Lifestyle

NYC Sunset from the Highline

Whenever I thought of NYC, my mind wandered to the images I had experienced on my business trips to the big Apple: extremely polluted, overly crowded and never-ending avenues filled with busy stressed-out people.

I used to be one of them.

My trips to NYC were never as amazing as they seemed (after all, I spent most of my waking time inside hotels and office buildings). To this, I must add that my trips, though frequent, were always ridiculously short (mostly 2-3 days, arriving on a Sunday evening) and hardly ever allowed for “a day off“.

This was one of the reasons I made New York one of my priorities this summer: I really wanted to live the city. I wanted to spend enough time around to appreciate what makes NYC, well, NYC. What is it that makes people fall in love with this place?

Well, I think I found the answer: Sunsets.

And these are my all-time NYC favourites.

Grand Ferry Park (Brooklyn)

NYC Sunset from Grand Ferry Park

NYC Sunset from Grand Ferry Park

NYC Sunset from Grand Ferry Park

On my second day in New York, I returned back to Brooklyn late in the afternoon – right on time for the sunset. I was hoping to capture it on camera, but had no idea where to go. I followed to Hudson River up towards North Williamsburg until I came across a tiny green waterfront space offering an open view of the Manhattan skyline. I wasn’t alone, of course: roughly 20 people were spread across the park having a drink or snack while watching the sun disappear behind the skyscrapers.

Location: between Grand Street, West River Street and the East River (map)

The Highline (Manhattan)

NYC Sunset from the Highline

NYC Sunset from the Highline

If you are planning to visit New York, I highly recommend adding The Highline to your itinerary. But even better than walking through this exceptional park built on an elevated section of the NY Central Railroad is doing so on time to watch the sun set peek in-between the buildings.

I’m in love.

Location: The Highline runs from Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District to West 34th Street, between 10th and 12th Avenues (map).

Williamsburg (Brooklyn)

NYC Sunset on the streets of Williamsburg

NYC Sunset on the streets of Williamsburg

NYC Sunset on the streets of Williamsburg

On a Saturday evening, the sunset caught me roaming the streets of Williamsburg (Brooklyn). There was no time left to rush down to the river. And there was no need for it, either. The golden hour swept through the green leafs – reflecting on parked cars, brick walls, pavements. It shone intensely – so much, that for a brief moment, I was blinded by its light!

This is proof that you really don’t have to go far to find beauty: just go outside and appreciate the moment. 

Location: Unfortunately I don’t remember the exact street I took these photos on – what I do know is that it was between Bedford Ave Station and Williamsburg Bridge (map). 

Wythe Hotel Rooftop (Brooklyn)

NYC Sunset from Wythe Hotel

NYC Sunset from Wythe Hotel

NYC Sunset from Wythe Hotel

If I had to pick one place, just one place, to go and watch the sun set over New York – this place would be the rooftop of the Wythe Hotel in Williamsburg (Brooklyn). Because nothing really beats watching the skies change their colours over an iconic skyline while sipping rosé with friends (old and new).

Location: Wythe Hotel – 80 Wythe Ave. at N. 11th Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY 11249 (map)

PS: An iPhone pic I took from the Wythe Hotel became my most liked Instagram shot so far! But, do you want to know what was actually happening behind the scenes…? 

Which is your favourite place to watch the sunset in NYC?


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A few months ago one of my favourite bloggers, Jess, introduced me to the concept of virtual coffee dates who, in turn, learned about this from Amber (don’t you love how far word spreads through the internet sometimes?). Anyway, these virtual coffee dates are meant to be a way to have a personal life catch-up. I love this concept! 

So grab your beverage of choice and lets meet for coffee like old friends (would you like some milk and stevia?). 

If we were having coffee right now

If we were having coffee right now… I would tell you that I have just returned from my three week hike on the Camino del Norte. I’d show you the state of my feet after walking over 430km and we’d laugh about my ridiculously impossible tan lines. I would tell you about the wonderful people I met on the way (my “Camino Family”), show you my favourite photos of the trip and try to convince you to get on board next summer!

Asturias, Spain

If we were having coffee right now… I would ask you what I should pack for my upcoming 3-leg trip to Miami Beach, New York City and Iceland – Aaaahh, how am I going to fit my boho chic, cityscape and outdoorsy styles in one bag? Despite all my years of travel and of being a professional planner, I’m still not a good packer. I might or might not have forgotten to pack my pijamas on more than one trip, oops…

If we were having coffee right now… I would tell you that I’m now officially an International MBA Candidate at IE Business School in Madrid, and will be starting this September! I’m beyond excited to have been admitted to my perfect fit school and can’t wait to meet my super diverse and fun classmates and crack our brains working on some kick ass cases.

If we were having coffee right now… I would tell you that I had never felt as fit and healthy as I do now. I’d probably call it the Miracle of the Camino, but… it’s really more than just exercising. Since early May, I have made a conscious effort to significantly reduce my carb intake – and I just feel way lighter and less bloated! I’d tell you about my addiction to home-made Zoodles (yes, it’s a thing), celeriac fries and matcha tea. Dear god, does this make me a hipster?

Ensalada de pulpo, Tenerife, Spain

If we were having coffee right now… I would confess that I’m equally excited and scared about my doing the Langavegur trail in Iceland this summer. I mean, it kind of sounds like my wildest dream: lava fields, glaciers, hot springs, volcanoes and mountains – all in just 55km (34 miles). But… crossing (sometimes deep and violent) glacial streams, spending days under rain and possibly snow, and sleeping in a tiny tent trying to heat up pre-made food sounds, well, challenging. I keep on repeating this to myself:

“If it scares you, it might be a good thing to try.”

– Seth Godin

If we were having coffee right now… I would tell you that I finally registered for a Digital Photography course in New York this month! You would remind me of all those times I had told you how much I’d been yearning to improve my photography, but life and work seemed to always step in my way. I know, I know – I can’t believe it’s finally happening either!

New York, USA

If we were having coffee right now… I’d show you my new about me page and ask you what you’d think about it. I always get nervous when I change one of the big pages on my blog. I worry about technical issues, about my photos and my writing – does it work? does it look good? is it light and fun? I would also tell you that I’m considering a few more changes around here – like possibly integrating a Frequent Q&A section and writing some articles in Spanish (my mind just needs a rest sometimes). There’s so much to ponder right now… Help! What would you do?

So, anyway, what’s new in your life?

“When in doubt, just take the next small step.”

– Paulo Coehlo, The Pilgrimage

Hiking in Tenerife

Me, contemplating what next

Putting one foot in front of the other and taking the next small step is something I’ve been doing a long time. It’s no secret that hiking is one of my favourite things to do when I travel. It’s also one of my favourite things to do on weekends. There’s something about it that just feels so liberating!

I love the way walking the trail frees me from all those mundane distractions. This clarity and the incredible and unexpected landscapes that I discover are the main reasons why I love trekking. 

So, after months of wishing, planning and asking a million questions on the Camino de Santiago, I’ve finally made plans to begin my own pilgrimage.

What is the Camino de Santiago?

Symbol of the Camino de Santiago

Source: Flexitreks

The Camino is a pilgrimage route that has existed in Spain since the IX Century, when the remains of Saint James Apostle were discovered to be buried in Santiago de Compostela. peregrinos (pilgrims) travelled to Galicia from all over Europe to see it.

Nowadays, there’s an entire network of routes coming from all over Europe to converge at the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. The most popular way, the Camino Francés (or French Way), was declared the first European Cutural Route by the Council of Europe in 1987 and inscribed as one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites in 1993.

Camino de Santiago routes in Spain

Source: Mundicamino

While The Camino has been the subject of many books and films, its popularity probably  increased dramatically after the release of Emilio Estevez’s film, The Way, in 2012. Last year, almost 250.000 pilgrims walked reached Santiago – roughly 65% choosing the Camino Francés.

Not me though. 

I’m doing the Camino del Norte, or Northern Way – see red route in the map above.

Out of all the routes – why the Camino del Norte?

While significantly less-travelled and more challenging than others, everyone I’ve spoken to agrees that the landscapes are worth the challenge. Starting in Irún (a small town in Gipuzkoa, Basque Country), the trail follows the rugged northern coast of Spain, combining coastal walks and mountain hikes.

Camino del Norte

Source: Flickr 

The entire route from Irún to Santiago de Compostela (Galicia) is a +800 km (roughly 500 miles) trek, which most people complete in between 30 and 40 days. The thing is: I don’t have so much time available on one go (in fact – not many people do!), so I’m planning to complete my pilgrimage in smaller episodes.

This time, I’m planning to trek from Irún to Oviedo (roughly 490 km – or 300 miles). This might seem irrational at first: Why not start somewhere halfway to Santiago in order to reach the final destination? First and foremost, Because I’m stubborn – and really really want to, eventually, do the whole thing. But also because it’s summer, and I am excited about seeing more of the Northern coastline – maybe even dip my battered feet into the cold Cantabrian Sea.

After all, the Camino is not so much about the destination, but about the journey!

Camino del Norte

Source: Flickr

One of the many things that I love about the Camino is that there is no right and wrong way of doing it. Some people walk the entire +800 km in one go, while others complete theirs by going back year after year. Some stay at albergues and camping sites, others book hostels and hotels on the way. Some go solo, others go in groups – heck, there are even organised tours in case you can’t convince your friends about the fun in walking +20 km per day but don’t really want to do it on your own, either.

Why I’m walking the Camino

People walk the Camino for many reasons – and they’re certainly not always religious. I’ve got many little reasons to walk it. I do it for the challenge and the adventure; to get out of my comfort zone. I walk for the solitude; for the opportunity to unplug, appreciate the present moment and gain some perspective. But then, I also walk for companionship; to meet new people on the road.

I am really looking forward to spending the next 3 weeks thinking of nothing else than taking the next small step!

During the trek, I will be sharing live updates on Twitter and Instagram (PS: are we friends yet?), so follow along!

“Reading is a means of thinking with another person’s mind; it forces you to stretch your own.”
– Charles Scribner, Jr.

The Sky in La Rioja (Spain)

While I don’t read as much as I would like to, I love reading and sometimes come across books that I obsess about the same way others do about Games of Thrones. With all the extra time I have this summer, I want to bring regular reading back into my life – specially when it means I can shamelessly lie on a sun bed for hours and still justify to myself that I’m doing something.

Here’s what’s on my summer reading list:

It’s not me, it’s you – by Mhairi McFarlane 

Mhairi McFarlane’s books re funny, witty and relatable – and this one is no exception. The main character, Delia Moss, finds herself in a horrible situation and fights to deal with it the best she can, all the while discovering who she really is and what she truthfully wants in life.

Luckiest girl alive – by Jessica Knoll 

As a fan of Gone Girl, I’ve been dying to read this book. The book “explores the unbearable pressure that so many women feel to have it all, and introduces a heroine whose sharp edges and cut-throat ambition have been protecting a scandalous truth, and a heart that’s bigger than it first appears”. I probably won’t be able to put it down!

Also: Pacific Standard (see: Gone Girl and Wild), together with Lionsgate, have already grabbed its movie rights!

Red Queen – by Victoria Aveyard

According to one enthusiastic reviewer on Goodreads: “Red Queen is Game of Thrones with Katniss as the Mockingjay with X-Men in a tantalising YA twist of magical perfection”. Yeap. You got me completely hooked already!

The Empathy Era – by Belinda Parmar

Belinda is the founder of social enterprise Little Miss Geek and the CEO of Lady Geek – a consultancy dedicated to transforming the way companies engage and sell to women. I love all things related to empowering women and innovation (even more when they combined), so this this books is a clear must-read!

New York, USA

Are you there, vodka? It’s me, Chelsea – by Chelsea Handler

Am I super late to the party? Ok, Probably. So, I’ve got to admit: I have no idea who Chelsea is (I mean, I do – I googled her and learned that she played a role on This is War), but everyone raves about her books, so I’m going to join the masses. It sounds like a fresh fun beach read!

What Alice forgot – by Liane Moriarty

I loved the agility and characters in The Husband’s Secret and can’t wait to dive into another of Liane’s books. I’m attracted to stories in which the character tries to reconstruct past events (just as in Elizabeth is Missing, for example), so I’m pretty sure I won’t be able to let it down!

Unbecoming – by Rebecca Scherm

So, the first Goodreads review I read said that this book is “a little cocktail mix of Gone Girl and The Goldfinch with a little garnish of The Talented Mr. Ripley“. This, of course, sounds almost too good to be true! But if there’s only a tiny little resemblance to any of these, I’m happy. Also, the story itself, revolving around a runaway living in Paris under an assumed identity sounds like a great start!

The tipping point: How little things can make a big difference – by Malcom Gladwell

I love to read about complex phenomenons explained with in simpler terms. The Tipping Point is the name given by epidemiologists for the moment in an epidemic when everything can change all at once. Malcom takes this concept and applies it to sales, marketing and social change.

Have you read any of these books yet? What’s on your summer reading list?

I have a funny way of remembering things. I could spend hours feeling grumpy about a head-to-armpit incident in my morning commute and days rummaging over how annoying it is to get yet another bank holiday soaked in rain. And then – the second I’m over it (the moment I finally leave London for greener pastures), I think to myself: it wasn’t that bad, really, was it?

I admit that I started this post quite a long time ago (back when I was still living in London)  but I could not bring myself to finish it. Now that I’m in Spain, I’m slowly coming to peace with the city that, at times, was so ruthless. In fact, I find myself missing the simplest things (like, public transport, parks and cute and crowded pubs!). Good and bad, this city has taught me a few things I would have probably not learned otherwise:

St Paul's Cathedral, London

  1. The difference between a cappuccino, a latte and a flat white
  2. How to start a conversation by chatting about the weather
  3. Or London property prices
  4. Where to stand on the platform to face the carriage doors – increasing my chances of getting a seat
  5. Never to change at Waterloo
  6. Nor at Bank Station
  7. Bus beats tube (always)
  8. Food festivals are fun but also a rip off
  9. When I see a queue, I feel an urge to join it
  10. However, no matter what critics say – no food is worth queuing 2 hours for
  11. Walking – while drinking a green juice, sending an e-mail, under the rain on Oxford Street without bumping into people!
  12. There is no such thing as a quick drink after work
  13. Wednesday night has become the new Saturday night
  14. £6 for a glass of wine is normal… 
  15. …and so is paying £900 for a tiny room in zone 3…
  16. ….in a shared flat – with strangers
  17. Your postcode is a status symbol
  18. North East London is further away from Clapham than Brighton
  19. People go bonkers when the sun comes out
  20. …and in such rare occasions, it’s perfectly acceptable to cancel any appointments to spend the afternoon in the park
  21. However, cancelling plans with a friend means not seeing them for another 3 weeks
  22. Umbrellas are for out-of-towners – us Londoners throw on a hood!
  23. You burn almost as many calories going to the supermarket as you do going to the gym
  24. Nobody lives in Mayfair – it’s a myth
  25. It’s not sunday until you’ve had a roast and a Bloody Mary
  26. Gordon’s wine bar is always a winner for a first date…
  27. …except if your date doesn’t like wine…
  28. …In which case, it’s probably better to dump them before it’s too late
  29. You know there won’t be a day you’ll be completely happy…
  30. …but hey, at least you’re in London!
  31. (Bonus: you’ll just need to accept that you’ll never be able to buy a house, ha!)
Usually, I would publish an end-of-month Behind the Scenes recap but given the circumstances (not having published one, like, since February) I figured – maybe this is the perfect time to post a big picture update! While it’s fun to come up with random stats (like minutes spent on a plane in a given month), this info becomes kind of meaningless when there have been so many other weird and wonderful things happening over the past 3 months.

I quit my job

Blue Sea in Tenerife, Spain

This was a tough one. I had a great team of extremely talented and fun people. We did some amazing things that clients and banks thought were almost impossible. Worked in a beautiful office in one of my favourite parts of London (Fitzrovia). Got invited to extravagant drinks and dinners. Flew across the Globe, ramping up frequent flyer miles like there’s no tomorrow and staying at hotels I could otherwise only dream of.

So, I had a project-based job that combined the creative and financial industries, paid the bills and allowed me to travel around the World – which I thought was all I wanted. But it turns out – it wasn’t. What happened?

To be honest, my decision wasn’t as much about enjoying my job but, instead, about a shift in my definition of ambition.

Over the past few years, I had grown to the idea that ambition was putting your career in front of everything else. But now I believe that my definition of ambition and success have evolved: they no longer means pulling all-nighters and constantly sacrificing personal stuff to deliver flawless projects or win over new accounts.

Don’t get me wrong: I still believe I’m ambitious – Maybe even more than I had ever been before. Now, I’m not willing to settle down for a life that doesn’t make me happy in more than just one aspect of my life!

I moved back to Spain

Hiking in Tenerife, Spain

Have you ever felt the need to simply reset

I had been pushing away this feeling for a while – after all, to me, London was for a long time the land of advancement and opportunities. But it was also a land of expensive flats, long commutes and cold rainy days. So, following my resignation, I gave myself a fresh start altogether.

Now I’m back in the Canary Islands as a resident (first time in over 12 years!). I wake up early, eat healthy and spend a lot of time with my family. I signed up for my local gym, go for regular walks / hikes and explore new beaches. After only 6 weeks, I’m already feeling more rested and energised. It’s like being in a retreat – but instead of being in India, I’m on a tiny island in the Atlantic Ocean off the African coast.

I read all the books

Puerto de la Cruz, Tenerife (Canary Islands)

If there’s one thing I’ve done consistently every single day it has been this: reading. From crime to comedy and from business to psychology research (though mainly psychological thrillers!) – Here’s a list of some of my latest reads:

The girl on the train by Paula Hawkins – ♦♦♦♦♦

I’m a sucker for psychological thrillers but must admit that this one is among the best I’ve read over the past year – I literally couldn’t put it down!

Elizabeth is missing by Emma Healey – ♦♦♦♦♦

What first attracted me to this thriller was the unconventional narrator: an 82-year old woman with dementia. I was immediately hooked with this brilliant mix of mystery and dark comedy – highly recommended.

Snow white must die by Nele Neuhaus – ♦♦♦♦

I admit that, at first, I was put off by the title. However, this book (the #4 in a mystery series) quickly caught my attention due to its suspenseful setting in a small German town that deals with gossip, power and appearances.

The good girl by Mary Kubica – ♦♦♦

Another psychological triller – this one, however, centres around the abduction of a young school teacher. Although it’s not as twisted as others mentioned above, it does contain some brilliant surprises.

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion – ♦♦♦

I’m not sure what just got into me. I must have bought this book after binge-reading thrillers until I could no longer sleep at night. Granted, I’m not strong on romantic chick-lit – although I admit that this one had its charm.

I’m currently reading Boo by Neil Smith and am loving how the characters and storyline so far (very imaginative!). After Boo, I’m short on books – any good recommendations?

I applied to Business School

Sunset in Tenerife, Spain

If money was no problem, I would be a student for life – not because of the parties and student discounts (ehem), but because there’s so much out there to dive into, that the thought of sticking to only one topic/career path to specialise in and work on for the rest of my life is a wee bit overwhelming.

I had been toying with the idea of business school for about a year now – and after months of thinking, researching, deciding (then not-deciding) and finally committing to apply: I’m done. Unlike many other MBA Applicants out in the blog world, I have only applied to one school: one I believe is a perfect fit. 

There are a million +1 reasons that led me to decide for business school, but probably the main one (together with the whole learning something new part) was the realisation that an MBA would open the door to plenty of amazing opportunities and provide me with a strong network of like-minded innovative and ambitious people from all over the Globe.

Maybe it was a risky move – there’s no guarantee that this will actually materialise, but I’m staying positive. *fingers crossed*

I celebrated my birthday (with lots of wine)

Wine in La Rioja, Spain

Two weeks ago, I flew off to Bilbao to spend my birthday weekend exploring the Basque Country – a place that, despite being so close, was completely foreign to me. It made me realise how much of my own country I still need to explore (and also wonder: why is it that we always tend to favour international travel when we’ve got so much beauty right here?).

Needless to say, the Basque Country was absolutely stunning. We went on wine tastings, visited some of the region’s most notorious vineyards, took a leisure hike to a waterfall, bought lots of wine and cheese (and by now, already ate about half of it!), explored industrial and historical Bilbao and took a day trip to Portugalete and Playa la Arena. The 3.5 days felt far too short and now I’m already planning my next  trip to Northern Spain later this summer!

PS: a post about my long weekend is soon to come, but if you’re curious about this place on Earth I highly recommend you visit Christine in Spain, who avidly blogs about her life in el País Vasco. 

So, what have you been up to the last few months?

Ah, jeez. So, I guess it has been a while since I last published a post around here. I didn’t really plan for this to happen and yet I don’t feel guilty. I’ve been sorting out some new and exciting stuff coming up, but I’m not ready yet to put it all out there – so lets just pretend that I never really stepped away from here, yes? 

I promise to share a post about what I’ve been up to while I was away as soon as things have slightly settled! 


I recently came across a brilliant quote from Chris Guillebeau about living abroad:

“Beware of moving overseas! It’s tough, confusing, disorienting… and ultimately, extremely rewarding. When you move back home, if you ever do, you’ll be a different person than you were when you first left.”

Chris Guillebeau, The Art of Non-Conformity

This quote made me look back at all the worries and insecurities I felt before becoming an expat for the first time in 2009, and made me realise that, out of all my decisions, moving abroad has been one of the best ones in my life.

Expat life in Switzerland and the UK has been an adventure in itself and, while I might not call myself an expert, I love giving advice to new London expats and friends moving abroad. Below you’ll find tips I wish I had known before I first left my home country (admittedly, I really didn’t know much back then!).

Invest in experiences over possessions

Lavaux, Switzerland

While it may seem tempting to invest your hard earned expat salary in furnishing your new apartment and making it feel homely, you should look at your time as an expat as an opportunity to not only explore a new country and region, but also a new you. Take this time to accumulate experiences rather than things. Because, well, even a bad experience eventually becomes a good story!

Try anything and everything that sounds interesting to you. Take a road trip to the next town. Start that french cooking class. Learn about the regional wine. Sign up for ice skating, architectural sketching, climbing. Join an improv group or a band. Become a volunteer or a mentor. Whatever it is that you fancy – give it a try.

But don’t just take my word on this: Dr. Thomas Gilovich, a psychology professor at Cornell University, has been studying the question of money and happiness for over two decades. His studies confirm that our experiences are a bigger part of ourselves than our things!

Learning the language is not easy

Cadaqués, Costa Brava (Spain)

Simply being in a new country will not make you fluent. You won’t just soak up the local language – even if you already knew a few phrases before landing (though – wouldn’t that be nice?).

Learning a new language takes time and dedication so the earlier you start learning and speaking the better! 

“Whether you learn it or not depends on your commitment, not on changing your latitude and longitude.”

– Benny Lewis, Fluent in 3 Months

One of my biggest regrets from my 2 years in Switzerland was not learning enough french to call myself fluent. I moulded myself into a thriving expat community, surrounding myself with others that either spoke English, Spanish or German (or a combination of any of those three).

I kept on postponing my lessons. Whenever I spoke french, I was conscious of my mistakes and cave man style and tried to limit its use to extreme cases only. When I finally began to open up and take the language journey more seriously, it was time for me to move to London.

So here’s my advice: start now – learn before arriving, speak at any opportunity, make mistakes and don’t give up.

Learn to laugh about yourself

Skiing in Lech, Austria

Never did a simple trip to the supermarket become as embarrassing as my very first attempt to ask for a bin bag in Lausanne. After walking around the shop for about 20 minutes, I lost my patience and decided to ask for help. I crafter a story about an item in the kitchen that stores things you no longer want that is later on picked up by a “big car”. At first, I received blank stares. Later on, laughs! Joining the laughs was what kept me going. 

As an expat (or, well, a foreigner), you are an easy target. You’re new, you don’t understand how things work, you have a funny accent, eat strange stuff (morcilla, anyone?) and have weird customs. Heck, even after years of living in the same country, you may still suddenly realise that you’ve actually been pronouncing something wrong for the past 25 years (that’s right – I actually spent 25 years asking for biscuits instead of biskits!).

You’re going to have many embarrassing moments (and usually want to run back home right after). Don’t act defensively – just laugh about it and move on!

PS: I also spent 25 years saying Greenwitch instead of Grehnitch and Edinburg instead of Edinburrá (which got me into a heated argument because – why?) and I still can’t get myself to say kei-oss instead of kaos (chaos). Oh well.

Surround yourself with positive people

Torres del Paine, Chile

You’ll find negative people anywhere – at home and abroad. You’ll have people back home telling you that you’re wasting your talent and potential abroad. That you’ll never be able to have the same career progression in a foreign country. In your new adopted home, you might encounter locals and expats that are tired of life and insist in telling you about all the things that are wrong.

You can’t avoid running into them, but trust me, when you’re still adapting to a new country, you don’t need all this negativity in your life. Instead, surround yourself with positive people who are flexible, open and up for any adventure.

These people will be your strongest pillars and the main reason you’ll make it through the toughest expat days – the homesick days (see more on this below).

Feeling homesick is normal

Masca, Tenerife (Spain)

 Maybe it’s the morning fog, the crowds, the commute and the constant stress. Maybe it’s because I can’t seem to get out of eating al desko (because that’s really a word). Maybe I miss the warmth, humidity and weekend siestas. Maybe it’s because I miss my small family. Or maybe it’s because of Facebook. Because I realise I have missed friends’ weddings, birthdays and baby showers and wonder: did they miss me? I don’t know what causes it – it could really be anything. All I know is that, even after nearly 13 years away from home, I still get homesick.

Homesickness is, indeed, quite widely spread among expats. From my personal expat experience I would suggest that, in order to get through homesickness, you understand the emotion, accept it as part of the expat experience and don’t let it sink you. After all, feeling homesick simply means you miss something or someone that you love!

What advice would you give a new expat? Or, otherwise, what are your worries as a new / future expat? 

Masca, Tenerife (Spain)

Where is home?

Have you ever hesitated in answering this question? I certainly have. Home might be where my belongings are, but this place differs from where my family and many friends are, too. Is it really home, if your family is over 5000 km away? Can I call it home, if I don’t always feel that I belong in my adopted country?

While living abroad is at times an exciting and enriching experience, it’s also challenging. There are times I feel dislocated. Misplaced. I’m neither here nor there. I’m in some kind of expat limbo. I’ve watched friends getting married, having children and buying flats (things that technically help to define home), while I’m slowly approaching 31 without anything tangible to settle with.

This makes me wonder – what makes home, home?

Lavaux, Switzerland

As a third-culture kid, I’m used to living in this grey zone in-between cultures, never entirely feeling part of any of them. And expatriate living only accentuates this further. I’ve learned to adapt quickly to other cultures but nowhere feels completely like home. I am different people, split between different places, and the longer my expat journey goes on, the less I recognise myself in one particular place. 

I have met fellow expats that have felt the call to settle down in their adopting countries. I haven’t yet felt that call. I love studying new languages, the thrill of getting around a new city, a new culture, making friends around the globe and collecting all these life changing stories. The thought of choosing one place among all unsettles me.

London, UK

My roots are divided. Home, to me, is both here and there. Some days I feel Spanish, some days I feel German. Some days I miss Switzerland terribly, some I fall in love with London all over again. And then there are days like today – days during which I long for a place I haven’t yet been. If home is where your heart is, then my home is in every place I leave a piece of my heart in. 

And truthfully, my heart belongs to the World. 

What defines home to you?


 

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Looking out to my left, I felt equally excited and terrified – I was sitting on a  chair lift up to Kriegerhorn (2173m), Austria, watching the pros slide down a steep mountain. So graceful, so confident – so fearless.

Skiing in Lech, Austria

Weeks before, I had spent a day browsing through winter sports apparel in London – convincing myself that, to ski well, I required the perfect equipment. I watched videos, trying hard to remember what I had to do with my weight in order to make a turn. I wanted to hit the pistes skiing with confidence, like I’ve never done before.

Back on that chair lift, though, I began to have my doubts.

Hmmm… Visibility isn’t that good, I need to go extra slow. But wait, this is getting a bit too steep for me. Oh, look how fast they go! I can’t control my speed that well. Heck, I can’t even turn that well! What am I doing? What was I thinking?! Can you please take me back down again?

I have a secret: I’m afraid of falling (ok, so it’s not that much of a secret anymore…). The truth is, whenever I am faced with a steep slope or a narrow uneven path (whether I’m on skis or just on my own feet), I have the feeling that I may loose my balance. I recognise the pattern: my heart beat accelerates, my breathing quickens and overall I feel tense. In the worst cases, though – I am literally paralysed. It might only be a few seconds or it might be 10 minutes. All I know is that to me it feels like a lifetime.

Hiking Guajara, Tenerife (Spain)

I should limit my activities to snorkelling and sunbathing (both of which I love, too). But I can’t. I love the outdoors – particularly mountains. And volcanoes. Oh, and challenging hikes around mountains and volcanoes!

While it hasn’t always been easy, I constantly aim to challenge my irrational fear of loosing balance and falling. The thought of all the breathtaking views and unforgettable experiences that await at the top of those mountains give me enough courage to break through my limiting thoughts and reach higher. 

Skiing in Lech, Austria

So, back on the chair lift in Austria, I could have let my thoughts send me back down the same way I went up. But instead, I gracefully got off the chair lift with a heart that felt like it was going to jump out of my chest and fall down the mountains all by itself any second.

I moved slow – so slow that sometimes it felt I was actually skiing up the mountain, not down. But I kept on moving – and each time new scary thoughts came into my mind, I tried my best to imagine a mental door and let them go.

I’m not going to lie to you and tell you that all went great on this trip.

I did fall (not as often as I expected) and it was embarrassing (specially that one time I lost both skis!). I twisted my wrist trying to get up again after falling into deep powder snow (which, otherwise, is more fun that Christmas itself!). And I froze of fear. Once. It wasn’t pretty.

But you know what? I got over it. 

Skiing in Lech, Austria

Note: see the goofy girl in blue over there? That’s me getting over it.

What I learned from this trip is that skiing might be a lot about technique – but a lot of it is trust, too. Trust in your equipment, your skills and your balance – but over everything else: trust in yourself – specially when the scary gets particularly tough.

Getting gutsy for me is precisely that – trusting myself when it gets challenging. Pushing myself to the limit, getting uncomfortable and constantly confront my fear of falling. It’s  beyond bravery. It’s daring to go ahead in spite of the doubtful part of my conscience. It’s doing something that scares me.


Getting gutsy is all about stepping outside your comfort zone to reach your goals and live a life that makes you truly happy. This post is my entry for Jessica Lawlor’s Get Gutsy Essay Contest. To get involved and share your own gutsy story, check out this post for contest details and download a free copy of the inspiring Get Gutsy ebook.


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Last year I quit making New Year’s resolutions. They were far too easy for me to break! Instead, I chose 3 words that frame what I wanted my year to be.

My 3 words of 2014: Grow. Simplicity. Radiant.

Picking 3 words instead of coming up with a wish list of (mostly unrealistic) resolutions may seem like an easy task at first, but trust me – framing an entire year in just 3 words is a tough job!

After reviewing my the past twelve months and carefully contemplating what I would like 2015 to look like, I chose the following 3 words to lead me through the year:

Rise. Dare. Unplug. 

Rise

Sunrise from the highest peak in Spain (Teide, Tenerife)

I have never been an early riser, but after devouring Laura Vanderkam’s What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast early May last year, I was ready to give it a go. Surprisingly, waking up early became one of my favourite things during the summer months! I loved the quiet mornings – when the world hadn’t yet properly began to pick up its usual hectic pace. I used this extra time to go for a run in the park, study for the GMAT or even write a few paragraphs for my next post.

The thing is, as the days became shorter, I began to hit the all too tempting snooze button for longer. I certainly admire those that can get up at 5:00 AM (or even earlier!) for pleasure all year round.

So here’s to the word rise. To get up with commitment and energy. To not hit snooze more than twice. To become comfortable getting up while its dark outside. To squeeze in a morning work out or two each week. To continue to make a full and healthy breakfast before leaving for work. To arrive earlier to the office. To appreciate the quiet in London.

Dare

Skiing in Lech, Austria

Do you know that little feeling you get, when you’re pondering whether to go ahead with a big decision? Like when you’re standing on an edge and could either turn around and run back to safer ground or just jump into deep water? While I feel like 2014 has been fairly stable (which was good – for a change!), this year, I want to dare to jump deep into new challenges.

Here’s the thing – I really love challenges that involve risk and adventure (you know, like moving to Barcelona on temporary contract and a month notice). I kind of miss the great stories and life lessons that come with these challenges – and quite honestly, I also enjoy proving myself I can win a challenging dare!

So I call 2015 the year I learn to let go of limiting thoughts and take more action. Learn to appreciate progress and let go of the idea of perfection. Take more risks, and be willing to fail (fast) and get up again. After all – nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?

Unplug

Tarifa, Spain

I’m busy, you’re busy… hey, we are all busy people. We love having lots of things on our plate, right? And we constantly strive to become more productive. Do more and do it better! Ok, sure – but then, I don´t know about you, but I don’t feel happy running around at a frenetic pace, trying to juggle too much. Yet still I found myself in this situation more than once in 2014.

As much as I enjoy the thrill of my job, I’ve also learned to appreciate disconnecting from the constant buzzing. Over my last holidays, I even allowed my BlackBerry to run out of battery and didn’t charge it for 2 entire days (naughty, I know). In 2015, I intend to unplug more often by muting my phones before I go to sleep (if not on a live project) and not allowing laptops in bed after 10 PM.

That’s not all, though – I also aim to unplug from the feeling of constantly having to work on feeding my professional credentials and, instead, add a hobby that feeds my soul (does that sound cheesy?). I want to give myself some space for creativity – to do something just because I enjoy it (like, writing and taking photos for this blog!) and not feel guilty about having fun!

What are your 3 words of 2015?


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Following my travel-heavy 2014 review, I was ready to start writing about my three words for 2015 but felt there was something missing. You see, 2014 definitely took me to places (even if I didn’t get to immerse in almost ay of them) – but I also did lots of other pretty cool stuff last year that I didn’t want to leave out. So, without further ado – my kickass moments of 2014!

Kickass moment #1: watching the sun rise from the highest peak in Spain

Sunrise from the highest peak in Spain (Teide, Tenerife)

Probably my proudest moment of 2014 – this challenging hike up a dormant volcano including a 500 meter elevation completed at night / dusk to reach the peak on time for a spectacular sun rise.

Kickass moment #2: turning 30 without experiencing a mental breakdown 

I never thought that turning 30 would be a big deal, so I was surprised to hear the stories from friends and colleagues that met the textbook-kind of anxiety. Why should 30 be such a turning point? Sure, I don’t own a house, I don’t have a mortgage, I’m not married nor do I have kids. But hey, assuming that this is where my life should be at 30 is so passé anyway!

Kickass moment #3: winning a team award for a tremendously successful roadshow

St Paul's Cathedral, London

On my last day in the office before my winter holidays, the company awards were granted to those teams that delivered the most impressive projects. This year, we won a company award for making history: we delivered the largest financial roadshow in history – I’m damn proud of our team!

Kickass moment #4: forming a new habit 

Creating a habit takes a lot of time and perseverance.  I haven’t yet managed to create a habit of exercising in the morning (I am not sure I’ll ever be able to make a habit out of it), but I’ve formed a new habit, and it’s here to stay: I wake up early enough to prepare and have a nutritious breakfast at home before my commute from hell (granted – it feels a bit less hell when I’ve had a good breakfast and some strong coffee).

Kickass moment #5: saving more money than I had intended to without giving up fun

The Power of Summer - Outdoor Cinema, London

Do you know what’s the most difficult thing to do in London? It’s not finding a nice flat. It’s not commuting in rush hour. It’s not even trying to find a Christmas gift in Covent Garden the weekend before Christmas day. It’s saving money. The city is a money sucking machine – everything screams come in here and spend your cash! (Or does it only scream this at me?). Anyway, I’m proud of having been able to save money for the first time since 2011 – while still eating healthy and having fun!

Kickass moment #6: navigating through Gatwick and Heathrow airports in record times

At this time, I’m fairly certain that I can navigate through both airports as well as I do through my own neighbourhood. I’m close to becoming the female version of George Clooney in Up in the Air (I do avoid queues with kids or obvious holidayers!).

Kickass moment #7: still having what it takes to party like a Spaniard

sunsets in Formentera, Spain

England and Spain couldn’t be any more different when it comes to the social scene. In London, I pop down to the pub in the afternoon and will most likely be at home asleep by midnight. In Madrid (or anywhere else in Spain, really)? Not so much. In fact, the night is just getting started at midnight. Last summer I may have turned 30, but I was (and still am!) still fit to party all night like a Spaniard!

Which have been some of your kickass moments of 2014?


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Early this year I confessed why I’m not fond of New Year resolutions and, instead, created a more strategic (or maybe I should say flexible) approach to goal setting – I picked 3 words that would reflect my year:

Grow. Simplify. Radiant. 

I reminded myself of these 3 words throughout 2014 – when I had to take difficult decisions at work, when I decided (or not) to spend money on something, when I was tempted to hit the alarm snooze one more time or when I found myself browsing past 10:30 PM.

Did it work well? Sometimes (hitting snooze once again is way too tempting when it’s cold, rainy and dark outside!).

Anyway, below is a recap of my ups and downs this year together with my favourite Instagram shot of the month. Brace yourself, this is a long one!


 January

London rooftops

I started off 2014 with a lot of logistics – I was just about to move flats (and neighbourhoods) for the 4th time in London. I sold some stuff, donated a lot more and sent some of my most valuable furniture back to Spain. I took simplifying rather seriously!

It was a grey and gloomy month in London – so I was extremely thankful to have had the chance to meet 3 girlfriends in Frankfurt for a weekend of music, wine and laughs!

About the Instagram shot: During my move, I spent 2 nights in Marylebone looking over these rooftops. Walking around these streets is still one of my favourite things to do on an afternoon, and one of my top recommendations for any London visitor!

February

Las Salinas, Lanzarote (Canary Islands)

My February highlight was, with no doubt, my escape to Lanzarote (Canary Islands). With 2 of my closest friends, we spent our days eating fresh caught fish, sunbathing next to our pool, exploring volcanic caves and craters and drinking local wine. Total bliss.

About the Instagram shot: The Salinas del Janubio (Lanzarote) is the largest sea salt production in the Canary Islands. We drove there to watch the sunset over these salt flats and the black sand beach attached to them – pretty special!

March

Sunset in Los Abrigos, Tenerife (Canary Islands)

March was pretty uneventful most of the time. I did manage somehow to pick a weekend to fly home to Tenerife for a quick fix of fish and sunshine. I’m grateful to live somewhere  with a manageable distance from home – because, I mean, taking a 4.5 hr flight for a weekend trip is totally normal, right? I’ve definitely seen worse.

About the Instagram shot: I took this shot from one of my favourite restaurants in Los Abrigos in Tenerife. It summarises my weekend escapes to the island quite well – great weather, fresh caught fish and a warm sea breeze. Take me back!

April

Always take the scenic route - from Boston to New York by train

Work picked up really quickly in April and I was suddenly facing weeks filled with new big challenges and late nights in the office. At the end of the month, I traveled to New York and Boston – Boston for the first time! Even though I could hardly think of anything else other than work, I loved the architecture and vibe both cities and started to count my days until my return.

About the Instagram shot: When I left Boston on that Saturday morning, it was grey and rainy. After 4 hours, as I slowly approached New York, the skies cleared up allowing me to see the city’s skyscrapers from afar. I love the contrasts in this picture – the suburban and urban New York all in one. 

May

Barcelona, Spain

May was quite a month.

To start with – I turned 30! Surprisingly, this milestone didn’t come in hand with an existential crisis. Or, hm, wait – I did book a last minute trip to Barcelona, partly to regain my youth on the dance floor (and partly to completely lose it again while curing my hangover).

But flashback a few weeks before and you’d find me in a comatose state at home, after having my first (and hopefully last ever) blood transfusion. How did I get to this point? I’m still not sure, but let me share this valuable lesson: you should never be too busy to take care of yourself.

About the Instagram shot: I took this picture while strolling along the tiny streets of EL Borne in Barcelona (one of my favourite neighbourhoods!) on a Saturday afternoon.

June

Lisbon, Portugal

June was work-intensive – with a successful European roadshow that travelled through London, Copenhagen, Paris and Lisbon in just about a week time. It was my first time in Copenhagen! Though grey and far colder than the rest of my visits, it sparked my curiosity – I can’t wait to return for fun next time.

I was also incredibly grateful to get the time to go to a good Uni friend’s wedding in Valladolid (Spain). It was so much fun to get together with so many people I hadn’t seen in such a long time – there was lots to catch up on over tapas and gin & tonics and lots to celebrate with great champagne, of course!

About the Instagram shot: My room with a view in Lisbon (Portugal). As is usual during business travel, I didn’t get to see much of the city (aside for a few streets around our hotel) – but this amazing view partly made up for that loss. 

July

Tarifa, Spain

In July, I travelled to Tarifa – a small but trendy town on the south coast of Spain. Together with 3 close friends, I explored its beaches and sand dunes and worked on my tan during the day and fully enjoyed its vibrant restaurant scene and nightlife during the night.

About the Instagram shot: Here’s the thing about Tarifa – its beaches are absolutely beautiful, but can also be incredibly windy (it’s a hotspot for kite- and windsurfers). On the day I took this shot, the wind was almost unbearable in the sand and the only *safe* place was close to the water!

August

Tenerife from above, Spain

At the end of July, I realised that I still had plenty of holidays that I had to take before the end of August, so I packed all those days together and, after looking for two-week retreats in Costa Rica and group treks in Iceland, I finally decided to go home. Not the most exciting alternative, at first sight – but I did manage to combine all I wanted in one place (wellness and hiking) while also saving money (self high five!)

My favourite moment of those two weeks was, without doubt, watching the sun rise from the highest peak in Spain (Mount Teide) – an experience I can’t recommend enough for anyone hoping to see the island from an entire different perspective.

About the Instagram shot: Approaching Tenerife brings up the butterflies in my stomach. This has been my favourite plane picture so far. It shows its vast geological diversity and oh, hello, that’s Mount Teide over there!

September

St Paul's Cathedral, London

… And then September came. The month could be easily summarised as work, work and more work. I previously described September as exhausting, chaotic and extremely challenging – but this would still be an understatement. I got through the month with rather few personal highlights but a lot of rewarding professional accomplishments!

About the Instagram shot: St. Paul’s Cathedral is one of my favourite city landmarks. I can’t stop myself from taking a picture each time I’m outside the London Stock Exchange. 

October

New York (USA)

It’s strange to think about October as a work-filled month (compared to September, it was a breeze!), but the truth is, it was pretty hectic too. I travelled to Paris, Zürich, New York, Boston and Frankfurt – and also held several events in London.

At the end of it all, I was pretty exhausted and went home to Tenerife to sleep under the sun. I actually didn’t even blog in October… I had a proper technology detox and it felt great!

About the shot: The above picture was taken from the roof top bar at The Peninsula in New York on a sunny Sunday afternoon. I’ve got a thing for skyscrapers – and I am constantly wishing London had more of them. 

November

Weekend in Paris

This year the World commemorated the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War. Remembrance Day in London saw a completed work of art made of over 800,000 ceramic poppies – one for each British or colonial life lost during the war. 

In November, I also travelled to Paris on my first fam trip!

About the shot: Ah, this is one of my favourite photographs of the year – and also your most liked one (thank you!). While in Paris, I stayed at Le Maurice. I got up early on Sunday to watch the sun rise over Paris *sigh*

December

Lech, Austria

December came, and so did lots of social events (work and personal), yearly reviews and exciting travels. After spending a few days for Christmas at home in Tenerife, I am now writing these final words from a snowy ski town in Arlberg, Austria. It’s been 2 years since I last took the slopes and my first time in Austria.

About the shot: I just arrived in Austria less than 2 days ago and this is the view from the hotel’s reception. It has been snowing almost non-stop since we’ve arrived – perfect timing!


The next time you hear from me it will be 2015! I hope you have a great holiday and start of the new year. Thank you so much for your support in 2014 – I’m really looking forward to what 2015 brings!


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“Confidence is the purity of action produced by a mind free of doubt”
– The Confidence Code (Katty Kay and Claire Shipman)

A few weeks ago, I finished reading The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance- What Women Should Know. The book carries an important message: “confidence” – it turns out – “matters more than competence when it comes to achieve success and getting ahead”.

Even though the book itself has quite a strong career focus, there are definitely parallels with other aspects in our lives  – travelling, hobbies, relationships, etc. The book is, in my opinion, a wake-up call for any near-perfectionist. 

As a recovering near-perfectionist, I thought I’d go ahead and share my personal take on confidence – Follow along!

Don’t ruminate – rewire

Don't ruminate - Rewire (Kate goes Global)

I’m not good enough. How can I still not pronounce literature correctly? I’m never going to get promoted! I don’t have enough savings. I’m not in good shape. I’m never going to run a race. Or ski without making a fool of myself. I just can’t do it!

Does this sound familiar to you? It definitely does to me! I’m pretty good at overthinking and giving myself a hard time when I don’t get things right on the first, second or third try.

After my first attempt at skiing, I swore never to step on skis again. Instead of laughing it off and continue to practice, I focused my energy on all the times I fell on my bum and couldn’t, for the life of me, get up again without help. I listed all the excuses I could come up with to not go skiing again (it’s expensive, it’s far, I don’t have a car, my friends don’t ski, and I don’t speak french! – yeah, I’m not proud of that one).

Looking back, I can only laugh at my behaviour – what made me think that one (snowy) day on a swiss resort without an actual instructor would bring out my inner Suzy Chaffee? It took me another 1.5 years to decide to throw my ski-insecurities down a hill and learn on my own terms and pace (and oh am I grateful I did!).

Confidence Tip: Overthinking and overanalysing stops us from taking action, stepping out of our comfort zones. What I do now to restrain myself from worrying too much and holding on to past mistakes is to focus on what I did well. You can only imagine how ecstatic I felt when I actually managed to ski down through 2 blues and 1 red without falling over (who cares if it took me 4 x as long to reach the base!).

Strive for progress – not perfection

Strive for Progress Not Perfection

When I was younger, I would crumple a paper and start all over again if I had made one only mistake. My hand writing was (and still is!) extremely clean and neat. When I sketch, I start with a 5H pencil and will gradually move to softer ones when I’m confident that the lines are where there should actually be.

As a perfectionist, nothing will ever be good enough. While my teacher praised the quality of my work, I couldn’t avoid comparing my architectural sketches to all the architects and designers in the room, and feeling like a penny.

Talk about unreasonably high standards!

Perfectionism does not only increase our self-doubt but also leads to procrastination. We stop ourselves from doing something if we know that the result won’t be even near to perfect. When I first started preparing for the GMAT, the course recommended me to take a first CAT (test) to assess my level. Instead, I didn’t do one until I was halfway through the books because I was worried about not reaching a minimum score I thought was reasonable.

But here’s the thing though: not reaching my desired GMAT score on the first CAT shouldn’t be seen as failure, but instead, an opportunity for progress and improvement!

Confidence Tip: Just abandon perfectionism. Seriously. Holding on to unreachable standards is a recipe for disaster. Instead, break your end goal down into smaller manageable goals and don’t give up – Focus on progress, instead of the end goal!

Step outside your comfort zone

Step outside your comfort zone (Kate goes Global)

We need to take more action, more risks and be willing to face failure. By simply stepping outside our comfort zones and realising that the World doesn’t end if we get the first step wrong is one of the most encouraging feelings you can get!

When I started to consider a career change back in early 2012, I was a nerve wreck. I pondered all the things that could go wrong (what if I can’t find a job? what if I realise I made a mistake? what if this is the closest to my ideal job that I can ever get?) and held on to my fear of getting it wrong for months before I took the leap. And guess what: once I did, the World didn’t end. Instead, it turned to open many doors I wasn’t even aware existed.

So what is constantly stopping us from stepping outside our comfort zone? Self-doubt, overthinking, fear of rejection and fear of failure all cause us to freeze and avoid taking action. But being confident doesn’t mean that you believe you are naturally good at something, but that you can learn and improve through work and repetition.

Confidence Tip: Take more action. And if the action itself is too big and scary to cope with all at once, divide it into smaller manageable actions that trick your brain into feeling no risk at all.


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Blood swept lands and seas of red

Over the past months, the Tower of London has been transformed into a red sea of hand-made ceramic poppies to commemorate the start of World War One. The first poppy was planted in July – ever since, 16,000 volunteers from across the World have donated their time to help plant the 888,246 flowers – each of which represents a British or colonial life lost during the war.

Blood swept lands and seas of red

Blood swept lands and seas of red

The evolving installation by ceramic artist Paul Cummins and set designer Tom Piper has a remarkable theatrical effect. I felt overwhelmed by the number of flowers filling the moat and moved by the flow of poppies pouring over the walls of the tower and out its windows. It really provides a sense of perspective to the vast consequences of World War One (or, any war, really!).

Sure, the installation only commemorates the loss of british allied services’ lives, but the truth is – any life lost to war is one life too many. I can’t even imagine how the installation would look like if we added all +16 million lost lives, regardless where they came from.

Blood swept lands and seas of red

Blood swept lands and seas of red

Each poppy has been sold to the public for £25 each, with a share of the proceeds going to six service charities in the UK – and they’ve already been sold out!

Blood swept lands and seas of red

Blood swept lands and seas of red

Blood swept lands and seas of red

The last poppy will be planted on the 11th of November, Armistice Day. If you’re in London before this day, I strongly encourage you to pay a visit this installation – it truly reflects the magnitude of this event.

Next month, it’ll be 5 years since I landed my first real job and moved abroad without a clear idea of when I would return.

Lavaux, Switzerland

Lavaux’s vineyards became my weekend escape

I remember the blend of contradicting feelings I had when I formally accepted that first job offer in Lausanne, Switzerland. On one side, I was happy to have a job in the field I wanted and excited about all the new experiences ahead of me. On the other, though, I was worried I wasn’t good enough for the job and wouldn’t fit into the new culture.

I was moving long-term to a new city, in a new country. I didn’t know anyone nor did I speak the language. And yet, I had to hit the ground running.

Skiing in Chamonix, France

Even better than hitting the ground running, was hitting it skiing

As I settled into my life in Switzerland, I learned a lot about self-sufficiency. Sometimes, I learned it the hard way – like that time I had to kick someone out of my flat using all the French words I had learned over those 2 years. But most of the time, all those new challenges – like flat hunting, moving or going to a doctor – were easier than I had thought.

Moving abroad has taught me a lot about what I can accomplish by myself once I break outside my comfort zone and step into the new and unknown. With every step I take outside, my comfort zone expands – and the more it expands, the bigger and more powerful the experiences I live.

Es Ram, Formentera, Balearic Islands (Spain)

Like that time I escaped the crowds in Formentera, Spain

At times, returning to Spain seems like an incredibly appealing idea – Spain is, after all, the heart of my comfort zone and London is, in many ways, the exact opposite of what I feel comfortable with – It’s noisy, big and crowded. But this kind of daily challenge keeps me on my toes. It pushes me to continue learning, developing and adapting every day.

London Eye, London (UK)

Of course, not all learning paths are a straight line. I have struggled, failed repeatedly and made a fool of myself – but most of the time I have come out on the other side knowing that this struggle has helped me grow and develop my strengths.

I don’t know how long I will continue in London or where I would go next if an opportunity rose. But I do know that I’m not done with being an expat – and I’m not sure I ever will.

In which ways has living abroad expanded your comfort zone?


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