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What I’ve learned so far

 

  1. Mind the Gap.
  2. America isn’t really #1. It’s still my home. I still want to live there.
  3. Find friends who laugh at your jokes.
  4. It’s okay to miss La Croix, Chipotle, and soft towels.
  5. Good music is gold. Don’t waste a second listening to a bad song.
  6. Everyone will ask you about Trump.
  7. Don’t feel guilty for being happy.
  8. The Heathrow airport currency exchange does not accept Serbian Dinars.
  9. It is okay to want ‘things’. Make sure they bring you joy.
  10. Keep trying.
  11. Life can be fabulous, ask for what you want.
  12. Yacht bathrooms are not clean.
  13. Prosim is a versatile word.
  14. Sometimes “I ain’t driving” is a valid excuse to have a few beers on a weekday.
  15. No place is ever as bad as they tell you it’s going to be.
  16. Don’t give up, don’t settle!
  17. I want to drive an old school jeep when I retire. Preferably white.
  18. We are entitled to our opinions and religious beliefs, but we are not entitled to make shit up and then use the shit we made up to oppress other people.
  19. Language barriers are hard. Sometimes ordering a sandwich is just plain tough.
  20. Make plans. Invite others.
  21. I still love reality TV.
  22. Dating is scary. Do it anyways.
  23. Tell your friends how you feel about them. And what unique things they bring to the table.
  24. It’s better to say thank you, than sorry.
  25. I’m right where I’m supposed to be.
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Living My Best Life in the English Countryside

I’ve been made aware that it has been 20 days since my last post. Time to give the fans what they want!

London has been a blast so far and I’m working hard to make sure I see as much as I can in this short month.

Let’s start with arrival day. We had a quick 3 hour flight from Belgrade and the 30 of us on the flight scattered to make it through immigrations. We all successfully answered the notoriously tough questions from the UK border control and collected our bags. As we were waiting for the bus to take us to our home, we realized we were missing one, Cary! It turned out Cary was stopped and detained for 2+ hours. Her border agent just could not understand the #digitalnomad lifestyle. He demanded that she get her boss on the phone. It was 5AM in the US on a Saturday, so not easy. She eventually convinced the border agent to let her through, and she had beers and chocolates waiting for her following that ordeal.

The next day, Remote Year chartered a double decker bus to take us around town to see the sights. Our great tour guide Gary gave us an overview of the town while we sipped champagne. Not a bad way to spend a Sunday.

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Luckily my Epic friend John and his friend Nathan were in town, so they joined us on the bus then we walked to Shoreditch and had a really really good dinner at Dishoom. My favorite meal so far!

Later that week I hit up the British Museum. Not much has changed since I last visited in 2013, but it was great to see the mummies again. Truly insane.

On Wednesday we did a free walking tour. I peeped the HP inspiration streets for Diagon Alley and Knockturn Alley. We saw Buckingham Palace and the changing of the guards. Another highlight was St. James Park. I’ll definitely be coming back here to lounge on a sunny day. After the tour I met up with Angela to see the Taming of the Shrew in the Globe theater. We bought the peasant tickets for only £5 and lined up an hour before show time so we could snag good spots in the second row of the yard. What a way to see a play! We experienced it all: got splashed with muddy water, dodged sweat from the brow of Petruchio after a fight, and saw the tears on Kate’s face in her final monologue.

Thursday: Played a morning game of soccer. I’ve still got it!

On Friday I organized a walking tour of Notting Hill. I love houses and architecture and was so pumped to see the beautiful and colorful houses in this neighborhood. It did not disappoint! IMG_5504

We grabbed some lunch and set up shop to work for the afternoon at the Churchill Arms pub. Surprisingly they serve Thai food.

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On Saturday Angela, Kevin, and I headed to Paddington Station to catch our train to meet our friend Molly at her aunt’s house (actually a manor) in the Cotswolds. What a weekend! First of all the house was AMAZING and UNREAL.

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It was situated in the middle of the Circencester Park and was built in the 16th/17th century. There is an apple and plum orchard out front and there are two lawns! Also a medieval bird poop hut building. Apparently used for fertilizer. Thanks Uncle Frank!

We had lunch in the back garden and then walked around to explore the area. We walked through town and then came back to the house to make an afternoon cocktail on the lawn. Actually I should clarify that we chose to chill on the SECOND lawn.

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We found a grain field (so golden!) and lots of nature. Such a change of pace to be in the wild again! I’m pretty sure I got stung by some nettle on the walk because I was not prepared and only brought sandals. Oops! Next time I go to an English manor I will redeem myself.

Sunday was the day we had been waiting for. POLO DAY! We started the day with a beautiful breakfast (white table cloth) of eggs and American bacon. Yes! We took a walk around the park then got ready for polo. We headed to the park around 1 (Molly drove one car, on the wrong side of the road!) and started the day with a few pitchers of Pimm’s and an amazing English lunch at the club. Everything was insane! Let me set the scene:

  • A huge field (300yds x. 100yds)
  • About 30 polo ponies (each player requires about 4 per game)
  • 25 cars tailgating (Maseratis, Ferraris, etc)
  • A helicopter picking up a player after his game
  • A cheeky English announcer

The two games were exciting and I learned what a Chukker is. Best Sunday ever.

 

On Monday we sadly had to say goodbye to our English countryside lifestyle and to Aunt Marilyn, Uncle Frank, and our puppy friend Paris. But not before we picked some fresh apples from the orchard!

It is safe to say I was living my best life this weekend:

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You can call me Ace

Last week I was off the grid traveling between islands in Croatia. Definitely a trip I will remember for the rest of my life!

Friday: Flew from Belgrade to Split in tiny prop plane, exciting! We had an amazing dinner at a seaside restaurant. The sea bass and octopus was on point. Also on our way home we stumbled across Diocletian’s palace, built by the Roman emperor in 305 AD. So much marble! (Quite slippery but obviously durable).

Saturday: We wandered around Split, passing some fish markets while picking up sunscreen,snacks, and a roadie or two. We checked into our boat, the Brilliant Kiss and met our skipper Zoe!

 

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Sunday: We left the marina in the morning, ready to hit the open ocean! We sailed for a few hours, then it was time for swimming. We all tried to show off our jumping and diving skills. We had a few diving newbies, which lead to a lot of laughs and face plants. We also got dragged by a rope behind the boat. Looks like we are having the time of our life, but nooo we were basically half drowning, losing our suits, and laughing hysterically. I did not want to be the first one to let go of the rope though, how embarrassing!

 

Later that day we anchored in a bay near Hvar for the night. The bay was filled with a bunch of other yachts, many very very large! We took the dingy to the bar on shore, and had an awesome time people watching the rich folks in the cabanas. While they were ordering $1000 champagne bottles, we were sipping on our $5 beers. But hey we were doing the same thing as them! So mo money does not equal mo fun.

For dinner we took a water taxi to the main town of Hvar. I had amazing squid ink gnocchi and they brought us three free drinks throughout the meal. So European. Much class. After dinner we hiked up to the fortress at the top of the island for an amazing view. It has been said that when Jeremy got to the top, he had tears in his eyes and said “This is the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen”. Unconfirmed story though, I don’t want to risk my journalistic integrity.

Monday: Cliff jumping. Jesus take the wheel.

Tuesday: We headed to Korcula, one of my favorite stops. As we sailed in we were surrounded by at least 100 kite surfers, windsurfers, and other yachts. Apparently its know as “windsurfer’s paradise”. So incredible to see! Once we docked, we headed straight to the rocky beach to jump in the water and cool off.

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We then started exploring the town and old fort and then sat down for an afternoon refresher. I ordered the ultimate trifecta of liquids: beer, sparkling water, and Americano. I was revived! Shane took a work call from our picturesque spot. Digital nomads, am I right?

Wednesday: We headed to Mljet, which contained a National Park with two sweetwater lakes. We decided to rent bikes to explore the island. We were in bathing suits and flip flops, biking up and downhill on loose gravel, post wine break.  It was a wild ride and I am so proud that I didn’t eat shit! After our afternoon efforts we were treated to a beautiful sunset.

 

Thursday: More floating shenanigans. Tiff showed off her handstand skills and Jeremy struggled to stay upright. Unfortunately my new H&M sunnies popped an eyeglass. What a good look. Thank G someone found use in them! We then headed to Sipan island to dock for the night. The town was tiny and had a really cool rock formation and little beach. Great sunset spot.

 

Friday: Our last day of sailing. A full week on a boat and we started to get crazy, cabin fever is real! The morning was great and sunny but it soon started to thunderstorm! Luckily our trusted skipper Zoe navigated us safely to the marina in Dubrovnik.

 

Saturday: We said a sad goodbye to Zoe and Brilliant Kiss and headed into Old Town Dubrovnik. We spent the day exploring the alleys and streets and walked the fortress walls. It had really incredible views and it was amazing to see this insane fortress perching precariously above the water and cliffs. Definitely the coolest castle/fortress I’ve ever seen.

 

What a week! My favorite part was lounging on the bow and floating in the cold water in my little tube. Also the beautiful landscape and great friends!!

 

Thanks Croatia!

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Ahoj Prague, Cao Belgrade!

My last week in Prague was bittersweet. I have so many exciting adventures ahead of me, but it was sad to say goodbye to our first home and this beautiful city.

Sunday: I took the train with 10 of my friends to Pilsen, home of (you guessed it) Pilsner! The brewery was HUGE and we got to explore the underground tunnel system where they brewed the beer. V. chilly! We even got to sample the unfiltered beer when the brew master poured us each a beer straight out of one of the huge barrels.

 

Monday: Went to Anonymous Bar — coolest bar I’ve been too. There are two secrets menus that you can unlock and the delicious cocktails all come with a cool surprise! One cocktail was dripped into the glass from an IV bag and one Roller Coaster Tycoon themed drink came with a mini roller coaster! We luckily had a large group of people so we could enjoy all the craziness of everyone’s different drinks.

 

Tuesday: Had one last beautiful castle sunset! Kevin even busted out his Polaroid camera.

 

Wednesday: Had our going away party at a Serbian restaurant in Prague. We ate traditional food to get us ready for our next city. We had also had a surprise performance by an acrobatic duo for some dinner time entertainment.

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Thursday: Ate pasta prepared out of a giant cheese bowl. Life changed.

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Friday: Last Day in Prague! Had to have my favorite breakfast one last time at Coffee Room. See below for details.

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Saturday: Our first travel day! We woke up at 5AM to catch our shuttle to the train station where we would meet the two big buses that would take us to Belgrade. I was a dummy and snoozed my two alarms, but luckily my roomie Tiffany woke me up so I caught the bus on time. Phew! I snoozed off and on for the first half of the ride while we made our way to Budapest for a travel day pit stop. I decided to spend that time at the Szechenyi Baths, which is the largest thermal bath in Europe. It was a very hot, so it felt so nice to relax in the pool for a couple of hours. The buildings were so pretty and the water so blue. I also had a fun time in the hot mineral pools and then plunging into the ice cold pool. Fun times!

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We then hopped back on the bus to travel 5 more hours to Belgrade. The bus was pretty cramped on the second leg because the other bus lost air conditioning and so we all joined together on one bus. The crossing into Serbia was also an interesting experience. There was a really long backup of cars trying to get through the border so it took about an hour to get through. It was also sobering to see a refugee camp set up of people between the border on Serbia and EU. They are stuck living in limbo trying to get into the EU. We finally arrive in Belgrade around 11:30? Honestly can’t remember . On arrival the Remote Year team was so organization and we had a fleet of vans waiting to take us to our various homes throughout the city. Each was color coded (as was our luggage) so we all separated quickly to find our vans which took us to our new apartment. Once I arrive with my roommates, our landlord was waiting outside with our keys. She helped us get our luggage up to our apartment and got us settled into our new home. We have a living room, large bathroom, and tiny kitchen. So happy to have a place to hang out in our apartment this month!

Sunday: Slept in to recover from our looooong travel day. Attempted to do a walking tour but I got too hot and ditched early. Went grocery shopping to get the essentials: cheese, pretzels, and chocolate.

Monday: 4th of July! I spent the day at a pool/bar/lounge/barge called Hot Mess with Kevin, Meera, and Angela. We had a great day slowly sipping mojitos, lounging in the sun, playing card games, and taking turns lying on the golden swan. Around 7 the rest of the Remote Year crew showed up for our official 4th of July Serbia welcome party. We had a blast mingling with our new friends and celebrating America’s birthday. We even got treated to a “hot surprise” — a fire dancer. I couldn’t stop laughing at the soundtrack to his dance routine. **when a fire starts to burn** Quite on the nose.

Belgrade is such a surprisingly cool city. Not exactly beautiful, since it is filled with a lot of gray old buildings. But much smaller than Prague — meaning even more walkable. There are some awesome restaurants and everyone is waayy more friendly than in Czech Republic. Also almost everyone speaks English here and it is quite safe, with people out and about all day and night. There is also a cool pedestrian only street where our workspace is located. I am so excited about Month 2!

 

 

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101 in 1001

Back on June 8, 2015 I started a bucket list of 101 goals to accomplish in 1001 days. I’m approaching the half way point and I am proud to say I have crossed a ton of things off so far!

Start Date: June 8, 2015
End Date: March 5, 2018

SELF IMPROVEMENT
1. Go one month without shopping
2. Go one month without eating out
3. Read 5 classics (1/5) : Metamorphosis
4. Read 5 biographies (2/5): Life, The Woman I Wanted to Be
5. Read 30 new books (15/30): Girl on the Train, Life of Pi, What Remains, Why Not Me?, Big Magic, The Magician’s Lie, Fates and Furies, Outlander, At the Water’s Edge, Imperium, Beautiful Bureaucrat, Modern Romance, The Boys in the Boat, Unbroken, Delivering Happiness
6. See 10 concerts (7/10): St. Vincent, Bon Iver, Avett Brothers, Vance Joy, Sufjan Stevens, Tallest Man on Earth, Hoodie Allen
7. Wake up everyday at 5AM for two weeks
8. Donate to a cause I believe in
9. Go to Yoga class every day for two weeks
10. Meditate every morning for two weeks
11. Take a break from TV for one month
12. Complete another Whole30
13. Unplug completely for 72 hours (no internet, iPhone, TV)
14. Have a conversation in Spanish
15. Vote in Presidential Election

CAREER
16. Update LinkedIn profile
17. Take a pivot table/excel course
18. Apply to 5 jobs
19. Take an HTML class
20. Take a CSS class
21. Apply for Remote Year
22. Brush up on SQL
23. Take a Ruby course
24. Take a JavaScript course
25. Watch 10 TED talks
26. Perfect my elevator pitch 
27. Read What Color is Your Parachute?
28. Read Lean In
29. Interview Mom about her career
30. Update Resume 

FAMILY & FRIENDS
31. Send birthday cards to best friends
32. Plan a surprise
33. Send flowers to a friend for no reason
34. Write handwritten letters to 10 friends
35. Make cookies for a friend 

MADISON, WI
36. Rent a boat
37. Go paddle boarding
38. Get a sailing rating
39. Go to a windsurfing lesson
40. Do a bonfire on Picnic Point
41. Go to Comedy Club on State Street
42. Putt Putt
43. Rent a cabin in the Dells
44. Indoor rock climbing
45. Devil’s Lake

TRAVEL
46. Visit NYC
47. Travel to a new country – Jamaica 
48. Take a trip with my girlfriends
49. Travel to a new state – Nebraska
50. Pet a tiger
52. See a professional soccer game
51. St. Patty’s Day in Chicago
53. Ride a zip line
54. Eat Sushi in Japan
55. Sail in Croatia
56. Hike Machu Picchu
57. Ride a double decker bus in London
58. Ride a camel in the Desert
59. Visit the Grand Canyon
60. Go wine tasting in Argentina
61. Eat tacos in Mexico
62. Ride an elephant in Thailand

JUST FOR FUN
63. Go to an art gallery
64. Go apple picking
65. Learn a new card game
66. Leave 100% tip for great service
67. See a play: Lion King, Nutcracker, Caberet
68. Buy a plant
69. Watch the sunrise
70. Go to an amusement park
71. Go one month alcohol free
72. Play a tennis match
73. Go to a PGA golf tournament
74. Take a cooking class
75. Learn to make a signature cocktail
76. Cook a meal for someone
77. Attend a music festival
78. Put $10 into savings for every goal accomplished
79. Get a massage 
80. Bowl a strike
81. Go skinny dipping
82. Journal everyday for a month
83. Go on a date
84. Ride a motorcycle
85. Have a picnic in a park
86. Take a road trip
87. Play 9 holes
88. Spend a week at the lake
89. Be a matchmaker
90. Donate blood
91. Run in a race
92. See an NHL game
93. Sleep under the stars
94. Celebrate something special with a nice bottle of champagne
95. Host a game night
96. Organization a game of kickball
97. Spend a night in a fancy hotel
98. Swim in the ocean
99. Rent a jeep wrangler
100. Start a blog and don’t over think it 
101.Make an important speech

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A Camp Buddy, A Visitor and a Heatwave

Last Wednesday my long lost camp buddy Connor was in town traveling with his family and picking up his sister from her semester abroad in Prague.

We all met up at an authentic Czech restaurant to catch up and share many pivos. We then wandered to Letna beer garden to Czech-out the view! Connor’s sister let me know about the best unknown bars and restaurants (kabobs!) and we also hung out with their exchange sister who is from Czech Republic and now lives in Prague.

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It was so fun reminiscing over our old Camp Miniwanca days 8 years ago! We truly made lifelong friendships in those crazy days on Lake Michigan.

On Saturday Emma arrived to kick off her visit. We started with a Boat Cruise under the stars. A few too many drunk English/Australian/American crazies on the boat, but we had a good view!

Here is Emma being the true princess she is under the Prague Castle.

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On Sunday we hiked the many steps to the top of Prague Castle. Here is a view of the St. Vitus Cathedral at the top. Truly magical! Construction started in 1344. What the.

We then rewarded ourselves at Latino fest on the river island. Here is Kevin being the true tourist he is with mojito in hand!

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Monday: Always down for a juice.

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On Tuesday we went to the local market to cook for ourselves. Progress.

Wednesday we had a train adventure and traveled an hour to the infamous bone church. Technically called Sedlec Ossuary it is located in Kutna Hora and is a burial site for 40,000 to 70,000 people and was built by a half-blind monk. Our easy 1 hour train journey was interrupted when our train broke down on the tracks for ~45 minutes. The conductor came to all of our Harry Potter-esque train compartments to explain the situation. In Czech. Once he left I asked our fellow seat mates if they spoke English to see if they could explain the situation to us. They DID speak English. Except they didn’t speak Czech either! Forever in mystery, I’ll never know why we broke down.

Skulls everywhere. Very eerie.

 

A heat wave came through Prague and it was HOT. Sleeping was tough with no AC and early construction noise! Windows open or jack-hammers. Tough choices.

On Friday we decided to try and cool off and rent a paddle boat on the river. We had a fabulous time thanks to Meera and Angela’s dedicated paddling while I relaxed in the back. 💅

 

What a whirlwind week! I am ready to get back to my routine and make the most of my last week in Prague.

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I’m just trying to live a great life

Why did I do this? Why did I leave my friends? Why did I say goodbye to my family? Why did I leave my perfect apartment? Why did I quit a well paying job? 

After my first couple of weeks on this adventure I think I’ve found the perfect sentence that sums it up. I’m just trying to live a great life. 

I would never forgive myself if I didn’t at least try to have an interesting life. Last winter I was sad and stuck. I had gone to school, secured a respectable job, and was now going to work 40+ hours a week for the next 39 years, retire, then die. And that is if things went “well”. I could get hit by a truck one day or get cancer and die at 40. Shit. 

It is freeing and scary and exciting and terrifying when you realize your life and your future are up to you. It was so enticing to take the comfortable road and follow the example set my by peers and that damn Instagram feed. But if that is the life I picked, after all of it, after I was given every opportunity to to follow my dreams, I would never forgive myself.  Because it would be all my fault. Because I choose it. 

I really don’t know WHY this trip is so important to me, I just know that it is. It almost didn’t seem like a choice. I had to take this trip. And this one trip is probably not the answer to all my prayers or my solution to having a “great” life. But it is a start. And at least I tried. And at least I am making decisions. And at least I am participating! 

I feel guilty that I am relying on others to make this adventure happen. I could not have gone on this adventure without the support from Kirsten, Teddy, and mom. I am extremely independent and really hate to ask for favors or help. I am so thankful and do not deserve this. Thank you for being my safety net. 

I think of Dad often and like to believe that he would be proud and excited for me. I wonder which city he would have picked to visit. Maybe Spain because of the sea and sun or an “adventurous” choice like Colombia. Maybe I’m doing it for him. Maybe I’m doing it for myself. 

I am a private person, an observer. I watch and watch and then think and then act. I am the opposite of vulnerable. And I’m trying to change that. I’ve read that vulnerability is consciously choosing to not hide your emotions or desires from others. 

So here is my first post and my first step on that journey. 

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