“How long do you think you’re going to be living as a digital nomad?” I asked Proximity Learning teacher Amanda Cope. “Forever,” she responded. Despite her upbringing in Seattle, Cope has visited more countries of the world than she has states in America.
Cope accidentally fell into a digital, nomadic lifestyle when she started teaching online with Proximity Learning. With the freedom of not being tied to a physical location, she lived in Panama with her husband when she taught physics through live video in the fall of 2017. Since then, she has found herself in numerous countries from London to Thailand — with Da Nang, Vietnam being the latest.
“There are so many careers you can do online, it’s not even funny anymore,” Cope said. “If you want to do it, just go for it. Have a little bit of savings, take the first leap, go for it. Because if you wait for it to be perfect, it’s never going to happen.”
Cope is not the only Proximity Learning teacher who works remotely from another country. In a world where people and technology are constantly changing, she emphasized that nothing is holding back anyone from living as a Digital Nomad.
“There’s help out there, you just have to ask,” Cope said. “There’s so much out there. We’re learning constantly. You’re constantly changing, Technology is constantly changing.”
Living in Panama, she also helped to finish writing Proximity Learning’s physics curriculum. With her experience teaching in a brick and mortar classroom, she asked herself how she could convert her previous work to be effective in real-time, virtual classrooms.
“How can I translate that?” Cope asked herself. “How can I use the online tools? How can I use virtual labs? How can I make what I would normally do in a brick and mortar? How can I make that more engaging?”
Cope’s desire to travel began in January 2017 when she and her husband decided they wanted to live somewhere that was warmer than Seattle for all four seasons of the year. For her, anything below 60 degrees is the new freezing and is a large deciding factor when choosing the next flight. Moreso, the biggest lesson she has learned is just to be flexible.
“We’ve learned to go in with no expectations, because what we expect it to look like is not what it’s going to be,” Cope said. “We had no expectations for Vietnam and it’s not like anything we could have imagined. It’s just willing to be open and maybe be uncomfortable and try out new places.”
Luckily, Cope is not a morning person. As an online teacher for classes in the U.S., her schedule in Vietnam consists of three cups of tea a day and teaching four days a week from 11:30 p.m. to 5:45 a.m. After finishing up her nightly grading and exercise, she sleeps at about 9 a.m. until waking up at 4 p.m. for breakfast.
When traveling, Cope and her husband currently typically stay in each place they visit for a month. As long as they have high-speed internet, she is not dependent on a location to do her job as an online teacher. The green screen, Proximity Learning shirt and live camera are the same whether she is in Bulgaria or Thailand.
Traveling this much may typically sound expensive, but Cope said the amount she and her husband spend each month is still less than what her mortgage cost in America. In Thailand, she said a meal on the street costs about $2. In total, $10 would feed her and her husband for the day, atypical of how eating out is much more expensive in the U.S. per meal.
“You can go as cheap or high as you want,” Cope said. “Everybody asks how can we afford to move. Our automatic answer is ‘How can you afford to live here?’”
There are very few countries that aren’t on Cope’s list to live. She said she hopes to return to Southeast Asia and go to Australia either this or next year. If she does, this will be the sixth continent she will have been on. Slowing down, her and her husband plan to start spending a longer amount of time in each country as they get older. 14 places a year may become four or six, but the lifestyle will still be forever.