Aaron Bartnick traveled with Remote Year’s second program, named after the Moroccan traveler and scholar, Ibn Battuta. Remote Year — Battuta finished its year of travelling in January 2017. We caught up with Aaron to talk about what life was for him post Remote Year.
Are the post-travel blues real? How long did they last?
I don’t know about the travel blues, but the post-Remote Year blues are real and they are rough. After Remote Year ended, I went to Tel Aviv by myself for two weeks to unwind and process this unique, crazy, and amazing year. A couple weeks alone gave me the mental and physical space I needed.
What I personally miss most is the community. Our group does a great job keeping in touch: we host a remote welcome party/junction every couple weeks, and I still wake up to a couple dozen messages each morning. But it’s obviously not the same as seeing your Remote Year family every day, and I think getting used to that is the toughest adjustment.
Where in the world are you? What are you currently working on?
I’m currently in Iraq working on projects to promote entrepreneurship here before starting business school in the fall.
After a year of travel, how did you feel about the remote working lifestyle?
Joining Remote Year was one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life. I’ve been very fortunate to travel quite a bit in the past, but never had the opportunity to live abroad prior to Remote Year.
I think I squeezed about three years of personal and professional growth into my 12 months, and I’ll always appreciate Remote Year for providing the platform to do that.
I’m still working abroad semi-remotely, though I haven’t moved since March which has honestly been a welcome change of pace. With grad school on the horizon and uncertain plans after that, it’s not clear that a return to the digital nomad life is in my immediate future. But I’m glad to know that I’m able to do it if I choose.
What did you learn while on Remote Year?
I think the most valuable things I learned were fairly broad. I learned a lot about how to maximize my productivity, listen more, judge less, and just be more comfortable being on my own. I’ve learned to be more patient, and more resigned to the fact that there are really only a handful of places where the WiFi, electricity, and water will all work at the same time. And that’s fine.
How are the people you met on Remote Year still impacting your life?
Like I said, we still keep in touch almost every day, and since I left I’ve seen Remotes in Israel, Jordan, Portugal, Peru, Colombia, and the US (still waiting for my first visitor to Iraq).
I also stay in touch with a number of Remote Year staff, fellow travelers, and locals I met along the way, though I’m not as good at that as I aspire to be. Every single person I met taught me something valuable about myself and helped broaden my perspective, no one more so than my fellow Battutas. I’d like to think we’ll continue to stay in touch and learn from each other for years to come.
What advice would you give someone currently on Remote Year?
I remember feeling really burned out around month seven or eight. It’s important to take care of yourself and slow down when you need to, but it’s easy in the midst of the program to lose sight of how unique and finite this experience is.