The importance of travelling

As the proverb says: travel is to live. Since I started travelling often I realised how true this motto is. I tend to measure my time from one trip to the other, so when my day at work is particularly hard I’m motivating myself with simply stating when I’m going to visit some great place. Right now I’m counting days until my next adventure: I’m going for a weekend to Brussels, Belgium with a couple of friends and that is exactly what makes me endure some tough moments.

The impulse to travel is one of the hopeful symptoms of life.

So why is it that sometimes we forget travel makes us happy and instead we rot at home? Mostly it’s the amount of chores we impose on each other, deadlines, sometimes feeling overwhelmed with social issues and workload. I know that when I become corporate robot I forget about anything really and simply sink in all the chores. If you’re in the same place right now where you walk and walk but you’re always in the same spot and feel zero motivation to move and drive anywhere really, here are several reasons why you should keep going and never give up on travelling.

1. Travelling broadens horizons and makes you a better person

It sounds strong, doesn’t it? Like getting into a car and driving to a nearby city for a sightseeing tour would make you truly a better person. And yet… It’s true, or at least I believe so. Going on an excursion always broadens your horizons. Even if it’s very short, to a place you’ve already been to, it’s still going to teach you something. It’s going to build up your experience and simply make you wiser. Example? Visiting another nation and learn about their culture.

Bonus anecdote: When I moved to Portugal (for my Erasmus) I was pretty much disgusted with all the people simply snapping their fingers to call a waiter at a restaurant. I thought it’s so rude! And yet… it’s normal there, so I learned that when I’m in Warsaw, I don’t have to get all airtight and silently rant and rave on their bad manners, but rather understand they might come from a completely different place than I do.

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A photograph of Prague, Czech Republic 2018

2. You can learn another language and improve your CV (resume)

Learning languages is vital. I don’t think I can stress enough how amazing it is to be able to communicate in a foreign language wherever you go. Right now, I’m using skills I learned years ago and can (hopefully) successfully communicate with you, my dear Reader in English. Before I moved to Portugal I used to learn the language from books and some additional classes, but only when I moved my knowledge of Portuguese sky-rocketed. Knowing languages can improve your position in applying for a job or even grant you get one!

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Nazare Beach in Portugal, 2014

3. Travelling makes you stay younger

Ok, I might not have any scientifical proof that it’s true, but I do believe travel makes you more active and therefore younger. Constant planning and plotting stimulates the brain and sightseeing is a great way to reach your 10000 steps needed for a healthy lifestyle. Moreover, when you spend so much money on plane tickets and hotels you just can’t afford food anymore… Just kidding, although it might be true in some cases. For New Years Eve this year I travelled to a city of Torun in Poland. Just for one day, a very short trip. And during this day I visited so many places, I walked more than 20 km in less than 10 hours!

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Barcelona, Spain, 2014

4. You can make friends from across the globe and cement relationships you already have

Meeting people from around the world not only broadens the horizon (see point 1), but also creates connections which not only let you have so much fun, but also allow you to travel further and cheaper. I keep in touch with many of my friends from Erasmus and we’ve exchanged many trips (I travelled to their hometown, they visited mine) for a fraction of a normal price. But what’s most important? The memories, because as you know, people forget years and remember moments. All these precious moments laughing at similarities and differences between our cultures (sometimes very distant, hello, my Brazilian friends!), teaching each other various things or simply hanging around could never be the same if I only had friends from my own country.

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Porto, Portugal, 2014

5. Travel lets you experience amazing cuisines

Oh, the food… how I love it. One of the best virtues of travelling is trying out different cuisines, flavours and products. My long time dream is to visit Italy, Parma, to be exact, and try all the amazing dishes there, including pizza with potatoes and different flavours of pasta. When I visited Croatia last year I fell in love with white wine (Grasevina), sea food, eating freshly caught tuna grilled at the beach, watermelon at noon under an umbrella, and so forth. Celebration of food teaches us love of life. I also learned several tricks of Croatian and Portuguese cuisine and definitely improved my cooking skills.

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A great steak in Lisbon, Portugal

So let’s go on an adventure!

So, don’t dwell on tough times, take a look at some sites with cheap flights, bus or train tickets or even, for a free trip, pack your bag and venture to a place you’ve never visited in your city. Learn new things and don’t let work and chores overwhelm you. Travelling really is a sollution for sadness!

Do you travel often? If yes, did you learn anything interesting during your trips?

Let me know in the comments.

5 ways to follow a Slow Living Movement

Slow movement has been around for over a decade and ever since 2015 I’ve been trying to join in. Fascinated with discovering new ways in which I can simply relax and decrease the tempo of my life I have searched for many clues and tips on how to implement several aspects of Slow Life into my own existence.

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Starting from an explanation as to why I think it’s something worth looking up, let me quickly mention that in 2015 I moved to Olsztyn (a beautiful city in a Warmian district of Poland) where I worked on a construction site. I didn’t know anyone in that particular city, nor at the company I worked for, and having no WI-FI connection I drifted towards spending my entire time with work colleagues in the office. I can’t express how much I regret it, especially since I know now how it turned out at the end, but what I learned is that living with such a great rate can be detrimental to your physical and emotional health. At some point I was so tired of constantly working (also partying) and being surrounded by people and chores that I got a terrible case of irritated stomach which led me to eat only boiled vegetables for a week. I was exhausted and lost and the thing that helped me the most were long walks along lakes and through forests.

In that same period I received a book about eliminating all chemical components from food and living a more healthy lifestyle. I didn’t implement many of the tips into my own life, but it was a factor that influenced my interest in Slow Movement in general. The author of the book was very much in love with the concept and she advised all the readers to tag along. I looked up all the information I needed and learned about FOMO (Fear of missing out) and other concepts related to how fast the world revolves around us and how much information we are flooded with each day.

For a time I have stopped trying to implement Slow Life and I focused on my career, education and other aspects, which at that time seemed more important. Then, when I least expected it, I reached a rather dark period of my life. I remember it was December 22nd of last year and it was already 5 PM. I was at work, last day before Christmas holidays, and the remaining task of the day was to simply get some papers signed, but that particular day it honestly seemed like the entire world is against me. I finished so late I didn’t have enough strength to go to my mom and help her with all the “cooking”.

When I got home I was so frustrated I decided to never let myself work longer than I absolutely must, try harder than anyone else and do things that are not within my scope of responsibility. During that moment I learned instantly how to say no to my coworkers and how to stay focused on what I am paid for and not constantly performing tasks for other people. It doesn’t mean that I don’t help anyone, of course, it means that I spend my work hours doing the actual work I am paid to do. I got back after the holidays and started leaving work at 3 or 4 PM. My friends looked at me with disapproval at first, but with time they gladly joined. Also, ironically, I got praised way more often by my supervisors – I was well-rested, driven and motivated to perform MY TASKS the best I could. That’s when I truly believed the concept of living slowly is beneficial to all.

Now when you already went through all this rather long preface let me get to the point.

During my introspective work I established 5 main points on how to join the Slow Life Movement.

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One of my favourite ways to relax. Playing a boardgame with Floret outside in the warm, summer weather.

5 ways to follow a Slow Living Movement

1. Respect your time.

I really can’t stress that too strongly. If you are not paid for working overtime… don’t. If you feel uncomfortable with someone and often feel left out by your friends – just don’t spend time with these people. If you constantly feel stressed  at work you should think of changing it or adjusting your attitude (about it later on in point 5).

Like I said above, I had a great problem with establishing boundaries in my life in terms of work. I thought that the more I tried the better people will perceive me and treat me like a better employee. I was wrong. I busted my ass off and after that unforgetful December afternoon I’d been working 50% of what I usually did and I am praised even more often. I am well rested, have more energy and motivation to finish tasks I am assigned to do – not some additional chores I impose on myself because I feel like they are required of me.

Sometimes when I read all those “tips and hints” written by corporate rats on how to be a perfect employee and I see words like driven, ambitious, confident, going extra mile, I feel like smashing my laptop on the floor (and it’s the laptop from my work, so that would cost me). Like seriously, you either do your job or not, if you go an extra mile for anything that is not for yourself you’re going to lose. People will see how much you’re trying and will use you for it. I know it sounds bitter, but it is true. Going an extra mile to improve YOURSELF – that is something that will make you stand out.

Let me give you an example (and prove I’m not just a corporation hater). I’ve been working in a designing office (for electrical installation, nothing concerning fashion – I know, a pity) and I used to stay many hours overtime to help my friend with his tasks. I wasn’t paid to do it, but I felt really sorry for him for being so overloaded with tasks. Up until I heard that he was lying around doing nothing while I have essentially done all his work. Well… at least he was honest that I was doing it well. I went an extra mile, but not for improving myself, but rather because I felt like I needed to be helpful.

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I spent a couple of minutes simply sitting here hugging with Floret. Solina lake is beautiful at this time of year. When the weather gets better we hope to rent a boat and check various islands on the lake.

2. Find time to relax.

It doesn’t have to necessarily be an entire week of frying your butt on a beach in Ibiza. You can start by simply spending a little bit of time just looking at nature, people passing you by or putting a face mask on. Whatever relaxes you (in my case playing PlayStation games with my boyfriend or reading a book) – either taking a walk, taking pictures of flowers or planting new monstera. Whatever works for you will be great. Try to implement at least 15 minutes of relax each day and increase this time every week by another 5 minutes until you reach at least and hour. (Side note: if your method requires electronics try to incorporate also something related with going out, at least a couple of times during the week). You will see how much your perception of things around you will change.

Right now I’m on holidays in Bieszczady Mountains again – I wrote about my first trip here in the post. This time I make it a point to enjoy the climate and nature in a greater extent. I took photographs of various flowers (as you probably noticed on Instagram and in this post) and both Floret and I want to explore new routes in the mountains.

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3. Try out slow-food.

In this world ruled by globalization access to food in developed countries is extremely easy. I can get food in 5 minutes, either by going out and getting it from shops/restaurants and my mom’s house or by ordering anything I like with UBEReats or any other application. This ease is quite frankly exhausting at some point. Not only do I have weight problems, I also more and more often get a case of troubled stomach from highly processed food.

The word “Slow” in slow living is an acronym which according to the most reliable source of information (sense the sarcasm here) Wikipedia stands for: sustainable, local, organic and whole – as in not processed. The same source also stands that the movement was set-up by an Italian man Carlo Petrini who protested vigorously against opening McDonald’s restaurant in Piazza di Spagna, Rome. Although I love to devour a Big Mac sometimes, I have to agree with Mr. Carlo. Such places, in this case the most famous square in Italy, should be filled with Italian spots, not something you can eat on a gas station everywhere in Europe.

If you want to join in the movement and eat in a Slow Living style I advise you cook everything yourself. Not only will it do wonders to your figure, it will most probably save you a lot of money. When I cook I tend to choose simpler dishes with less ingredients. I look up recipes on various sites (My favourite blog is the one named Kwestia Smaku, but unfortunately the author only publishes in Polish) and simply follow. I have learned many recipes I’ve never done before, which are not only quite uncomplicated (like spaghetti alio olio, penne arrabiata, chicken in carrot sauce, and so forth) but also delicious. Trying out slow cooking also made me eat a lot less meat – a tip to become a vegetarian soon.

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I know icecream is not really a superfood, but these crafter icecream of the orange cheesecake taste were just too delicious not to mention.

4. Know your value and keep your stand.

I can’t stress this point too strongly really. I have so many girlfriends who just don’t believe in themselves one bit. Because of self-doubt they are constantly insecure and full of unexplainable fears that cause them to get wild sometimes. Seriously, if I got a penny each time I had to convince my friends not to immediately dump their boyfriends or call their “sworn enemies” and call them out I would be a very rich woman. A very rich woman.

I sometimes have moments of self-doubt myself. Even today, in the morning I felt so unattractive, fat and… I don’t know, simply miserable, that the entire day seemed like a nightmare. Fortunately, I have Floret who reminds me sometimes, that there is so much to look for each day.

What I learned in life is that you are unique. There is absolutely no other person just like you and you should always be proud of who you are and strive to be better each day.

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5. Don’t ever let anyone bring you down. Keep your attitude positive.

You don’t have to (and most probably never will) be friends with everyone. There are always going to be people who despise you even if you’re another Virgin Mary. That’s just how life works and the faster you realize that the happier you will get.

If anyone around you keeps trying to bring you down… well, let’s just say the point I made above about getting rid of these people from your life is valid. What I am going to say now might seem harsh, but the above applies even to family members for me. If someone, whoever it is, brings you down – they don’t deserve to stay in your life.

About the second sentence of the title of this chapter: I think staying positive is a key to success in life. Even after the worst day sun comes up again. Always strive to see the bright side in things and never give up.

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And what are your thoughts on slow life? Have you ever tried the trend? Let me know in the comments.

Dorota

5 great ways to spend quality at home

I once read that home is the base where everything begins. It’s a place of relaxation and utter peace where we are able to simply unwind and rest after an entire week of work. I love staying at home, became a little bit of a couch potato recently –  totally not ashamed – and must have my own, personal time. Binge-watching Netflix shows, browsing through the Internet, watching YouTube videos of my favourite Creators and simply clearing my mind. This is all fine, I mean who of you doesn’t do it, right? At some point though, there comes a realization, that spending time watching YouTube might not be the best quality-wise time spent.

Realizing an issue exists is a first step to improve. At least that’s what my parents thought me when I was younger, so I analyzed and came to the conclusion there are numerous ways in which I can spend better-quality time at home.

1. Enjoy your time with board games

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I love playing board games. I bought and was gifted various of games including Catan, Scotland Yard, Monopoly (of course), Colt Express, The Witcher, Board the Train, Dixit and many others. Both Floret and I have been collecting games ever since we found an old version of the Scotland Yard in his parents’ house and we decided to play together. This is one of my favourite things to do during Friday evening when we don’t go out. It’s great; there’s rivalry, fun, all sorts of emotions and satisfaction.

Playing requires focus, it helps creating bonds within the family. Ever since I was young my parents used to play cards or European version of Monopoly called Eurobusiness with us. I loved it! I remember how happy I was when I got it for Christmas one year. The entire family played and it was great, I still recall those moments and even now, at the age of 27 I enjoy all sorts of board games. If you’ve never played I advise you to try out with something less complicated – like Monopoly. You won’t believe how entertaining that is.

2. Check out latest computer games

Ok, I’m not saying slay The Witcher III or God of War, by no means, but adventure games such as Uncharted 4 are great for all sorts of players! I love playing computer games – I was raised very closely with my older brother and we used to play together. If you’ve never played PlayStation4 games… What I can say is: that’s not what you think. Many people perceive gaming as a total and utter waste of time, but in reality it does improve your cognitive functions, it does make you notice details in the background faster and it definitely teaches you languages: look at me, never ever have I attended additional English classes and here I am, convincing you to check PS4 games out.

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Let’s take first example I mentioned above: Uncharted 4. This beautiful game created by Naughty Dog is a perfect example of how graphics improved within the last 5 years. This is a story of Nate Drake, a treasure hunter who helps his brother pay off his debt to a dangerous Gang Leader – by finding a pirate treasure. I can’t even describe how entertaining that games is – not only is it beautiful, it’s also humoristic, fun, packed with action and great plot twists. I enjoyed it so much I actually played it 4 times already, and each time I am home alone and cooking I simply turn on YouTube on my TV and watch Pewdiepie playing the game. Even now, when I’m writing this, my boyfriend Floret is just right next to me on the couch playing God of War

The titles I would recommend are: Uncharted series, The Last of Us (although way more aggressive), Until Dawn, Horizon, Dragon Age and of course, the king of all the games: The Witcher 3.

3. Read a book

If you believe that the art of reading in the computer age waned, particularly among children, is a sure sign that you are a Muggle.

These wise words were printed on my Polish copy of Harry Potter books when I first got them in 2001. I love reading – I always enjoyed spending a quiet evening with a book. I don’t even remember the time I didn’t know how to read – it’s simply like books were always with me. With age I shifted a little bit towards Crime genre, but I love Fantasy still. I don’t read much of Classical literature though – when I was in high school I made it a point to read a book from every single one of Nobel Prize Winners in Literature (which I did) but I can’t seem to remember half of the books I’ve read.

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There are though, pieces that you remember for your entire life. I loved reading Camilla Lackberg and of course the queen of crime literature Agatha Christie. I wanted to go now into which books I enjoyed but I can’t spend an entire year writing one post. I bought the book in the picture above today during grocery shopping and I’ve been craving to read ever since (meaning since yesterday) when I read the first part (I bought it and read it yesterday, that’s how hardcore of a crime reader I am).

I don’t think I have to advertise reading – it’s a common knowledge how great it is for broadening perspective and mastering imagination. Whenever I read, I truly feel like I am in a completely different world – Floret will confirm, even if he talks to me the sound just doesn’t get to my brain.

4. Plan your next holiday trip

I am soon planning to go for a short holiday in the mountains. I am a little bit overworked recently and decided to head for a camping trip at Solina Lake in Bieszczady Mountains – yeah, yeah, I know I’ve been there and shared pictures here, but the place is so stunning I had to see it again. For this trip, there is no planning required, but as I mentioned in my recent post about planning an EUROTRIP I was invited to spend some quality time in Croatia.

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As I’ve mentioned during the coverage of my Eurotrip experience, I’ve already been there once two years ago, so there was no need for me to purchase another guide. I am currently looking through maps, checking events and flights, prices for renting a car, distance from Dubrovnik to Montenegro and best beaches on the way. Finding things in advance might really improve the holidays experience and let us see things otherwise we wouldn’t even know of.

5. Sort through pictures!

I got you, didn’t I? Do you also have a pile of printed out pictures you should sort out but you never do because Netflix is so damn tempting? Is the pile stashed in a box from IKEA somewhere in your room and you pretend like it doesn’t exist because you feel guilty you were supposed to do something about it ages ago and you never did? Do you pray to God to become Bruce Almighty so you can use your stretching time capabilities to sort your pictures? Yeah, me too.

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I went for my Eurotrip 2 years ago and I still haven’t inserted my pictures in an album… – I am a terrible person, I know. I think sorting these out would bring a sense of piece of mind to me, so I might as well take care of it right about now. Keep fingers crossed!

And what do you do to spend a quality time at home?

Dorota