Confessions Of A Digital Nomad: Coworking In A Foreign Country

Cowork22 Barcelona Spain Catalonia Coworking Digital Nomad Remote Work

Does the idea of living abroad excite and intrigue you? Are you already working from a coworking space in another country?

For many the idea of working from another country is exciting and Instagram worthy, but it can also be intimidating because of all the uncertainty.

Languages and cultures are almost always different from country to country — even when countries are neighbors.

My adventures in Europe are a prime example. I had to know Spanish in certain areas in Barcelona while English was prevalent in others. In Holland, English is spoken by the majority of people.

As far as culture goes, beyond language, Spain’s culture is centered around wine and food. Dinners start late at night – 10:00 p.m. is typical. Although the siesta is not as common of a practice as it used to be, there are still many people who take a break in mid-afternoon and then work until right before dinner.

This is important information because it could become your habit if you want to connect with others and feel like part of the culture.

These types of cultural differences are found everywhere. However, there are also many similarities.

Again, while I was in Barcelona there were many demonstrations about independence and voting rights. However, people still were living their normal daily lives.

People go to work.

They meet friends.

They go out for drinks.

And, they plan for holidays.

We can live in a way similar to the way we live at home, however, it is helpful to have a plan when you are going to a new place.

My experience coworking in Scotland, Spain, and Holland was not that different than my experience coworking all over the United States.

Coworking spaces are crucial for me to work remotely as a digital nomad.

I have worked in all types of “workspaces” — libraries, coffee shops, hostels, hotels, restaurants, from city benches where there’s WiFi, on buses, on trains, etc, but none of them give me the sense of being connected to a place and its people.

Don’t get me wrong, I work this way whenever I am in a pinch. However, the best experiences are always in shared workspaces or coworking spaces.

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Whether working in Scotland, Spain, or any other country, I always want to feel connected. Of course, I mean WiFi, but I also mean with local people and the culture. After all, I wouldn’t care about being a digital nomad if I didn’t want to travel and meet others.

Here are some tips on how to choose a coworking space in a new country:

  • Google is your friend.
  • Search coworking spaces in the city you are visiting. That usually gives you the top listings. Then I dig through a few pages of listings to find the few that look most interesting.
  • Then I reach out to them to determine if it would be possible to work there for X amount of days. If I don’t hear back, I usually don’t ask again. If they didn’t respond to the first request, it usually isn’t a good fit.
  • One final thing to consider is whether you want to find a space with more expats or locals. Basically, do you want a place where it’s more likely office mates will speak the local language or where people will be from other countries and speak a common language (maybe English)? Even if there are a lot of expats, there are usually still plenty of locals to connect with and help you practice your language skills.
  • Don’t forget about the space’s location. Even if the space looks awesome, do you really want to travel an hour to get there? Either change your lodging or try another space.

Language Skills:

  • If you want to work in a space where most people speak a different language, learn some phrases to help you such as: how do you say ____ , (as if you were pointing at something on the menu), I want (this or that), please, excuse me, hello, goodbye, and favorite foods you’ll want to order. The rest you can pick up along the way.

When living in a different country, treat it not as if you are purely traveling, but as if you are actually living there. This is your home for the next few weeks, months, or years. Be aware of cultural differences, try new foods, learn a new language, and get some work done (after all, you still need to pay the bills).

Let the journey unfold and don’t forget to enjoy yourself!

Life is short, and the digital nomad lifestyle of traveling and working can open doors to wonderful experiences and lead you on a journey you never could have imagined.

So where would you like to go? What experiences have you had working in a coworking space where the primary language wasn’t your own? I would love to hear from you.

Image: Barcelona, Spain (Robert Kropp, Cowork22)

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