Christina is founder and producer of a digital agency focusing on travel and tourism. She has worked in Australia for the past two years, although she is currently travelling Indonesia.
"If home is where the heart is, then I’d like to consider myself a citizen of the world.".
What do you consider your nationality to be?
This is a really tough question for me. I was born in Germany, learnt to crawl in Pakistan. I was a toddler in Kuwait, went to kinder garden in France. Started primary school in the United Arab Emirates. Studied in Germany, Canada, the USA and Denmark. I lived and worked in Australia for the past two years and am currently travelling Indonesia. If home is where the heart is, then I’d like to consider myself a citizen of the world.
Have you ever considered yourself a Foreigner? When/Where?
From an outside perspective, I would have always been seen as a foreigner. A blond 8-year-old girl living in Dubai? That’s quite foreign. But it was my home. I would play at the beach with the local kids. I felt like I was one of them. It’s all about your own perception, I believe. I find that other people’s perspectives change when you greet locals with an open heart and are inclusive of everyone and anyone.
I may be perceived as a foreigner, an outsider, someone from elsewhere. But I consider myself a local wherever I go. I believe that the frontiers blur between locals and foreigners. There’s nothing wrong with being a foreigner. On the contrary, it’s a great state of mind being different, being a traveller, being new to places and seeing the world with open eyes. I love that travelling means getting to know interesting, open-hearted people from all over the world. We are all the same, you know? ‘Foreigner’ has received a negative connotation, that’s why I’m excited that you are giving it a new, positive point of view with I am a Foreigner. Don’t we all want to be foreigners?
Can you tell us your story as a Foreigner?
My father used to work as an engineer for an airplane company and was sent to work all over the world, from Thailand to Italy. Until I started high school, my mother, sister and I would always go with him wherever he was sent. It was an exciting way of growing up and I love that I still get to travel so much. Of course there are moments of doubt, too. When I am not entirely sure where I belong, I look at my key ring. It says ‘Heimat’ – the German word for ‘Home’. It reminds me that home is wherever I have a key to open the door to a new living space – and embrace that entirely.
How is your work usually received by local people? Do you any specific story?
You hear incredible life stories of young professionals working while they’re traveling, living in tree houses in tropical rainforests or working on the beach, young coconut in hand. Digital Nomads. Well… I would like to consider myself one of them. I always wondered, how people do it and then one day, my partner Bernard and I just decided to do it. Our original goal was to escape winter, to be independent and work anywhere. To create our life wherever we wanted. So we founded our own boutique digital agency Ouch Digital, focusing on travel & tourism industries. It gives us the freedom to be non-geographic and allows us to work remotely. And to live, work and travel together as a couple. A dream come true. At the moment, we are sitting in an open bungalow overlooking a lush garden and rice paddies with chickens running around and roosters crowing. We are working on the SEO strategy for an Australian design magazine, quoting for content for a German company and about to start designing an Indonesian hiking website. How amazing is it that work can be done anywhere and everywhere? There are no limits in this digital world when it comes to working remotely.
Is there a message you would like to share with the people who don't know your work yet?
My goal is to be location independent. We’d like to be able to work wherever life takes us. I am really intrigued by our travels and where the road will lead us. Most specifically, we want the lines between locals and us as foreigners to blur while we’re travelling. While travelling, we do our best to give back to the community that we live in and help with our skills where we can. We reach out to local businesses – sometimes help them with a small issue they struggle with, sometimes win a new client to develop their website.
What are your plans for the future?
In future, I would really like to keep working while I’m traveling. Being able to experience this incredible world we live in and simultaneously produce interesting, innovative and meaningful content that captures an audience. That’s my dream. While I’m sitting outside in a tropical garden with 4G internet, it is difficult for me to imagine ever working in a loud, air-conditioned office environment with no windows again.
I would hope that anyone who has a life dream of working remotely quits their job and ‘jumps into the cold water’ – as we say in German. You never know what to expect and yes, it will most probably be challenging and uncomfortable at times but the reward is living life to the fullest and never having to ask yourself ‘what if’. I remember one of my colleagues in Berlin saying to me ‘Aren’t you afraid to leave your job and be unemployed? Not knowing where this trip may take you? When you’ll come back? To travel as a woman?’. I laughed and just answered ‘I’d be more afraid not to do it.’