Meet Dubrovnik’s Digital Nomads-in-Residence: Alyssa Isogawa from USA/Japan in California

Total Croatia News

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The DNiR programme, which has been designed by Saltwater Nomads, in partnership with Total Croatia News, the CIty of Dubrovnik and the Dubrovnik Tourist Board (and financed by the latter two), is an innovative direction for the Pearl of the Adriatic, as it looks to diversify its tourism strategy away from overtourism and in the wake of the pandemic. 


Hello! I am Alyssa Isogawa from California. I love creating and building things, laughing, exploring places and imagining new ones, and eating vegan food. I feel best when I am out of my comfort zone. 

1. You are a DN-i-R winner. Congratulations! How do you feel?

Someone pinch me, I must be dreaming! Maybe the judges liked the checkered water polo robe in my video. Or could it have been the disco ball?! Either way – I don’t feel anything other than gratitude for having been picked. I feel a great sense of honor and responsibility to do my very best for the city and people of Dubrovnik, and for Croatia. I know the past year hasn’t been easy and has forced the city to “reset” and rethink its strategy. Personally, I truly believe it is a blessing in disguise. Croatia has so much to offer beyond tourism, and I am excited thinking of all the ways we can make it the #1 destination for all digital nomads – especially aspiring digital nomads like me. There isn’t anywhere else in the world I’d rather start my DN journey.

2. How did you hear about the competition, and why did you decide to apply?

I was researching the best places to be a digital nomad via Youtube, and I randomly came across 45 Degrees Sailing and Saltwater’s “Croatia’s Digital Nomad Permit Application FAQ“ video. That initially sparked my interest, and I went to their website interested to learn more about the DN visa. Then I saw that they were having a competition, so I decided to give it a go!

I mainly applied because I’ve always felt a special affinity (or should I say pride?) for Croatia. I grew up playing water polo, and I would hear about how team Croatia was the best. Whenever coaches from Croatia would come visit, we would always revere them. My brother traveled to Croatia to play water polo, and he brought back an insanely cool Croatian water polo robe that I was obsessed with and wore every day to practice. I felt like the coolest kid in the entire pool. He also came back with a Croatian flag, and to this day that’s the only flag that’s displayed in our house. Not even an American flag or a Japanese one. A Croatian flag! Haha.


3. Which particular skills and ideas will you be bringing to the party?

I am very impressed with the diversity of skills of all the applicants. I think what I can offer is my experience in entrepreneurship, specifically in ecommerce. I started my own ecommerce business and brand back in 2016 while I was still a teen, and I’ve learned a lot since then. From designing a product, to marketing via social media and paid advertising, to photography and delegating and hiring a remote team that feels like family – there’s so much I’ve learned and a lot I can share. 

I know I can provide a very valuable perspective of the younger, aspiring DNs out there as well. I have a good understanding of where they are doing their research, what they are looking for, and the questions and concerns they’d have. I have a knack for reading trends and what people are thinking about, and what will be popular. That’s why I am hopeful for Croatia. I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t believe in it.

4. What are you most looking forward to about DNIR?

There is too much, I can’t name them all! I am looking forward to meeting everyone. I am impressed with how tirelessly, yet cheerfully the entire team is working to make this event a success – from Tanja, to Paul (TCN), the tourism board, and many others. I would like to meet them all, because I don’t know of any other country that is so agile and has put so much effort to create such a forward-thinking initiative as this. I find it very impressive and quite endearing.

Of course, I am also looking forward to meeting the rest of the DNiRs as well. I am really excited to hear their stories and their backgrounds. 

My brother would share stories of how the Croats were so kind and friendly. So I am really looking forward to making Croatian friends and learning about Croatian culture and history from an actual Croatian. In Japan, it’s tradition to bring gifts (omiyage) from home when we visit a new place. I am planning on bringing some gifts from America (as much as the space in my suitcase allows), so if anyone reading this wants to be friends let me know 🙂

And maybe this is a little embarrassing, but I am also excited to finally be living on my own. I have lived in the same home with my lovely parents my entire life, but I am really excited to spread my wings! Sorry mom and dad, love you! 

5. Let’s get you involved in the Dubrovnik community. Who or what would you like to connect with?

Oh gosh, I would really love to connect with the local community. I am down for anything.

I want to learn more about history, so if anyone has any good stories to share, I would love to listen. I love the water, music, singing, dancing, and plant-based/vegan food. I love animals. If anyone swims or does any water related activity, I will join. I love music and singing, and I am also trying to find some good Croatian music, so if anyone wants to share their music with me, please do. I’m also dipping my toes into music production (one of my goals is to create my own song) so if there are any music lovers out there, let’s be friends! And if you like dancing, that is a plus.

Here is Alyssa’s application video:

You can learn more about the programme here

Saltwater Nomads’ Tanja Polegubic on Dubrovnik Digital Nomad-in-Residence Programme

Dubrovnik Mayor Mato Frankovic on Digital Nomads, US Flights, 2021 Season

For the latest digital nomad news from Croatia, follow the dedicated TCN section.

The winner announcement video:

Other winners featured so far:

Albert Cañigueral in Barcelona

Marlee McCormick in Texas

Carolyn Zenilow from USA in Stari Grad, Hvar

Kelsey Kay Love from Texas in LA

Rob Schubert from the Netherlands in Estonia

Ron Tardiff from USA in Budapest

Kaisu Koskela from Finland in Las Palmas





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