A few weeks ago, I had my first visitors since moving to Dublin. A few truly great travel friends that I met during a few years ago while studying abroad in London. We all had similar interests, different and similar majors, and hit it off instantly. We started traveling together while we were in London and here we are two years later and two reunion trips all together to mark each year. To celebrate our two years of friendship and travels, I thought this post would feel a bit more special if I shared some of those memories with you.
The Beginning – London 2016
We all met - literally - in the Heathrow Airport in London on the first day of our study abroad. We were all studying abroad through the same company, CIS Abroad, and were in the same program. We started our daily adventures around London almost immediately, even with our horrible jet lag.
Our top goal we set for ourselves while living in London was to get out every day and explore the city as much as possible; even if it was just to go for a short walk. We never wanted to feel like we were wasting any time or not taking advantage of the incredible opportunity that we had. Weekdays became days designated to exploring London and the weekends were designated to exploring England and the rest of Europe. With major airports and train stations it was incredibly easy to plan weekend trips at the last minute and to jam pack every weekend with mini adventures.
Year One – New Orleans 2017
Well, what can we say. One year later, one friend had already graduated and the rest of us were finishing up, getting ready to toss our grad caps up, and get ready for the “real” world. We had been trying for months to meet up, plan a reunion ANYWHERE, but it just never seemed to work out with four different work, school, and life schedules. Once we could all finally agree on a set date and destination were finally ready to roll and on our way to New Orleans! Our trip fell along roughly the one-year mark since we last saw each other in London, so it was a crazy time to be together in New Orleans. It also just happened to be all of our spring breaks and St. Patrick’s Day, so talk about a crazy time to be in New Orleans.
We spent about a week together in New Orleans with Kelly as our designated tour guide. The week was filled with beignets, beads, and little too much booze. We all had one of those bonding moments of the realization that no matter if we don’t get to see each other that often, we have one of those friendships where we can be reunited for one day and it feels like no time has passed. On our last night together, we made a pact that no matter what we were doing in our lives or how chaotic and busy we were, we would all meet up at least once a year.
Year Two – Dublin and London 2018
So fast forward one year now and here I am living in Dublin. How is that for life changing events? Because I have some of the most amazing travel friends, they did not hesitate at all this year to come to Dublin to visit and then take a little hop over to London to reminisce. It was a little complicated working around four work, school, PTO, and holiday time schedules but we made it work. We made our annual trip a little later this year so everyone could spend as much time abroad as possible.
Our week was nonstop from the moment everyone arrived till the last one left. We toured Dublin by bus, did a day trip to Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland, and didn’t sleep the night before we jetted off to London. While we all were really excited to explore Dublin together, I think we were all bit more excited to be going to London, to be honest. It was the place we all met, was the place we all called home for six months, and the place we have all missed dearly for the last two years. I don’t think any of us thought we would get to go back so soon, let alone together!
While it breaks my heart that I don’t get to see these amazing ladies all day every day, I know that they are there whenever I need them and whenever an adventure calls. And those are the best kind of friendships to have.
xx, A Traveler's Bliss | Grace Anne
*screaming internally from behind my laptop*
Finally. This has been a project in the works for quite some time now – a lot of heartache, planning, and hoping – that this would all finally work out and now that it is official I am so excited to share it with everyone. I would like to apologize for keeping on the down-low and being so secretive for so long, but with a life change this big I didn’t want to make too many waves if it didn’t work out. Plus, I have to admit, there was a tiny part of me the entire time that was completely terrified it wouldn’t work out and nothing would have made me sadder than to tell everyone the dream did not come true. But as the title so happily exclaimed, I will be moving to Ireland next month (more screaming).
You probably have a lot of questions by now. Like why Ireland? What prompted me to move abroad? How long are you going for? Do you know anybody there? Why now? What are you going to be doing? Guy, - hakuna matata.
A couple of months ago, I was really struggling; I had a commissioned photography job right after graduation and after it ended it was hard to stay positive and on my feet. No matter how many photography jobs I applied for, none of them seemed to be the one as the silence or rejection letters can rolling back in. Now some of you are probably like “That’s normal,” or “That’s not such a big deal your right out of college,” trust me, I’ve heard it all and said it a million times myself, but it still didn’t sound true in my head. I felt like I wasn’t making opportunities but was waiting around for them, feeling trapped by my situation and everything was beginning to feel out of my control. After beating myself up a bit over it, I decided I needed to change my approach, my mindset, and create opportunities for myself. Back in October, I started looking at opportunities to work or volunteer abroad. Nowhere in particular, but I just needed to get active and get moving around with my camera.
I didn’t really know what I was looking for at the time, I was just on a mission to find an experience or an opportunity to try and learn something new and hopefully be able to do photography at the same time. After a few weeks of research, I discovered a program, BUNAC and their program to work in Ireland for a year. BUNAC is a program for students or young adults a year out of college that helps them get their visa, jobs, and basically get started in another country when they move abroad for a year. They have programs in a few places around the world and are based out of the UK with a center in the US, as well. After a while, it just made sense. I’ve never made it to Ireland when I was studying abroad in London, and if I’m living in Ireland I’ll be so close to London I can go back anytime.
While I spent a lot of time researching until I was positive it was the right choice for me, I didn’t actually decide to apply or begin the process of applying until January. In January, I applied through BUNAC and began the Irish Working Holiday Application (WHA) process to get my visa and began to plan the possible move to Ireland. It took a few days to sort out all of the information, fill out all of the forms, pay the fees (ugh, money.), but the worst part was the waiting. After I sent my documents to the Irish Consulate in Chicago it was about a 4-8 week waiting period for Stage One of the visa to be completed. At times, the weeks seemed to drag on and on and then, almost instantly, it felt like two weeks had gone by and still no news. I did not handle the anticipation or the endless agony of not knowing well.
But if I had any patience, I wouldn’t have minded the knowing wait. Eventually, I received my confirmation for my Stage One application and went to Chicago shortly after to complete Stage Two to get my working holiday visa.
Now trust me, in writing this sounds like this was a walk in the park but this is me we are talking about so trust me guys, something went wrong on every step. I had some issues on step one and had to resend some forms (so that delayed Stage One a bit) and when I went to Chicago my travel health insurance just wasn’t quite detailed enough (of course). I had to coordinated with BUNAC and the health insurance provider to get addition information to fulfil Stage Two requirements for the visa (the stress level while I was in Chicago was beyond high. Thank god for good friends and scoring some cheap Hamilton tickets to keep me going). In the end, everything came together.
My visa is good for a year so I am planning on living in Ireland for the entire year. If something goes wrong, emergency, etc., then the plan will change. I am going to be coordinating with the Dublin team through BUNAC to find a place to live and a job (probably something in the hospitality industry but you never know I might be able to find something in the photography industry). And ultimately, I will be doing a lot of photography, you can count on that.
So ultimately, I will be packing my bags taking off next month. Hopefully I will have the apartment and job somewhat sorted out before I get to Ireland (that is the current goal), but I am kinda going with the flow right now and I hope you all will join me for it.
My inbox is always open so feel free to send some love, tips for Ireland (still prepping), and any questions I can answer.
xx A Traveler's Bliss | Grace Anne
After a few stressful weeks of finals, graduation (woop whoop!) and moving back to Michigan, I have finally set some time aside to set up an official shop for my photography. After doing a little research, I decide the best option was to do a shop through Society6 to have the best section for my prints and other options for printing, as well. I put a like for the shop on the home bar at the top of the page as well as on my photography website. Currently, there is a selection of photography from Europe, Australia, and North America in my shop for sale. I do not have all of my photography upload yet, since it is still a work in progress, but feel free to send a message if you see a photography on my instagram or website that you would love to have and I will arrange for it to be in the shop! Down below is a preview of what the shop looks like and just a few of the pieces that are available for purchase.
A Traveler's Bliss
Big Ben Hiding Behind Parliament
Less than three weeks left of the semester, senior year, and college itself. Hard to believe it is finally coming to and end and it will be another new beginning. It had me thinking about how last year at this time was another ending, the end of my semester abroad in London, and how looking back one year later has made me realize a few lessons I have learned from my experienced. Some I knew in the moment when I was in London, and others I had to think about how they have subtly just become part of my daily routine. The top ten things I have learned while studying abroad are...
1. GETTING LOST ISN’T A BAD THING
I learned the most amazing thing about myself is that I love getting lost. I love the feeling of getting lost in a new city, wandering around for hours until I know the streets like the back of my hand and found all of the hidden gems you never see in city tour book.
2. TIME FLIES
Time flies by faster than you realize, and one thing I learned about time is not to take a moment for granted. Even on a day where the weather may seem crappy and cold, or I may not be feeling all that great, get up and go out because the moment will be over before you know it.
3. MAKE MISTAKES
Sometimes the best way to learn is by making mistakes. They are the hardest lessons to learn but the ones you never forget because in the end, they are the ones that help you grow the most.
4. TIME MANAGEMENT SKILLS
I think one of the hardest decisions I had to make while studying abroad was when I was planning out all of the destinations I wanted to go on weekend trips/day trips and coming down to the final decision of where I could go and couldn’t based on time and finances. It was probably the most heart breaking decisions ever and looking back, I think I could have managed my time a bit better and fit more in.
5. “IF IT SCARES YOU IT MIGHT BE A GOOD THING TO TRY”
Take risks even when the odds are against you and feats seem terrifying. You know, it’s when you have that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach telling you to run like hell? That is when you will either make the mistakes worth learning from or make the greatest decision of your life.
6. COMPRIMISE, DON’T SACRIFICE
Sometimes it easy to get overwhelmed, especially when traveling with multiple people, and everyone has different opinions of what they want to see and do. I always had this constant fear that with so many people and so many different needs to meet we might not get to everything and I would have this feeling of remorse left at the end of the day for not seeing everything. Negotiate. Compromise so you don’t have to sacrifice time or opportunities during your travels or and other opportunities in life.
7. BE TRAVEL SAVVY. ALWAYS.
Seems cliché, but it is probably become my philosophy in life now. Always be travel savvy. Don’t over pack because you never wear half of it anyway, don’t waste money on things you don’t need but rather save it for experiences, start your days early, expect the unexpected (because rarely do things ever go according to plan no matter how hard I try), and photograph everything.
8. YOU KNOW MORE PEOPLE THAN YOU THINK
One very important thing I learned, from a very unfortunate event in Paris, is you know more people than you think you do. Whether you are in a crisis and need help or just looking for someone to reminisce over homesickness, that someone is not too far away.
9. NO REGRETS
It’s sounds intense and maybe even impossible, but that is probably one of the most valuable things I have taken out of studying abroad. Have no regrets. The concept can get a little tangled at times but to me the idea of ‘no regrets’ simply comes down to at one point every decision was made I either thought it was the best choice or I knew it wasn’t and I did it anyway.
I think the last and most important thing I learned from studying abroad was to hustle. To hustle and work hard for what you want. Whether it is traveling every weekend with friends or getting out everyday to build my portfolio it takes dedication, work, and some serious organization skills to constantly financially orchestrate travel plans. But at the end of it all, it is worth it to rarely sleep, constantly be on the move, and live out of a suitcase to see the world. And the only way to do all of that is to hustle.
XX A Traveler's Bliss
What would my final edition of my Eurail Adventures series be without showcasing all we did through photography? I wanted to go all out and post some of the highlights from each city that best represented the city and our time spent there. It is the best way for me to show an entire collection of photographs from the journey without going overboard. Cause I can. Easily. If you have been following along with me on Instagram this week, you've probably noticed by now that I have been posting a photo a day from each city that we visited along the Eurail. Feeling the nostalgia is sadly part of coming home from any great adventure, but going through old pictures, reunions and connecting up with travel friends, and always talking about more travel is part of keeping the wanderlust alive.
I think one of the best parts about being able to look back is we can say we accomplished so much is a such a short period of time. Ten countries and sixteen cities in twenty-five days is a lot of culture and history condensed into a short amount of time. There were some days we felt rushed through a city and others we felt like we had time to take everything in and enjoy the moment. By the end we all felt the experience left us with an overall concept of which cities we knew we needed to return to and spend more time exploring, and others we felt just didn't leave that lasting impression on us and we would rather see another part of the country.
Overall, even with every struggle and the packed schedule, the low moments could not even begin to match the highlights: getting on our first train to begin our journey, climbing to the top of the Astronomical Tower, lounging in the Baths of Budapest, singing in the hills of Salzburg, eating gelato for breakfast, wearing a bright yellow rain coat so I could never get lost, and watching a sunset in Lisbon while listening to the sounds of the city.
These are the little things that make everything worth it, especially when you get to share the memories.
Prague, Czech Republic
Vienna & Salzburg, Austria
Monte Carlo, Monaco
Barcelona & Madrid, Spain
xx A Traveler's Bliss
(hey - hey you. click the bliss above... do it.)