2018 has been an absolutely epic year. Recently, I listened to a podcast that describes how time can sometimes feel so slow, yet at other times feels fleeting. In essence, when our lives are filled with new experiences, our brain is busy processing all the new signals, and all that jam-packed activities slows down our perception of time. Yet, when our lives are filled with routines, the brain is on auto-pilot, and suddenly, time escapes.
I have filled my brain with constant new signals over the last 12 months, taking risks and fulfilling dreams. My brain hasn’t been so stimulated in a really long time, and it feels rewarding, and down-right splendid. I also started the year with the goal to prioritize friends and family, and I’m glad to have achieved this goal. I can only hope more years ahead can be as fulfilling as 2018. Here’s a look at what exactly took place!
Officially became married in Hong Kong. Jumped through all the hoops to get paperwork in order and became legally married. From this point forward, all major life decisions involve the two of us. After pulling the trigger to leave the corporate grind, I spent the month tying loose ends at work and prepared for transition.
After taking my remaining vacations and celebrated Chinese New Year, I bid farewell to nearly 5 years of corporate grinding. Within a week, I began a 9-week coding bootcamp with Le Wagon. It was a major leap forward. At this point, I thought I would launch a freelance career in Shanghai after the coding camp.
Coding camp was in full swing. I did take a break and went for a visa run in Taiwan, and met up with my parents. Living internationally meant the need to meet up with parents whenever we can! Being fully immersed in the coding camp gave me a glimpse into the tech world, and changes/challenges my idea on how I want to engage tech in my future work.
Final month in coding camp. It challenged me in ways I hadn’t imagined. The experience demystified the whole “tech” scene, and brought reality to all that hype. The unveil was one of the most important things that I took away from the camp. If anything, I now understand what goes into building websites & apps. Knowledge is power, and I will no longer be fearful of machines taking over life.
We began the second round of Minimalist Game, in an attempt to simplify our lives further. As fate would have it, mid-way through the month, a series of events led us to make the decision to wrap up our lives in China. That quote, “luck is opportunity meets preparation” came to mind. Had we not already put the wheels in motion to simplify life, I don’t think we would have take the bold decision to so abruptly turn down a job offer to travel the world.
Our simple game went into overdrive and became a mission to get rid over nearly everything we own in 6 week’s time. In addition to completely simplify our lives, we also took visa trips to Hong Kong and Beijing. This was a warm-up to the world tour.
The month was filled with all sorts of goodbyes. We’ve built a truly amazing community in Shanghai over the years, and it’s the one thing we really miss about our lives in China. On June 21st, we hopped on a train at Shanghai Hongqiao station, with our lives’ possessions crammed into a backpack and a suitcase each, and waved goodbye to this chapter of our lives.
The trans-Siberian journey from Shanghai to Strasbourg was in full swing. The trip set the tone for the rest of our year. It was eye-opening, liberating, and soul-enriching. We ended the trip in mid-July, then spent the rest of the month prepping for our final around-the-world wedding celebration with family and a handful of friends in France.
After a quality month in France with family, I flew to Washington D.C. to attend the 10-year reunion of my Peace Corps cohort. Those 27 months in Cameroon had changed my live profoundly, and most importantly, its has brought upon friendship that is closer than family. It was great to spent quality time in person. I also used this opportunity to catch up with East Coast friends that I haven’t seen in quite a few years. The month rounded out with a fantastic fam wedding in Vermont!
Xav met me in Montréal to celebrate my birthday, and to kick off our road trip down the Maine Coast. We gave ourselves an entire week to relax in Montreal after the whirlwind summer. We then picked up our rental car and drove from Montreal to Lincolnville, Maine, where we rented a cottage as base to visit Acadia National Park.
The road trip continued down through Portland and ended in Boston, where we then hopped on a bus to New York and DC. This fall would be a redemption trip to show my Frenchie a side of the United States that’s not the suburb of St. Louis…
We met my parents in Las Vegas, and began a two week-tour of the incredible national parks across Utah and Arizona, and ended with a few days in San Francisco, where we spent some quality time with my aunt. The national park looped started in Grand Canyon, then we zipped up north to Lake Powell, Bryce Canyon, Zion National Park, then back through Vegas. This road trip really showcased America the Beautiful. It was surreal to drive through the vast plains between national parks.
Second half of October was spent back in St. Louis, where I applied the minimalist philosophy to all of my belongings from past lives at home. I adopted the strategy of taking photos and get rid of the physical items.
The month was spent in St. Louis with my family, where we were also drafted as standby babysitters from my sister’s new baby. We welcomed the month at home where we didn’t need to repack bags every few days. I caught up with a few friends in St. Louis, but otherwise laid low and enjoyed being in one place for a bit.
We flew to Houston for a long weekend to visit some more family, then headed down to Buenos Aires to kick off our three-week tour in Argentina. Traveling through a country as vast and diverse as Argentina gives us the sense that one can really travel for the rest of one’s life and not see everything. Through all of my travels, this is the first trip where I really spent time to observe wildlife! It’s an incredible feeling to have our sensory constantly stimulated.
We ended the month in Uruguay to spent Christmas and New Year with Xav’s family. The beauty of having family and friends all over the world is that it’s made our itinerary planning much easier. We have prioritise seeing people we love, and the rest followed.