2017 was nothing like I thought it would be! I spent six months in Greece, broken into two three-month segments by six months spent in the United States. In real time, I found a lot of this year stressful because the future seemed so unknown. But looking back, I can see that the unknown held a lot of wonderful experiences.
I was promoted to a higher level of management at the NGO where I volunteer in Athens. When I found myself back in the States, I was hired by the library where I worked five years ago. Many of my coworkers are still there, and it felt like a happy reunion. I also got to spend a lot of time with family and friends from my hometown, people who know my eccentricities deeply and love me anyway. I’m finishing the year in Athens, surrounded by my Found Family in Greece, grateful for the opportunity I’ve had to live here.
But what’s a Looking Back without remembering all the places I was able to travel during the past year?
- January: I started the year in Seattle, celebrating the New Year with my brother and snowshoeing for the first time. Mid-month, I flew back to Athens for three months.
- February: Luciana, Olga and I spent a weekend in Bucharest, Romania enjoying the snow we never get in Athens.
- March: Our organization spent a weekend retreat in Kleitoria, in northern Pelopponese, where we explored caves and ate fish we chose from a tank. I also went to Thessaloniki with Anthi and Rosie to experience Greece’s second city and eat loads of bougatsa.
- April: I flew home to the States in April, and soon thereafter I went to Vancouver for two weeks of training with our parent organization. When that finished, I spent another weekend in Seattle with my brother before flying home to Illinois.
- May: Thinking my time in the States was short, I drove down to Dallas and Austin to reconnect with a lot of my favorite people from my time at DTS. Later in the month I joined my grandparents on their vacation to Wisconsin Dells, which was a lovely opportunity to spend time with them.
- June, July: I started working for the library, and ironically, I didn’t travel during the summer.
- August: My mom and I flew out to Portland, where we met up with my brother and his partner to roadtrip up the coast to Seattle.
- September: I drove out to Rockville, Maryland for a long weekend with one of my closest friends exploring quaint coastal towns and eating a lot of great food.
- October: I flew back to Greece for a final three months in Athens.
- November: When visitors came to our organization, we orchestrated an outing to Corinth, which I hadn’t been to since 2007. I later went to Evvia for Luciana’s birthday and was astonished to see autumnal leaves in Greece.
- December: Anthi, Rosie and I traveled together again for a long weekend in Rome, satisfying one of my top travel desires.
Guys, I’m developing an unsustainable habit of needing to travel somewhere at least once per month. This will someday be a problem, but for now I’m super grateful for cheap plane tickets, a good car, and friends who let me stay with them for free!
2017 doesn’t fit into any neat “This Happened” box, and instead I’m left with a lot of disparate but lovely memories. I’ll take it.
I love that you have been able to travel so many place so often! I hope I have some freedom to travel a little this year!! What do you do to feel comfortable travelling alone where you don’t know a soul?
Hm. Good question! Honestly, I didn’t feel comfortable for a while, but then I experienced the things I feared (missed connections, days without company, having to find transportation on my own) and realized that so long as you can be okay with things taking longer than usual, very few problems are as horrible as I feared. I do my best to anticipate them, though, like downloading maps of places on my Google Maps app so that I can find my around new cities without data. And I always bring a book or headphones so that in dull moments I have something to do! It’s gotten to the point that now I really enjoy traveling alone – it gives me the freedom to do what I want to do when I want to do it without worrying about what other people want!