I wasn’t sure if writing a conclusion-of-the-challenge post was kind-of cheating, but lucky for me 2012 was a leap year, so I guess I get an extra day.
It turned out that the challenge of trying something new every day and writing about it was difficult mostly for reasons I wasn’t expecting. I was thinking the hardest thing would be to get out there and find/do 365 new things, followed by the challenge of actually writing/posting about them every day. Quite the opposite, my biggest problem has been having too many things to write about.
To be fair, it was a slow start in my desk job for the first week or so, and I definitely felt I was clutching at straws for a few posts, but the goal I hoped to get out of this challenge was to ensure I got off my arse and went out and had a whole bunch of new experiences. And that I surely did! Particularly once I stepped off the plane in Denmark. I never imagined just how different the Danish/Scandinavian life and culture would be, let alone all the other places I went, food I tried and experiences I had. In the end the “problem” was that there were just so many new things in a day that I started to get quite the backlog! And so my “rules” adapted, and it became a new thing for every day. Strategies, goals and plans are meant to be flexible, right?
The other challenge, that I absolutely was anticipating, was to physically write a post every day. Most of the time I did OK, but during exams it became quite difficult and I struggled to justify spending lots of time writing posts when I had so much work to do. The spanner in the works was going to a University with some fairly “creative” approaches to administration. For instance, of last semester’s exams, I have completed and received results for three out of four. The fourth I haven’t actually sat yet. So that was way more time spent in exam periods than I anticipated! I managed to catch up eventually, though. Sometimes (generally whilst stressed about exams or really tired) it was really hard to drum up the motivation to log in and spin a yarn. And even worse, sometimes, I really wanted to write the next post but couldn’t get to the internet. I think the thing that made me really stick to it, was just how many people would tell me they enjoyed reading, or thought this post was funny or that photo was great. Without that harrietvstheworld.com would most definitely have died a slow painful death! Instead I was really floored when wordpress.com sent me a 2012 summary email, telling me I’d had over 30,000 views! Crazy! I never imagined my audience would stretch further than Mum, and maybe also Dad.
All in all I think the project has been a fantastic way to really motivate myself to say yes to things I may not have before, to make a constant effort to get out and do new things, to take tonnes more photos than I would have otherwise, to do a lot more research/reading up on places I’ve been too (can’t be printing incorrect facts or anything now, can we) and to provide a wonderful record of my travels so far. It is also going to make Ryan Gosling’s job a whole lot easier if I ever get Alzheimer’s.
However, in my opinion, the biggest impact has been that my perspective on a lot of things that I would have considered mundane or negative has totally shifted. What could have been seen as boring day-to-day chores became “new experiences” to write about. Or stressful experiences like being robbed in France or having transit disasters became a story to tell. It definitely made me appreciate the effect of deliberately having positive outlook and enjoying my surroundings vs seeing something as a drama or a stressful experience and the things around me as mundane.
Some of the highlights definitely were:
- 18 new countries
- Living with/working for 2 different Danish families
- Discovering Sudanese Falafel in Berlin
- Learning to surf at a yoga retreat in the Canary Islands
- Going to the top of the Eiffel Tower
- Driving on the “right” side of the road
- Tito’s hilarious private Island in Pula, Croatia
- Seeing the Northern Lights in Tromsø, Norway
- Paddle boating the canals of Amsterdam
- Meeting loads of amazing people, especially my fellow exchange students
And of course I’ve eaten a tonne of amazing food and have drunk a tonne of amazing drinks.
As well as focussing on the new and different, there’s a lot to be said for the old and familiar, and I had some exceptional cameo appearances from some wonderful friends, as well as a spectacular few days in Italy with Mum and Dad. Without seeing my friends (plus countless hours of skype, viber, whatsapp, emails and facebook chats), the homesickness definitely would have got the better of me long ago. Being the Chatty Cathy I am, this blog has definitely been a great outlet for me to feel like I’m back home telling stories instead of on the opposite side of the globe. And so instead of finishing up and returning home as planned, one of my favourite achievements of the year has been getting a job in Copenhagen for 2013. Part of my role there is writing the company blog, so that’s definitely been a great outcome of this challenge! I’ve also gotten a lot closer to working out what to do with my studies, and have even become a postgrad student. *Gasp.*
As for the future of the blog, there’s still a tonne of great stories and photos from 2012 (Venice, Croatia, Poland, a white Christmas in Denmark and of course relocating to Copenhagen and working out what Danish workplace culture is all about). I have really enjoyed writing the posts and collecting/uploading all my photos so this definitely isn’t the end of harrietvstheworld.com, but I am rather quite relieved that the daily post challenge is over. Think I’ll try to aim for once or twice a week from now on!
In 2013 I still have plenty of goals and ideas for my “reverse bucket list” (like a normal bucket list, except instead I just make it up as I go along). On the list so far:
- Getting a degree. Luckily I’m (hopefully) only one exam away from that
- Completing the half marathon I trained for before the blonde took over and I injured myself
- Turning my 3 month trial into a permanent contract
- The scary task of making new friends in Copenhagen
- Seeing more of the UK than Dover and the London Underground
- A cycling brewery tour in Belgium and/or the Marathon du Medoc
- Seeing more of Croatia/most any Mediterranean Island
- Be able to travel around Eastern Europe and not go nuts over how cheap everything is
- Less time at the touristy overrated places, more time at the quirky, novel places
- Recreating the amazing food I had all over Europe in my own kitchen, most especially the amazing organic/vegetarian/glutenless food I had in the Canary Islands that left me feeling so healthy
So it isn’t over, but thanks to anyone/everyone who read and encouraged and I hope maybe I’ve inspired anyone else that wants to force themselves out of their comfort zone or simply change their perspective on the day-to-day.