Today I’m celebrating my four-year blog anniversary! That’s practically ancient in the world of travel blogging!
Admittedly my blog started out as Expat in Germany, and then evolved into Monkeys and Mountains, but it’s been quite the whirl wind. My world was turned upside down when I moved to Germany for a cute boy that I met on vacation. Spoiler alert: It worked out, we’ve been married for almost three years now. So to celebrate, I thought I’d share with you the answers to the questions I get asked the most often and give you a glimpse into what life is really like in Germany.
What is it really like living in Germany?
I really like it and can easily see myself living the rest of my life in Munich. I now proudly refer to myself as a Germadian, in which I take the best traits of Germans and Canadians and combine them. Case in point, I still love my Tim Horton’s but don’t say sorry nearly as often as I used to – even if I bump into you on the train! That’s as un-Canadian as you can get. I’ve also adopted German’s approach when meeting someone to find out what they do for fun, rather than what they do for a living. I love that philosophy, and now find it unnerving when someone asks me about my job rather than my hobbies.
So you’re never moving back to Canada?
Never say never, but no I don’t have any plans to. The winters are far too cold for me (despite being Canadian, I’m a wimp when it comes to cold weather) and I really love living in Europe.
How’s Your German?
In a word, I’m say stagnated. I did eight months of German school, 25 hours a week when I first moved here, which brought my German up to an upper intermediate level. I’m ashamed to say that it’s improved little since. I could blame it on an intensive travel schedule, or working in English, but let’s face it, if it was a priority, my German would be much better than it is. I’m embarrassed to admit it, but my German is good enough for most day-day situations and I’ve gotten lazy to take it to the next level. My goal is to be fluent by this time next year. Hold me to it!
What’s it really like being married to a German and should I move to xxx country for this great guy I met on vacation?
This is by far the most frequent question I get asked. To answer the latter, I have absolutely no idea. Most holiday romances don’t work out. Long distance is tough. People are different on vacation than they are back at home in the real world. Having said all that, I took the risk and it worked out, but I made sure I had money in the bank in case it didn’t. I was fully aware that if things went bust, J.P. still had a job, and a place to live and a car, while I had none of the above. I did it on a gut feeling and taking the time to get to know him before I did it (2 years to be exact).Read this, for further advice.
If this were a fairytale, this is where it would end with us walking into the sunset living happily ever after. But life is not a fairytale and while we are happily married, there have been ups and downs as we have gotten to know each other in the real world.
Before I moved to Germany, we had never seen each other after a hard day of work, or when we were stressed. Then there are the cultural differences. In the beginning, I struggled with his directness (very German) while he struggled to be tactful (very Canadian) and wouldn’t understand when I would cry out You are so mean!
He would be genuinely confused and scratching his head about how expressing his honest opinion could be mean. Canadians are generally speaking optimists, Germans, pessimists. Look at our history! my husband would point out in his defence when I complained about his negative attitude.
Think of everything that can go wrong so that you can be prepared, he argued, while I would counter, But think how great it will be if everything goes right! These are not easy discussions, especially when you’re an entrepreneur and these discussions are about your business, which you treat like a delicate newborn – even if it is four years old.
Despite the ups and downs, which any marriage has, I’m so glad I married him and we are happy together most days. But my point is if you marry someone you’ve only seen on vacation and they’re from another culture, you have to expect that it’s not all going to be roses (as a fan of The Bachelor TV show I just had to throw that in).
So can you really make a living as a travel blogger or do you have another job?
Yes, but I choose not to. Simply because it means too much travelling. I did a lot of sponsored trips where I worked with tourism boards, hotels and travel companies for two years and while I enjoyed every minute of it, the amount of travel it takes to make a full-time living from blogging is not for me long-term. Plus, much of that travel was without my husband, which doesn’t make for much of a marriage. Don’t get me wrong, I still love to travel, but I also like having a life in Munich and spending time with my husband and friends. Ideally, I would travel a week out of every month. I’ve reduced my travel in 2014 but am still travelling more than that – but somehow it’s working and I’m enjoying travelling more than ever!
Don’t get me wrong, I still love to travel, but I also like having a life in Munich and spending time with my husband and friends. Ideally, I would travel a week out of every month. I’ve reduced my travel in 2014 but am still travelling more than that – but somehow it’s working and I’m enjoying travelling more than ever!
While I do earn income from my blog, I also make my living from an offshoot of travel blogging – social media consulting and training. Specifically, I’m a Social Media Time Optimizer and show people how to convert followers into customers in just 15 minutes a day.
This really gets back to my education roots. I used to be a Program Director at a university in Canada and hold a Master’s degree in Adult Education. I’m passionate about education, and love showing clients how they can profit from using social media correctly and filter out the noise.
So glad that I finally got professional head-shots that I had to throw this in. Courtesy of Teddi Hosman, a talented jewellery designer, photographer and friend.
So has anything stayed the same?
I’ve stayed close with a small circle of my closest friends in Canada. We don’t always speak as often as we’d like due to an eight-hour time difference, and different work and travel schedules, but every time we do it’s truly like going home.
And my mom and I are closer than ever. I’m truly blessed to have such wonderful women in my life. I was an avid hiker in Canada and that’s also stayed the same. I can be found in the mountains more often than not, but instead of the Canadian Rockies it’s the Alps.
I’ve always been a bookworm and if anything am more so living in Germany since I watch less TV than I did while living in Canada. And monkeys. I will always love monkeys, especially gorillas, although technically speaking they are an ape not a monkey!
My focus is on growing my adventure travel blogging business. Most days I work really long hours but I really enjoy it and find it incredibly rewarding. I’m working towards a passive income model, but I’m not there yet. I’m also focused on spending time with friends and connecting with inspiring people who are doing cool things. I keep finding new ways to challenge myself.
Last year I completed the Tour du Mont Blanc in 8 days instead of the recommended 10. This year it was a 12 day trek to Everest Base Camp. And I recently started running again. I hadn’t run in years but saw an ad for the 5km Color Run. It looked like fun so I signed up, trained for four weeks and had a blast doing it. And travel. Travel will always be a big part of my life. Beyond that? Lets see where this adventure called life takes me.