Merry Christmas Everyone!
It’s December 18th and I’m packing and cleaning my house before I leave for Vietnam tomorrow. I am super excited for our trip – I haven’t left Kendari since we arrived after orientation in September and I’m itching to travel! We’ve spent the last several weeks planning our trip – we’ll start in the north in Hanoi and make our way south to Ho Chi Minh City over the course of two weeks. We’ve booked our hostels and flights and looked up fun things to do in each of the four cities will be in but other than that, we’re planning to take each day as it comes! I’ll be traveling with Kate (my sitemate) and Caroline and Daniel, two fellow ETAs. There will also be a number of our other ETA friends in Vietnam so we hoping to see them along the way, too.
I can’t wait to be in a place with lots of holiday spirit, Western and Vietnamese food, and hot showers. You have no idea how excited I am for a hot shower after four months of pouring buckets of cold water over my head and calling that a shower…. (I’m not exaggerating in the slightest).
But before we get ready to enter 2017 I want to look back at 2016. Who would have thought I’d still be in Indonesia, still rooming with cockroaches and giant spiders, still eating rice for a majority of my meals, and still have no idea what I want to do with my life…?
2016 Year in Review
January: highlights included the Fulbright mid-year conference in Jakarta, finally getting to see the other ETAs after four months in our respective cities; and traveling to Ko Tao, Thailand and getting scuba certified!
June: Finished our Indo tour in Ubud and Jogja and came home to the USA! Did a whirlwind trip from Seattle to DC to St. Louis and back to Seattle.
July: Enjoyed time with my family, played a lot of golf, attended a lecture by Malala, and worked my ass off to finish the 1 million step challenge (success!)
August: Returned to Indonesia, spent a few weeks in Jakarta working with AMINEF, visited my kiddos in Palangkaraya, and finally went to Kendari for the first time!
November: Visited Moramo waterfall, despaired over Trump’s election, celebrated Thanksgiving three times, and shed pounds doing Kayla’s BBG workout.
December: Chilled with no school for 2.5 weeks and headed to Vietnam!
Books of 2016
I read a lot (29 on #30!) of books in 2016… I enjoyed almost all! Here is my list with the starred ones as my favorites:
- Harry Potter #1-7 by JK Rowling***(obviously)
- My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem
- The Color Purple by Alice Walker
- All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
- The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
- Wild by Cheryl Strayed***
- Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke
- Game of Thrones #1-3 by George R.R. Martin***
- Preparing to Study in the USA
- The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah***
- Family Room by Lily Yulianti Farid
- Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by John Tiffany and JK Rowling
- Born For This by Chris Guillebeau
- A Brief History of Indonesia by Tim Hannigan***
- Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami
- I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
- Yes Please by Amy Poehler
- Black Girl Dangerous by Mia Mackenzie
- A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles***
- The Things They Carried by Tom O’brien
- The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 by Lawrence Wright***
- When Heaven and Earth Changed Places by Le Ly Hayslip (currently reading)
If you have any highlights from your 2016 book list, let me know – I always love book recommendations!
What have I acquired or done in 2016 that changed my year for the better? Here’s my list!
- Passion Planner: I stumbled across this website in a book (Born for This) last summer and immediately went online and bought it. Everyone loves a good planner but this is more than just a planner. It’s a goal-setting, goal-achieving, master-organizer, keep-track of everything you do, save all your memories, snazzy looking book. I love, love, love my Passion Planner!
- 1 Million Step Challenge: Every year or so my mom and I challenge each other to walk 1 million steps in three months, an average of 10-11,000 steps a day. This is quite a challenge, particularly if you get behind! But for the third time in three years, both my mom and I completed it! Felt healthy and strong after three months and hundreds of miles!
- Kayla Itsines’ BBG Workout: On a whim I committed to doing the BBG workout with some of the other ETAs. I started my first week back at site in September and after the first workout, I literally couldn’t walk. But I stuck with it (thanks in large part to our accountability whatapp group) and am now on my 13th week of the workout (can you believe that?!) and I have shed the rice-weight. See below for a before and after photo (so far!). I’m incredibly proud of myself for sticking with it and am excited to continue this lifestyle of fitness into the New Year!
- Photographs: sounds lame but when you live by yourself 10,000 miles away from home, life can be lonely. Surrounding myself with photos keeps the memories alive and my spirit my positive.
- Budget Spreadsheet: again, sounds lame but I started to keep track of every dollar (and rupiah) I spent back in July and my nerdy self is loving having a much better idea of where my money is going (particularly since Indonesia is a cash-based economy and 99.9% of my transactions are in cash). It’s fascinating to keep track of it all and even better to knowing I have extra to stash away in my savings.
- Motorcycles: Last December I bought a motorcycle (scooter) in Palangkaraya and it 100% changed my life in Pky. This year, I am borrowing a motorcycle (scooter) from my neighbor and the ease of having my own transportation is a life-saver. I am so thankful to have it! Plus, last week I even got my own Indonesian motorcycle driver’s license! (Had a scary run-in with the police for not having a license so we figured out how to get one here!)
I find myself entering 2017 with the same career questions and future unknowns as I did last year… but I’m not worried about it, rather, I’m excited to get going on the job search post-vietnam and to know where and what I’ll be doing come June!
2016 has been year full of meeting new people, making new friends, and exploring so many new places. I’m incredibly blessed to get to travel as much as I do and to see so much of the world and I’m excited for one more journey in 2016… to Vietnam!
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!