1 Year On: Returning ‘Home’ After A Year Abroad

Firstly, I’ll start by saying how extremely difficult it was for me to write this post. Not physically write it, but for me to actually accept the fact that this big journey that I’ve been living (my Eurotrip Gap Year) was a year ago and is officially over.

So this time 2 years ago (January of 2013) I got on a plane and headed off to London (you can read about my Gap Year here). One year later (a year ago nearly to the day) I said goodbye to London and G’Day to Australia. And as the months flew by, I got stuck in to my new uni life (read about my adventures of 2014 here) as my London life slowly slipped away. So what are the biggest changes readjusting to life back ‘home?’ How do I define home? What’s the hardest part of it all? Here it is.

About to jet off to Iceland
About to jet off to Iceland

Home isn’t quite the same – you’re stuck somewhere in between. For a few months you mistakingly refer to home as in London (after all, it was home sweet home), then you start calling your parents house home, then where you’re living home and then you just get confused. I believe home truly is where the heart is, and my heart seems to be scattered around the world.

You have an identity crisis – you get on the plane all strong minded like ‘yea I know who I am and I’m not gonna let anyone change me.’ Then you land in Sydney, see all your friends and family and suddenly have an identity crisis. WHO AM I? It’s a terrifying experience, thinking that the old you is slipping away, making way for the new you that you’re not quite sure you like. The thought that got me through this ‘transformation’ is that I’m growing and learning from every experience (good or bad) and at the end of the day, it will help make me stronger.

Conquering a hike through a valley
Trying to be a strong independent woman

People see you as the same little you that left – Not the strong independent traveller you now are. School friends see you as the nerd that studied too much, or too things too seriously, or partied too much… but little do they know how much you’ve changed. You feel so empowered, accomplished and strong until someone says ‘aw, you haven’t changed one bit,’ then all that confidence disappears like packets of Tim Tam’s on sale.

You can no longer say ‘This time last year’- For some reason, this was such a comforting statement. Comparing my life now to my adventures last year. But now I can say this time next year… who knows where I’ll be or what I’ll be doing!’ That is the most motivating thought I have. The thought of the unknown!

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Welcoming new challenges and adventures

You can see people getting bored with your travelling stories but you’ll still tell them again – What do you mean you don’t want to hear about how I lost my purse in Rome and magically found it an hour later with all my money in it? Or the time I crashed the best house party in London? Or the time I got to march in the St. Pattys Day Parade in Dublin? Or the time… Ok I get it, you’ve heard it before and you’ll hear it a few more times yet so get comfortable.

You get a serious case of PTD (Post Travel Depression) – You have the highest high that travel offers and suddenly you stop and you’re back at home. Then you come crashing down with the realisation that it’s over. It’s real and it sucks.

You lose touch with your ‘lifelong friends’- At high school you have about 50 BFFL pink sparkly necklaces. And as soon as you jet off, the sparkles seem to magically disappear. This isn’t necessarily a sad part of leaving home, it’s just the inevitable change in life that takes some getting used to. Regardless of if you actually keep these friendships for life, you’ll always have the precious memories of friendships.

My (short) Christmas with my family 2014
You realise how important family is!

But you also find out who your real friends are – You might now have to message everyday. In fact, one of my best friends that was in Australia when I was overseas and I barely spoke. Not because we didn’t want to, but because we were so preoccupied with our busy lives. And the second one of us needed eachother, we’d be there. The minute I returned to Australia it was like I never left. It’s those sorts of friendships that will last for years and will be the most special. Best Friends For Life (for real).

You don’t settle for okay anymore – You’ve had a taste of the spicy, succulent, addictive flavours of the world and crave it everyday. Why would you then settle for a little salt and pepper seasoning? You won’t accept ordinary, or average, or okay… you try to make everything incredible!

You feel motivated to do it again – Was it all worth it? The love, the pain, the grief, homesickness, the ongoing identity crisis… (see image below)! So what am I doing about it now? I’m trying to live life to the fullest, to appreciate everything and everyone I have and bring on the adventures for 2015 and years to come!

x A

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If it’s on Sex and the City, it must be true

The Difference Between Being Adventurous And Being Naive

People like to see themselves as being adventurous, spontaneous and risk taking… I sure do. Especially whilst travelling or trying to spice up your daily routine, you might adopt mottos like ‘always say yes,’what have you got to lose,’ or ‘why not?‘ And whilst having these spontaneous adventures makes for some pretty memorable times, it can also lead to some bad decisions and regrets. So how do you be adventurous without being stupid? How do you create those memorable nights without making some questionable decisions? Here’s how to maximise the memories and minimise the risk.

Meeting new people at a hostel and having an adventure in Edinburgh
Meeting new people at a hostel and having an adventure in Edinburgh

Know Your Limits – Knowing your limits, especially with alcohol is extremely important if you’re in a foreign city or don’t know the area or people you’re with. Whilst you still want to have a good time, it’s important that your head is clear enough to find your way home or to a bus stop if necessary (you don’t want to be walking home by yourself through the back streets of a foreign city). Also whilst travelling, you may develop this naive faith that all people you meet are just as respectful, honest and trustworthy as you (or as they appear). Unfortunately, this is not always the case. I’m not telling you to never trust anyone, but be sure to use your best judgement on the people around you so that you’re safe.

Balance is the Key – Who invented this saying of always saying yes?! Can you imagine if for a week you said yes to everything you were asked to do and go everywhere you were invited? You’d be exhausted, broke and probably end up with alcohol poisoning (yes that happened to me in Prague and I nearly died so beware!). Instead of always saying yes to everything, how about planning your week so you’ve got a good balance of down time, socialising, work, fitness, parties etc. You’ll feel a lot more productive and having plans for a Friday night will be good motivation to get through a long week at work.

Always Listen to your Gut Instinct – If something just doesn’t feel right, chances are, it’s not. Never underestimate that little feeling at the bottom of your stomach trying to tell you what to do. I’ve never regretted not following my instincts, but i’ve definitely regretted choosing to ignore it. For some reason, it seems to know what’s good for you.

Going on an adventure on New Years Eve 2013 in Krakow, Poland with some friends
Going on an adventure on New Years Eve 2013 in Krakow, Poland with some friends

‘A walk home and the best party ever.’

When I was living in London, a friend and I were walking home from the tube after a concert in the city. A few feet ahead were a group of 6 guys about our age carrying some beers. Because we were walking in the same direction and they didn’t look like psychopaths so we began talking. Turned out they were going to a house party literally down the road from where I was living and invited us to come along. I was with a friend and a stones throw away from my house, I had my phone on me and got a good and genuine vibe from the group so we agreed to drop by. It turned out to be the best house party I’ve ever been to! There was a DJ deck, a smoke machine, strobe lights, alcohol everywhere, all the furniture was removed, a killer dance floor, food and cool new people. It was so good that I went home and convinced a few of my housemates to come around too. This is a time that being adventurous paid off. I never would’ve followed let alone talk to the guys if they seemed sketchy or something didn’t feel right. With your head being in the right space, being in control, having a friend, knowing the area and having a bit of trust, you can have a great spontaneous night and get home safe and sound with some fantastic memories and new friends.

So want to have a good and memorable night out? Trust your instincts, be prepared (phone battery charged, spare cash), tell your friends where you’re going, be kind and have faith in people (but not too much) and remember to have fun.

xxx A

15 Things I Want to Achieve in 2015

So yes, this is a little New Years resolution and I figured if I put it down in writing and post it to my blog, then maybe I’ll feel obliged to actually stick to them (yay). For a long time now, I’ve always set goals (short and long term) and I find by making goals, I then develop plans to achieve them and actually do it. So this is my hit list for 2015!

Exploring Bondi Beach with my Dad
Exploring Bondi Beach with my Dad

1- Read everyday – I love reading a good book and feel accomplished and enlightened when I finish one. There’s a million amazing books out there that I can’t wait to get my hands on.

2 – Write in my journal everyday – For as long as I can remember I’ve kept a handwritten journal that I try to write in as often as possible. Throughout the past couple of months though it’s completely slipped my mind and now I don’t have any entries from October onwards. So I want to commit to writing everyday (minimum every week) so that when I’m old and grey, I can flick though the pages and think of the funny little things that happen everyday.

One of my favourite books I read this year! A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway
One of my favourite books I read this year! A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway

3 – Spend less time scrolling – When I’m bored or killing time, I always seem to find myself mindlessly scrolling down my Facebook Feed, Instagram, Buzzfeed etc and after an hour disappears, all I’ve learnt is that my friend got a new car and 10 inappropriate outfits of the week (thanks Buzzfeed). Instead, I can use this time more productively – i.e read, write, and I think I’ll be a lot happier if an hour slips away because I was reading Oscar Wilde.

4 – Renew my gym membership – In August I joined the gym at uni and believe it or not… I’m missing it! Never thought I’d say that about a gym! My goal is to go to the gym 3-4 times a week. I find that by going to the gym and being physically active, I am then more motivated to eat and cook healthier. It’s a win win situation really.

5 – Do yoga at least once a week – I LOVE YOGA! It keeps me balanced, relaxed and flexible. I walk out of class feeling like I can take on the world.

Having memorable times with my friends
Having memorable times with my friends

6 – Reduce the amount of alcohol I drink – Don’t get me wrong, over O Week next year, I’ll definitely indulge in a few beers, however throughout the year, I’d like to reduce the amount of alcohol I consume in one sitting and how often I drink. Because at the end of the day, it’s expensive and hangovers are not my friend!

7 – Save Save Save! – I’m currently saving my money to go on exchange in 2016 and that will be a very expensive adventure. Therefore, by cutting back on alcohol etc and being super strict and smart about my savings… I can make it happen!

8 – Be productive and prepared for uni classes – Much easier said than done, but this year I wish to maintain my high standard of work and keep up to date with assignments and essays. In the end, it will all pay off!

9 – Hike Mount Kiera – I’ve lived in Wollongong for a year now and I still haven’t hiked up Mount Kiera yet! Mainly because the days people seemed to go hiking were on extremely hot days, but this year… no excuses! It must be done!

10 – Launch my new section of A Worldly Addiction where I’ll be discovering new and wonderful local cafes and posting all the details and photos as often as possible. Watch this space for updates in 2015!

COFFEEEEEEE!
COFFEE!

11 – Be an avid environmentalist – Recycling paper and plastics, donating my old clothes, not using the clothes dryer, turn lights off… Anything I can do to help our planet out more!

12 – Continue having coffee dates with my family and friends – If I’m going to keep up to date with all my uni work, then I’m going to have to keep up with my coffee hits. And what better way to do that then keep catching up with all my coffee buddies at uni and exchanging gossip, troubles, concerns, advice and friendship!

13 – Go camping – I went on an awesome camping adventure this year and it was AWESOME! So, this year I definitely need to do it again! Preferably on a nice, hot, sunny weekend where we can camp near the beach or go hiking around waterfalls. Either way, an escape from reality and technology with some close friends and sleeping under the stars sounds awesome to me!

When I had a weekend away in Sydney with my boyfriend
When I had a weekend away in Sydney with my boyfriend

14 – Have a weekend away – I haven’t been on a plane all year and I’m craving the excitement of landing in a new and exciting place! I’m thinking of either spending a weekend in Melbourne or on the Gold Coast, with a close friend and just explore and have fun for a weekend!

15 – Share something with you guys at least once a week – 2015, expect to get lots of notifications saying that I’ve just added a new post! Whether it be more photos, quotes, attempted poetry, my opinion on something, a report, tips, memories… I’ll be sharing it with you! So be sure to subscribe, so you don’t miss out on a single post!

And one last big thing which will keep me going throughout the whole year… BE HAPPY! Be with my friends and family as much as possible and always with a smile on my face and warmth in my heart!

What are you hoping to achieve next year?

xxx A

Why It’s Not So Easy to Drop Everything to Travel the World

Lately I’ve seen a lot of blogs, posts, quotes, expressions and people saying, ‘just drop everything and go, travel the world!’ Whilst in theory I love the thought of this and wish I could, the bottom line is that there’s many of us squeezing in some time on Facebook before after we finish a double shift, or before a uni lecture to read these posts, and I can assure you that the majority of people would love to be sipping cocktails in Greece or exploring London, rather than do these things. So here’s why it’s not so easy to drop everything to book a one way flight to New York, Tokyo or Moscow.

*On a side note, if anyone out there would like to give me an all expenses holiday, please comment below* 😉

from- http://th02.deviantart.net/fs70/PRE/i/2013/324/4/f/wanderlust_by_apokalyxe-d6uy8j4.jpg
from- http://th02.deviantart.net/fs70/PRE/i/2013/324/4/f/wanderlust_by_apokalyxe-d6uy8j4.jpg

1- I’m Poor – The big factor here… no money. And when I say no money, when I find 20cents on the ground… I get pretty damn excited! Also, everything about international travel is expensive! Do you know how much a one way ticket to London costs? About $1000… and that’s just to get there!

2- I have a job (so that I’m not poor) – In order to fund my coffee addiction, pay for university textbooks and pay for internet, I need to work, and a lot! I really enjoy my job(s) as well, and if I even want to think about booking flights, I’m going to have to work 25 hours a day 8 days a week!

3 – I need to find myself – Whilst travelling the world is a good way to discover a lot about yourself, when you’re home with your family and friends is also a good time to grow as a person. It helps you re-evaluate your views, dreams and ambitions, and may differ from those of the traveller version of you. Also, travelling can be stressful and exhausting, and there really is no bed like YOUR bed.

4- It’s not the right time – Personally, right now would not be the right time to go overseas at all. I need to be here for my family, for my job, my boyfriend, my friends, my commitments, my degree… I have a lot of things going on at the moment. I know that there never seems to be a right time to go on a big overseas adventure, but there are definitely wrong times, and this is one of them.

5- I’m quite happy here for now – My home is pretty damn awesome! I like within a 10 minute drive to over 10 pristine beaches, close to the city, I have friends to go out with, family to have dinner with… AND the best part about having wanderlust at home is that you can discover some pretty incredible places in your own backyard!

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I think the most frustrating thing for me is a combination of these things. I do want to travel and live overseas, but I also have a lot of other goals and ambitions as well. And to work towards achieving those it requires me to have a job, go to university and save my money. I’m trying to keep the bigger picture in mind and work towards achieving all of my goals and not just my one desire of travelling the world. Yes, a part of this frustration is jealousy of my friends and family that seem to be travelling internationally every second month, but I know I’ll get there once I work hard for it.

So what do I do to settle nearly every atom which is jumping up and down with infectious wanderlust?

1- I make (realistic) goals – Making realistic goals is the most important first step towards reaching your desired outcome. For example, there’s only a certain amount of money I can earn in a year and therefore it might take me two years to save the money I need for a trip overseas. By being realistic, they’re actually achievable and you can work hard to reach them. There’s no point setting your goals too high and not achieving them.

2- I plan – Planning makes me feel like I am about to get on a plane in a months time. I read magazines, blogs, newspapers… anything with beautiful photos of cities, mountains and beaches around the world I want to go to.

3- I work (extremely) hard – If I set a goal, I will stick to it. I’ll pick up extra shifts, I might say no to a few nights out, I might cut back on buying my lunch… I do everything in my power to reach that goal and live my dream!

4 – I get there – It may take some time, but I’ll get there, and the gelato in Rome will taste even sweeter!

So internet… PLEASE STOP TELLING ME TO DROP EVERYTHING AND TRAVEL! I’m working on it!

xxx

A

Au Revoir, Adios, Ciao, Arrivederci, Sayōnara…

Goodbyes are never easy. Everything about that horrible little word suggests the end, a heart sinking finality that we can never quite bring ourselves to accept. I’ve had my fair share of goodbyes. Travelling around the world, moving houses, new experiences, each brings with it the excitement of meeting incredible new people. Some people pass through your life, others might remain friends for a lifetime. Regardless of who it is, time and distance urge you to say goodbye to those special people you meet along the way, just in case it really is final.

Personally, goodbyes are just too hard. Instead, I opt for a much more promising, naively optimistic ‘see you later.’ Sometimes I genuinely mean, ‘see you later.’ Even if you’re from the other side of the planet, you just never know where you’ll end up in life, and if I find myself in a city in Sweden, or Italy, or America, it’s reassuring to know that there’s someone very special that’s reserved a spot for me on their lounge.

Maybe I’m just trying to trick my tear ducts into thinking that there will be a next time (though I usually cry anyway), maybe I know within my heart that I will see them again somewhere and someday, or maybe I just know that I’m not quite ready to say a final goodbye yet. A little piece of them and me, that I try to hold on to with every wave, every text and every email, that little piece of love and friendship that I want to hold onto forever.

A Bit of Wisdom from Winnie the Pooh - http://theologigal.files.wordpress.com/2012/02/how-lucky-i-am-to-have-something-that-makes-saying-goodbye-so-hard-winnie-the-pooh.jpg
A Bit of Wisdom from Winnie the Pooh
http://theologigal.files.wordpress.com/2012/02/how-lucky-i-am-to-have-something-that-makes-saying-goodbye-so-hard-winnie-the-pooh.jpg

My Secrets to Confidence

Confidence comes in all shapes and sizes. Hopeful of joining a gym, courageous to apply for that job, brave to deliver a speech, bold in your outfit and fearless in life! Confidence is a key element that we’re all expected to have, yet why is it that we talk ourselves down and doubting our ability? We all have insecurities, we all have weaknesses, yet it’s how we accept them, deal with them and conquer them so that nothing, especially yourself stands in your way.

I would describe myself as a confident person, yet from time to time I give in to those dark uncertainties and it can all get a bit overwhelming really. However, I have found some ways to help me be more confident in my thoughts and actions.

Slow down every now and again to embrace beauty around you
Slow down every now and again to embrace beauty around you – Rome

Smile – It instantly makes you feel a little bit better I promise! Also laughing or singing helps break down those nerves and negative thoughts circling your mind. It will also make people around you feel more comfortable and relaxed. A smile really can go a long way!

Think about your strengths and skills – Take a moment to think about all the wonderful and exquisite things you can do. Maybe you can play all of Ed Sheeran’s album on guitar, a really fast reader/typer, good at remembering people’s names, keeping things tidy/clean, taking initiative or responsibility… the options are endless! If you’re ever in doubt, focus on your skills and strengths and how you can use them to your advantage to help you achieve what you want.

Embrace what you love – Personally, I love writing, listening to music, going to the beach, going on coffee dates with my friends, travelling… the list goes on. It’s important to take time out and focus on yourself, what you want and what you love. Engaging with these activities will also give you that motivation and self-confidence that will automatically make you happy and feel better about yourself and your capabilities.

Surround yourself with positivity
Surround yourself with positivity

Accept and grow from your weaknesses – We all have them, I’m not the most committed student when it comes to exams, I try and take on too many tasks at once and cannot for the life of me keep my room clean! (that, I can’t change). The first thing is to be aware of aspects of your life you can improve on and how you can do that. For example, trying to go to sleep before midnight, having a diary to write all of your due dates in and focusing on things your truly passionate about. Even if you take baby steps, at least you’re closer to growing and moving on.

Think Positively! – Whilst it might be hard to stay positive sometimes, I strongly believe that positive people attract positive energy.

‘Confidence comes not from always being right but from not fearing to be wrong.’ ~Peter T. McIntyre

Set Goals (and make them BIG) – I find it helpful to set goals to work towards. All throughout high school, I just wanted to go to Paris, and I made that happen by getting a job, planning, investigating and being absolutely determined to make it happen! Like the quote above says, be fearless! Go out and grab life! Like the classic cheesy quote ‘if you miss reaching for the moon, at least you’ll be among the stars.’ Opportunities are everywhere if you have the courage to seek them.

Take the plunge – Yes it might be scary, seem impossible, be overwhelming etc. etc. etc… but what if… it works? What if you accomplish your dreams? And what if you take the world by storm? You cannot truly gain without a little risk. Put yourself out there and just do it!

xxx A

Take the plunge!
Take the plunge! – Greek Islands