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2015 blessings

Happy New Year everyone!

This post is going up at exactly 0.00 Central European Time, which means that when you read this it is the new year in my timezone and hopefully in your timezone as well and if it's not then I hope you enjoy your last few hours of 2015.

At the beginning of 2015 I thought nothing could top 2014. After the amazing year I had in 2014, I thought for sure things would go wrong in 2015. But 2015 has proven me wrong. It has been a fabulous year and I have been very lucky.

This year has marked the beginning of this blog, back in March. I had a blog before this one, Rainy London, but I wasn't satisfied with it anymore and wanted to start completely over. I have to be honest though, it has been quite difficult for me to blog consistently over the past year. Whenever I've been busy with uni work or just general life stuff, I have been known to let this blog slip. I'm actually quite sad about that, because so many happy memories are left uncaptured. They will be forever in my heart however. Because I've been on some awesome adventures in the past year that haven't been documented properly on here, I thought I would share a few of them in this post.

Obviously I have had some low points during the past year along with the highlights, where I haven't felt confident and lonely at times. But you should always count your blessings and the bad things will last shorter than the memories of the good things. Overall it has been a good year for me.

I do want to also address that even though it has been a good year for me, a lot of bad things have happened in the world that I think have all touched us very close to our hearts. In this light I'm thinking about the refugee crisis that the EU has had to deal with and the attacks on Paris. I really hope that 2016 will be a better year, where we can all respect each other and live peacefully.

Ok I've rambled more than enough now. Here are my highlights and blessings from 2015:

The many adventures I've been on
This year has definitely been about traveling. My travels started in February when I visited London for a few days with my best friend. We had a wander around Tate Modern, had a gigantic pizza at Homeslice and had a little look around Borough Market. I was also lucky enough to visit Saint Petersburg in April. It was one of the most special trips I've been on. We went on an exchange and we got to stay at the homes of local people and some Russian students showed us the city. It was all really special, especially since the culture is totally different from Europe. I would really like to go into more detail, but I suppose that is better saved for another time. I also went interrailing over the summer and visited North-West Engeland just before that as part of my major program. Last but not least I also spent Christmas abroad, skiing in Austria.

Visiting Saint Petersburg
Like I said before, this is one of the most special trips I've been on in my life. I loved that I got to see the city from a local perspective and got to know the Russian culture a bit more. Apart from visiting the many highlights that the city of Saint Petersburg has to offer, we also spent a few days in the countryside. That was an experience in itself. I didn't think the countryside would be so poor, but it was. The roads had holes in them and the houses were very shabby with fences around them. Everyone there had German Shepherds to protect their houses as well. But even if they were poor, they were still so generous and put up with having 14 people over for a sleepover and also gave us tons of food. Even if Russia sometimes gave me chills (it is hardly allowed to talk about politics at all and the language is something of it's own. Also police officers and military there are SCARY!) the people there were one of the nicest I have ever met.

Interrailing across Europe over the summer
Another trip that will always have a special place in my heart is the trip where me and my friend spent two weeks in July traveling across Europe. I actually shared most of that trip on here. You can read about it in this postherehere and here. In consecutive order we visited Heidelberg, Basel, Lugano, Como, Genoa, Cinque Terre, Lago di Ledro, Venice, Trieste, Vienna, Budapest and lastly Prague.

Moving into my own studio
I was hoping I might move to student housing this year and leave my parents home, but I never expected I would get a small studio in Utrecht. It is honestly a dream come true. I live 5 minutes away from my lectures and about 15 minutes away from the city centre. It is less expensive then a room and I get to have my own kitchen and bathroom. Obviously it gets lonely sometimes, I live completely on my own now, while so many others have roommates, but the freedom you have makes it worth it.

Growing amazing friendships
I have been so lucky to have met the most amazing friends this year. They honestly feel like they are becoming my best friends. It is so nice to be able to call them for advice and have them over for a catch up. It is nice to know that you can share everything with other girls and feel like you belong.

Doing really well in my studies

I can't even describe how much I surprised myself by how well I've been doing. I know for 100% that I have chosen the right course for me and I couldn't be more happy. I'm currently studying human geography and planning if you didn't know and absolutely loving it.

Feeling more confident in myself
I'm kind of embarrassed to say this as a twenty year old, but 2015 was the year I had my first kiss. It made me feel so much more confident. I have always secretly thought that there was something wrong with me, but it feels so much better now. I know one kiss shouldn't matter that much, but to be honest it kinda does to me.
And then two months later or so my best friend got herself a boyfriend. I was so happy for her, but also quite jealous for a while. I wanted to be desirable too you know. I have been thinking about starting up an online dating profile, but then I realized that I was perfectly happy with the way things were. Single life isn't as bad as you think. I don't need to have a guy to make me happy right now.

These are the highlights of my year, but besides that there were of course also a few small things that have made me happy and probably always will. These are blessings I will always count no matter what:

Being with family
Seeing the Theory of Everything in the cinema
Watching The Great British Bake Off
Spending time on the sofa with a good book and some tea
Chatting with your best friends and having a good laugh
Having said best friends coming over for dinner in your own apartment
A bite of your favourite chocolate
Encouraging discussions with your fellow students
Having professors believe in your abilities
And finally going back to your parents house over the weekend to enjoy all the home comforts you have missed during the week

I hope 2015 was wonderful for you and 2016 will be even better.

Once more, A very happy new year!

Merry Christmas From Austria

I can't believe it's Christmas Eve.

Tomorrow it's Christmas already. The time has gone so fast. Especially the last week. I'm actually quite sad that the festive period is almost over. It seems like every year I get more and more excited for Christmas. This might be due to the fact that I learn more and more how other countries celebrate. A few years ago I hadn't even heard of mince pies or the fact that the 26th December is called Boxing Day in the UK and that people eat turkey and pull crackers and actually eat their dinner at lunch time on Christmas Day. Does anyone else find that weird? I love all those little traditions that other countries have and try to incorporate as many of them into my December too.

And on top of that I love the traditions we have in our own country as well. Like Serious Request or the fact that we have a second christmas day on the 26th and that we do presents early in December instead of Christmas Day or that we eat oliebollen for new year's eve. All those things together make me feel more and more festive every single year.

And then every year january comes around and I am so sad it's over and I have to wait another year again.

But let's not think about that. We still have christmas and the new year to celebrate.

This year will be a special one for me and my family. It's the first time that we'll celebrate Christmas Day in another country. Normally we spend it at home or visiting family and eating way too much food. This year we will be skiing all day and then having a cosy dinner in our lovely apartment. So much better!

We are spending the week in Austria. So far, it's been amazing sunshine and snow and lots of sleeping. In fact, I'm sat here writing this post in our cosy little apartment after a long day of skiing and drinking mulled wine in the sunshine. It's the perfect way to spend this period and I wish we could do it every year. And we're about to open our christmas presents, before my Mum and I will be of to the local Christmas Eve Mass. I love it.

Tomorrow the plan is to have a nice breakfast and a generally relaxing morning. I might even watch a Christmas movie. In the afternoon we're off for our last afternoon of skiing. And then when we return we will make a big Christmas dinner. On boxing day we will be driving home and the plan is to have another christmas day at our grandparents on the 27th, because we couldn't be there on the 25th.

I hope everyone has a lovely day and if the festive period is difficult for you, then I hope you can still surround yourself with your loved ones and get through the day as best as you can.

Have a very merry christmas!

I'll catch you again in a few days, when we're home again.

I'm Off

It is so much fun to watch your vacation photo's back from years ago!

The matter of fact is that we, as a family, are off to our first christmas skiing holiday. We have been on quite a lot of skiing holidays in the past, but never at christmas. In approximately 9 hours we will get in the car and drive to Austria. As a way to celebrate this fact, I thought it would be fitting to add a few photos from skiing holidays from the past for this blog post. These pictures were taken years ago and I have very fond memories of those skiing trips. When I looked them back up, I realized that I completely forgot how stunning the Alps can be and how amazing I always found such a skiing holiday.

And we're going for a trip to the mountains since six years again today. I can't be more excited.

Since I'm off today to spend the week leading up to Christmas up high in the mountains, I thought I would do a little goodbye post and wish everyone a very happy and merry Christmas next week.

My mum is packing upstairs  right now and I'm sitting by the Christmas tree in my christmas jumper writing this post for you. I am super duper excited for the week up ahead. We've never actually been on holiday over Christmas before. It's going to be a first timer and it's going to be amazing.

I'll make sure to take lots of pictures of course. You can expect the weeks after Christmas to be full of snowy pictures of mountains. If it's going to be as amazing as my memories of past skiing holidays are, then it's going to be the best time I've had in a really long time.

I have two posts scheduled for next week, but goodbye for now and a very merry and happy christmas to all of you.

Personal Challenge: Finding my blogging voice

On January first I'm going to set myself a challenge. It's not a New Year's resolution, even if it's based on one, because I can never keep my new year's resolutions.

No, this challenge is a thirty day challenge and the only effort it takes is for me to sit down at my computer and write on my blog every day. It can be about anything and everything I want as long as it serves the purpose of finding my voice and place in this world. The thing I write might be as long as a tweet, or might be an entire letter, it may contain pictures or won't contain pictures. It's about anything I fancy writing about.

In the blogging world, as of late, many established bloggers have been talking about the future of blogging. Michelle, Hannah, Katie are a few examples. These bloggers have all been blogging for years. They have found their feet in the blogging world and have become successful.  Especially Michelle and Hannah struck a cord with me in their posts about the way blogging has changed and the future it has. They both touch on the subject of blogging popularity. Blogging has become more and more professional over the years. Blogs have started to look like magazines and like Hannah said blogging has gone in a totally different direction then from where it all started. Instead of bringing real content in a way to counteract all those perfect magazines, the blogs have turned into magazines themselves. I completely agree with Hannah. I think people will start to realize that this isn't the way blogging should go and that maybe not in the next year, but sometime soon all of us will again turn in a totally different direction. Maybe even go back to the old days, where everything didn't have to be perfect.

So, where does this leave me?

While reading all these lovely blog posts, and agreeing with most of the thoughts expressed in them, the questioned that remained for me was: what exactly is it that I want? What do I want the blogging world to become and how will my blog fit in it?

And then I realized that I don't have a clue what I'm doing with my blog right now. I need to create some kind of structure for myself, which I have never created before, because of my lack of trying. I have never tried to find my blogging voice, never tried to find something that I'm happy with. All I wanted was to be like other bloggers. All I wanted was to perfectly copy what they were doing and apply their blogging style to my life. Let my just emphasis that I wanted to be like them because I adore each and every one of them, not because I wanted to be successful.

But you can't perfect anything on your first try right? That is also the reason why I've started and stopped so many blogs over the years.

I have always wanted my blog to be perfect, but that is going to change from now on. 2016 will hopefully be the year where I find myself. One of my new years resolutions is to work on myself, get healthier, think about what my goals are for the future and work on my cv and I feel like blogging is going to be part of that New Year's resolution.

The only way I feel like I can give blogging a proper change, is by just figuring it out along the way. By sharing on my blog every single day for a month and maybe even longer than that, I think it will be a learning process and it will make me a better blogger. I'm not going to worry about whether my posts will be good enough. Like my professor said today: "When you want perfection on your first try, you are never going to even start your project."

I have so many plans for this blog and I feel like I will never get down to those plans if I don't find my own blogging voice first. So that is exactly what I'm going to do.

Now I thought it would maybe be nice if others wanted to join in. Maybe we can give each other feedback and ask each other for advice. What do you think?

A Very Merry Christmas Tag

I can't believe how quickly time has gone this year. Christmas is around the corner and before we even know it, it will be 2016. We need to make the most of these few weeks we still have before Christmas day. I'm not looking forward to the bleakness of January at all.

Even though I've been massively busy lately, I've still been feeling really festive and when Celeste tagged me to do the Very Merry Christmas Tag, it came at the perfect time. As we speak, I'm writing this up on a lovely Sunday evening where I'm snuggled up under the blankets with a cup of tea and Notting Hill on tv.

Let's get the questions going then right?

1. What is your favorite thing about Christmas?
If I'm honest I love everything about Christmas, but if I have to choose one thing I think it would have to be the run up to Christmas rather than the day itself. I obviously love spending time with my family on Christmas day, but I think I love the atmosphere surrounding everything to do with Christmas more. Christmas time is just so festive and everything and everyone is so lovely. It's my favourite time of the year.

2. What is your favourite Christmas movie?

There is one movie that I have watched every single Christmas day growing up and that is Sissi. It might not be your classic christmas movie, but it's so good! If you have never watched it before, go watch it sometime this christmas season. For me, it's the perfect christmas fairytale in my opinion.

3. Real or artificial tree?

Real tree, 100%. I don't think we have ever had a fake tree in our house. When it's not a real christmas tree your putting up, then it's not really Christmas. That's my opinion anyway, it might be different for anyone else. For the smell alone, I would go for the real tree all the time.

4. Giving presents or receiving them?

I love receiving gifts of course, but the fact that you have to open them in front of your friends and family is something I don't necessarily like. I would much rather buy a really thoughtful present and watch other peoples reactions.

5. Do you open your presents Christmas morning or evening?
When I grew up, neither. We never used to receive Christmas gifts and instead would receive presents on St. Nicholas Eve, on the fifth of December. This is the birthday of Saint Nicholas, which is celebrated with gifts in the Netherlands instead of on Christmas day. But the last few years we have done small gifts as a family on Christmas Day and that is usually in the morning. So lately it's been Christmas morning, but a few years ago we wouldn't have done any presents at all.

6. What tops your tree?

I don't know what you call them in English, but in dutch we top the tree with what is called a 'Piek'. It's just your basic tree topper, those vintage ones.

7. As a child, what was the one crazy, wild, extravagant gift you always asked for but never received?

I can remember always wanting a Baby Born when I was younger and I always really wanted a lovely bed from the same brand too. I remember being so disappointed when my mum made the bed herself instead of buying a way more expensive one from the brand. But when I look back now I realize how lucky I was that my mum was so creative.

8. Handmade or bought Christmas cards?

I love receiving handmade Christmas cards, but I would never be able to make them. I'm not creative at all, so bought Christmas cards for me all the way in that perspective. That being said, I probably need to go to the shops soon to buy a few.

9. What's your favourite Christmas food?

I love me some good turkey and stuffing or maybe mince pies. It's a tie between those two I think.

10. Do you have any Christmas Eve traditions?

Yes. We don't usually do anything special with dinner, usually something light to set ourselves up for the days ahead, but we always go to the late mass at the local church.  I love that, because then when we get back it's usually already past midnight, which means it's Christmas and we start the day with hot chocolates before going to bed. This year we won't get to do that, because I'll be on holiday for the first time ever.

I hope you liked reading my answers to these questions. 
Thank you so much to Celeste for tagging me.

I'd like to tag Be, Courteney and Alice
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