I’m not Eating Turkey, I’m Inside Turkey. Happy Thanksgiving, Canada.

So it’s Thanksgiving again. But instead of eating turkey, I’m living inside Turkey! And, though I won’t be participating in the normal festivities of food, family, friends and the inevitable intoxication and turkey-induced comas that follow, I am living in a turkey bigger than any of you will ever eat! ;) I haven’t been home for Thanksgiving in three years, but this is the first year I’m actually spending it alone. And while part of me wishes I were home to gnaw on birds with friends, I’m thankful I’m here, doing what I love, exploring the curious corners of planet earth and having the time to reflect on things I’m thankful for – and there are a lot of them!

In lieu of this Canadian Thanksgiving, here are a handful of the things I’m really thankful for in the last year…

I’m thankful –

For my incredible family and friends, and the ones I’ve met along the way.
Okay, so I know we’ve all got great friends, and most of us have wonderful families, but mine are the best of all. ;) I love everyone in my life and I’m so grateful that they continue to be there, whether I see them every day or only talk to them once in awhile, because they’re there to inspire me, to kick me in the butt when I need it and to be a shoulder to cry on when I can’t cry on my own. I am blessed to have the most incredible people in my life and I want to thank each and every one of you for being the amazing people that you are. You encourage me, you make me laugh, and you’re not afraid to tell me when I’m being a bigger idiot than normal. I adore you all.

Best of friends in Korea: Luke, Melis, and Greg :)

For all the stupid shit I’ve done.
I’m no stranger to stupid shit. I do it all the time. From leaving money and photocopies of all my important information on a train seat, to telling creepy strangers in a foreign country the exact location of my bed, to nearly accepting a marriage proposal in Novosibirsk, to missing a booked-and-paid for flight, to walking across a country on a damaged achilles, to accepting a job in Turkey without doing any research. I’m thankful for each and every one of my dumbass maneouvers because believe it or not, I usually learn some invaluable lessons from them. :)

For the countries I’ve been able to visit, and the invaluable experiences I’ve gained.
Thanksgiving 2010 was spent on the beaches of Thailand with two of my best friends. Since then, I’ve continued to modify my lifestyle so I can wander aimlessly around the planet with my backpack and a pocket of one-way tickets. From Thanksgiving to Thanksgiving, I’ve been to 21 countries. (I know none of you care, but for my own benefit, the countries I’ve wandered around in this last year are Thailand, China, Mongolia, Russia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Italy, Malta, France, England, Switzerland, Spain, Morocco, Canary Islands, Madiera, Austria, South Korea, Canada, Wales, and now Turkey.) I’m so thankful for the opportunity to travel. I wouldn’t trade it for anything (short of, probably, all-you-can-eat sushi and a pint of Guinness). ^^

For the kids in my life.

Nice Blue Steel, Wyatt. Wait. Jina, are you giving the finger? I swear I had nothing to do with this! :)

Sweet Grandmother’s spatula, do I ever love my students. I don’t care if I’m in the worst mood of my life, whether I’m in Korea, France, or teaching in Turkey, the kids always find a way to make me smile. I adore them. And they’ve taught me something that I could never have learned without them: this teaching thing, it’s not just a temporary thing any more. I’m going back to school to further my education in education. Because I want to do this for the rest of my life.

Wendy squishing my face. As she does. :)

For Skype.
I won’t deny it. Without Skype, there’s not a chance I would have a hope of maintaining my nomadic lifestyle. At least not long-term. As comfortable as I am with living and traveling alone, I still need my dose of Mom & Dad. Skype lets me bug them regularly. For a fraction of the price of a long-distance phone call, I can irritate friends and family across the globe. ^^

Meg & I in Italy.. skyping with friends in Germany.

For the bloggers I’ve discovered.

I’ve been really inspired by a few of the blogs I discovered this year. There are some bloggers that I really adore; they are a source of motivation and creative thought, and they make me want to be a better blogger. I’m always looking to find new sources of blogging excellence, so if you belong on this list – let me know, I want to find you, too! :) Here are a handful of my recent favourites – check them out! :)

Julie | thefairytrails – Julie is another solo female traveler from Vancouver who also bought a one-way ticket to Korea! Go, girl.

Claire | travelfunnytravellight – This girl is hilarious. Period.

Ruth | wanderingsandwonderings – An Essex girl who writes about her (often hilarious!) experiences living and traveling abroad.

Naomi | anywherebuthome – Naomi shares her love of seeing the world through amazing travel photography.

Lindsay & Morgan | mrandmrsexcellentadventure – A good friend of mine from highschool, Lindsay is now living and working with her new husband in Shanghai, China.

Roy | cruisesurfingz – Roy works on cruise ships and is seriously good at being funny.

Carolyn | northernnomad – Carolyn and her boyfriend (and adorable dog Jack!) are avid travelers now living in Canada’s Northwest territories… super remote!

Scott | theshirtoffmybackpack – You need to check him out. Even if he is a Blues fan. ;)

Ken | peterpannomad – A California boy in Turkey, he blogs about his awesome experiences here.

For living in a church and living in a turkey and emerging from both without burns.
I’ve lived in a church and I’ve lived in a turkey. Haha. Seriously though, I’ve lived in three countries since last Thanksgiving. I lived inside a church (Korea). I lived in a loft above a farm in the middle of nowhere (France). And now I’m living in a conservative Muslim city (Turkey). If you’re interested, I recently made a video of my new apartment… I love it here. I have rooms (with an “s”!). I have space! I have the most amazing wraparound balcony. AND – I have sun. And warmth. And neighbours who make a kickass shisha. And I am very thankful for these things. :)

My living room. Who knew the inside of a Turkey could be so spacious? ^^

For being able to call Vancouver my home.

“Where are you from, Kristina?”
“Vancouver, Canada.”
“You’re from Vancouver?! Why would you ever leave?”

That’s how it goes; that’s how it always goes with new people I meet. And they’re right! Vancouver is the best city on the planet. The farther I travel, the deeper this resonates. I am so proud to be Canadian. I’m so lucky to be from Vancouver. And everybody back home? I’m overwhelmed with pride that I can call them my neighbours. One thousand idiots caused riots after the Stanley Cup finals? Yeah, well SEVENTEEN THOUSAND Vancouverites cleaned up. I love our city, and I love everything that Vancouver stands for. I love sushi and I love snowboarding and I love the ocean and obviously I love the Canucks. :)

My Turkish couch wears only the best Canadian apparel. :)

Happy Thanksgiving to all you wonderful Canadians out there! :)