For me, 2014 has been a strange kind of year. Having reflected on it and while writing this post, the central theme for my life seems to have been one of spontaneity: ceasing opportunities and going with the flow. I’m pleased with that because it shows that I moved on from last year which was all about letting go.
The year started off with me unexpectedly back in my unfurnished house. With no income and no plan of what to do next, apart from getting the house let out ASAP, it was a stressful start to 2014. Thankfully, things improved and it turned out to be an interesting year for work and travel. I also ended up living in a country I had never previously considered.
January – February
I was relieved, both financially and emotionally, when my house was re-let. It meant I was able to start thinking of future plans. As part of that, I went to Newcastle in February for a few days for a travel blogging conference.
March – April
What a day, full of activities and amazing scenery! Now, it’s time to chill. #adventure #mountainbiking #scenery #sea #lovegreatbritain #ithgb @traveldudes A photo posted by Teresa Keane (@indtravhelp) on
A few weeks later, I went to Berlin to attend the world’s largest travel exhibition. While there, I had a bit of time to explore Berlin.
Shortly after that, I was invited on an adventure trip in England and Wales by Visit Britain. That was great because I had never spent much time in Wales and I hadn’t been to the Lake District for years. Not only that, but I also got to try some things I’d never done before such as coasteering. Because I had the time, I stayed on in the Lake District to explore it further.
I then went to southern Italy, having been invited to discover Gargano, a beautiful region. Shortly after that, I went to Xanthi in northern Greece for a travel conference, having received a random email from someone I had never heard of. I had no idea what to expect, but it was fantastic. It was my first time in mainland Greece and, as I had wanted to go for such a long time, I stayed on to explore the region further. I felt at home there because the people made me feel part of the community. With that and the rugged landscape, the history, and the mythology, it was particularly special for me. I did some kayaking and, even though I wasn’t keen on the idea, I really began to enjoy it. Oh, and the boat trip to Thassos Island was wonderful. Being there gave me an appetite to see more of mainland Greece and it got me thinking about the surrounding countries that I hadn’t been to such as Bulgaria and Albania.
In between travelling, I started doing some freelance teaching for a college in London, which brought in some money.
May – June
On my way back from the trip to Greece, I was looking through a help exchange website called Helpx. I managed to find some work that sounded interesting. Although I could have done with a paid position, I was curious about Albania, so I did work in exchange for bed and board at the beginning of May in Shkoder. I didn’t get much opportunity to explore the country, although I did travel to Tirana and Saranda. This is now one of my favourite countries because of the incredible landscape and the people. I had to return to the UK by a certain date because I had to get a flight from London to Lisbon. I hadn’t been to Portugal in years and had only ever been to the Algarve. Spending some time in Sintra was a wonderful re-introduction. At the end of May, while visiting some friends in Dorset, I was wondering what the heck I was going to do. I hadn’t planned the year up to that point and had no idea what to do next. I had just responded to things as they cropped up. It had worked out fine up to that point, but I didn’t have any plans until mid-July when I was due to work for the same summer school as the previous year. I didn’t have a lot of money either, so I started searching through the Helpx website again for some inspiration. I started looking at Ireland and Scotland because I hadn’t been to either country in a long time. Nothing seemed to appeal, so I started to look at Poland because I had never been and wanted to go since exploring part of Eastern Europe the year before. I found an organisation which was advertising for native speakers to do a conversational English course. I sent a message and got an almost instant response. This was very spontaneous because within a week, I was on my way to Warsaw. Alongside a number of other native speakers, I stayed for a week in Eastern Poland, helping business people improve their conversational English in a beautiful setting. Once I had finished that, I stayed in Poland and then travelled to a few other countries, which included Slovakia, Ukraine, Lithuania, and Latvia.
I never tire of this view of Uppingham School. The buildings are magnificent. A photo posted by Teresa Keane (@indtravhelp) on
I worked for two weeks in July for the same EFL summer school as the previous year in Rutland. It was great meeting up with them again and it gave me some much-needed money to keep me going. The thing is, it wasn’t enough. I had to face up to the fact that I wasn’t in a position to be able to make enough money from my blog to keep me going and the odd, temporary job wasn’t enough. I had to get a more permanent job.
August – September
In the meantime, I went to Glasgow for the Commonwealth Games, having been invited by Visit Scotland and Visit Britain to provide some social media coverage. I felt very fortunate to be part of that. It was an extremely busy few days, but great fun. I was a bit lackadaisical when it came to looking for a job because I didn’t really want to be employed. The thing is, I needed a job. I couldn’t afford to do any more unpaid work. I had bills to pay and needed to have some work done on the house that would set me back a pretty penny. As I had to get a job, I decided that I might as well tick off one of my long-held dreams and become an expat. I searched online for jobs and sent my CV off in response to two job adverts; one in Saudi Arabia and one in Poland. I was more keen on the job in Poland because I had recently been there and liked it. It was also the easiest option, being in Europe. Thankfully, I was offered the job while I was travelling around the islands and highlands of Scotland, so I took it. This would give me some stability as well as money. While I was in Glasgow with an open return and no other plans, I didn’t want to waste the opportunity I had to explore Scotland. Therefore, I set off on my merry way sussing it out as I went along. I had an incredible time there and got to see places I had always wanted to visit and others I had never heard of. I fell in love with Scotland and wondered why it had taken me so long to go back.
October – December
The sun is setting on another beautiful autumnal day. A photo posted by Teresa Keane (@indtravhelp) on
In the final quarter of the year, I moved to Poland and finally became an expat. I’m currently living and working in a small language school, in a small town near Krakow. So far, I haven’t had much time to explore the area or indeed Poland due to my workload and the fact that we only get one day off per week, but I’m getting a regular wage, I have some stability, as well as a nice place to live, and am experiencing life in a different country.
Getting the Balance Right in 2015
Trying to get the balance right in my life seems to be main issue now and that is what I need to focus on in 2015.
Have your say
What was 2014 like for you? When you reflect on the year, what was the central theme for you? What do you want or need to focus on in 2015?