Culture & Immersion, Travel

The Immersed Lifestyle

Nida Sunset

Tourist, Traveler, Digital Nomad, marooned, me? Am I truly any one of these? I’ve had some time to try to figure out life since quitting my startup last January, floating around trying Ayahuasca in the jungle, Acid in the city and flying down mountain tops. I’ve left many people with a confused impression of what exactly I am, some sort of ______ (fill in the blank). To be truthful I don’t know which I am but I’ve realized I’m a disciple of the immersed lifestyle.

What is the Immersed Lifestyle?

It’s a lifestyle that is none of the above… Not exactly at least.

I’m not a tourist (well maybe a day or two…) because I’m there to ingest the culture, not parade myself in it. Sure we all wear the tourist outfit every now and then when we’re in a new place, but we do not let it take us over in displaying our ignorance when in a foreign land.

I’m not defined as a traveler because I live in the places I travel to. When I move somewhere, I’m not there to observe, I’m there to absorb. I’m not there simply to taste their fine wines and ethnic foods, but to learn how they were made and make that knowledge a part of me.

I’m don’t define myself as a Digital Nomad even though I thought I was. Digital Nomad has come to mean many things to many people: to run a business from another country, enjoying good weather year round and taking advantage of how strong your currency is. To me a Digital Nomad is more about the work one does and the money one earns to continue being able to fuel their lifestyle. I’m not interested in money, or working for it.

I’m not marooned either, yet…

The immersed lifestyle to me is living in a country foreign to me, eating what they eat, speaking what they speak, dressing like they dress and trying to be a part of the society versus someone who takes advantage of what his euro is worth to engorge himself in the finest that country has to offer.

So far I’ve been blessed enough to spend 3 months living in the jungles of Sri Lanka with a family.

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This was my first real taste of the immersed lifestyle, eating with the males of the family before the others using only my fingers (vs. a spoon and fork).

Learning how to prepare coconut milk by dehusking the coconut, cracking it open, draining it, shredding the coconut meat and actually making the coconut milk by soaking it in water and separating the coconut from the liquid.

Here I had the first realization of how lucky I was to be able to experience the Sri Lankan culture through music, food and cultural and religious holidays that you won’t find in any Lonely Planet…

The Immersion Lifestyle cultural Buddhist Holiday

Lights set up for a buddhist festival taking place in my village

The Poison of Immersion

Unfortunately work gets in the way of living the lifestyle you want as it did for me last year living in Berlin. Though I enjoyed spending time with my co-workers when we were still working on Chatterplot.com, I came to learn that living with expat friends in a foreign country holds you back from immersion. My 7 months in Berlin was anything but German, but then again we were there to germinate our project, not Germanate ourselves…

I didn’t get my taste of the immersion lifestyle again until I parted paths with my business partner to move to Medellín.

Colombian hiking selfie

In Colombia I was free to learn Spanish, the fruits of Medellin, the nature and wander to my hearts content. I spent 3 months living with 2 Venezuelans + 1 Colombian speaking in their language, learning their lingo and even learning how to make Venezuelan food.

The Immersed Lifestyle getting lost

Jobless in Colombia I realized what I’m good at. I’m good at getting lost and not giving a fuck…

 

What separates this lifestyle?

I realized I’m not the constant lonely planet traveler type who travels non-stop for 2 weeks straight through the jungles before going back to the real world. Nor am I the relaxing type who prefers to spend all my free time on the beach before also realizing, I have to go back to the real world in a week?! No, I’d rather travel when the suns out and I don’t have many errands in the way, then work when I don’t feel the need to travel, run laps around the stadium like the locals do and eat what they eat on a typical Monday.

Colombian Birthday Kugelis

Lithuanian birthday potato cake (Kugelis) for my Venezuelan roommate’s birthday

For me it’s not all about the travel and seeing foreign mountains, it’s also about experiencing the culture, laughing at stupid puns in the foreign languages and giving other’s a taste of my absorbed culture.

The immersed lifestyle isn’t for everyone and even though complete immersion is impossible, nor do I pretend to know it all, I damn sure love the journey…