MSU alum follows traveling dreams and passions

When students first come to college, many are uncertain of what they will be majoring in. Over the course of their undergraduate years, they may find their interests change, along with what they’re studying at school. 

While Minnesota State University, Mankato alum Emily Jansen graduated with a BFA in musical theatre, she is now living as a digital nomad, otherwise known as people who engage in the traveler lifestyle while engaging in digital telecommunications. 

Born and raised in St. Peter, Jansen’s interest for traveling started when she was young by going down to the local travel agency and collecting brochures of places that she wanted to visit, along with watching classic ‘90s movies that were set in different countries. 

“I’d watch movies like “Balto” or “Anastasia”, and instead of enjoying those movies for what they were, they made me want to go to Alaska or Russia when I was older,” said Jansen. “I always knew that I wanted to travel, I just didn’t prioritize it for a long time.”

Jansen graduated with a theatre degree from MSU back in 2013 and found a steady stream of work by teaching theatre classes and performing at both Old Log Theatre and Theater Latte Da in the Twin Cities. While working on a show in Missouri, Jansen found a how-to book for traveling the world on a tight budget, and since then never looked back. 

“I booked a ticket to Europe and spent three weeks traveling in Germany, London and Portugal. I didn’t have a lot of money at the time, so I used the Couchsurfing app to connect with locals for homestays,” said Jansen. “When I came back, I was hooked.” 

Jansen created her blog, “The Wanderlust Rose,” back in 2018. She posts photos of her adventures along with travel tips and jobs that are available around the world. However, it was a work in progress as Jansen had no idea what she was doing.

“It was a pretty daunting task to start, but I just took it step by step and slowly built up a large online readership. My blog now has about 18,000-20,000 monthly readers and is continuing to grow,” said Jansen. “The best part of the community has been launching my own curated trips so my readers and social media followers can travel with me.”

Jansen credits her time at MSU for not only teaching her about hard work and dedication, but giving her the skills to become a digital nomad. 

“Theatre has given me the confidence to think on my feet when things go wrong while traveling and the people skills to connect with anyone abroad,” said Jansen. “I have also worked as a tour guide and travel host in my travels, which required strong public speaking skills that I had developed during my career in theatre.”

While Jansen enjoys the variety of her lifestyle and how she’s visited multiple countries, living as a digital nomad isn’t easy. Staying up-to-date with appointments and switching phone plans to stay connected are just a few of the struggles that come with the new lifestyle Jansen is living. 

“Packing for multiple trips in a row can turn into a logistical nightmare. My suitcase at the moment is full of things for beach holidays, winter trekking and modest Middle Eastern travel. It’s a bit chaotic to try to have everything you need with you at once,” said Jansen. “However, it’s worth it!”

Jansen’s advice for those who are considering going digital is that while it’s exciting to be moving constantly, slow traveling and getting to know the local culture is the best way to experience the lifestyle. 

“I had a place in Poland for six weeks and it allowed me to live like a local and really get to know the country while having a homebase where I could leave most of my luggage,” said Jansen. “It allows you to fall more deeply in love with a destination and truly appreciate the country beyond the tourist stops you’d only have time to see on a quick trip.”

For those wanting to read more of Jansen’s adventures or to learn more about the digital nomad lifestyle, head over to her blog at https://thewanderlustrose.com/.

Header Photo: MSU alum Emily Jansen currently lives as a digital nomad. She documents her journies and travel tips on her blog. (Submitted photo)

Write to: Emma Johnson at emma.johnson.5@mnsu.edu

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