Living Abroad,  Thriving

Letters to a New Year (Claudia 2019)

Dear 2019,

As much as I enjoy the city, I am saying goodbye…for now.I feel like 2018 flew by and that I barely even had time to enjoy the little things. However, I am thankful for all the experiences that I had, the people I met, and everything that I have learned. And, where as last year I didn’t really want the year to end because it meant making choices about my grown up life, this year I am super excited for the new adventures I have chosen for the future. That doesn’t necessarily mean that I want to dive head first into all of them at once—after all, each adventure comes with its own challenges—but that I am happy with the decisions I have made over the past twelve months and am very optimistic about where they will lead me.

At the same time, I am a little nervous because at the beginning of this year I am picking up (again) and moving to somewhere I’ve never been before—Helsinki. It will be the first time I will be living in a country that doesn’t speak English, Spanish, or Portuguese as their first language and this worries me both at a communication level but also because I will miss being able to speak my second and third languages (I’ve been told they speak good English ;)). Additionally, this means that, for the first time in a long time, I will be far away from my family, trusted friends, and the birthplace of this blog.

Nonetheless, I have three goals that I hope will be able to keep me moving in the right direction no matter where I find myself and the adventures I am facing:


Dani and I are working on it—celebrate the moments with us?1.) Celebrate the moments:

Over the past year and a half since we started the blog, I feel like both Dani and I are trying to celebrate the small stuff more. We talk about how we are oftentimes running around from place to place, completing the tasks we have to do, without really focusing on the good things that each moment (and small win) brings us. This applies to everything from enjoying a beautiful sunset on my parents terrace to baking a cake to going for a coffee with a friend. The little things are a great way to find simple happiness in life and in 2019 I want to remember to enjoy these moments.

However, it isn’t always easy to let the little things have the same value as the life-changing moments (such as getting married—Dani—or moving countries—me), so my goal is to try recognize the small stuff and try and enjoy it completely. This may mean that I allow myself to not be in a hurry (for once) when I am enjoying the January sunshine in Granada or that Dani and I celebrate how much our little blog has grown over the last year. It’s a slow change, but with the right people around me I am slowly beginning to get better at giving importance to small moments.

Note: One of my closest friends and I laugh about how it’s the silly little things that make us happy. And then we smile because we wouldn’t change anything about our simple happiness. Try to find the simple happiness.


Sometimes you don’t see them often, but good friends are always there when you need it.2.) Enjoy the friendships:

One of my greatest gifts in life are the amazing friendships that I have developed over the years. At the same time, it’s not always easy because, at any given time, I would say that I have more close friends living outside the country I am in than in it. Moving forward in 2019 this will definitely be the case and, as a self-proclaimed socially awkward person I am dreading the idea of having to make new friends in a new place (especially taking into account a new culture). However, I know that poco a poco (little by little) everything will work itself out. And in the meantime technology—such as Skyping or Whatsapping or FaceTiming—is a great way for me to be able to communicate with people that I care about while abroad.

By enjoying my friendships I hope to both continue to develop the ones that I have and be able to meet new people. This means I will both accept the moments when I really want to chat to people that are far away but that I will also make an effort to meet new people where I am. While it is a fine balance, it is one that I am familiar with, so in 2019 I hope to enjoy the process instead of worrying if I am doing it ‘right.’


It may seem silly, but making time to have coffees and doodle makes me happy.3.) Make time for what’s important… to me:

Sometimes I feel like we give importance to things that people around us value instead of really focusing on what we want to do. For me, this can look like going out for dinner with friends instead of staying in with a book and going to bed early when I’ve had a long week. It’s not that I don’t want to these things just that in the moment it is easy to forget what feels best for me in order to hang out with people I care about (which is okay sometimes but not the right choice all of the time). In 2019 my goal is to pay more attention to what it is that I personally want and make time for it because I should care about myself at least as much as I am caring about others in my life.

How I do it: Through the ups and downs over the past ten years, I have come to realize that while the little things (see point one) are sometimes the most important, I don’t always make time for them or their appreciation. One of the ways I help myself remember to make time to do things that are important to me is by making a list of them. Just having the list by my desk helps me remember that seeing sunsets make me smile and that taking time out of my busy day to Skype a good friend can be more productive in the long run than working now.


What does 2019 look like for you? What are your newest adventures (or maybe the ones you are still working through from last year)? Let us know in the comments!


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