Kseniia Spodyneiko is a true digital nomad. Growing up in Russia, born in Uzbekistan, she's lived in Belgium and USA as well. She now lives here in New Zealand, so the concept of home is more about where her heart is. And for now her heart is at home in Tauranga.
We met Kseniia through local magazines and proudly kitted her out for some clothing for her gorgeous blog, The Style Jungle for a feature she wrote on local places to work out. She's as bright and bubbly as the clothing we offer with an amazing story of risk taking and dream following.
From the age of 12, Kseniia knew she wanted to be a writer. While studying at University in Moscow she applied for a job with the Russian Edition of Cosmopolitan Magazine. Pretty green at the interview process, and the day after finishing her final papers, she turned up to the interview a little bit sleep, no make-up and a large coffee mark on her t-shirt. (Um, it's Cosmo right? - anyone else have flashbacks from The Devil Wears Prada?). But her theory was you don't so no to Cosmo so on very short noticed she had turned up, and was successful in getting the job! She tells us that the women who work there are really supportive and kind (and not at all like the movies). But just like we imagine in the movies, the office was pink and plush.
Kseniia really grew in her dream role at Cosmo. She had incredible teachers around her. One woman, Alexandra, who was the Digital Publisher supported her all the way. Kseniia moved up quicklyo through the organisation, from Social Media Editor, to Fashion Editor and finally Chief Editor of the Cosmo Website. Alexandra was also her inspiration to move abroad. Her advice was "the longer you leave it the more difficult it becomes" and so a year later, Kseniia and her husband Alex made the move out here to New Zealand.
Prior to moving out here, Kseniia and Alex had travelled quite a lot, but really only for short periods at a time, 2 or 3 day glimpses into life in another country. Travel can really getyou thinking broadly, and so her and Alex started to wonder what it would really be like to move their lives and live like real locals in another country, you know with favourite cafe's, grocery stores and oooo excitingly with a backyard (goodbye Moscow apartment living!). After lots of discussion, it came down to two choices, South Africa or New Zealand. And now that they live here, they can't believe they almost chose SA.
Here in New Zealand we tend to take our lifestyle for granted and sometimes its not until we speak to someone who has migrated here that we take a moment to be grateful for that. Kseniia tells us that it's the lifestyle that was the biggest change for her. In Moscow the environment is very competitive, you're either working your butt off to advance your career and social ranking. Or, you're fired, abandoned and forgotten about in an instant. Talk about high pressure! While working for yourself requires a lot of extra hours at times, that digital factor means flexibility for Kseniia. She's learnt to live her life, not just survive it.
The common theme in Kseniia's life other than writing has been exercise. Never one to stick to one type and claim that for a lifetime, she loves jumping on the new and interesting options. Growing up Kseniia was a competitive Aggressive Inline Skater. Basically this consists of performing dangerous tricks on special rails to compete for points. Her background in gymnastics, taekwando and dance really helped push her to competing at a national level in this extreme sport.
Nowadays her exercise attempts aren't quite so risky, but she still loves trying the latest types of workouts. Anything from Stand Up Paddleboard Yoga to Barre Attack. And while fitness is a big part of her life, she's says she's not the most consistent, but she's well aware of how good it makes you feel. Her current favourite is going out for a walk or a jog before breakfast before sitting in front of the laptop for the day. When you're a digital nomad there's no better thing to compliment your lifestyle than a good online challenge you can do anywhere. Kseniia adores those online fitness challenges that pop up. Her and Alex recently did the 'Plank Challenge' going from 20sec to 5min planking in just a month. In her words "now I know what fitness hell looks like". (Sounds like fitness hell to us too).
At times she really misses her family, she said it's the hardest thing about living in New Zealand. But technology and Skype for the win! This has meant she can still talk to her family on a regular basis and as she said "there's nothing that a walk up the Mount can't cure!"
Kseniia loves meeting new people and gets so inspired by other women doing their thing. In Tauranga she's met so many who are living their passions and turning their dreams into reality. It keeps her inspired to dream big for her own writing. Her blog thestylejungle.co.nz has been around for about 4 years now, and it gives her reason to travel, explore, write and live her life to the fullest. It also happens that Alex is an incredible photographer. What a dream team! Recently they landed their first magazine cover on travel in Saint-Petersburg having made a trip home to Russia just a couple of months before. Talk about kicking goals and living their dream.
We asked Kseniia what words of wisdom she would like to share with you, our readers.
- Believe in yourself, if you feel like doing it. Do it. If you fear doing it, just do it anyway. You'll discover how talented, hard-working and absolutely unique you are. Stop hesitating and underestimating yourself!
So take that dream people, start to make it a reality!
[All images supplied by thestylejungle.co.nz and Alex Spodyneiko]