In May 2019, I had a complicated surgery and, as a fatalist, I thought that this is it, and my life’s over. Hence, I have to enjoy the rest of it to the fullest! 

This is how the decision to spend a month working from the ocean has been made. I had this idea long ago, but I often put it off as there were always some obstacles. This time, as I was thinking that I’m living my last years, I finally decided to do what I’ve always dreamed of. 

Trying to put aside my emotional state at that period, here are some thoughts on my one-month experience as a digital nomad.

I made a self-financing trip

I’ve chosen Sri Lanka as I’ve been there before on vacation and liked the country, particularly its low prices. I wanted to spend only the money I would earn during the trip, so the choice of flights and accommodation was restricted by my budget.

What I understood later is that, when you’re alone in another country, you might need a bit of extra comfort and you should probably choose a bit more expensive options. I had to move from a chip bungalow almost in the forest closer to civilization because of constant troubles with wi-fi and giant insects that are more common near the forest than near the ocean.

Jumping ahead, I’ve managed to fit my budget because I had some additional side jobs that covered my expenses during the trip.

I enjoyed the local cuisine

I never understood people who, going on a vacation to another country, choose the foods they’ve used to. Scrambled eggs for breakfast while in Thailand? Hamburger for lunch when you’re in Cambodia? Don’t you think that’s odd?

As Anthony Bourdain used to say, you should choose a place where locals eat to embrace authentic national cuisine. As a rule, this means that the food will be a bit spicier (if you’re in an Asian country), but it will also be way less expensive.

You can also try to cook by yourself while on a long trip. This will show you how restricted your vision of food is and hopefully will acquaint you with some exotic foods. 

I embraced fruits

Most people who become digital nomads choose warm and relatively cheap-to-live countries like Thailand, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Cambodia. These are precisely the places where you can enjoy exotic fruits. Here you can also see for yourself how much their taste differs from what you’ve got used to in your local supermarkets.

I believe that mango and mangosteen are the tastiest fruits on the planet, but I’m sure I will discover new, unusual tastes with further traveling!

(I couldn’t force myself into trying durian. I know it’s considered a top fruit among many foodies, but that’s not what tastes good for me.)

I lived near the ocean 

We always lack things we don’t have access to. For example, I live in Kyiv, Ukraine. This city stands on a large river, it is surrounded by forests and filled with parks and lakes. But as I can access them every minute of the year, I don’t want them anymore. What I wanted were waterfalls and the ocean!

And now I’m here. And I’m petrified by the strength (and danger, actually) of the ocean! I haven’t swum that much on this trip, actually. First of all, I’m not a good swimmer. The second reason is that I was afraid that the wave would flush me into the open water and no one would rescue me.

However, I totally enjoyed sunbathing, running along the shore, and working from the cafes on the beach.

I met unexpected fauna members

I’m not that good at taking photos, so I haven’t depicted most of the birds and animals I’ve met (including apes, who live just near people and stroll through the cities). However, I was happy with shooting a goanna, a peacock, and a palm squirrel. 

I went on short trips whenever I could

Of course, I was working most of the time. However, I tried to find time and enjoy my weekends. My major stay was in Unawatuna, a small town in southern Sri Lanka. It is filled with affordable hotels, it has a large clean beach and is close to other small cities. 

During this stay, I’ve visited Galle, a city founded by European colonists. It has unusual architecture due to the Portuguese influence, there are some nice museums, and it’s considered one of the country’s biggest tourist attractions. 

I’ve also been to Koggala, where one of the country’s sea turtle hatcheries is situated. I believe that sea turtles are the most beautiful creatures in the world, so watching and touching them had an incredible impact on my mood. You realize how much of everything there is on a planet! And you want more time to get acquainted with as many species as possible.

I accepted that I was a social creature

After a couple of days all by myself, I understood how much I miss my family. I planned this trip as a reload, but I didn’t realize that discoveries and adventures bring me much more joy when I can share them with someone.

Being thousands of miles away from my home showed me how much I love and appreciate my husband, parents, and friends. Frankly speaking, I was homesick during all the time I’ve spent in another country.

That might not be that big of a problem if you’re an extrovert who can easily make new acquaintances. Unfortunately, I’m more of an introvert, and meeting new people makes me very anxious. 

I realized that 7 billion people were living simultaneously!

That’s the fact that always evokes in me the strongest emotions. Understanding that there are more than 200 countries, with billions of people of different ethnicities, believes, traditions, and backgrounds, living their lives all together at the same time, makes me feel so tiny! This knowledge reloads your perception of your importance and demonstrates how much else you have to see.

So, was it worth it?

I perceive this month of living alone in another country as my personal bar mitzva. The thing is, I’ve never been alone for so long, and being away from home just showed me how important my family and friends are in my life. I also understood that I love life! It is full of natural beauties I have to see, foods I have to try, and animals I have to pet.  

Apart from being homesick most of the time, I’m so glad that I had more time to enjoy the local food, nature, and culture for almost one month! As I have a middle-class income, I wouldn’t be able to go on vacation for the whole month. That’s why I was glad my job allowed me to become a digital nomad, at least for one month.

Talking about work, this month has shown me that I’m quite productive when working remotely. Moreover, this experience came in handy when the 2020th lockdown has hit the world. 

If you have the opportunity, I would surely encourage you to try becoming a digital nomad at least for a month or two. Apart from being an adventure on its own, it helps you reload your perception of the world and yourself. 

Would I do this again? I would love to! But the next time, I will surely try to make it with someone I love so we can share the brilliant adventure.