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2018 has a come to a close and it’s been an insane year that has just flown by. I’ve never written a year wrap-up post, but I figured that it might be fun to recap the past year with its ridiculous moments, memorable moments, and silly moments.
A year of working for myself
2018 was the first year that I’ve worked for myself for this long. It’s terrifying although satisfying in its own way. I might have hinted towards the fact that I never really anticipated working for myself in any way, but I love the flexibility that comes with it although this year has taught me that self-care is more important than ever. You also can’t push yourself so much long-term. I’ve come to terms with my back-log although I’m steadily getting through it.
I used to think that everyone had a very clear sense of what they wanted to be when they grew up, but I’m realizing that that’s a lot of BS as an adult. I think that it’s important to be flexible and open to what comes your way. To be fair, this is the last thing that I ever thought that I’d be doing.
Before you ask
This fall, I finally started seeing a physical therapist for undoing some of the back damage that I’ve done to my back over many hours of working on a laptop in subpar conditions. It is so important to have good posture and a proper chair if you’re a website owner or blogger. Trust me on this one.
More notably, we settled into life here in the Hague. This year has been one that has been the opposite of the previous year. We’ve only lived in the Netherlands and compared to the instability of the previous year, I’m all for it. 2018 felt like a breath of fresh air after 2017 brought us forced us out of the Netherlands then to Romania, France, Belgium prior to returning to Holland.
This time, I feel like we’re in a far better situation than last time in quite a few ways. One of my favorite posts of the year is a reflection on my time as a “digital nomad” and whether digital nomads have a responsibility to those who live in the cities that they’re stopping over in.
We traveled less last year and honestly, it felt good. I also tried to invest more effort in making good friends, making time for friends, and trying to be better about seeing the places near me. It’s simple, but I feel like learning all the nooks and crannies of the Hague have made me appreciate it so much more. It’s just so nice to have a home base. I keep toying with the idea of a coworking space, but I’m really frugal and I love watching my kitties sleep as I type. I now own a milk foamer, which makes working at home so much better.
I have started going to the Haagse Markt weekly and I still get excited about going there. This year was about calming things down and being more frugal. I invested a lot of time in becoming a better cook and it was really worthwhile. Jacob mostly cooks, but we’ve both improved a lot. My favorite recipes of 2018 are Surinamese-inspired tacos and New York bagels.
Celebrating New Year’s Eve in Russia
The year started off with a lovely dinner and a bang from fireworks somewhere outside of Moscow. We celebrated New Year’s Eve in Russia with my friend Nikita and it was an experience from start to finish. It was so special seeing Moscow as well as Russia through my friend and his family’s eyes. I need to write more about this trip,
Solo travels in Serbia
I wanted to try out this full-time blogger
Seeing more of the Netherlands
One of the joys of living in the Hague is how close you are to so many other cities, so much so that you can blink an eye and end up elsewhere. I’ve loved getting to know Leiden and Delft. I still need to see more of Rotterdam and some of the other cities in Zuid Holland. I absolutely loved visiting Amersfoort and I need to do some more weekend trips.
One of my favorite posts of the year is about Flag Day and the history of herring, which was researched in Scheveningen. I want to do more stuff like this. I’m a history geek and I love traditions.
2018 was a year of finally seeing my home by choice. I really fell in love with Brabant as well as Zeeland, two provinces full of culture, amazing food [seafood!], and gorgeous cities. Friesland is high on my list for a nice weekend away in 2019.
Celebrating a wedding in Texas with a custom made sari
We flew to the US for a week to celebrate a good friend’s wedding in Texas. The food in Houston kicked ass and it was so much fun celebrating with everyone. The bride and groom offered to have custom-made saris made for their friends as it was an Indian wedding. I took the offer up and found the sari really comfortable.
A girls trip to Belgium
I’ve been trying to be better about seeing my friends more. One of my good friends just returned back to South Africa, so as a goodbye gift, my other friend and I went to Belgium to give her a proper goodbye. We spent a ridiculous fun weekend in Brussels drinking a lot of Belgian beer and eating way too many Flemish fries. I hope to take a few more weekends with friends this year.
I’ve been really getting into craft beer. 2018 was the year of the beer pilgrimage and we’ve been heading to church (kidding) to buy beer brewed by monks here in the Hague. One of our most excellent journeys was the epic beer pilgrimage to Westvleteren to buy Westvleteren 12 and I want to go back for more bottles to hoard for myself.
A month in Austria
Austria was so special for me as it allowed me to connect with my roots. One of my most emotionally vulnerable posts on this website was written about visiting a concentration camp for the first time. It was so
Otherwise, I loved Austria, buying a proper dirndl, eating too much cake, and discovering the cute towns of Upper Austria. I am so happy that a friend offered her house to us for cat sitting as it would not have been possible to do a trip (for this long) otherwise. I also loved her friendly cat, Jerry.
Our real wedding party finally
This year was huge for us as we FINALLY got to celebrate our wedding with our family and friends outside of Asheville, North Carolina. We kind of made up our own ridiculous wedding traditions, including using a sledgehammer, and it was wonderful also making a playlist that began with Space Jam. It was literally everything we wanted and perfect.
A new kitten!
I GOT A KITTEN. My cat collection has now amounted to two. This little fluff was named by Jacob. He’s super mischievous and a bit clumsy. That said, he loves cuddling up in the bed with us most nights after he’s done attacking our toes and hug attacking any arm. I’m okay with it.
Meeting your heroes
I kid, but it was so wonderful meeting fellow bloggers at a couple blogger events. I really loved meeting Adventurous Kate, who was just as funny and wonderful as I imagined her to be.
It was also lovely finally getting to meet Julianna from The Discoveries Of, Jordan Wagner from Wayfaring with Wagner, Alex from Lost With Purpose, Alex from the Mindful Mermaid, Paulina from Paulina on the Road, Tea from Culture Tourist, Jurga from Full Suitcase, and countless others. It was also lovely meeting up with bloggers who I’ve seen before, including the lovely Sophie Nadeau.
I promise that this won’t turn into that speech at the Oscars that goes on for ten minutes and I can’t wait to meet more of my fellow bloggers at various events.
Thanksgiving and Christmas at home
Thanksgiving and Christmas this year were wonderful. We had a huge potluck dinner with our old friends and our new friends. It was
Christmas was quiet and cozy at home. We made a turkey, bread pudding, and cranberry sauce. It was so lovely and I want to do the same next year.
This year, I went chasing the Dutch Christmas markets. They’re criminally underrated and so lovely. My favorite was definitely Valkenburg, which is in a cave. It’s hard to beat anything in a cave, but I still missed one of the markets that occurs nearby at a castle.
NYE 2018: Fire and calm
The year ended like it began: with fireworks and drinks in an intimate setting. I headed down to Scheveningen
What’s to come for 2019
I’ve had almost a year of catching up, which is great as I finally have a clear vision of the direction for my website for this year. I want to write more about my experiences in the Netherlands, good and bad. Life abroad is mostly the same as life elsewhere although occasionally, you just have weird stuff happen to you and/or you’re confused more regularly on how to do things that are second nature to you elsewhere. I hope that these posts
I’m afraid of this blog becoming too generic. Although I’ll keep posting good general advice about travel, I want to ensure that this blog retains the feeling that it has/had. (I’m not sure which tense to use.) I worry about it becoming one of a million travel blogs where the only articles are “things to do in XYZ” and you could almost substitute the blog name out as anyone could write the articles without ever being there. I find these kinds of articles so boring to write and I worry that it comes through. That said, I intend to bring my voice, my own sense of humor, my love of sweets and craft beer, and my photography more into the blog in 2019. I want to get bolder in being able to share my opinions. Sometimes, it’s scary
I’ve hired a writer to help me write more useful content about expat life in the Hague. Her name is Leanne Claire and she’s an Aussie living in the Hague. She just published a great article about the process of buying a house as an expat. I’m excited about someone else having the microphone and I believe that she’ll bring a fresh perspective to Wanderlustingk.
My father will continue writing his no-nonsense travel tips. He’s off to France this spring to see the South of France. You can believe he’ll have a lot to say about it! We’ll also collaborate on a few NYC articles.
In terms of personal achievements, I finally canceled
almost didn’t use last year as I worked so much last year. I’m hoping that 2019 will be the year that I manage to properly motivate myself to work out regularly, but you gotta be real with yourself sometimes. My New Year’s resolution was to cancel my gym subscription, so go me.
Jacob’s parents are returning for an epic month of adventure, crosswords, and cat cuddles. I’ve never been to Luxembourg, so that will be finally changing thanks to a fun road trip planned through Germany and eastern Luxembourg that was my Christmas present to them.
Jacob and I will be turning to Italy to celebrate our anniversary to spend some time in Torino and exploring the Piedmont wine country with our friend Jeff (who will tag along for part of the trip). Jacob lived in Turin a few years ago and I’m so excited to finally go there with him to eat all the Nutella. I Marie Kondo-ed my closet last year before I even saw her show and I intend to get some pretty dresses (that spark joy of course) for the occasion that can hide my Nutella stomach.
I’ll be returning to New York to spend quality time with family/friends and create lots of content, so keep those eyes peeled this summer for lots of New York City content. I’m mostly excited
I’m excited to revisit Austria in
I’ll be visiting Detroit for the first time this fall for a dear friend’s wedding. I’m hoping to use this trip as a jumping off point to revisiting Buffalo to eat all the wings and saying hi to friends in Toronto.
There’s also a big trip in the works. After this year’s calm, we’re looking to do something crazy and get away from the never-ending cold/rain. It’s a secret (I’m terrible at keeping secrets), but Madagascar is winning. (I watched I like to move it in 3+ different videos involving lemurs last night.) I still am so curious about South Africa and Colombia, but those might need to wait until 2020.
I had a bit of guilt at the beginning of the year that I am finally free and I can travel technically without a base, however, I love having a base and I feel the responsibility to be here more since I got the kitten. I still intend to travel, but I’m trying to use 2019 as a chance to spend more time with family and friends. You need to make time for those important to you. To say the least, I’m excited for 2019.