Column: What no one told me when I left

Credits: Cindy Van Dyck

Clearly, I am currently experiencing the best time of my life. Whether it will get any better? I hope so, of course. But I really can’t complain right now. I have found love, am working with my best friend on our empire and can go to the beach whenever I want to relax. But even though everything is now running smoothly, it wasn’t always this easy.

That I never felt 100% at home in Belgium became clear after my first trips to the Caribbean. Suddenly I knew what I always missed at home: living without social pressure, seeing from day to day what the hours bring and being able to take much more me-time. A lifestyle that is not for everyone, but really hit home for me.

Making a big life change is pretty scary. But know what’s even scarier? Regret.

When Angelo and I came back to the Dominican Republic on vacation in May, after a long break due to corona, the picture was complete for me. This is what I had to do: become a Digital Nomad. Thanks to the Blogzine Academy this is perfectly possible and I am even more productive than ever before. Until today I’m still so thankful that I took the risk to start this life. So now that I can look back on more than 6 months, let me reflect on the process that was involved. Because there are some points that no one had told me beforehand. But that are going to be important for future Digital Nomads!

You lose grip on the basic things

At home, you have everything figured out. You know your local bakery, butcher and the supermarket where you buy your favorite ingredients. You know where to turn when you’re sick and when you need something fast, you can go back to the local drugstore. This is where everything falls away and you start over.

Even though you’ve been somewhere on vacation many times, staying in hotels or in your own apartment are two different worlds. You have to search and learn everything all over again: which supermarket is the cheapest? What if I have to go to the dentist? The simplest things from home suddenly become a challenge. And figuring it out takes time. Because now, six months later, we are really settled and only know how or what, and where. So give yourself time in your search!

Out of sight, out of mind

Just before I left for the long trip, everyone was interested in my story. Many loved it, asked to come visit me and followed my stories daily. But that quickly changed, and I’m honestly enormously surprised by how quickly people can forget you.

I’ve always been a hugely social person. That’s exactly why I loved the Social Media world. I came into contact with huge creatives and was able to develop my own ideas. In doing so, humanity and relationships were always number 1 for me. And today I notice how often that was abused. Always had time for a nice coffee or lunch, asked for content, I was happy to do it. Finally, we had a nice contact. But also in addition, people often asked me for advice for their business or help. And once successful, I no longer existed.

Even with this departure, I noticed pretty quickly how many people never asked me again how I was doing. Whether everything is going well. When I might return to see each other. Just nothing. If I can’t do anything for them now or deliver, they just don’t send. Out of sight is clearly also out of mind. And from now on also out of mine. Because I’m so thankful for all the amazing souls I met while being here. And I chose for my own happiness, to leave all the negative relationships in 2021. Do the same! Keep your best friends from home close, but also make new local friends.

Your adaptability is enormous

One thing is certain: if you are open to making it successful, you will succeed. An important part of that is to adapt as best you can to the local culture, customs and lifestyle. Because going against the grain is only going to slow down your process of feeling at home.

Here, communication is hugely important. Talk to your neighbors in the new neighborhood, talk to your cab drivers, listen to people’s experiences and get outside. Often they scare foreigners that neighborhoods or going outside is dangerous. But believe me: nothing is more dangerous or less dangerous than going somewhere else. Even in Belgium you can be randomly attacked by someone who has bad intentions. I also continued after my attack. And even though I still get flashbacks sometimes, I get to know the people here better and better, and that helps me enormously.

So don’t be afraid to get to know people, it will enrich your horizon enormously!

You feel the financial pressure

The financial picture plays a role in what we do every day. Are we going on an outing and eating out? Or do we choose to be economical and still eat at home. Every activity, even in Belgium, is analyzed and that’s no less here. Here I mainly feel the financial pressure just a little more.

The reason for this is very simple: if there is no more income, then the story as a digital nomad stops and so do my plans for the future. Therefore, I get up every day with the goal of finding new clients. And when things get tough, like the last two moths, the pressure is even more. Also because the exchange rate is enormously dependent on the American dollar. So life here can go from being extremely cheap to suddenly being extremely expensive! And I have to take this into account every day.

To be honest, I lived the first months like a queen with lots of trips and restaurant dates. Today I have already put on the brakes and consciously choose to go out to eat only once or twice a month. That way I can save extra in case my income suddenly drops. Because as a self-employed person you never have certainty. And stop my dreams here? That’s not on my mind at the moment.

Therefor always make sure you have a savings plan when you decide to become a Digital Nomad. At the very least, plan for a budget to buy a flight ticket in case of emergency and three months’ salary. This way, you can bridge the most difficult moments without worries!

Don’t let anything anyway stop you from achieving your dreams. This decision of traveling and working remotely, has given me the best life experiences I could never have experienced at home. I have become immensely mature and independent in a very short time. Even though I was already this, it is just a little bit different. And this experience will never be taken away from me! So if your dream is also to become a Digital Nomad, then I would love to help you make it happen!

This article has been written by @CINDY VAN DYCK

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