Inspirational Story: Eveli, my hitch hiking partner! ;)

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Hi!!!

My name is Eveli and I am 21 years old. I have been featured in the blog before here and there, on the photos and sometimes in the text. I am a friend of Rafa and we’ve known each for about 2,5 years now. I believe we are somewhat different by our characters, but there are still quite some things that feed our friendship. One of the biggest seems to be the hunger for stories and that’s probably the key thing to what makes us travel. To mention some others: curiosity; need to feel free; getting out of the daily routine; meeting new people who would by opening their hearts – open a door to their own worlds and therefore teach and share stuff that is maybe known for them, but completely new and exciting for us.

I have always been travelling. I guess it’s in my blood if I look at my father who used to travel a lot during his youth years with his wrestling team representing Estonia in other soviet republics, and also did mountaineering in Ural and Caucasus. His sister traveled all over Europe by hitchhiking, picked some olives in Greece, sunbathed in Portugal, got robbed in Norway and managed to find all her belongings in a nearby garden, including her savings between book pages (the most obvious&stupidest place to keep money) and did some volunteer work in Sweden, where she decided to settle after finding her current husband. And my uncle, he’s been just everywhere. Working, running away from authorities and living kind of like a nomad, sometimes still crushing the couch for weeks at my parents house back in Estonia.

So that’s about the influence I’ve had. During my teen years we often went for family trips with my parents, brother and sister. Destinations were almost always about mountains, in summer we could go to Ukraine, Crimea to visit relatives over there and then hike in the mountains and swim in the Black Sea; or take off to Norway, drive along the coastline in west, swim in the fjords, drive through the tunnels and of course hike in the mountains in Jotunheimen national park. I’ve never been to Egypt or Turkey, which are the typical winter holiday destinations for typical Estonians to gain some solar power, but instead I’ve been to awesome skiing holidays to the mountains in Finland and Norway to speed down the snowy slopes, sweat in sauna after an exhausting but fun days on the mountains and have a quick swim in the ice cold lakes.

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Meanwhile during my teen years from 12 to 17, I spend my time figuring out how I could make (more) money. Now, looking back to that time, it sounds just hilarious and I ask myself why?.  I really didn’t need to do it, but it gave me a certain kind of feeling of independence that made me feel great and it really helped to build my character. I have always been into crafting and I believe I started knitting, hand-sewing and doing all kinds of similar things about the time when I learned how to read. All of these things fascinated me and I when I was 12 I was sure I can do all these handicraft things, design my own jewelry and sell them to people who like them as much as I do, or even more. So I started my little business at school when there was a market before Valentine’s day, and by the end of the day my table was empty. All my jewelry pieces were sold. Then my business grew and grew and I used to go to smaller handicraft and design markets almost every other month and twice a year to these very big ones that were held in Tallinn Old Town and in one of the biggest event arenas in Tallinn. Soon I got my pieces into various galleries and design stores, so I had fairly stable income every month. By the age of 15. I supplied the stores on regular basis and got my money for sold stuff at the beginning of each month.

Summer and Christmas time was always great success! I bought new materials using the money that I had earned myself and of course a lot of other things such as clothes and books. I also got my monthly pocket money from my parents, but I never had to ask more for something else. Because I had my own money and I learned to manage it. For sure it teached me a lot more than I am aware now. It made me re-think my purchases and prioritize things if there was not always too much cash in my wallet. But I didn’t want to ask my parents for more, because I wanted to manage on my own. Alltough they probably wouldn’t even blinked their eyes to give me whatever I wanted. So I got the hands-on experience of retailing, marketing, sales and economics far before I actually entered the uni to study all this stuff.

I took the decision to quit this jewelry business a bit before I turned 18. I had been running it for 5 years already!! It was about the time to do something else. So I finished this chapter of my life and got into travelling. Deep into it. This time just by myself.

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I did my first hitchhiking trip from Estonia to Croatia and back when I was 18. It was the summer before my last year in high school. I had waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too many thoughts in my head and I needed to clear them up. I had got money from my parents for birthday present to go skydiving, but when the time got closer and I booked the date, it was several times postponed due to the windy weather conditions and so I decided that I will use that money, plus some other savings for hitchhiking south. At that time I had no such friends who would dare to join me for this awesome adventure, so I wrote a note on Estonian travelling website looking for travel partner. A day or two later, a group of friends got in touch with me telling that they are looking for a person like me, because one of their own friends couldn’t join them for the trip that they had planned.

We met once and I instantly became part of the group. We made friends easily as our goals and views to life seemed to match at similar points. A week later we headed south and did an amazing month-long hitchhiking journey through the Baltics, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Bosnia&Herzegovina and Montenegro, where we climbed the mountains. We sunbathed and got sun burnt in Croatia, met funny and crazy drivers along the way and learned more about ourselves. I had never before really talked to someone about death and grieving, but with my new friends it was casual and actual and there was no pressure. I got to understand that my feelings are completely okay and it is fine to talk about these things if I want to.

These 30 days were the first time when I was away from home for longer time and I had “blue Mondays” every week, when I was doubting about my actions and if the thing I’m doing there is right or what it is exactly. Let’s say I didn’t find a clear answer, but I did find something. It was peace. Inside me. I approached different kind of perspective to my life, more easygoing and conscious of my daily activities.

I returned home extremely happy, because I had proven to myself that I can do it! Never ever have I felt homesickness again. I guess it was just a tiny obstacle that I just had to pass in order to grow up. Grow independent in a different way. After that hitchhiking trip I got heads over heels into couchsurfing. I had still one year to go in high school, so there was no way I could go somewhere and instead of going to the world, the world came to me and my family. Thankfully they were excited about foreigners visiting us just as much as I was. Every month there were couple of people coming in. I took them around Tallinn, my hometown, and shared my knowledge with them. I was always curious about my guests’ interests, so I tried to recommend and show them places that they would like/enjoy the most and from the feedback I received, they seemed to be happy that I was their host and guide. It made me happy and in a way I fulfilled my desire to travel while listening to their stories from their home countries. I somehow got the feeling like I had been there myself. Just by listening and sharing insightful stories.

Somewhere during that year I got an idea into my head and it contained of thoughts about going to study abroad. Which I did of course. I moved to Denmark. I didn’t know anything about this country, except that everything is super expensive, nor I knew anybody there.  The only thing I actually knew was that I will study something about selling stuff in an attractive way. I was clear that it was enough for the start.

Within a few days after my arrival in my tiny city in Denmark, I had already made bunch of friends and some of them became really close to me. They became my family in that new country, new city, new everything. A month later after my arrival I got to know that there will be half a year exchange to Shanghai, China next year and somehow I was sure that it will be the place to be.

After hectic application process, interviews and motivation letters I became chosen. I was stunned, but deep in my heart I knew that there would not have been any other way than that.

So a year later I was living in Shanghai. I arrived there with mixed feelings and the time difference really hit me hard. It took me a week to get into this new rhythm and about a month to get used to the speed and millions of  tiny Chinese around me. I didn’t fell in love with that city, because it was too hot and too ugly for me. As a girl who has been growing up in the woods, this huge over-populated, rusty and dusty city didn’t seemed to be for me. But shortly I was in the game! I made this city my own! I met wonderful people, both locals and expats and found amazing places to chill and relax. Although I never really heard silence there, I figured out tons of noise patterns and other cool, weird, funky stuff about Chinese people, their culture and language. Now, looking back to that experience – I truly appreciate that! Again, it gave me totally new perspective and made me realize that not all the noise in the world happens in Europe and US. China is there too and it’s growing bigger and bigger and more influencial every day!

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Currently I am back in Denmark. It is my third autumn abroad and the last few years seemed to have passed like a blink of an eye. Currently I do miss colorful maple leaves, because there are none here.  Maple trees just don’t grow in this nordic country. Feels awkward and a bit weird to see all the other trees like oaks and birches green in October, but that’s the way it is. Life circle is just moving on different path around here.

Although I study quite a lot, I still find time for travelling. I have already successfully applied for the Erasmus exchange in the United Kingdom for spring semester and done some research about internship companies for summer in London. Which means that I will be moving into a new country within some months! To explore new culture, hear new stories, make new friends and collect inspiration and knowledge for my studies. I will graduate in a year and after that I’m pretty sure that I will start working in the field that I am studying now. Because I really enjoy that.

I have had a dream of living in Cape Town in South Africa since I remember myself. In my native language, Cape Town is “Kaplinn” and it means “cupboard city”. How awesome is that?!? Silly, funny, but definitely memorable! So my dream for 2015 is to move to Cape Town, more precisely to Camps Bay and live there for a year and work as a visual merchandiser at one of the leading visual merchandising studios in South Africa.  And of course discover what that cupboard city is hiding in its drawers and shelves! Plus learning how to surf! The nature there is amazingly beautiful and I cannot wait to get there and just be out there. Live, work and enjoy the life.

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