When I told my mom that we were taking an extended holiday in Europe and also considering going back to school when I came back, she accused me of jumping from fire to fire. I suppose I can understand why she would say that.
I guess I do have a habit of jumping to something new when something isn’t working for me. I do believe that I try really hard to make things work before I walk away. I spend countless hours (Libra, here) weighing out the pros and cons to staying or leaving. Sometimes I’ve overstayed my welcome and things slip out of my hands. Other times, I have walked away with minimal regret.
So, when we came to Europe, I went through phases of desire with each city we visited. In Scandinavia, I tried to imagine what living in each city would be like long-term. I liked what I envisioned. I’d start listing out all the pros of what life could be like if we tried to settle in each city we were currently in. But often, we’d come across a few cons which would lead me to immediately flag it as “un-livable” to us and then we’d move on.
It occurred to me over the last few months that what we’re doing could be considered running from city to city – literally and figuratively speaking.
Being over here has given us the freedom to dream and imagine what life could be like living in any of these cities. Visas and employment aside, I’d say my order of preference would be:
- Switzerland (German, then French side)
- Germany (Berlin, then Frankfurt)
- Sweden (Stockholm or Gothenburg)
- Denmark (Copenhagen)
- England (London)
Before we came over here, London was always my number one choice. I’ve dreamt about living in London for as long as I can remember. It’s so interesting how being in a different stage in your life can change your perspective. In a different stage in my life, no other city (except maybe Manhattan) would have satisfied me and so I stayed living in Toronto.
Now I’ve come to realize that the destination of where we’re living matters less. Now our must-have list looks like this:
- Must be near natural beauty (seeing the Alps every day when I went for a run really changed my whole perspective on what makes me happy on a daily basis);
- Must have fresh food available. I’m much more satisfied when I’m eating real, flavourful food. I’ve been missing out in Toronto (I mostly shopped in Chinatown where the majority of the food is imported). Farmers markets are great, but I’d love to have access to this type of food all year round.
- Must place an emphasis on work life balance, being especially understanding of hobbies outside of work. It doesn’t / shouldn’t always be about work, nor should your status be completely tied to your career.
- Must have an active community. We got some weird looks when we’d be out running in certain neighbourhoods. I also did 90% of my runs completely solo except in some cities where running groups existed. I’d like to have the choice to train with groups.
Over the last week, I’ve realized that I’m reaching the point where I might be done with jumping for a while. I’m not exactly homesick yet, but I miss having a home base. Moving around all the time and not having our own space to relax in is starting to get tiring, not to mention expensive. The crazy, awesome thing is that Mike told me that he was feeling same way. I’m always relieved when we’re in sync like that.
Travelling is great, and I’m so happy that I finally got to try this lifestyle out. Something tells me that this won’t be the last time we take an extended trip to Europe. Life is short, and we should prioritize whatever inspires us and makes us happy.
I also realized something powerful today. I’ve been happy nonstop since we came here in January. Sure there have been a few panicked moments where I’ve asked myself what I want to achieve in the next 2 to 5 years, but the difference is that I haven’t felt despair over the fact that I didn’t have a definitive answer. I made it through another winter with a smile on my face and feeling energized and refreshed. It feels so good.