A Year in Review & Plans for 2016

Heya everyone! I hope you all had a very merry Christmas with lots of good food!Since most of you are still on holiday though and nobody is posting major blog posts anyway, I thought today would be a good occasion to wrap up the past year and tell you all about my plans for 2016!

Now, 2015 was a really eventful year with me visiting Greenland, falling in love with a Norwegian and moving houses for the fourth time since coming to Tromso. Since the boyfriend and I will be graduating uni next year though, chances are that 2016 is going to be a lot more eventful! But back to the past year:

Best of Travels Moments 2015

As you can imagine, Greenland was definitely the highlight of my year. I've dreamt of going there for years and up until two months before my departure, I still didn't think that this would actually happen. Luckily I have a supervisor who didn't allow me to design a thesis proposal that solely focusses on Denmark (as was my plan since I didn't think I would get enough funding to go to Greenland anyway) but who forced me to focus on both countries until we know for sure. What a good idea that was!

However I also enjoyed visiting Iceland, even though it was only for 24 hours and Reykjavik totally made me miss Tromso, and I also enjoyed staying in Copenhagen for a month this summer. Since I had visited the city before, I actually didn't feel like a tourist this time but more like a local and can definitely imagine living there for longer - even though, I'd totally miss the mountains of course!

Apart from that, I also went to Sweden again this year - one day trip to Malmö with the boyfriend and a couple of days in Swedish Lapland on a uni excursion. I haven't blogged about either as you can already find much about Malmö on this space and as I didn't take any pictures during the excursion because we had an exhausting itinerary. Chances are that I'll visit Swedish Lapland again next year though and I'll definitely blog about it then.

My travels also led me to Hamburg this year, which is no surprise as I always visit Hamburg when I'm in Germany. This year though, I've been there with the boyfriend twice and we've also been to Munich together. I think one of the best things about being in an intercultural relationship is to show your partner your own culture while learning more about it yourself. I had never been to Bavaria before but absolutely loved it and definitely come back one day.

Same goes for the boyfriend: together we visited the Lofoten Islands this autumn, where he hadn't been before, and later on his hometown in Nordland. It was such an amazing trip and the boyfriend's first Hurtigruten cruise was a definite success!

If I had to pick 5 travel moments of the past year though, it would be:

Seeing Icebergs for the very first time in my life

Seeing a whale for the very first time in my life

Going on a cruise through the Arctic with the boyfriend

Roadtrippin the Lofoten Islands with the boyfriend

Seeing purple Northern Lights for the first time

Northern Lights in Svolvaer, Part 2

Kvaloya near Tromso

Somewhere in the Lofoten Islands

The little village of Henningsvaer

Travels Plans 2016

2016 is going to be the year of local travels and I have absolutely no problem with that. This might be another perk of being in an intercultural relationship, but since I'm with the boyfriend, I feel much more settled in Tromso. Last year, everything was so new and different in Tromso and I totally missed going out to restaurants or the theatre. I didn't want to do that on my own and all my friends were international and didn't speak Norwegian so they had a different cultural life than the Norwegians of course. Together with the boyfriend though, I can enjoy everything Tromso has to offer when it comes to culture and I absolutely love that.

Furthermore, not only do I participate in cultural events, but after 1 and a half years of living abroad, I'm also living in another language now. I speak Norwegian with the boyfriend and my roommates and only speak English when we have class. Of course, I write my MA thesis in English and most of my material is in Danish so I basically live in three different languages but German is none of them. I only ever speak German when I skype with my parents but with my busy schedule, this only happens every 6-8 weeks. No wonder I had trouble speaking German again when the boyfriend and I went to Munich.

Anyhow, I definitely feel much better about Tromso than when I first moved there though it's not certain whether or not I can continue to live there after graduation. The boyfriend and I will graduate in June and then we both need to find full-time jobs and a flat together which both isn't exactly easy in Tromso. We would like to stay there for a couple more years but it's not up to us. We have to go where we both find a job as long-distance isn't exactly something we strive for. We'll see where we end up next year but just in case we have to leave Tromso, I made a bucket list with everything I still want to see and do in the city and I'll definitely blog about a few of these points:

Go whale-watching

Attend the Sami Week in February

Go hiking around Lake Prestvannet

Get another Tattoo

Attend the Tromso International Film Festival

Visit the Art Museum and Northern Norwegian Art Gallery

Visit the Science Center

Hike up Mount Fjellheisen and Floya

Explore the island Kvaloya

I also want to spend a weekend on the island of Senja, close to Tromso, and head over to Sommaroy again. Since my parents will probably visit me for my graduation though, we can cross off a lot of those local adventures together then. However the boyfriend and I also want to go on a few more adventures in the Arctic.

For Easter, we'll probably visit the boyfriend's family in Swedish Lapland and in the summertime, we really want to go on another Roadtrip in Northern Norway, maybe through Sweden and Finland. I really hope we'll have time for that (graduating uni and finding a job and flat will probably take up a lot of time) but I really want to go to Finland once and see Kautokeino and Alta in Northern Norway and maybe Jokkmokk and Kiruna in Northern Sweden. Fingers crossed that we can make that trip come true!

Blogging Plans 2016

Oh dear blogging world, I have to admit, I have been kinda frustrated with you lately. After 2 years of blogging, I managed to crash my blog recently (that luckily got restored within 24 hours // thanks again Kate!) and I kinda wondered whether or not I should actually restore it. Don't get me wrong, I love this space and I absolutely enjoy presenting you all those hidden gems of the North. However this space has been taking up so much time lately - time that I should rather invest in my MA thesis or that I could spend with the boyfriend and I was just wondering why I'm actually doing this and whether or not it's worth it.

I know, I shouldn't think that way. This blog was part of why I got a job as a project assistent back in 2014 and why I was offered a job with social media last month. Also, I've reached the 1k on three social media channels this year. I couldn't help to think though that the blogging world has changed massively lately. On Pinterest, all I see are pins about "How to earn $1000 from your blog in 30 days" or "How to double your Instagram following in one month". They even tell you now to schedule personal tweets - how stupid is that? Everything is getting commercialised and it's simply not possible to attend a free e-course on blogging without being offered a super discount on an otherwise $500 course that is only available in the next 24 hours. I mean seriously, how many bloggers who aren't blogging full-time have the money to pay $500 for an e-course or $100 for a banner ad? It's ridiculous.

Anyway, I've thought long and hard about blogging and changed some things around here. I've decided to not blog about every vacation I've ever went on anymore but only focus on the North in the future. I've also realized that I don't need to travel in order to blog. There's so much left I could blog about Norwegian culture so you can definitely expect more on that in the near future. I can't promise you more than one post a week though but then again, I'm not a full-time blogger with a virtual assistent, right?!

Have a closer look around the blog and you might notice some of the changes though. I'm also sending out monthly newsletters and provide wallpapers featuring Arctic nature, for both, desktop and mobile phones, as well as travel guides to Northern Europe for my subscribers. If you're interested, you can subscribe here.

After some time of re-designing my ad spots, I'm also offering ads again. I have to admit, I did think about quitting as offering ad spots does take up a lot of my time. However I definitely enjoy getting to know new blogs through offering sponsorships so I'm continuing with it. The spots are slightly different and I'm still only offering 3 spots each month, though I can focus much better on your content this way and promote your posts in the best possible way. If you're interested in sponsorships, head over to my Advertise page and read more. I promise, none of my spots costs $100!

Anyhow, I'll continue my series on my autumn vacation to Nordland next week and I'll also have the boyfriend over for a guest post soon. Figured it's time for him to introduce himself to you, haha! There'll also be a few posts on Hamburg, Germany's northern gem, and life in Norway coming up and I'm currently busy working on my Tromso guidebook that I'll publish for my newsletter subscribers very soon too! If you have any questions you'd like to ask the boyfriend about Sami culture or reindeer herding or just questions about life in Norway you'd like to see covered on this space, let me know!

I hope you're all going to have an awesome 2016! Have you got any trips lined up already? What's on your travel wish list for the next year?

PS: I'm on Snapchat now, snapping all about my life in the Arctic (@snowintromso). Leave me your username so I can follow you too! Plus, I've been pinning like crazy lately thanks to Silvia's amazing e-course, that by the way, is one of the few that's actually affordable! So head over to Pinterest to see more pictures of the North and check out Silvia's course if you plan to finally crack the code of Pinterest in 2016 too!

Linking up with Emma, Jessi and Angie!