Best of 2016 and Goals for 2017

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Well, well, well, 2016 has been quite a year. For most of the world, it's been a pretty terrible 364 days. There have been celebrity deaths, terrorist attacks, Brexit, a certain election that made people question everything and just so many twists and turns that took us by surprise. For me, it was a series of ups and downs, but mostly ups. In this yearly round up, I'm going to showcase my favorite moments from the year, and talk about my goals for 2017.

By The Numbers

I visited 3.5 continents this year:
North America, Central America (which I know isn't really a continent), Europe and Africa.

I went to 9 countries (3 of them entirely new to me):
USA, Costa Rica, UK, Ireland, Iceland, France, Italy, Morocco, Spain

And I traveled to over 30 cities:
USA: NYC, Seattle, Bellingham, Whidbey Island, Philadelphia, Washington D.C.
Costa Rica: San Jose, La Fortuna, Arenal, Monteverde, Puntarenas, Quepos, Manuel Antonio, Jaco
UK: London
Italy: Naples, Sorrento, Positano Capri, Pompeii
France: Paris
Iceland: Reykjavik, Vik
Ireland: Dublin, Kinvara, Cliffs of Moher,
Morocco: Marrakech, Essaouira
Spain: Madrid

January

I arrived back to New York City after a very nice, relaxing holiday break at home in Washington. And the most exciting thing was that my boyfriend was moving to NYC on January 6th to finally end our long-distance. The day he arrived, I was so happy to finally have my love there in the city with me. However, I had also planned a quick getaway for us to Costa Rica for less than a week after his arrival, so he barely got any time to settle in before I whisked him off. We spent a week in Costa Rica, enjoying the beaches, wildlife and sun. I'm not sure if I'll go back to Costa Rica, but I'm glad I got to experience it for even just a short time.

February

Ever since Hamilton opened in 2015, I had been wanting to see it, but it was nearly impossible to get tickets. I went to the Ham4Ham lotteries and hoped I'd get a ticket. Nothing was working. But then one day, I got a call from a friend who said he got us standing-room tickets at the back of the theatre, and from there, my life changed. We saw the show, with the original cast, I fell so deeply in love with the music, the cast and the ideas it presented. Since then, I still listen to the soundtrack at least once a week. I feel so blessed to have seen it.

March & April

I've still not seen much of America, but in the spring, I finally got a chance to take some short trips to some historic cities, including Philadelphia and Washington D.C.. It made me realize that I need to take more trips around the U.S.A. (I just wish it was cheaper to travel around America, like it is in Europe). During the end of April, I also hit my One Year NYC mark, so that was a pretty momentous day.

May

I turned 25 on May 8 and then a few days later set off on a "Happy Birthday to me" trip for a week and a half. After being away for over a year, I finally made it back to London (although I got held at the border due to my former visa...). I made my way to Italy and spent some time in SorrentoPositanoCapri, and Pompeii. I got to walk around the streets of Paris and take so many photographs of the City of Light. Then it was off to Iceland for a few days where I got to witness some of the most beautiful geographical sights of the island. I got back from the trip and then literally had one day in-between going home to Washington for Memorial Day weekend, where I got to spend some much-needed time with my family.

June, July & August

This summer was hell. Literally. It was so hot that I felt like I was in hell. And because of the heat, I felt ill and depressed and spiraled into a quarter-life crisis. I started questioning EVERYTHING and it was not fun to deal with. I realized I need goals in my life that I'm working towards or else I feel directionless. I tried to figure out a goal that would let me be able to combine all the things I'm passionate about and then it hit me; I need to go back to London and complete some unfinished business. While a lot of this decision is still up in the air and could fail, I'm still working towards finding a way to make my freelance business my entire workload and that started with creating a New Instagram so I could work on my social media engagement.

September & October

Because of my flight deal finding skills, Levi and I took an adventure to Europe and Morocco for so incredibly cheap. Going back abroad felt so great, and it was amazing to share places like LondonDublin, the Cliffs of MoherMarrakechEssaouira and Madrid with my lovely boyfriend and travel partner. Two and a half weeks away was not enough and the second we got back I was trying to plan the next adventure.

November & December

The end of the year has been fairly anti-climactic so far in terms of adventuring. I finally bought an AncestryDNA test and found out what my ethnic makeup was, which proved my Anglophile love was justified, as I am 20% British. Most of these months though, I was so excited to get back home to Whidbey Island so I could get back to my family and friends. And now it's the last day of the year and I am ready for 2017 to start so I can working on my goals. And speaking of 2017 goals...

Goals for 2017

This is going to be a crazy year for a lot of reasons, including just the overall state o the world, but for me personally, I want this year to be the one where I make some changes. 2016 was the first year where I spent the entire time from January to December working at the same job, living in the same city and barely making ends meet when it comes to just surviving money-wise, but also trying to make sure I'm pursuing my passion of travel. But I am not okay with just a normal life. I don't want to fall into mundanity and get bored, I want to experience as much as I can while I'm still young. So the following are the things I want to work on and what I'm looking forward to in the new year.

I need to renew my passport as soon as possible so I can make sure I am able to travel. It expires in July, but most countries require you to have at least 6 months left or they might not let you into the country. I need to do this sometime in January so I am ready to go when the time comes.

I found flights to Southeast Asia for my boyfriend and me for only $412 each, so obviously I bought them immediately. For two weeks in April, we'll be in Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand, which I am incredibly excited for because I haven't yet been to this part of the world. I want to make sure I do as much research as possible so we have the best time possible and don't miss out on anything important.

Either during February, March or May, I want to make sure I get back to the UK, even if it's just for a weekend. I can't be away from it for too long without reeling and having my Anglophile nerves go crazy.

I want to work harder on my blog and freelance work so it can become the sole source of income. I know this will take a lot of work and sacrifices, but this has been my dream for a long time and I really think I need to shape up and make it happen. I've started making small strides towards it, but I really need to kick myself into gear. I also want to vlog more and create travel videos so I can expand past just writing and photography.

While it's not 100% sure yet if everything will go my way, or if I'll even make the decision to go, I was accepted to London South Bank University and I do very much want to go and have another year to study (and actually finish a program this time), so I need to put my efforts towards finishing my financial aid applications, clearing everything with the school for my visa application, and hopefully receiving another student visa (there's been major worries on my part that I may get rejected). And I also want to find a way to be okay with it all if it doesn't go my way.

If I do go to London, I want to make sure I am more mature this time and go with a goal of actually finishing my program and using it to network. I also want to make sure I travel as much as possible and use London as a hub to get places that are easier from there. I want to explore London a lot more and see the nooks and crannies of it rather than just sit in a dorm room being sad. I don't want to waste a single second there.

If London doesn't happen, I want to at least go there and spend a couple months just to keep myself sane. After returning to NYC, I would want to make sure I throw myself into finding a fully remote job, or convincing my current company to let me work remotely. I'd also try to get more involved with the comedy community. I was very involved until my breakdown this summer, so it would be nice to become active again, whether it's improv or writing sketch comedy.

And of course, as I tell myself every year and then fail horribly, I want to get healthier and lose weight so I don't embarrass myself during my travels when I can't go on hikes because I am too winded after 2 minutes. I don't want to keep worrying about stuff like that, so I need to get into shape and give myself a healthy life. It's been hard doing that in NYC when there's unhealthy food everywhere you turn, but I don't want this to be my reality anymore, so I have to make a major life-change.

And I think that's it for now. I bought a planner that I intend to use for making my goals more visual rather than stuck alone in my head. I'll be writing down a lot of the things I want to accomplish and working towards getting my life in order so I don't feel like I have too many things hanging over me. 2016 was actually pretty great for me in many ways, but I want 2017 to be even better and I know I can make that happen through hard work and envisioning greatness.

 

Samantha O'Brochta