2019 was a big, crazy year of adventure, struggle and growth.
It’s been 9 months now since I packed my bags and left Auckland for Glasgow. In those 9 months I’ve landed two jobs, lived in two flats and visited 10 countries (9 of them for the first time). I’ve started this blog, made friends and tried tattie scones and Irn Bru.
Now? I’m PUMPED for 2020. I’m excited for new adventures, for my road trip around Ireland and Scotland and ticking a new continent off my list with trips to Cairo and Tunisia. I’m determined to smash new goals and focus on growing my blog. I honestly don’t see how 2020 can be bigger than 2019, but hey, we’re only two weeks in.
So if you missed any of my 2019 updates, dive straight into this post to discover where I went, my highlights and lowlights of the year, and what my plans are for 2020. I mean, I’m excited.
Where I Went:
This year I visited 9 new countries, bringing my total up to 20.
My year of travel kicked off with a 3-day trip to a country in one of my favourite regions in the world; Singapore. Honestly, Singapore surprised me. While I wouldn’t put it up there with Laos or Thailand, the food, futuristic cityscape and blend of old and new meant I really enjoyed my 3 days here. Seriously, you should go.
And then I was in Europe, and dammit I was thrilled to not have to suffer through any more 30-hour flights for the foreseeable future. I landed in London and immediately fell in love/questioned why I was moving to Glasgow. But hey, I like having money. And Glasgow has grown on me.
Having arrived in the UK the day before my working visa started, I had to make a trip to Paris to then reenter the UK and activate my visa… it’s a long story. I didn’t like Paris as much as I thought I would, but a trip several months later to Strasbourg had me falling for the France I had imagined.
Let’s not forget Italy! My biggest trip of the year took me to northern Italy for 3 weeks of sunshine, pasta and gelato. You already know how incredible Italy is so I won’t lay it on too thick, but Oh. My. God. The food! The wine! The art and architecture! Let’s just say I’m hoping it’s not too long before I’m back.
Most random location of the year has to be Luxembourg, a fairytale-pretty country that I knew absolutely nothing about. I broke with my long standing tradition of over-planning and spontaneously booked tickets to Munich for the first weekend of Oktoberfest. Though I didn’t have time to buy a dirndl, Oktoberfest was still a crazy fun weekend. I celebrated my 25th birthday in Girona, spent my first Winter Christmas in Budapest and tried space cakes in Amsterdam.
In short, 2019 has been epic. I’ve learned to love solo travel, had some amazing trips with friends, and explored a whole lot more of the world. Bring on 2020, and ticking a few more countries off my bucket list!
2019 has been the year of the highest highs and lowest lows.
I think the thing I’m most proud of, though it’s not necessarily a highlight, is how I’ve managed to build a life for myself completely from scratch. I moved to the other side of the world knowing nobody and with no plans, and within 3 weeks had landed a job at the BBC. I moved flats, set up a bank account and figured out how to do all the things you take for granted, like grocery shopping, or where to buy sheets. (Top sheets aren’t a thing in the UK, did ya know?).
And I did it alone.
If 2019 has taught me anything, it’s that I’m a lot more capable than I thought. It taught me that I can build something beautiful, without the support network I had back home. I learnt to step wildly outside my comfort zone, to make friends, and to take great selfies. And really, after that, nothing can be that scary, right?
It’d be amiss of me to not mention starting Awkward Adventurer as a highlight of my year. This blog was borne out of years of dreaming, and finally, in 2019, I made it happen. So if you’re here now, reading this, thank you for your support. This is only the beginning (I hope).
If there were some triumphant highs in 2019, there were equally as many lows.
At the end of October, I lost my nana Margaret. Though it was something I’d been expecting, it was unfathomably hard to be on the other side of the world at a time like that. I tell ya, the urge to brave that 30-hour flight and fly back home has never been so strong.
I’ve also struggled with loneliness. I’m an introvert with social anxiety and so pushing myself to make friends has been the hardest thing I’ve done this year. Yup, something 3-year-olds do with ease was harder for me than finding a job, or a flat, or understanding Glaswegian accents.
But hey, I’m slowly finding my tribe, and life is becoming a little less lonely.
What’s happening in 2020:
2020 is going to be a good one, if not quite as turn-your-life-upside-down big as 2019 was.
After I finish hibernating in January and February (for reals) my first big trip of the year will be with my sister. We’re doing a 2-week road trip around Ireland and Scotland, and OMG I’m so excited. Though it’ll be my first time driving in a year, so cross your fingers for me, will you?
In April one of my best friends will be flying across the world to see me! Oh, and to do a Contiki. We’ll be exploring an as yet undecided location in Scotland, so if you have any ideas, let me know.
August sees my dad making his way over to see me (I’m definitely feeling the love). I’ll be meeting him in Cairo, before spending a few days each in Tunisia and Malta. I mean, it was about time I crossed another continent off the list, ya feel me?
I’d love to escape the UK ‘summer’ and spend a week or two in Croatia (they know how to do summer). I might spend a weekend in Copenhagen, or head to Tallinn for my next birthday. Why stop the tradition, right?
And after all that, I think I’ll head back home to New Zealand. But like I said, we’re only two weeks in, so who really knows?
Until next time, safe travels and love.