A quick and dirty Annual Review for 2016

This is coming a little late because…I just finished writing up my PhD thesis!

Besides that, it has been a big year for many people in many places. I was in London as Brexit broke the news. I felt proud when I mailed in my ballot for the US election, but then felt deflated as I waited up past 4:30 AM London time to watch the results coming in. There were some ups, though, amidst all the downs. I welcomed a new family member, and packed up my things to move back home to New York.

Last year, I wrote several blog posts for my annual review (following the style of Chris Guillebeau of the Art of Nonconformity, who has mixed up his style a little this year). I don’t think I will do a full review here again at least this time, so here is a summary of my 2016.

me at Remarkable Rocks on Kangaroo Island

me at Remarkable Rocks on Kangaroo Island

Chewy in 2016

I don’t feel that I’ve changed a whole lot this year, but maybe that is because I’ve been with myself all this time. I did learn a few things about myself that I didn’t know before.

  • I can be a leader.
  • I can make a room full of people laugh.
  • I’m still discouraged by gender issues in the workplace. I’m not sure if it’s the fight that I want to fight, or if it’s the fight I want to help others fight.
  • I enjoy photography as much as I thought I would when I was a teenager.

During my time in Australia in December 2016, I visited a friend from high school who now lives in Sydney. She has a 9 month old baby! We talked about how no one has really changed much, and how much things have changed with people getting married and expecting babies. We took a selfie and compared it to a similar photo from our high school days, and I do think we haven’t changed much. A part of me is still that same person, and being with someone from that time in my life definitely aided in bringing that out of me.

I don’t think we are stagnant though.


Finished writing the PhD thing! I didn’t do so well in terms of getting my research published in academic journals, but I will focus on that now that it’s done. I still have to defend and pass that, but it’s going to be all submitted and processed very soon.

I’m not too stressed about what comes next. It’s the most popular question I’ve been asked this year, and it doesn’t bother me. I know that something will work out, and I’ll find out what my next thing is with time. In the meantime, I’m happy to think about going back to New York and spending time with family and friends.

Blog posts:
Doing a PhD abroad (outside USA)


6 countries (3 new ones in bold): United Kingdom, Poland, Denmark, Austria, USA, Australia

Blog posts:
3 days in Warsaw
3 days in Copenhagen
Travel and my PhD
Hip things to do in Vienna

A peacock at the Collingwood Children's Farm in Melbourne

A peacock at the Collingwood Children’s Farm in Melbourne


I got a new niece this year! She is lovely, and adorable, and I am counting the days until I get to hold her again. 😀


I feel strange that the writing up process for my PhD has not be as excruciating as it has been for other people. Maybe it is the reading about, training, and learning to manage stress and anxiety that I’ve done in the last 3 years that have made this easier for me. Maybe it’s my personality, which is more chilled out, that helped me get through it.

That’s not to say that I haven’t had moments of high stress or anxiety. I’ve had some, but I think I recovered from them well enough. I don’t tend to get all caught up in career related ambitions, but during this PhD I did start to have some of those thoughts. I wasn’t totally immune.

I think one of the key decisions that I made recently was to stay in Australia for all of December after I attended a conference at the start of the month. December was the last month for me to work on writing my PhD. It was do or die time. Choosing to stay in Australia meant that I didn’t return to New York or London, where it was dark and wintry. This meant that I have had many days of sunshine in the last few weeks of writing.

Evidence supporting this was a good decision: I don’t have any sad face stamps for the month of December in my planner.

Blogging, etc.

I started to take Instagram more seriously in the last third of 2016. Part of this was spurred on by the purchasing of a secondhand GoPro. I really love using it now, and take it with me everywhere.

I tried also to be more consistent with writing for this blog. Maybe this also was because I was looking for momentary distractions from working on my PhD thesis. I found out that I actually enjoy writing gear reviews. I also enjoyed writing up a guide for learning out to use a GoPro for taking travel photos.

Blog posts:
Iguaneye, alternative to flip flops and other sandals
Comprehensive guide to using a GoPro for travel photography


Brexit and Trump have really made me wonder about what is going on with the world. I got to experience Brexit firsthand as a foreigner living in London, and I moved my things back to New York shortly after the election in November. It’s discouraging to see how people use these events as excuses to act on their more racist impulses.

I recently read this book review which was pretty insightful on how the other voters may feel and think. I think it’s going to be important to try to understand the other side going forward, or else we’ll be making the same mistakes over and over again.

Blog posts:
Leaving London
The gap between nationality and ethnicity

What’s on for 2017?

Well, I will be jobless and out of school for the second time in my life. The good news is that there seem to be plenty of postdoctoral research positions in my field. The bad news is a lot of them are in the South (in the USA), and/or in the middle of nowhere. As much as I want to understand the other voters, I don’t have any intention of living in the South anytime soon. Maybe I should approach it as an opportunity to help work against racist tides, but that feels like a really big fight at the moment and I just want to tackle small fights one at a time for now.

I’m looking forward to being back in New York City with my family and friends indefinitely. Who knows what else will happen!

For Chewy Travels, I’m going to aim to hit the 1000 followers milestone on Instagram by the end of this trip (I’m just about at 700 now). As for writing on the blog, I’m going to be more focused on what I enjoy writing about and what I think will be useful for people who find my blog.

What are your plans for 2017? What’s on your to do list?

Footbridge at Yarra Bend Park, near Melbourne