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Career skills I learned during my Workaways that changed my life!

At Workaway, we absolutely love getting to know you all, whether it’s meeting you on the road, at a Workaway trip or hearing about your adventures through e-mails and social media. We couldn’t be prouder to be involved with such an inspiring community of travellers, which is why we just have to share some of the stories you tell us!

Let’s have a chat with this month’s Workaway star, Milton! Milton has been curious about the world since he was little, and eventually packed up his bags, quit his job and started travelling the world! Through Workaway he’s picked up quite a few new skills, including some that helped him get his current job in Italy!

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“Travelling is a way to open up my mind to new ideas. During my Workaway trips I came across people pursuing a dream or working on a challenging goal – meeting people with a mission was really inspiring! These experiences allowed me to see the world from a different perspective. Overall, they expanded my possibilities.”

Agreed, and we’re inspired by YOU, Milton!

Wondering what makes someone a world traveller? Well, curiosity and a desire to learn new things have got to be at the top of the list! 

Could you tell us a bit more about yourself? Like for example how you grew up in Ecuador, Italy… etc? 

I was born in Guayaquil, Ecuador where I lived until I was 8 and then my family moved to Vicenza, a town in northern Italy. As a very curious kid growing up, I’ve always been interested in nature and loved reading about how things worked through books! Also because I was an introvert at school, reading and experimenting were my biggest passions.

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When I first got out of high school, I had a hard time deciding what to do next – with too many differing interests I didn’t know which ones to choose! I didn’t have a clue about university neither. Eventually, I decided to start working to earn some money so I could be more independent. I also started studying English by myself during my free time for some years – without even knowing that would come in handy for my future travels!

I didn’t start travelling solo till I was 27 after getting my Italian passport. Quit my steady job 2 years after that, sold most of my belongings and then moved to London! With no specific plan in my mind, I felt it would be a great opportunity to get out of my comfort zone and maybe start a new career. 

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Wow, so you just up and moved! What was it like living in London for a year? 

I was looking for a challenging experience that would allow me to discover myself – away from my comfortable life in Vicenza. Overall, life in London was fun – it’s a metropolis full of events and cultures from all over the world, it felt like being in the centre of the world somehow.

The opportunities (job, educational) seemed limitless. I stayed most of the time in hostels, sharing a room with up to 15 people! It’s how I started to travel light, cause I had to keep all my belongings in a cabin size luggage. 🙂

Soon though, I realised that the London life was not for me. The big city was restless and I didn’t feel at home there. It was perfect as a fun trip, but not my ideal way of living.

I found Workaway after doing some research on my own because I wanted to travel and explore while learning new things and gaining skills. From there, I decided to travel to Costa Rica and do my first Workaway.

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What were some of the best Workaway experiences you’ve had?

I think the best experiences I’ve had while Workawaying was at the yoga retreat and hostel in Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica. Also the modern art museum in Belgium, the art academy in Florence, and the monastery in Fabriano Italy. 

So many incredible locations! What’s been your favourite Workaway experience so far?

It’s really hard to choose! All the experiences I had taught me something important and allowed me to meet and bond with amazing and inspiring people. If I really have to choose I would say the Yoga retreat in Costa Rica; the location was great and I learned so many new skills there. It was such a wonderful experience to harvest exotic fruits from the garden trees, and the host was amazing!

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And what do you love the most about travelling? 

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I love the FREEDOM! Love using local transportation too whenever I can – it’s the excitement of simply being on the road, arriving at an unknown destination, and discovering a new place and the local culture!

I also enjoy not planning for trips too much, and to allow for a change of plans depending on how the trip evolves. I learned that even you’ve planned your trip meticulously from information on books or online, there’s always gonna be something new to discover that you’d only find out after arriving at your destination or talking to the locals. Love that! 

Since I’ve been a Workawayer, I cannot imagine travelling without doing a Workaway! You get a good mix of both work and total relaxation. I think it’s a perfect deal… You are experiencing the local culture and learning so much through living and sharing meals with your hosts and other volunteers. And at the same time, you’ll still have more than enough free time to enjoy and explore the area. 

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We also know how much you love music. How did you start playing your instruments and how many do you play? 

I started playing classical guitar when I was 14. Taught myself using some music-theoretical knowledge from school and started out by playing church songs little by little. Then I got an acoustic guitar because I wanted to play blues songs. Years later, while in London, I came across The Victoria music library, where users can play on the electric piano there for free, an hour a day!

Since the library was very close to my job, I decided to teach myself through Youtube, one of my favourite piano songs: Nuvole bianche by Ludovico Enaudi. It took a few months, but I did it! My technique may not have been perfect, but it was enough to enjoy the music! A year ago I was given a ukulele as a birthday present, and I loved it! It’s fun and easier to play than a guitar, and even easier to carry around.

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That’s so inspiring – definitely makes me want to roll up my sleeves and try something new! When you’re not on Workaway what do you do for work and/or for fun?

Working in Florence as a handyman and receptionist for an American college! And it’s thanks to the experiences I’ve gained through Workaway that I was able to successfully apply for the job! Florence is a touristic destination, but I like that because I get to meet travellers through events like couchsurfing. The rest of the time I play music by myself or with friends and we sometimes organise jamming sessions in Florence.

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So cool that your Workaway experiences helped you to secure your job. Where are you heading to next?

I am happily living in Florence, Italy now. I did some short trips to Tuscany, which I love! Would also like to visit South America and South East Asia soon when my job allows me to travel for a longer period of time. There’s still so much to discover!

What are some of the things on your bucket list?

Last year I was very close to contacting a host offering a sailing trip; that’s an experience that I’ll do one day for sure! Another experience I’d love to try is working at an artisan shop, and even better if it’s related to musical instruments. Lastly, I know that there’s a Shaolin Monks temple in China that accepts Workawayers. I haven’t planned them yet, but those would be my next destinations! 🙂

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Any advice for those of us who are considering becoming a Workawayer? 

I often recommend Workaway to friends or other travellers I meet here in Florence. First, I tell them to create their profile. That way they can see for themselves if there’re any Workaway hosts offering the experiences they’re interested in. I also tell them to read feedback from other travellers about the host! It’s very reassuring to read about different opinions from other people. The website has useful features that allow you to filter through numerous hosts, by destinations, activity and feedbacks, etc.

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Thank you so much, Milton, for sharing your story with us! We love learning about how Workaway has made such a positive impact on your life! It’s also inspiring to see how you choose to live outside the box and experience life in different ways.

Never stop learning, nomads! 👏

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