Ciao, I'm Julia.

2022 Review: What I Learnt And Experienced

2022 absolutely flew by for me, despite being well-aware of the months passing, and trying to slow time down. What does this mean? Of course (unfortunately), I don’t actually mean slowing time down in the literal sense, but more the slowing down of my perception of time passing quickly. If I think back to school holidays as a kid, time just seemed to drag on and on and be never-ending. My hypothesis on why that is is because every day held infinite possibility, and my days were filled with mini-adventures, playing with others, satisfying my curiosities and being present in the moment.

Fast forward to my current life where I have a well-set daily routine, working almost exclusively from home, with the vast majority of my non-work activities centred around the area I live. My life is such that there aren’t a lot of opportunities for random encounters or experiences, and this, I feel, makes days blend into one, with no real distinguishing factor between each one.

Thinking back over the year, there’s not much I could control with work time, since work is work (and I love what I do). In terms of non-work time, most of it was spent with non-negotiables like exercise-time, cooking, reading / learning and spending time with friends and family. Whilst I did manage to introduce some new activities this year, most of my "adventures" happened during my time off work, where I felt I really maximised COVID restrictions ending in most parts of the world. 😊

  • Software Engineering career Similar to last year, I spent a hefty chunk of my time levelling up my software development skills. I made another big internal transfer, moving from mobile app development (React Native), back to web development (React and NextJS). I’m also doing more full-stack work now, with my backend focus being mostly on payments and checkout systems with Python and FastAPI.

    My software engineering blog is going strong, and I’m still mostly keeping to my “one blog post per week” target. What I have decided to stop however, is my Instagram account. I tried it out for a year, and made some connections…but ultimately felt that (i) it was too much of a time suck; (ii) I was too much at the whims of the Facebook algorithm; and (iii) I didn’t feel that comfortable continuously posting pictures of my face (and all the downsides that brings - think dodgy DMs and others stealing public content). 🙅🏻‍♀️

  • Drumming I've been teaching myself the drums for a number of years now. As I mentioned in my previous review however, I felt that I could benefit from having someone teach me, in-person, things I wouldn't normally choose to learn, either from lack of preference/motivation, or ignorance of their existence. My teacher has therefore been leading me to places that I wouldn't normally venture to myself, forcing me to get uncomfortable. I tend to play rock music, but I wanted to broaden my knowledge of other types of music, and understand what makes a beat say, a jazz beat, or a bossa nova beat. It's also nice having someone assess my playing technique live and offer immediate feedback on things I can improve on, shortening the feedback loop.

  • Brazilian jiu-jitsu This was a new hobby I picked up this year...but unfortunately also had to drop this year. I wanted to take up a new sport that would require a mix of mental and physical resilience, and BJJ fit the bill. The added bonus is that it's also highly practical, and would allow me to gain skills in self-defence. It had been something I'd been considering for a few years, and I finally pulled the trigger this year. I had been training about 2-3 times a week for a few months, when I got a knee injury during a rolling session that debilitated me and put an end to the BJJ. Unfortunately, it's taking a lot longer to recover than expected, and it's been nearly 6 months now where I haven't been able to do anything high impact (no running, jumping etc.) As someone who used to run most days, this has been an absolute killer for me, but I'm learning to be patient and accepting the situation as it is.

  • Crypto and Web3 I've been immersing myself in the industry and got pretty red-pilled this year. Whilst I still don't see what the killer must-have applications are that'll really drive mass adoption yet, I'm excited about the fundamental technology and future innovation in this space. On the programming side, I've been learning a bit of Solidity and dabbling in some of the frontend tech like Hardhat and Infura.

  • Journalling Following on from last year's review, I tried digital journalling this year. I wasn't very consistent with it, but the one thing I have kept up is keeping a coding log. I started this on Notion, but have recently moved over to Obsidian as I wanted to keep things simple and portable (everything in markdown). I've really been enjoying Obsidian so far, and have migrated all my book notes and blog posts across in an attempt to start connecting my disparate thoughts. I'm also rethinking my reading and learning process at the moment, to see how I can more easily assimilate all information into Obsidian, so that it does truly serve as my Second Brain. Watch this space.

  • Formula 1 This was a bit of a teenage dream come true. I used to be a massive Formula 1 fan, spending weekends watching practice sessions, qualifying and races. Unfortunately, I never lived in the right location to make going to see an F1 race a possibility, considering the high costs involved. Fast forward a good few years, and I'm no longer a massive fan, but still follow it at a high level. An opportunity came up this year to watch the race in Austin, Texas and I decided to take it, mostly because Austin has also been on my list of cities to visit for a while now.

    Side note: Another teenage dream come true was watching a live NBA basketball match, which I did in Houston (Houston Rockets vs. Utah Jazz).

  • Escaping to nature The 2 big escapes to nature I managed this year was firstly to Norway in August, and then to the French Alps over the Christmas period. For Norway, we started in Stavanger towards the south, rented a car, and made our way up towards Jotunheimen National Park. We'd stop every couple of days at a new small town, to either do an epic hike, small walks, mountain biking or white water rafting. And yes, I did Kjeragbolten and the death potential is real. 😅

    The plan had been to go skiing in Val-d'Isère, but I didn't want to risk my knee injury getting worse, so I did the safer thing and went on some good, lengthy treks through the mountains instead. It had been snowing a lot just before we went, so there was a 3 out of 5 "moderate" avalanche risk during the time we were there. The period just before Christmas is also a fairly quiet time in the resort, so I spent a lot of my treks alone. Not going to lie, I did get a little freaked out whenever I went off the beaten track, alone in the vast mountains... but it was also an awe-inspiring, wondrous experience to have all that space, quiet and wilderness to myself. 😊

  • Going home I'm from Malaysia and I hadn't been able to go back since the COVID pandemic hit, as the country has been closed to foreign travellers. When the borders reopened in April this year, I was finally able to return and see my family. Thankfully, everyone I know is well and the country is on its way back to recovery.

  • Other travels As you can see above, this year was really punctuated with trips abroad as I wanted to make the most of the world opening up again. Other places I visited over the year included Washington DC (to hang out with a friend who was there for a few months), Strasbourg (to see family for pre-Christmas celebrations) and Houston & San Antonio (as part of my Texas trip).

    Side note: the NASA Space Centre in Houston is an absolute gem of a museum and highly recommended!

Alright, I need to go work on my time-machine now. 🤓 I hope you all had a great 2022 and wish you an even better 2023.

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