2018 Year In Review

To my fellow reader,

It’s been just over a year since my last blog post and I would hate for you to think I’ve abandoned my platform.

2017 was a year of many firsts as well as the longest period of time I’ve ever spent on my own. Blogging was therapeutic because it helped me feel connected to the people back home and was my lone source of familiarity. The asynchronous nature of blogging boded well for me– I liked that I could express myself without needing someone on the other end actively listening (or reading my messages on IM). Admittedly, this meant that I did not have a lot of direct communication with friends and family. On the other hand, I opened up to a wider audience which included people I probably would have otherwise never spoken to. My blog enabled me to rekindle past friendships and brought me closer to some because of a newfound mutual interest in an alternative lifestyle. Among my favourite moments in 2018 was seeing acquaintances at weddings or other gatherings and hearing that they had been following my blog and were inspired by a post or two. Thank you! It means a lot to me.

The purpose of this post is to fill in the blanks of what I have been up to in 2018 to precede opening up on what 2019 has in store.

I moved to Toronto.

I moved back to Toronto in late 2017, shortly after my travels. My then-boyfriend, Justin, and I broke up early in our travels. I realized shortly after that my desire was to be back in Toronto where my parents are based. I had no idea what I was going to do there, but I felt in my heart that after 6 years away, I no longer wanted to be so far from my aging parents. Moving to Toronto wasn’t much of an option before since Justin and I had plans to continue living abroad and Canada didn’t quite fit that definition for him back then.

In our very own version of Love, Actually, Justin and I’s individual journeys over the summer of 2017 eventually led to us getting back together. He happily agreed to move to Toronto with me to start our new life.

We got married!

In December 2017, Justin and I got engaged during a 3-week trip to Mexico. Specifically, we were in a cabin off the cliffs in a tiny town called San Jose del Pacifico. We kept the engagement to ourselves until we could tell our family and closest friends in person or at best, over video chat. After a year abroad and limited communication, we felt the desire to rebuild the intimacy in our personal relationships.

We got married in a private ceremony with our parents present at the house I grew up in. We had plans for a larger wedding with all our friends and family together; however, the private ceremony and the hours proceeding it were some of the most emotional moments for the both of us. It felt overwhelmingly special to have been able to share this with our parents and to give thanks for all they had done for us leading up to the moment where Justin and I officially began our lives as a married couple.

Since we were not going to have the burden and time sink of planning a wedding, this enabled both of us to apply our time to some personal goals of ours.

I launched an app!

Only 12 people have downloaded it and my mother is one of them.

Having spent a year abroad, I did zero programming aside from the Markdown formatting for my blog posts. Working in a fast-changing industry, it was definitely at the back of my mind that I might now be behind my peers in terms of experience and employability. It seemed like before I left, React had gone from a potential Angular replacement to the de facto framework for cross-platform mobile development and modern web applications.

I spent the first 3 months of the year learning React and I developed a phrasebook app. It hasn’t reached the worldwide success I had envisioned for it, but it was a great learning experience and lead me to the next chapter…

I started remote contracting.

I knew that I wanted to continue a life of long-term travel, setting my own hours, and being able to work from anywhere. I am grateful that I was able to leverage existing connections to find remote contracting opportunities.

After a brief stint of working at a start-up in Toronto on a work permit, Justin was also able to start remote contracting as well. This was the pivotal moment that has allowed us to begin the lifestyle that we envision for our future.

I launched a scholarship.

This is a very personal goal of mine that I am ecstatic to finally cross off.

From a young age, my older sister and only sibling, Janet, had the foresight to set me up for success. When we first got our family computer, I spent all my time on nonsensical websites and games. She told me to stop wasting my time and to learn something productive. That was how I first started programming. When Janet was in high school and university, she participated in study/travel programs. She opened my eyes to a world of possibility outside of the city we grew up in. When I was in grade 12 and contemplating choices for university, she advised that engineering, particularly at Waterloo, would be the path that could open up the most doors for me. She also told me to live away from home because that’s how I could develop my independence. It’s quite obvious the impact all this advice has had on my life– currently, I am a freelance software engineer who is preparing to travel abroad long-term for the second time.

November 29, 2018 marked the 12th year of Janet’s passing. I am pleased to announce that I am starting a scholarship in her honour and memory through the University of Waterloo. The Janet Law-Yip Memorial Award is a vision I’ve had for a few years and I am truly humbled that it is coming to fruition.

If you’d like to learn more about Janet, the award, or would like to contribute to the fund, please visit https://janetlawyip.com. ❤️

What’s next?

Stay tuned for the next blog post!

Thank you for your readership!

Jen is the founder of Lunch Money, a multicurrency personal finance tool for the modern-day spender. She retreats to Asia as a digital nomad during the Canadian winters and is a self-proclaimed "froodie" – a frugal foodie.

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