Time is really going quickly now as I wind down towards my going home date. I can't believe I'm approaching a year here in Ireland, it feels pretty surreal. I think even more so because the first time I came here I returned home after two weeks, so this just feels extra special to me you know?
I've got a trip to Brussels coming up in exactly two weeks and then I've got some pride events next month which will bring me to July. Other than that, I desperately want to see Greece but it's only going to get more expensive with the nicer weather so I'm really hoping I can still make that work. Aside from that, I want to see somewhere in eastern Europe like Poland or Romania and then if I can somehow manage it I'd like to visit somewhere in Spain. After this, it'll be time to fly home :)
I've been doing a lot of thinking about whether I want to take the visa for New Zealand and spend another year or two away from home. There's the one side of me that thinks I'd be crazy not to take advantage of the opportunity but then the other side of me can find a lot of potential cons.
So I'm really leaning towards staying home and focusing solely on building my blog. I want to dive into cooking videos, more animal rights vids, and getting back into 2 or 3 recipes a week. I would love to actually take the time to put together a hard cover cookbook with 100 or 150 recipes not released on the blog, something I specifically put together for a hardcover. All of this requires me to be pretty grounded for a while you know? Also, I love the idea of getting a nice apartment and a cat / dog and being close enough to my family to visit whenever I'd like.
As far as travel goes, I've had such a wonderful experience here making my way through Europe but the constant travel has also exhausted me a little if I'm being honest. I like the idea of taking one or two trips a year throughout the United States or somewhere in Canada because I haven't seen really anything in Canada yet embarrassingly enough.
All I know is I'm so excited to see my friends and family back home :) Feels like it's been ages and I'm really looking forward to reconnecting!!
I've been really putting a lot of thought into what I want my next few steps to be in the coming years and I think I'm honing in on the best options for me. One of the things I had really been pondering is taking a working holiday visa in New Zealand and spending a year or two working and travelling around New Zealand, Australia, and parts of Asia. This would probably be more life changing than my trip here to Europe and the experiences I've had here for sure but I think the one thing that eats away at me is how difficult it is to see my family from here.
Flying home from Europe is costly but flying home from New Zealand is completely out of the question. There's absolutely no way I'd be able to go home to visit with flights one way averaging $1, 500 not to mention the 16 or so hours attached with the travel. I can't even fathom what 16 hours on a flight feels like when I'm already struggling with the idea of spending over 7 hours on a plane to get home in a few months. There's just no freaking way I'd be able to see them and yes, there's skype or facebook messenger and whatnot but it really isn't the same. After I lost my mother, I really felt a strong connection to my family which I definitely had before but even more so now you know? The idea of not seeing them for another one or two years is ALMOST too much for me to bear.
That's where Iceland comes in. I was doing some research about place sin the world that are experiencing a Hospitality skill shortage and Iceland popped up near the top of that list. One of the things that appealed to me right off the bat was the fact that it was significantly closer to home than New Zealand first off which would make it so much easier for me to come home to visit and vice versa. Secondly, Iceland always ranks near the top of the happiest and most peaceful countries in the world which given the current political climate, is endlessly appealing. Iceland is naturally stunning, seasons are similar to Canada, and there's plenty of hospitality work. All of this on top of the fact that there really isn't a huge vegetarian / vegan community which sounds like a challenge to me! How exciting would it be to live there for a while and maybe open my own little place to bring awareness to the vegetarian / vegan movement and show people how amazing food can be even without meat!
I know I'm constantly going back and forth with ideas about what I want to do next but when it comes down to it, being closer to my family and friends is really important to me and so is seeing new places and things, so Iceland kind of seems like a perfect compromise.
Anyways, that's all for now. You can expect I'll change my mind a hundred times but for now, I'm just excited to get home and spend some time with all of my fam and friends :D
As the end of April approaches, I've started to look at flights back home and ballpark what I'll be spending to get there but I've also kind of been looking at what I want to do when I come home as far as a vacation. Now, you might assume that this experience has been my vacation but in all honesty, I've worked very hard the entire time I was here and sacrificed a lot to get to see all of the places I've seen so far.
Obviously when I get back home I'll need to return to my old job at the restaurant if they have space for me or find another job but before I do that I'll be taking some much needed time off. I started looking at trips to Cuba from Toronto for a week in September. Honestly, with the money I come home with including what I already have saved in my account, I could easily take a week in Cuba all inclusive and still come back with money to spare until I get back to work.
Going somewhere tropical has never really been something that I wanted to do too heavily because I hate the heat but after this year in Europe, I'm kind of ready to see something completely different than this. I've never gone anywhere tropical in my 33 years on this planet and I think it's about time to go and relax on a beach for a week sipping free fruity drinks and just relaxing. I think a trip like this will help put me in a better place mentally to think about what I want my next steps in life to be. Next steps in regard to whether I want to move to New Zealand or commit to staying home and working on my blog. I still don't know what direction to take although things keep getting clearer for me day by day.
I was actually having a chat with someone at the hostel today about being in my thirties and still having little to no clue what I want to do with my life. I mean, I have ideas but I am still all over the place you know? I envy my friends sometimes that have their careers and their houses that they own because they have something that they've worked so hard for. I will always have this travel experience for sure but I can't help but think about how nice it will be to on my own little something.
Why is getting old so hard? :P
With just over 4 months to go before I head back to Canada, I've really started planning what I want my next few steps to be. Obviously I will go back to working on new recipes for the blog and focusing on putting together another ebook featuring photos I've used my DSLR camera for which I think will make the next book so special, but I have a few directions to go with life in general.
I'm really considering applying for the New Zealand Working Holiday visa. This travel experience has certainly enlightened me to the world of travel to say the least. I always knew I wanted to travel but I never really knew how much I would love it until I actually settled here and started travelling around Europe. There's no sensation quite like wandering the streets of a new place where every person, place, and thing is completely new and exciting. Going to New Zealand would grant me 1 or 2 years at my discretion to travel around Australia, New Zealand, and parts of Asia which I'm sure would be a life altering experience to say the least but I have my hesitations.
Being away from my family and friends back home is difficult for sure but the life experience is most definitely worth it. My hesitations are with relocating and setting up a new life somewhere else again. The process of relocating, living in hostels, moving rooms constantly, sharing rooms with several people, tax appointments etc., this was all so taxing on me for the first 3 months that it almost felt to be too much. Now that I'm 7 months in of course it's been nothing but a wonderful experience since then but it was truly a struggle to get to the point I'm at now and frankly, I didn't really succeed the way I had hoped. Don't get me wrong, I'm proud that after my first try I came back and made this work but there were some shortcomings you know? I was unable to get an apartment because I ran out of money and succumbed to living in the hostel permanently where I frankly overpay for what I get and I didn't start travelling until 3 months into my time here. There was a lot I could have done differently to really make the most of this.
As I said, super proud of myself and happy that I've achieved what I have but it was not easy whatsoever. The thought of having to do all of this all over again so soon after I get home is a bit daunting and weighing heavily on my decision to apply. Like I said, I know it would all be worth it in the end but it was so difficult to get set up that I just don't know if I'm willing to do all of this again. On the opposite side of things, it would allow me some more access to new places in the world I would likely not visit otherwise and give me so many new experiences. It's definitely a struggle to decide whether I want to go through all of this again.
Also, I really want to put all of my attention into developing my blog further. My goal with the blog was always recipes and animal news. I've continued on reporting animal stories from around the globe but I've yet to dive into cooking videos or really develop some food photography skills. This is something I desperately want to do when I get home and I worry that relocating again will put this on hold even further which I'm not sure I'm ready to do. I'd likely get an apartment which would mean I could get pets which is another thing my life is desperately lacking at this point. On the other side of this argument is if I decide to stay in Windsor back home, I'm conceding to staying in Windsor which if you've never lived there let me tell you, there's NOTHING going on. It's such a boring place to live and with the exception of having my family and some great friends, there's not much else worthwhile about that city.
Ugh, as you can see nothing's changed with me. I continue to want to take myself in 100 directions instead of focusing on one and juts putting 100% into it you know? Being creative like this has its drawbacks because I can see myself doing billions of different hings but never get to one of them concretely. I'll never really be personally successful if I don't focus on one direction. What do you guys think??
Something has shifted in my ability to sleep y'all and I'm struggling to get even 6 hours of sleep a day. I don't know what the heck happened but I went from sleeping almost the entire day to barely getting any sleep and I must admit, it's taking its toll on me. I'm feeling so exhausted and fatigued from lack of sleep but my motivation to continue is travelling and the fact that my visa is up in 5 months.
On a lighter note, I'm looking forward to a lot over the next few months. I've got my ebook submitted to the formatter who is getting it into the appropriate format to upload to amazon which is super exciting. I've already got a few ideas for more books and knowing now which programs are easily convertible, I won't have to utilize the services of this formatter the second or third time around. Ideally, I'd like to put out 3 or 4 ebooks before I focus my attention on a hard cover book. The ebooks will have themes much like the first one did, collections of recipes all focusing around one theme. When it comes to the hard copy, I'd love to include new and old recipes in a collection of 100 or more recipes. I'm looking forward to developing these ideas when I arrive back home in Canada.
Also, I've got some fun trips coming up. In 9 days I'm flying to Eindhoven Netherlands and will also be visiting Amsterdam and meeting up with a friend there. I'll be visiting the Anne Frank house and eating some cannabis infused baked goods because c'mon, how can I not? I'm super looking forward to it. A month later I'll be heading to Copenhagen for a 4 day trip as well. There's a lady staying in my room at the hostel who is from Denmark and has offered to jot down some must-sees in Copenhagen for me which is great. After these trips, things are up in the air as far as where I'll be heading next. June is Pride Month and there's going to be a lot of fun events and parties my friend and I would like to attend so I'll have to see how the financials work for the month in trying to attend these events and trying to travel as well.
I've got a lot of places I would like to cram in and see before I go home. I'm determined to go to Spain and in a perfect world I've time to visit France and Greece as well but we'll see how everything works out with money and timing. I also have to take some time to actually travel around Ireland because as of now, I've seen absolutely nothing aside from Dublin and lord knows there's so much more to Ireland than just Dublin.
I'll keep you all updated as plans come together :)
Time is flying guys seriously, I've got just over 5 months before I head back to Canada and try to organize my life. This trip has been such a wonderful experience but it's also kind of delayed the inevitable, figuring out a life plan. I know I talk about this all the time but it's something that I can't help but be constantly thinking about. What am I going to do with my life?
It's a question I think we all ask ourselves but even more so as we start to get older and don't have an actual "career" in place. I wouldn't say I'm super concerned about staying at the same job for the rest of my life but at least deciding a direction would be nice. I've always been so bombarded with ideas that they end up muffled and not coming to fruition so I really need to focus and figure out an actual plan because I know whatever I decide to do if I give it 100% I'll most definitely succeed. It's a matter of actually knowing what the heck to do.
Obviously I miss cooking and being in a restaurant so that's definitely an option. Owning my own restaurant would be great but I fear I wouldn't want to commit to something like that that essentially ties me down to one thing for as long as I stay open. In that case, I also feel like focusing 100% on my blog, writing recipes, and getting more involved in food photography / cooking videos. I purchased a good DSLR camera that's currently collecting dust back home so I know I want to get into that and learn the ropes. I love writing and testing recipes, it's got to be one of my favourite things to do and that's also why the restaurant turns me off because you kind of get stuck making the same thing all the time, it was stifling me.
The animal sanctuary is also a serious contender. If I buckled down and saved for an entire year, I could put a down payment on a farm / property and start adopting / rescuing animals which is something I'm wholly committed to the idea of. Again, it would require me to focus all of my attention and efforts into it and I worry that I would lose focus on other important things however rewarding it would be. I would initially still have to work because I couldn't keep the property running without a continuous stream of money right?
Where to go from here? My two main ideas are growing the blog and the animal sanctuary so I need to really put some effort into figuring out what I want from each of these experiences and if they can also coexist which would be ideally, quite perfect.
Why is life so hard guys? :P
Holy shit guys, I'm in Glasgow! Honestly, the travelling bug has bit me and it's left a scar, I can't get enough of seeing new places and experiencing new things. My only regret is that it took me so damned long because of anxiety to actually let myself live. I've always been fascinated with other places and cultures but never in my wildest dreams did I actually think I'd be here doing these things. It's truly a remarkable experience.
Although I've only been in Glasgow for a short time, I can tell you I'm already taken by the charm and beauty of the city. Every single building looks so architecturally interesting and like it's been here for hundreds of millions of years. Everything is so different here than what I'm used to in Canada, specifically my hometown of Windsor. I just can't help but be awestruck by the beauty of some of these buildings. Looking at them literally takes me back in time to when they were first erect and what they were used for so many gazillion years ago. It's such an experience walking down the streets of a city that just oozes charm and history, something unlike anything I've ever felt before.
I think I'm most excited about visiting the Scottish Highlands on Monday. Nothing but mountains, hills, and green space for miles in every direction. I feel like that's something that I've been missing in Dublin. Now don't get me wrong, I realize if I venture out of Dublin I would find those things but I intend to leave my Ireland travel for the very end and focus my attention and efforts on travelling through Europe. I can't believe half of my time in Europe is already over. I was just chatting with a friend last night about how I feel so much pressure to hurry and see as much as possible because I truly don't know the next time I'll be able to come back here because of costs. It's unfortunate but honestly, travelling to Europe from Canada with Canadian dollars that are so weak against the Euro is extremely difficult. I feel this immense pressure just to see everything and get as much travelling in before it's too late.
There's no room in life for regrets you know, even though sometimes I can't help but wrack my brain with all of the things I wish I'd done but honestly it's so much better to live in the present and take each day for what it brings. It's a challenge for me because I always want it all and always think about how I could have done things differently to achieve it all but as I said, I have to remind myself that I should be grateful I have the opportunity to do any of this. In the end, this will definitely go down as one of the very best experiences in my life, hands down.
For now, I'm going to enjoy my four days off of work in beautiful Glasgow and just allow myself to take it all in.
Guys, I'm at a bit of an impasse here and I literally don't know what to do. I'm loving living in Dublin because I've met some seriously cool people and the city is wonderful for the most part. Where I find myself struggling is with finances. I am not overspending on a personal level, I've completely cut out buying coffees and eating out for the most part so I could save money there. I go out once every other week with friends and cut out shopping as well. With that being said, I find myself constantly struggling with money here. It's a frustrating situation to be in considering my living situation in Canada was so much easier and carefree. Mind you, I didn't have much spare time from working like a slave, but I always had money.
One of the reasons I'm here in Dublin is to gain access to the rest of Europe for travelling which I'm doing my best to take advantage of. I just came back from Germany and have trips to Scotland and the Netherlands coming up as well which I'm super excited about. However, I find that because I'm planning these trips, the costs associated with them are eating away at my limited budget and I find myself barely scraping by in between. I know this is part of the experience and all but I also wonder if there's not an easier way to do all of this that will still leave me with more money at my disposal.
I've been toying with the idea of finding a part time job to do for a couple of months just to get extra money. I've also been toying with the idea of moving out of Dublin to Galway or Cork perhaps to cut down on my living expenses but with that would come more difficulty for travels. It's such a tricky situation because there doesn't seem to be an easier way to go about things and I think that frustrates me more than anything. I consider myself fairly resourceful and I literally can't figure out a solution that works for me.
You know, I expected things to be different here in Dublin but I never expected to be living paycheck to paycheck either and I haven't had to that in years which is frustrating you know? I'm in my thirties and don't have anything because I pissed away my savings just starting out here in Dublin so I don't even have a cushion to fall back on. Without that security blanket, it makes everything more real because I really do have to watch everything I do to make sure I can afford my rent at the hostel, food, paying my credit card down, and travelling. Not to mention all of these things come out of a fairly minimal budget. All of this is making my head want to explode if I mist be honest.
I feel awful for complaining you know because this opportunity is such a great one that there's almost a sense of being ungrateful that comes along with my complaints but that couldn't be further from the truth. I think I'm just looking for ways to get the most out of this while also keeping myself afloat and able to live the way I'm accustomed to. I think I need to just get used to this life of barely scraping by until I get back to Canada right? Do I find another job, move from Dublin?? I don't know but I do know that I need to figure something out because I feel slightly trapped and I don't want these feelings to ruin my experience here.
So, they say that travelling is the best medicine and that travelling solo is one of the best things you can do for yourself. I certainly agree with the sentiment that travelling is one of the best things I've ever done but whether I'd rather be doing all of this travelling with someone is up for discussion. I miss the companionship of some of my besties back home or my family perhaps. I love the idea of strolling through the city streets with someone else who is also experiencing everything for the first time as well. There's something special about sharing those experiences with someone you know?
Now don't get me wrong, I also love being able to do everything I want to do in my own time frame. It's so freeing to go to a place alone and wander the streets taking photographs and going to the places that I want to go but there are times where I just wish I had someone I loved to chat with you know? I usually meet people in these hostels and have some great convos but in between everything, it's kind of lonely. Is that strange? You know, I honestly couldn't tell you if I was more of an introvert or an extrovert because I honestly feel so much of both especially in times like this.
Anyways, Hamburg was super great! I got to meet up with a friend I met back in Dublin and we went for drinks and I had a fabulous time. My experience with the hostel was less than great however, it smelled constantly in my room, looked dilapidated, and the receptionists were mostly kind of impersonal. The hostel experience wasn't enough to ruin my trip of course, I got to do so much fun stuff. Toured the chocolate factory and whipped up a beautiful (looking) chocolate bar that left a bit to be desired in terms of flavour, visited the naughty district and saw some seriously beautiful architecture. Hamburg was definitely one of the prettiest cities I've ever seen.
Next up, I've got Glasgow, Scotland in March. I've done my research about the places I want to see with one being the Scottish Highlands because they are just so astronomically beautiful in photographs. I'm really looking forward to this trip :) Anyways, that's all for today's reflections lol
Holy shit guys, I'm so exhausted. As I type this post, I've officially been up for over 24 hours. I went straight home from work where I took a shower, ate some food, and then basically headed to the airport. I have a strong feeling today is going to be a write off because it's only 6 and I can barely keep my eyes open lol
I found my hostel easily enough and it appears that the area I'm staying in is literally surrounded by sex. There's basically porn everywhere you look and I was propositioned twice until they realized I liked men lol It's going to be an interesting stay here in Hamburg to say the least. My hostel is fine, it's kind of grungy but I mean, I paid 35 euros for three nights so I wasn't expecting a palace. I'm definitely still trying to get used to this hostel culture though because I must admit, I wanted to go with a hotel but I was turned off by the higher costs in Hamburg. I was still tempted though because I live in a hostel so going away on a trip to stay in a hostel isn't necessarily something I'm dying to do but one cannot deny the savings.
My plan here is just to hit a few museums, take a lot of pictures, eat some good food, and meet up with a friend whom I met living at the hostel who has since moved back to Germany. I have to try and be cost efficient which is not really one of my strong suits so I'll definitely be trying to stop myself from spending every minute of the day lol
I have to say, this whole living abroad experience really has been crazy you know? You get to live and learn about a new place, have access to Europe with cheap flights available constantly, and meet new people every day which in my case has always been difficult but it's really forced me to step outside of my anxiety a little bit and just roll with things. I honestly never saw myself staying in a hostel two or three years ago like, this was so outside of my comfort zone and here I am now. I'm really grateful for everything this experience has given me and I'm totally looking forward to what the remaining half will bring!
Cheers for now!