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Step Two: Electric Bogatoo

Mak Arnautovic's profile picture Mak Arnautovic on

As January came and went, so did my relationship with Mexico City. February was all about Bogotá, Colombia.

In the first post I spoke a lot about the hypersocial nature of the Remote Year experience. By month two things calmed down in dramatic fashion. Bogotá was a much different experience than Mexico City; I'm sure the cities themselves contributed a little bit to that, but overall it seemed like a much more self-involved month than January… For instance, many people went home for the first time during our stay in Bogota. Homesickness, isolation, and personal limits for being social and living out of a suitcase all came into play.

To be honest, I kind of expected that—albeit maybe not so early in the program. Don't get me wrong, we all still had a ton of fun together; there were tons of group outings, parties, and events for all of us to attend. But overall the experience was less "magical" than the first month we were all together. As much as I expected it, and as much as I think it's necessary for things to calm and slow down in an experience like this—it felt a little sad when I realized at what stage we were all in. I mentioned the fact that as with any large group of people cliques already started forming during month one, but by the second month they were solidified and much less open to newcomers. Not for any hurtful or mean-spirited reasons, you simply tend to cross paths with people less. When you go out, you go out with the people you've now bonded with, not so much with anybody willing to join.

Like I said though, this is all a bit necessary. The year can't be one gigantic party all the time where you're trying to find time to work rather than the other way around. However, counter to the logic behind that… I found myself struggling to stay focused a little more during my time in Bogota than I did in Mexico City. Perhaps I'm the type of person that needs a lot of things going on during the day or night so I can have clearer break points. When everything is up to me, time tends to kind of stand still and blend together… it's a little easier, for me at least, to lose track of time and what I'm doing in those situations.

I feel as though my work did suffer a bit, particularly during my last few weeks in Bogota. Homesickness very much set in for me, actual physical sickness became a thing, and I began getting distracted by keeping my happiness level up that I somehow, along the way, lost my creative drive to produce new features and write code from scratch. I felt pseudo-productive still, however, most of the work I did was in review or supplamentary to that of my co-workers, and there hasn't been much I can point to to claim as my own over the last few weeks. On that subject, I've also been struggling to keep up appearances on Slack. With the Remote Year Slack and all of its private channels, WhatsApp communications, emails, and Calendar nonsense to deal with… I feel like I always need to be checking and responding, which leaves little room for my brain to speak when not spoken to. After speaking with some of my teammates though, I've realized that I absolutely need to begin prioritizing my work communication first and foremost.

2017 has definitely been a year of adjustment thus far, with its respective high and low points. Hopefully, now that I've acknowledged and assessed the most recent problem and potential catalysts for that problem, I can proceed with the motivation and drive that has been missing as of late.

So how was the city?

So that's my experience personally and professionally. But Bogotá isn't responsible for all of that. Bogotá is a fascinating place with its own problems and virtues. To be honest, the vibe of the city did not jive with me during my time there. It wasn't due to the lack of kindness from the citizens, which they have in spades, nor the lack of things to do. It was hard for me to find the beauty in the city, though many of my peers did.

I will say, though, that I felt much more connected to the city than I did in DF. I think partly because I walked almost everywhere versus taking Ubers in Mexico, but I felt a much deeper connection to the city and the locals during my time in Bogotá. The Remote Year bubble spanned the neighborhoods of Chico and Zona T, which were very walkable and secure. I began to learn the streets, the shortcuts, and the best places to go to find good food. Moreso than month one, I felt at home in Bogota; which, to me, is interesting. One of the things I miss most about being at home in Chicago is knowing where I'm going without having to look at a map, and never feeling out of place. In large part, I think, due to the welcoming nature of the habitants of Bogotá, it's a feeling I once again experienced during my time there.

The next stop on my journey is another Colombian city, Medellín, which I very much look forward to. I hope to find my rhythm once again while I'm there—which I think will be easy now that I've learned a little more about myself and how I need to operate while on this crazy ride.

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Mak Arnautovic

Highly opinionated on trivial matters

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