Reflections of 2010

I thought a lot about whether or not I even wanted to write a “year-in-review” post. I’m not really big on following all the trends and well I assume that other bloggers get sick of reading the same style of posts over and over again. Then I read everyone’s year-in-review posts, and I enjoyed them all because they were all different and inspiring and I wanted to high-five everyone for their accomplishments and hug them for the struggles they endured along the way.

So, in true wayward fashion; here’s my 2010 Year-in-Review, a few days late now that we are officially more than a few days into 2011. 😉

There are a number of accomplishments that I have achieved this past year, including things that I didn’t really see as accomplishments at the time and a lot of road blocks I had to very slowly and painstakingly climb and often times crawl over.

I have officially spent the year of 2010 living and working in Florence, Italy. I arrived on December 28, 2009 and left for my first European adventure in Amsterdam on December 30, 2009. Since, I have started traveling for work and have visited 20 cities in 9 countries, even having the opportunity to visit some of them twice. I literally was traveling up until the last day of 2010, returning from my short jaunt the England on December 31st.

I arrived in Italy without knowing more than five words of the language and now I have learned a new language to the point that I can generally understand and hold a conversation, whether or not it happens to be painful for both me and my companion.

I hopped on that plane fresh out of Uni, with no money and no clue. I taught English for 3 months with a company that treated me as though I was worth nothing more than the stones on the road, and stood up to them by walking out. At the time it felt like failure, with no money and no references to show for my experience. Now, I can look back proud because I’m such a better person and I’ve found myself in such a better place. I’m now working with a travel agency, and more importantly with people who care about me. Instead of counting the hours and euros and the days on the calendar until my next vacation I’m getting a chance to visit a new city almost every weekend and getting paid to do it. I get a chance to share my love of travel and culture with study abroad students, some of which still haven’t broken out of their comfort zones and even some of whom open my eyes to things I never would have seen myself.

I have started my very own self-hosted blog and gained some amazing friends and contacts along the way. I didn’t realize it was possible to not only have more than just my mom be reading my blog but to have a number of strangers that listen to my every word and support me in ways I didn’t know I needed it.

I have also had to overcome some personal challenges. Being home in the States I suffered the kind of reverse culture shock that left my confidence shattered. I felt like (even though it wasn’t true in retrospect) I had lost my connection with my friends at home, and all the relationships I had built in Australia were falling apart as the others went home and on with their lives as though nothing had changed. I was completely shattered as my relationship with Lorenzo fell to pieces.

Once the plan was in place for me to come to Italy, of course I thought my whole life would become perfect again, that all the pieces would fit. I was in for a shock as I arrived and did not suddenly feel a huge rush of relief. I had to learn to deal with the fact that Lorenzo had gone on traveling in Australia alone and had an experience that I was not and never could be a part of. He did the backpacker thing, the thing that I wanted to do so much, and I had a kind of resentment to him for it. Adding that to my initial loneliness of being in a new country and I knew I still had a lot of growing to do.

After a year, not all the bad feelings have faded and there are bouts of missing friends and family that I haven’t seen in almost one year. But more importantly, after one year I can see how much I’ve changed from the lonely, scared and language-less girl I was last December to the person I am now with friends all over the world and travel experience all-over Europe. The strongest relationships have overcome, as they do. Now I have ambition and dedication and an idea of what I can do with no idea how it will turn out. In the exciting kind of way.

So thank you fellow travellers, supporters, friends all over the world that I’ve met and that I haven’t, family and long-time friends that I left behind and of course, Lorenzo for the love and support and helping me be who I am today. I hope that 2011 brings more travel and even more growth!

Like I’ve heard so many say these past days, this is going to be a good year!