Sunday, November 23, 2014

SURPRISE!! I'm moving to ITALY!!

Just days ago, I was convinced I knew where life in 2015 would take me. My big plans included a 17 day trip through New Zealand's South Island, a two week trip to Fiji, going home to Wisconsin, USA for the summer, and then landing somewhere in Asia to teach in September (Thailand and South Korea being at the top of my list).

But life is crazy, full of the unexpected, and I'm slowly learning that sometimes it is also best left unplanned.

I've been dreaming about living in Italy since my brief visit back in the summer of 2011. I instantly fell in love with the food, culture, wine, history, and the fact that everybody reminded me of my very Italian Grandpa Jim (whom we all miss very, very much).

The (extremely) attractive men and the fact that my blonde hair made me feel like an insta-celebrity, didn't hurt either, of course. 

On this particular day, I took a gondola ride through Venice with my very best friends. It was a lifelong dream fulfilled and was the first time I thought to myself "this is the best day of my entire life." That day I vowed to dedicate my life to seeking out more simple, yet amazing moments, and it was also the day when my love for travel grew from a once yearly hobby to encompassing nearly every waking thought. 

And just days ago, I was offered an opportunity to experience many more of those little incredible moments, in the first country to ever fully capture my heart and attention. And with teaching abroad jobs being plentiful and never really going anywhere, that dream can be fulfilled at another time. This particular opportunity comes but once in a lifetime. 

After one simple message, a skype date, and a few conversations, I knew without hesitation, that this was the move for me. I scored an amazing Italian family, my very own beautiful apartment (come visit me!!!), and my only "job" is to teach English through play and conversation to twin 4 year old beauties for a few hours a day. 

Let's put it this way, I totally hit the jackpot. 

Thank you all for the many messages of support over the last few days, and for making me feel overwhelmingly loved. 2015 is shaping up to be the year of a lifetime, and I can't wait for what's ahead. 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Exploring Middle Earth. Should I stay or should I go?

It has been weeks, months, AGES even, since I've written anything longer and more meaningful than a caption on a photo. To be fair though, I just don't have the time or energy to express my extreme feelings of happiness and gratitude with words.

But regardless, it's time for a little recap.

October was a bit of a whirlwind between two jobs, beer drinking, meeting heaps of new friends, and accidentally waking up on a naval base one morning. That's a story for a different time though, I'm afraid. And of course, there were those two very incredible holidays.

I spent a long weekend in Rotorua (also nicknamed Rotovegas, although I fail to see the similarities...), where I spent my time pub crawling, luging, sky swinging (NEVER again), zorbing, and beating a bunch of young lads in pool (sorry boys).

Luging was by far the greatest surprise. I was prepared to be underwhelmed, and instead I found myself laughing so hard that I cried. You basically sit in the luge, steer, and control your own speed down the side of a mountain via 1 of 3 different tracks (scenic, intermediate, and advanced). Aside from the amazing scenic views, it was also a bit of an adrenaline rush. Plus it was something I had never done before, which is always on the top of my list. Win, win, win.

Zorbing was another experience entirely. You are essentially a hamster, in a big ball, rolling down a large hill. Yup, that's it. The experience came with a pretty hefty price tag, but since it originated here, it was something we knew we wanted and HAD to do. And it was worth it.

And Hobbiton. OMG. HOBBITON. On our way home, we stopped by this beautiful little paradise. It was the one place all 3 of us had been waiting to see since we arrived. And holy hell, it did NOT disappoint. From the story of how it all began, drinks at the Green Dragon, and SO many pics of the shire, I was in nerd heaven.

Look how I am just radiating nerdiness here

I then had a short 3 day week of work between that exhausting weekend, and another exhausting weekend in Wellington. But wow, Windy Welly was everything I expected and more. This city is nicknamed the 'coolest capital city in the world', and I am fully inclined to agree. It is full of beautiful scenery, great food, amazing beer (amber ale, I'm talking about you), and gives off the quirkiest and raddest little vibe I've experienced, ever.

We spent our days riding the cable car, exploring the botanic gardens, visiting the Te Papa museum, climbing Mount Victoria (I wouldn't recommend flip flops...), and getting lost in Zealandia nature reserve (Liz). Aside from that, it was pretty much exploring every gem of a cafe and/or pub that had been recommended to us. That means a lot of milkshakes, burgers, beer, and good views.

The Cable Car

Botanic Gardens

View from Mount Victoria

I'll take a foxton fizz with this beautiful view, please.


And although it's been an incredible few weeks, after a cancelled flight, almost DYING during take off, getting yelled at and verbally degraded by hotel staff, and being borderline physically exhausted, I couldn't help but be so happy and thankful to be coming home. And on that drive, I couldn't help but feel grateful that going back to Auckland actually felt like going home. 

And now I'm back to questioning everything. (Of fricken course I am). 

You see, I'm not yet ready to stay put, and at the same time, I don't know if I'll ever be ready to leave. But with a list of places and things to do and accomplish becoming longer and longer, how do I give up so early and settle in one place? Even if it's a place where water and sun are plentiful, travel is encouraged, ideas are questioned, and beauty is never lacking. 

See my problem?

You see, some people spend their entire lives waiting for the happiness that I believe I have already found. 

The sort of happiness that comes from an array of life events like falling in love, having a baby, or in my case, finding a place where you finally feel you belong. A sort of happiness that makes you dance while hanging laundry, cry when you feel the ocean, and completely unearths your soul. 

That's the sort of happiness I want for now and forever, no matter where that place may be.