What Was 2018 For Me? A Very Exciting Year In Review
What a year it was! From becoming a professional diver while living in Thailand. To selling all my shit and moving into a van to travel through the US & Canada. And finally settling down in Canada. 2018 for me has been a wild bloody ride.
This article may be a little late in the making, but for those who are curious about just what shenanigans I got up to last year, read on.
So what was 2018 for me?
The central theme of 2018 for me was, undoubtedly, travel. And not just any travel – but realising that long term travel is what I was to do for the foreseeable future. Not only did I visit two new countries and countless new towns and cities, but I was lucky enough to call three places home over the year (four if you include the van).
7 Countries (More Than 44 Places)
Month By Month
The start of 2018 saw me bringing in a new year in island style – getting shitfaced with my best mates in Koh Tao. I was living in an apartment with a friend while finishing up my DMT (stands for Dive Master Training, not the drug) at Sairee Cottage Diving (shout out to these champs). It’s worth mentioning that I did this with a mangled stitched up knee from a motorbike accident (not my fault!).
My DMT was life changing – It solidified in my mind that I didn’t have to work a 9-to-5 in some dark office. Instead, I could explore the world, meeting amazing people and doing crazy things. All while making those sweet, sweet dollars. I was already working freelance as a copywriter/writer, but it was now time to seriously work out how to make this long term travel thing work.
Ahhh, the ol’ snorkel test! Every new Dive Master’s true initiation into the world of professional diving. You’ll be pleased to know that I smashed it, and downed the vomit-worthy mix of miscellaneous booze, milk, Tabasco and eggs down a snorkel while blindfolded – and finished first out of eight people. (Don’t know what that says about my character, to be honest…) Check out the video below in case you have no idea what I’m talking about.
After a few days of recovery, we got stuck straight into our IDC (Instructor Development Course) and MSDT (Master Scuba Diver Trainer) – with everyone passing the exams with flying colours. It was bloody stressful, but with a great group and awesome teachers, we were bound to pass. Though halfway through I failed a practice Physics exams and was having a winge to Mum & Dad about it, when they told me this tidbit – I had numeric dyslexia. I’d somehow made it to nearly 30 with no one bothering to tell me that. I thought I was just shit at maths my whole life.
After our IE (Instructor Examination), there was an island-wide shindig, and we celebrated wayyyyy into the wee hours. After a day or so of recovery, the crew I’d done my DMT & IDC with decided what better way than to celebrate this new stage in our lives than with matching tattoos. Kay, Charles & James, love you all forever you scallywags.
March saw Koh Tao host one hell of a party in Koh Tao Festival, promoting the island and the businesses that help make it what it is. From an intriguing Tarzan themed song and dance number featuring dive instructors from across the island (I’m looking at you, Sarah), eco stands to educate about the evils of single-use plastic, to rows of mini-restaurants set up to showcase the island food offerings, Koh Tao Festival was fantastic.
After this, I headed to Siem Reap in Cambodia via Bangkok. Visa runs can be incredibly dull, so I figured it was time I went to a country in Asia I’d yet to explore. And holy moly, Cambodia did not disappoint. From horse riding through the outer temples of Angkor Wat to being invited to a wedding by a new best friend, I was blown away by the country and how kind and genuine the people were.
And to round out the month nicely and in classic Nikita style, I managed to make something as innocent as being filmed for our IDC course into something suss sounding.
My Favourite Posts of 2018
The first few months of the year I’ll be situated in Victoria, BC Canada, with a few trips here and there for work. It’ll be nice to have a home base to catch up on a few projects I’ve been putting off, edit the massive backlog of photos from 2018, and to plan for the year ahead.
March – April
I haven’t seen Mum since I surprised her in May. We’re really close and are more best friends than Mother & Daughter. Money has been incredibly tight for my family over the last, well, decade, so holidays aren’t an option for my parents. But recently Mum got the opportunity to visit me, but it had to be somewhere cheap. And weirdly enough, the most affordable ‘halfway point’ for both of us was Hawaii, which we’ve been talking about for months! So we booked flights and will be meeting up on the islands I’ve wanted to explore since I was a kid in late March for two weeks.
April – May
When I initially left Australia, I remember telling my Mum “I bet Shona & Steph (my two best mates back in Aus) get knocked up while I’m away”. Queue phone calls from them earlier in 2018 – yup, both my best friends and their husbands were expecting babies. And not even a week apart from each other! So I’ll be making the journey back to Australia for a few weeks to meet these two fresh lil’ whippersnappers. And yeah, I’m totally going to be the coolest Godmother x2 ever.
May – September
Seasonal work is quite popular in Canada. The colder months see a lot of workers head to the mountains to work on ski slopes in winter. And during the warmer times, the fishing lodges scattering the BC coasts open up and thrive. I plan to take full advantage of this and head up to beautifully remote Haida Gawii for four months and work my booty off. Working at a fishing lodge will allow me to explore a stunning part of Canada many don’t get to see, all while saving up those pennies for my next big adventure.
September – December
The last few months of 2019 are a total mystery to me. I could stay in Victoria after the season in Haida Gawii wraps up. I could visit some mates and do some diving in Mexico. But the likeliest option is I’ll get work at one of Canadas many snow resorts and finally get off my ass and learn to snowboard.
2018 In Summary
2018 for me was a rollercoaster of a year. I both met so many rad new people and rekindled friendships with so many that I will love and cherish forever. People whose lives I am so genuinely invested in that I can’t imagine not knowing them anymore. So many of these people helped me to grow and learn, and to recover. If you’re reading this, I hope you know who you are, because, without you, 2018 would have been a complete and utter clusterfuck for me.
Even though my Instagram may have made it look like my life was all rainbows and butterflies, 2018 for me was equal parts exhilarating and soul destroying. I saw some places that blew my mind so much I still randomly think about them. And my list of places to go back to or that we didn’t make it to is so long, I think I’ll need a team of people to help me get through it. Yet I spent months being so utterly depressed that I couldn’t tell if the light at the end of the tunnel was a train or not. And it wasn’t just because of a guy – it was the culmination of that and years of depression and anxiety that I’d been ignoring. But my network of friends and family who were there for me pulled me through it.
It also didn’t hurt that I had the most supportive, kind and patient travel buddy for the end of the year. So Chloe, to you I dedicate 2019. It will be a glowing, shiny and forward thinking year, all because of you. Without you, I wouldn’t have been able to see the stars through the fog of last year. You know how much I hate hugging people, but you’re totally getting a big ol’ bear hug when I get home today.
Last year was such a year of personal growth and expansion for me that I still find myself a little shocked. Something about turning 30 made me delve deeper into myself than I thought I needed, and I’ve come out the other side stronger and more open than I was. Sort of like if a caterpillar learnt to scuba dive, drank too much, had its heart broken, bought a van, got sad, and then turned into a butterfly with a few too many tattoos and an inclination to write overly long blog posts.