It’s usually in the context of a gap year that many people talk about wandering through Europe. Since I didn’t take one and also just started my career, spending extended amounts of time on the other side of the world seemed like something from a distant, long-lost dream. Joining Media Profile and learning more about the Work Away benefit was an opportunity to make that dream come true.
Arriving in Edinburgh on a misty, cool day was exactly as I had imagined it would be. Exploring the Princes Street Gardens and the old graveyards was hauntingly beautiful in the early morning light. But let me tell you, when the sun came out and I had to trek across the city and up the hills of the Old Town to get to my AirBnB, I wished for the rainy, damp weather expected of Scotland—it was boiling hot. Settling down that first day to dive into remote work, I immediately sensed the serene ambiance that has long lured people to the city. Cozy cafés and communal workspaces dotted the cobbled streets, inviting me to dive into my tasks while surrounded by historical charm.
My favourite thing to do in a new city is taking a walking tour. It gives you a feel for the city and its history, helps you get your bearings and is—in my opinion—one of the best ways to find hidden gems that local foodies frequent. During the rest of my free time, I walked a million steps up and down the Royal Mile, explored the iconic Edinburgh Castle, hiked up Calton Hill—to see absolutely nothing on a foggy day—and found all of the locations inspiring the Harry Potter series.
I relished in the time and balance that came with working remotely, allowing me to maximize my days in a new city. Taking advantage of MPs’ flexible work hours also helped mitigate the effects of the UK-Toronto time difference, allowing me to go to bed at a more reasonable hour and get up earlier the next day to continue exploring.
As I ventured to Nuremberg, Germany, I found myself back in a city I had previously explored. My brother has lived in the city since 2018 and our family had gone over to visit him before the pandemic. Since this was a place I had travelled to, my time here became less about exploring the city’s history—although I did still try to learn new things about Nuremberg—and more about spending time with family and experiencing the city like a local. The locals’ dedication to work-life balance was evident in their use of historical sites and how busy the parks and hiking locations were whenever we ventured out.
While staying in Nuremberg, I had the opportunity to visit the Adidas head office where my brother works. It was interesting to see how much emphasis there is on staying active while working (I mean, duh, they are a sportswear company). Walking around the campus, there were people riding by on bikes, trampoline walkways, various sport facilities everywhere and even an Olympic-sized pool. Movement was encouraged just through the nature of the campus. Departments are located within different buildings, and while collaboration can be done virtually, I experienced many instances where colleagues were physically travelling between buildings and taking every opportunity to get outside—even taking meetings in outdoor collaborative spaces.
It’s something that I’ve tried to continue since returning home from my trip. I try to get outside throughout my work day while the weather is still nice in Toronto. I also go into the office more frequently—when my team members are also in—to make room for more collaborative working. And if we can take meetings while going on walks rather than sitting inside all day? That’s a win for me.
After three weeks of remote work, it was time to relax, taking full advantage of what our Work Away benefit allows and spend my last week away as a vacation. At this point, by “relax” I’m sure you understand that I mean “run around the French Riviera and experience as much as possible in four days.”
Arriving in Nice, our home base for the week, we nestled in and started exploring. Spending our first night wandering along the old port and savouring the delicious Mediterranean cuisine was the perfect breather before a hectic few days. We spent our first full day taking a walking tour of Nice and exploring until we were ready to chop our feet off.
Our next two days were filled with train rides and hiking. We took the train to Menton, the last stop before Italy, and walked around the beautiful Mediterranean town that felt like a lucky find since it was much less crowded than the other places we visited. We also visited Èze, a medieval town on the top of a mountain, and while we didn’t hike up, let me tell you the walk down didn’t feel as easy as I imagined.
We spent our final day experiencing something that I’ve dreamed of attending: A Formula 1 weekend. While we only attended the qualifying day, fellow F1 fans will know that’s the day that truly counts at the Monaco Grand Prix. Will I admit that I planned my whole Work Away around this one event? No, I actually planned it around the Harry Styles concert I also attended while in Europe, but this definitely was one of the “roses” from my incredible Work Away experience.
Curious to learn more about MP’s adventures abroad? Stay tuned for future Our Take #PassportToMP blog posts where employees will share their work away experiences.