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Beth Hoke: What I learned about life – and myself – after a year as a digital nomad

It’s been a little more than a year since I began life as a digital nomad, writing for Dispatches Europe and teaching English online.

A lot has happened since then. Mostly good things. Some frustrations. Thankfully, nothing bad.

I started a new job (several, actually), made some minor errors in judgment, and learned how to be content with solo travel.

I have visited Portugal, Germany, England, Scotland, Spain, France, the Netherlands, Italy, Croatia, and Morocco.

I watched out the window of the train as I passed through Switzerland and Austria and rode the bus through Slovenia and Bosnia-Herzegovina on the way to my next destinations.

I got used to the idiosyncrasies of each city and country I visited.

For example:

• You have to have cash on hand while you’re in Germany; ATMs are scarce and not all the stores accept credit or debit cards.

• In Madrid, you have to scan your bus or train ticket only when you enter said bus or train.

• In London, you scan your ticket when you enter and exit through the turnstiles.

• Dubrovnik is beautiful, but the food is bland.

• Naples has a serious garbage problem, but the pizza I ate there was divine.

I saw little bits of home in every place I visited, particularly in Munich where I lived when I was in high school. I cried honest-to-goodness tears as I walked through the neighborhood remembering the “good old days.”

I tried to get a long-term visa in Germany last winter so I could stay longer, but my application was denied because my income isn’t steady as a contractor/freelancer.

This led to an in-depth study of the Schengen Agreement and how to live within and work around its rules and regulations so I can use Europe as my home base as long as possible.

I learned which things I can live without:

• a car

• cellphone service

• Starbucks

I learned which things are essential for my wellbeing:

• a mobile router

• my UPPTÄCKA backpack

• a good Schengen calculator

I made new friends and visited family. Family and friends have come to stay with me.

I housesat for an entire summer and didn’t have to pay a dime in rent.

I accepted a ride from a stranger when stranded in central Italy.

Most importantly, I was reminded that the world is a big, confusing, exciting, complicated, intriguing place and I don’t expect that my wanderlust will be satisfied for a long, long time.

BETH

About the author: Beth Hoke is rejoining the expat life after spending her childhood in Europe and the United States, then settling in Chicagoland to raise two daughters.

Now an empty nester, she is roaming Europe, armed with a TEFL certificate and an online position teaching English for EF.

Beth has been traveling around Europe for over a year. She’s filed posts from at least six countries including Italy, Germany, Croatia, and Madeira, Portugal.

More posts on Dispatches from Beth Hoke:

• With each closed border, the world gets a little smaller … and sadder

• Teaching English allows me the freedom to work and travel

• How to Airbnb like a boss

• I created my Traveling With Pets bot to save you time and frustration

• Confessions of a set-jetter: Beth Hoke goes to Croatia in search of ‘Game of Thrones’

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