2017 in review

Photographing a volunteer in the Philippines

I traveled.

Solo travels (Amsterdam, Vietnam, Hong Kong), work travels (the Philippines, Atlanta), other fun travels (Hawaii, New York, Texas), and a lot of photos along the way. I loved wandering through the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, exploring new hiking trails in Hawaii, and eating everything in Vietnam again.  Working as a photographer/videographer/producer in the Philippines was an amazing experience that challenged me professionally in the best way. I happily spent the last four months of the year traveling somewhere nearly every two weeks, including three round trips from DC across the Pacific within two months. 

coffee and french studying

I learned.

I took the GMAT after studying hours every day for three months. I completed three more French courses at Alliance Française and loved the Sunday study group we created. The group of crazy students who actively identified and purchased additional workbooks and spent their Sunday afternoons completing extra grammar exercises in the textbook. These are my people.

alliance francaise volunteer

I volunteered.

For l’Alliance, I volunteered at Fête de la Musique for the annual musical event to celebrate the beginning of summer. I also volunteered every two weeks during the summer at my local farmers’ market for DC Greens, where I supported access to healthy food through DC government’s Produce Plus program. After three years in leadership roels, I retired from my alma mater’s alumni board and was featured on the university’s website.

tea party 2017

I hosted.

Celebrated three years (!) of Friday pasta nights, a second annual yet proper tea party, and a wine tasting. 

hawaii koko head hike

It was a year of many adventures, personal growth, professional challenges, new friendships, and lots of embarrassment. Hey, French is difficult.

I can’t wait to see what 2018 brings (hopefully more adventures and less embarrassment).

education for life

vanity fair france - lesley siu

 via Instagram

I may no longer be in school, but I’m still a student. You could say I’m a little too curious about the world for my own good. Well, that might explain why I love living abroad and traveling solo. The good thing about being easily fascinated and hungry to learn is that there are so many resources to do so. I could sit on Twitter all day and click through article after article. I could people-watch for hours and observe how people communicate, move and interact. I could see a film or opera in a foreign language, not understand a word, and still enjoy every second of it.

Practically speaking, I know I can’t know everything. But I’d rather know a lot about a little than a little about a lot. Right now, I’m focusing on deepening my knowledge on a few subjects for personal and professional growth.

Language: One of my goals is to be fluent in another language. It’s certainly a challenge living in an English-speaking country, and it takes a huge amount of discipline to keep practicing. For the field I work in, the ability to speak a different language is a huge asset. I learned French best through immersion during my time in Paris, but Duolingo and old copies of French Vogue will just have to do for now. C’est la vie.

Personal finance: Managing my money is both exciting and terrifying. Mostly, it’s just terrifying. I tried to plan ahead by taking personal finance during my freshman year of college, but all I remember is being confused enlightened by taxes, interest and investments. Reality check: this money business is no monkey business. From monthly budgeting to long-term financial planning, I am constantly looking for ways to save more, spend less and make smart decisions with my dollars. I subscribe to DailyWorth, read books like The Millionaire Next Door and try not to stress over the spreadsheet with every single penny I’ve spent.

HTML/CSS: This is part of the reason why this website exists. Creating and managing it has helped me develop web skills vital to my day job. Just don’t call me a web developer…yet. I can’t seem to find the discipline to stick to Codecademy, but I sure learn a lot by frequently changing design elements on this site and exploring features I’d like to add. Trial and error never felt so good (or looked so bad).

What are you currently learning? Any resources to recommend?

Speaking the Aussie Language

On the first day at my internship, I was given the task of editing a 40-page report. No big deal, right? Or so I thought… After reading a few pages and discovering several minor errors, I realised (hint) how different UK English is. The spelling of certain words looks so weird to me! For example.. focused is “focussed”, (<< commas go after the quotations too), skillful is “skilful” and license is “licence”. I guess this is a good transition before going to uni in Glasgow! I’ll be replacing my zeds (the letter “Z”) with the letter “s” and “-or” with “-our” (flavour, colour, harbour).

As if UK English wasn’t enough, Aussies have their own sayings that I may never understand. Here are a few words and sayings off the top of my head.

“Good on ya” = good job/way to go/congrats

“uni” = university (see above)

“Maccas” = McDonald’s

“chips” = french fries (except at Maccas, where they’re called french fries. confusing? yes.)

“How ya going?” = How are you?

“dodgy” = questionable, sketchy

“whinge” = complain/whine

“toilet” = bathroom

“takeaway” = to go/take out (food)

“bloke” = guy

“lift” = elevator

“brekkie” = breakfast

That’s all for now, mates!

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