Fashion & Lifestyle

Interview for “Love, Becca”

Becca: If you’re unfamiliar with the growing trend, a digital nomad is essentially someone who works remotely, often on their own terms, and can therefore have their ‘office’ anywhere from a beachside cafe on the other side of the world, to their living room sofa. While most of the digital nomads you’ve seen online are indeed in Bali, working by the beach, surfing on their lunch break, from here in Saigon you can see that digital nomads are appearing everywhere, and I want in. So, to find out more about what it’s like to become one, I met with Kristiana, otherwise affectionately known as Kurisu, who left her home country of Albania 3 months ago to live in Vietnam.

Q1: So first of all, what would you say is your ‘job’?
“I’m a graphic designer and Illustrator, that’s my profession. In Albania I studied Art & Design for 3 years, and worked for 3 years as a graphic designer and also a photographer, blogger, social media manager, photo model etc… In Albania it works like that, if they know how many talents you have they’ll make you do everything.”

Q2: What made you decide to become a digital nomad? 
“I was kind of bored in my country, I wanted to try a new experience, I was stuck and nothing new was coming my way. My life became a routine of going to work, coming home, weekends were the same… I really wanted a change of pattern, I wanted to challenge myself more, I wasn’t even productive or inspired anymore before I came here.”

Becca: As a freelancer in Saigon, no day looks the same for Kurisu, and she wouldn’t have it any other way. Here, she gets to be her own boss, with much more creative licence than in her old job, not to mention working far less hours, dedicating more time to her other passions of blogging, photography and also DJing! 

Q3: Did any particular experience or person prepare you for life abroad?
The biggest influence for Kurisu’s move was a friend she has known in Albania, who had already lived in Saigon for two years and suggested it to her as an exciting new challenge. Today, Kurisu couldn’t be more grateful for her, “She helped me a lot with the documents, she found me a house to live in, showed me how to use Facebook to get a job…”
Aside from the major differences in the food and weather, “She warned me that life would be a lot more chaotic than in Albania. All the motorbikes, the lifestyle, everything’s always a rush. But only when I came here did I realise how different everything is: the music, the smells, the flowers, everything, I felt like I was in an anime.”

Q4: How soon after you landed in Vietnam did you get your first job?
“In 3 weeks. I just got stuck into my laptop searching, sharing my skills, it’s easy here because Facebook is a huge network so you can just post in groups and people will reply to you. It’s easy to find a job here.”

Q5: So now that you’re used to it, what’s your favourite aspect of your lifestyle in Saigon?
For Kurisu, the best part of life in Saigon begins the moment she wakes up, as the morning sun fills the room as early as 4:30am, making it easy to wake up in a good mood. “Back in my country, especially during this season, it’s cold and rainy and you just can’t get out of bed.”

Becca: Besides the sunlight and sounds of Saigon waking her up, Kurisu describes having much more motivation to get up and leave early every day, “Back home I would think: “Oh my God another day at work doing the same thing…”, but I don’t have that here.” In her new life, Kurisu recognises the need to hustle each day, as if you’re not active, you’re not paying your bills.

Q6: What do you miss most about where you were living before?
J
ust three months into her first year living away from home, more than anything Kurisu misses her family and her dog. As for Albania itself, “I miss the food, the food in my country is very healthy, I didn’t appreciate it that much until I came here, but now I really do miss traditional food, and my mum’s cooking. But other than that, not much!”

Q7: What have you learned about the Vietnamese community over the last 3 months?
“I’ve realised they’re very peaceful people, very positive, very kind. They invite you for things, they teach you about stuff… I have a Vietnamese neighbour and in all the houses I’ve lived in I’ve never had this kind of sweet neighbour… she has helped me find out where to buy stuff… I’ve never had that before.”

Q8: Do you have any major goals for your time abroad?
“My goal is to grow, to be more responsible, to mother myself, to be more strong with myself… Being alone helps you to know yourself more and love yourself more. Loving yourself is not just a beautiful process or about treating yourself, it’s about challenging yourself and realising what you’re capable of, even if you’re distracted or not looking your best, you’re learning.”

Q9: Could you ever see yourself going back to a regular 9-5 office job?
“Not really, I’ve worked in an office for many years, it’s made me strong, it’s helped me become more professional, I can’t deny that.” But for Kurisu, the major deterrent of going back to working in an office environment is the demanding time pressure rushing her creative process. “Clients think you just open your laptop and create something but it’s not like that, when you’re a creative, you need to take time to think, to do you research, develop a concept, sketch… but you don’t get to be creative a lot of the time at an office because clients really want it today…”

“I used to work so many extra hours… It kind of destroyed me, it destroyed my character, I used to be very angry sometimes, I was stressed, I’d come home and argue with my boyfriend because I was sad…But here I don’t have that pressure, I manage my own time, I don’t have someone telling me when I need to have things done by, I know how to do that myself.”

Kurisu’s dream is to one day train and lead her own team, hoping to be a much better boss than the ones she’s had the pleasure of working for. “It would be very different to how I’ve suffered…When you’ve had the experiences I’ve had you wouldn’t want to inflict that on others.”

Q10: What’s one piece of advice you’d give to someone looking to change their life the way you did?
“Believe in yourself. Believe in your skills. Believe in the things you are capable of doing. Because even if you didn’t have the opportunity to prove your skills, you can find those opportunities elsewhere, but you have to take the chance. Even if you lose, you’ll learn something.”
You heard the girl, go for it. 

Thank you Becca for inviting me to give this interview and thanks for the lovely pictures! For more interesting stuff by Becca check: love-becca.com 🙂

The interview link:
https://love-becca.com/2019/12/24/kurisu-starting-out-as-a-digital-nomad/

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