There are moments where you stare the future dead in the eye. When you can clearly see two paths and make a choice. Then there are moments where you can see a million paths. Some seem shaded, some seem completely bright and visible but none seem quite right.
Right now is one of those confusing, confronting moments when you look around and go, ‘why’? Moving to New York was a bold move on my behalf and at the time I thought “Yes, this is the path I want to take” but then I took a few steps forward and went “oh shit, is this what I want?”
In the past few weeks, I have had a lot of questions for myself, the world, and the universe. Jumping into such a big change feet first has left me questioning. I wrote a few down last night when thinking about the year ahead. Firstly, if I had all the time and money in the world, what would I do? and wow, isn’t that just the hardest thing to address. Straight out, that is probably the root question of everyone’s personal universe. What would you do? Are you living your passion?
But then I have more. Do I want to focus on my ‘career’? Is my chosen career my passion? How can I get paid to do what I love most in this world? What do I love most in this world? What hobbies have I neglected in the past 7 years of university? Have I buried any dreams? What is my biggest passion? And finally, just for some simplicity, what do I want to learn this year?
Really it all seems quite overwhelming and that is what the blog is for. A place to stare the world in the face and say,
Well, it has been a long long time since I wrote a blog post or even step ‘foot’ on this page. Nearly four years, months of travel, thousands of miles, and more questions than ever before.
I traveled New Zealand. I spent thousands of hours in my university library. I traveled South East Asia. I graduated from my Master of International Relations. I started a ‘career’. I traveled Arizona and fell in love with the arid landscape. I moved to New York City. And even with all of this I question, what should I do next?
I think it is time to come back to this blog and write. Express my thoughts. Profile my life at 25.
What can you expect? Well, the normal travel posts will stay (and increase in frequency!). Lifestyle (Lots of cafes to explore in NYC). Plus a host of existential questions that I feel suit my life this year. A year in the USA, a gap year of sorts, questioning Where? Why? When? How?
So for the first time in about a month a lifestyle post is being written! This post is being prompted by probably the biggest lifestyle change I have ever faced.
I’ve been diagnosed with Coeliac Disease.
When I say that to people I generally get, “That means you can’t eat bread right?” Well, no. It means I can’t eat anything with wheat (so yes no bread) and I can not eat anything with certain additives, starch, flour, malt, and thickeners. Ladies and Gentlemen, my main source of carbs has been thrown out the window never to be seen again. Seriously, I will never see them again, my body attacks itself when it senses gluten has been eaten.
So, my main battle now is figuring out how to eat healthy and how to travel while eating gluten free. I suspect I’m going to be eating a lot of fruit and cooking at a lot of hostels. Remember, I have my six weeks in NZ at the end of the year.
Wanderlust is a special kind of affliction. It can really affect who you are and what you do on a day to day basis and yet it is one of the most amazing things to posses. As I once said to a friend, just because the world has been mapped, it doesn’t mean that the Christopher Columbus’ and Captain Cook’s have disappeared. The explorers still exist, we just have a lot more options (and no chance of scurvy!)
I just stumbled across this YouTube video in my subscriptions. Watching it all I could think was “yess so relevant!” Anyone else?
p.s. I know I missed my photography post on friday, I apologise. Nugget, the cat, had just come home from the vet recovering from tick paralysis and I spent a lot of time waiting to pick her up and then hugging her.
Buy a bag you are happy with. Something you can carry up the stairs of a three story hostel in London or walk across cobblestone in Italy. I met many girls on my trip with massive bags who complained about how difficult it was to carry them in subways and up stairs; and these were backpacks! Look at the reviews, try find recommendations from people who have done the trip you’re doing. I bought a backpack after I noticed one of the reviews talking about how well it lasted on their 3 month trip to Europe; perfect!
9. A reusable shopping bag
The amount of times I ended up carrying breakable, hole filled plastic bags from random grocery stores is astounding. I would always go and buy some bread and basics before any trips on a train or bus and then carry them simply because it meant super easy access on a possibly crowded train/bus. Having a small carry bag/ reusable shopping bag is also great for going between climates and needing to take off jumpers or put them on. You can also use this on the way home as a second carry-on for the plane if you have bought a bit too much!
8. A quick dry towel – a big one!
It’s always exciting when your hostel rents out towels cheap but occasionally they just won’t have them, or they will be an exorbitant price. Solution: bring your own! But bringing a big fluffy towel is not good when you only have limited space. The quick dry towel works great and folds into a tiny packet – like this one! Buy one that is large, especially if you are female/ have long hair.
7. A Powerboard
Buy one before you leave home. There are many hostels across Europe that have one socket for a room of 8 to 20 people. If you have a small powerboard you will be the King/Queen of the room, and I am dead serious about that. It’s also very useful when stopping in cafes so you can quickly charge, your phone/ table/ electronic devices all at once. Just don’t forget the adapter! P.S. Europe, Switzerland and England each have different plugs
6. A comfortable neck pillow
I constantly asked myself whether I should get a neck pillow, but by the time I realised I should, I just didn’t have the money to get a good one. Having one is the difference between sleeping and not sleeping on that 20 hour bus to Amsterdam. If you’re smart you can grab one with a clip that is easily attached to your backpack until you need to use it.
5. Washing Powder
This is a bit of a hit or miss. Something that is essential in some places and unnecessary in others. In an Italian hostel I was told they would have no washing powder that day and to please come back tomorrow. In London it was included in the price of using the machine. It is a good idea to put a bit in a little Ziploc bag and then chuck it in with your toiletries. This can be great when you realise you have no undies and need to wash them ASAP. Sinks are your friends.
4. Flip flops/ thongs
I’m Australian so I’m going to call them thongs and everyone can just deal. These are ESSENTIAL. Each hostel shower has had thousands upon thousands of people in there, you have no clue what could be in those drains. You do not want to spent precious money on going to a doctor for a fungal infection (ick).
3. A good camera lens!
I’m a (amateur) photographer so having good camera equipment with me is a must. I bought along two lenses that were great at close range and with people but not fabulous for the intricate details of European architecture. It is a good idea to have a capable lens with a wide focal length range, for example 50-200mm. Going with cheaper, less well-known brands (Pentax, Tamron, etc.) is a great way to save money; just make sure to look at reviews on the internet!
2. Emergency Money
Keep some money separate, either in a compartment in your valuables and/or online in an account you can easily access. There may be a time that you desperately need cash because something has gone horribly wrong. An overbooked hostel, a lost visa, a missed plane; all can be solved if you just keep enough emergency cash to deal with them.
1. A Lock!!!
I’ve heard a lot of stories about people who have had stuff stolen in hostel dorms. Well, in three months backpacking Europe I didn’t have a single thing stolen. I bought a trusty lock when I started in Chicago and it lasted me until I unlocked my locker on my final day in London. It is not about locking your whole bag away in the lockers; what is important is putting every item of value that you own into that locker in your room. If the hostel doesn’t supply one ask if they have secure places at reception to leave a laptop or passport when you go out.
On the Contiki tour I did recently we went through Berlin and I spent some time at the Berlin Wall. It is a powerful place that is sadly covered in a lot of tagging graffiti from tourists and visitors. Though I suppose you could argue that that is a part of the meaning and the point they now have. Freedom and Remembrance.
Finally getting back into the swing, here is the latest Travel Theme! This is a pathway in Princeton University. Princeton was near where I was on exchange and I spent a day there wandering and eating (which is really all you can do in Princeton). Students and other tourists were wandering in and around where we were walking. They have some beautiful buildings and I hope I managed to capture this one well.
Every year I find myself wanting to be somewhere and do something completely new. A roommate mentioned a while ago that her brother was traveling Japan and was having a great time. I’ve never been to Japan. I once was at the airport in Tokyo for a stopover, but the most I remember is my little brother having an asthma attack and us frantically searching for a power point to give him medicine. Not such a pleasant association?
I’ve heard so much though. Did you know that Tokyo has around 32 million people and is the biggest metropolitan area in the world? It’s also made up of 23 areas that are governed as separate cities. Combine this with the culture; art, music, fashion and you have a place that could never get boring.
My goal for 2014 is to travel there. I don’t know when in the year or how I’ll get there or who I can recruit to go with me but I want to see this amazing city. I want to go to Tokyoand wander around until my feet are aching and my head is full.
I first went to Angkor Wat when I was a little girl, perhaps around 8, before the area had many tourists. There was still mass areas with signs saying ‘Land Mines!’. It was raw, it was climbable and everyone was friendly. We ate at a local restaurant nearby and played soccer with a group of children around my age. The ball was made of scrap fabrics but we didn’t care; everyone was smiling and everyone was happy. That is my first and most memorable encounter with culture, with people who surprised me in every way.
What does culture mean to you? It’s a inherent part of my university degree and now I see culture in every action, every person, every word.
My photo for this week is an old photo from when I did not own my new camera or infact a camera at all. I was borrowing my mums camera and had no clue what to do. I went to Cambodia and Vietnam with some close friends, had a ball and came home with some new ideas and a lot of new things!