I am, technically, an American citizen. I was born in California, and the Golden State has been my primary residence for my entire life. But today life is a little different. Today, I am what they call a “digital nomad.”
As a digital nomad, I work remotely for my company, StudySoup, while traveling the world.
This has helped me to see that the modern world is not a massive collection of nations with people completely different from one another, but instead that the Earth is a village. And people from opposites sides of the village are far more similar to one another than they may recognize.
Thus, I find myself as not just an American citizen, but as a key member of this global village, as is everyone else that inhabits it. My “home country,” is not a country, but the planet itself.
While there is so much to learn and understand in my own culture that creates perspective and value in my life, there is far more to be gained from living a life that allows me to learn from our neighbors in this village.
For Americans, Mexico and Canada are seen as our primary, and rather insignificant, neighbors. We like Mexican food and enjoy making jokes about Canada, but really appreciate and respect little else.
While these two nations (which deserve far more respect from Americans) are our next door neighbors, they are but our nearest counterparts in the global village.
When you look at this on a planetary scale, every country on Earth really is a close neighbor. We are one species, on the only planet, at least as we understand it so far, that supports life. Our nearest potential neighbors are thousands of light-years away, at best. And thus we must see ourselves as one people.
We are simply neighbors and friends, rather than adversaries, working together to advance humanity, maintain peace, and preserve our planet. We must learn to trust neighbors from across the planet as much as we trust the neighbors on our street.
We must all be leaders in the development of this global village.
It’s true that life is easier when you simply surround yourself with people exactly similar to you. As a digital nomad, my life is quite the opposite. I’ve worked hard to build relationships that stretch across this global village. And it’s been an extremely challenge but immensely rewarding experience.
Over the last 12 months, I have spent time in a wide range of locations across the Northern Hemisphere, challenging myself to build new relationships in cities and nations that differ significantly from the precious relationships I have built at home in California.
During the last year, I’ve worked and spent time in 14 different European countries and 8 American states. I’ve taken the time to at least attempt to build relationships in all of these places.
The goal has been to create a true sense of belonging in each location and to ultimately utilize the friendships I’ve made and the lessons I’ve learned via these friendships to build a global perspective that allows me to help, even in a small way, facilitate the development of our global village.
I have learned that, at this stage in my life, it is far more challenging and enriching to build relationships with those entirely different from yourself. That is what my nomadic journey is about. Not seeing through the world through my eyes, but seeing the world through the eyes of my fellow villagers. Once strangers, they are now friends.
In California, my friends and family have had such a massive impact on my life, and even continue to from the other side of the world. But the people I have come to know outside of my main circle have taught me incredibly valuable lessons as well.
Gustavo, the Colombian-Spanish co-workspace curator in Barcelona, created every opportunity imaginable for me in the Catalan capital, despite the fact that I was a virtual outsider. This welcoming attitude and true kindness is one that I now will maintain with visitors I host from anywhere in the world in any situation.
Mile, the Croatian bar keep for a dingy local establishment in Split, invited me into his bar to watch football and was even kind enough to speak a little English. Despite a language barrier, we’ve fostered an ongoing friendship. I was likely the first regular American who regularly frequented that bar in a very long time. But that didn’t matter to Mile.
Davy, my Belgian festival buddy, has helped me to understand the value of commitment to friends. Needless to say, he’ll do anything to make sure all of his friends are together in the same place each year for our favorite music festival, myself and a few other Americans included.
We have different lifestyles, we speak different languages (natively, at least), we come from entirely different places, but yet we all belong to the same village.
While an optimistic attitude and a perpetual smile make it easier to develop these friendships, my global friends did not have to be so welcoming to me, their “stranger” neighbor.
But yet they have given me the opportunity to belong, and in turn we’ve learned so much from each other. Because of the interconnectivity of the modern world, these friends that I have made will will be people that I will keep in touch with the rest of my life.
After all, we are the same people, we just happen to live on opposite sides of the village.
Danny Page is the Head of Operations at StudySoup. An alumni of USC’s Annenberg School for Communications, Danny split his early years as a professional as both an entrepreneur and TV sportscaster, before migrating to the startup world full-time in 2014. As a broadcaster, he worked for Time Warner Cable Sports, Fox Sports, ESPN Radio and more, and still continues to broadcast games from time-to-time. He lives part time in his native Southern California and part time traveling the world as a digital nomad. He’s also a massive football and soccer fan, a DJ, and can usually be found planning his next big adventure abroad.
Originally published at medium.com