Girl vs Globe: 2014 in Retrospect

This is it! Today is the last day of 2014 and I am just sitting here in my PJs, thinking what the actual hell. What a year! 

I don’t like the word “life-changing”. It feels too hyperbolical, too full of itself. But I struggle to find a word that would describe this year better. I founded this blog less than a year ago and I am amazed by how fast it has grown, how many of you come here to listen to me rant about my life and how much it has altered my understanding of what life is… or at least can be.

Without getting too sentimental, I just want to take this moment to take the time to thank you. Yes, you specifically. You are the reason I spend countless hours in front of my laptop, furiously typing up stories, editing photos or cutting videos. You are the reason I push myself to step outside my comfort zone and to be the best me I possibly can. You are the reason I get up with a smile on my face. You are the reason I can confidently say that 2014 has been the best year of my life thus far and that 2015 will be even better.

Let’s have a look at the past twelve months and what made them so life-changing. Hold on – this will be a crazy ride.

berlin wall girl

January

I celebrated New Year’s Eve in Berlin in what is probably the worst club ever – this is especially depressing when you take into account that Berlin is widely considered one of the best party destinations in the world. Somehow my friends and I managed to locate the one place in the whole city which was both empty and suffocatingly terrible. But you know what? We made the best of a bad situation, which is how I have been trying to deal with all of my problems since then.

Despite the unfortunate club selection, the year started off as well as a year could – with me exploring a new place, surrounded by friends. Berlin proved a cool city with loads of layers to uncover and it gave me lots to write about, which was incredibly important. Why? You see, I only founded this blog less than a year ago – on 7 January 2014, to be precise! Are you beginning to understand why 2014 has been so life-changing? Good, let’s continue…

Best post: Video Guide to Naschmarkt Food Market in Vienna

DSC03367-copy1

February

As the ultimate single girl, Valentine’s Day is not a day I cherish. “Do I want a serious something?” I always begin to doubt myself. Well, this year I did not. This year I had a proper meltdown, complete with lying on the frozen ground in the middle of the night. How did I get there?

After interning at RT in the fall of 2013, they decided to take me on as a permanent employee. Juggling a full-time job while also studying full time at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow was challenging, but I was determined to make it work. The fact that I was working night shifts definitely made it easier… in theory.

I was overjoyed to be working as a broadcast journalist for one of the biggest news networks in the world. “I have a great job, before even finishing my degree! I’m a statistical anomaly, a miraculous unicorn!” That’s what I should have been thinking. Instead, this was the inside of my head:      . Nothing. Emptiness. I needed sleep, I needed to slow down – but I didn’t, because I’m a fighter.

It wasn’t until that cold night on Valentine’s Day that I realised just how tired and unhappy I was. I was way beyond physical exhaustion. I couldn’t think clearly. I thought I was going crazy. When I wasn’t at work or in class, I covered my eyes with a sleeping mask and buried my head underneath a pillow – and while this sentence is not a metaphor, it might as well be.

Best post: 10 Least Romantic Valentine’s Day Destinations

morocco

March

March was just as bad. It’s a motion blur of tiredness, big chunky sweaters and explosions. Researching major international stories day by day for eight hours numbs your heart to human suffering. Oh, seven people were killed in a crazy shootout? That won’t even make the news, because twenty died in a plane crash ten minutes after. In a world of “if it bleeds, it leads”, dead fathers become civilian casualties and murdered children are numbers in a spreadsheet.

Frankly, I’m not sure what would have happened had travel not saved me from myself. You can read more about my struggles in these two months in my post about how a trip to Morocco saved my life – whether you’ve battled depression yourself or not, it should make for a pretty insightful read.

Best post: My Life as a Berber

how to be the main character of your life

April

In my depressed state, I somehow managed to make one excellent decision. I applied for a spot on the Study China Programme – a three-week culture integration course funded by the British government. I knew I needed to get away from Moscow and this seemed like the perfect opportunity. When I got my acceptance email, I felt a faint glimmer of hope which kept growing stronger until it finally blinded me in the form of intense sunshine when I got off the plane in Beijing. Sunshine – I had not seen it in months!

My month in Beijing was intense, insane and incredible. I came away with very basic knowledge of Mandarin, a crazy lung infection (but on that later), amazing new friends and a deep love of Asia. A month in Beijing further convinced me that travel and exploration were vital ingredients to finding happiness in my life.

Best post: Why I’m Terrified of Visiting My Dream Destinations

DSC_0242-copy1

May

In May, I packed my bags and waved Russia goodbye after eight months of exhausting ups and downs. Looking back, I am glad I went through it all as it’s made me a much stronger person… Despite what it might sound like, I have many fond memories of my year in Moscow – the beautiful places I explored, the amazing friends I made there and the long nights we wasted away being young and stupid.

But at the time, I could not have been happier to leave. May was a month of intense rest and recuperation, of my mother’s cooking, of staying still, of revisiting my favourite places in Vienna. It might not sound very exciting, but it felt like paradise.

Best post: 30 (Dis)Advantages of Being a Third Culture Kid and 6 Evil Foods You Should Avoid in Beijing (two, because I can be really indecisive and I like to break the rules)

DSC_0249-copy1

June

By the beginning of June, I’d regained all of my strength and I was ready to tackle the whole wide world again. I haven’t named this blog “Girl vs Globe” for nothing! The first month of summer was a traveller’s wet dream. I kicked it off by visiting my old friends in London. Seeing everyone’s faces after being gone for close to a year did me a lot of good – my life was slowly regaining some semblance of normalcy and it felt very comforting.

While I was in the UK, I also decided to explore Ireland with some new friends I made in Beijing. It was one of the most fun trips I’ve ever taken – I went rainbow hunting in Northern Ireland and took a short trip to Dublin, during which I consumed copious amounts of Guinness, listened to live Irish music and danced… too much.

After that I spent almost two weeks exploring the magical island of Santorini and catching the rays in preparation for my next adventure…

Best post: Santorini From a Bird’s Eye View

10527455_10204308600626011_7449954714881522358_n-copy1

July

…namely sailing in Croatia! This was particularly exciting because a) I was going with my friend Lyna whom I’d met in Russia and hadn’t seen in ages and b) it was my first ever comped trip! I had an amazing time in Croatia, but unfortunately I felt a little cheated by the company – you can read my full review of Sailing.hr here. It was a good wakeup call though and it truly forced me to view travel blogging as a business… and that is an invaluable lesson!

I also took a few shorter trips in July – my favourite was visiting the city of Karlovy Vary in the Czech Republic, a popular Hollywood star getaway and “Casino Royale” filming location. I felt like royalty walking around its cobbled streets!

Best post: What Happens in the Hammam Stays in the Hammam

DSC_0056-copy1

August

Ever since my return from Beijing at the beginning of May, I’d been feeling a little ill. Nothing too crazy, at least not most of the time. I just had a really bad cough and felt kind of drowsy most of the time. There was that one day in Croatia when I thought I was going to die, but I just chalked it up to a really bad hangover and seasickness.

In August I went for a medical checkup and when my blood test results came back, the doctor called me sounding absolutely horrified. “Have you been experiencing any pain?” she asked. “Hm, maybe a little,” I replied. “But I’m twenty-one now, I assumed it was ageing.” Not only was she not amused – she looked at me as though I’d gone insane. Long story short, I had contracted a very serious lung infection while in China and I ended up taking antibiotics for more than a month.

As you can imagine, August was fairly uneventful as a result – I felt extremely week and the idea of going outside – or even leaving my bed on most days – was extremely unappealing. The photo above is from one of the few times I did, a visit to the Kunst Haus Wien. I poured all of my energy into this blog. I worked eight hour days, I ate at my computer, I woke up in the middle of the night to reply to new comments. It was insane but without all that hard work, Girl vs Globe would not be where it is today!

Best post: How I Hitchhiked to France for Free with a Pimp and a Mexican

DSC_0278-2Bcopy1

September

The first half of September was exactly the same as all of August – bed, antibiotics and social media. I did take a quick trip to Pilsen, but it was all very low key. But toward the end of the month, I was faced with a daunting task – moving back to London and starting my final year of university. I was excited to see all my friends again, but was I ready?

The answer is… yes and no. Getting back into academia was not nearly as difficult as I thought it would be, but my heart was no longer in it. Sitting in lectures about political theory no longer filled me with as much excitement as it used to. I realised I didn’t want to study anymore – I wanted to work, on my own terms, without a rigid schedule imposed upon me by my department.

Although I’ve been dealing with those feelings ever since, I don’t feel discouraged – I only have a few months of university left and after that I will be able to pursue my dreams, free but with a degree from one of the best universities in the world to fall back on. I really shouldn’t be complaining!

Best post: Party Girl Guide to Split, Croatia

athens acropolis

October

October 4 marked my 21st birthday – if you’d like to take a trip down memory lane with me, check out my 20 years of travel neatly laid out in 20 photos. Celebrating my 21st birthday made me feel like I was truly becoming an adult, albeit not in the way most people understand it – I take not being an adult very seriously, which you will quickly become clear if you read my list of 99 things to do instead of growing up.

Still, I definitely felt more grown up than ever before. One of the main reasons for this was attending my first ever business conference – TBEX, a big gathering of travel bloggers and other industry specialists in Athens. It really opened my eyes to the fact that I could make a living doing what I love and inspired me to get a lot more serious about this blog. Meeting so many like-minded travellers, PR reps and business owners was overwhelming, but in the best way possible!

Best post: 10 Free Apps You Should Not Travel Without

wtm party

November

November was… crazy. I had a million university deadlines coming up and when I wasn’t doing my reading or writing essays, I was doing shifts at a call centre. And that wasn’t all – I also attended another travel conference, this time WTM in London. If TBEX was overwhelming, then WTM was pure madness. A million travel industry insiders locked trapped in a casino-like building where you could never tell what time of day it was… Interesting concept.

That said, if the conference was insane, the parties were even more so. In case you hadn’t realised by now, knowing me, most travel bloggers are absolute party animals. Spending the night in a room with several dozen extroverts with a shared passion of travel is an experience like no other and it further solidified my decision to seriously pursue travel blogging.

Best post: Naughty Guide to Winter in London

lesser known christmas markets in vienna

December

Now, December. Like I said before I am just sitting here in my PJs, thinking what the actual hell. What a year! The fireworks are going off and the year is ending with a bang, just like it deserves. The sky is lit up and so is my future, which looks as bright as the ornaments colouring the sky purple and gold. Wild. Free. Dangerous. Unexplored. And it’s almost beginning…

Best post: 5 Types of Gifts for Female Travellers

Now, please keep holding tight as I take you on the journey of a lifetime. Who shall prevail in 2015, the girl or the globe? Stick around and let’s find out together!

Photo from October was taken by the incredible Laurence of “Finding the Universe” at TBEX.

  • Here’s to more great adventures 🙂 happy new year!

    • Thanks so much Susanne! Happy new year to you too – may it be the best one yet! 🙂

  • What an exciting year! Here’s to another one just around the corner! 🙂
    Happy new year!

    • Absolutely! Happy new year to you too 😀 I feel so blessed looking back at all the highlights… What a year! Hope yours was amazing too <3

  • Sabina, love your recount!

    From your depression to your bold moves to your sickness to your boundless positive energy, you had quite the whirlwind tour.

    Bravo!

    So fun to follow your story, your blog and your brand, you young whippersnapper you LOL!

    I had a fun year. Thailand – Phuket, Chiang Mai, Pak Nam Pran Koh Lanta, then, Savusavu, Fiji and Ubud Bali.

    Fun travels and more so, I scrapped my old blog to start Blogging from Paradise, which has been such a blast.

    I admire you for doing so much at 21. You’re ahead of the curve.

    I was still futzing around at college in New Jersey, not doing much of anything.

    I kinda hit my stride in my late 30’s 🙂

    Happy New Year Sabina!

    Onward and upward!

    Ryan

    • Thanks so much for your comment Ryan! It sounds like you had an incredible year as well – and definitely hit your stride 🙂 I’m hoping to get to Asia in 2015, perhaps semi-permanently & I’d definitely love some of that beach lifestyle you write about on your blog. It’s hard work… but oh so worth it 😀

      I don’t really feel like I’m ahead of the curve – always feel like I should be doing more. But hey, that’s just my stupidly ambitious brain for you 😛 Definitely can’t wait to graduate this summer & start pursuing this full time!!!

      I hope 2015 is an incredible year for you! Here’s to more great ebooks & amazing readers 🙂

  • Wow – it all sounds like such a crazy year full of adventures and discoveries! Good for you for this successful blog, good job! Will definitely keep following this amazing journey of yours 🙂

    • Haha it definitely has been crazy & I’m so glad you’ve decided to come along for the ride 🙂 I’m sure 2015 will be even better 😀 <3

  • Mytanfeet

    It’s been fun seeing your blog grow ever since I was introduced at the beginning of the year and I’m sure it’ll grow even more in 2015. Happy New Year!

    • Thanks so much!! I’m sure yours will too – have been following your journey as well 🙂 Happy new year, may 2015 be amazing for both GvG and MTF 🙂

  • Sky Fisher

    2014 was definitely a crazy year for you! It’s amazing to see how far your blog has progressed in just the past year!

    • Thanks a lot Sky! 🙂 2014 was crazy for sure… just the way I like it hahah 🙂 I hope we both manage to progress in 2015 <3

  • What a crazy and rewarding year! Can’t wait to read more about your travels and adventures in 2015! http://nomoneywilltravel.com

    • Thanks so much Andrea! It’s been a wild year – here’s to an even wilder one 😀 Hope 2015 brings you nothing but joy as well <3

  • MaitoMike

    Hello Sabina,

    It’s been a very adventure-filled year for you! I will admit.. I am slightly envious of you. =P
    That said, I have personally nominated you for an award (see link below). Thank you for being such a great writer and inspiration in the blogging community. Don’t stop sharing with the world your adventures!

    I look forward to your content this 2015 year.

    http://chroniclesofwanderlust.com/2015/01/02/very-inspiring-blogger-award/

    Best regards,

    Michael @ The Chronicles of Wanderlust

    P.S. Happy New Year!

    • Thanks a lot for your comment Michael, as well as the nomination 😀 Just checked out your blog as a result & think it’s great 😀 Here’s to more adventures to us both in 2015!! <3

  • Wow, your year sounds so much fun! I really want to go to Morocco too. Great blog you have here 🙂
    Kind regards, Urška
    mywaysblog.wordpress.com

    • Thanks so much 😀 Morocco is AMAZING, you shoudl definitely visit if you get the chance 🙂 Have an amazing year <3

  • Foreign Geek

    I want your life! But not like SWF kinda way 🙂 Just found out your blog from Caroline of Sparkles and Crumbs and I am glad I did.

    • Hahah thanks!! Yay & now I just discovered her amazing write up thanks to you 😀 Love the blogosphere, so many amazing people here. Hope 2015 is amazing for you <3

  • Em

    What a nutty but also intrinsically motivating year – well done! Good luck with finishing up university and pursuing travel blogging – you certainly have the drive 🙂

    • Haha nutty is a great way to describe it 😀 Thanks so much – I can’t wait to see what 2015 has in store for me… or more like what I have in store for it 😛 Hope your year is incredible too <3

  • You had an eventful year! I also travelled to a few places. We would have met in Athens TBEX but I had to drop it for some reasons. Are you coming to Costa Brava? 🙂

    • Shame we didn’t get to meet in Athens Nisha! Costa Brava is still a maybe, but if it’s at all viable I will go 🙂 Are you attending?

  • Congrats Sabina on taking on the world and just making things happen! I hear people complain about life or where they’re at, but few REALLY do something about it and live the life they dream. It’s so important to be able to know when to stop, backtrack, and to pursue things that really make you happy. I too studied Politics as well for a number of years. It was perfect for me at one time in my life, but it’s not anymore. Sometimes there’s just something bigger for you out there. Great post. Happy New Year!

    http://www.thepassportlifestyle.com

    • Thanks a lot Stephanie! Yeah, it can be scary to take life into your own hands and make shit happen – but it’s always so worth it at the end 🙂 Oh that’s cool you did politics as well. I think I chose my degree well, but same as you I am done with it for now – I’m still really interested in politics of course and will continue getting involved, but only in a semi-professional capacity 🙂

  • Ilia Usmanov

    Discovered your blog abut a month ago and fell in love with your writing and your videos on Facebook. Looking forward to 2015 🙂

    • Thanks so much Ilia! Really glad you’ve been enjoying my blog 😀 I’m definitely going to put out more videos this year so stay tuned for that! 🙂

  • Damn girl, that is some year! I didn’t know you worked for RT, I’d love to hear more about that! 🙂

  • Fantastic year! Looking forward to what 2015 brings 🙂