2014 Recap + 12 Things I Learned in 2014

Sunday, January 4, 2015

I know recaps are usually done in the last days of a year, but I have an excuse for not having done so. I was lazy. Yep, that's my excuse now, do you mind? Given that you don't, sit back now, grab a cup of coffee/tea/hot chocolate/whatever your cup of tea is (pun intended), and follow along the memory lane.

2014 was amazing.

I don't know if it's me, or the reality, but for the last ten-ish years I've been saying that each year is better than the one before. Which is great, if you ask me! Even those years without any travels (2007, 2008, for example) were amazing because of the new experiences, fun and loving new people, great old people. But speaking of travels, 2014 has been an absolute champion there and I just hope it wouldn't stay one!
In January I survived the worst New Year's Eve ever. To cut the story short, let's just say I left the country few days later heartbroken, angry, mad and pissed off. Oh, and hateful. I don't remember ever having felt hatred before that, as I strongly believe it's a terrible waste of energy, but boy, this was strong. But only for a couple of days. It turned out it's not my style indeed, and two spontaneous shopping sprees also helped (I'm so embarrassed when I remember now how much money I had spent). I came to terms with my life in Finland. Everything was just so... I don't know, nice. I was in peace. Even more, I became happy. How much can life change in 30 days, huh?

Lesson learned: heartbreak is real, but dealing with it is mostly a matter of choice. 

In February I traveled to far north of Norway, only to discover it's not much colder than where I lived in Finland. Who would've thought! I visited Helsinki two more times, my sister visited me, and I had bunch of last experiences in Finland. I'd say my fav one was the weekend spent in a cottage in the nature. We did some ice fishing, enjoyed sauna, drank beer. Oh gosh, I miss the sauna. I also left Finland, feeling incredibly sad. It was my first foreign country and I developed a deep, deep crush. I thought I'd be missing it for ages. But when you move to Berlin, wherever you come from, it takes you over! That's what happened to me.

Lesson learned: be nice to people even when they're not nice to you. But if they're really not nice, you don't have to be either. 

In March I visited my aunt and uncle in Zurich, traveled home totally unexpectedly (back in January I thought I'd be coming back in August or September) and loved every part of it (click; click). I visited Max Planck Institute in Leipzig and came home so inspired. Then at the end of the month I traveled to Brussels to meet 11 of my friends from Serbia (click; click), who are now actually living all around Europe. We should do something similar in Amsterdam this year, and you can't imagine how happy it makes me!

Lesson learned: if you want to explore while traveling, don't go in a large group. It'll take you forever to move. Big groups are so much fun, but if you prefer sightseeing, consider going alone or with one-two-three friends.

Only a few days later, in April, I traveled to Paris to meet some other friends, again from Serbia, living in Paris, Spain and Czech Republic. Again I had an amazing weekend (click; click). I truly have the best friends. My lectures at the University of Potsdam started in April, as well as my German class. I was truly exhausted from the travels - I'd never have thought so earlier, but unpacking and packing every few days indeed is very tiring. Luckily I always traveled for pleasure, so it helped. :)

Lesson learned: packing three hours before taking off. I don't recommend doing it, but it's a good life skill. Also, have a backup Starbucks name if you don't want to get annoyed every time you want to have a coffee in a foreign country.

It didn't last too long, so after some time in May I started to feel the travel itch again. I scratched it by catching a bus to Bavaria, to visit one of my dearest friends and an ex-roomate, Erna. I published my first (and so far the last) recipe on the blog. It was a hard time for my country and region, as severe floods left hundreds of people homeless.

Lesson learned: online activism can really, really work. This may sound pretentious, but me and a bunch of other people on Serbian Twitter saved lives. 

In June I traveled to Warsaw to see Florence and the Machine concert (click; click), and it was amazing, probably the best concert I ever attended! She's so beautiful and full of energy! I also attended Lana Del Rey one in Berlin with a friend, and to my complete amazement she could actually sing, and she did it very good! Erna visited me in Potsdam/Berlin, and we had a lovely weekend (click), plus we attended the wonderful and great Berlin Pride Parade (click). I started going to Berlin more often. Every time I would fall more and more in love with the city (clickclick; click). I also started doing yoga and loved it. Looking forward to finding a slot in my schedule to start doing it again.

Lesson learned: music, travel and friends is all that's needed for a happy life. Unfortunately, everything's easier with money. Not friends though, and that's awesome.

In July my classes ended, summer was officially there... weeell, just officially - it was the coldest summer of my life. I went back home (click) for two weeks, and realized it's too short of a break. :)

Lesson learned: living abroad is great, but seeing friends, family and my cities once in a while is the necessary spice of that kind of life.

In August I came back to Germany to attend Scientific Writing class and discover more of Berlin (click; click; click; click; click) before I move on. I booked a ticket to Italy and started making plans for my first solo travel ever. I was beyond excited. Maybe a bit scared - no, scared is too harsh of a word - nervous is better - but definitely excited. I wrote about traveling on a budget here on the blog, and at the time that post was quite successful, you loved reading about it. I know, we all share love for travels, right? I also tried currywurst. What can I say except can't wait to have it again.

Lesson learned: don't despise food before having tried it. And do try it, no matter what it looks like.

In September I visited the German shore of the Baltic Sea on a short day trip (click), packed half of my belongings into one suitcase, and the other half into another one that would go with me. I traveled to Naples (click), Rome (click), Florence (click), Venice (click; click) and Milan. I also visited a bunch of small towns somewhere in between, and I'll write about them here on the blog... eventually. I had an amazing time in Italy. That trip was everything I'd wished for. I learned so much about myself. I'll also share that once in a separate post. In case you wonder whether you should take the plunge and travel somewhere solo, YES, do it! I celebrated my birthday alone in Milan and had time to think about what I want to achieve in the next few years. And then I moved to the Netherlands on the last day of the month.

Lesson learned: no matter how far you go, you can't run away from yourself. 

October was a hectic period because I was chasing a place to live and attended intensive courses at the university. I met some amazing people who made me feel like home in Groningen. But everything slowed down and then I enjoyed the routine that I lacked so much in Italy. I also had my first Thanksgiving dinner ever. I know this holiday isn't about food, but ooooh my good the food!!! It was so delicious!

Lesson learned: it is true that friends are those who are with you when times are hard, not only when you're having fun. And offering food.

November was pretty calm, if we count out the work overload for uni. In November I also visited Amsterdam for the first time and met my old friend from high school who's been living there for almost 10 years. Amsterdam is a beauty!! I fell head over heals for the city and it's number 2 on my Most-Beautiful-Cities-in-Europe list. I wouldn't mind living there at all, there's something magical about that architecture and canals. Only I would have to be more careful, for I almost got killed by a bike. Not joking.

Lesson learned: look left before crossing the road.

December doesn't even feel like something distant - I mean, hey, few days ago it was the present. In December I counted the days to my flight back home. And I've been feeling loved ever since I landed. I must've been a real nice person in a previous life, cause I don't know what I've done in this one to deserve such wonderful people around me.

Lesson learned: expectation is the root of all heartache (William Shakespeare).

The overall feeling about 2014: I love it, because I'm loved. I love it and everything about it. I think I've grown a bit. I think I started talking to my inner self. I discovered or re-discovered my passions. I know what makes me happy, and in the future I can only try to walk that path. We'll see what 2015 has in store for me. I hope it's something good!

What was your 2014 like?

Love, Tihana

P.S. Reflecting on 2013 & My favs in 2014.

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