I was having a debate with a friend before joining We Roam. How long was long enough to say that you’ve lived in a place? Two weeks, three weeks, four? We went back and forth on this and never really arrived on a solid agreement.
I’ve been in Belgrade for nearly three weeks. On our way back from an excursion to Mokrin, Serbia, a two-hour drive from Belgrade, I referred to Belgrade as a place we were going home to. So I suppose I found my answer.
Katie, Michaela, and I live about two miles from our workspace. Each morning, we wake up and go to our favorite cappuccino and croissant shop, struggle through Serbian-English to order. Our attempt at Serbian-English is usually us speaking slowly in English with a poor attempt at a Serbian accent.
And then we walk to Smart Office.
On the way, we pass one of our favorite restaurants — Ba Ba Lu, and wave to the waiter who so nicely and patiently explains the menu to us in English. Next along the way, is the big Belgrade Fountain in a round-about. Round-abouts almost always reminds me of the National Lampoons vacation movie — “Look honey, there’s Big Ben”. Some mornings there’s a waltz playing in the background. The water in the fountain jumps to match the beat of the music. It’s a rather magical commute.
The people here are quite stoic. When I first arrived, I would smile at them in an attempt to get them to smile back at me, but it didn’t exactly work so I’ve decided to keep smiling and stop waiting for them to return the favor. In some ways, it’s rather refreshing. People are more straightforward, no bullshit. It’s nice.
We talk a lot about cultural immersion here at We Roam. The term sounds appealing, but before joining on I couldn’t help but wonder, what does it really mean?
When you vacation to a faraway land, you familiarize yourself with the basics. You know how to get around. You can speak the language just enough to get by. TripAdvisor tells you which restaurants are worth your while. It’s a wonderful experience, but you remain an outsider, which can make it really difficult to understand the bigger picture.
What are the people of this unfamiliar place passionate about?
What are their daily lives really like?
It’s is all about… surrounding yourself with the culture of a place.
Sharing a meal with the local people.
Hearing the stories of the hard-workers at the local farmers market.
Combining forces with local businesses.
It’s a challenge. And the unknown can feel a little scary at first. But I can tell you, three weeks in, that I have made one of the greatest decisions of my life joining We Roam. I wake up every morning with a giant smile on my face, ready to take on the unconventional challenges of the day. I get to work with incredible people who are open-minded positives forces, who are just as excited to dive in as I am. And the greatest part of all? Just when we find our footing, we’re off to the next place. We get to start all over again. New city. New opportunities to explore and thrive.
Living abroad — each month in a new city — is an opportunity to decorate yourself with experiences. It’s a chance to build your resume. It’s forever memories. It’s a way of life.