The Remote Year has started…
After all the preparations I eventually packed my bags and early on a cold and wet Wednesday morning left the UK for a year. It couldn’t have been more different in Valencia: the sun was shining and Vitamin D was in plentiful supply. The craziness of the first few days then started in earnest. By the end of day 1, I had moved into a new apartment, met the Remote Year team, attended a seminar, entered too many wifi codes into various electronic devises and had a private tour around Valencia. My first impressions are that this year is going to be very very busy with too much to do and not enough hours in the day to fit everything in. But as I’m here to work the number one priority for day two was to get back into contact with my work colleagues and get some work done. This did not present too much of a problem as the office space at Wayco has many different working environments and my first impressions are that my fellow travellers are all taking their work commitments seriously.
I have met so many people during this initial week, from an old friend who I have not seen for over 10 years, to new Remote Year friends, to locals and ex-pats living in Valencia. What I’m beginning to realise is that there is amazing diversity with our group of 75 which means that there is an incredible amount that could be learnt, particularly by someone who is a technophobe like me. Today, Arcadis (my employer) has asked me to write a viewpoint blog on the problems of plastic waste. While I’m used to writing in a technical style, this blog will need to be written in a different, more journalist style, something I’ve not really done before. So I’ve reached out to my Remote Year team, via our interactive on-line Slack group. This has led to offers of help on editing and reviewing as well as a new Slack channel devoted to writing. Given that I hadn’t even heard of Slack a week ago this feels like a great achievement. The possibilities that could be achieved this year are immense and probably in ways I haven’t even thought about yet.
I’m also noticing the differences in culture between Spain and the UK. While the long lunch breaks may be easy to get used to, other aspects are more difficult. Many shops and restaurants close for the afternoon siesta resulting in a very late, by English standards, evening meal. There are two choices: change work and life patterns for the month or cook independently. The choice of fresh food in the markets is wonderful so cooking at home shouldn’t present too much of a problem but I also want to eat out as Valencia is paella country!
So almost at the end of the first week I can safely say that this will be a completely different experience to any travelling that I have done before. Having to make work a centralised part of your life forces you to adopt a new routine. Remote Year is not one year-long holiday but it will be one year-long experience.