September 2013. Summer was turning to autumn and new adventures awaited just around the corner. I was 19 years old and had just graduated from high school and put a whole summer of hard work behind me in order to save money. I felt free. No obligations, no school to go back to, no musts. I was eager to spread my wings and leave my nest. But I was also afraid. Afraid of not knowing what was to come. Afraid of not having plans. Afraid of not making the most of my life. Afraid of failing. But I knew that I wanted to do something, that I had to do something. Something special, something different. I wanted to see the world and start exploring it. And luckily I had my cousin and friend, the same age as I, beside me. We were on the same page, and we found support in each other. We could do this.
But, we could do… what? We had no idea. At first we just knew we wanted to do something. We talked about it a lot and since we are both interested in animals and nature, and care about those two things, we soon agreed that we could work as volunteers and combine that with some backpacking in order to explore some as well.
Now the real hard work began. We spent hours in front of the computer looking for different opportunities. It was a jungle. There are so many companies and different ways of doing this sort of thing. Sometimes I was near to just giving up and not going at all. But in the end this hard work was worth it ten times over. Finally we found an organization that seemed good, responsible, reliable and not too expensive. We applied, we got accepted, and so in a few months time we were going to Malaysia and Borneo to care for orang-utans and the rainforest. That sounded so exciting, interesting and meaningful at the same time!
After some more preparation, like vaccines, documents, flight tickets, packing and so on, we hopped on the flight to another part of the world. The first stop was Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. There we worked on a zoo with other volunteers and with the amazing and dedicated team from the organization APE Malaysia. We were mainly responsible for the care of the orang-utans but also helped with the chimpanzees that lived next door. The work included cleaning the cages and the out-door space, feeding them and enrichment work, which is playing with them, making toys out of coco-nuts, gathering banana leafs for them, hiding fruits in all sorts of things and giving it to them, and much more. Only creativity sets the limits. It was amazing to be there, so close to these incredible animals that are cute, intelligent and very much like us humans. But it was also hard to see them spend too much time in their tiny cages of cement and knowing that when we were not there the zoo keepers did not have time to do everything we did and care for them the way they actually need. But we had to see it from the positive side, that we enriched their days and made their time as good as possible under the circumstances.
After two weeks of hard but rewarding work at the zoo we went to a small river-village deep within the rainforest of Borneo. Just being there, in that environment and seeing the nature (so many shades of green) was breath-taking. Here our task was to plant trees and do maintenance work in recently planted areas to make a corridor so that the wild orang-utans can move more freely and through this increase their chances of survival. Due to the palm oil industry rainforest is cut down in order to plant palm oil trees, and this threatens the life of orang-utans among many other species. We also helped with some projects in the village, to help them support themselves without hurting their surrounding environment. And every day we went on the river and saw this amazing wildlife. Birds, crocodiles, snakes, lizards, monkeys and more. But the most special feeling was seeing wild orang-utans in their natural habitat.
After two weeks in the jungle we spent another month backpacking Malaysia and Indonesia, a very different but wonderful experience as well, with a lot of very blue oceans and very nice beaches but also great people, beautiful nature and good food.
I cannot describe how glad and grateful I am for having done this trip. This was an experience of a lifetime and a trip of many firsts. It was my first long trip (for more than two weeks) and my first trip alone (although I had my cousin with me, but alone in the sense of being without parents or anyone looking after me in the same way). It was the first time I came really close to a different culture and different ways of life. It was the first time I used a machete. It was the first time I touched (or even saw, for real) an orang-utan. It was the first time I planted a tree. It was the first time I tasted this kind of food. It was the first time I surfed. It was the first time I danced on a boat all night. It was the first time I got sick and went to a hospital in a foreign country. I learned a lot, I met new people, new cultures, I tried things. It was not always easy, but it was always rewarding. And this has only made me want more. More travels, more knowledge, more experiences, more memories, more friends, more exploring. More of everything.
Three Norwegian bloggers travel to Cambodia to visit in a sweatshop factory and a girl in working for 4$/day. From the day they arrive in they begin to see how different their lives are from the lives of people half way around the world. By the time their trip is over, much more than their outlook on the clothes they wear is changed. Their whole perspective is forever altered and their reactions when making the clothes they usually buy is a refreshing perpective. It is a series devided into 5 parts, 11 min each.
A shocking reality is brought to life as hiddens secrets are revealed by a crew that face great danger exposing them. It made me go vegetarian without longing for meat, something I didn't think was possible. Cowspiracy it is beautifully made and party directed by Leonado Dicaprio. Available on Netflix but be assured it has no chill.
Terrifying and eye-opening The Cove creates a sence of urgency. Rick O Barry is the main actor from the movie Flipper and feeling a sense of responsibility for the booming dolphin industry he takes risks and dare to face the anger of fishermen and government as he jumps into the pool of horrible secrets hidden away from the public. Follow him and learn facts that will make you gasp, cry and yell out "how is this happening?!"
As eyeopening as shocking, this shows the consecenses of keeping huge killer whales in captivity and how it hurts not only the anmals but the trainers. I have visited Seaworld and I never would have if I watched this first. Also shows how cooperations are willing to do just about anything to keep their skeletons in the closet.
Adam Ruins Everything
Adam Conover turns life as we know it on its ear by showing us how unnecessary, and sometimes horrible, things we think we know to be real and true really are.
Highly humorous the series is as strong in visual effects as it is with claims on social norms. Rock solid that is. Find out if diamonds really are a girls best friend and if all figerprints are unique. Expect great facts that will make you spit out bad knowledge you've been fed.
The Choice Is Ours
Jacques Fresco is the futuristic genius behind The Venus Project. Visit a whole new world with the environment and abundance of its center where no one stress about money and robots do all heavy work. It's a peep into a possible reality and it sparks a glimmer of hope knowing that there is a crew creating this right at this second.
Abisko is a tiny village located on the shores of one of Sweden´s largest lakes, Torne Träsk. Nestled
deep within the mountains of a National Park and easily reached by train it is one of the most
accessible places for those wishing to experience the true Swedish Lapland. The train tracks were
built specifically for the transportation of raw iron (an extremely lucrative business) which means
they are beautifully maintained no matter the weather conditions. Overnight trains run from
Stockholm twice a day and it´s only about an hour to the closest airport in Kiruna. In spite of this,
Abisko National Park is abundant with untouched nature that contains several endemic species as
well as moose, reindeer, wolf and wolverine. Due to its´ location in the valley, the village is in a so-
called rain-shadow, leading to many cold nights with clear skies and stunning Northern Lights (Aurora
Borealis) throughout the wintertime.
Where to live
As the village is small there are not many options, but the ones that do exist are definitely up to
standard. For a more budget-friendly backpacker styled hostel, AbiskoNet in the middle of the village
is the perfect match offering both privates and dorms at a reasonable price. For a small fee (€15) you
also have access to snowshoes and skis throughout your stay and at the end of the night a free
Swedish sauna will help you heat up those frozen limbs. This is my hostel of choice.
The STF Hostel is mid-range in price and boasts a gourmet restaurant and a souvenir shop as well as
the Tourist Information Center. It is located about two kilometers outside the village, however it is
also much closer to the start of the National Park and its´ tracks. The trains stop at this station too.
Finally there is also the semi-luxurious Mountain Ski Lodge behind AbiskoNet, more popular from the beginningof March when the ski season truly takes off. They offer private bungalows and have one ofthe only two bars available in “town” (the other is next to the candy outlet.)
There is one thing every single person who comes up here to the cold cold north wants to
see: the supernatural green fires dancing and jumping across the sky, playfully disappearing
every so often only to reappear minutes later behind you. No wonder my ancestors believed
in magic. You can see them from anywhere in the village on most clear nights, however the
lake is the best place when it hasn´t frozen over as the Northern Lights reflect beautifully in
the water. The Helipad behind AbiskoNet and the Ski Lodge is another great place, away
from the disturbing lights of the village.
2. If the lake has frozen over Ice-fishing is definitely something to try out. Layer yourself (like an
onion!) with warm clothing and make your way out on to the ice to drill a hole. Place yourself
on a chair, get your fishing rod ready and prepare to wait. The easiest, and safest, way to this,
is by going on one of the tours held by the tour companies in the village They will provide you
with all the necessary equipment and make sure you don´t break the ice.
Dog - Sledding
The most enchanting way of having a look around the National Park is definitely behind a
group of eager huskies. Can it get more Lapland than this? More adventurous people choose
to have a crash course in dog-sled driving before setting off behind the instructor with their
own sledge and dogs. Others choose to lean back and relax and leave the driving to the
professionals. Make sure to book early as this is definitely the most popular activity around!
Cross Country Ski
Getting the hang of this makes exploring the grounds a lot easier and faster, not to mention the fact that the exertion will keep you warm from top to toe. Just remember not to put on too much clothing, sweat freezes once you stop to pick up your camera! If you are unsure of your skiing skills or do not
feel like doing it uphill, try Snow Shoes. In the deep snow of the winter they´re essential
when going on mountain hiking trips. The short hike up towards Paddus offers breathtaking
views over the lake and mountains and is a (free!) alternative to the lift up to the Aurora sky
Although the opening hours in the wintertime are few and far apart, a visit to the Naturum
next to the Tourist Information center is definitely worth it. The exhibition here will tell you
everything you need to know about the flora and fauna of this biologically diverse area as
well as the Native Sami People and their age-old coexistence with the reindeers. Usually they
also offer screenings of locally made films treating these very subjects.
Visit The Sami Outdoor Museum
While heading for the world-famous hiking trail Kungsleden you would do yourself a favor if
you take a detour past the open air museum of an old Sami village. The structures of the
tents draw to mind those of the Native Americans´, however the people here lived in these
throughout an almost ever-present winter with temperatures down to -40C. It will blow your
mind as you walk between the buildings with your modern-day gear and heat packs to think
that once they were able to live in these very houses with only what nature had to offer.
Remember that the village is located many miles above the Arctic Circle! The temperature can drop
20 degrees within a few hours and the weather can be very difficult to predict. Make sure to always
check with reception before heading out as the weather report might have changed within the last
hour. It is also important to understand that with a bit of wind a -25C might be experienced as a -30C.
Bring many layers of warm clothing and sturdy hiking boots and if you haven´t got enough
equipment; rent it from the hostel/hotel. Heat packs for hands and feet are great for those of you
with bad circulation as these body parts tend to freeze first. Make sure to go inside to heat up
regularly throughout the day and have a general idea of the distances between the places you wish
My final tip is an important one. This is the Arctic. Please prepare to be stuck an extra day or two in
Abisko due to difficult weather conditions. The train company will not let the trains run if the
temperature drops below -35C, the reason behind this being that they can´t guarantee peoples´
survival should the train break down. If you are flying out from Stockholm to another country, add an
extra day or two to spend in the capital. If all works according to plan you get to experience
Sweden´s beautiful capital. If not, you won´t have to get stressed out over missing an expensive flight and can focus on enjoying Lapland. The same goes for those of you flying out from Narvik or Tromsö in Norway.
Please take care of yourselves and have an epic time in the Land of the Midday Moon!
I realize a lot of my stories start in airports, I guess that is because I see them as a no-man´s land. I am in transit to another place and so are the people around me. It makes actions simpler, unbound from norms, happening in a people-cocktail full of cultural differences. In this cocktail, going back a few weeks, me and my intransit body are sitting by my gate in Barcelona. Across from me is a rastafari guy with big rings, a football jersey and braided hair. He looks like the sportsfan son of an African king and has a regal posture. As I plug my earphones in to get my relax on, I see him asking an older Caucasian couple a question while pointing to a gate. What happens next shocks me. With Enya as soundtrack I witness how the couple look at this profilic stranger with disgust and get up to leave without uttering a word. The prince-like man slumped back in his seat now looking more like a warrior that just lost a battle. He stared at the floor like he was searching for the glow that just fell of him.
Seeing what seemed to be an obvious racist gesture I got a huge lump in my throat. Enya now sounded less like an angel and more like a sad screatch. I unplugged her from my ears, got up and walked over to him. "Do you mind watching my bags sir" I said, the hidden message beeing " We are not all the same, I trust you" upon wich he straightened his back and replied. "of course madam, my pleasure". I walked off inwardly cursing my first thought (what if he acually stole my bags now, I would never be able to trust another stranger ever again). But soon realized how silly I was beeing and questioned weather I would have had that thought, had my belongings been protected by a white middle aged man. Since I didn´t really need to do anyhing I walked around and had a look in some shops. When I came back I saw my bags standing right where I left them along with the smiling gentleman that had kept them safe. In that moment I was overcome with happiness because I felt my prejudices leaving. I had proved them wrong.
As I sat down, with my newfound trust, me and the man started a conversation. It turned out this kind stranger, named Fadel, was not only fluent in five languages but also had wast amounts of knowledge in all subjects we discussed. We ventured into the topic of religion and he explained he was a muslim, which he followed up with " and you do not need to be scared". "I know" I replied with a smile, upset that he felt he needed to explain himself. When I told him I was not religious but still full of beliefs he laughed and said that he respected that and me, for beeing open and honest. In the backdrop I could hear people around us whispering and feel how the older causatian coulpe stared with owl-like faces. But some gave us, the interracial strangers, proud smiles and it was clear that we made an impact. That short moment of clarity was the start of a great friendship and as Fadel boarded his plane to Somalia I walked over to mine, heading to Sweden. Soon we would be a thousand miles apart but the ideas we shared and that moment created in no-mans land will remain.
Sometimes I wish I was a boy. It feels as if the whole business of traveling would be so much easier, especially if I travel to countries where the thought of a female professional is absurd, not to mention a solo traveler. It can be tiring always having to think of choosing the upper bunk in the hostel dorm to avoid a drunken roommate "accidentally" ending up crashing into it at four o clock in the morning for a bit of "cozy time", remembering which nationalities you can smile at without it meaning you're up for everything and the ever present thought of "how do I avoid getting raped?"
Sometimes I wish I was a brunette. In fact I wish I could look like my friend of African, Mediterranean and Germanic descent. She possesses an ability to pass by unnoticed in a large percentage of the world, blending with the locals without problems. I on the other hand, with my blonde hair and fair skin, get stared and shouted at as soon as I go south of Switzerland.
Yes, being a boy of mixed ethnicity would probably make travel a lot easier. I would Couchsurf my way across the world and try living with the locals in Morocco, India and Peru without worries. My mother probably wouldn't stare at me with horror struck eyes as I express my wish to travel Central America.
When I look at what I do have however, these issues quickly fade in to the background. I'm from one of the richest countries in the world. I do not pay for my education and I can even study for my degree in four different countries if I so wish. As a young woman I have the opportunity to work and save my own money and go travel to the other side of the world. How many 22-year old girls throughout the world can say the same?
Travel has taught me to appreciate what I have and what I have been given more than anything else. Because even though at times it can be so utterly and frustratingly difficult, I also know that the mere fact that I’m able to travel this way shows how privileged I am. So I try not to take even the small things for granted. I try to stop for a few minutes every day to allow myself to just feel grateful for all that I have and for a while put everything else aside. I try not to upset myself over bagatelles. And I am a much happier, calm and healthy-minded person because of it.
Sometimes small changes can make a big difference. Here is how to make a 360 on your intake by only switching out one ingredient!
Instead Of Pasta
Bean pasta / Chickpea pasta
Contains four times less carbohydrates, and four times as much protein as regular traditional pasta. It is also six times richer in fiber. Plain pasta is made from wheat flour while this alternative is simply soy beans or chickpeas. It is a great choice if you experience sensitivity to gluten because they are gluten free and perfect if you want to cut down on carbs. These great options are available in most grocery stores.
Zucchini has little calories and contain potassium, vitamin A, folic acid and a lot of carotene and vitamin C. Potassium helps control blood pressure, because it reduces the harmful effects of salt. Vitamin C can help your blood cells function better, lowering blood pressure and protect against clogged arteries. Thus, zucchini lower the risk of stroke and heart disease.Zucchini Pasta is done by slicing the zucchini lengthwise into long strips and then pour in the strips in lightly salted boiling water for about 15-20 seconds. Drain, serve.
Rice is low in fiber and contain starch that affect our blood sugar negatively. By selecting cauliflower rice you get a higher fiber and protein dose that will make you stay full longer .In some supermarkets you can buy it pre-made but it is also very easy to make your own. Simply tear a large head of cauliflower on the thickest side of the grater, drop into boiling water for 10 seconds and then pour in a colander to rise of the water. Done!
Is unpolished unlike ordinary rice. Since the case around the grains is keeping nutrition value and inducing you meal higher amounts of fiber and B vitamins.
Great source of protein, rich in dietary fiber and low in saturated fat. It is also free from gluten.
Swedish Rice (Mathavre)
A whole grain product, and because oats are our most nutritious cereals and contains unsaturated fat and soluble dietary fiber is one of the best alternative to plain rice.
Sweet Potato Wedges
First of all sweet potatoes are significantly more nutritious than regular potatoes. The sweet potato is namely a kind of herb that is packed with antioxidants and are rich in vitamins C and E. It contains beta carotene and minerals and, last but not least fibers that are good for digestion.
Oven Roasted Root Vegetables
Carrots, parsnips and celery. Root vegetables are high in water and fiber and low in calories.
Plus they are yammi ;)
I´ve always been depending on the likes of others.
As a kid I´d spend every childhood hour with someone. Friends came to my house after school constantly and when one left I called the next. I basically had backup-pals on speed dial. "Hurry ! I´m home alone!" Wich was not true because my parents where there and I made no traps for burglers. Philoshophy wise I valued company, discussing my thoughts made them real and nothing had meaning without beeing shared. I was at a point where I´d rather read a book next to someone then alone. Julia Roberts laying in Hugh Grants lap seemed like a perfect relationship. Just beeing... sharing time.
At school discos the lone rangers in the corners where classed as wierdoes and I used to give casanovas who asked me out a fake number that played Akon´s song " lonely" when called. Wich was a huge insult back then so it was horrible I know! Kids are evil. Blame child me.. now it goes straight to Match.com. Much nicer!
Then there are the norms. No matter what, in Sweden, you get looks, but no more then when your companionless (urban dictionary, your welcome!) Then pure stares are guaranteed. Does he/she have the plague or even worse.. independence? As the audience try to decide wheather to pity or envy that lone wolf judgement is filling the air and that can be hard not to breathe in, even with all that independence as a shield.
Fast forward to adult life and the addiction becomes more of a burden. I lose countless amounts of toothbrushes to sleepovers and my clique have flaky excuses for not hanging out they call " work". What! You are going to make money instead of laying in a sunspot on the floor listening to music with me? Where are your priorities?
.. So as therapy for my unsocial-phobia I increasingly started going places all by myself, and as Celine Dion knows I don´t want to be... all by myself. Let me tell you mates, it turned out to be an absolute revelation! I got clarity, new friends and I get a whole lot of work done.
So ask yourself.. have you gone to a party, the movies or even dinner solo?
Did that thought make you uncomfortable? Then you probably should.
Life will always keep challenging you. That is hard fact. Whatever you do to escape it, somehow
challenges show their ugly face at the most inconvenient moments. When out traveling these can
range from trying to be cleaner than when you entered as you walk out of a hostel shower that
obviously hasn´t seen soap since the last millennia, to missing your bus, which means you will miss
your plane which in turn means you will miss your connection and suddenly thousands of dollars
have been wasted and you stand there stranded in a foreign country (or worse, it happens before
you have even left your own country to go on that big adventure you´ve dreamt about!)
Sometimes they´re small and easily fixed, like going out on a hunt for earplugs when your bunkmates can´t seem to shut up before four o´clock in the morning. Sometimes they´re big and scary, like when you realize you´re in the need of hospital care when alone in a foreign country and you know the medical staff probably won´t speak any language you know. And sometimes what should have been an easy trip to the supermarket for earplugs turns into an impossible mission when you discover that the closest supermarket is outside the National Park, four hours away, and what should have been a very scary challenge becomes a piece of cake when the hospital interpreter informs you of your simple throat infection and recommends a few days’ rest.
Having said this I suppose you are now wondering why I suggest in the title of this post that you
ought to actively create challenges for yourself as well. Aren´t life´s own enough? But I would argue
that few things in life makes you grow as much as overcoming a challenge. The thing is that these
vary from person to person. I myself am guilty of looking up to people, thinking how extremely brave
they must have been to accomplish what they have done. But what if the whole time they were
acting within their comfort zone? For some it might be a steady economy and a house in suburbia
but for others perhaps the extreme conditions at Mount Everest Base Camp paints a much less
daunting picture. I assume some people would be absolutely terrified faced with the opportunity to
move to a country on the other side of the planet where they do not speak one´s mother tongue. I
was excited and nervous at the prospect of moving to New Zealand, but in the end the positive
aspects outnumbered the negative as I knew I was a far better fit for the vagabond lifestyle of a
traveler than I ever was for the model Swede in a normal day-to-day life.
Instead I challenged myself in other ways. I exposed myself to my very worst fears again and again. I
didn´t have to drag my poor claustrophobic body through tight cave systems or throw it off cliffs and
force it to live through the horrific feeling of falling. Yet I did it and what I took from it was a better
understanding of myself and what I am capable of. I might not be any less scared of entering
enclosed spaces but now I know I can do it if I have to. I also put myself in social situations I had
always shied away from earlier. I spoke to everyone. I dared to open up and let people in under my
skin even though I knew I was going to have to leave them at one point or another. I trusted
strangers. The reward was hundreds of new relationships with fantastic people that blew my mind
with their generosity and a greater understanding of the fact that the things that make you the
saddest can also make you the happiest. In the end it was all these “unnecessary” challenges that taught me the most about myself, the world and all of you with whom I share it. So never stop
challenging yourself, no matter how easy it is to stay within your own personal boundaries, and
remember that the definition is always up to you and not the society around you.
As the great Neale Donald Walsch once said:
“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone”
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Are you afraid? ..of spiders, commitment, death or Nicholas Cage? Does the picture above make you tingle? You can become fearless and that is a superpower plus it ups your cool factor an insane amount.
Pretending you´re someone else relieves the pressure. Bring out your acting skills to seperate yourself from the situation, like Beyonce in the elevator. We wonder if that was her or Shasha Fierce. If it all goes bad blame that person but not out loud, then you might seem scitzofrenic. Making up the name is half the fun.
Read more about alter egos Beyonce & the power of the "Alter Ego"
Think Of What You Have Achieved
Replay all the cool things you´ve already done like a trailer in your mind. You walking away from explosions or jumping out of planes. Pepp talking is one of the best ways to stay positive in the face of fear and works as an awesome confidence boost.
What Is The Best That Could Happen
You don´t want to be thinking about what can go wrong when doing what you fear. Think of what could go right and how you will celebrate when it does. Also imagine how proud you will be having overcome the monster of an obstacle that is fear.
You can´t win the game if you don´t enter the race. Take deep breaths and grab the bull by the horns. You really cannot overcome it unless you actually do it. It is as simple as that.
Figuring out what meaning you have in this world exhilarates you and gives you confidence. Putting your focus on a cause or those you´re helping means removing yourself from the situation. Clear your mind and see the bigger picture. You do what you do because of a reason and that reason will take away any insecurity.
What would you do if you knew you could not fail, now go out and do it!
Today is not an ordinary day since I'm turning 22. To be honest, birthdays are actually nothing special for me anymore. It was just more exciting when one was a kid. However, I'm still happy to get older and to feel extra special one day of the year. But I actually don't mind if people forget it or whether I get any presents or not, like in "the good old days", when it was the most important issue without a doubt.
Well, there's one big difference this birthday compared to previous ones. As a twin, I'm used to share more or less everything together with my twin brother. Above all, birthdays. Today, it's getting a little bit complicated because we are in different countries. As a matter of fact, I am living in Vienna for the moment since I'm an exchange student there for one semester. My brother, on the other hand, is fully busy with his education in Örebro, Sweden. Basically, this means that there are no chances to share this day together, which is a strange feeling for both of us. But I'm not complaining about this fact. Although I'm without my family this extraordinary day, I don't feel bad about it. Firstly because my birthday doesn't have the same meaning for me anymore, secondly because it's a new experience and a barrier to breake for me which I like since I always strive for new experiences in my life. I mean, how would it be if everything was exactly the same, year after year? It might be nice to a certain extent maybe, but I always advocate changes and variation. In the long-term, it will enrich your life.
My current life in Vienna is amazing. It was a big challenge from the start. Especially since it was the very first time I moved abroad and settled down in a new, unknown country. I went here alone, on purpose, to make it "even worse" just because I wanted. It was an excitement for me to put myself outside my comfort zone and go somewehere else to study, meet new friends, travel and create memories. Memories that I will save for the rest of my life. I knew that this exchange would encompass a lot of challenges. Nevertheless, today I've been here for four months and there are less than three weeks remaining, which is unbelievable. I have to admit that the decision of moving abroad is one of the best choices I've ever made. This mobility period have been an incredible experience which had given me so much new insights about other countries and cultures. In addition, I have also improved my language skills in both English and German, which was one of my main aspirations before I got here.