This morning I woke up to a white world.
Istanbul is buried under six inches of snow. While sitting here amid the whiteness, I reflected on an interesting experience from over the weekend.
It was one of those serendipitous Twitter moments, when a perfect opportunity leaps into your feed and you pounce on it with excellent results. My opportunity was when Saron Yitbarek, creator of the CodeNewbie website, tweeted about looking for international newbie developers for the next edition of the CodeNewbie podcast. I tweeted Saron back and she was enthusiastic about my experiences learning to code in Istanbul.
So this weekend I had the honour of doing a podcast interview with CodeNewbie. As well as being a fun and interesting experience, reflecting on the topics we discussed has given me an opportunity to ponder my coding journey so far. It has allowed me to reaffirm my goals while viewing my current acheivements in light of my overall progression so far.
Saron wanted to know what it was like to learn to code in Istanbul. I gave her an honest picture of the pros and cons, including the isolation from international tech communities (a major con), combined with the low costs of living (a definite pro). As a perennial expat, living abroad feels normal to me. I tend to get restless when I go back to my home country for any extended period of time.
I also talked about how my ten years of expat living have equipped me with certain life skills that work well in coding. In particular, the ability to face the unknown head-on, gained through years of unfamiliar languages and unpredictable situations, has stood me in excellent stead. Coding was intimidating at first, but experience has taught me that this feeling soon passes if you persevere.
I told Saron about how I first got into coding as a response to the difficulties of being an independent journalist abroad. While I value the creativity, variety and adventurous nature of journalism, I believe those qualities can easily be found within the world of tech - with far better career prospects as a bonus. The fact that being able to code fits so perfectly with the digital nomad lifestyle is yet another plus.
Those of you considering a career in tech while living the expat life, whether as a digital nomad or long-term in one country, you have a wealth of experiences that will help you along the way. Don’t hesitate any longer, just go for it.
Finally, as the interview drew to a close, I had the chance to shout-out for the people, tools and organisations that had been most important to me so far.
I picked Free Code Camp (with its founder Quincy Larson a previous guest on the CodeNewbie podcast), Jekyll (the amazing static blog generator that has freed me from a life of bloated WordPress themes), and my good pal Portia over at the Geeky Hustle (a new venture that teaches people how to code data visualisations using D3).
I’m looking forward to seeing the full podcast go live on the CodeNewbie blog very soon. Watch this space for more on that, or head over to CodeNewbie to hear loads of other people sharing their coding stories.