The first entry of this blog was posted exactly ten years ago, on September 27, 2010. That’s a whole decade. Let me take a moment to let that sink in…
If you’ve read my “About” page, you’d have had some idea of how this blog ever came into existence at all. I remember when I made the decision in 2010 to go to Europe for my PhD, I was telling my friends and the reaction of one of them, Albert, was, “Oh cool, you’ll be blogging, right”? I don’t think he said it in a sense of “I’ll be reading it when you post” (he probably never did), but with more of a “everyone’s blogging (back then), so I’m assuming you will too” tone.
So I said, “Uh, yeah!” without really having the intention of blogging to begin with, but having kept an online journal for 8 years already at that point I thought…well why not. And thus, “Annie Bananie en Europe” came to life. Where do I start…let me summarize these ten years briefly, year by year.
- Year 1: the beginning of my PhD
- Year 2: still struggling through the PhD
- Year 3: finally getting the PhD!
- Year 4: unemployment and pause
- Year 5: back in Europe again?!!
- Year 6: Glaswegian post-doc days
- Year 7: final year in Europe…for now
- Year 8: meeting J and moving to Wuhan
- Year 9: surviving Wuhan
- Year 10: making Wuhan my home amidst COVID-19
Looking back, the blog started out as a venue for me to document my travels in Europe and my experiences as a PhD student in France and Belgium. (The order in which I mentioned travelling and the PhD really does tell you my priorities, huh… 😛 ) That was the “en Europe” part. Then I finished my PhD and went back to Canada for a year of unemployment and what’d you know…I ended up BACK in Europe, in Glasgow, of all places. And dare I say that Glasgow was where I had my most memorable European days – sorry Bordeaux! Then the real unfathomable happened when I moved back to China for work – or for LOVE, truthfully. That ends the “en Europe” phase (for now) but Europe will always have an irreplaceable part of my heart, so the name of the blog will not change for as long as it exists.
The site has also transformed from a blog that was exclusively about travel adventures to one that included musings about other aspects of my life, including but not limited to lab life, cooking experiments, short reflections, and random stories. Having said this, I also want to take a closer look at the major changes that have happened throughout the decade, aside from the changes in location:
- Snobby 20-something that didn’t know any better in 2010 — a-little-less-snobby 30-something that still doesn’t know any better in 2020
- Single and making stupid relationship mistakes in 2010 — married and still learning to love every day in 2020
- Intensive, don’t-waste-any-moment travel style in 2010 — relaxed and spontaneous travel style in 2020
- Photographing everything I see with my DSLR from 2010 to 2015 — taking a lot fewer photos in 2020, still the same DSLR but a lot more with smartphone for convenience
- Writing almost weekly about almost every trip taken from 2010 to 2013 — writing a lot less now but on a variety of topics in 2020
- Freshly stepping into the global society in 2010 — gaining a broader and more comprehensive worldview in 2020, ESPECIALLY after living and working in China for two years
- Happy and thankful in 2010 — still happy and thankful in 2020 despite the crappy year it had been!
In this list, I’ve mentioned three of my five greatest joys in life: travel, photography, and writing (food and music being the other two). I’m glad that after ten years, I still haven’t given up on any of these joys (I don’t want to use the word “passion” lightly), although the time spent on these joys have dwindled for various reasons. Still, if life were a school project where I am presenting what it is to be “me”, then these five joys will encompass much of what I am, and I think I’ve built up quite a decent portfolio. I also want to mention that my “career” isn’t really linked to any of these (except for maybe writing), and I hesitate to define any part of myself using my current “career” situation. I strongly dislike my job and that’s all I will say about this for now.
To avoid being too verbose, I will end this post with the following reflection on travelling (since this is still primarily a travel blog). Amidst the pandemic I am gaining a whole new appreciation of the luxury of travelling. Luxury not as in staying at five-star hotels or drinking expensive wine, but as in having had the opportunity and privilege to freely travel and see the world in the first place. I still maintain that travelling is a privilege, not a right as others believe. Being in China, I am currently allowed to travel domestically, though as a foreign passport holder there are more than just a few restrictions and inconveniences. But I won’t complain because being able to travel in these times is already more than what I could or should ask for. That is one thing. Second, although the blog isn’t as active as it used to be and there probably aren’t many regular readers, I won’t let it die so easily 😉 It holds so much of the memories that I dearly treasure – the words, the photos, the feelings embedded within each composition and each thought. A pat on the back to myself, one for each year. On to the next decade!