2018 had a few surprises in store for me and gave me many wonderful opportunities to grow and learn. New relationships have emerged and existing friendships have been deepened. Today I would like to review the past year with my personal highlights.
JANUARY – TEXAS, THE “PROPER” AMERICA
In January 2018, we spontaneously and unexpectedly spent almost a week in Texas. To be more specific, we went to Whitesboro in the north of the largest state in the US. Of course, we chose one of the coldest winters for our trip to Texas. We nearly went into a cold shock when we arrived in Dallas, considering we live in South Florida. Thank God a dear friend of mine lent me her winter jacket, which was a true lifesaver.
In Texas, we finally got an impression of rural life in America. One farm or ranch is located right next to another. Fresh air and wide fields as far as the eye can see. Personally, I liked that very much. We also had the opportunity to ride on Quarter Horses through the beautiful landscape. We visited the iconic Southfork Ranch, where “Dallas” was filmed. We stood outside in the freezing cold and grilled, not even kidding. For a warmer season, I like to come back and explore Texas a bit more.
By the way, I am going to write a detailed report on Texas.
Gained realisation: Melting marshmallows over a campfire is a very sticky but tasty affair.
FEBUARY – THE MOST IMPORTANT SPORT EVENT OF THE YEAR
In February, I attended my very first Super Bowl party. Not that I know anything about American Football, but our dear neighbors in our building are throwing a lovely Super Bowl Party every year. It is THE sporting event of the year for the big majority of Americans. It is like the American counterpart to the Soccer World Cup final. Nevertheless, I was able to chat with a couple of our neighbors who weren’t that interested in the game. So I ate from the delicious buffet, which consists of homemade dishes and talked about everything but football. It is a nice way to come together and enjoy yourself. Partys like this, are just as American as apple pie.
Gained realisation: Even if you are not interested in a particular event, you can have a great time. It all depends on the companionship you have.
MARCH – ICE ICE BABY
I watched my first ice hockey game ever and I was totally thrilled! Yes, Florida has indeed an ice hockey team and it is not that bad either. The Florida Panthers have even won 4:1 against the Buffalo Sabers. This circumstance makes watching even more fun.
Gained realisation: Trying new things is fun. And if not, you know at least.
APRIL – ANALOGUE IN THE DIGITAL WORLD
In April we started taking pictures with my husband’s old Pentax camera. But that’s not all. To put in a film into the analogue camera was not nostalgic enough for us. We thought: „If we do it, we do it the right way!“. That is why we got all the necessary chemicals to develop a film ourselves. With the help of online tutorials, we have managed the task quite well, in my opinion. As my father said so beautifully, „Guys, you are brave. We never dared to develop a color film ourselves.” (Since they always developed black and white films.) Sometimes ignorance is also a blessing, thus nobody could talk us out of developing films ourselves. I admit, some of the pictures came out bluish or greenish, but we are still proud of our “artworks”. With a slide scanner, we finally digitized the photos, so that we are able to present them online as well. So, I guess it is not working completely without digital devices. 😉
Gained realisation: Being creative and learning new things in the process, is incredibly enriching. And you can also dare to do things that appear intimidating first. But in the end you surely learn something.
MAY – GO WEST
Florida’s west coast is not to be underestimated. Although it is generally quieter here than on the East Coast, but that is exactly what you want to treat yourself. In May we spontaneously drove to Naples and spent the whole day there. It is an extremely cute little town right by the sea. It is the perfect place to relax. You can also admire the sunset on the beach for a change. Because in Miami, the sun is rising on the beach.
Gained realisation: I really appreciate small, cute towns.
JUNE – VISITING HOME
Finally, finally we flew back to our good old homeland. Together with our little dog we traveled to Germany to visit friends and family who live all over the country. We stayed for two weeks and it was so wonderful to see all my loved ones again. I am already looking forward to the next visit this year.
But it is also astonishing how I perceive my homeland after living abroad for two years. You definitely notice what you miss, but also what you miss less. Quite a strange feeling to be honest. The perspective changes obviously, if you live in another country for quite some time. But nevertheless I miss my homeland and especially the lovely people who live there.
I wrote another post, where I try to analyze what kind of things are so different here in the US compared to Germany. You can find this post here.
Gained realisation: Friends and family are the most valuable gift one can ever have. Not even the big ocean between us can change that.
JULY – INDEPENDENCE DAY
Celebrating Independence Day in the US is also one of my special moments in 2018. Sitting by the pool in the evening, surrounded by loving, tolerant people from different countries, was the best part of the evening. Eating, talking and celebrating together on this historic day, is what America is all about. It kind of felt like our long table was like a representation of how the US looks like. I loved it.
Gained realisation: People of different cultures and religions get on very well together. One eats, drinks, laughs and celebrates together at one table and is simply human.
AUGUST – A JOURNEY INTO THE PAST
On August 18th, I felt like a teenager again, because we attended an open air concert from Amy Lee from Evanescence. Together with a symphony orchestra she gave an outstanding performance. It was an unforgettable evening. The atmosphere was wonderful, the weather perfect and the music phantastic. I hope I also have many opportunities to go to concerts in this year.
Gained realisation: Time traveling is possible. At least emotionally. The power of music makes it possible.
SEPTEMBER – DISTINGUISHED GENTLEMAN’S RIDE
At the end of September we participated in our second Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride Bike Tour. These motorbike tours take place worldwide in the world’s major cities and are intended to draw attention to prostate cancer and male suicide prevention. A good cause in which you dress up nicely. Together with the other participants, we drove to the Keys and ate there together.
Gained realisation: The more the merrier.
OCTOBER – A NEW AGE BEGINS
Now I officially belong to the club of the 30s and I am very happy about it. Together with my better half, I went out to a delicious dinner to celebrate the day. As a special gift, I was surprised with the most beautiful sunset of the year. I’m really looking forward to my thirties.
Gained realisation: Despite my 30 years, I still have to show my ID. (But this is quite common in the US, to be fair.)
To celebrate the 30th birthday of a friend, we traveled to New York for four days. That was one of the best trips ever. We have done and seen so so much. Definitely a highlight in 2018. A detailed report on New York can be read here.
Gained realisation: I can imagine living in New York for a longer time.
NOVEMBER – BE THANKFUL
In November, the festive vibes start to rise. The temperatures drop slightly and the sparking decorations get installed. What I found to be cheesy and superfluous in the past, is now totally ingenious to me … see photo. I almost bought it. 😉
The highlight in November is, of course, Thanksgiving Day. Every year on the fourth Thursday of the month, you are especially grateful for everything you have and what you have achieved. At a mostly gigantic and elaborate meal, friends and family come together and fill their bellies. I also get better every year when it comes to preparing thanksgiving dishes. Considering we have a small kitchen, that does not include a dishwasher, I managed to cook a three course meal. Highfive to me!
Gained realisation: Preparation is key!
DECEMBER – CHRISTMAS WITHOUT SNOW
My second Christmas in summery temperatures. I would have never thought that is possible. At Christmas you need ice cold temperatures and snow! Well, evidently we manage well without those winter characteristics. It’s a bit strange to walk around the area, only wearing T-shirts and shorts while seeing decorated palm trees or artificial Christmas trees. But it’s also a lot of fun. Only the pictures of friends and family members from home remind me that it is indeed winter. Thanks to kitschy decorations (which I learned to like) and Christmas music, it is pretty easy for me to get into Christmas mood.
Incidentally, as in the past year, we are celebrating Christmas a bit different. That means, we are already unpacking our presents at Christmas Eve. That will probably never change 😉
Gained realisation: Celebrating Christmas without cold temperatures and snow is possible.
Those were my personal highlights from 2018. I am very excited about what awaits me this year. I hope it has wonderful moments, new insights and lots of love and health for all of you.
Happy New Year!