2018: A review of the good, the bad and the unpredictable
Updated: Jul 5, 2019
Bonjour! Hola! Hello! I’m back after a rest break for Christmas and New Year. In all honesty I really wasn’t feeling very motivated to do anything, let alone write a new blogpost. The toll of living abroad,travelling and readjusting really hit me hard in the last few weeks of the year and I was pining for home and my own bed. After a week or so of sitting in my bed, stuffing my face and binge watching series (I LOVED Killing Eve and I didn’t realise what I was missing by not watching Chewing Gum) I’ve decided to make a reappearance and jump on the bandwagon of doing a highlight reel of 2018.
If I could sum up 2018 in one word it would be change. I don’t want to sound cliché but it honestly was such a formative year of my life. Almost every aspect of my life changed- my appearance, where I live, my job, my friends and my relationship status. I do feel a lot more in tune with myself but this year has brought up a lot of questioning for me, planning for the future, what I want to get out of life and my year abroad. I can’t think too deeply about it all- just keep on saying yes to whatever comes my way and enjoying myself.
So without further ado, here’s a summary of 2018, do grab a cup of tea or coffee, as it’s a really long read. I hope you enjoy!
In all honesty, January wasn’t anything too special. I had an amazing December that year filled with university balls and really good nights out The most memorable thing that I can remember about that month was stressing out over the Christmas break because of an essay that was due ! I went to a formal at college and got into the flow of things. I also started a new job at my college’s coffee shop, which really helped boost my confidence and get to know more people. My friend Zoe came to stay with me in Durham for a few days and I really enjoyed having her to see me- Its so nice to show someone your town and you too discover things about the place that you sometimes forget.
I don’t really remember too much of February. I don’t want to ignore the good things of the year, even if they are no longer applicable to me now. I normally hate Valentines day- not from a hateful singleton perspective, but rather that I think couples should treat each other like that all year round, rather than using a highly commercialised festival dictate when one should be romantic or not. I had a really nice Valentines Day, something that I can look back on now not with sadness but more so with clarity and gratitude that I had someone special to share it with. I also went on my first spa weekend, which I really enjoyed. It was so lovely to get out of the Durham bubble for a weekend.
March couldn’t come round quicker for me. The whole of Easter term was quite stressful for me. I realised that I put a lot of pressure on myself to work hard and maintain a steady 2:1/ 1st. I suppose you could say that by the end of term I was completely burned out. The one thing that kept me going was the knowledge that my parents and I had an amazing trip to Mexico planned. We hadn’t had a family holiday in a while but growing up it has always been the three of us on holiday. The dynamics have definitely changed now that I’m not a teenager and I’m at university. Sometimes we butt heads in terms of things that we want to see and do. This year I really enjoyed the mixture of a beach holiday as well as branching out and exploring the cultural side of Mexico from visiting a Mayan village, a cenoté and seeing one of the seven modern wonders of the world- Chichen Itza. Nonetheless it was a unforgettable trip and my highlight will forever be going to a nightclub and cabaret show with my dad and partying the night away with other spring breakers. Despite his age (which I won't reveal on the blog) he can still get down with the kids and is such a fun person to go on a night out with. That being said, I wont be making a habit of it!
April was actually quiet a difficult month for me. I was completely stressed out about summatives and exams. The culmination of the self imposed pressure of doing ‘well’ and not having organised my first placement for my year abroad really worried me. I can remember sleepless nights, anxiety attacks and the constant weight of dread forced upon me. I honestly don’t now how I managed to get through that month. I had another holiday, in quick succession from my Mexico trip. I went to the South of Spain with my ex. It was my first time in Mainland Spain and even though we aren’t together anymore I can’t think of anyone better to have that first trip with. It was a really good break from the stress and anxiety of second year and it really excited me for what was to come later on in the year where I would be spending the majority of my year abroad.
May was also somewhat of a blur. I was crippled with anxiety about my exams and had somewhat fallen in to what can be described as a slight depression. My strived to do well in my exams was that the only thing that really kept me going. I don’t really have any highlights for that month.
I was so relieved and excited for June to come around. Knowing that I had survived my most challenging exam season to date instantly made me feel a lot better. My social calendar was filled with balls, parties and a college fashion show. June was a really special month for me because I knew that it would be a really long time until I would see a lot of my university friends. It was also a really sad time for me as I ended my relationship with my ex. I’ve spoken about this a little more in one of my previous blogposts and how I had a delayed emotional response to this. June was a month full of change and surprises. It really for me felt like the beginning of a new chapter, despite the fact that it was the middle of the year. I took my first solo trip- be that a day trip to Edinburgh but it felt nice to do something new and spend some time alone. After all of the worry and concern of not finding a placement for my year abroad, I discovered that I’d been offered a position as an office manager for the summer in a company based in Paris! I was over the moon and honestly welcomed this distraction. I thought that all of my hard work had paid off and that I was the start of something new.
July was the start of one of the most random and exciting summers that I’ve ever had. Granted, the beginning of the month was a bit stressful as I had to pack up and move to a capital city, one which I had never visited before nor knew anyone in. I had also finally found out that I was based in Valencia city for my year abroad which made me feel so much relief after panicking all throughout the year of any scenario.For the first month in Paris I was technically homeless, shifting between air bnbs and hotels. However, I wouldn’t change it for the world, I was living in one the most beautiful cities in the world. It taught me that you can’t plan everything in life, I grew in self-confidence and independence and it was the beginning of my ouisiyes mindset, Yes, I was working a 9-5 whilst everyone else was enjoying their summer holidays but I too was having a blast. I was in Paris for Bastille Day and the World Cup victory! I was finally finding my feet and starting to find a sense of inner peace which I had been yearning for all year. Paris has a special place in my heart and I' so grateful that I met the people that I did, built friendships and started my year abroad on such a high.
I had finally settled in Paris and had made an amazing set of friends, a mixture of people from Durham, Oxford and Edinburgh, some of whom I know will be friends for life. I found myself falling comfortably into Parisian life, riding the metro, reading a book eating baguettes, strolling around museums and the Seine in my free time. Life was good and I was feeling happy. I had a string of dates that summer- it wasn’t exactly what you could call a summer of love as such but everything in life is a lesson and I definitely learned that I needed to time to be on my own, enjoy myself and take time to heal- something that I am carrying over into 2019. I started doing day trips on my own, exploring the city alone and finding things and people who interest me. August was also the birth month of my blog and I am so happy to found the courage to not just start writing but to publish my thoughts and experiences. The blog has become somewhat cathartic for me- I still surprises me how many people read it and seem genuinely interested in what I am doing. I’m perpetually inspired to continue to write, create and explore new direction with it.
September was bittersweet for me. It was the end of my whirlwind love affair with Paris, I was saying goodbye to my friends, who were staying until December. It was a month which honestly brought me so much joy- I saw one of my favourite musicians, Chris (formerly Christine and the Queens) in an intimate album launch and short film premiere at one of the most beautiful venues I had ever seen in Paris. I visited Versailles with my friend Richard, and I found an affinity with French culture and art, diving into the European cultural heritage days as well as filling my free time meandering around museums and expos. I moved back home for a grand total of 6 days, whilst in transition between Paris and Valencia. My parents came with me to Spain and we enjoyed a mini holiday break in Port Saplaya (which is stunning) before all of the chaos ensued. I made quite a lot of personal progress in September; again I didn’t know anyone living in Valencia before I arrived. I managed to meet up with some really lovely people who I am very lucky to say are now my housemates, we managed to sort out our house relatively quickly.
This was a month of ultimate highs and lows. I thought Durham exam time was a challenge- nothing could prepare me for the emotional overhaul that I was to experience on this part of my year abroad. I felt slightly homesick, out of place, lonely and the aftermath of my breakup well and truly hit me hard. Adjusting to so much change was slightly too much for me and I can honestly say I fell back into a depressive episode. I like to be candid about mental health and my own struggles- even if it helps one other person to talk about it, then that works for me. Depression is something that I have dealt with before in my life, I hadn’t felt it for such a long time, I had been so happy and distracted and now I had all of this free time and empty space on my mind. I felt the FOMO from the Durham bubble and from my friends in Paris- I craved familiarity. I’d like to say that I just got over it all but it doesn’t work like that. These feelings of uncertainty, insecurity and loneliness still come and go but after talking it through with friends I found myself coming out from this dark place and starting to feel a bit more like myself again. October wasn’t all bad- I did meet a lot of new friends and really started to put myself a bit more out there in terms of learning Spanish.
This month was definitely such a transformative month for me. I’m a Sagittarius and November is my birth month. 2018 was the year that I turned 21. I honestly don’t think that I’ve changed that much. I never understood the big deal about turning 21- being from the U.K there aren’t any more privileges that I’ve obtained and I didn’t metamorphose overnight and become someone new. Regardless, I really loved spending time with my loved ones, I shunned the idea of a party- I didn’t want the fuss- for me one thing that I’ve learned this year is life is about experiences- I wanted to spend time with the people that I cared about. November was also a month of firsts; I celebrated my first ‘friendsgiving’ with friends from Canada, America, the UK and more. I went on my first solo trip to Madrid for 4 days and absolutely fell in love with the city (there’s a blogpost coming soon). I went on a spontaneous trip to Barcelona with my friend Paige and I started really getting into my fitness journey- something that I can’t wait to progress with in 2019.
As the year drew to a close I had no intention of slowing down. My friend Richard came to visit me in Valencia, which was so lovely- we had a packed weekend and I really embraced the role of tour guide- I even found myself appreciating Valencia a lot more. The month was filled with beach days, Netflix and general winding down. My last big trip of the year was heading to Paris for a mini reunion with my friends. It was lovely to see how much everyone had changed and the feeling that I still love Paris just as much in the winter as I did in summer. I’ve been home for the past few weeks- honestly I didn’t enjoy Christmas as much as I would have liked to- I felt slightly rushed. Normally I’m very organised with gifts and decorating but because of my jet setting endeavours I’d fallen behind this year. But I’ve unapologetically rested this festive period, I’ve eaten, I’ve drank and I’ve chilled out and I had no regrets.
January 2019 :
So here we are now, a few days into 2019. I’m optimistic and hopefully for this year- I didn’t realise how much I had seen, done and experienced the past year. I really feel like I connected with myself a lot more- something which I think we should all tap into every now and then. I have no plans to stop blogging- I have more trips planned, more goals to set and more things to experience. I want to see how far I can go with OuiSíYes!, I want to really enjoy the rest of my year abroad- I have a feeling that things can only get better from here.
Thanks for sticking with me in 2018 and I hope that you all had a lovely New Year- here’s to the next one!