Buying gifts for family and friends is a thoughtful way of showing how much you care. One thing I’ve noticed, is that many people are concerned with the cost and the size of the gift, like it’s always supposed to be great and expensive.. Why is that? I think that personalized and thoughtful gifts, regardless of how big and expensive they are, are the best gifts one can give and receive.. A couple of days I got a gift from a childhood friend. We’ve been friends for as long as I can remember and we know each other well. This gift is a proof that she truly knows who I am and what I appreciate. It’s one of the most thoughtful gifts I’ve ever received! 🙂
It was a fill-in Bucketlist book for 2020!
There was a page with different Bucketlist genres, including creativity, adventure, body + health, family + friends, financial, love, career, self-improvement, food + drinks, travel, top secret and other.. A great way to get some inspiration!
The fill-in pages were great for reflection. One the first page, you’re supposed to fill it what you do, why you want to do it, who you want to do it with (if that’s the case), what has stopped you before, how to make it happen and how you expect it to be. On the second page, you fill in what you did (when, where, with, and how), what you learned, how it made you feel, the best part of the experience, and if you would do it again.. Such a cool concept!
The first thing I noticed when I opened the book, was a greeting written by my friend. The sweetest words about our friendship + she threw me a challenge (which I always love, hehe).. You gotta love thoughtful gifts like this! ❤
What’s the sweetest gift you’ve received or given to someone?
Christmas and new years is over, we already hit January 6th, which means it’s time to focus on this years goals! I’ve always been a big fan of creating a Bucketlist and setting goals for myself. While many people hate it, to me, it symbolizes a fresh start with an opportunity to make a change. I do believe the reason people often oppose it, it because they often feel a sense of disappointment if they fail the goals they set for themselves. The key is therefore not to drop everything called goals and resolutions, but maybe shift your perspective and set more attainable goals for yourself.. Because there’s nothing better when you reach one of your goals and can check it off your list! 🙂
Here’s my personal goals & resolutions for 2020;
Self-Improvement I’m a person that likes to grow and constantly seek ways to improve and become a better version of myself and what I do. I think that’s important for all human beings, because who doesn’t want to be the best version of themselves? 🙂 I want to focus more on self-improvement in 2020. I want to challenge myself more and look into getting a group exercise certification. I’ll also continue to volunteer for the non-profit organization I joined last year. With busy lives (which I know first hand!) it can be hard to find time to volunteer, but it all comes down to priorities and passion. The benefits of volunteering can be enormous, both for yourself and other individuals. To offer vital help to people in need, the community or worthwhile causes dear to your heart can truly make a great change. I experienced this first hand when I was so lucky to meet individuals in need; the feeling when they hugged me, eternally grateful after receiving food on the table and presents to open, can not be described. I can’t emphasize it enough; if you can find the time to volunteer for a cause dear to your heart, do it!
Continue to work towards a more stable financial situation Achieving financial independence is something most of us work towards every single day. From experience, it doesn’t take much effort to make small changes that will make a great impact, but it definitely takes patience, dedication and some sacrifice. A couple of changes we’ve made so far that’s made a big impact on our financial situation is; starting to shop for christmas presents early (I got such good bargains, but great gifts!), pay attention to different offers at the grocery store and stock up on items you use a lot, and maybe the most important thing of all; sell all the things you don’t use. I went through our stuff in our apartment, basement and attic, sorted everything we don’t use and sold it. All the money I make off of selling things I no longer use goes directly into our holiday savings account. We’re currently saving for an upcoming family trip to Thailand, so this addition of money comes in handy! My financial goals for 2020 is to pay of my credit card, save a total of 50 000,- on my BSU account (savings for buying a home), and add extra money into my retirement account. Once we’ve hit a more stable financial situation, I want to start saving for a trip to travel the world!
Continue the great investment in my overall health There is nothing that makes me feel better than a great workout! It also feels good to look back at 2019, were I was able to keep a somewhat stable workout schedule throughout the year and I was able to challenge myself, which is something I’ll continue to do in 2020. I’ll continue going to yoga and focus more on mindfulness and meditation, mainly because I’ve become more aware of being present and it’s really important to me. I will forever cherish spin class as one of my favorite workouts, but I’ll also continue to focus on mobility & stretching, body pump and strength training. After undergoing a huge renovation, my gym does not only look amazing but also offers a new group exercise schedule with lot’s of new classes I would like to try out. I will also focus on spending a lot more time outside in fresh air!
Travel and see more of Norway Since 2020 will be the year we’ll be working hard towards achieving a more stable financial situation, we have decided not to take any huge trips abroad. Instead, we’ll be seeing more of Norway and everything our beautiful country has to offer. It’s always been a goal of mine to see more of Norway, but let’s be honest – we always travel abroad (which I think is the case for most people). Last year I checked of a point on my Bucketlist and climbed Gaustatoppen, which was a great experience. This year I hope to climb Prekestolen and visit Stavanger, visit my sister in Arendal, visit Oslo to meet up with good friends, visit Kristiansand, spend days at seas in my in-law’s boat and hike outside in nature (we bought hammocks last year and I can’t wait to try them out!). Also, residing in Stavern (which is voted Norway’s best summer town several years in a row!) many great things are awaiting us this summer; hopefully many lazy days at the beach, walks along the coastal path, market days, celebration of my birthday, stand-up-paddle boarding, visiting the Citadel Island and Svenner Lighthouse, bike rides outside in fresh air, try out new restaurants, and spend quality time with family and friends. I don’t think we’ll have a problem keeping ourselves busy!
Happy New Year everyone! It’s not only January 2nd, but it’s the beginning of a new month, a new year, and not to mention a new decade – let’s make it a good one!
I celebrated new years eve with a great group of friends and had a great time. We hosted new years this year and I had fun setting the table, making a delicious turkey dinner, the most delicious chocolate mouse for dessert, and of course enjoyed some bubbles.. New faces were introduced and great conversations were a part of our celebration, which we always enjoy. How was your celebration of the new year? Regardless of how you celebrated, I hope you had a great time! 🙂
I just bought a new cute day planner, where I’ll be writing down all my appointments and goals & resolutions for 2020. This year I have decided to include my goals for 2020 instead of solely writing a Bucketlist, even though I will have a complete Bucketlist as well! My clear focus this year is to word hard to achieve financial independence and save money for upcoming travel plans, which I’m really exited about! I’ll be sharing my goals & resolutions for 2020 in my next blog post, so stay tuned! 🙂
I posted a Leiden Travel Recommendation on my blog a while back and to follow up on the post (in case you decide to take my recommendation and actually visit Leiden) a restaurant/coffee shop guide is a necessity! 😊 Whenever I visit someplace new, I’m always exited to check out all the restaurants and coffee shops – it’s a mission to locate all the hidden local gems. We all need food & drinks to fuel out bodies and in order to avoid bad dining experiences, I always try to do a little research before traveling. However, when moving to Leiden I was determined to just try out different places and it turned out it was the best thing ever – I came across so many great places! Even though it’s a fairly small city compared to Amsterdam, Leiden still offers a great selection of restaurants and coffee shops!
So without further ado, here are my favorite places to eat & drink in Leiden;
This is the place for anyone that appreciates a good beer (of any kind!), wine, a good drink, and delicious Dutch bar food! As an upscale bar with a wide selection of over 200 types of beer, you’re guaranteed to find something you like. If going out for a drunken night, order the fries and mayonnaise from the bar food menu! The staff is very friendly and knowledgeable so if in doubt, don’t hesitate asking for recommendations. This place also offers a food menu (which I unfortunately haven’t tried) and have a big backyard/outdoor patio for warmer days. I actually lived above this place in the Netherlands and it’s very popular, especially during the weekends.
Anne & Max is located on the Fanfetje, right next to the canal and close to the shopping street De Breestraat. It’s the perfect place for coffee, lunch and people’s watching. This all organic place has an inviting contemporary vibe, often filled with locals having lunch and catching up with friends. They have a great menu including delicious coffee/tea, sweet treats, and nutritious breakfast and lunch options. For drinks, I recommend their delicious homemade ice tea with mint and cappuccino. To satisfy your sweet tooth for breakfast, I recommend sweet morning on the menu (freshly squeezed orange juice, coffee or tea, a croissant, a warm flax-seed scone, clotted cream, strawberry jam and yogurt topped with a fruit salad). For a warmer breakfast try the oven-baked eggs with salmon/ham/bacon, sourdough bread and avocado on the side. For lunch, try their avocado toast or super club sandwich (chicken, bacon, avocado and a side of vegetable chips).
If you like a good grilled cheese sandwich, this is the place for you! Located in the heart of Leiden, this place offers the best grilled cheese sandwiches you have ever tried. They have a wide menu of sandwiches including chicken tex-mex. spicy choritzo, goat cheese, tropical, choco-banana, and the classical ham and cheese. I recommend the sandwich with multigrain bread, smoked ham and organic cheese with a side of pesto mayonnaise – it’s so good! This place is often filled with families or hungry students, but offers a cozy vibe. Try to get one of the spots outside if you can!
When I was living in Leiden, this was my go-to-spot. If you would ask anyone where to find me, the answer would always be coffee company (of coffee co as we called it). It’s located across the street from Anne & Max and on the corner of De Breestraat. I recommend their iced latte with caramel and their au natural homemade ice tea – they’re both winners! You can also grab a delicious cookie or a muffin with your coffee. This place is a typical student coffee shop where the tables are set up for studying. Being a fairly small place, you can almost expect a fully packed place all the time. If the weather cooperates, you might be able to get a spot outside if you’re lucky!
De Waag is more of a “high end place” compared to many places in Leiden and even though it’s a little pricey, it’s definitely worth a visit! This restaurant offers great food, delicious drinks and a great atmosphere in a monumental building in the center of Leiden – it’s a culinary hotspot! I recommend their Mexican burger (with an ice cold corona on the side of course!) and the Portuguese chicken. If you’re lucky try to get a spot outside by the canal. This place is very popular among the Dutch population and especially after-work events/drinks, so a reservation is recommended.
As indicated in the name, this restaurant is located inside the City Hall of Leiden. The great combination of a beautiful location (right next to the canal!) and a characteristic building, makes this restaurant unique. I highly recommend the pizzas and pastas, which both are amazing. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday every week from 17.00-19.00 is “pizza pasta mania” where you get all pizzas and pastas for only €10! My favorites include pizza margarita, pizza with parma ham & zucchini, and penne pasta with chicken and pesto. For starters I recommend the focaccia with Parma ham, buffalo mozzarella and sun-dried tomatoes. This place also have a large outdoor seating area, but a reservation is definitely recommended as this place is very popular.
This charming cafe probably has the most perfect location in the city of Leiden; located right next to the canal, the cafe also has a small outdoor area and a deck to sit on outside (if the weather cooperates). I recommend their ice coffee (that are served in cute mason jars), smoothie bowls and a sandwich of any kind.. they’re all delicious! They also have a great variety of cakes to satisfy your sweet tooth. This place is fairly small so it fills up quickly inside, so you better be early to make sure you get an table!
This was my go-to-place for having pizza when I was living in Leiden for two reasons; it’s very cheap (their most expensive pizza is €11!) and the pizza is the best – thin Italian crust loaded with any toppings you want! I recommend the pizza Hawaii (Ham and pineapple), Pollo (Smoked chicken, sweet peppers, red onion and pesto) and Italian (Pancetta (Italian bacon), fresh mozzarella and spinach). In addition to pizza, they also soups, salads, and a great selection of pastas. If heading to Amsterdam Schipol airport, this is an ideal place to grab lunch/dinner as it’s located only 5 minutes from Leiden Central Station and the food usually comes pretty quick. On a sunny day, try to get a seat outside on the deck!
Have you ever been to Leiden before? If not, please go and eat & drink yourself through town! 😊
Growing up, one of my childhood dreams was always to study abroad (you can read more about my college experience at an American university here.) This was my dream for as long as I can remember and it was never given that I should have ended up study at an Norwegian university. I have always been a very curious and open-minded person who’s been eager to discover everything that the world has to offer (and I still am!), so to study abroad was the perfect option for me!
When I jumped on a plane overseas back in 2010, I had no idea what to expect. Sure, I did had some thoughts of what I thought I could expect, but it wasn’t even close to the reality – it was so much better! Luckily I wasn’t affected by the so-called “culture chock” many experience when moving abroad (I took care of that during my first time living in the US), which made the transition much easier. Because culture chock is a real thing you shouldn’t joke about, it can be really uncomfortable. Not only are you moving to another country with different customs, traditions and cultures, but everything is different from speaking another language to not finding your favorite items at the grocery store. These things might seem small to you, but let me tell you, it’s the small things that makes the biggest difference. For me personally, the things I missed the most when living in the states was to drink the clean, delicious tap water (Norway truly has the cleanest water in the world!) and to be able to walk everywhere. Despite this, it was truly a life changing experience and more importantly, it taught me a lot.
Here are some of the most important things I learned from my study abroad experience;
Studying abroad makes you a stronger person Studying abroad is a great opportunity to leave the comfort and familiarity of your home country, because that’s exactly what you’ll do. You’ll realize that you are more independent, tolerant and adaptable than you think. You’ll gain a new number of skills and you’ll be strengthened by hardship, because it will be hard sometimes. You’ll learn to be more independent as you need to find your way around, whether it’s dealing with housing situations, register for classes, or find your way around town/campus. Moving abroad also brings you into contact with people from different countries, cultures and backgrounds, which requires you to be respectful of people and develop a great level of tolerance. This is also a huge strength and asset that will help you navigate through life. Studying abroad also makes you more adaptable due to a number of reasons; you moved to a foreign country and the sense of order/control you felt at home won’t exist. In order to have a great study abroad experience you must learn to adapt pretty fast to your “new life”. Overall, you’ll learn new skills including everything from communicating and handling situations in a different language to stepping out of your comfort zone, meeting deadlines, making new friends, etc. At the end of the day, you’ll realize you are capable of way more than you think!
You develop a wanderlust and get bitten by the travel bug I’ll preface this by saying that I have always loved traveling. While I think I was born with the wanderlust and travel bug inside, it for sure increased my desire after my study abroad experience. During my time in the U.S. I was lucky enough to visit several states (and also got to experience the local side of America) and visit Canada + Mexico. One of my greatest memories was a road trip in the U.S. with my now husband; we booked flight tickets to LA, rented a car and hit the road with absolutely no plans. We saw so many great places and had so much fun – it’s a memory I’ll cherish forever. I have found myself filled with desire to travel the world someday… The world truly is an oyster and I can’t wait to see more of it!
You meet people from all over the world and walk of life One of the greatest benefits of studying abroad is the lifelong friendships you make with people from around the world! While I had a really great group of friends back home, I think it’s safe to say that some of my best friends today are people I met when studying abroad – people I lived in dorms with my freshman year, whom I meet at parties, randomly at coffee shops and while traveling.. These are all people from different countries, cultures and backgrounds, all whom I had so much fun with. A trip down memory lane includes going out every weekend (college life!), dinners together, hot tub and pool pre-parties, weekend trips to Canada, different sporting events, late night coffee runs, movie nights and more traveling. While some reside in Norway, some in the U.S. and some in other countries, they are still people I consider to be my best friends and I know it will remains that way regardless of how often we talk/I see them! ♥
Seize every opportunity This is probably one of the important aspects of studying abroad and something I learned pretty fast; seize every opportunity! Whether it’s smiling and talking to a stranger, meet someone you barely know for coffee or accept the invite to attend a party where you don’t know anyone – these are all situations that led to some of the best experiences and funniest memories I have had. On a academic level, I decided to challenge myself and asked my professors to participate in research & editing, I was a note-taker in another course and I completed independent research credits in areas of my major. Not only did I learned new things, but I polished my language skills, I gained more confidence and made some valuable connections/expanded my international network. The moral of the story is – seek out and seize every opportunity!
You will never be the same again Studying abroad just changes you, you will never be able to return back home being the same person as before you left. Studying abroad provides you with eternal memories of incredible experiences, you see so many beautiful things/places and you meet so many extraordinary people on the way. You live in a “bubble” that’s hard for people to understand unless they’ve been in the same situation. I actually suffered from “reverse culture chock” when returning to Norway after three years, which was rather difficult. Six years has gone by since I returned to Norway and it will always be the country I consider home, however, I do miss living in the US sometimes. In the same way as things will never be the same again, I will never be the same again – but in a good way I guess! 😊
Overall, studying abroad is something I would recommend to everyone. If that’s something you’re thinking about, I hope this post will give you a new perspective on the study abroad experience. In addition to receiving an academic degree (because let’s face it – it’s why you’re there in the first place!), you’ll also polish your language skills, make lifelong friendships with people from around the world, experience new cultures, find new interests, become more confident/independent, create connections and expand your international network, and lastly, see more of the world! 🌍
Did you ever study abroad? And what was the most important thing you learned? 😊
Today is September 1, which means fall is officially here! Fall is without a doubt my favorite season; it’s the perfect time to slow down after a hectic and often very social summer (Please tell me I’m not the only one feeling the need to be overwhelmingly social during the summer months?) and to enjoy everything this season has to offer – there is nothing better than those first breaths of cold and crisp air, the changing color of the leaves, fall inspired drinks on coffee shop menus, and delicious fall-inspired dinners with friends & family!
For the longest time, one of my goals has been to discover more of Norway and I love being outside, so what’s better than going on a hiking trip?! 🙂
Last week I checked of another point of my Bucketlist; I hiked Gaustatoppen!
Gaustatoppen rises majestically above Rjukan in Telemark, Norway and with it’s 1833 meters above sea level, it provides one of the best panoramic views in Norway! On a clear day (which we we’re blessed with!), you can see as much as 1/6 of Norway. The trip is approximately 4,5 km one way and takes about 3 hours included breaks. One the top you’ll find Gaustadtoppen Tourist Cabin – the lodge under the sky where trekkers and mountaineers meet. They serve warm and cold drinks, a small selection of food, and the most delicious waffles I have ever tasted!
Here are some pictures if you’d like to see;
I have wanted to see more of Norway for the longest time, so I just decided to get started! Have you been to Gaustatoppen before? If not, it’s a trip I highly recommend! 🙂
Have you ever had a “life-changing experience”? And what really is the definition of “life-changing”? The answer to that question would probably differ from person to person, but to me, a life-changing experience refers to “what it takes to transform your life in a way that you find greater meaning and satisfaction in what you do on daily basis” – in other words, an experience that encourages you to go after what you want!
I look back at my study abroad adventure as one of the most life-changing experiences of my life. Not only because it was my childhood dream coming true, but because of all the things I learned academically and about myself, the friendships I formed with people from around the world (you know who you are!), all the new places I got to see, and all the fun things I got to experience!
Growing up, to study abroad was my childhood dream. I dreamed of going to an American high school and to do all the fun things you see in movies, such as hanging out with friends, have a sleepover, go to prom, go on a road trip and to sporting events. Unfortunately it wasn’t an option for me (due to the major I choose in high school, I wouldn’t get the year abroad approved in Norway), I therefore decided to go to college instead and let me tell you – that was one of the best decisions of my life!
Some of my best memories from my study abroad experience includes;
♥ Springbreak in Florida with a great group of people
♥ Many road trips (The longest one was from Grand Forks, ND – Miami, FL)
♥ A great weekend trip to Winnipeg, Canada with my best friend Fe
♥ Countless fun parties over many weekends with amazing people
♥ I got to experience a real Thanksgiving celebration with American families
♥ Spring break in California/Nevada with my husband; we flew into Los Angeles, rented a car and hit the road – we visited Santa Monica, Venice Beach, Malibu and ended our trip in Las Vegas. It was so much fun!
♥ Many birthdays (among them the big 21st!) and Halloween celebrations
♥ Different cultural and sporting events
♥ Spring-fest (celebration at the end of spring semester – day drinking and concerts!)
♥ Forming friendships with amazing people from around the world
♥ A week in Minneapolis and graduation with my husband and family, followed by a nice vacation in Mexico
Here is a trip down memory lane.. ♥
It’s fun to look back at pictures that was taken 6-8 years ago, which also reflects the bad quality of some of the pictures, hehe.. So many good memories!
Have you ever had a life changing experience? If so, do tell! 🙂
I believe that a Bucketlist is a never ending journey – you will always add new things as you live (at least I do!). A while back I posted my Top 100 Bucketlist Points, which I now expanded to 200 – here’s the new points I added to my list! 🌍
1. Voluntair in a third-world country 2. Swim in the Blue Lagoon, Island 3. Hold a koala 4. Enjoy a dinner outside in nature ✔️ 5. Start my own business 6. Write a letter to my future self (and read it 5 years from now) 7. Complete a meditation course 8. Go on a cabin trip in the Norwegian mountains ✔️ 9. Attend a black-tie event 10. Have an outdoor movie night ✔️ 11. Buy a same day plane ticket to another country 12. By stocks 13. Try 10 dishes from 10 different countries 14. Have a campfire on the beach ✔️ 15. Build a community of like-minded people 16. Attend a music festival in another country 17. Have a “crazy night out” with friends in Las Vegas 18. Go bar-hopping 19. Visit a national park 20. Sleep under the stars ✔️ 21. Create the perfect bar cart for our living room 22. Visit a farmers market 23. Go to a concert with a favorite artist 24. Watch a live NHL game 25. Grow a herb garden at home 26. Visit a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Norway 27. Order room service 28. Become a Delta Gold Medallion Sky-miles Member 29. Go on a canoe/kayaking trip 30. Hike the Table Mountain in South Africa 31. Collect money for a good cause 32. Meet the indigenous population of Norway 33. Make homemade ice cream 34. Be interviewed in a podcast 35. Rent a house/villa with a private pool 36. Go on a safari in Africa 37. Try soul cycle 38. Suprise a good friend 39. Rent a bike and explore Sullivan’s Island, SC 40. Run a (half)marathon 41. Sleep in a glass iglo at Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort in Finland 42. Ride a Segway 43. Tour a beer brewery 44. Attend a public speaking event 45. Try Bikram Yoga 46. Meet a person you consider a role model 47. Be someone’s mentor 48. Volunteer at a Elephant Rescue in Thailand 49. Find a charity to support that I’m passionate about 50. Go on a bike ride in Central Park, NYC 51. Eat a meal from a food truck✔️ 52. Ride a snowmobile 53. Eat Spanish food in Barcelona 54. Walk barefoot for a full day 55. Visit a museum om interest 56. Pet a kangaroo 57. Invest in a national costume (Bunad) 58. Visit Alcatraz, San Francisco 59. Eat a meal at Oslo Raw 60. Do a house sit 61. Publish my own fill-in-bucket list Book 62. Experience weightlessness 63. Try rafting 64. Try the tacos at Tacorepublica in Oslo 65. Go on a cruise 66. See the colorful houses along the waterfront in Nyhavn, Copenhagen 67. Be a brand ambassador 68. Have an amazing time at the Coachella Music Festival in California 69. Do a color run 70. Give a motivational speech 71. Attend a free outdoor yoga class in New York 72. Do a self-guided tour in a city 73. Do a good deed and try “plogging” (I did it – read about it here)✔️ 74. Walk on a suspension bridge 75. Discover the colorful streets of Seville, Spain 76. Take a photography class 77. Swim with sea turtles 78. Buy a cabin in the Norwegian mountains 79. Make your own Bucketlist book (with pictures + progress) 80. Jump of a cliff 81. Live with locals in another country (Lived with a host family in San Francisco in 2007 + in College with international roommates!) ✔️ 82. Conquer my biggest fear 83. Buy lunch to a homeless person 84. Spend the night in a castle 85. Experience Mardi Gras in New Orleans 86. Compete in a triathlon 87. See a Broadway Musical 88. Search for a bargain at the Rot Fai Market in Bangkok 89. Stomp on grapes to make wine 90. Visit a total of 20 different cities in Norway 91. Do a charity walk 92. Visit Lofoten in the summertime 93. Refinish an old piece of furniture 94. Invest in our dream home 95. Go wine tasting in Napa Valley, California 96. Dress up and see a show in the Opera, Oslo 97. Walk the entire Coastal Path in Stavern (35 kilometers) 98. Take a ride on Flåmsbanen – one of the “most beautiful train journeys in the world” 99. Experience the “real south” in Texas 100. Attend a movie premiere