“Be prepared to work hard, overcome lots of criticism and (sometimes) you will have to carry on with very little support from family and friends. But always believe in what you do. Find a way to pay your bills and never ever give up!”
Roberta Padroni is a 34 year old Italian who runs a Travel Blog about Columbia. She studied Communication and Marketing at University and then Tourism Management. Seven years ago, Roberta moved to London, as she wanted to study English as she could barely speak it. Throughout these years, she had many jobs mainly in the retail and hospitality industry, but travel remained her biggest passion. After a trip to Colombia last year, Roberta decided to start studying Digital Marketing, and opened a blog about Colombia to show Italian people the real gorgeous country that stole her heart. In January this year, she left London and decided to dedicate herself to her travels and blogging, and now she is simply following her dream of becoming a digital nomad. Read on to find out more.
Tell us about your blog In Colombia and how you got started.
Three years ago I met a Colombian guy. Until that day I bearly knew where Colombia was! So, to not look silly in front of him, I googled “Colombia” and found out a lot of interesting fact about this country. I read a lot of stories from other bloggers and saw amazing pictures of it. I then started to dream about visiting it and last year in January, I finally manage to travel there and I literally fell in love with this amazing place!
When I came back home I decided to open my blog, in Italian, all about Colombia. I decided to do this to show what this place is really about and to try and change the ideas and misconceptions that some Italian people still have about it!
What is it that you love about Colombia?
I love the variety that you can find in Colombia in all aspects. You can find every climate: cold in Bogotà, warm in Medellin, hot in Cali, very hot in Cartagena! You can see green mountains surrounded by coffee and palm trees in the coffee area of Armenia, plane sugar cane plantations in the region of Cali, the torquoise Caribbean sea in san Andres Island, the jungle on the Pacific coast side, desert on the east coast…The list goes on. A journey to Colombia is just an amazing experience. It feels like you are visiting a different country, but are,in fact, always in the same place!
I also love the variety of food and most of all,I love the fact that there are several choices of gluten free dishes, like arepas, empanadas and tamales. I have an allergy to gluten, so for me it is great that I can eat all this good food without feeling sick!
And finally, I love Colombian people. They are always willing to help and they look at life with a positive attitude. I have to say, I also love their great problem solving skills!
Oh yes, and I love salsa too!
Who and what has helped you in the process of following your dream?
My best friends have supported me a lot and I owe them a lot! I also received big help from some bloggers I follow, that have made their passion for travelling a job. Here are the names of a few: Clelia from keepcalmandtravel.com, Sara from sarepa.com, Matt from nomadicmatt.com, and Ely from toohappytobehomesick.com
Reading books like The Secret or The Alchemist inspired me to change my life, believe in myself and follow my dreams.
One of the greatest blessings I have had in my life was to meet inspiring people, the kind of people that with just words can change your life. It lead me to follow my dreams!
What inspires you?
Colombia itself is a big insipiration. The landscapes, the music and the people inspire me so much!!
Traveling, seeing new places and being constantly in contact with nature inspires me every day. But at the same time, I can become very creative, simply by sitting in a café or during a long bus or plane journey. Everything can inspire me, as we are surrounded by beautiful things. The secret is to stop and observe them. You will find beauty and inspiration in everything that is around you!
Another thing that helps to inspire me is having long chats with my closest friends. The ones that really understand me! Many times, our conversations have led me to make important decisions about my life, my job and even my passion for writing!!
What challenges have you encountered and how have you overcome them?
A travel blogger is constantly challenged. To be successful is a long and difficult journey. I had to study, and continue to do so. I have had to overcome the kind of fears about people judging me in a negative way. Sometimes judgments come from people I do not know personally and, sometimes,unfortunately, by close relatives. Believe me, trying to explain your passion for traveling to your parents, without worrying them, is the most challenging thing to do!
I had to take on a second job in order to pay my bills, and this has challenged me as well. Travel blogging is a long journey!
I learned to believe in myself, stand up for myself and to fight for my own dreams and beliefs. I am always very focused in my own projects and I work hard because I really want my writing job to be successful.
What message are you trying to share with your work?
With my blog InColombia.it I want to change the view that Italian people have of Colombia. I want them to travel to this beautiful country with no fear and no misconceptions.
I’m tired of listening to people saying that Colombia is dangerous, that it is all about cocaine and that it is a third word country.
I have traveled a lot of this country, alone, and so far only positive and beautiful things have happened to me. I have never come across cocaine and I have never been offered any. Of course, it all depends on you. You need to be careful, as you would be in any other part of the world. But you can definitely travel and feel safe and happy (very happy!) all over this amazing country!!
I am writing this while on a bus, traveling from Armenia to Bogotà and I have wifi!! ( this is another little amazing thing! ) And despite what a lot of people think, yes, I can assure you there are washing machines in Colombia, and no, they don’t sell cocoaine at the supermarket, neither do they sell it to you on every corner!
How did you learn to deal with criticism?
I learnt to not take things personally.
The beauty of this world is that we all are different and because of this, we all have diffrenet thoughts and different beliefs. It is alright if someone does not agree with me. As long as there is respect it’s ok.
I “filter” criticisms and take them in a very constructive way. A lot of the time I find ways to improve myself , and this is thanks to the critiques I received. Other times, you can come across people that just want to criticise for the sake of doing it and I just let it go!
What is it that you love about what you do?
I love that there is always something new to learn. I love that I can manage my own time and work from anywhere as long as I have an internet connection!
What advice would you give to aspiring artists?
Be prepared to work hard, overcome lots of criticism and (sometimes) you will have to carry on with very little support from family and friends. But always believe in what you do. Find a way to pay your bills and never ever give up!
What have you learned in the process of following your dream?
I have learned to believe in myself and follow my insitinct. There is a small voice inside me, that every day is telling me to go on with my blog, and never give up. So far I have followed it, despite many people telling me that I’m wasting my time and that I think that I want to live in a sort of wonderland. I just listen to what they say but never let them influence my thoughts.
What are you most excited for in the future?
Every day I have new opportunities coming my way. What excites me more is the idea to work from anywhere, allowing me to change location very often and travel, which is my biggest passion!