Kirsten Westeinde is a software developer from Canada traveling the world with Remote Year Cousteau
Why did you decide to come on Remote Year?
For a while now I've been daydreaming about my next trip around the world. The only issue was that I didn't want to have to drop everything to do it, as I have a job I love with an amazing company. When I found out about Remote Year and learned that I could travel the world without leaving my job, it felt perfect for me.
What are you working on for the year?
I am a web developer for Shopify, an ecommerce platform that serves over 300,000 merchants in around 150 countries. I have continued my role as a developer, as well as taking on a developer outreach role in the countries I am visiting.
Where have you lived/traveled to previously?
I lived in India for 6 months, and have visited ~30 other countries:
Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, Guatemala, Cuba, Honduras, Mexico, US, Canada, England, Ireland, France, Spain, Italy, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Norway, Czech Republic, Serbia, Bosnia, Montenegro, Hungary, Tanzania, Kenya, India, Thailand, Cambodia, Nepal, Philippines, Croatia, & Austria
How did you find yourself a remote role?
I actually didn't find myself a purely remote role, I transitioned my full-time in the office role into a remote position specifically for Remote Year. I'm lucky that I work for such an amazing company with such a supportive boss to allow this to happen. They knew how important this was to me so we made it work. Shopify has never done anything like this before, so it's just as much an experiment for them as it is for me.
Describe your Remote Year experience in 3 words.
Growth, adventure, giggles.
Where does your passion for travel come from?
I have been travelling since a young age and saw early on the many positive impacts it has had on me as a person. It continues to make me more empathetic and open-minded and I absolutely love the excitement of getting to know a new place and all the new people there.
What does your typical day look like?
The answer to this question depends a lot on which timezone I am currently operating out of. Right now I am in Europe, so I am 6 hours ahead of my colleagues at home. This allows me to have a slow morning, which normally involve a run or a workout on the beach, and get in a few hours of uninterrupted development work before my colleagues wake up. Then I spend my afternoons/early evenings in meetings & having design discussions with my coworkers. Then I spend my evenings enjoying the delicious food scene of whatever city I find myself in at the time.
How do you think traveling will affect your current work?
I personally am a happier, more excited person while travelling and I think that will be reflected in my work ethic. It will also allow me to look at the product I work on from an international point of view: through the eyes of the people that would be interacting with it from the various countries I visit.
Who do you hope to be by the end of Remote Year?
A more disciplined, compassionate, and positive version of myself with tons of new friends all over the world.
What is the most challenging part of being a digital nomad?
Finding balance between work & play.
What book should everyone read?
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
What would you say to others looking to bring travel into their lives?
Where there's a will there's a way. If it's a priority to you, make it happen. Travel feeds the spirit, and should be just as important a part of our lives as eating and sleeping.
3 things you can't live without on the road?
My kindle, pictures of my puppy, and battery packs for recharging my phone on the go.
What is your secret talent?
I can solve a rubiks cube in under 2 minutes.
What is your favorite place on the globe?
My cottage on a lake in Quebec, Canada.
Your favorite quote/words to live by?
We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.