Justin Hughes-Coleman Shares His Five Year Updates

August 2021 has arrived. It has been five years since the events that lead to the birth of
Dreams Abroad at a Spanish language school, TANDEM. To recognize this anniversary, we have asked founding members to look back at each year in turn. What have they learned? Where has their life taken them? Do they still work abroad or work remotely?

I remember meeting Justin Hughes-Coleman for the first time in Madrid, on a sweltering day in the Spanish capital. My initial impression of his character was of a reserved but, at the same time, happy-go-lucky individual. He exuded a warm, bubbly personality with a lust for life and a smile that bounced off every wall in a room. Getting to know him better, I discovered more complexities webbed throughout Justin. He is an intricately layered professional who has known his fair share of pain as much (if not more) as pleasure.

Let’s rewind to 2016 first. What was the most significant thing you learned that year?”

During 2016 I learned that if I shift my focus to my goals and break down those goals into smaller achievements, I could live the life I want. Getting to Spain required so many little and big things to be in place, from finances to storing my belongings. Actually, living in Spain opened up another world of goals. My passion has been to travel and explore the world. Now I am focused on making that a long-term, sustainable lifestyle. 

What caused a shift in your thinking in 2017?”

During my second year in Spain, I tried to focus on both maximizing my limited time left in Spain while also planning for the future. I knew I wanted to have a career I could work remotely in so that I had the option to travel. During 2017 I networked with many technology professionals to find a career path that suits my desired lifestyle. 

How do you best remember 2018?”

Bittersweet! In June 2018 I left Spain. I ended a chapter of my life that I never thought I would experience and that changed me forever. In Spain, I made incredible friends that are still close to me to this day. My students and teachers sending me off in style is something I won’t ever forget. I will also remember 2018 as the year I realized I really need to put my goals first or else I will never achieve them. 

Justin in 2018 with friends

What was your major professional development of 2019?”

I enrolled in a professional technology program that was supposed to lead to a job in the tech industry. It was meant to be the first step to living abroad long term. The boot camp was in Data Science and I was instantly immersed in a new world. I’ve really enjoyed the field so far. Not only is it challenging and innovative, but it also has a real-world impact. 

A photo of computer code.

Where did 2020 take you?”

My boot camp concluded a mere month before the pandemic so I really struggled to find a job. I was offered two positions that were later rescinded. Eventually, I took a step back and started doing more freelance projects just to keep my skills up to date. 

How would you sum up how your life has gone so far in 2021? Have you begun to work remotely?”

First and foremost, I am very fortunate. No one in my life suffered from COVID and I had the financial means to not need to worry about money during the pandemic. At the moment I do feel a little lost as I am still looking for a permanent full-time position in my field. However, I am committed to moving this year and my area of specialty allows me to work remotely. I am exploring American cities that will make a good home base for my travels. Right now I’m looking at Atlanta, GA, Miami, FL, and New Orleans, LA. Any feedback on any of these places is greatly appreciated!

Justin sitting outside during sunset, ready to start work remotely

Justin left Spain three years ago. However, his Iberian memories still burn bright. Moving forward, Justin has plans to discover his native country more by securing a position that allows him to work remotely. We wish him the best of luck and look forward to hearing about his next five years and beyond. Dreams Abroad is honored that Justin was one of our first members and we appreciate all his contributions.

by Leesa Truesdell

From Auxiliar to Studying Data Science


Justin Hughes-Coleman lived in Madrid, Spain for two years where he taught as an auxiliar. While there, he connected with other expats and became part of the Dreams Abroad team. Justin moved back to the US this past summer and is now thriving in San Francisco, California, where he is studying data science. We are excited to share his update with you.

DogWhat have you been up to since leaving Dreams Abroad?

Since leaving Dreams Abroad, I have had a lot of life changes. I moved back to the US from Spain and am currently enrolled in a Data Science boot camp. I live in the Bay Area in California and recently, got a new dog.

What is our best Dreams Abroad memory?

One of my best Dreams Abroad memories is when we met at La Gatoteca, a cat cafe in central Madrid. A few of the DA members, myself included, were really looking forward to spending time discussing our lives and goals in Madrid surrounded by adorable cats. However, many more members were not exactly thrilled to pay to spend time with cats and a few members just waited for us outside. The silly memory sticks out so much because it demonstrates the strong will many members have and it felt like the foundations of what was to come during the rest of our time abroad. I feel many members have grown to have a stronger sense of themselves and it was nice to grow along with them and Dreams Abroad.

What are your plans?

Justin Hughes-Coleman

One of my main desires is to pursue my need to travel. My three-year goal is to start my career as a data scientist so I can work remotely. Once I’ve become established, I hope to begin semi-long-term traveling again. I don’t think I want to live any place for longer than a year. I would like the flexibility to pick up and go live wherever the road takes me.

What would you say to someone interested in traveling abroad to teach, work, study, or just to travel?

If there are any hurdles that seem to make traveling not worth it, trust me. Traveling is worth overcoming every one of those hurdles. Travel, quite literally, opened up the world to me. Every amazing moment I experienced while abroad shaped me to be the person I have always wanted to be; someone that knows their potential and wants to help others reach theirs. All the people I’ve met along the way have made the world seem limitless with possibilities. While traveling, I met families that do nothing but travel and people that make a positive impact while living abroad. Traveling can show you the world and the best way to experience it: with your own eyes.

by Leesa Truesdell