For 365 days we’ve been on the greatest adventure of our lives:
Living abroad in Austria & traveling Europe.
One year ago, it felt like the perfect time to change focus. Set our sights on life experiences and adventures, while staying (slightly) responsible. To build our foundation as a married couple.
As a family.
We’d just gotten married and knew in our hearts we needed some EPIC journey together before we ‘put down our roots’. We wanted to fill up that photo album with ALL the crazy and amazing things we did. The one we’d show our children one day.
So clearly, we were (and still are!) beyond excited for that next stage in life. The one where we find a home, start a family. We just weren’t ready for it yet.
We dated for 7 years. Were engaged for 2. We’d always taken our time (it’s just our style) So why start rushing now?!
And that decision led to our current Salzburg status.
Today, almost 2 years after our wedding, we’ve been on that great adventure we were looking for.
Living abroad in Salzburg Austria and exploring Europe for an ENTIRE YEAR!
We set out to see things we never dreamed of seeing. Learn from cultures we never before interacted with. Create a comfortable environment in an uncomfortable place. Grow. Develop. Explore. And of course…
Embrace (the highs and lows of) a new life abroad.
So we did it.
We hopped on a plane from DC to Salzburg with 4 suitcases and 2 backpacks. Hearts wide open. Ready to take on the unfamiliar.
We had no idea what to expect, but despite any of the “what-ifs” we simply had to do it.
Well now, we can tell that tale…
Thoughts after 1 Year of Expat Life
So hop on this rollercoaster, and we’ll give you the highlights…
Our Best Memories: Year 1 of Living Abroad
Some of our best memories living abroad in Austria involve exploring a new destination. And others are simplest moments. That’s the beauty in all of this.
Sure checking new countries off a map is just as exciting every single time. And of course you NEVER get bored of seeing beautiful places and meeting new and interesting people. But conquering a goal, learning something new about YOU, sharing a moment with a stranger. That stuff will stick with you too.
On that note…
(Man) Erin’s Best Memory
“When we chased the Northern Lights in Finland. Driving in a place that I go to in my head when I need to relax. It was almost like driving through a daydream. Nothing but snowy fields, trees, roads, darkness and the occasional reindeer. We just drove North from the Arctic circle with no destination, just looking at the sky. Downloading every Finnish weather radar, and northern lights apps we could find. Predicting where the lights will show up as if we were amateur meteorologists. Chasing lights that we didn’t have a good chance of finding.
And after all that work and all that driving, we thought we saw something. So we pulled over, set up our tripod and took a picture. Once I saw the light on my screen. I can’t explain it. It was like coming down the stairs on Christmas morning. You never feel like that unless you’re discovering something brand new. It just made us want more. So we continued driving.
Then it was 4am and we were gonna drive back, but we made a wrong turn on a long snowy road. And that’s when we REALLY saw them. We jumped out of the car and watched the colors in the sky morph. We were alone in the Arctic, standing in the middle of the road, looking up, watching lights dance across the sky. It was an indescribable feeling. I will never forget it. We loved it so much that we decided to sleep in and do it again the next night. We were lucky enough to have success again while chasing the Northern Lights into Sweden.
…And this was all after seeing the real Santa at Santa Claus Village! BEST MOMENT EVER! (mic drop)”
(Lady) Erin’s Best Memory
“My favorite memory here actually doesn’t’ involve an exotic trip. It’s the moment I discovered that what I was doing on our site was actually impacting others. This website that we started to inspire and motivate people was really doing that..
During a random afternoon, we literally ran into one of our readers on the street in Salzburg, and I will never forget that moment. We had just purchased two GIANT carved tree trunks from the Christmas Market at Mirabellplatz and were walking back to the train station. All of a sudden, we heard someone say – “Erin and Erin?!” It was a complete coincidence that he was walking down the same exact street at that same exact time. One of those situations that was meant to be.
He was here in Salzburg because we inspired him to be here. He was focusing on travel because we helped him make that life decision. He’d read what I put my heart into on our site, and it sparked something that changed his life. We spent the whole weekend showing him and his mom around the city and had SO much fun.
That random encounter was better than any new place or any travel moment for me since we’ve been living abroad. The moment I realized I was making a difference. We were really helping people change their lives for the better.”
The Hard Moments: Year 1 of Living Abroad
And right along with all the highs, there were lows.
The unavoidable moments where living abroad isn’t so glamorous. Where you become overwhelmed and frustrated. Where you’re tired of adjusting your life and your mindset and simply want to feel comfortable again.
Every person deals with their lows differently.
Some experience them more often. Others will feel them more occasionally and less intensely. But everyone gets there at some point…
(Man) Erin’s Hardest Moment
“It’s hard to pinpoint. I think the toughest part for me was balancing two things: responsibility and recklessness. You leave everything you’ve ever known behind. Some may think it’s irresponsible, but yet you have to be responsible to make it work. Managing the two was the hardest thing for me. You sell your car. You get rid of your apartment and you move out. You told everyone you’re doing it. You’re bags are packed. There is no going back.
But then you need to grow a pair and make it work. When you think of moving to another country, you think it’ll be all fun. Taking off and starting this adventure. The kid in you is so excited, but the overwhelming responsibility needed to do it can crush the child inside that made you do it in the first place. Managing the 2 so that you can still have fun was hard.”
(Lady) Erin’s Hardest Moment
“My hardest moments living abroad were all in the first three months. All the adjustments that came with starting a new life for ourselves here. My ups and downs would alternate by the hour. When we moved into our apartment, it was so satisfying but also so confusing. Sometimes I felt insanely homesick. Other times I was on top of the world. There were moments I would just sit and wonder what the F I was doing. And other times I felt so motivated and inspired by myself. It was honestly so exhausting.
We sat down and talked for hours at least 2 nights each week when I was having my harder moments (I have a pretty awesome husband!). It was really challenging for me in the beginning. But I think that’s what makes the journey so special and rewarding in the end.”
A Valuable Lesson for ALL
Okay, why are we telling you this? You might wonder. How can our own very personal experiences living abroad help you?
Because we learned a valuable lesson here…
The tough moments are just as life-changing as the incredible ones.
They should be talked about just as much. The achievements and lessons that result from them should be celebrated. Maybe even more than that time you swam in the bluest water you’ve ever seen or stood on the Eiffel Tower watching Paris twinkle at night.
And most of the time, you end up growing and learning from those moments the most.
When you feel challenged or defeated and you have to rise up and keep pushing forward. Be proud of what you did and recognize what you overcame.
It’s the key to this entire journey.
It’s what will change you for the better. And allow you to become your best self.
What are we most thankful for?
Throughout this whole year there is one thing that we’re both beyond grateful for.
And that’s you guys!
We put our heart and soul into Surviving Europe, hoping that it will reach others. That it will make even a small difference in someone’s life.
And that you take the time to read what we write, admire and comment on our Instagram pictures, Facebook posts, YouTube videos, Tweets, Pins, Snapchats (…I mean seriously how many social media channels are there now?!) THAT is what inspires us to keep working towards what we believe in. And what we want to spread to the world…
So THANK YOU from the bottom of our hearts!
Now What’s Going Down in Year 2?
With all that being said, it’s time for our Year 2 Resolution.
We’ve been using Snapchat a LOT more in the past 6 months, and even started a YouTube channel with the ‘best of’. And while Snapchat is fun, it also has its limitations. So we’ve decided to take it a step further…
We love music. We love making home videos. And clearly we love travel. So Year 2 is the year to combine them ALL…
Every major trip we take, we’ll create our very own Surviving Europe home video. Set to music that’s inspired us!
It’s our way of taking you on our journey. Allowing you to feel the excitement and wonder that each destination brings into our life. And fall in love with new destinations right along with us
(Selfishly, it will also help us hold on to those memories and feelings forever – we all win!!)
So without further ado, here is our very first Surviving Europe video from our recent trip to Bratislava. With Parov Stelar’s “The Sun” to accompany it.
I’m gonna follow the sun…