Featured Photo: The picture on the left is when I first arrived in Europe October 2016 and the picture on the right is when I reached my year anniversary (October 2017).
This post is a bit late, at this point I have been abroad about 13 months without going home, but there was so much that happened, that I didn’t know what to write.
When I was able to put pen to paper (digitally), here are my thoughts:
There is are a lot of ups and downs in life and sometimes there are circles.
Where you start from one place and go through it again after a certain time period.
My circle just happened. I completed my one year anniversary in Europe. I’m extremely proud and excited by this. The whole day I felt like it was my birthday.
I made it. I completed a year of being abroad without going home or seeing family. I’ve seen friends from home as well as those I met while abroad, but they still aren’t family.
I have a small family to begin with so missing Thanksgiving and Christmas wasn’t as tragic as perhaps those with family get togethers of 20+ people; however, the season still feels a bit empty.
I flew into Europe in Budapest and as it so happens a friend from home and her friend (R and E) were going to Budapest the same weekend as my year anniversary.
I took the 7 hour bus from Prague to Budapest to spend the weekend with them and to relive my first moments in Europe this time around.
Budapest was the same, but not. I have noticed in other cities I visited multiple times with different people that my experience, of course, was different. How could it not, I was slightly older, wiser, and with different people than the previous time I was there.
But, when I first landed in Budapest, I felt wonder and excitement. Versus this time, I enjoyed my time, but it was another city in Europe. And on top of it, I could see how different it was with the Czech Republic and even those of the Balkans. I was comparing it unlike the last time in which it stood alone.
It paralleled with my own life and observations of myself. I didn’t notice much of a difference between my pre-Europe self and my post one until my friend, R, showed up.
I don’t want to say she hasn’t changed, but if I use her as a marker of where I came from, I’m not the same.
I have been to 16 new countries and repeated 2 countries this past year. I have met countless people, some who I still keep in contact with regularly and like I said, who have visited me or I to them. I have seen a long term friend get married and now am working 2 jobs with an apartment.
Some big things I have learned:
1. Czech pride themselves on being called Central Europe, and for the most part no one likes being referred to as Eastern Europe even if it’s geographically correct.
2. Hungarian has no relation to any other language except a little with Finish.
3. I truly enjoyed the Balkans and recommend them to anyone.
4. I didn’t pack much stuff to begin with, but I realized that I can live with a lot less and many would agree with me.
5. I have gotten “bad at planning” and I enjoy this. I’m glad I don’t have everything figured out because it let’s me be flexible.
Just like my bike ride, I didn’t have that much expectations, but to have fun and enjoy life as much as possible.
I realized that every month the last 12 months, I was in at least 2 countries. I tried taking advantage of my time and fulfilling every day to the fullest.
This being said, I also learned that I, and many, need some down time. Either a quiet weekend in your apartment or 3 weeks doing a work away in Belgrade.
After 3 months, I needed a change of pace: from traveling every day to a rest in one city or settling in one city to weekend gateways.
I have no regrets on my adventure thus far and can’t wait to find out what this second year abroad has in store.
I will be changing the pace by going to Asia in February: stay tuned for: Start of an Adventure part 3!
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