As I did last year, I’ve decided to reflect on the past year on my blog. This time I actually find myself in a bit of a different situation, writing this on New Year’s Eve itself. Last year on December 31 I was frantically sorting out a ton of shit that was going on in my life so the post was quite late. This year I’m sitting in a tropical paradise with no plans for the evening and no plans for tomorrow morning. I feel like that’s generally a good metaphor for how my life has changed in the past 365 days too. To be honest, this past year has gone by so quickly that I have a hard time distinguishing between what happened last year and this year.
Early this year, I went to Hokkaido to see the Sapporo Snow Festival. It was the first time I had seen proper snow in Japan and it was tons of fun! In hindsight this was probably the best Japanese festival that I’ve seen so far. The weather in Hokkaido was also the best possible winter weather I’ve experienced. It fell somewhere between the dry Swedish winter and the creepingly moist bonechills of Kansai. And of course there was real snow.
I also experienced my first Golden Week. I heard that things are a bit crazy in Japan for Golden Week (the largest holiday week in the country) so I opted to take some budget airline flights to get myself out of the country and into Taiwan and Hong Kong. I also saw Korea for the second time and almost fell off the top of a mountain and died. I also almost died from a meat coma. 😀
This year was also great for friends. I had some friends from exchange and also my best friend from Canada come to visit. We explored Kansai, partied in Tokyo, and basked in the rays of tropical Okinawa. I also went on (and planned) the annual Hyogo AJET Shikoku Rafting Trip with both old and new friends.
I’ve also made a lot of new friends at work. There is a group of teachers that invites me to play sports with them during the exam breaks. I haven’t quite improved at tennis (I still miss serves all the time) but it seems I’m the person to beat in badminton. We often go for drinks after too! I have also taken to joining gym classes almost daily so the gym teachers seem to like me more. Some of my teachers are also talking about going on a road trip together in the new year. I feel like it took me a year to work myself into the teacher social circles but I love it now!
2016 was also a good year for new skills and hobbies. With the abundance of spare time at my desk, I’ve taken up a few new things to keep myself busy. I have been practicing card magic mostly. It all started with a bit of inspiration from the most recent Phoenix Wright game but it grew into an idea because I realized that magic transcends language. Even my lower level students who may not understand my English very well can still enjoy magic I do for them after school or even (occasionally) in class.
Recently I also took up salsa dancing every week after a friend brought me along. I’ve only been twice but I was pleasantly surprised by how much fun it was. It’s also a great way to use a Wednesday night and to see your friends! I’m really grateful for the invitation since salsa is something I normally never would have tried.
Lastly, this winter has been really amazing. The winter holidays have been really special to me and I have been lucky enough to do so many things with so many great people. I had a Christmas party, I’ve spent lots of time with friends new and old, and I have been in Hawaii with my family for the past week. I am so grateful for everyone and the great vacation my parents have brought me on. Even though I don’t live with them anymore, or even in the same country, I love my family as much as ever! Thanks for being great.
Even though that’s a rather lame rundown of what I’ve done this year, I feel like the pictures really do present a better story than my words could.
Now on to more important things! Last year I gave myself 7 resolutions. Here’s how I did.
1. Save $200 a month. SUCCESS
Though I did spend most of it on a new computer at the end of the contract year…
2. Go on a run at least once a week. FAILURE
I took up biking to school this year so that was my new form of cardio (40 mins per day) so I quickly gave up running.
3. Reach (or exceed) the level of physical satisfaction that I had on exchange. FAILURE
I’ve definitely made improvements in stamina and strength but I still have more work to do before I’m where I want to be. This year I successfully got a gym membership (despite the difficulties I had last year) and I also took up new physical activities such as salsa dance and cycling.
4. Blog at least once every month. FAILURE
Yeah nah. Not even close.
5. Pass the JLPT N5. PENDING
Results come out in two weeks so we’ll see!
6. Be more positive. SUCCESS
About a third of this year I was in a very dark place because of a certain event that occurred in my social life. Since then, I’ve managed to repair the damage done and also rebound stronger than before. I feel like I am more positive now than I have been in a very long time.
7. Perfect at least 5 new recipes. FAILURE
This year I tried to learn a lot about Japanese cooking and managed to master a few staples such as katsudon, oyakodon, and cream stew. That being said, I didn’t quite make it to 5 new recipes. I find that my social life is driving me away from my kitchen lately as I opt to go for dinner or lunch with friends instead of cooking at home.
With a failing score of 2/7 I should feel horrible, but I really don’t. I did a lot this year and looking back on it like this has forced me to realize that I’m happier now than I have been in about 2 years. Even many of my failed goals were partially completed or replaced with an alternative. This is what I’ve come up with for this year.
New Years Resolutions 2017
- Read at least one book per month.
I want to get back to reading like I did on exchange. Lately I have only been re-reading the same things over and over again.
- Limit my spending on video games to one purchase per month.
I spend too much. That’s it. Those Steam sales break me.
- Pass JLPT N4.
Assuming I have passed N5 of course…
- Focus more on meaningful relationships with the people I know.
This year I think I spent too much time trying to meet new people and I didn’t really nurture the relationships with people I already know.
- Reach (or exceed) the level of physical satisfaction that I had on exchange.
The only goal from last year that I want to carry on to this year.
- TOP SECRET.
This one will be revealed if I succeed.
And that’ll do it. To those of you who helped make the past year of my life great, I owe you a great thanks. To those of you that I may not have made enough time for, I hope we can all have a great 2017. Happy new year!