What a year!

Well hello friends! It’s been awhile. I’ve started this blog post probably 20 times, and for some reason or another, it never gets finished and posted. And by for some reason or another, I mean that either it got too long and rambling or I didn’t believe in the conclusion about myself that I was trying to make.
So let me try to avoid both of those pitfalls here. The last post was in April! It’s been 6 months! I can’t send a text about what I had for dinner without rambling, how can I explain all of the amazing places I’ve been succinctly? During my travels, I’ve been to all 7 continents and visited 50 countries. In my lifetime now, I’ve been to 58 countries 🙂

I’ve homeless and unemployed for over a year! I’m on day 425 and it’s probably close to a year that I’ve been out of the country. As for the highlights, well that’s when this turns into 2,000 words and I’m only up to the summer hahaha. So I’ll skip over some details if I tell myself I’ll come back to them in future posts 🙂 But let’s just start off with it’s all been pretty damn awesome. The countries, the people, the food, the adventure, the life lessons, the nature.

Last we spoke, I was in Costa Rica taking Spanish classes, since then I went over to Europe and traveled to some familiar countries as well as venturing over to Eastern Europe. I went to Croatia, which definitely lives up to the hype. I don’t think there are any direct flights there from the US and it’s more of a European vacation destination, but it’s beautiful. But the unexpected delight of that trip was that I found a guy who took me for a day trip to visit Bosnia, Montenegro and Albania. It was a loooooong day. Anyway, I wish I could have spent more time in these places. Montenegro has this little town called Kodor, that’s on an inlet on the Adriatic Sea, nestled in mountains. It has a town within the old fortress walls which is fun, and yachts and big boats that come into the bay. The houses remind me of these houses my mom had in her garden that are a white stone with terracotta roofs… which maybe was just cool for me because I love when totally random places remind me of my mom… but anyway, Montenegro was lovely and driving through Bosnia and Croatia was also super and there are lots of places that would be fun to go back and visit.
I also dabbled in North Africa and the Middle East. And by that I mean, Morocco and Turkey and both had times where I was scared and frustrated but both were amazing and I’d love to go back. I went to Scandinavia on a whim, and loved it. I was in Germany meeting up with some old colleagues and friends, and decided to rent a car to explore for a week and a half (I had previously rented a car to drive from Switzerland where I was staying with a friend and then was headed to Barcelona to visit grad schools and I only had the car for a week which was NOT enough time, so I wised up this time around and had the car a week and a half and plans to cover less ground). Anyway, after visiting Luxembourg and Belgium, I decided to check out Denmark. I fell in love with Copenhagen and decided I wanted to visit all of the Scandinavian countries. Before I started this trip I had been interested in visiting Norway because my mom’s ancestry is 100% Norwegian. But I ended up spending about a month in the Nordic countries and there’s so much more I’d love to see and do. But Iceland did not disappoint. I rented a camper van for the first few nights, and well, that was a bit ambitious as it got to below freezing at night and the van wasn’t insulated so the fact that I have been sick for over a month and it escalated to the flu is just because I was stubborn and wanted to try “camping” but I mean, driving around was amazing, the landscape was incredible. It goes from barren looking fields of black lava rock with maybe some moss covering it to mountains where you’re driving through a blizzard and all you can see is snow to grassy plains with wild horses and cool colorful houses. Then it’s these big hills where you can see the different layers of rock… you know like you can see in an agate, or the rings in a tree that grow out each year? Like that, but up a hill. I was there in early October, just as fall was starting to drift into winter. I would imagine the summer would be different with the midnight sun, but when I was there, it was pretty much cloudy and overcast all the time, and things were just starting to die for winter, but it created the most amazing color palate. The fact that I’ve been to so many different and incredible places, I try to think of how I’m going to remember each place and feeling while I’m there and what popped into my mind driving through Iceland was the color palate. I don’t have the right words, but like think of a Wes Anderson movie. It was kind of like that, but without the pastels; more like variations on greens and greys and browns? But the coolest nature was the Northern Lights. There’s a predictor index based on the movement of the aurora borealis and the clouds, a scale of 0-9. The first day I was there, it was a 2 and I was too tired from traveling to stay up to try to see them. But the next night, it was a 9! And the lights were incredible. I could see them moving, and there were greens and yellows. Just amazing. The next night was a 3, and I still stayed out to see them, and they were there but you needed a camera to see the colors and they didn’t seem to dance through the sky… so I really got lucky with the first night.
Can I take a pause and say this is how I end up stopping my blogs because I say too much? Nearly every place I go has some sort of wonderful experience like that. So, I guess I need to try to find a way to tell all the stories I have in my heart that seem content to just stay there until I start typing and they all want to come out 🙂

But another huge highlight of these last 6 months… and the whole last 425 days have been the people. I have met so many kind locals and fellow travelers. I have also met up with old friends who live in different places or we traveled together. This is usually where I derail on previous lengthy attempts, and I usually start with it. But I waited to discourage myself from going on and on and when I start trying to name the highlights it turns into two pages. So again, more stories for another time… but in general, if you are one of the old friends I visited or planned a trip with or a new friend that I met along the way, please know that these experiences hold a place in my heart on this journey. With the exception of a couple of weeks I spent in a course to learn about yin yoga and myofascial release to become a certified yin yoga teacher in May, where I had a structured activity and objective and was intentionally with a group of strangers, these last 6 months I have been really on my own. Before I had more chunks of planned time, like yoga teacher training in Thailand, or my tour group that I was with for over a month in South America, or studying Spanish at a school and living with host families in Costa Rica, or prebooked specific excursions like the liveaboard in the Great Barrier Reef or the trip to Antarctica… this has really just been me. I have really loved traveling by myself and I wouldn’t trade this experience and what I’ve learned about myself along the way for anything, so it’s been realllllly fun to meet up with friends and share part of these experiences with others.
But that brings me to the last part of my update, what it means. And well if it was hard for me to not go into great detail about all the fun adventures with friends that prevented me from posting, I think the real culprit was that I didn’t know the why and I didn’t really know what was next.
I still don’t really know what’s next in the abstract sense. That’s part of the journey. But in a more literal sense, I have a short term plan! Right now I’m in Thailand. Tomorrow morning I head to Koh Phagnan, the island where I became a yoga teacher a year ago!  I also did my detox. It’s funny, the detox was hell, and so I really question why I’m about to subject myself to it again… but I am. Because after the detox, I’m headed back to the US! I’m visiting my extended family in Virginia for Thanksgiving, then in less than a month, I’ll be back in Minnesota where I’ll start a 3 month consulting gig at a company that I used to work with in the past. While I’m back in Minnesota, I intend to apply to grad school, to hopefully start an fall-time MBA program in Europe next fall.
I anticipate it’s going to be a big adjustment to being done traveling for the time being… and living in my dad’s basement… and going back to work full time in an industry that in the past has caused me many a sleepless night… in the middle of winter in Minnesota…
But I’m also looking forward to it in a weird way. I really like the company and the people that I’ll be working for which should hopefully take a bit of the sting out of working. I’m excited about my plan to try to go to grad school next fall, and while the thought of studying for the GMAT and applying kind of scares me, in my churning mind there’s a lot of room for self-doubt and rejection when it comes to applying for schools and then being a student and living abroad… but overall, I’m excited by the challenge. But I’m getting ahead of myself a little. Mostly, I think it will be good to go back to Minneapolis because I think I’ve grown a lot in this past year of traveling. I have a better idea of who I am, who I want to be, and what my scary demons look like; and I think it’s time to start trying to address these things in ways that I can’t when I’m living life in the fast lane 🙂

I’ve gotten worse at taking pictures, except for my pic of the day thumbs up selfies.  But here are a few highlights of the past 6 months!

 

 

 

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