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, Disneyland! (November)
Challenge Ropes Course with last year’s Global Sibs (January)
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)
Graduation celebrations with one of the coolest kids I know (June)
A pic with this guy before going off to visit him in Bari, Italy in August! (June)
Meeting Peter Pan for the first time in Kensington Gardens, London, UK (August)
Swim club end-of-year banquet (June)
Our Global Sibs’ big victory celebration at the end-of-year bonfire (June)
My first big outdoor rock climb! (October)
The usual order at Disneyland: double-scoop chocolate-dipped sprinkle waffle cone with cookies ‘n cream and cookie dough (October)
The bright group of Peruvian high school students who came up one day and wanted to chat all about American culture! (October)
The best Disneyland adventures partner ever (April)
Hanging out at the Hollywood Bowl with one of the most amazing friends and confidantes a girl could ask for (May)
Remember Pokemon GO? Yeah, we were pretty cool with our water Pokemon raids (July)
The best 48 hours ever in Cork, Ireland with an amazing friend (August)
When you couldn’t ask for a better partner-in-crime and ice cream adventures at Disneyland (November)
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
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!
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?