October 21, 2021 – In April of this year, 10 digital nomads from all over the world came together for Dubrovnik’s first Digital Nomads-in-Residence (DNIR) program. As part of European Freelance Week 2021, TCN caught up with some of them 6 months later – the next Alyssa Isogawa from California.
A year ago, the city of Dubrovnik organized the very first conference on digital nomads in Croatia – Dubrovnik for Digital Nomads – as part of the European Week of the Independents. The city has made great strides in advancing its DN credentials and strategy, in part thanks to the award-winning Dubrovnik Digital Nomads-in-Residence program, which ran from April 23 to May 23.
The program was all the richer for the presence of Alyssa Isogawa from California. TCN met Alyssa 6 months later to get her current take on the program, Dubrovnik and the Croatian digital nomad’s journey.
1. It has been 6 months since you arrived in Dubrovnik for the Dubrovnik Digital Nomads-in-Residence program. First of all, a brief review of this month. How did it go for you and how has it changed your perception of Dubrovnik as a nomadic destination?
DNiR has completely changed my life. I can’t think of a better way to kick off my DN journey than to spend an entire month with other experienced nomads. There was so much diversity within the group – we varied in nationalities, ages, life experiences and views. However, we all shared the same passion for living in an unconventional way and not being tied to one place. I’m still amazed at how well we get along. I often think back to my time there and the tight-knit little community we have created, and I feel that I owe a lot to this experience and the people who made it possible! (Thanks Paul, the city of Dubrovnik, and of course, Tanja!)
As a nomad for the first time, I had no expectations of Dubrovnik as a nomadic destination. I left it to Dubrovnik to shape what nomadic life would be like for me. Previously, I had never read or heard that Dubrovnik was on a nomadic list, so I had very little knowledge of what to expect.
2. Did you keep in touch with other people in the project? Did you spend more time in Croatia?
Sure! It’s only been 6 months since DNiR but I have met many others in Spain, Estonia and Croatia. We contact each other frequently and plan when and where in the world we will meet next. The friendships I have made with nomads are unlike any I have made before. We’re all up to something exciting, and it’s fun to see where everyone is at. A friend can be in Turkey one day and then in Tokyo the next day. And we all know we’re only one plane ride and one adventure away from each other. It’s super cool.
I recently spent a month in Split and 10 days in Zagreb. The two places were very different from Dubrovnik and I enjoyed both cities very much. I loved being able to swim and enjoy the good weather everyday in Split and loved the city life and underground feeling of Zagreb. I was also pleasantly surprised with the great vegan options available there as well. I would like to go back there !
3. It seems like a lot has happened on the DN stage in the last few months since the show. Zagreb Digital Nomad Week, Digital Nomad Valley Zagreb, the cross-border coworking conference in Budva, Croatia performed well in the Nomad List 2021 survey. What changes have you noticed since arriving in Dubrovnik in April?
I have seen a lot more exposure and buzz in the nomad community regarding Croatia, and an increasingly positive and progressive attitude and acceptance of nomadism in the surrounding country / regions. I am delighted to see the momentum continue.
4. Have you noticed a change in the way Croatia is talked about in the global DN groups you engage with online? How if so?
To be honest, I’m not really active in online DN groups as I prefer to travel by word of mouth and meet people I’ve met on my travels. So I can’t comment on it, but the nomadic visa is something I see mentioned quite often online.
5. What do you think are the key next steps for Dubrovnik on this journey, and for Croatia as a whole?
I would like to see Dubrovnik act on our proposals that we created for them in our workshops. One thing that I particularly want to see them do is to work on urban life outside the walls, and to make it more accessible and more profitable for nomads (getting rid of the tourist character and tourist pricing) . Personally, I prefer to visit places that are not just for tourists, and I think Dubrovnik could really benefit from becoming a city that is easily livable all year round. It doesn’t need to become the next Barcelona – I think Dubrovnik just needs to become a holistically livable place that doesn’t rest on its tourist laurels and is a great place to work and live all year round. .
I think Zagreb has good potential to become a more popular DN destination. It’s pretty livable and even though it’s a small town compared to other capitals, it has everything you need. I see myself coming back during the warmer months and spending time there outside of Schengen.
6. What is your favorite memory / experience of DNIR, and when do you think Dubrovnik will see you next time?
Certainly our evenings on the roofs of Tanja’s apartment. Make food with all DNs while partying and enjoying the sunset and the beautiful views of Dubrovnik. So good conversation and company. Hope we can all meet again soon, whether in Dubrovnik or somewhere in the world!
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