“You’re going where?!”
It is quite the adventure, I agree. If you have never been to Asia before, setting out for an extended stay might be a mystery. What makes a developing country filled with rice fields and oppressive heat so special?
Five years ago I walked my first steps in Thailand, on a backpacking trip. I happened to meet my (as of last month) husband and clearly remember our first conversation. You might know how these conversations go; you’re in a holiday mood, you’re feeling great, feet dipped in aqua blue ocean, every meal is amazing. On day five of the vacation it hits you.. why don’t I live here? For most people it remains a thought, but I’m at the point of packing my bags to live in Vietnam for a year. Super exciting and scary!
Xin chào- Who I am
I’m Julia Kooyman, born in 1987 in a small Dutch town outside of Rotterdam. I started my own marketing company in 2013- Marketing met PIT (which you can translate as marketing with power / spice, but also the seed of a fruit).
Since June this year I have been married to my American husband, Scott. He stole my heart in 2014 in Thailand and since 2016 we have been living together in The Netherlands. Besides marketing, I’m passionate about psychology, traveling (obviously) and writing, preferably while sitting on a tropical beach.
Vietnam is a youthful country with an energy we can only dream of in The Netherlands. This has helped kickstart its economy to its current growth rate of 8% per year. The average age is 26 years old (41.6 in The Netherlands, 2017). And overall it is a meeting place for digital nomads, fast internet and scooters. A lot of scooters.
In my conversations the last couple of months it seemed that quite some people around me saw Vietnam as one massive rice field, maintained by a Vietnamese person on a bike, possibly eating spring rolls. In reality, sharing a photo of the Saigon skyline with these people often brings the same reaction - “oh!”Vietnam is transitioning to a modern economy with 96 million inhabitants. I became aware of this difference when I first visited Vietnam last summer.
How do you change a perception?
As a marketer I love these contradictions. How do you change this perception? By living in a country totally different from the Netherlands, I’m aware again of my own particular view. Every industry, changes over time. Often you don’t notice these subtle changes, because you’re emerged in it. How do I see my marketing role from a distance? What can I learn from the Vietnamese that we have forgotten in the west?
At the same time, I also find it daunting. Now I’m at the moment of closing the door behind me, I keep thinking ... am I really going to do this? I’m super excited, but I also have no idea what’s in store. For sure, I’m going to miss my family, friends, our cat Bo and running in cool temperatures.
What are you going to do there?
Besides enjoying the Vietnamese cuisine (which has many great dishes besides the spring rolls), I will work remotely for a number of Dutch clients as a Digital Nomad. I will also free up time to follow a neuromarketing course that I have been eyeing for quite some time, and teach English to Vietnamese people. In that way I hope to get a closer look at the Vietnamese culture. Above all I will use this year to revive my passion for B2B marketing and find innovative ways to apply it.
Do you also dream of taking a sabbatical or want to live like a digital nomad? In my next article, I’ll go over the preparations we took to make it happen.
Regularly I will keep you posted about my (work)adventures on LinkedIn. I will also be writing a travel column for a local newspaper every month(Het Kontakt). Follow me onInstagram if you’d like a weekly update