2017 was a year filled with lots of decisions, travels, and discoveries. Most of the year I lived out of a suitcase. I was fortunate to spend almost three months traveling throughout Europe and living in Bali. Thayer and I had plans to explore New Zealand too, but unfortunately, we were in a bad motor scooter accident during our last week in Bali. We had to return to the U.S. because Thayer's foot was injured pretty badly but after a few months of recovery it was good as new! Luckily the accident wasn't worse! We spent late spring and early summer in Montana before exploring parts of British Columbia, Alberta, and visiting friends in the Pacific Northwest. Currently, I'm sampling life on the west coast in San Diego. I enjoy the palm trees, sounds of the ocean, and warm weather but have been surprised by how much I miss the change of seasons!
I'm grateful for the amount of personal growth, support, and love, I've had during 2017 and am ready for 2018!
Here are the top 17 lessons I learned during 2017.
Some are a little bit more personal that maybe others will relate to as well, while others can be considered life hacks-- like avoiding wild dogs fighting on the street in Bali...;) These are lessons I've found of value during 2017. I want to turn these lessons into goals for myself during 2018. Let me know what you like the best! I'd love to hear any lessons you may have to share!
(Photos in this post are some of my favorite's from 2017!)
1. Keep Agreements to Yourself.
2. Always Focus on Internal Validation over external validation.
3. Think about the unintended consequences of actions.
4. Choose experience over comfort.
5. Nothing happens overnight. EVER.
6. Always wear your shoes when riding a motor scooter in a foreign country or dealing with fighting dogs in the streets of Bali. (**See intro paragraph for context.)
7. Politics is too exhausting- read, educate yourself, and avoid complacency.
8. Play to YOUR strengths, not someone's else's.
9. In the words of Drake, "know yourself, know your worth."
10. Creativity comes and goes, find things that inspire and feed that creative drive.
11. Spend time asking yourself WHY.
12. Having a sense of community is so important.
13. Be careful what you wish for.
14. Peanut butter jelly sandwiches qualify as a legit meal at any age ;)
15. Be grateful for the little things.
16. It's okay to change your mind.
17. Stay you. <3
Wishing everyone a happy and healthy 2018!
It's been a while since I've posted last. During the remaining weeks of my trip in Europe I had the opportunity to visit two friends who I studied abroad with in Germany. I visited Claudia in Barcelona and Lucia in London! I'm really happy that I had the chance to see them, because once your semester abroad is over, you never know when you'll see some of the people you made friendships with again!
After London, I flew to Paris and spent an evening there. Originally I booked my flight from Paris to Bali, so I stopped there for an evening before the 12-hour trek to Indonesia.
Here are a few highlights from the end of my european excursion and a few photos from my first sunset in Bali with Thayer.
My Basque family was so kind to give me a ride the nearby city of Pamplona so I could take the train to Barcelona. Claudia met me at the train station and we spent the next three days together. Sadly, she had to work part of the time I was there, but we still had a great time and saw a lot of the city.
A few of my favorite parts from my trip to Barcelona were visiting many of the common tourist destinations such as; The Gothic Quarter, Parc De Güell, La Rambla, La Sagrada Familia and Parc de la Ciutadella. Another mentionable highlight were the delicious churros with chocolate I ate for breakfast every day. SO GOOD. Claudia made sure to show me the best local spots for tapas and sangria too, of course.
Bye, bye Basque Country.
Roughly a week after my return from Barcelona, I said goodbye to my extended family in the Basque Country. The last few days were busy with picnics, more Etchart relatives visiting and spending time with another side of the lovely family I have there too. My time in the Basque Country was special and near to my heart. It was exactly what I had imagined it would be. I look forward to returning again someday to my little home away from home in the Pyrenees Mountains.
I took a Ryanair flight from Biarritz to London on March 1. The evening I arrived in London I met Lucia at our hostel. The hostel had a pub underneath of it, so check in took place at the bar. A little bit of a different welcome than I've experienced at other hostels! It was really nice to catch up with Lucia after two years apart.
The next few days of our trip consisted of again visiting classic touristy spots such as; Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, The London Eye, Tate Modern Museum, Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square, Tower of London, and the London Bridge. We also made sure to check out local cafes and neighborhoods. We visited Notting Hill, where I couldn't help but think of Julia Roberts delivering her infamous closing line to Hugh Grant. ;) We also attended the musical, Kinky Boots with discounted tickets and we loved the show. We snapped photos of the classic red phone booths and explored the vintage markets on Brick Lane and Camden Town. It was a wonderful trip. We said our goodbyes and I left for Paris.
I would have spent more time in Paris, but it didn't work out with scheduling. I've been fortunate to visit the city before with my brother Evan. Also, didn't feel very comfortable exploring there alone. However, last time I was there I didn't visit the Eiffel Tower at night. Luckily, I met a girl from Connecticut at my hostel who invited me to visit the Eiffel Tower at night. As corny as it sounds, it really was as beautiful at night in person as it is in the movies.
So long, Europe. Hello, Bali!
Thayer picked me up at the airport in Denpasar and we weaved through traffic on our motor scooter to the place we rented for the month. The traffic in Bali is insane and luckily he can zoom through it quite easily. We spent our first night eating dinner with friend's of Thayer's who were also traveling. It was fun to visit with them and hear about their travels too.
One of my favorite things about Bali is how cheap everything is. It's very common to spend anywhere in between $2-7 U.S. dollars on a very nice, well-made meal! The next day, we explored the region around our place and watched the sunset on a stormy evening. (I've included a few photos from that evening below.)
Since we've been in Bali, I've loved the warm weather and being a beach bum. Anyone who really knows me, knows that I hate the cold, so this is my kind of atmosphere! We typically spend our mornings doing work for our clients back home at our favorite breakfast spot, then adventuring or relaxing at the beach. I'm still feeling so grateful to travel and have these experiences!
Thayer and I have just a few weeks left in Bali and then we will travel to New Zealand! Recently, Thayer and I went on a mini trip to a mountainous region of Bali called Ubud. We were greeted by six kittens at the cute Airbnb we stayed at and swung on a top secret swing. I'll give more details in my next post. ;)
Until next time.
And, so it begins.
On February 8, my boyfriend Thayer dropped me off at the airport in Montana and my journey began. I flew from Montana to Seattle, then to Iceland, and finally landed in Paris. Eventually, I made it to the Basque Country, where my cousins greeted me! Out of all the hesitancy, I've felt over the last year about what I want to be doing, where I want to be, what I "should be" doing- this finally feels right. I'm very blessed to be able to travel at this point in my life and learn more about the world first-hand.
Since I visited the Basque Country two years while I was studying abroad in Germany, it's been a dream of mine to return and help my cousin with her marmalade business for a bit. I started saving a little bit of money for it two years ago but didn't think that the dream would become a reality so soon. It's been an unexplainable experience so far. I've enjoyed getting to know my relatives better, their culture and more about my roots.
For those who aren't familiar, the Basque Country is a region in the Pyrenees Mountains of Northern Spain and Southwest France. Basque people speak their own language called Euskara and have their own customs, traditions, and beliefs. Euskara is unlike almost any language in the world. My relatives tell me that the most similar language grammatically-speaking is actually Japanese. Euskara was first written about by the Roman's in the 1400's.
Although there is a border across the Basque Country, people from both sides of it tend to identify as being Basque more than they do as "French" or "Spanish." Basque people typically work in agriculture with farming and sheep-herding being the most common forms of work. Basque homes are red, white, and green and many are passed down for generations. My cousin's house was built in the 1770's!
Most of my days here so far, have been spent helping my cousin work outside with her plants for her business, exploring in the mountains with my other cousins and enjoying our time together. Eating lots of bread, and cheese too, of course! I have a few freelance clients that I do marketing/social media content creation for, so I spend a little bit of time doing that each day as well.
Above all, This has been everything I could have imagined and more! Both of my great-grandparents grew up in this village, so it's been a pretty cool experience to see the houses they grew up in and spend time in their true hometowns.
The adventure continues..up next BALI!
The most delicious marmalade ever!
Happy 2017! I'm a little bit behind on the commemorative post on 2016 but it's better late than never. Usually, most years not a whole lot changes for me, however, 2016 was quite the wild ride, to say the least. In May, I graduated from college in four years with a degree in communication and a minor in journalism.
Shortly after graduation, I tried living in New York while completing an internship at an advertising agency. Although many aspects of my time there were very challenging, I consider this to be one of the most transformative times in my life so far. I started running almost every day, became a vegetarian and my interest in photography really took off. I also met some amazing people along the way, which I'll never forget!
Williamsburg in Brooklyn, a place that was home for a bit.
After returning back home to Montana at the end of August I spent about two weeks in my hometown hanging with my family. It was nice to hang out with my little brother Ethan before he left for Air Force basic training as he would be unreachable for the next few months. Next, I made an extended cruise across the state to Missoula stopping in Yellowstone National Park and hanging out with the wonderful Thayer Janes for the first time. :)
After settling in Missoula, I took my first "solo" road trip in September. I'll be the first to admit it, I'm not the best driver in the world. I get really anxious behind the wheel and sometimes panic! My job didn't start until mid-September so I drove myself to the Pacific Northwest. I'm also one of those people that pictures myself breaking down on the side of the road with no service and then someone tries to murder me! Yes, I'm very melodramatic. The drive went well and on the way there I stopped in Spokane to take photos with a friend and then spent the next ten days spending time with friends and exploring. It was just what I needed before starting my temporary job as an events coordinator and social media manager.
The next few months were spent working, exploring and making plans for 2017. Not gonna lie, this year has been a time of transition. I'm no longer a college student but haven't quite figured out my "professional" path yet. This year was full of change externally and internally. I've grown a lot as a person and will continue to well through 2017. In roughly one month exactly, I will embark on my next adventure. I will be spending almost a month with my family in Europe and then meeting Thayer in Bali in March. We will explore the little island in Indonesia and hike around New Zealand. It doesn't quite feel real yet, I'm SO excited and can't wait to document our adventures.
Best wishes to all for 2017. It's gonna be a good one.
A few of my 2016 favorites:
When I first arrived in New York City, I don’t think there was ever a time in my life where I'd felt more lost. Originally, I intended to try living there for up to two years. When I visited in February, I loved the city. Scenes from 'Gossip Girl' and 'Sex and the City flashed into my mind. However, when it really came time to living there and experiencing the daily NYC grind, I realized it was not meant for me. I definitely wanted to move there, but I feel like a part of me got nervous when it came time to graduate from college and have the "next step figured out." It's such a strange adjustment for me, being done with school forever. I was definitely ready to be done, but it still feels odd not having that security blanket for the first time since I was a little girl.
Growing up in a very rural, isolated community where I didn't feel like I fit the small town mold, I couldn't wait to get away. Being from such an isolated area, where the nearest Walmart was at least two hours away, it was always such an adventure to go somewhere bigger! I think part of me displaced the feeling of "getting away" with wanting to be somewhere else. My small town upbringing will always be a part of me and now I appreciate my hometown much more than when I was younger.
A lesson I learned during my time in New York is that I didn't appreciate the moment enough. I'm a very future-minded person, always thinking about what's next. I can't wait until ________. My life will be so much better once _________. Yes, the future is unavoidable and it's something to be embraced, but I've always had a tendency to focus on it too much. At times, not living my life in the (insert cliche) present.
My time in New York taught me a lot about myself (sorry, another cliche). It was really hard at first and there were times where I hated everything about it. However, there is something magical about New York City. I often forget that it's the most influential city in the country and that some people would die to be there. NYC is the land of people who 'DGAF.' Whether it be about looking silly or strange in front of others, saying what's really on their minds, or going after what they love. I appreciate the sense of confidence and attitude from New Yorkers. There are many things I love about New York. Things like the architecture, street art, array of languages and cultures, and the subway performers can't be found the same anywhere else. I would say that I ended up really liking the city, which was something that I didn't see possible for a while. Nonetheless, I truly don't think New York and I are meant to be!
It made me appreciate qualities about living out West in Montana that I took for granted before. I missed the accessibility to fresh air, lying in the grass, going on road trips, having my own space, cheaper prices, and the accessibility to the outdoors - just to name a few.
It's been two weeks since my journey in New York ended. Looking back, it was such a great chance to meet new people, build amazing friendships, live in a place that many people dream of exploring, and have a career building opportunity. I feel really good about my time there and I’m happy about the experience I had.
I've moved back to Missoula for the time being and instead of rushing through life, I intend to take my time to figure it all out. I want to really try to grow as a person, improve on skills I've been interested in, and enjoy life. Even though I don't have a career technically figured out at this time, this probably is the most at peace I've felt about my life in years. This doesn't mean that I'll necessarily be in Montana the rest of my life, I'm just taking my time to find what the "next step" is truly meant to be. My recent mantra is to embrace that I'm just another twenty-something trying to figure it all out. :)
New York was a very challenging journey, I'm glad that I didn't leave when there were times I felt I couldn't stay. I feel that it's good to do things that make you uncomfortable and help you grow. So thank you, New York for all you taught me. However, "the mountains are calling and I must go."