October has absolutely flown by. I can’t believe it’s November and nearly time to get ready for Christmas! This month has been busy—I’ve spent most of it in England, but with a few days in France at the end of the month. Here’s what I got up to in October.
Where I Went
Newcastle, York, Ingleton, Edensor, Rowsley, Ugley, Ugley Green (United Kingdom)
Carcassonne, Mazamet, Hautpoul, Castres, Albi, Cordes-sur-ciel, Toulouse (France)
Spending Adam’s birthday together! Although Adam and I have been together for what seems like ages, we’ve still spent most of our relationship doing long-distance. While we’ve been able to spend one of my birthdays together before I moved to England, we had never spent one of Adam’s birthdays together until this month. (I moved to England the day after his birthday last year in October.) So I was over the moon to get to actually hang out with Adam on his birthday!!! It was so special, and even getting to go out to dinner was insanely exciting for me. Doing long distance for so long was so so difficult for both of us, but it was completely worth it. I can’t wait to spend many more birthdays together!
Exploring the south of France. This was my first visit to the region (and my first to France outside of Paris!) and it was an absolutely wonderful. I loved the scenery, the architecture, and laid back atmosphere, the food… I could go on. I really enjoyed staying in Carcassonne and getting to see what real life in a smaller town in France is actually like, I loved getting to visit Albi and the tiny, picturesque village of Cordes-sur-ciel, I loved wandering around big-city Toulouse. This has definitely been one of my favorite destinations of the year!
Getting to see Adam’s places. While I loved getting to see France, it meant so much more because this is Adam’s place. He lived in France (in Mazamet) for a year doing his French degree, and it has meant so much to go and visit all of his places. I have loved getting to see where he lived, getting to eat chocolatines like he did, getting to share this part of his world with him.
Visiting the Yorkshire Dales. We had a great day in the Yorkshire Dales National Park for Adam’s birthday, and I loved getting to explore another part of Yorkshire. My only other trip to the Dales was in February to Malham, and it was snowing! So I loved getting to go somewhere different (sans snow). We had a wonderful time walking the Ingleton Waterfalls Trail, going underground at White Scar Cave, and (finally!) seeing the Ribblehead Viaduct. One of the reasons I love living in York is its proximity to both the North Yorkshire Moors and the Yorkshire Dales, and it was a great day out.
Being thrifty with bookings. For our wedding anniversary, Adam and I got a giftcard to hotels.com, and knew that we’d save it for later. We finally used the giftcard this month, getting two bookings—one at an airport hotel before we fly home to Minneapolis for Christmas, and one in London when we’ll go down to meet up with Adam’s family. Thanks so much for the giftcard, M@ and K8! We also saved money on our Airbnb in Carcassonne by using my recommendation link. We got £30 off our stay! So I’m glad that we’ve managed to strategically make bookings to save as much as we can.
Hitting publish on a big post. I published my most popular blog post, 15 Harsh Truths About Living in England, on my one-year anniversary of moving to the country. Publishing it was like a huge relief off my shoulders and I honestly felt so much better being able to share my struggles this way on the blog. It was viewed over 300+ times in 24 hours, which means it is the most-read blog post I’ve written in 18 months of blogging. I’ve also had so many people reach out since I published it, and it has been so appreciated. I feel so much less alone, now that I know that so many other people know that living abroad isn’t always “the dream.” Thank you to everyone who read the post, who commented, and who found a different perspective. I really, truly, appreciate it.
Getting back into a gym routine. In my last monthly recap, I mentioned that I had gotten a gym membership, and I’ve missed it so much. I LOVE going to the gym. I love lifting weights. I love getting to use medicine balls for my ab work again. I love love love working out, and it has been so great to have a gym again. Hopefully next month my schedule will work out so that I can get to some classes!
Away With Maja’s re-design. It’s been a long time coming, but this month I finally changed up my blog layout and started using a new theme. I also (FINALLY!) put drop-down menus on, which has been a giant process that has taken ages. There’s a few things I still need to take care of, and a few bumps to smooth out. But hopefully all goes well with this new theme, and it’ll be here to stay!
Popping into Ugley and Ugley Green on the way to the airport. I love the funny names of some of the places in England, and Ugley (and Ugley Green) have been on my list of places to visit since June 2014. When we realized we’d be driving right past them on the way to Stansted Airport, I knew we had to stop! Both the villages of Ugley and Ugley Green are anything but—they are some of the quaintest, most charming places I’ve ever seen. I loved all the thatched cottages! And seeing Ugley Village Hall was definitely a highlight 😉
More job rejections. I got rejected from a few jobs this month, and they were dream jobs I really really wanted. So obviously not getting those jobs has sucked, and the rejections continue to be so depressing. I’m making enough money between my two jobs now that I’m able to afford to live, so I’m not as stressed about money as I have been the last two months. But job rejections suck. And trying to stay positive when I’ve been job hunting for so long is really difficult.
Not having any concept of my plans next year. As a planner, I’ve always liked knowing what I’ll be doing when. But since I don’t have a new job (and I want one!!!), I have no idea what I’ll be doing next year. I don’t know if I’ll be able to take time off to go on trips. I don’t know if I can plan a long weekend in February or in Easter. I don’t know what I’ll be doing next summer, since (again) I don’t know if I’ll be at a job where I can take time off. (Although, I’m seriously hoping for a Georgia-Armenia-Azerbaijan trip next summer!) I don’t know if I can meet up with a friend this spring. Not being able to plan out anything is so frustrating. It makes me feel like I don’t have a life, and I hate that.
Spending so much money on train tickets. I’m pretty sure I’ve complained about train prices from York to London on the blog before, but if I haven’t, I’ll say it again: TRAINS BETWEEN YORK AND LONDON ARE RIDICULOUSLY EXPENSIVE. Even when you book it (2 months) in advance. Even with a railcard that gives a 30% discount. I’m spending over £50 on train tickets to and from London for the weekend in December that Adam and I will be meeting up with his family. £50. When it’s just about a 2-hour journey one-way. It was a major hit to my budget this month that I wasn’t totally expecting.
Being homesick. I have had moments of homesickness every time I’ve gone abroad for a lengthy period of time. But in the past two months, it has been the worst it has ever been. I literally cried thinking about Taco Bell. A new song by Macklemore (Good Old Days) mentions Minnesota and First Ave, and that makes me cry too. It snowed in Minneapolis and I lost it. I miss my family. I miss my friends. I miss Target. I miss so many things. I know part of it is because I know I’m going home in less than 2 months. But it doesn’t make it any easier. I will definitely be ready when December 23rd comes.
I haven’t published that many posts this month, mainly because I spent a lot of time behind-the-scenes on picking the new theme. But also because after spending so much time gearing up for my big post on living in England, I just wasn’t motivated to blog anymore. I have several big posts coming this month though, and tons of new content from my trip to France—so stay tuned! Here’s what I published this month:
Instagram Top 3
My most popular photos of October on Instagram!
“Twenty years from now, you will be more is appointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did.” —Mark Twain ✨ . One year ago today, I was in New York City, my first ever trip to the Big Apple! 🍎 . It was a spontaneous trip I’d booked while I was waiting for my UK visa, wanting to see more of my own country before I moved abroad. It was the perfect goodbye to America, and one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. ✈ . Sometimes, you have to make your own dreams happen. You can’t just sit around waiting for something, you need to take a leap of faith. . I’ve got a new blog post up, all about my amazing three days in NYC. Link in bio 😊 . So book those tickets. Take that trip. Go see the world. Explore. Dream. Discover. ❤ . . . . . #newyorkcity #nyc #newyork #topoftherock #empirestatebuilding #manhattan #sunset #newyork_Instagram #thisisnewyorkcity #newyorkforall #ig_NYC #newyorkstateofmind #what_I_saw_in_NYC #nycprimeshot #wildnewyork #igersnyc #ilovenewyork #nycdotgram #newyorkgram #nyloveyou #topnewyorkphoto #loves_nyc #usa #america #beautifuldestinations #passionpassport #lpfanphoto #natgeotravelpic #bbctravel #guardiantravelsnaps
The beautiful ruins of Rievaulx Abbey in North Yorkshire! ✨ . This was definitely one of my favorite daytrips in Yorkshire! Things have been pretty quiet on the blog front lately, but I’ve finally got a new post up about combining a trip to Rievaulx Abbey with the charming village of Helmsley. Link in bio! 😊 . This week has been another busy one, is it Friday yet?! 😔 Counting down the days until I head to France next week, only 9 to go! ✈ . . . . . #rievaulxabbey #rievaulx #abbey #abbeyruins #englishheritage #yorkshire #northyorkshire #visityorkshire #visitnorthyorkshire #welcometoyorkshire #scenesofyorkshire #bbcyorkshire #yorkshirelife #yorkshireday #yorkshiregram #loveforyorkshire #igersyorkshire #wearenorthern #theenglishnorth #visitbritain #instabritain #visitengland #photosofbritain #photosofengland #lovegreatbritain #explore_britain #ukpotd #capturingbritain #femaletravelbloggers #travelblog
The Hill of Crosses in Lithuania. Still one of the coolest, most unique places I’ve ever visited. ✨ . Originally, people started putting crosses on the hill as a pilgrimage site in the early 19th century. During the time of the Soviet Union, the hill was bulldozed several times. But people crept back and put out crosses, this time symbolizing both their religion, and their sense of national identity. There are over 200,000 crosses on the hill today. . I’ve been meaning to tackle a lot of blog stuff since I got back, over 6 (!) weeks ago. A lot of the time I feel like I’m in over my head, or a step or two behind. When it comes to changing one thing, I actually need to change three other things first, before I can do one thing. So frustrating! 😒 . It’s got me thinking a lot about my brand and my blog as a business. It can be so rewarding, but such an uphill struggle. . So I have a question for you! ❓ What do you like about travel blogs? What types of things do you look for when reading a travel blog? Tell me in the comments!! . I’ll start: I love seeing photos of destinations, and I’m always interested in the best forms of transportation in a region I’ll be visiting! ✈🚊🚌🚗 . . . . . #hillofcrosses #kryžiųkalnas #crosses #siauliai #Šiauliai #lithuania #lietuva #visitlithuania #cometolithuania #welovelithuania #ig_Lithuania #vilniusnow #vilniusiloveyou #vilniusvisit #baltics #baltic #balticstates #bestofthebaltics #lovebaltics #magic_baltics #travelbaltics #easterneurope #topeuropephoto #lpfanphoto #natgeotravelpic #bbctravel #passionpassport #beautifuldestinations #guardiantravelsnaps
Coming Up in November
November will be busy, but for the best reasons. I get to see a lot of FRIENDS!!! Living abroad is so lonely, and I’m so excited that I’ll get to meet up with so many people this month. Next week, a friend of mine who I used to work with at Black Dog is coming to England! She’ll be staying in York for a few nights, and then heading down to London, where I’ll meet her for a day on the weekend.
Then I’m heading to Nottingham (my first visit since I moved here and my first since May 2016!) for a friends birthday. The next weekend, another friend that Adam and I met in Moldova (who is currently studying abroad in Dublin) will be coming to visit for a weekend. I am literally so excited to see all of these people!!! Having been so desperately homesick the past few months, I know this will make the wait until Christmas a lot easier. Besides that, the rest of the November should be pretty relaxed, and the calm before the storm of December and the Christmas season.
What did you do in October? What plans do you have in November?