10 surprising facts about the Netherlands

Moving to the Netherlands over half a year ago I had certain expectations and images in my head. Most of them proved to be quite accurate: flat land, streets flooded with bikes and coffee shops selling legal weed….There were, however some things that took me absolutely by surprise. Though many of them might be due to specificity of living in a small town and being surrounded mostly by international students, I decided to share my perspective of “the Dutch life”:

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset
Typical view of Amsterdam (taken during an epic King’d day trip)
1. The weather 

When arrived in Enschede at the end of January it was surprisingly hot, nice wether…. for a week. After that it was a real rollecoaster. Sun, rain, snow, hail, heat. You could leave the house without a jacket because it was warm and sunny and get completely soaked   (and injured by hail) and freeze to death on your way back just to find the sun go out as soon as you reach your front door…

4ef49ba8-49f0-46e2-8aa7-29ee58425ce5-1
Upside to changing weather: rainbows all the time!
2.  The love of coffee

How glad was I to find out that the Dutch are the biggest coffee-drinkers in Europe? Their “koffie” might not be phenomenal (at least according to Italians), but I liked it- black, large, quite strong. What I enjoyed the most is the fact that they make a habit of taking coffee breaks. During morning lectures professors would always just announce: “coffee” and everybody just walks out to get their daily doze of caffeine. It sounds unimpressive, but you can rally notice how peculiar they are with taking time to enjoy this warm drink each day!

img_3907
Taking koffie at a local cafe
3.   It’s totally fine to have a beer at 12p.m (even on the campus)

It is acceptable drink a beer or wine basically at any time of the day. I would see couples sitting in caffees before 12 p.m during weekdays enjoying a small beer. What is even more surprising, it is ok to have a beer with lunch at campus and then go to classes. I even once saw two professors having a glass of wine at 10 a.m before the classes start – as long as you’re not drunk, it’s fine. Something that would never work in Poland.

     4.  Bike culture

I expected streets to be flooded with bikes, but I didn’t expect this. Every street has a bike lane, and on more busy streets there can even be two. On the crossings, apart from lights for cars there is a separate light allowing all bikes to cross while cars and pedestrians wait patiently. There is even separate lane on the roundabout for the bikes to ride safety. And the amount of cyclists is so huge that there can even be bike-jams during the rush hour… such a funny view. Oh, and I almost forgot to mention- humongous, multistory bike-parks. Good luck finding where you’ve parked your bike!

14d23881-8729-4efa-b17c-bd88a371247c
My beautiful Gazelle with the background flood of bikes

    5. Real Dutch don’t really smoke weed

Yes, it’s the Netherlands, yes you can buy weed legally basically everywhere… but the Dutch don’t. During my half a year in Enschede whenever I asked a Dutch person if they smoked they always answered that they have tried it once or twice, but it is mostly foreigners who do it. In fact, during my purely informative trip to a local coffee shop I have seen that it really is the case – lots of internationals, basically no locals.

6.  Pub quizes

Wherever you go, there is a bar organizing a pub quiz. And they a difficult as hell making you feel dumb. We used to go to this one place each Monday where there where serous teams playing. One of them even kept all the statistics and annoté book with all the questions and answers… but we had fun circulating around last place anyways!

img_5641
Our happy pub quiz team after winning free round of beer 😀

   7.   The trick to overly expensive train tickets

Trains are bloody expensive – a one-way trip from Enschede to Amsterdam would cost over 20€. When I first saw this I was ready to say goodbye to travelling around the country during weekends…. however, I’ve learned the best trick ever! There is something called a group ticket for groups of 4-10 people, where you don’t have to physically travel together just have a common starting point and destination. When you travel alone – there is tone of facebook groups where people gather to get the cheapest group tickets – 7€ (two-ways, if it is used the same day). Pretty cool, huh?

     8.  Pianos at train stations

Another train-related random fact. Such a simple, yet sophisticated idea. Every single train station has a piano that people actually use. When you’re in a hustle of traveling, it is always so refreshing to hear a classical melody in the background, that makes you wanna stop for a second and just appreciate the moment 🙂

     9.   Crappy food

I was convinced that the Dutch would eat very healthy, balanced diet. I couldn’t be more wrong! Yes, the supermarkets were filled with a wide rench of bio/organic products, but even more popular were ready-to eat fast dishes. All the fish and meat already pre-prepared, easier to find pancake mixture then the actual flour… and they eat sandwiches on a crappy, soft, low-quality bread all the fucking time! And toasties. How on earth do they still all look so fit?

(my slightly healthier alternative to popular sandwiches)

10.  Extremely fit people

And here is the trick: most Dutch people look really fit. Even older people have decent bodies and are in good shape. I “blame” the bikes. A sight of a 60-year-old pedaling happily away to and from a local market is completely normal. And what is more, the gym was also always filled with older people, age of your grandparents. There were even special fitness classes for seniors – such a nice idea 🙂

I hope you enjoyed this little run-down of random, surprising facts about the Netherlands. Some of those I love, some hate – but they are what made my image of this beautiful, friendly country.

Stay tuned for more posts!

xx

The miracle of low-sugar diet…

Hi!

Have you ever heard the term “white death” when it comes to sugar? Well, it got it’s name for a reason! Yeah, we all know that sugar in your morning coffee is “bad” and binging on chocolate bars is probably what keeps you from loosing those dreaded love-handles, but there is much more on the topic than you might realize.

Let me tell you a short story about my highly destructive relationship with this sweet, little, sneaky bastard. I always LOVED sweets, chocolate to be precise. It got even worse towards the end of high school/beginning of university, as it became my favorite release for stress and comfort food. I think most people can relate to it at some extend, right? Well, it gets even worse. At one point I used to hide large, 300g Oreo Milka Bars in my nightstand and snacking on it at night. They were usually gone within 2-3 days. Yes, I was an addict. At that time I stopped exercising mostly due to lack of time, I felt sluggish, suffered from headaches and had multiple health problems. As it turned out, all thanks to my lovely Candida that I stubbornly kept feeding with sugar. When I started having terrible digestion problems, including stomach cramps that left me curled up in bed with unbearable pain, I was ready to do anything to feel at least a bit better. Internet research was clear – apart from medicine prescribed by the doctor I had to go on a special diet and cut off sugar.  It wasn’t even that hard, because I just wanted the pain to stop. Guess what? After a week I started feeling normal again. After a month – I felt better than I could ever remember. Now – thanks to sticking to my diet and regular exercising – I’m a vulcan of energy, I really get sick and I’m in the best shape of my life!

IMG_5389_Fotor
be stronger than your strongest excuse!

Of course, my example is quite extreme. I can’t say everyone will have the same symptoms from having too much sugar. However, knowing how it affects our bodies I believe we all should drastically limit their sugar intake. Why? Let’s get some facts straight! Carbohydrates are our bodies main source of energy and ensuring constant blood sugar levels lets us function best throughout the entire day. Refined carbohydrates (like table sugar and other sweetness but also refined grains like bread or pasta) are quickly broke down and cause sudden increase of blood sugar. This makes us feel energetic for a short while, but later blood sugar spikes down causing a sugar crush. Not only does it make you feel bad, sleepy, heavy, but also crave more sugar, completing the vicious circle.

Low-sugar diet will make you feel more awake, happier and healthier. Not to mention that it usually comes with a side effect of weight loss. I was never overweight, but after loosing those couple kilos I couldn’t believe how comfortable can you be just sitting or walking without those awful tiny fat rolls getting in a way! For most people giving up on morning croissants, sugar in a cup of tee or dessert after dinner might sound impossible, what is more, there are also “hidden” added sugars in foods we would never imagine – ketchup, pasta sauces, flavored yoghurts… but I have some tricks that I’ll try to gather for you soon. In a meantime, my favorite of all – healthy vegan, sugar-free bars like LIFEBAR ones containing only dates, nuts and some additions like chia seeds, young barley and other deliciously healthy foods. They do contain some sugars, but are way healthier and  allow to keep the cravings under control.

Leniwa sobota z książką #loverosie #saturday #chill #nature #green #vegan #foodporn

A post shared by Paulina Wyrwas (@paullajna) on

Stay healthy, stay balanced and stay tuned for the next post!

xx

The story of how I fell in love…

This is not a story about the one who broke my heart, nor the one who keeps mending it back together. This is not a story of a secret love affair, nor a brief infatuation with a handsome stranger. This is a story of much more meaning, a story that will prove to be the one that made me and changed me for the rest of my life…

Six month ago I was trembling in fear on the thought that I was about to move to a different country, to live on my own for the very first time. I was scared of the unknown: new place, new university, new people. I was never good with changes and always struggled when I didn’t feel in control of the situation. Not having much of a choice I made a conscious decision to give it my best try to be happy here – not to close myself in a safe and cosy cocoon of my room, but just put myself out there and see what happens. As I mentioned in a latest post – the idea to “always say YES!” (https://paullajna.wordpress.com/2017/06/14/always-say-yes/) was what kept me going. I got to experience so many amazing things, see so many places and learn so much, not only about the Netherlands (post on that coming soon, so stay tuned!) but also about the world and myself…

blogenschede
views of my daily journey through breathtaking campus of University of Twente

A quick rundown of my Erasmus experience? Let’s try: 6 visited countries, 14 cities (including 6 Dutch), 1 new language (ja, Iik spreek een klein beetle Nederlands! 😀 ), 2 new ideas for future career (brain-computer interfaces and sports biomechanics – it’s good to have a broad spectrum of interests 😀 ), 2 new extracurricular activities to take up this year (salsa and pole dance, duh!). Some new dream destinations: Finland (I’v got to try kalsarikännit), Italy (with a must-stop in Verona), some more Spain (San Sebastian – I’m coming for you!), and to be completely honest – anywhere else in the world – there is just so much to see! On the topic of dream destinations… one new bet to keep (if a certain exceptionally cheerful Mexican comes to Poland I have to jump on a plain to Mexico, not that I would complain…). And most of all countless new friendships – that’s what I’ve gained. And counting the losses?…Well, there has been one pretty bad cut on a head (no stitches though, thank god), a few items of clothing left around in random bars (most of them I got back) and just a few late night journeys home vanished from the memory…. I’d say I did quite well 😀

friends
saying not goodbye but “see you soon” to this bunch of weirdos

Now it is time to go home. I’m sitting in Enschede bus station, tone of luggage in front of me, tone of memories in my heart. I look around and it feels like a perfect summary of past months – the beauty of moment, the beauty in little things. I can hear the melody someone plays on the piano at a close by train station (by the way, it’s Thursday 00:20 and someone is playing Bach in an empty train station… imagine that!). I can hear joyous chatter of people going home from late dinners… or maybe going out for some parties? It’s a student city after all – you never know! My head still full of beautiful words of goodbye I had to say to all my Erasmus friends just a few hours ago…

And in this moment I realized I’m in love. I realized that I kept falling in love each day: in love with this country, this city and all of the people who I met along. I fell in love with the world, with all of its light and darkness, with all the strangers in the street. Even more importantly, I fell in love with what I always feared the most – the unknown, the feeling of uncertainty.

my_change
one of the first vs. one of the last days of Erasmus… can you spot the difference?

The experience of Erasmus is over but it doesn’t feel finite for me. I know I’ll see most of the people again, I know I’ll keep travelling and exploring the world, I know I’ll keep being open to every opportunity that comes along. So in no way I am sad. I’m happy I got to leave all of that, I’m happy it changed me. Most of all I am happy and excited for what is coming and I can’t wait for the rest of my “new” life!

Thank you for teaching me how to love and thank you for letting me go!

xx

Always say YES!

I was sitting on a train from the Hague back to Enschede when this daunting thought came upon me: my erasmus experience is inevitably coming to an end. I have 2 more weeks until I come back to Poland… and I’m not going to waste a second of them! I will leave by the rule that stuck with me throughout past couple of months – the thing that an incredible Kick-in mentor Mark (@marcbati) told us first week of Erasmus – always say yes! And though the words might scream for inappropriate over interpretation… it was just about saying yes to all the opportunities we are given and forging them into incredible memories and experiences.

image6
Taken during first week of Erasmus

To be fair it was made quite easy, as even my exchange university does a pretty good job in inspiring people to do more – I still can’t get over those mirrors randomly spread around the buildings:

blog.oppourtunities
“More than a degree” by University of Twente

I tried to do it all: I said yes to ESN trips, salsa class (only introductory – still counts), pole dance, kangoo jumps, pub quizzes and applying to internships abroad (and was sadly declined – schedule difficulties, so technically not my fault…). I said yes to traveling on my own and flying on a plane (done it 100 times, still scares the crap out of me). I said yes to meeting new people, staying open to different cultures. The thing is, during past months I did things I was always bias to, what completely changed my way of thinking.

blog.party
Taken among of other plenty of selfies taken during our small get-togethers

As pictures suggest… I even probably said yes to Belgian beer and cheap wine one to many times… but to be honest who cares? I’m young, I’ll learn. At least I had the best time of my life drunkenly dancing and singing the night away, sometimes not noticing it was the morning already. Though I have to admit walking, or rather stumbling, back home at 6am and realizing halfway that when going to the party I was on my bike… wasn’t the best of experiences 😀

At this point a massive thank you to all of our kick-in mentors: Marc, Ece, Jaime and Sebastiaan (I wonder if you really still read my posts :P) as well as all the amazing people I met in the meantime for instantly making me feel at home and setting a tone to my stay in Enschede. It was a great one, let’s keep it up till the very end!

As always let me wrap this up with the word of wisdom: staying open to new experiences is the best thing you can do for yourself. Every thing you try leaves a mark on you, every place you visit and every person you meet shape who you become. So go out there, try everything once – life begins at the end of your comfort zone, so step out of it and LIVE!

xx

Time is yours! – a quick guide to productivity

If only there were 30 hours in a day…. fitting everything into a schedule where one deadline follows another, days of work blend into nights out and excitement of travel just won’t let you stay in one place for more than a couple days can prove to be close to impossible. There is, however, a way to meet all obligations, while maintaining a satisfying social life and not go crazy! And take it from the girl who spends unhealthy amount of time on social media – I’m not talking about limiting your precious screen time (though it could for sure be helpful). My golden rule of time management is BALANCE. How to achieve it? In no particular order here are 10 tips that I hope you will find helpful:

1.Commit to what you’re doing!

There is nothing worse than writing your physics paper WHILE biting into greasy take-away burger WHILE catching up with the Kardashians on E!… Doing one thing at the time means that the quality of work is much better and it will usually get done faster.

2. Take breaks

That being said you will not get anything done if you attempt to do it at one go. Sitting in one place for hours there is no way you will be able to focus all your attention on what you’re doing. 15min break for Facebook? 40min break for new Suits episode? .. or two… take as long as you need but…

3. Be wise

Ok, take as long breaks as you need but keep in mind that one-season-long Game of Thrones nighttime marathon does not count as “a break”. In the end it is up to you to decide where a reasonable time for rest ends and procrastination begins (you will probably notice somewhere between third snack-trip to the fridge and typing “funny cats” into your youtube search..)

4. Step back

Ok, so your breaks shouldn’t be spend only siting in front of the computer. When the work is just not going right – switch it up. Go outside, take a walk, go to the gym. Those things are as important as actual “work”.

image2_Fotor
Taken on a sunny day at my amazing University of Twente

5. Stay healthy

Everything goes better if you feel good. Make it your priority to prepare healthy, quality food that will fuel your mind and body instead of only silencing your hunger. Make sure to exercise and keep your blood flowing – it will supply oxygen to your brain and spike up your endorphins levels. You will end up happier and more productive, so time spend on being healthy is for sure not a time wasted!

6. Sleep

Ok, that is a part of staying healthy but the most important part for me. Being sleep deprived is not doing anyone any good. Not getting enough sleep will mean that you study less efficiently, can’t fully enjoy your trips and can’t give your entire attention to  friends and family. Even if you have plenty of work, don’t stay up all night! It is better to spend less time on it when you are rested – about the same amount of work will probably get  done and you will be way happier.

7. Make a list! … and don’t stick to it

time.blog

Lists are helpful way to see what you actually have to do during the day. Create time sloths for each activity and see how much time you still have left. That being said, DON’T STRESS YOURSELF OUT! The list is supposed to help you, not give you anxiety. It should be just the estimation of your time to help you keep track of how well you divide it.

8. Be realistic 

Setting yourself high goals is good, but you need to recognize that sometimes you will have to let some things go. Whether it means doing an assignment “just to pass it” instead of giving it your all, or missing out on a party because you are just too tired. An it’s totally ok! We are not robots, so don’t push yourself to always be perfect. Think about what is the worst case scenario, accept it might happen and then try giving it your best anyways 🙂

9. Live in the moment

In the world full of technology, where everyone is rushing and has somewhere important to be or something important to do it is easy to lose yourself and fail to enjoy the moment. When you go out with friends give them your undivided attention – don’t go on your phone to see if grades from latest exam are already in, don’t stress about the assignment you could be writing right now. You are HERE! As in point 1. – if you do something, do it well and give it all! It will also help you manage your time better. Make sure to always make time for friends and family because in the end they are the only thing that really matters 🙂

time3.blog
The best friends in the entire word – the ones who I’ll always have time for!

10. Recharge your batteries & don’t forget to have fun!

As I mentioned before, giving yourself a break is crucial step to high productivity, but sometimes you need a complete reset. That was part of the reason why I went to Spain recently – I knew that if I just forget about everything for a while and have fun I will come back with more energy and motivation. I missed a couple of classes and have to work extra hard right now to make it up – but I honestly don’t mind since I am well rested and ready to work 🙂 Don’t let yourself get so caught up that life passes you by..

Last word of advice? Take it easy, sit back and enjoy the ride 🙂 Learning how to keep balance between hard work, fun and rest might be hard at first but simply trust your gut and everything will fall into its place!

xx

How I stay motivated + my fitness story

I often get asked how do I find the time and motivation to workout while having a schedule jam-packed with studying, traveling and going out. The trick is simple and you’ve probably already heard it a thousand times before: being fit is not a destination, it is not a sad chore that has to get squeezed somewhere into your life – it’s a way of living! It is exactly the same as it is with eating healthy – it is not a diet, it’s a lifestyle! Stop thinking of training as a means to losing weight or getting the “perfect body”, and start treating it like a hobby that ADDITIONALLY helps you stay healthy. This way exercising becomes a natural part of your day and it is easy to manage it around.

Moving on to my fitness story: I started going to the gym regularly only last summer. After loosing some weight (result of change in eating habits) I noticed that I had no muscles whatsoever, what looked rather sad and unattractive. I found a small gym close to my house (big shoutout to City Studio in Lodz!) and decided to start slowly – only with yoga class two times a week. However, other group lessons (like body pump or shape) seemed very appealing, so I quickly gave them a try as well. When I was younger I used to do a lot of sports so I must have gotten nostalgic seeing all those sweaty people going out of the class :P. I was very lucky, as the instructors were extremely nice and professional and got me pretty much addicted to all types of group lessons my gym had offered. I had to literally force myself not to go there every day (what is a bad idea because your body definitely needs some rest!). Results came quickly – I got stronger, fitter and more toned. Most of all I started feeling much, much better! And that is what’s the most important. A good workout should leave you energized, proud and more confident.

Since going to the gym regularly (combined with low-sugar healthy diet of course), I started sleeping a lot better, waking up earlier and having more energy throughout a day. Also, I can see that my body can take much more now – like all night long, sleepless bus rides followed by all day sightseeing and going out for drinks to wrap up the day (yes, that happened in Vienna and yes, I still woke up in time for sightseeing the next day!) 😛 Not only my friends but also new people I met during Erasmus are often surprised how I still have plenty of energy at the end of a long day. The recipe is not that complicated – stay healthy, stay active and keep pushing yourself!

I am just going back from a one week long trip to Spain, where I visited two of my friends in Valencia and Barcelona. I spent my mornings taking in the sun at the beach, days rushing around the city to see all the beautiful places and evenings (usually turning into late nights) catching up and going out to enjoy some Spanish club life as well :). Among all that I still managed to fit in some exercises. Sure, normally I would be at the gym 5-6 times during the week, while here workout only twice. But count in walking around for over 20km daily, in full sun – I’d say it’s a pretty good workout as well (must be, since my calves have been killing me for a couple days now…). I even managed drag Dominika out of bed to see a sunrise followed by a HIIT and cardio session at the beach (courtesy of FitnessBlender – my favorite channel to find workout inspiration). Below you can view a my post-workout stretching in picturesque scenery of Malvarossa Beach in Valencia.

Collage_Fotor_blog

When it comes to how I train now – it’s still mostly group lessons, because that is what I find most appealing. I don’t need to spend much time on trying to figure out what exercises to do and I always have someone making sure I do them properly. I would recommend this to all the beginners as there is nothing worse than going to the gym confused about how to use the fancy equipment and either getting completely discouraged by the lack of effects or even injured! I started to branch out a bit lately – gym at my University in the Netherlands offers very interesting program of typical things like pilates, pump (strength training with bars and weights), shape (more of a functional training), as well as pole fitness and Kangoo jumps. Of course, I had to try them all! Maybe I’ll even continue with pole classes when I go back to Poland…. I started enjoying it much more when after 4th time I stopped looking so clumsy :D! On top of that I have an amazing inspiration of my best friend who does magic on the pole (feel free to stalk her instagram – @dominnikki)

With Enschede having countless beautiful and secluded little park/woods alleys I also decided to start running outside. Despite being in great shape I found it quite hard the first time (mostly on my calves ending up being sore for 3 days). Exercising at home is also a nice option – that is when I focuse on my favourite cardio HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training), usually following some of FitnessBlender’s routines (can’t stress enough how much I recommend them). And that is pretty much all. Each day I do what I feel like doing, because as I said – it is supposed to bring me joy, so I will never force a certain type of workout if I just don’t feel it that day.

If you read through this probably extremely ill-written (I’m currently sitting on a plane, having mini hart attacks thanks to terrible turbulences) fitness-story I hope I managed to bring you some motivation to move around and feel better. At this point I will officially promise that I am going to attempt to finish a course to become professional fitness instructor. It is a promise to myself, made publicly so I feel more obliged to keep it 😛 I know I still have a long road to go, but it has became my passion and I want to follow it, not as a career but a hobby that I can pass along. I am constantly educating myself on different types of workouts (I have even taken a sports physiology class during Erasmus!) and try push my limits in becoming stronger and faster. Wish me luck and I’ll keep you posted on the progress… Last word of advice? Move your butt, hit the gym, go dancing and do it for yourself! Nothing will motivate you better than you, so be positive, eat healthy and remember – balance is the key!

xx

Travel: the ultimate escape?

“We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us” – I came across this phrase a couple weeks ago and it has been stuck in my head ever since. From a young age I traveled quite a lot with my parents, but those were mostly laying-by-the-pool, resort holidays. As I grew up and started travelling more independently with either my mum or friends, I realized that there is much more to see than just sunny beaches and luxurious hotels, but it wasn’t until I went on Erasmus when I discovered a drive to truly explore the world, I discovered the not so subtle difference between being a tourist and traveller. It all started with Vienna, Budapest, Bratislava trip organized by local ESN just two weeks after I arrived in the Netherlands. Despite many doubts about traveling with people I didn’t know I decided to go – and the adventure began! I had the most amazing time and made great international friendships, all while sleeping in cheap youth hostels, eating in local canteens and trying to get into the real vibe of each city. We (unsuccessfully) queued 2 hours trying to score 4euro standing tickets to the Opera in Vienna, partied in intricate Szimpla in Budapest and drank cheap Slivovica by Danube River in Bratislava. Now I am constantly on the lookout for new trips, new opportunities to see as many places as I can, not necessarily in safe and cozy company of just my closest friends and family.

blog1

I am currently sitting on a plane, munching on my home-made rocket and zucchini salad, on the way from Schiphol Airport to Valencia, to visit one of my best friends in the entire world – Dominika. Just imagine me – claustrophobic, scared of flying and most of all, terrified of being on my own, casually packing my butt on board of a cheap flight on a lookout for 8-day Spanish adventure… But I’m here and couldn’t be more proud! The need for excitement was stronger than my fears and I seem to be doing better and better in controlling overwhelming feelings of panic when it comes to uncomfortable situations. Plus, since Dominika already visited me in oh-so-lovely, but small and rainy Enschede, she would probably kill me if I didn’t come to see her in the sunny paradise she has been calling home for a couple of months now.

Collage_Fotorblog_Fotor
With Dominika, taken in 2012 and still my favorite pictures of us ❤

It is not a first journey I have taken on my own this year, despite traumatic memories of previous attempts. Three years ago an idea of all-independent summer French course in Paris ended up in a couple of anxiety attacks and my mum having to make an unexpected holiday (what to be fair she didn’t mind that much) switching places with my best friend (Dominika again) and a boyfriend at the time to keep me company. Thinking about it now I feel a bit ashamed, considering that happened when I was 19 and not 13, as you might think from the story. However, I know that it was a result of a mental issue rather than immaturity and that I’m doing much better now (considering I’ve been living abroad, on my own for months now, duh!). And to think that this year I have already been on 18 hour train weekend-escapade to Linz and multiple 15 hours bus rides home and back. Those journeys let me discover something very interesting about myself – I started enjoying spending time on my own. Each of those long rides gave me opportunities to think about what is important, to reflect a bit about my life, my future and to sort things out in my head. And suddenly I found myself looking out the train window, smiling at where life is taking me.

So, do I really travel for life not to escape me or to escape life? Well, the truth is I do need to escape sometimes; I need to occupy my wondering mind so it won’t fall back into the anxious spiral. Thanks to hard work I manage to keep my anxiety silent, however I realize it will never be completely gone. Last weekend I have gone on a quite spontaneous trip to Belgium (the true inspiration for starting this blog – thank you Zuza  ❤ – @suzanaindiana). I discovered three of my friends have already made plans to go to Brussels and because I was feeling particularly trapped in one place at that time I decide to invite myself along. Although it meant that I had to sleep on my own with 9 strangers in a tiny hostel in a sketchy neighborhood, I knew I just had to go! It was one of the best decisions I could have made! Slightly disappointed by Brussels itself we took a detour on our way back to the Netherlands and went to Antwerp for one day. Apparently it was just meant to be, because I fell absolutely and helplessly in love with that city! It jumped right into 3rd place of my top favorite European places (right after Paris and Amsterdam of course!). In the end the trip that started off as an escape left me feeling free and alive! So maybe each journey has a bit of both escape from life and a chase for it. But is there something wrong with that, really? In the end, I am just chasing the adventure, trying to find a new piece of myself  in every place I go.