Jessica Schlauderaff is a marketing analyst from the USA traveling the world with Remote Year Darien
Why did you decide to come on Remote Year?
I like to say that my parents inadvertently raised me for this program. I was homeschooled until middle school, and then finished my schooling through an online program. Thus, a job that allowed me to work remotely was a must when I graduated from college. I have also never lived in one house or apartment for longer than three and a half years at a time. So, after graduating from college and spending some time living in my parents’ basement to pay off student loans, I was itching for somewhere new. My personal time limit in one place was coming up, so I decided to explore the world – or at least a few countries in Europe, Africa, and South America.
What are you working on for the year?
I am working as a Marketing Effectiveness Analyst for Nielsen. In basic terms, I work with Consumer Packaged Goods clients, like Kelloggs or Purina Pet Food, and I – along with a small project team – combine their past marketing campaigns with their past sales to consult on future methods. Personally, I’m writing a blog (www.lifelivedhere.com) and trying to eat as much new food as possible. And snapchatting pictures of the food to friends and family back home.
Where have you lived/traveled to previously?
I’ve lived in seven US states (and visited 36 – getting to all 50 states is my goal for the next couple years). I studied abroad in Edinburgh, Scotland. Before Remote Year, I had been to Canada, Greece, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Mexico, and the UK.
How did you find yourself a remote role?
My job was actually remote before I applied for Remote Year. A lot of my co-workers are scattered across our main offices in Chicago and San Francisco, but we are mixed up into different project teams every four or five months, so we are able to work anywhere in the US, and, more recently, the world.
What does your typical day look like?
I don’t really have a typical day, but let’s pretend like yesterday was “typical.” I woke up around 7am because my brain has recently decided sleeping past sunrise is for the weak. I got ready for the day and ate some of the Christmas goodies that my family sent back with me after my visit home last week. I spent a couple hours finishing a blog post about the last country we were in – Valencia, Spain – and doing laundry. After publishing the post and putting away my clean laundry, I went into our workspace and worked for a few hours before a quick lunch break. Our program leaders put together a 45 minute “Taco Crawl” at two street taco carts a few blocks away, so I joined my friends to eat tacos we can’t accurately pronounce or describe. Then, back to work. At night, I got coffee with a Remote Year friend who just got back in town, then we met up with a few other remotes for a drink across the street. Before bed, I made some Christmas cookies to hand out in the workspace since Christmas is coming soon! On the weekend and during my days off this week, I’ve got plans to see some nearby pyramids and maybe a Lucha Libre match? A year ago, I never would have imagined a day in my life like this.
How do you think traveling will affect your current work?
The only way that traveling has affected my work so far has been the time zone shift. While we lived in Europe, I was usually between 5 and 8 hours ahead of my co-workers, which meant I took a lot of calls after 6pm. Luckily, a lot of my work is done on my own, so I could move my hours around based on my call schedule. I also really do feel more focused now when I work because I used to daydream about places to travel to and get distracted, but now I’m in those places, so I know I have to get my work done and get it done well so I can get off my computer and try new things.
Who do you hope to be by the end of Remote Year?
This is a tough question. I really like the person I am right now – in the least conceited way that can be said. I do want to be able to speak Spanish. I want to continue writing on my blog and on personal projects. I want to keep traveling and meeting new people. I want to volunteer more and continue to respectfully challenge society’s expectations.
What is the most challenging part of being a digital nomad?
Keeping in touch with people back home! It’s hard, first of all, to figure out when to call or text people from home. But in Morocco, they had banned calls through online systems like WhatsApp and Skype. And sometimes in countries where it usually would work, the internet isn’t strong enough or the connection keeps cutting out. It takes a lot of patience and determination to keep in touch.
What is the best part of being a digital nomad?
All the incredible foods and sunset views. Being able to do bucket list items on what is basically just a normal day. But the best part about being a participant on Remote Year is the community, hands down. I can’t help but be sappy and mushy about these people. They are amazing, talented, inspiring, and caring people. I’m honored to be part of this group.
What book should everyone read?
I’ve suggested this to a few fellow Darien remotes, but I’m a big fan of Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. I read it in less than a week – which is rare for me lately. The book isn't terribly life-changing, but I love the story and the way it was written. It’s a SciFi Dystopian novel with a lot of references to 80s pop culture. It’s also being adapted to a film that will be directed by Steven Spielberg, so definitely read the book before the movie comes out because this one will be worth seeing.
What would you say to others looking to bring travel into their lives?
If it’s something you want to do, you will find a way to do it. Also, if you can’t afford a big trip, just start small. Explore your hometown. Explore the region around it. Go to the touristy places. Eat the local foods. Your travels don’t have to be far away to impact your perspective.
What is your secret talent?
I’m really good with maps and directions. I am also double jointed in my shoulders, which always freaks people out a bit.
Your favorite quote/words to live by?
“You will never be completely at home again because part of your heart will always be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place.” Miriam Adeney This has never felt more real than when I think about the end of my Remote Year program. I really do love the people in this community and will be so upset when we won’t all live in the same city. But it’s worth it to have met them and lived this year with them.