Wandering through the streets of Tallinn

Well, that’s it then. 2017 is done and dusted, as of today. In fact, in Australia (and, okay, New Zealand first) it’s already well into the new year. Here in Berlin, the fresh new start we’ve all been waiting for is a matter of hours away. And I think it’s important to take stock of the good memories of your year, to remember how far you’ve come. So here’s what I’ve achieved in 2017, and some New Year resolutions.

Moved to Berlin, Germany

Looking back on where I was at the end of 2016, a lot has changed. I mean, buckets and spades of it. At the end of 2016 I had no idea where I was headed this year (literally), because my UK visa was about to expire. Would I manage a way to stay in the UK, would I move back to Australia, or would I find an alternative?

And here I am, living in that alternative. In April, once my UK visa was expired, I landed on my feet straight into Berlin and a new job at Babbel. After some difficult wrangling to sort out a German visa (pro tip: if you’re applying for a German visa, do it in Australia, not in Germany! It’d be so much easier!), and hassle finding a flat in Berlin, I eventually settled in.

When I moved to Berlin I knew NO ONE. I had friends of friends (that I had never met!) and I messaged them and organised to meet up for drinks. I was lucky enough to fall in with the welcoming crowd of expats in Berlin and made friends (and a boyfriend) fast. Moving to Berlin was hard, but it’s been super rewarding. And I’ve started learning German, which has been difficult, but so much fun.

Visited 6 new countries

I love travelling just a little less than reading and writing, and this summer I had the opportunity to tick off 6 new countries on a magical trip around Northern Europe (Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Estonia, Finland, Russia!). I also visited England more than once, to go to Glastonbury Music Festival (!) and to visit my friends from London. I also visited a little village in the north of England to celebrate Christmas with my boyfriend’s family.

Read 33 books

Last year I set my Goodreads goal to 50 books, because I thought it was a manageable challenge. Admittedly, I think I have bigger expectations than the reality of how much I can actually read. When I was a teenager and even in university I devoured books by the day, but now that I’m working full time and living a life (and also, mildly obsessed with social media), I tend not to read as much. I honestly think social media has killed my attention span a little (or a lot) because I used to be able to sit for entire days reading, but now I get distracted every thirty seconds looking through Instagram. Oh well.

Still, for a lot of people 33 books in one year is a massive amount, and it’s not a number to be taken lightly. I read some beautiful, amazing, exciting novels, and I wrapped up a few of my favourites. But, amazingly, my new favourite came right at the last minute, as I finished Naomi Alderman’s The Power just yesterday, and it found its way straight to top position in my favourite books I’ve read this year.

Started a blog!

Yep, and here we are. I’ve been umming and ahhing about starting a blog for bloody years, because I’ve liked the idea of stretching my writing muscles and spilling my thoughts out where people can see them, but I’ve also wrestled with the idea that it’s all a bit vain, or blogging is just for fashionistas, mummys, finance gurus or people who travel to 30 countries a year (or maybe all of the above). But, I realised after looking back at the 2 years I spent in London and having not much in the way of written memories (other than some Facebook posts), that I wanted to leave a trace of myself somewhere, for my future self to look back on. And I’ve always found writing diaries a bit boring and tedious, so I thought I wanted to make it something slightly more creative, and compelling. Plus, a blog is a fantastic way to connect with other like-minded people, and I’m hoping to connect with other writers, and find a platform to promote my own writing.

Goals for 2018

So after achieving some pretty fantastical things this year, I’ve got big hopes for the coming year, too. Here they are…

Get up to B1 level of German

If you’re not familiar with the European framework of reference for languages, then all you need to know is that they start at A1 and go through to C2. I’m about to start my A2 study, so I’m still right at the beginning, but the only way is up! A B2 level can – understand the main points at work, school, or in leisure activities; deal with most common situations while travelling in the country; produce simple text on topics that are familiar; describe experiences, events, dreams and briefly give reasons and explanations.

Even though I rarely need to use German in Berlin (because I work in English, all my friends are English, and I know enough to order food in a restaurant), I still would love to challenge myself to learn the language while I’m here, because I’ll never get a better opportunity. I think speaking a second language is great for the brain, and it’ll open my world up to new knowledge, people, opportunities, and even books to read!

Travel to 5 new countries

This one should be relatively easy, because I live in Europe, and there are still plenty of countries that I haven’t ticked off my list yet. Can you believe I’ve never been to Italy, Greece, Croatia or Portugal? These are all such exciting travel opportunities and I’m sure this summer I’ll be visiting some or all of them. Being Australian, it’s not necessarily my goal when travelling to just find a nice beach and sit on it (because I could do that in Australia!). Rather, I like exploring cities and countries for their culture, history, design and nightlife. So I’ve loved exploring a lot of central and northern Europe on my travels, where it’s cheap and the cities are so compelling. Of course, the southern European countries also have amazing culture and history which I cannot wait to dive into in 2018.

Finish writing my new novel, Ruthless

In case you haven’t been following along on Wattpad, Ruthless is the novel I started while I was living in London. It’s about a girl, Jane, who moves to London to start a new life, and gets work in a bookshop. She lives in the flat above the bookshop, and starts to learn about the lives of her fellow book lovers, who she lives and works with. But there’s a mystery – the reason Jane got this job was because the last guy, Matt, left suddenly. No one will tell her where he’s gone, or whether he’s coming back.

I’ve been writing this novel for a while, very slowly, and I hope this year I can finally type “the End”.

Write more fun, light-hearted stories

A while ago I wrote a novella (on Wattpad, called Riptide), which follows the story of two teenagers who have just finished school and are spending their summer on the Gold Coast, in Australia. It’s short and breezy, and I wrote it without much of a plot in mind, but it turned out to be great. I want to try to write more short and fun stories like that, where there’s less pressure on being perfect, on more emphasis on me just having fun with my own writing.

Read 50 books

I know, I know. Last year I thought I could read 50 books and I didn’t, and this year I’m setting the same goal. But I refuse to set a lower goal. I should be able to read 50 books, and I feel guilty not for trying. So, fifty it is.

What are your goals for 2018? Have you got goals for travel, or reading? Let me know!