This year has been quite a trip (pun intended). As 2017 draws to an end, I’ve been spending a lot of time reflecting on the year. What stands out to me most are the 10 different countries and numerous cities I’ve visited this year. Despite postponing a few trips, 2017 has turned into a wonderful year for travel!
A YEAR IN TRAVEL
Warming Up the Winter Months (Mostly)
Beginning in January, I went to Harbin. This is easily one of my favorite trips I’ve taken in China. The Ice and Snow Festival is so impressive and truly makes you feel like you’re in a winter wonderland. I don’t think I’ve ever been happier during my years in China.
Later on that month I left for Australia and New Zealand. Now that was a trip to remember. Sydney is one of the most pleasant big cities I’ve ever visited, with loads of beauty and activities to enjoy — not to mention beautiful people! I was nowhere near ready to leave after a week.
Far too soon, we left for New Zealand. As sad as it was to say goodbye to Sydney, my friends and I immediately fell head-over-heels for the South Island and its captivating scenery. New Zealand has the level of beauty that kind of just makes you want to tear up; it’s almost too much to handle. I was mesmerized the entire two week trip.
On the return home, we had a long layover in Singapore where we actually got to leave the airport and enjoy some of our time in this petit paradise. Singapore is home to my favorite airport in the entire world. I’d fly there just to enjoy the airport! The airport also organizes free tours of the city for those lucky people who happen to have a longer layover. I definitely recommend it!
To close out the first quarter of the year, my friends and I took a trip to Xi’an, China to see the Terracotta Warriors. There are loads of wonderful places to visit in China and this is one of them that you can’t miss. Seeing how many of these warriors that had been uncovered and imagining just how many haven’t been is pretty insane. All of these to guard one man after his death. WOW! It’s truly amazing and certainly something to see if you’re ever in China!
A Less Exciting Transition to Summer
April, May, and June were sort of disappointments in the travel department. I had a lot of trips planned, but decided not to go on any of them. In the works were trips to Moscow, Kuala Lumpur, Hangzhou, and Hong Kong. Between visas, feeling the need to relax a bit, and wanting to enjoy what I thought would be my last few months in Shanghai, I ended up not following through with these trips. It worked out in the end because it allowed me to save a bit for my later travels.
After school let out, I went home to America. I spent the last half of July in Ohio and didn’t do much except spend time with my family and friends. I learned my lesson from the summer before and didn’t overbook my limited time at home.
August was a busy month. To begin, I went to Washington D.C. for a week to visit a friend who I used to teach with in Shanghai. We had a small reunion with three of us who all met at the beginning of our first year. It was really nice to have the three of us together and see how much the people of DC support each other regardless of what’s going on politically.
From DC I flew to Europe. I spent the next two weeks traveling from Prague to Vienna to Bratislava to Budapest. These four capital cities are all remarkable in their own way. If I had to choose a favorite, I think I’d have to pick Prague, but I loved them all! I wish I had more time in Vienna and Budapest. Two weeks for all four cities was not quite long enough. I’m sure I’ll be back again some day!
Back to School
September meant it was time to return to China for work in Shanghai. It also meant no other trips for the time being, so let’s fast-forward to October.
In October I spent a week in Myanmar where I met some of the friendliest people I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet. Myanmar has a lot going on right now, yet its tourism industry is still growing rapidly. It’s worth a visit, and I’d recommend going sooner before it becomes too heavily overrun by tourists!
Lucky for me I was able to fly back to Ohio for a weekend in October as well. It was a very busy few days and I experienced jet lag for the first time ever (pretty much), but it was worth it to be a part of one of my best friend’s weddings. Such a happy experience!
In November, I finally took that postponed trip to Hangzhou with Lisa. We spent our time relaxing around West Lake and enjoying the natural beauty.
December brought yet another postponed trip. I had planned to go to Bora Cay in the Philippines for Christmas, but instead opted out so I could have my first Christmas in Shanghai, save some money, and throw my very first Christmas party, which turned out to be a real treat.
As I’ve gone into link my posts about these places, I’ve realized I’ve never actually posted about half of them. If there are any you’re interested in hearing about and posts aren’t available, let me know! I’d gladly write up a post or give advice to you if you’re planning to travel there. I always keep all of my notes!
APART FROM TRAVEL
This year, I’ve been doing my best to pursue other things I’m passionate about. I’ve always loved the arts but have really forgotten about pretty much every aspect of it in recent years. I’ve stopped reading, going to shows, drawing, painting, and writing (still working on this one — I mean really, I wrote less than 20 posts this entire year).I have a tendency to keep myself far too busy and not make time for the things I really love. That is something I’ve really been working on in the latter half of this year. I’ve reignited my interest in old passions and developed new ones that incorporate all of my favorite things simply by cutting back a few hours a week on tutoring.
Lately I’ve been able to take classes on watercolor painting, drawing, calligraphy, and typography through Skillshare. I’m really grateful for Skillshare because it has allowed me to learn so many new skills without having to go to a formal class. Check it out if you’ve never looked into it before! Loads of bloggers, YouTubers, and podcasters have links you can click on to get discounted rates/a free month. That’s how I started and was immediately hooked!
Over the summer, I decided to tell my frugal side to take a hike for an hour while I went shopping for some art supplies. I’ve begun bullet journaling this year, and it’s easily become one of my favorite things! Not only is it a creative outlet for me, but it is more inspiring than my regular planner to get things done and stay motivated. Most of my inspiration comes from AmandaRachLee. Check her channel out if this is something you’re interested in! I’m probably going to post more about this becoming a new passion of mine sometime next month.
When I haven’t been practicing my art, I’ve been meditating, reading, and listening to podcasts. I love reading again (YAY) and am learning so much about the world, successful people, and how our brains work. It’s been really fun!
The internet has helped me learn a lot this year. For me, 2017 has not only been a year of some of my favorite travel adventures, but also a year of education. We are living in such an amazing time; so much knowledge exists at our fingertips. Sometimes the internet can be bogged down with a whole lot of nonsense, but if you stop paying attention to the mindless junk and focus on what truly matters to you, it becomes an endless world of things that are relevant to you and can teach you so much.
Moving into 2018
This year has provided so many wonderful memories and new skills to take with me into 2018. It’s amazing what opportunities teaching abroad has provided for me and using the internet differently than I ever have before. I feel like I’m actually beginning to find myself and build a stronger passion for things I hadn’t made time for before, and ultimately that makes me happier with myself.In 2018, I want to:
+ + Improve my writing skills
+ + Find ways to make money online
+ + Focus more on my blog and networking
+ + Learn to cook more than just pasta and instant foods
+ + Bullet journal and build my own templates to better fit my life
+ + Continue with learning typography, watercolor, calligraphy, and drawing+ + And as always, I want to focus on being healthier. I’ve been really bad about working out and eating healthy in Shanghai lately, and that needs to change.
There you have it, 2017 all wrapped up. It’s sure been an adventure, and I can’t wait to see what 2018 has in store!
How was 2017 for you? What are you looking forward to most next year?