The Freedom Life: November + December 2020

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What's it like to live in Tbilisi Georgia during lockdown? #tbilisi #expat #digitalnomad #travelblog #travelblogger

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What I Was Up to in November and December

So… it’s been a little while. Yes, I’m publishing this mid-way through January, and yes, I’m combining November and December, because these last 2.5 months have been CRAZY. From getting extremely sick to the point I could barely get out of bed for weeks, to almost getting kicked out of Georgia during a second lockdown, to taking on too many side jobs… here’s what I was up to for the last two months of 2020!

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Where I Went

  • Tbilisi, Georgia
  • My bed
  • My office
  • The couch

Highlights

Here are some of the best moments of November and December!

Thanksgiving Tbilisi

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving and Boxing Day With a (Very Small) Group of Friends

While I spent 99% of the last two months inside, I was able to celebrate two holidays with a very small group of friends. Chris and I celebrated Thanksgiving with a few other Americans who had all been self-isolating for two weeks before the event. We each cooked a few dishes and even got to have a turkey! I made my famous apple pie, among a few other things.

Unfortunately, we did have a 9 pm curfew, so we all had to rush out the door after dinner and take our dessert to go. While it was a bit annoying that we had to rush, I was very thankful I got to experience a delicious Thanksgiving feast with a few American friends.

The next time I saw a few friends was on Boxing Day. Chris and I went over to a friend’s house and we had an amazing goose dinner. I brought baked brie with spiced honey and pecans, as well as an apple pie.

Celebrating Christmas With Chris!

While Chris and I try to go to one of our home countries every year for Christmas, we weren’t able to do that this year for obvious reasons. So, the two of us stayed at home in Tbilisi and tried our best to make Christmas feel fun with just the two of us.

After a lot of searching and headaches, we were finally able to find a tree, and Christmas wrapping paper to wrap gifts (this second one took a LOT of work). We put lights on our balconies, decorated the tree, and hung up stockings.

Thankfully with shipping sites like Kiwi Post, Camex, and USA2Georgia, we were able to get each other a few nice gifts, and our family was able to send us presents too!

We celebrated the day by making french toast for breakfast, opening presents, video chatting with family, baking two apple pies, and ordering in a nice steak dinner. While I usually like to cook on Christmas, with just two of us, I didn’t want to spend all day in the kitchen. Baking two apple pies was enough for me!

Taking Two Weeks Off Work (Kind of)

This year I decided to take a full two weeks off… some of my jobs. I took two weeks off the blog and my Teach Abroad Squad program, and Merilyn, who I do social media work for, gave me two weeks off as well!

I did still teach some English online, do some online interviews, do social media work for another person, and edit some college admissions essays (wow that sounds like a lot), but I did manage to at least take a few days off for Christmas. (I have SOME boundaries).

Overall, it was nice to just take some work off my plate and enjoy the holidays.

French toast with berries

Christmas morning french toast

Big Plans For 2021!

I’ve got some big plans coming up for the New Year! Not only will I be opening up Teach Abroad Squad again very soon (look out for a Teach Abroad webinar in early February!), but I will also be creating and launching a NEW program in March. AHHHH

Yep, this has been in the works for quite a while, but this new program will be a bit broader than Teach Abroad Squad. So if you’re interested in moving internationally you’re going to want to keep an eye out for more info on this starting in March.

Christmas presents package

Getting Christmas presents from my family!

My Most Successful Financial Month in a WHILE

While December was a bit stressful, it was also my most successful financial month in quite a while. Let’s just say that when it rains it pours!

For the longest time, I had two side jobs in addition to my course and blog. I did social media for a women’s business coach, and I did college admissions interviews for Chinese students who want to study abroad.

But when my interviews started to dry up I panicked and started looking elsewhere. First I started teaching little kids online, which was great but they only had two classes a week for me. But then slowly but surely I was offered another social media job, a gig helping edit college admissions essays, more and more teaching classes, AND my interviews picked back up. It was like I blinked and all of a sudden I had TOO much work!

At least I was a good month financially?

Biden wins election

Photo by Mashable

Biden Won the Presidential Election!

This is kind of old news, but Biden won! Man, that was a stressful week there waiting to see the results. I’m so happy to have a new president! Those of you who’ve known me are definitely well-aware of my views on Trump, so I probably don’t need to elaborate on why I’m happy about this.

All I have to say is good riddance!

Mordie

Lots of time to cuddle my kitties

Challenges

Here are a few of the things that haven’t gone so great for me these past two months…

Lockdown 2.0

As I predicted in my October Monthly Recap, we went into lockdown 2.0 almost immediately after the election which was the last day of October.

While I’m honestly actually very happy about the lockdown and mask laws, I’m a little annoyed the government didn’t implement them sooner (politics…). Also, it’s never fun to be in lockdown even if it is necessary.

While I don’t mind staying home, the curfew and all the stores being closed has made it difficult to get things I need. Most restaurants stop taking deliveries around 6:30 pm, and if you run out of milk and want to grab some at 7 pm… too late, the store closed at 6:45. It’s crazy how early things close when there’s a 9 pm curfew! But a lot of people live outside of town and need to get home.

It was an epic struggle trying to order a Christmas tree online, or trying to find wrapping paper at the grocery stores in town. I also had a very difficult time finding a highlighter pen, and I eventually just ordered some clothes I needed on Amazon because all the clothing shops here are closed.

Also with public transport closed, the traffic is INSANE because people are all still going to work. They finally opened the bus lanes to cars, but for a solid few weeks, before they changed the rules, the traffic and traffic POLLUTION were both horrible. There were a few times that I decided to walk the 35 minutes to our large Carrefour, just because me walking was faster than if I sat in a taxi.

new robe

At least I got this new robe?

Getting Really, Really Sick

If you were wondering why I didn’t write many blog posts, this is why. For pretty much all of November and December, I was really, really sick.

I started feeling rundown right after we moved to our new apartment in October, but I just thought I was tired. Then I started feeling REALLY itchy at night… like excruciatingly itchy. Even my scalp, hands, and feet were itchy! Allergy medicine helped, but didn’t really do the job.

I thought I might be allergic to something in the house like mold or dust mites, so I went and got an allergy test, but it took them 2 weeks to give me the results. In those two weeks, I just kept getting sicker and sicker.

I could barely get out of bed, I had heartburn and thick gunk in my throat and lungs which meant I was constantly clearing my throat. Sometimes it would get so bad that I couldn’t breathe and had to stand outside where I coughed up a lung. I eventually bought myself an inhaler!

During the time I waited for my allergy test, I went to see a doctor about all my issues. We decided to do a COVID test and a blood test to see what was wrong with me. Thankfully the COVID test was negative, but my blood test results also showed I was perfectly fine? Then I went to the allergist and he couldn’t find anything wrong with me either! Seriously, there’s nothing worse than being sick and having no idea what’s wrong with you.

The doctor thinks it might be my clothing detergent that was bothering my skin since I bought new detergent right after I moved into this place. I was also given a month’s-worth of allergy meds and told to buy new detergent and see.

Now I’m mostly feeling better. I have my energy back (thank god), but now that I’m off the allergy meds, I’m still having issues with being itchy, and I still have the gunk in my throat sometimes.

If anyone has any ideas about what might be wrong with me, please let me know…

Yasmina

I’m a Georgian citizen and I say mommy can’t leave.

Almost Getting Kicked Out of Georgia

Right around the time that I was extremely sick, Georgia announced that it wouldn’t be extending the visas for those of us who are on a tourist visa. So basically, our visa was running out mid-January, and if we left they wouldn’t let us back in.

Currently, we don’t have a high enough income to apply for residency, and even the digital nomad visa is a bit of a stretch. You only need to be making $2,000 USD/ month for the digital nomad visa as a couple, but that $2k must come from one person, and combined incomes don’t count. While I actually would’ve hit it this last month, I can’t show a consistent monthly income of $2k right now and neither can Chris.

Plus, for this visa, we’d need to pay to leave the country, and then fly back in, pay to quarantine in a hotel for 2 weeks and then pay for the visa on top of this!

Thankfully the government relented and let everyone extend their visas until the summer, but wow that was a stressful few weeks.

Chris and I were considering a last-minute move to Mexico, which is not ideal when you have two cats (neither of which are fully vaccinated yes, and thus can’t leave the country). Thank god they decided to change their minds.

Thanksgiving leftovers

Our Thanksgiving leftovers!

Work Overload and Overwhelm

While the extra work this winter has been awesome, it’s also been very stressful! I really wasn’t able to take time off as much as I’d planned, and to be honest, some weeks I’ve literally been working 7 days a week.

I haven’t really figured out how to prioritize my own stuff (like my new online course I’m creating…or blog posts) while working on things for everyone else. Thankfully I think I’ve got a good schedule mapped out now, and some clearer boundaries when it comes to the hours and days I’m willing to work, but it’s been a struggle!

It’s been really hard for me to turn down paying work and prioritize my own needs and my own schedule, but I have to do it. I can’t allow my English school to schedule classes for me seven days a week or accept interviews on my one day off or I’ll just go crazy.

Birthday cake

Chris’ birthday cake! (We celebrated at home in lockdown)

Blog Posts I Wrote in November + December

Due to my health, work overload, and two-week break, I didn’t write many posts in November and December, but here they are!

FINALLY Learning Travel Hacking – I FINALLY learned how to use Credit Cards, Points, and Miles. It only took me a decade…

30 Perfect Gifts For Travelers (Who Can’t Travel Right Now) – My yearly Holiday Gift Guide with a 2020 twist. Here are gifts that are awesome for travelers that you can use even when you’re not traveling!

The Freedom Life: October 2020 – Here’s what I was up to in October! Celebrating my anniversary with Chris and traveling to Batumi and Merisi (before Lockdown 2.0)

I also created a FREE Guide called 7 Steps to Moving Abroad (in 2021) that I’m still putting the finishing touches on!

Amazon Fire TV Stick

Photo by Amazon

Travel Product of the Month

Chris got a Firestick for Christmas last year, and we’re OBSESSED. This little HDMI plugin device allows us to steam all of our shows from Netflix and Amazon Prime, to Youtube and even Spotify music.

The Fire Stick itself is very tiny and can be easily thrown in a backpack. When you use it, all you need is a tv with an HDMI port and an internet connection. The Firestick even works really well with Express VPN, so we can watch US shows abroad!

I love the Firestick because let’s be honest, we’re all steaming a bunch of shows right now anyway, and when you travel, you can just take the Firestick with you and load it up on any tv!

Christmas Eve

Yum Yum Yum!

My Favorite Blog Posts of November and December

Here are my favorite blog posts from other bloggers and writers this winter!

2020: A Year in Review – This Battered Suitcase My favorite and most realistic year in review I read this year

My Worst Travel Moments of 2020 – Adventurous Kate I love reading these every year!

My Tromso Apartment Tour – Heart My Backpack So I’m kind of obsessed with seeing people’s apartments from all over the world!

Sooo I’m Kinda Maybe Sorta Moving to New Zealand – Neverending Footsteps I always really like hearing about how and why people move to other countries!

What's it like to spend Christmas in lockdown in Tbilisi Georgia?

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What I’m Up to in January!

Well… January is almost over but I can fill you in on what to expect. This January I’m still overworking (I have even more jobs… lol). I also am now very involved in a few of Chris’ paid D&D games. I also joined a 6-month business accelerator that I’m super excited about.

The Freedom Life: November + December 2020

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About Richelle

Expat, traveler, and spicy food lover, I've spent the last few years living in China and traveling around Asia. In my spare time I enjoy salsa dancing, exploring night markets and stuffing my face with street food.

4 comments on “The Freedom Life: November + December 2020

  1. Thank you so much for including my post! It sounds like you’ve been quite busy… I hope you’re feeling a lot better now. I’m glad you were able to stay in Georgia!!

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