January 1, 2016

Memories from 2015 and looking ahead

I love how January 1 gives so many people pause for reflection on the year that was, and for what they want in the next year. It's easy to catch the wave of self-assessment and goal-setting--two things I really enjoy.

2015 will be a hard year to top. I only spent 10 days in the US; essentially, I spent the entire year abroad, which has always been a goal for me.

I swam in the Mediterranean and in the Black Sea.

I completed my contract in Turkey.

I watched my best friend get married.

I spent time with my German Grandparents in Germany.

I cooked a Turkish meal for my American grandparents.

I moved to Thailand and survived a semester (so far) at a new university.

I got a kitten.

2015 was a successful year for me. I made a lot of progress in terms of making decisions with my happiness in mind. That's important to me.

There were plenty of hard times in 2015 too. Very few things about living abroad (especially within the first year) are easy. Basic errands can feel like heavy burdens because of language barriers and unfamiliar systems. I cried a lot in 2015. I often questioned my life choices and sometimes cursed myself for choosing a lifestyle that puts me so far away from family and the comforts of home. 2015 was also part of the first year of my marriage to Alan. Adjusting to life together in a strange country wasn't always a picnic. It was downright hard sometimes.

But here I am. Still standing. Still abroad. Still married. Happily on all accounts.

2016 is off to an adventurous start already, as we partied Chiang Rai style last night downtown with the rest of the city. We counted down the last seconds of the year near the famous Clocktower with thousands of Chiang Rai people and tourists from around the world.

My New Year's resolution is to learn as much Thai as I knew in Turkish. I didn't invest in learning Thai at all last semester. It was so easy to get by with a few phrases and do the rest in English. However, I believe that I will not only enjoy learning Thai, but I will also be able to be more independent if I can handle the basics. I started taking this goal seriously last week, so I've already got some momentum.

I'm a good exerciser already, so I want to continue that, and make sure I don't forget to stretch after my workouts. Also, choose veggies when possible.

Finally, I want to continue reading for pleasure. Much of my job as a writing teacher is reading student work, which sometimes leaves me super drained. I found in 2015 though, that reading for pleasure counteracts some of the burnout from reading hundreds of essays written by language learners. I just finished "The Kite Runner" by Khaled Hosseini and I really liked it, especially his use of Afghani words that were similar to Turkish words I knew. A while back, I read "Burmese Days" by George Orwell.  I also read "Cat Sense" by John Bradshaw recently, to understand Egg better. I think the book helped me see Egg as a cat with cat-needs (as opposed to a cute little creature whose primary interest must be being my pseudo-child). Interestingly, the more I do to treat Egg as a cat, the more he seems to appreciate human interaction. All that to say, let's keep reading in 2016.

2015 was a great year, and basically, I want to continue what I've been doing and have another interesting, adventurous, and educational year in 2016.