10 year wrap up

Well, the decade is over – and just about my 20s with it! As of writing this, I have exactly one week left of being 29. Seems an appropriate time to reflect back on the past ten years…

2010

January, 4th I landed in London for the first time, where I studied abroad, turned 20, met some amazing, life long friends, and most importantly… Gareth

I also travelled to France and Spain for the first time and ignited my love of travel!

2011

This year was mostly the depths of college and working (at a brew house in Harvard Square with basically all of my friends and roommates), but the highlight was the three weeks Katie and I spent in Guatemala and El Salvador!

2012

On January 1st, Katie, Sam, Jussie, Faye and I set off for a cross country road trip for our move to Los Angeles! The trip was amazing, and on January 10th I arrived in LA for the first time – a city that become home in the most real way. I still plan to end up back in Southern CA some day…

I also  graduated college, interned for Steve Carell and Shoemoney (The West Wing!), and got my first proper industry job at Gersh.

2013

This year I worked a lot, made Los Angeles my home, and ADOPTED BRADY!

2014

I left Gersh and got my first job with writers on a TV show, between that ending and starting my next job I went back to London in October to visit my old study abroad friends… and fell in love with Gareth. Went back to spend Christmas with him in December and we officially started dating.

2015

After the show I was working on ended, I spent a few months living with Gareth in London, getting to know what daily life would be like together. Also Lee and I went to Turkey and Katie visited and we went to Iceland (one of my top trips ever) and Morocco (one of my worst).

2016

To start the year, the Patriots won the Super Bowl on my birthday.

This was the year I said goodbye to LA, something that was horrible and so hard and scary. Just before leaving I remember sobbing in Katie’s new kitchen (I was crashing at her new apartment, where she was living without me for the first time since January 2012) and wondering why I would ever leave a life I loved so much.

But leave I did and I spent one of the happiest years of my life in Spain! In 2016 I went to Denmark, Germany, The Netherlands, Poland, and Czech Republic. Also my mom visited me in Spain! We went to London and spent Christmas in Cornwall with Gareth and his family – thank god, because it means our moms were able to meet.

2017

The year of two halves…

The first half was wonderful, with visits from Lee, Rachel and Faye, a Super Bowl win, trips to BelgiumItaly, Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia. I also finally got my Italian citizenship.

And the second half was extremely difficult with the sudden illness and death of Gareth’s mom. It also had me move to London unexpectedly, which was stressful and definitely took some adjusting to as I had not planned to settle down, especially in London, so soon.

But! It was also when I got hired at Marie Stopes and sent me down a career path I love and of which I am so proud! I also took some Autumnal/Christmas trips to Norway, Sweden and Finland.

2018

We went to Egypt, South Africa, and Greece, which was incredible. I started my Masters of Public Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and moved to Madagascar as a Project Development Officer! 

2019

January: Gareth came and left, and honestly I mostly spent this month feeling very unwell with various tropical illnesses

February: I turned 29, and celebrated with nearly all of SEED at my favourite pizza place in Fort Dauphin.

March: We celebrated International Women’s Day, and I went to Addis Ababa and Nairobi – and Spain with Gareth 😉

April: I spent two weeks in France, studying French which was booked last minute when for health reasons it was decided I couldn’t go back to Madagascar. I also went back to LA for the first time since leaving in 2016 for two of my friends’ wedding.

May: I started back at MSI, this time on the South and East Asia regional team.

June: I took (and passed) all my finals – which was really, really hard!

July: I went on a work trip to visit our country programme in Myanmar, which was wonderful and so inspiring.

August – October: I worked a lot?

November: We bought our first flat! And got engaged! And celebrated Thanksgiving/Gareth’s 30th birthday with most of our favourite people in the world.

December: We went to Boston and hung out with my family (and Katie for a weekend!) for two weeks, saw some snow, and ate a lot of delicious food.

I’m really excited to see what the 20s will bring. (Also is that what we’re calling it?? What about the flappers? The great depression?)

We’re having a wedding and attending a few as well. Quite a few of our close friends are pregnant. We’re slowly fixing up our house, I’m working on the second year of my masters, and I’ve also just had a big promotion which is equally exciting and terrifying.

2020 is going to be a huge year!

 

2018 Wrap Up

Wow, another year nearly over! 2018 honestly went by so fast I’m struggling to write this post — my brain does not compute.

There were some pretty big things that happened this year though. For starters, the vast majority of my friends got married! I went to seven weddings this year and there was only one where either Gareth or I weren’t in the wedding party! It was such a wonderful, love filled year and I’m so grateful I was living in London (and able to get to Boston) for everything!

There were also some great trips —

I went to Paris in February to visit Faye and meet Ross, which was so lovely. FAYE I MISS YOU COME TO MADAGASCAR!

Eiffel Tower, Paris Paris, France

Ibiza for a hen do, where we stayed in the nicest villa and went proper clubbing. I haven’t done that since I was 21 and brand new to LA!

Ibiza

Egypt and South Africa, which were huge life highlights I’ll never forget.

jumping rhino, kruger, south africa

Pyramid, Giza, Egypt Sphinx, Giza, Egypt

Greece, easily one of my favourite places on earth.

Boston, to see my fam and watch some of my best friends get married.

Madagascar, where I’ve moved to work on HIV and WASH projects for the next year.

Ring-tailed Lemur at Berenty Reserve

Regarding my 30 before 30, I crossed off four (and a half) items. Go to Egypt, South Africa, Greece, work in the field in Africa, and I’ve started my masters.

This year was big professionally and educationally, and moving to Mada has been pretty big personally as well. Being apart from G after having lived together is a new kind of hard, but it’s also teaching me so much about the world, myself (to be corny), and of how much I’m capable.

Also I’m quite enjoying looking back at wrap ups for 2016 and 2017 and seeing how much has/hasn’t changed. One more year to 30!

2017 Travel Wrap Up

I managed to travel to some truly incredible places in 2017. Though from my “official” goal list, I only made it to Italy, I was able to do a pretty thorough tour of the north, and quite a few other gorgeous European cities as well.

I’m really behind on my posts about each place, but find a taste of what’s coming below!

Belgium

Florence

Venice

Ljubljana

Lake Bled

Croatia

Mostar

London

Pisa

Cinque Terre

Bergen

Stockholm

 

Finland

2018 promises to be just as good (if not better) when it comes to travel, and I’m desperately excited for both the planned and unplanned trips that the year will bring!

2017 Wrap Up

Well, 2017. You weren’t the best.

This was a hard one to write, because in many ways 2017 was one of the hardest years of my life. I haven’t posted about it, but in June Gareth’s mom was diagnosed with cancer. I moved to the UK a few days later, and unfortunately the cancer was incredibly aggressive and she passed away  only a few weeks after diagnosis. There aren’t really words to describe what it’s like to watch someone get sick so quickly, or watch the person you love lose their mom, so I’m not going to try. But suffice to say, it was and still is quite hard.

However, I have to have hope that things will/are getting better, and I’m trying to focus on the things that bring me joy and hope!

To start, 2017 wasn’t all bad. It started quite nicely, with a visit from Lee and a trip to Belgium. The Patriots won the Super Bowl in the most incredible/heart stopping way, then Faye visited and the worst of winter passed. (I miss Spain one million times more than I thought I would! I’m honestly so desperately home sick for it, I decide to move back about once a week.) I GOT MY CITIZENSHIP! Then I went on an amazing tour of Europe over Semana Santa, visiting Italy for the first time, and Slovenia, Croatia, and Bosnia. I had a wonderful goodbye with my students, and overall the first five months of 2017 were some of the best of my life.

Luckily I got the first job I applied for in London, and avoided the months of desperate job hunting I had assumed were awaiting me. It was one I really wanted, and I love what I do. It’s definitely more fulfilling than teaching, though much, much more serious and stressful as well. It’s been a lifesaver to have something I’m passionate about to throw myself into, and this job makes my time in London feel professionally invaluable.

It wouldn’t be honest to say settling back into normal life has been easy. I have a job in a sector I love, and truly think I’m making a difference with the work I do, but settling down was quite far off my list of things to do, and returning to normal life hasn’t been the smoothest of transitions. I miss living abroad so much—London, at this point, feels almost like I’ve gone back to America in its familiarity, and I feel this constant sense of dread the time I’m young and free of responsibility enough to travel is slipping away—though less so recently because I remembered to trust myself and my stubborn inability to let my dreams die!

I’m really happy 2017 is over. I’m hoping a fresh year and a new start will be a bit of a boost. There’s a lot to look forward to in the coming year, and I’m very ready to feel like myself again.

2016 Wrap up

I don’t really know how to begin to wrap up 2016. It was definitely a rollercoaster, but the only two things that really, really marred it were Brexit and the presidential election. Also Katie didn’t come to visit me. She is the worst.

It was a year that started rough, with a health scare, loss of health insurance, unemployment, and debt, and ended much, much better. This was the year I finally got the courage to leave the (relatively) secure life I had for myself in LA, and follow my dreams of traveling and living abroad.

Here are the 16 best things that happened to me in 2016:

1. I got a job! After months of unemployment, I was hired on an amazing show run by amazing people. Teenage Kristen would never have believed she’d go to work every day with Damon Lindelof, and yet, that was my life for nine months.

2. I got out of debt. Not only did I get out of debt, but I managed to save enough that a RTW trip is looking entirely possible, which would be another dream come true.

3. I got promoted at my job. No longer was I a writers PA, instead I was an assistant and suddenly I worked for someone who cared about my notes, talked out story ideas, and trusted my opinion. It was a great accomplishment, and one that made leaving all the more difficult.

4. I didn’t take my last months in LA for granted. When I first arrived in LA in January of 2012, no part of me thought I’d stay long term. I didn’t like the city, and couldn’t imagine ever feeling good living in it. Cut to nearly five years later, and wow do I love LA. I love my friends, I loved my apartment, the weather, the passion and drive. The landscape. I sincerely hope I end up back in California one day. And I’m proud I built a life there that was so hard to leave.

5. I went to Vegas to see Kesha with some amazing people. And the Hoover Dam. It was really hot, I lost $20 gambling, ate (and drank) way too much at a buffet, and had the time of my life.

6. I got Gareth to like LA. The first time he came to visit, I was unemployed, broke, and not super happy with my life there. I don’t think I showed him the best side of LA, though I did get him to love Santa Barbara. This time, I was in full on appreciation mode, and I think that really shined through. Also he brought a skateboard and was able to see more than just the main roads which I can admit are not the most attractive of sights.

7. I went back to the Pacific Northwest! Seattle had been on my list for years, and I realized I was leaving the west coast with no sure timeline of when I would be back. So the morning after Gareth arrived, we hopped on a plane at LAX and checked out Portland and Seattle. I love Seattle. (Portland was okay but also kind of terrifying!)

8. I MOVED TO SPAIN. That´s the big one. I can’t explain to you guys enough–for years I spent all my free time planning trips I had no time or ability to take. I obsessively read travel blogs and died of jealousy. I basically figured out my ideal life and then refused to live it. Until now! It was super scary and hard and I barely knew Spanish but here I am!

9.  I road a tandem bike!

10. I voted for Hillary Clinton. Because I am a good person who did not want a racist, sexist, homophobic, islamophobic, predator in the White House.

11. I prioritized travel. In my first month here I booked tickets to Copenhagen, Berlin, Amsterdam, Prague, Wroclaw, London x2, and Belgium. Finally making up for my lack of travel while studying abroad!

12. I found my favorite city. I haven’t written about it yet, but it’s Amsterdam. I love that place so much and seriously hope to live there one day. I have a lot more to say, but that’ll be in a separate post.

13. I improved my Spanish. It’s not nearly where I want it to be, but hopefully I won’t be leaving Spain for a while yet, and I am committed to continuing to improve until it is.

14. I introduced my mom to Europe! This was one of the highlights of my year, and something I’ll treasure forever. She wants to start learning Spanish. She wants to come back in the spring. I’ll make a world traveler out of her yet! Also she got to meet Gareth’s family and it wasn’t horrible… I might even say it went well. So, that’s a real relief.

15. I ended 2016 right–with friends and (some) family, and we went back to the Priory, aka heaven, for New Year’s, which was spent in a tiny house in the middle of nowhere with some of my closest friends.

16. I moved to the same continent as Gareth. Wow. Can I fully explain how amazing it is to go from a 12 hour flight and 8 hour time difference to a 2 hour flight and a time difference that levels out the fact that he goes to bed stupidly early? I can’t. But trust me, it’s amazing.

A lot happened in 2016. Let’s see what 2017 has in store!