Gratitude Notes: 2016 in 100 Words

2016 has been a crazy year: a year of new friends, a year of relationships come and gone, a year of travel and adventure, a year of smiles and tears and lots of heartfelt laughter. Here’s to sharing some of my favorite moments with all of you in photos and 100 words (per category, of course!).

dapper day

Dapper Day, Disneyland! (November)

challenge course

Challenge Ropes Course with last year’s Global Sibs (January)

Cookie Con

Sweet times at the LA Cookie Convention (February)


Spanning four generations of wonderful on Chinese New Year’s (February) Hair Extension from Lilyhair


Swim meet with some of my favorite swim club alumni <3 (March) 


 Guess who works for Nickelodeon now??? (July)

Richard Graduation

Graduation celebrations with one of the coolest kids I know (June)

 Swim Alessio

A pic with this guy before going off to visit him in Bari, Italy in August! (June)

Risotto Al Funghi 18--110516

 Meeting Peter Pan for the first time in Kensington Gardens, London, UK (August)

swim club

Swim club end-of-year banquet (June)


Our Global Sibs’ big victory celebration at the end-of-year bonfire (June)

rock climbing

My first big outdoor rock climb! (October)

ice cream cone

The usual order at Disneyland: double-scoop chocolate-dipped sprinkle waffle cone with cookies ‘n cream and cookie dough (October)

peruvian students

The bright group of Peruvian high school students who came up one day and wanted to chat all about American culture! (October)

Disneyland Greg

The best Disneyland adventures partner ever (April)

hollywood bowl

 Hanging out at the Hollywood Bowl with one of the most amazing friends and confidantes a girl could ask for (May)

pokemon go

Remember Pokemon GO? Yeah, we were pretty cool with our water Pokemon raids (July)

Blarney Castle Alex

The best 48 hours ever in Cork, Ireland with an amazing friend (August)

abhik dapper day

When you couldn’t ask for a better partner-in-crime and ice cream adventures at Disneyland (November)

thanksgiving dinner

This year’s AMAZING new Global Sibs family! (November)


We didn’t really run the city, but they gave us medals anyway so…and we accept. (November)


This year has taught me just how much I love my family. I’m in awe of my parents, who have been taking care of my sick grandma with resilience and dutifulness. I’m so proud of my mom, who retired this year but has found so many ways to keep her life busy and meaningful. I’m so grateful for my dad, who has lent his ear and words of wisdom at every juncture during our nightly phone calls. I’m so glad that my brother and I can play Mario Kart 64 and that I can still whoop him on Rainbow Road.


My friends are the ones who get me through every day with a smile. This year was filled with graduations and return visits, spontaneous sleepovers and late-night phone calls. We’ve shared Disneyland adventures, ice cream cones, escape room excursions, and stories—so many stories. Between Global Siblings, swim club, the English department, and old and new friends, 2016 has been in many ways the Year of Friendship. This year taught me to grow as a friend: I’ve learned to trust and open up in ways that I never thought possible. WHY DO YOU GUYS MAKE ME FEEL SO LOVED <3

Personal Achievements

Mindfulness played a huge part in my life this year. Barring a handful of meltdowns (conveniently crammed into the first half of my Europe trip), I’ve been meditating a lot and have found a happy equilibrium in most facets of my life. I took that huge trip to Europe, stepped out of my comfort zone to give a big undergrad guest lecture on Washington Irving, was featured on Buzzfeed, went outdoor rock climbing for the first time ever, became a co-coordinator for the world’s coolest international family, and became genuinely interested for the first time in global politics. Not bad!

Professional Life

I’ve never talked about my professional life on the blog, but this has been a BIG year in terms of professional development. In 2016, my department finally announced its support for non-academic, post-graduation work opportunities, which encouraged me to tell both my advisor and the world that I work for Nickelodeon (yes, the kids’ TV studio!!!).I guess this is the first time that I’m officially sharing this news with all of you, too! Now, after five years of silence in grad school, I have the support of both my department and workplace to pursue my professional dreams in kids’ entertainment.


During my time off after a relationship last year, my friend thought it’d be funny to put me on a dating app. That ended quickly (the whole concept is so weird to me!), but then I started dating someone I met IRL anyway. After about 7 months (the first few of which were great and the last few of which were a bit miserable), it ended, mutually. I learned so much about my own needs and values along the way that I’m incredibly grateful that it happened—and to reaffirm that life is even more beautiful on the other side!


School has been such a mixed bag: I miss teaching my amazing students (I’m on dissertation fellowship this academic year), but I’m so thankful for the dedicated writing time that I have from now until next summer. Progress is slow—interspersed with hours at work, blogging, Global Sibs coordinating, and socializing—but I also published my first academic article and am hoping to push out another in the coming month! In August, I went to a week-long conference on Charles Dickens, and now I’m buckling down to finish my final two dissertation chapters before graduation in June. Wish me luck!


One of the great things about this year is that I’ve really challenged myself to become stronger, both psychologically and physically. I swam some near-PR times with Swim Club last quarter, and over the summer I pushed myself to swim/run longer than I’ve done in a long time! Sadly, I injured my right shoulder about a month ago and haven’t been able to swim much at all, which created a tangible drop in my stamina. Still, I’ve been running longer distances with friends to make up for it and I can’t wait to start proper training again after this recovery!


I know, I know—I won’t shut up about it, but traveling this year was frankly AWESOME. I spent three weeks traversing the UK, Ireland, and Italy over the summer, and this experience probably constitutes one of the top three events of my lifetime. I especially loved getting to meet everyone’s lovely families and learn about the daily workings of life in a country half the world away. This visit was definitely a game changer: I’m now considering taking dedicated time off to travel the world after graduation, and I know that I would love it more than anything else.

What are some of your most memorable moments from 2016?




13 Replies to “Gratitude Notes: 2016 in 100 Words”

  1. are you an ap??? loving all those ice cream (speaking of which, love how the seasonal peppermint cone looks, not much of a fan of how minty it is) and disney pictures

    1. I *am* indeed an AP! Are you?!?

  2. Great pictures! And swell post. Good stuff — thanks.

  3. Wow! What a year! The Nickelodeon job must be a dream come true!
    Wishing you the best adventures in the coming year!

    1. Oh, it’s a wonderful place with some amazing people 🙂 thank you so much and for sharing another amazing year, Deb!

  4. I love your outlook on life – even though you have had some wonderful ups and some hard lows you still look at it with such a wonderful attitude! You are amazing! I hope 2017 treats you well x

    1. Thank you, Ruby–it’s been so wonderful getting to “meet” you this year and share these moments with you! Wishing you the very best in the holiday season as well xo

  5. Oh, my gosh, I want to be YOU! What a fun year, Ala!!!

  6. What a year!!! Full of blessings and gratitude! Wishing your 2017 is even happier than 2016.

  7. Holy amazing year, Batman! Seriously, you look like you had lots of fun. And how totally cool that you work for Nickelodeon. Is it bad I still watch Doug sometimes???

  8. […] few weeks ago, I posted some of my very favorite photos from this year. Now that it’s the last Thursday of 2016, I’m throwing back to some of this […]

  9. What an amazing year, keep up the good work. Wishing you an adventures and happy New Year.

    1. Thanks a bushel and a bundle, Gerlinde! Happy new year!

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