1. Who is Michele Coleman?
Well, one of my primary identities is that I’m a digital nomad, I’m also a student, American, and a lover of life.
2. Where are you from and what do you do?
I am originally from Wisconsin in the USA. I am a public health research evaluator and I do that as freelance consulting so I can travel, and I’ve been doing that for the last three years. I’m also now getting my doctorate’s degree at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, so part-time I do freelance research and evaluation, and part-time I do research focused on my schooling, which is anti-corruption in health systems. Right now, my freelance work focuses on gender equality research and health system reform. You name it, I’ve done a lot.
3. What does it mean to be a digital nomad and what are the pros of it?
A digital nomad is a term for anyone who does not stay or live in one spot, moves around freely, and works remotely at the same time. There’s a huge community out there that I didn’t realize before I started. As a result, I’ve made a ton of friends all over the world and this is the 32nd country that I’ve been to. I enjoy the Balkan region and so that’s why I’m here right now. Basically, it allows you to experience different cultures, see life all around the world, adventure, do stuff I can’t do staying in one spot, and yeah I guess the best part of it is the connections that I make with people and just learning about others, their culture, and having an open mind.
4. Could you share some interesting anecdotes related to your traveling?
Oh gosh, I have so many! One of my more recent favorite moments happened when I was in Hawaii this winter. I went free swimming with sharks in the ocean and while doing that three humpback whales came into our path so I got to witness a family migrating across the ocean, while also having upwards of 15 giant sharks swimming next to me!
5. Is there a final destination when it comes to your traveling? Or do you simply have a quota of the countries you want to visit?
Digital nomading is amazing but it is also exhausting at the same time. Three years on the road is quite long but I wanted to visit Asia before I stop. Covid put a pause on traveling because of the need to be safer and responsible and of course there are many country’s borders closed. So I don’t have a number of countries I want to go but I still do want to backpack and digital nomad around in Asia before settling somewhere.
6. What is it like to be a digital nomad as a girl?
It is something to be mindful of. I haven’t had any issues luckily and I’m very grateful for that but for example, some countries are less safe to be a female traveler in than others. In Morocco, I was harassed a lot so I had to be careful about what time I was out of my apartment and to get home by dark. Generally, I always try to stay close to the city center where it’s typically safer, more lights, police, and things like that, so I’d say I stick to my normal habits but just heightened them a little bit when I travel. But you can definitely do it and I have lots of great female friends that have figured out ways to do it safely as well.
7. Do you have some mental hygiene tips? How do you take care of your inner self, do you have some routines?
Whenever I get to a new spot, I always try to find a yoga center or gym, and if I can’t, like during the lockdown, then I do workout videos from home and try to keep my routine in each new place. It’s also very important to me to find a coworking space ‘cause then you meet cool new people like here and it keeps me motivated to work. I also make sure I call home regularly, do video calls with friends to help me stay grounded.
8. What is your life motto/ mantra?
I live by “work hard, play even harder” sort of thing, I think I’m really fueled by “this could be your last day”, I know that’s an exhausting mentality but I think you should live every day to the fullest because you don’t know when it’s over.
9. What are your impressions of Bosnia and Herzegovina?
It’s super welcoming here and very beautiful. I was told beforehand when I was planning to come here that it’s going to be beautiful but it’s way more mountainous and lush than I was expecting. Every time I’m in the Balkans everyone is very welcoming; I wish it weren’t under lockdown because everybody says that Sarajevo is really cool so I don’t think I’m getting an accurate picture of it, but I’m definitely planning on coming back when it’s open so that I can actually experience it because I think I will definitely like it.