Dear 2017, we’ve had fun together. You’ve been one of those years where everything worked out really well in the end. You’ve given me lots of changes to deal with, allowed me to reach personal and professional goals and gave me some well-spent time with the people that I love. You challenged me, and your days ticking away have inspired me to challenge myself, something that I need to maintain the balance and motivation in my life and to keep things interesting while I’m watching the days of my youth pass by.
I’ve worked hard in a job that provided me with (almost) everything I’m looking for in an employment. This year I won my first architectural competition as part of a talented design team at OMGEVING, completed my two-year internship to become a licensed architect and saw the end result of a project that ran for 18 months. Professionally speaking 2017 was incredible. Making tiramisu for 50 people as a way to say goodbye to all my colleagues was a small price to pay for 2,5 fantastic years as part of this group of beautiful people. Nobody will ever take that first work experience away from me.
Training for and completing my first ever marathon was something that I’ll never forget. People, 8 practice runs in 8 weeks is not enough to run 42km! Unless you want to stumble over the finish line like me, gasping for air and with awkwardly twitching legs that scream for a massage. I’m looking forward to properly train next time… Antwerp marathon, I’ll be back!
From spending time with friends snowboarding in the French Alps, weekly Tuesday evening Portuguese classes, watching and meeting our favourite football team in Manchester with the lads and enjoying long sunny weekends in Rotterdam and Hamburg (including wedding proposals, barbecue pizzas and Brazilian models) to being the best man at my beautiful sister’s wedding, 2017 had it all. And on top of that an invitation for a wedding of Erasmus friends in Helsinki proved to be a good enough excuse to go on an adventure in the Scandinavian wilderness for a month, an awe-inspiring journey that showed me the goodness of random people, the omnipresent beauty of nature and the positive effects of (hitch)hiking hundreds of kilometres alone on my physical and mental well-being. Only to be back home in time for Pukkelpop. Because well, Pukkelpop.
These last few months
Last but not least, 2017 was the year I finally mustered up the courage to follow a dream and leave everything behind in search of adventure and to satisfy my curiosity to unravel everything our world has to offer.
I’m 3,5 months into my big trip. Some of the best things I’ve experienced so far were hiking in the Italian Dolomites, exploring fascinating Albania, volunteering on an organic olive farm in Greece. Floating in a balloon over Cappadocia during sunrise. Crossing borders from Turkey to Iran. Meeting the first familiar faces after 7 weeks on the road. Taking time to properly discover friendly Iran after spending only a week here in 2011. Flying to Abu Dhabi, visiting Dubai and the tallest human-built structure in the world. Discovering fascinating Singapore. Relaxing on Malaysian beaches. Spending my first ever Christmas away from home with a Thai beach barbecue in 30 degree weather.
Grateful as I am for my experiences during the past year I’m already looking forward to make 2018 at least as interesting. I don’t really like New Years resolutions, so I’ve just written down a few things I look forward to in 2018:
– Stretch my money as far as possible to see how long this nomadic lifestyle stays interesting
– Do a 10 day Vipassana meditation retreat somewhere in Asia
– Cheer for Belgium during the world cup in Russia (in Russia…?)
– Keep working on my storytelling and photography through this blog
– Walk across Iceland (travel companions wanted, but first read this)
I’ve recently reached day 115 on the road. For those of you that have lost track of my journey due to my long and descriptive style of writing, chaotic promotion strategies or just the fact that I’m 3 months behind with my diary, here’s a small overview of the countries I passed through so far:
– United Arab Emirates
After 3+ months of travel I’ve finally come to terms with the fact that I can’t keep up with writing at the same pace at which I’m traveling. For that reason I’ve decided to slightly change the way I tell my stories. From now on I’ll try to give a general post in which I describe my plans for the next month or country, to elaborate on that in follow-up posts if I find the time and motivation to write. Stay tuned! Myanmar up next!