I decided to call an end to my gap year, as I’m starting university soooon and technically, my gap year should have ended about 4 weeks ago (around when I left last year). It’s been the most incredible year, and I’ve learned an insane amount during the past 12 months. I couldn’t be happier with how I chose to spend this year, and I feel incredibly blessed & lucky to have been able to have such crazy little adventures.
Overview: Gap Year
Total Kilometers Traveled: 109,066 km
In the air (by plane): 94550 km
In the sea (by boat): 3988 km
On the tracks (by train): 7666 km
On the road (by car/bus): 2364 km
On foot (trekking/hiking): 498 km
Times at Changi: 18
Days on the Road: 190
52% of the year!!
Countries Covered: 21
Blog Posts : 53
(to be fair, I didn’t start this site until Vietnam)
The Behind the Screen
Starting this blog was actually my mother’s idea, in response to people asking where I was, including herself. This travel blog completely started as a way for me to just let close friends and family know where I was, that I was safe, and what I was up to.
At first, taking photos was awkward and writing sounded very forced and uncomfortable, but I stuck with it. As I continued to travel and write, I became a little more invested in the blog, and now, it’s my thing. The content has been all over the place, mainly “destination-day-by-day” posts, but there’s also been a little bit of growing up and other random stuff thrown in here too. The quality of my content has been on a wild rollercoaster; I started out quite pleased with my posts, but as I continued to travel and have adventures, I became really busy and so enthralled with my own life (which sounds sosoSO pretentious and self-absorbed I KNOW but I was just trying to be present and not living through a screen), and as a result, my blog posts had been pretty awful, full of typos and super generic words, like “nice” and “cool.” I think they sounded better in the moment of writing, but as I’ve matured a bit and started to read/write more, I now find that the writing was just AWFUL.
I’m trying incredibly hard to put a much larger effort into what I post now, both in quality and content. My posting schedule had been all over the place, but as of last week, I have decided to post on Mondays and Fridays. A little scheduling was much needed 🙂
The past year has shaped me into a completely different person from who I was prior to it. I won’t get into specifics, as I’ll be writing about this a bit later (read it here!), but just trust I’ve changed and that I’ve matured (slightly). I’ve also gained and lost friendships as I meet new people and drift away from others. It was an incredibly transitional time for everyone in my life, and as a result, a lot has happened and changed, and there are definitely pros and cons to it, but I just buzzed along one day at a time, trying to be as present and “in-the-moment” as possible.
I also got back into fencing, a big change! After moving to Singapore and pretty much quitting foil (out of sadness & bitterness), I met a boy who actually fenced himself, and he asked me to fence at his club, so I did – even though it was an epee club. I ended up falling in love with it and the people there, so I started training pretty regularly again. Unfortunately, now that I’m working, fencing has taken a bit of a backseat again, but I’m trying to get back into it one more time!
This entire year was a highlight, but there are quite a few moments in particular that stand out as being some of the most spectacular moments of my life. Here they are in chronological order.
The first would probably have to be in Singapore, when Cam and I were at the top of the Fullerton Bay Hotel. We were celebrating SG50 and standing together, watching the fireworks light up the bay in bursts of red. We were surrounded by wonderful chattering and such a positive vibe, and it made me realize exactly how lucky I was to have not only Cam by my side as a wonderful friend and travel companion, but also how incredible Singapore is. It was in this moment that I realised that Singapore has opened the doors to billions of different opportunities and that I am so fortunate to be living in such a magical little place.
This isn’t just one moment, but in Austria and Switzerland, I was my healthiest self! I ate tons of fresh fruit and veggies, I worked out twice a day every day, I was the happiest I had been up until that moment. It wasn’t a “movie magic” kind of moment or an epiphany of any sort, but I was incredibly happy with my mental, physical, and spiritual health, especially after all of those had been a lot worse the year prior.
Reuniting with Gabby and Jazi is a major highlight. I don’t necessarily like drifting apart, but it’s inevitable when living overseas, so reuniting and becoming close again was wonderful. It’s hard to explain why it means so much to me; it just felt right.
Gabby and Jazi made my time in Vietnam and Australia/SEA, respectively, absolutely & completely unique from the rest of my travels. I would not have had the same kind of trip without them, and I only have the fondest memories to look back on.
Making it to Everest Base Camp with my wonderful mother is a definite highlight. That entire trip was the most incredible thing I’ve experienced. The people we met and became friends with are all so unique and amazing, and being able to do what I had wanted to do since I was just 12 years old surrounded by them was everything I could’ve asked for and more. In Nepal, on that trek, I became much more spiritually aware of my surroundings, I learned a bunch about myself and the mountains, and I got to appreciate the most beautiful views I had ever seen, all whilst with the most important woman in my life.
Chiang Mai and Pai. Filled with the most wonderful people, and do I really need any other reason to put this on my highlight list?
Clearly EBC had turned me into a little bit of a mountain girl. I had to return to Nepal for the Annapurna Circuit and Sanctuary treks, and those 30 days trekking were compiled into a highlight in itself. There are two moments that I REALLY highlight as perfect moments. The first was when I had made it to Annapurna Base Camp and woke up to watch the sunrise. I was once again surrounded with wonderful people that I had just met and we huddled in shared sleeping bags and drank tea together and it was just such a lovely time. This is really odd, but I felt really at home, which just further enhanced how incredible it was. I could not have been more elated in that moment.
The second Annapurna highlight was after we had completed both treks, in Pokhara. Nathaniel and I paddled a canoe out into the lake, even though the storm was trailing in, and then decided to jump in the water. Just sitting out in the middle of the lake, surrounded by wonderful company and just enjoying life, was a definite highlight. Right there, I became so thankful for every breath of fresh air, for all the experiences I had been given, for absolutely everything. It was humbling being surrounded by the lake and the mountains, and again, I felt so at home. I honestly feel as if I left a piece of myself in Nepal.
The Next Adventure
Even though the gap year is over, the explorations are not (& never will be)! Currently I’m still interning, loving all of the learning and real-world experiences I’m being exposed to, but I’ve also got a couple travels coming up! Come August, I’ll be leaving Singapore and heading to Europe on my way to university! You’ll be hearing more about that later so I won’t tell you guys everything just yet.
Thank you guys again for following me along my gap year, much love xx