Going into 2017, I had no idea how it was going to pan out. Normally I have at least a tentative plan for an upcoming year, maybe some thoughts on travel, or some expectations for uni. But 2017? Zip, nada, nope.
Expecting to bring in the New Year in Poland, I ended up celebrating back home at the Falls Festival, Tasmania instead. This set the theme for things to come: unexpected adventures and new life changes around every corner. Even though there were sketchy moments, it worked out in the end and a learned a lot along the way. My first placement year, a student conference in South Korea, and finishing the year giving back in rural India were some of the highlights of this crazy rollercoaster.
The famous John Lennon quotation “life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans” struck a chord with me. Many of the previous years were very organised so I was really ready to enjoy the moment more in 2017, ride the wave of fate, and just see what panned out. Sometimes this was frustrating, but in the end it created a year with more lessons than ever and tackling more rewarding challenges.
Travel Textbook enjoyed its first full year on the Internet and the growth was really great to see. Starting again from scratch was a lot of work and it took at least a year to feel that I had reached the point of the previous website. As 2017 finishes, I am incredibly proud of what Travel Textbook has achieved this year and excited for the future.
With placement and commuting taking up a huge amount of time, I did not write nearly as many blog posts or keep up with social media as I had hoped. However, that is something I knew would inevitably happen with balancing university and blogging. Especially as the degree reaches the pointy end. Although there were a lot of guides and travel posts to write about, there were a few that personally meant a lot to write. Writing about my experiences at the DMZ border between North and South Korea, as well as discussing the effects of Overtourism, were two posts I was most happy with. Passion pieces like these are the most satisfying part of blogging.
Despite having less time to blog than anticipated, the growth has been consistent. It is rewarding to know that the travel advice and stories have been useful to you guys; it’s the whole reason I write! Although there were less trips this year, spending more time in each destination meant more in-depth posts and authentic adventures.
2017 saw some fantastic partnerships for Travel Textbook as well. As a blogger, it can be hard to find a balance between income and integrity. I, personally, am not a fan of working with companies I don’t 100% believe in and the harsh reality is that this means losing potential income. It can be easy to go with the temptation of a bigger bank account and turn to flogging product. But maintaining honesty and integrity is something I did not want to compromise on in 2017, and I worked hard to partner with companies that had similar values. When the partnership with 40K Globe materialised, I was stoked. Working with a company you respect is a blessing and I couldn’t wait to go on the program and share the experience with you all.
University this year was a totally different ballgame to the two preclinical years. Accustomed to lecture theatres, tutorials and textbooks, in 2017 it was time to hit the wards and get clinical experience instead. I traded my college sweatpants for professional skirts, and student card for hospital ID. It was a totally new way to study medicine with plenty of hands-on experience and self-directed learning in interesting introductory rotations.
There were undoubtedly challenges, and nothing can prepare you for some of the things you encounter in hospitals. The year was a combination of beautiful moments, hilarious exchanges, and confronting situations. It was a steep, albeit thoroughly rewarding, learning curve and a great opportunity to see what the “real world” of medicine is like outside of campus learning. The semesters were longer for us this year and no more mid-semester holidays, so things definitely started to feel less like university. It took a while to get used to but eventually I’m definitely feeling more prepared for the year to come.
Despite fewer destinations than previous years, the trips were more rewarding in 2017. Getting back to slower travel was fantastic and much-needed. Really getting to know the places I visited made the experiences more enjoyable and a lot easier to write about. Hopefully 2018 and beyond can see some more slow trips.
My first adventure was scheduled with some solo Bali time in January, but after the cancellation of all Tiger Air flights to Indonesia (classic), it fell apart. Hopefully I will still get to Bali one day because it looks beautiful, but the cancellation did come as a bit of a blessing in disguise. It gave me a week to spend exploring more of Australia with a much-loved road trip down the Great Ocean Road and then up to Mildura. Having never seen these places before, it was great to feel like a tourist in my own country.
It was also a year of trying new travel styles. Having previously travelled with just a partner or friends, 2017 saw totally new travel approaches with a mix of solo, conferences, and university groups. If you had told me last year that I would spend time in India and South Korea solo (read: Stockholm, Anxiety and Me) I would’ve told you you were kidding! But after the few experiences in 2017, I now feel a lot more confident as a traveller to go on these adventures. Spending more time travelling solo was freeing and is now something that I am not fearful of (and am super willing to embrace).
The first international trip of 2017 came in late July and I was so excited to board the flight and head to South Korea. Having read a lot about the Korean Peninsula, I was beyond ready to set foot there and explore it for myself. And better yet? It was for the Asian Medical Students’ Conference. This meant the perfect amalgamation of new friends, learning more about international medicine, and seeing a fascinating country at the same time.
The first six days were spent at the conference with new friends from all around the world. We toured Korean hospitals, had interesting lectures, and were given the opportunity to present our research about mental health. Interspersed within the conference schedule were opportunities to explore Seoul: palaces, markets, shopping, and more! All with a healthy dose of Korean chicken and beer, BBQ, and bingsu.
After the conference ended, I decided to hang around a little longer in Seoul because there was so much to see and do. Visiting the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) between North and South Korea was an intensely interesting experience. The emotion and history were tangible, and the surreality was more than I had ever experienced before. An epic food tour with Urban Adventures proved to be a delicious conclusion to the trip. It was hard to go back to university and only cemented my desire to somehow combine medicine and travel.
Want more about the South Korea adventures? Look no further.
- A Look Into North Korea: Visiting the DMZ
- Seoul Food: Sampling South Korean Cuisine With Urban Adventures
- 14 Best Things To Do In Seoul
- Seoul Subway: Navigating Seoul’s Public Transport System
- My Next Seoul-O Adventure
- South Korean Food: Foods You MUST Try In South Korea
- Gyeongbokgung: Visual Guide To A Palace
The second, and final, big adventure of the year was with 40K Globe to build a PLUS Pod in rural Bangalore. This was by far the longest collaboration with a company I have had and the experience was more than I had hoped for. Along with 60-70 other university students from around Australia, we worked for a month to start up an after-school English learning facility to help bridge the gap in education in rural India. Working closely with one community, each team of six built unique relationships with, and learned a lot about, each community. We had to learn a lot about how to conduct business in India (learning to love the expression “India Happened”), began to understand the work of social enterprise, played copious games with the kids, painted some epic murals, and managed to get the PLUS Pod open by the end of the month. Watching the ribbon cut, the Pod opened, and the first class running with the brilliant local facilitator, was the absolute highlight of the year.
The PLUS project meant a lot and I would love for you guys to have a good understanding of what exactly 40K Globe does in rural India. Trying a social enterprise internship as opposed to traditional voluntourism was interesting and felt a lot more positive. If you want to know more about the project, have a read of some of the articles below which go into some more detail.
More about this epic month in India…
- An Exciting Collaboration: Travel Textbook x 40K Globe
- 40K Globe: What It’s Like To Be A Glober
- India Happened: How We’re Learning To Roll With It
- Don’t Worry, Be Hampi: Exploring Hampi, India
Looking to 2018
I could not feel more excited for 2018! My hospital placements are looking interesting and in specialities I really want to try. Although it is touted as the hardest year of medicine, I feel ready for the challenge and (if all goes well) the end of the year will be the last big exams of the degree! Feels like it has all gone so fast.
In January it is time to head to Japan with the family and explore a country I have been dying to see. Japan looks beautiful and for someone with such an insane sushi obsession, I reckon it’ll be the trip from heaven. Having a go at skiing will be interesting for my not-so-athletic self but is something I have wanted to try for a long time. The trip will be around three weeks and will be based around Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, and Nozawa Onsen. If you have tips and advice please let me know — your recommendations are always super helpful!
The holidays for next year aren’t very long with around three weeks in June. I’m not sure exactly what I’ll get up to yet but there are some vague plans simmering. Aside from that, it’ll be exploring around Tasmania and Victoria throughout the year and hopefully getting to the Grampians and Wilsons Prom. When uni finishes in November I will be so down for a big trip and it will hopefully be somewhere completely new (assuming I don’t spend all my money on Japanese food) and unique.
Highlight posts of 2017
Want to read a little more from Travel Textbook in 2017, here are some of the most popular posts from the year as well as some personal favourites.
Thank you for all your wonderful support throughout 2017 and here’s to an epic 2018! Can’t wait to share it with you x