As most of you know I graduated from university last year and even though I didn’t technically convocate until November, my year off officially began for me when classes finished June 30. I have had the most amazing 14 months of my life, and want to share my story and my experiences with you here!
(my belongings for the year)
From living in extreme poverty in Peru, to living it up in the metropolis cities of Europe I have not only done and seen things I never thought I would, but I have met some amazing people from all walks of life across the world. Taking a year off from my life (to an extent) has taught me so much about myself and I honestly cannot think of a better way to go soul searching than through travel.
As someone who has travelled lots with both family and with friends I felt fairly confident to take off on a few solo journeys this year, but I have never felt more afraid than that first few hours that I was facing totally alone. But the more I left, the easier it was to say goodbye to my friends and family- and I think even my mom would agree. But traveling solo has proven to be one of the most valuable and incredible life experiences I have ever had. I have never felt so independent, so confident, and so brave, as I have when I am walking around by myself in cities I’ve never been to, talking to people I’ve never met.
My year off started with an amazing week in Disneyland with the dancers! Not only is Disney my favorite place on earth, but getting to share this magic with my students was such a special occasion for me, what a great start to my year!
(So excited to watch our kids in the parade)
My next big trip to Peru was a pretty valuable lesson for me as far as what my limits are, and even though I came home earlier than anticipated and will never recommend projects-abroad as a company to anyone, I would still love to go back there perhaps slightly more emotionally prepared and probably not as a young solo blonde girl wandering around by myself. But again- life lesson that I needed to learn the hard way!
(Flying over Cusco)
(Attempting some hang gliding)
(Lima city center)
I think one of the funniest parts of my Peru trip (in hindsight) were how many horrible things happened to me trying to come home, it’s like the universe was trying to punish me for not sticking it out. My day started with food poisoning from my pizza dinner the night before, so I puked my guts out the whole way to El Salvador from Lima. Once in El Salvador they wouldn’t let me in the country through customs to collect my bag, so I spent a few minutes crying in the corner trying to figure out how to get my boarding pass and change terminals to get to my next gate- but luckily this random guy took me through a back door to get to the other side and get on my plane. Then once I arrived in Houston I almost missed my plane because I had my watch set to the wrong time zone, so after eating the first food in 18 hours and sprinting to the other side of the airport I threw up in a garbage can before boarding the plane. Then I finally arrived back in Calgary- and the power went out seconds before I collected my bag. 45 minutes later I finally was allowed out and officially made it home!
Coming home and working for a few weeks with no prospect of traveling again in the near future was incredibly hard for me. I struggled with some real emotional turmoil and was really regretting coming home so early, but after booking a family vacation to Hawaii and my Australia trip for February I was starting to feel a lot better about life again.
(So many Blue Lagoons)
Two weeks on the beaches of Hawaii definitely calmed some of my inner demons, and the 5 weeks I was home before Australia seemed to fly by!
This second solo journey was so much easier than the first one. I felt confident and prepared, and even my parents were feeling a bit more trusting so not a tear to be shed and I was off again! Even from the opposite side of the globe I felt like this country was perfect for me. I spent an amazing three weeks doing things I hadn’t even dreamed of before. Cuddling koalas, living on the beach, sky diving on multiple occasions, partying in Cairns, snorkelling the great barrier reef, living on a sailboat through the Whitsundays, 4×4 through Fraser Island. Not to mention the amazing friends I made while I was down there- some who I have even had the chance to see again this year while traveling Europe!
(Stingray photo bombs)
(Sydney Opera House)
(Sydney Harbour Bridge)
(Sexy jellyfish suit)
Australia was one of the best trips of my life and I have honestly never felt so sad to leave a country to come home before until this trip.
When I returned home dance was crazy- so I went to Vancouver 4 days after returning home from Aus, and then immediately regretted that life choice since I got super sick for the next 4 weeks from being so overtired (I also somehow worked the same night that I flew home… Because why not?)
I once again settled into a life of sadness and regret and needed another trip to satisfy me from what seemed at the time to be a very small amount of traveling for my “year off”. So I figured I would take the summer to go hard and do it all.
This summer has been absolutely crazy! I have literally been through Calgary on three different occasions for a total of 12 nights over 10 weeks. But what a summer!
I started with three weeks in Europe, again solo, and what a blast it was again. Freezing my arse off in Ireland and Scotland, reconnecting with friends from Australia, exploring some of my favorite buildings in London, seeing evidence of the nazi regime through Germany, the Charles bridge in Prague, the pristine white buildings of Vienna, and finally the beautiful city of Budapest. I somehow managed to cram in so much sightseeing, partying, traveling, and making amazing friends into another amazing 3 weeks. We stayed out all night, shared stories, experienced life to the fullest.
(Cliffs of Moher)
(Freezing in Loch Ness)
(Taking in all the Harry Potter sites)
(London Tower Bridge)
(Linderhoff castle Bavaria)
(The New Squad, rooftop in Prague)
(Classical music night in Vienna)
I was once again so lucky to have an amazing trip- with not a problem in sight even with all of my flights luckily!
I once again returned home (mostly for laundry facilities and my besties birthday) and I couldn’t understand how everything at home continues to remain the same while I have been off having life changing experiences. This has been the hardest part about coming home, is realizing that I have had some of the most incredible experiences and everyone’s life are still the same. I would almost feel guilty about sharing my amazing stories (I quickly got over this and realize this is the best part about traveling is the storytelling!)
Off again this time to Toronto for a week long work course with the Foley’s (Canada’s number one dance family) and more inspiration in my life, a very great addition to my life changing year.
I was back home for another 4 days then off back to Europe with my best friend Shaina on my arm. 27 days of non stop laughs and fun! We’ve climbed mountains, seen famous djs (Steve Angello, Ruby Rose, Zedd, and Avicii to start with), danced on bars, partied on boats, lived it up in Ibiza, explored the ancient cities of Rome and Athens, went back to Barcelona together again after 6 years, explored the Greek islands, rode donkeys in santorini, we have been to some of the most incredibly beautiful beaches, done dance/gymnastic photo shoots everywhere, visited nude beaches and skinny dipped with old naked people, and have met some hilarious people from all parts of the world.
(Castle Sao Jorge in Lisbon)
(Flash tat’s everyday)
(Ruby Rose, Zedd, and Avicii and Ushuaia club Ibiza)
(Red Beach Santorini)
(Donkey ride Santorini)
(Nisida New Kameni Volcano Santorini)
(Partying in Hersonissos Crete)
(Chrissi Island Crete)
(cute and homeless)
(Nudiest beach Rhodes, Greece)
Once again no problems for us luckily! The worst part of our travels included not reserving a seat on the train so sleeping on the train floor for two hours, and being put on standby (since we stood in line for check in for 2 hours) to ibiza so we had to sprint to our gate and luckily made it on the flight with seconds to spare! The day home was a bit rough too, 24 hours, 5 flights, no bags, and missed connection on the final leg to Calgary- but all small things in the big picture!
This week I will be home for two whole days and then I am wrapping up my year off with a week in Mexico with two of my fabulous dance teacher friends- for an international FHB extravaganza! What a way to end this year!
This year has taught me so much not only about myself, but about the world in general and here are my top lessons.
-it’s okay to be afraid. But find a way to overcome your fears and don’t let them hold you back from anything.
– trust your gut, it’s almost always right.
– don’t be afraid to talk to strangers. I have met some amazing people around the world and all it takes is one word “hello” for us to open up
– life is short, where would you rather be? When you are 90 years old looking back on your life, do you want to say you spent the prime years of your life working in a job you hated- or experiencing life the the fullest?
– never say no to an opportunity that you might never have again, live your life without regrets
-don’t take anything for granted appreciate every second you are alive and breathing
-find stillness. Some of my most exhilarating moments have been while I’m floating in the ocean, or meditating on top of a mountain. Take those still silent moments to be appreciative for what life has given you
– if you are young, physically fit, and able to travel the world. GO DO IT. There is NO excuse that is a good enough reason for you to say no to an experience that will make you a better person. You will become more confident, more tolerant, more understanding, and way happier for doing it. You can find work anywhere in the world, your friends and family will support you, you don’t need to be rich because you can work abroad to be able to afford it. Your fears are holding you back from something incredible. Just go, and stop saying you’re so jealous of my life. I do this because I make this a priority and I work my ass off to be here. Sometimes have to eat bread for dinner when I run out of money, but I make it work because this is the most important thing I can do for myself.
– believe in yourself. Life is too short to have doubts, and you are the one on control of how you live your life.
12 months, 16 countries, 41 flights, countless trains, buses, and boats, endless parties, amazing memories, lifelong friends, and enough laughter to light up the world. An amazing year, but definitely not the end of my journey.