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Digital Nomad Needs Digital Detox

We arrived in Madrid 4 weeks ago and really liked the city from the beginning. The vibe is very relaxed and the people are very friendly. There are a million restaurants and bars and of course a lot of places to have delicious tapas. Our apartment is right next to the royal palace and we can walk most places. This seems to be a trend that we are going to continue most likely throughout our nomadic journey. – We walk a lot. So far, our apartments were luckily all centrally located enough to make this possible. We could be taking the metro in Madrid more often since we have a station one minute from our apartment, but we mostly would be just a couple of minutes faster and we enjoy walking more. I am sitting in a café called “La Bicileta” while I am writing this. Strangely enough, I am not missing my bike at all.

During our first week in Madrid, it was raining a lot and while it seemed in the rest of the world spring had arrived, that was not the case in Madrid. Our apartment here is really small and there is not much light and air circulation. We are both looking forward to our next place, which will have its own yard and outdoor space to hang out. I am totally ready for warmer weather too. I got rid of my winter jacket back in Vienna because I did not have space for it, only another jacket – a thin one. At times it has been a little bit on the chilly side and I am really happy that the time has arrived to pack this jacket away too. Ironically, we both have a bad cold now, when it’s finally gotten warmer.

I am on day 78 of my Duolingo Spanish streak and started Spanish/English tandem classes. My progress feels though still rather slow, which is not surprising, because I just do the bare minimum to keep my streak alive. I do notice some improvements when reading things while I am in town or when I try to understand content online. I am mostly lazy though and make use of my browser translation. The English level of people in Madrid is also relatively high and you get by without actually having to speak Spanish–something I assume will change once I am back in South America again. You also hear a lot of English in Madrid and in particular American English. Craft beer pubs seem almost like English-language-only places, apart from one bar where the bar manager is half British/half Swiss and I had the unexpected pleasure of conversing in German with him. We are surprised by the quality of craft beers in Madrid, since we didn’t have such good experiences in the southern part of Spain.

After more than 6 years, I replaced my old and heavy laptop with a smaller and lighter one. Since our apartments vary in size, it is nice to have a light and easy-to-carry laptop, which allows me to work from any café with a small table near where we live. I also got myself a new phone and now my digital setup is completely new. My new phone is giving me some problems though and I had to literally uninstall every app I use. I am very happy about this misfortune because I am going to keep 99 percent of those apps uninstalled and will take this as an opportunity for a digital detox. From here on, I will use my laptop more often and make the conscious decision to open it and do whatever I want to do and not grab my phone just because it is lying next to me and a distraction seems to be attractive at that moment.

I wonder if a point will come where people will go back to not using their phone so often anymore. The design motto has been “mobile first” for some time – every website has to be optimized for mobile usage and the desktop experience comes second. I could see that change and people taking back their time from online activities and endless notifications to a more balanced use of phones. Corona has brought lots of changes to society. More and more companies introduce a 4-day work week, which seems to offer a better work-life balance and I could see people wanting to use their 3 days off in better ways, with reduced screen time.

I for my part will at least try to reduce my screen time. Not an easy endeavour though at the moment, when you are at home sick and your brain is not capable of much else but engaging in distraction. I’ll keep you posted about how that is going and no, I am not going to deliver these posts to you by snail mail in the future.

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