What is your favorite travel memory?
Up to now I have had the privilege of visiting around 35 different countries, which makes this question incredibly difficult. For me, my favorite memories are almost always from things that went horribly wrong, but that I survived and became funny or enlightening later on.
A story I commonly tell is from a day I returned to my internship placement in rural India after a weekend away, and found that my cozy bedroom had been infiltrated and infested by thousands of reddish-black flying ants. They were everywhere; on the curtains, on the walls, inside the lamps, burrowing into the bed sheets.
When I approached the neighbors for assistance, they told me that this was a sign of good luck because it meant the monsoon was coming soon. With gritted teeth, a broom, and a little bit of deet spray, I managed to get my room back to a livable condition. The whole experience taught me an important lesson on understanding different perspectives.
How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?
In the jump from university to professional life, I have changed tremendously. Of course, this is a big transition for anyone, but it feels like my professional life is on the same track as my personal life – related to travel, full of challenges I set for myself, and linked to ongoing learning.
A big part of this has been the opportunity to learn Spanish. I began intensive lessons about 6 months ago.
Maximo Nivel has supported my goal of fluency through daily classes and an incredible team of bilingual coworkers.
The opportunity to work and live in Costa Rica, where the motto of pura vida can mean everything from “good people” to “no worries”, has also significantly changed me. The former stresses of perfectionism, on-the-minute punctuality, and feeling invisible at times in my former home in London melt away each time a passerby smiles and says good morning.
If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?
The program offered by Maximo Nivel that interests me most is a volunteer project called Andean Immersion. Volunteers get to live in an Indigenous Peruvian society in a small mountain village in the Andes. Host families speak Andean-Quechua, often with limited Spanish, and live in adobe brick houses and cook local food for their guests.
While there, volunteers do work that supports the modest, self-sustained lifestyle of the village people like making clothing, helping with agricultural tasks, or supporting construction efforts. Performing basic, daily, sustainable labour like this is something that many of us never need to do for ourselves and may not even know how to do!
There is also no wifi, no promises of hot water, no laundry machines or dishwashers, and often limited electricity. It’s an opportunity to be disconnected from the life I am used to, but to reconnect on a human level while experiencing a culture and lifestyle utterly removed from my own.
What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?
At Maximo Nivel I work with a team of young people from all over the world who support each other unconditionally and get to have fun together. I am proud of them every single morning when we meet to freely discuss our mistakes and challenges, and decide together how best to improve.
We are constantly improving and growing. I think Maximo Nivel is special because it brings locals and foreigners together both through the programs offered and through the many people working there.