Vacations are More than Relaxation

Long time no see, huh? For the last three weeks I was on vacation in Italy and Greece, and unlike in the past, I did not post while I was away. I even have some posts pre-written that were planned to be released while I was away but for some reason, I never felt the sense of urgency to actually post them while I was traveling. This time, I decided to treat this vacation as a vacation from all things – I did not work, I did not workout (apart from a couple runs), and I did not indulge my normal blogging schedule.

I was able to completely focus on my vacation and actually relax. I have kept such a rigid schedule the past couple years and I think I finally needed a vacation from all of my normal commitments, even the self-imposed ones. For the past year, I was consistently adding more and more commitments to my life whether they were social, self-improvement initiatives, or work-related. And after this trip, I realized that many of them are draining my life, more than adding to it.

Vacations, in general, are always great for me to take a step back and remind myself of what is actually important to me, but this time it was more than that. In a rare change of pace, this last trip was a trip more about the people than the places. I got to see one of my absolute best friends, as well as spend a Greece trip with my family like we used to. Spending so much quality time with people that are so important to me made me rethink my priorities a bit. I’m still working through this whole thought process but the basic idea is that I’d like to flip my thinking about how to plan my life.

I won’t go into it too much here because I still haven’t thought through it all, but the short story is that this vacation was more rejuvenating than most for my perspective and while I apologize for missing three Wednesdays, I don’t regret it at all. In fact, I’ve actually been thinking on going on a longer hiatus from my blog, and leaving it to someone else, but more on that later.

I’ve rambled a bit now, but this post only had one intention, and that was to explain my absence from the blogosphere to the few hundred of you that read my posts every week and to reiterate the point to our overworked populations that sometimes it’s ok to go completely off the grid and just feed your soul (although I definitely fed my stomach as well). I will return next week with some regular content, until then, let me know if you’d like more explanation on my change in perspectives and I’ll be happy to accommodate.

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Where is Your Passport?

I was going to write about my personal travel bucket list this week, but a few days ago a colleague brought an extremely troubling statistic to my attention. He told me that only 10% of Americans have valid passports. I was confounded by this and immediately looked it up. That’s way too low, right? Weel turns out that even though the number isn’t quite as dire as 10%, there are still only 41% of Americans that have valid passports. Not horrible, but definitely not great. That means that out of 325 million people nearly 170 million of them don’t have a passport and have thus probably never been outside the country.

I recognize that I may find this surprising because I grew up relatively privileged, with a passport since birth so that I could travel to Greece to visit my dad’s side of the family. I used to think that the people who didn’t travel simply didn’t because they were too scared or too unsure about how to plan or afford it. And while I do understand that there are financial and emotional burdens to undertake in getting a passport and in overseas travel, I also know that those obstacles only account for a fraction of the 170 million who don’t have passports. This number has to include people who don’t even have a base desire to go anywhere outside their home country and that is unimaginable for me.

Obviously, I am a travel nut. I love to see new places, experience new things, and explore different cultures. I think an inordinate amount about dropping everything to become a travel blogger and am constantly updating my bucket list (and by ‘updating’, I mean ‘adding to it’). It is incomprehensible to me that there are people out there who have no desire to see other places. Even my most homebody type friends have at least one far away place they’d love to see someday.

The reason I believe this is important to discuss because I learned some of my most important lessons about myself and about the world from travelling. Travelling to different places is an exercise in perseverance, and most importantly, in empathy. Depending on the place you’re going, there are certain obstacles to overcome: language, transportation, etc. which all enhance problem-solving and personal creativity by figuring out ways to survive that you wouldn’t normally have to use at home. However, the more important skill, in my opinion, is the practice of empathy. It is easy to sit at home, watch the news, and believe everything you see about the rest of the world. But it is quite another to actually travel to a place, and experience it for yourself.

For example, for many people, all they know about countries like Afghanistan are that they are war-torn terrorist hotbeds. But if you look at travel blogs and videos from people who have visited, they will rave about the food or the kindness of the people. I truly believe every single place on this planet has SOMETHING to offer and it’s a terrible waste that there are so many people out there who have no desire to experience something new.

I am probably at a loss with this concept because I don’t really know too many people who do not have a passport. I know I sound like a spoiled brat, but I honestly can’t imagine having never experienced anything outside my own country. If you or someone you know doesn’t’ have a passport,  I would love to know what their reasons are for not having one or for not travelling. Since nearly 60% of Americans don’t have one, there’s gotta be a reason, right?

 

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Me in Peru exactly a year ago where your passport is needed for everything as it’s your only form of ID

 

Moving to Canada: Take 5

It’s been a minute since I last wrote about my move. It was at the end of January and I was finally feeling pretty positive about my relocation. I had started to make some friends, and my work life was getting increasingly busier. So busy, in fact, that I hadn’t had any time to reflect on how I was really feeling.

It’s nearing the end of six months and I’ve finally had a slow weekend to relax and think a little bit. I think I’ve started to settle into a rhythm here in Calgary.  Work has picked up a ton which keeps me busy (and keeps my stress levels engaged). I travel almost every single week, so I guess it’s a good thing I have such cheap rent now since I hardly spend time in my apartment during the week.

I’ve also really been trying to work on those friendships I started back in January. Since originally just going climbing with a couple girls a few times a week, I’ve done a ski weekend, and had some double dinner dates thrown in for good measure. I’ve gotten loads better at downhill skiing as well as steadily progressing on rock climbing, and actually look forward to being outdoors (shocking, I know).

All in all, I am starting to feel good about my life here. But that is just it – I feel good, but not great. I don’t believe this is any fault of the people I’ve met, the city itself, or even underlying homesickness. I believe it’s my own unrest that is leaving me dissatisfied.

I was talking to a friend earlier in the week and we were discussing how most people in our friend group always need to feel like we’re moving forward and part of that feeling is physically moving locations at every available opportunity. I’m particularly guilty of this (7 places in 5 years), but I can’t figure out where it stems from. I fear to stay in any place longer than a year and view part of my success synonymously with changing locations. And now that I’m past the halfway point in my lease in Calgary, I’m starting to feel myself growing restless.

Where do I go from here? I’ve conquered my fear of moving to a new city in a new country and building a life from scratch, and part of me craves doing it all over again. The other part of me simply fears growing complacent by staying in one place for too long and becoming comfortable. One of my favourite ways to challenge myself is by moving to new places and I’m terrified of ever growing too attached to a place out of convenience.

So my new questions for myself are as follows: why do I feel the need to move around? And if I don’t move, how can I still find ways to push myself?

Does anyone else feel like their success depends on moving around? Or feel afraid of staying in one place for too long and becoming too comfortable to move again? Let me know!

 

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PC: The talented Megan Lawson

 

How to Vomit in Your Own Hands

Great title, right? Unfortunately, on my trip to Mexico, I got intimately familiar with what getting sick on the road is like.

Those who know me know that I hardly ever get sick. Like, I barely even get the common cold. Consequently, I’ve been lucky enough to evade any travel sickness for quite a while now, so I guess it was only a matter of time before it caught up with me.

On my trip to Mexico last month, I had a slight bit of food poisoning. And when I say slight, I actually mean 24 hours of being violently ill. As the title would suggest, it was not the most glamorous affair, but I did learn a few things.

First off, I learned what food poisoning feels like (or at least, I think I do). We never could trace back my sickness to exactly what had upset my stomach but the symptoms were all there. Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Graphic, I know, but bear with me. When you eat something that your stomach deems unacceptable, your body completely rejects it and tries to rid itself of the substance however it can, hence the unpleasant symptoms. For me, the nauseous feeling was intensified because it was hot and muggy, and when the sickness actually hit me, we were on perhaps the roughest bus ride I’ve ever been on, and thus my nausea could no longer be contained, and I threw up what little I had eaten that day, into my own two hands.

This brings me to the second thing: you should always travel prepared. I’m not saying you need to be like Mary Poppins and pull a whole hospital out of your bag, but you should always take a couple of key items, whether or not you commonly get sick. First and foremost: TISSUES/NAPKINS. I got in the habit of carrying napkins around with me when I was in Shanghai for a year because many places do not provide toilet paper in public bathrooms. Thank goodness the habit stuck, because I had some napkins in my bag to help me clean myself up while I was still on the bus.

Another great item is disinfecting wipes. I say wipes because a bottle is just extra liquid for your TSA approved bag, and also because on the whole, I am against hand sanitizer. I think it’s silly, it kills the immune system, and it dries out my hands, so I am NOT a fan. HOWEVER, if you throw up in your own hands, or do something equally disgusting, it might be nice to have a couple stashed nearby so you can at least feel semi clean until you get yourself to a real bathroom with real soap.

Lastly, bring some standard meds with you. We’re talking painkillers, Alka Seltzers, and any and all manner of indigestion drugs you think is applicable. When you’ve got food poisoning, there aren’t many drugs that can help at the moment, but they will help mild discomfort and might help after the fact as well.

While I was sick, I did a couple of important things — Once we got back to our hotel room, I immediately stripped to my underwear and got a cold washcloth to keep myself from overheating. My amazing boyfriend went out to get me some more cold water, coca cola, and plan crackers (or tortilla chips in Mexico’s case). The Coca-Cola I mixed with water to drink to settle my stomach. Ginger ale is ideal for this, but Coke is a reliable brand pretty much everywhere in the world. The plain crackers were so that my body wasn’t running on empty, but they are also such a mild food that they wouldn’t irritate my stomach any further.

By far the worst thing about food poisoning is that no matter how badly you try and take away the nausea, your body will insist on ridding itself of whatever you ate/drank and you have to let it run its course. At the start, I would try and prevent the vomit for as long as possible, but there was no way around it. Once I let myself be sick whenever I could feel it rising, things progressed a lot faster. Eventually, your body will be spent and there will be nothing else to get rid of. I was able to go to sleep and woke up the next morning feeling weak, but markedly better.

To recover, you must still be gentle. I continued to sip only water or coke mixed with water, and only ate plain foods the next day. The day after, however, I was able to eat and drink normally.

Being sick on the road is perhaps one of the worst things that can happen. Luckily, I was only down for 12 hours, had someone to take care of me, and we were staying in a hotel instead of a hostel so it could’ve been much worse. I remember the epidemic that swept my Shanghai study abroad group that put the majority of us down during what was supposed to be a field trip to Yunnan province. I escaped then, but I wasn’t able to escape forever.

Have you ever gotten sick while traveling? How did you handle it? I hope I don’t make a habit of this, but being prepared never hurt anyone!

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Moving to Canada: Take 4

Last time I talked about my move to Canada, I was in a pretty fragile state. My loneliness and isolation had reached the point where it was tough to get out of bed in the morning, my motivation was waning, and I was just going through the barest motions of my life. Get up. Work. Workout. Sleep. Repeat. Those feelings were wearing me down and I spent many a night during the first part of December in tears or close to them.

Every time I would try and talk to someone about these feelings, they’d hit me with those dreadful generalist statements. “Oh everyone goes through this” “You just have to do ___ and you’ll be ok” “It’ll get better if you stick it out”. Yeah fuck that. How come people won’t shut up about embracing uniqueness until it comes to pain? Sure, if I want to pursue my dream of being a basket weaver, society loves me for embracing my own version of happiness, but if I say I’m sad because I feel out of place, they lump me into a group with everyone else that happens to feel sad. Obviously, seeking comfort in others wasn’t working, and thus, those hideous generalisms just made me clam up and wallow in my struggle even more.

Thankfully, I had a light at the end of my tunnel. The holidays consisted of three weeks of quality time spent in Chicago in a familiar environment, surrounded by people I’m comfortable with. This came at the perfect time. My family always keeps me happy and finally getting the opportunity to have deeper conversations with people who know and understand me was a huge weight off my shoulders. There’s just something about getting food with my friends and simply talking about life that makes me feel enormously calm and happy. There’s also something about the way my sister narrates life that makes me laugh until I cry so that always helps too.

Unfortunately, I was about to go back into the tunnel. Obviously, my return to Calgary was awaiting me in the New Year and I was dreading it. I was looking forward to seeing my boyfriend, but other than that, I would’ve been content to stay in Chicago. BUT, I did return and I returned to the most hectic month I’ve had since moving in the first place. I haven’t even had the time to be sad or lonely because my work schedule has kept me underwater.

This turned out to be a good thing. I have been so busy travelling for work and fitting in my few social engagements around my trips that my brain has no space to compute my feelings since returning. However, I have hit a small bit of luck. I finally met a girl that seems pretty cool and she actually got me into rock climbing. I’ve hung out with her and a few of her friends and although it’s all still in the tentative, surface level, lots-of-exclamations-to-show-positivity-while-texting stages, I’m honestly relieved I’ve met a few people that I could see myself becoming closer with. As hard as it’s been, I actually thought it would be harder to get to this point.

In the last two months, I’ve only spent about 4 weeks in Canada, but ultimately, I’ve been so much happier with my time here. What remains to be seen is if I can sustain this feeling. Is it because I’ve been so busy? My new friends? I haven’t distilled the actual source to the turnaround in my mood, but I leave for Mexico tomorrow so I guess I’ll have to just wait and see.

 

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PC: Michael Lankester

 

Moving to Canada, Take 3: High High’s, and Low Low’s

November was a very strange month for me. However, this was the first WHOLE month I spent in Calgary so I finally got an accurate picture of what living here is actually like.

First off let’s talk about the high’s. Since I got my routine figured out in October, in November I was able to break out of my shell a little bit. I would go on walks around the city by myself, I would take breaks to go work in different cafe’s, and I signed up for ClassPass to try and find some fitness classes that I liked where I might be able to meet people. I’ve even been skiing every weekend in an effort to improve my deplorable skills before a group ski trip in a couple weeks.

My social calendar was also surprisingly full. There were dinners with my boyfriend’s family, one of my boyfriend’s friends came to stay with us for a week, there was a banquet at the flying club where my boyfriend won an award for most proficient private pilot (yes he flies planes, it’s nbd), there was a fondue night with friends,  I cooked my very own Thanksgiving dinner, and we hosted a game night which of course, got very heated (Monopoly will do that to a person).

However, even though November was super busy and a lot of the activities I described above made me smile, there was also the feeling of soul-crushing loneliness brewing beneath the surface. Ok, ok, I know. There’s no need to be so dramatic, BUT, this month was the definitely hardest thus far. My poor boyfriend doesn’t know what to do with himself because he’ll see me happy at an event on one day, and the next day I’m crying in the bathtub all evening.

Even though I’ve been extremely busy, I can’t help but feel that I’m losing myself in this new place, and allowing myself to be absorbed by my boyfriend’s life. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy hanging out with his family and friend’s and am enjoying (mostly) learning new skills like skiing, but I don’t have anything yet that’s my own. Back in L.A., even on my loneliest days, I had things that would make me feel peaceful and grounded. I would go to the beach alone for hours, and I had restaurants and cafe’s near my apartment that I could rely on for comfort food or green juice, as it is in SoCal. And of course, most importantly, I had friends nearby that I could reach out to who could help me through any negative feelings or just to discuss life with. I realized the other day that I hadn’t had a deep or open conversation with anyone here besides my boyfriend. Those types of dialogues are how I build friendships and not having them has really been taking its toll on my emotions.

Overall, this month still had more high’s than low’s, but the lows were just super low. I’m trying new things all the time, but I’m just at a loss with how to create my own life here. I know building a new social life takes time, but in the interim, I would at least love to find a few things here that make me feel independent and in control. Honestly, the mission for December is to just do as much as possible before I leave for Chicago to celebrate the holidays (AND my 23rd birthday, wow). I know that trip will perk me up a bit, so right now it’s my light at the end of the 2017 tunnel.

 

 

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If I look like a deer in the headlights, it’s because that’s how I feel about my life right now. jk, it’s because my skis can smell my fear. PC: Michael Lankester

 

Moving to Canada: Take 2

Alright guys. At the beginning of last month, I detailed how the first few days of living in Canada had gone for me, and in case you forgot, I was not in a good place (see the first article here, if you need a refresher on my misery).

But because I know this move is going to be a period of tons of changes and phases, I figured I’d start a series on my blog chronicling how it goes. So here it is: my first full month in my new country.

October was a little strange because I really only spent 20 days out of 31 actually in Canada. For one week, I had a business trip to Seattle and for another week, I was visiting my family in Chicago. However, most weekends and other days were all spent in Calgary.

Even though I spent some time away, I will admit that I definitely enjoyed my time in Calgary a little bit more than I did in the first few days. I realized that Amazon and can still be useful and Canadian Netflix is actually BETTER than American Netflix. (Although my HBO doesn’t work here so I have to figure something out before the final season of GOT. YES I’M ALREADY WORRIED ABOUT THIS). I got into my normal routine of working from home, working out, and tried two boxing gyms. I also hung out a couple times with some of my boyfriend’s friends and family. Even though I know I need my own friends, it was obviously nice to talk to someone other than my boyfriend every once in a while.

Now that I’ve calmed down a bit, I can recognize that Calgary, for the most part, is like any other major city in the U.S. It has a vibrant downtown where everything is walking distance and it has bars, shops, and restaurants, as well as skyscrapers to form the skyline, so getting used to the city won’t take long. I’ve begun walking around by myself to run errands and familiarize myself with how to get around.

The hardest part of moving, and I suspect it will be the hardest part for awhile, will be developing a social life of my own. Working from home really works against me in this respect, since I have to find other ways to meet people. My first thought is to join a boxing gym or maybe a cycling class and go regularly to start to see the same people. But unlike making friends in college or at work, I would still only see these people for one or two hours a week, so building up a repartee with them will still take a while even once I commit to one.

My next thought was to join a couple groups online for people of similar interests, as well as an expat group, but so far I haven’t found any events that I have been able to attend. November might be a little bit better for this since I don’t have any travel planned but we’ll see. Luckily, I feel a bit more settled after this past month and I can mostly focus on trying to meet people and cultivate new hobbies for a new city. Wish me luck!

If you have any suggestions on how to make friends in a new city, please comment! I need all the help I can get!

 

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If nothing else, Canada is gorgeous.

 

 

 

Dear L.A.

I’ve lived in Los Angeles and the surrounding areas (Malibu, Thousand Oaks, Tujunga, DTLA) for about three years now (not all in a row, but close), and I can safely say I have a pretty harsh love/hate relationship with this place. L.A. is ugly, has boring architecture, the traffic is the WORST, and there really are a ton of people here trying to be famous or get discovered at every ice cream shop, club, and street corner.

However, even though I can say a million horrible things about Los Angeles, I also have a few good thoughts on this place and as I prepare to abandon it (only three more days!) in favor of the Great White North (aka Canada), I thought I’d write a little letter to Los Angeles to thank it for how it has contributed to who I am today.

Dear L.A.,

We have been through a lot together. My whole college career, internships, amazing friends. But I’ve known since the day I set foot in this town that it would be a temporary living space for me, and now the day has come for us to part ways.

I’m not going to sugarcoat this for you, you’re not the prettiest city I’ve ever had the pleasure of courting, but certain parts of you are incredible. I can’t deny that your proximity to the Pacific doesn’t make me justify your numerous other flaws everytime I set foot in that warm sand and get salt water in my hair.

Ugh and the food! You do so many things so well: Mexican, Chinese, Italian. You have a million dessert shops, each offering better cupcakes or ice cream than the last. And the best part? All of it is gorgeous because you know half your revenue is from being reposted on Instagram.

You’ve also taught me much about taking care of myself. Although you can get a little dramatic with all your overpriced juice cleanses and fancy gym memberships, you really showed me that it is ok to put a priority on self-care. You gave me all sorts of healthy eating options and introduced me to heaven in bowl form: acai bowls. You also made sure I never got bored exercising and offered me my choice of many boxing, yoga, swimming, and hiking prospects to stay fit.

And even though you can be way too expensive and way too superficial, you were also the place where I met some of my absolute best friends.  These are the friends that taught me to be more open minded, more social, and more generous. They taught me it’s ok to depend on others and to be vulnerable with them. They are friends that I can laugh, cry, or be silent with. The kind that truly change you as a person, shape your life, and stay with you forever, and for that, I will always be grateful.

See you again soon L.A.

Love, Melina

 

 

A Girl’s Guide to Defecting

As many of you may know from my recent blog post here, I am moving to Canada in just a couple weeks now! While I’ve moved WAY too many times in the last few years, moving to another country comes with a whole set of different challenges that you normally don’t have to worry about when you’re moving within one country. I love the idea of living abroad, and although Canada isn’t exactly as exotic as I’d like, it is still a foreign country and a new set of logistics need to be considered. So if you’re the same as me and are considering, or have considered living abroad, here are some things you should take into account:

  1. THE LAW. I know, I know, this one is obvious. But it is worth repeating here because each country has its own immigration laws and regulations, and you should become intensely familiar with those rules to avoid any mishaps. Common ways to live abroad include getting work or student visas that provide you with the correct documentation to live in a country that is not your own. If you’re a U.S. citizen, the Federal Secretary of State website is the place to start for this info. For me, I’m in a unique situation since I work from home for an American company. For this first year at least, I won’t claim that I live in Canada, and I will make sure I go back to the states at least every few months to prevent violating immigration law. If I live with my boyfriend in Canada for a year or longer, he can actually sponsor me for permanent residency and things become a whole lot easier.
  2. TAXES. The only certainties in life right? Death and taxes. Just because you move away does not mean you are free of paying your government money. In fact, it gets even more complicated because you will have to file in both countries. I make money through an American firm, but will be using Canada’s resources so I have to file twice. I’ll be honest, taxes are already complicated enough as it is, so I’ve decided to hire an accountant for this. It’s expensive but I will definitely need the help and peace of mind of putting this burden on a professional who can make sure I don’t lose too much money.
  3. HEALTH INSURANCE. Maybe you’re on your parent’s policy still, or maybe you have insurance through your work. Either way, chances are, your policy doesn’t really apply abroad. I have Blue Cross Blue Shield and they do have emergency insurance for if I were to break my leg or something abroad, but as far as getting checkups or other appointments, I have to come back down to the states if I want coverage. There are ways you can extend your coverage abroad, or buy a separate policy for extended trips, but you will have to make sure you contact your health insurance providers for more details.
  4. CELLPHONE. Ideally, you would simply buy a Sim card in whatever country you moved to and get a new plan with one of their providers. However, because I will be constantly going back and forth between the states and Canada for work, I 1.) Don’t want to commit to a Canadian plan and 2.) Don’t want to change my number. I have Verizon and they have quite a few options for people traveling abroad. For now, I have added Canadian Access to my phone at a limited capacity for an extra charge, and will add more as I need it.
  5. MAILING.  If you leave the country there are still going to be some important documents that you might not want to forward across oceans and continents. I know I will change all my subscriptions and official document addresses to my parent’s address. Make sure you obtain a PO box or an address for a person you trust for official documents and tax purposes. Figure out how to forward your mail with your current postal service or call/email all your subscription services and change your address manually.

There are obviously a billion other little things to consider when moving period, but when moving abroad, the most important thing is to make sure all your legal affairs are in order. Moving to another country is honestly a logistical nightmare and for me, I really had to do my research and talk to people that had done something similar to me to figure out how they handled all this. Information online can be vague or misleading so it is best to find forums for expats or official government instructions to get a better handle on the things you need to know. Wish me luck!

 

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Photography by the lovely Clara Yu

 

I’m Moving…Again

I have an important announcement.

Drumroll, please.

I’m moving to Canada.

No, this is not a drill, practical joke, or political piece (although my timing is great regarding that). I really am moving to the city of Calgary, Canada in one month’s time.

Why, you ask? Well, there are a couple reasons: chiefly, that my boyfriend lives in Calgary and since my job allows me to work anywhere, we decided to do away with the long distance thing and move in together. And also because I can never stay in one place for long. Just look at the last four years:

  • August 2013: Moved to Malibu, CA
  • May 2014: Moved back to Chicago, IL
  • August 2014: Moved to Shanghai, China
  • May 2015: Moved back to Chicago, IL
  • June 2015: Moved to Tujunga, CA (Thanks, Kay and Jim)
  • August 2015: Moved to Thousand Oaks, CA
  • May 2016: Graduated Pepperdine and moved to Chicago, IL
  • June-July 2016: Euro Trip
  • September 2016: Moved to Downtown LA, CA
  • September 2017: Move to Calgary, Canada

I know it’s typical for college students to go back and forth and not settle during their university years, but I do think I’ve moved around a little more than the average student/young professional. This past year living in DTLA has been the longest I’ve been in one place since leaving home, and I’m moving yet again!

However, the decision to move wasn’t quite as easy as it seems, and I honestly have quite a bit of anxiety over it. First of all, even though I’ve moved around quite a bit, I always knew I was coming back to somewhere, whether that was Chicago or California. With this move to Canada, I have no idea if I will end up staying there or where I would move next.

Secondly, it is a BIG deal to me to move in with my boyfriend. Moving in with a romantic partner means we will be merging our lives. And the scary part, of course, is if things go south with the relationship, it is much harder for me to rebuild my life again after shifting all the way to Canada. Furthermore, I am moving to my boyfriend’s home turf. His family, friends, and activities are already established in Calgary, whereas I will be starting from scratch — no family, no friends, no social life at all. That is absolutely terrifying for me. I don’t want to rely solely on my boyfriend for all of my social needs, but that is how it is going to have to be at the very start until I start getting involved in my own things. Moving to California the first time was different because I was a freshman at university, and everyone knows freshman are all desperate to make friends so we were all in the same uncomfortable situation. This time around, it is only me in the uncomfortable situation and I have to figure it out by myself.

Lastly, I was initially apprehensive about moving to Calgary. All my life I’ve lived in or around extremely large cities: Chicago, Los Angeles, Shanghai, etc. These cities are enormous, gorgeous, and have tons of opportunities. Calgary, on the other hand, is a bit smaller and still developing. That’s not a bad thing, but I’m not used to it. I also admit I’ve been spoiled by the sheer variety of activities, food, and landscapes afforded to me by those cities. Calgary has a much different feel to it and the major points of interest are things I had never even considered doing before, like skiing, camping, or cycling. I have visited a couple times and definitely felt out of my element.

So there you have it, in spite of my fears of not having any friends, not having a social life, not fitting in with the activities, being too bored, of my boyfriend and I breaking up, I still decided to move. I still decided to move because I decided it was important to continue to challenge myself.

I know it’s Canada and I won’t have bigger issues to tackle, like language or vastly different cultural norms (although I will never understand the big deal about hockey), it is still a different country and I will have to build my life there. I’ll have to learn what I like about Calgary and what I like doing there. I’ll have to learn how to live with my boyfriend, and I’ll learn how to create my own social life from the ground up. So while it’s comfortable to live in places I know so well, with people I already love, I know I will grow so much more by putting myself in a place I barely know, with people I definitely don’t know and force myself to make it a great opportunity.

 

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Checking out my new horizons…