Europe Recap

I wrote this right when I got home and debated posting it since I almost never use this blog for my ramblings and thoughts, but thought I'd want it for my own reminder, if nothing else. So humor me, okay? :) Back to an outfit post tomorrow, I promise. 


I’m now back home but thought it was time to provide a quick recap on my overall experience in Europe. Three weeks of business travel is rough. I know a lot of people (including me) faced it with some excitement. But I also had some anxiety/nervousness about it, for a few reasons.

For those of you who have never traveled for work, let me try to provide some context. Work travel is lonely and fun and exhausting and rewarding. While I sometimes travel with a handful of colleagues, I still spend a majority of my time on my own; and when not on my own, I’m forced into being the social coordinator, which has it’s own element of loneliness. Being forced into spending 10-12 hours with colleagues day after day is exhausting. And without being able to come home, get a hug from Travis, and sleep in my own bed, the exhaustion doesn’t go away each night; there’s no reset button. And work travel is sometimes very fun; I get to experience new things, attend events I wouldn’t otherwise get a chance to attend, and rack up frequent flier miles and hotel points that I can then use for my own vacations. When I travel for work, I get to step outside of my role when I’m at the office, taking on additional responsibilities and duties, which also leads to a lot of learning and follow-up. Ultimately, it has a lot of positive, but also a lot of negative.

A three week trip in one place is a bit different from work travel I’ve done before. Walking into my apartment, I had the mentality that this was going to be my home for the next three weeks, and it broke my heart. I knew I’d have a small place, but I had no idea it would have so little personality. I think I could have walked into a decent hotel room and had the same reaction, honestly. It was all just pretty overwhelming.

But I quickly reminded myself that I’m pretty optimistic, and fairly resilient. I did a quick look-over and determined that with a few small changes, this place could feel like somewhere I could spend some time. I bought some flowers and stuck the Instagram magnets I had brought to the chair opposite mine. I hung up my clothes, putting my suitcase away for the rest of the time. I went to the store and bought some toiletries (I didn’t bother to travel with shampoo/conditioner/etc when I could buy it there and probably use it all up during my stay). I got a bottle of red wine, some Greek yogurt, some fresh fruit, and some tea and biscuits for my evenings. I opened the window, filled the room with fresh air, and lit a candle. Every night, I made an effort to light the candle, drink some tea, breathe in the fresh air, and allow myself to relax. And it made such a difference.

My days were really long. I worked UK hours from 8am until about 6pm, and then once I got back to my room, I’d log on and the emails would start pouring in from HQ, 8 hours behind. I’d have calls with the team back at corporate. I’d do the follow-up from that days’ meetings, and the prep for the meetings tomorrow. I’d FaceTime with Travis, with my sister, with my parents, with my friends. I’d blog. And read your blogs. It helped me feel like I was at home. And eventually, I’d head out with my book to get some dinner. I forced myself out each night, even though it would have been so much easier to just binge watch Netflix while eating popcorn and other snacks. I tried to run, although I honestly didn’t do all that great with my half marathon training. I thought I was getting into a great groove the first week, and then after getting a couple of awful blisters, I eased off and couldn’t seem to get back on track. But I tried.

The thing that made this trip most worth it to me was getting to cross another country off my list. I dream of seeing the world, and getting to go to Sweden for the first time, even if just for a day, made the whole trip worth it. Stockholm felt like home. It was green, with forest everywhere. It rained. I ate reindeer and turnips and kale. I was surrounded by water. I had time to roam the streets of old town for an hour, seeing some sights and getting just the tiniest taste of the area; enough to make me crave another visit.

Overall, the trip went pretty quick. After the first week, I shook the mood swings and stopped crying (not that I’d cried all that much; a few tears here and there). I started to recognize the people in my neighborhood. I found a favorite restaurant, and a favorite café, and a favorite tube line for convenient trips to all of my meetings. And on my last morning, I didn’t open my computer to work, even though I should have. Instead, I walked to the restaurant I’d been wanting to try and had breakfast. I read my book and savored a cappuccino. I roamed down Portobello Road and saw what it looks like without a million tourists during the weekend markets. I picked up a couple of souvenirs for my grandmothers. And I had just the smallest bit of sadness as I got into the cab to head to Paddington Station to take the Heathrow Express to the airport. But it only lasted a brief moment, because man was I excited to head home. To see Travis and get a big hug and a kiss. To have a Dicks Deluxe, a chocolate shake, and some fries. To walk through my front door and snuggle my kitten and go through the mail I missed and check on my backyard grass and my frontyard vegetable gardens. This homecoming, three weeks in the works, is the sweetest I ever could have imagined. And so, so worth it.

Now, off to write my trip report, build a summary powerpoint, and sort through the 532 emails in my inbox (some unread, some flagged for attention, hopefully some safe to be simply deleted).

Posted on June 26, 2014 .