speaker and is giving Spanish lessons in order to prepare us for the 7 months we’re going to spend in Spanish-speaking countries. We have a professional photographer in the group who gave one-to-one tips on shooting with a DSLR camera, followed by an early morning photo walk through the streets of the city.
Sometimes a couple of Remotes join forces to share their collective knowledge and passion, and this morning we had a licensed Naturopath and a Lifestyle Coach and Holistic Health enthusiast provide a Health and Wellbeing workshop. We discussed autumn superfoods, anti-stress foods, probiotic Bulgaria, and positive language – brain training. We also had a Pumpkin challenge, where we all brought in a dish – made or bought – containing pumpkin, walnuts and honey. This was an informative and fun way to start the day!
For evening events, there was another yoga class being offered, and for those who wanted a healthy dose of laughter, a group met to attend a comedy show.
In all of the cities we visit there are 2 part-time City Managers who organize and assist in the logistics and planning of our time in each city, as well as organize events and outings for us to participate in. One of the City Managers is a certified Yoga Instructor, and 3 times a week she offered free yoga classes for us to participate in. After a calming and grounding start to the day, there was time for a haircut and lunch at another one of the excellent vegetarian restaurants in the city before heading into the work space for the day’s work. During the day the Yearbook committee held one of their regular meetings, and a couple of people had their Spanish lessons.
Since it was Friday, some people who had planned weekend side trips started heading out, and some of those who were staying in the city organized a theatre night. Over the course of the night, several people overlapped in bars scattered around the city as we celebrated another week gone by and enjoyed another night together.
Saturday and Sunday
The events organized this particular weekend included a 24-hour hackathon benefiting a local charity organization, a 1-day yoga retreat, a private yacht trip on a nearby lake, a free graffiti tour, and a dog walking afternoon at a local animal shelter.
Weekends are also a time when many people take off to explore other parts of the country and other countries in Europe. One group rented a couple of cars and headed for the Black Sea coast of Bulgaria, a handful of people took advantage of cheap flights to Greece, and a group of 4 set off on a week-long Balkans road trip, and I left for a 10-day journey through Central Bulgaria and Romania.
While the scheduling, events and travel plans vary according to what city we happen to be in, that’s a pretty accurate look at a pretty typical week on Remote Year. For those of you wondering why I’ve fallen behind on my posts, while not an excuse, this is a big part of the reason why. Too much to do, to little time…