So we’ve finally made it. 2018 is here and we can firmly close the door on all the disasters that befell this world in 2017. I’m really quite shocked at how quickly this year has passed and all the things that have changed in that time. This time last year, I was still at Oxford University and I hadn’t completed any of my final exams in French. Fast forward and I’ve got my first law school exam in 2 days. So I’m going to keep this brief so I can get back to the joys of EU law.
What happened in 2017?
I said goodbye to some friends
… in a good way. I was carrying a lot of emotional baggage around at the end of the 2016 and in January I finally decided to just let it go, Elsa-style. To summarise, I spent my third year of university in Paris doing my year abroad whilst most of my good friends were busy doing their finals. Of course that meant when I got back to uni for my fourth and final year, they’d all left. It was quite hard adjusting to the fact that I was back in a place that had once seemed so familiar, but some of the most important people in my life were gone. When you leave university, or, indeed, school, you find that a lot of friends drop off the face of the earth. Once you lack that constant proximity, you might find that they’re not who you thought they were, that you’re just not that compatible as friends or that they really didn’t care at all. This is hard. When you realise that you’ve spent years investing in a friendship that has come to a dead-end, it can be just as heart-wrenching as a breakup. Buuut this was probably the “healthiest” thing I did for myself all year and I’m very glad I decided to stop investing in a relationship that didn’t exist anymore.
I survived my final year at Oxford
There were a couple of points in the year when I really didn’t think I’d make it through to the other end of my degree at Oxford University. The spring term, Hilary term, was really tough because I (stupidly) volunteered to do an extra module which meant that I had to complete two dissertation-style essays in one term, whilst most of my classmates were only doing one. It’s weird because although I found there was a lot to do, this was the first time we had been completely free to research whatever we wanted and I enjoyed getting to grips with a subject I had chosen. I was finally getting into the exam mindset and was probably in the best shape I have ever been in because I managed to get a good work/gym/life rhythm going. Fast forward 9 months and I’m in the worst shape I’ve been in for a long time though! ha.
Then came Trinity term, the dreaded finals term. There wasn’t really a break between the second and third terms as revision kicks off pretty much the second you hand said dissertations in. As I said, I was in a fairly good rhythm so I would go to the gym then head to the library, but nothing was actually going in. Inside my mind I was going absolutely crazy with worry and panic about how these exams were going to go. I already had a job offer which was riding on me getting at least a 2.i, so I was pretty damn stressed about though even though I knew it should be attainable. However, that thought clearly wasn’t connecting with my nervous system. The majority of people in my year were doing pretty crazy stints in the library and I think 9am-9pm would be considered an average day… 8pm-12am wasn’t uncommon either. When I think back over this… I just think – what the fuck? This was definitely the most intense and weird period I’ve lived through so far… You can read a bit more about all the books I had to read during this time here.
The important thing is – I survived, I got that 2.i, I met my job offer requirements and I GRADUATED. I’ll give myself a big pat on the back for that.
I read more diversely
If you’ve been following the blog for a while, you’ll know that I challenged myself to only read books written by authors from the countries in which I was travelling. For me this meant: Chinese, Japanese and Korean authors. If you want to see which books I picked, check out my summer book haul here. I loved every single book I read and learnt quite a lot about Japanese and Korean culture, which I’m really pleased about. I’ve found some new favourite authors, authors that I never would’ve thought to pick up before, and I’m excited for the next time I travel so I can start this challenge again! If you want to get involved, read more about the challenge here.
I travelled (lots)
As mentioned above, I managed to tick off two countries that have been on my bucket list for a very, very long time: Japan and Korea. I spent around 3 weeks travelling around Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, Nara and Seoul. Although I’m half Chinese and have travelled to East Asia numerous times in my life, the culture in these two counties, Japan in particular, really took me by surprise. I was amazed by the kindness of the Japanese people (the ticket collector bows when he enters and leaves the train carriage) – and the modernity of the South Koreans. I ate tonnes of amazing food, spent way too much money, saw some of the world’s most beautiful sites – and some of the ugliest.
I had the opportunity to take a day trip from Seoul to the DMZ, the De-Militarised Zone in South Korea, aka the border with North Korea. From here, I learnt about the history of the conflict between these two countries and got to see North Korea with my very own eyes (in the distance, I’ll admit). This couldn’t have been more topical as I was visiting Korea just when Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un were having a pissing contest re. nuclear war. Read more about my experience at the DMZ here.
I also went back to Paris for the first time since my year abroad ended in May 2016 and it turned out to be the best therapy! I really wasn’t sure how I’d feel going back after such a long time and seeing the people I used to live and work with again. In the end, I was so in love with the city I used to live in that I booked another trip back before I’d even left the city!
I started the law conversion course
If you remember this post from last year, I mentioned that a law firm offered me a job towards the end of 2016. At that point, I was yet to start my 4th year of university so it all felt rather distant and far away. If I’m being perfectly honest, it still does. I don’t start work until August 2019. Yeah…
It’s a long road but I’m finally on my way and the first step is the GDL, the law conversion course. It’s really weird adjusting to studying in London after being in the little town of Oxford for so many years and I’ll never get used to the one hour commute to class. I’m really enjoying the flexibility this course affords me and it’s been an interesting journey getting to grips with a subject I knew literally nothing about a couple of months ago.
What’s in store for 2018?
I’m taking 6 months off.
I don’t think I’ve mentioned this on any of my channels yet but I’ve actually decided to take the second half of 2018 off so I can travel and work on my blog. It’s one of those things where I had an idea and within a few short days I had made up my decision and made arrangements for it to happen. This was pretty scary for me because there are few things I hate more than wasting time. And in 6 months… there’s quite a lot of potential for time wasting!
I haven’t got a precise plan of what I will be doing but I’ll be taking a break from the end of law exams in June until January 2019. During that time, I plan to do a Chinese course for around 2 months to improve my Chinese language skills and then travel around a bit and blog on the move. My blog has come a long way in the past 6 months and I’m excited to see what I can do with it in that time! I have a few ideas about where I want to travel but I haven’t even begun to think about the logistics/cost (RIP me).
Before then, I guess I’ll just be continuing plodding on as normal. I need to get my fitness back on track, get into a decent study/blog/life balance and more this year, but I haven’t made any resolutions because I’ve come to the conclusion that the concept of “new year, new you” isn’t for me. I’m slowly learning that there’s nothing wrong with me and, whilst I’m always open to self-improvement, I need practice some self-love first 💪