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2019 Year in review

End of a decade, the 2010s, the new one is coming, 2020s. What had passed last year?

Trong Nguyen
December 31st, 2019

I just realized that today is the last day of the 2010s, and the last day of 2019. 2020 is a simply beautiful year, at least on the way its name. I never do the review for the year. But the next year is a bit special, 2020, I feel there will be many new things will come.

So let spend a bit of time, settle down and think about the last year.

First year of working abroad

Dec 2019 marks my first anniversary of working abroad, in Singapore. It wasn’t in my plan. Maybe destiny brought me here. And I’m very happy with it.

It wasn’t easy to work here at the beginning. Communication in English was very difficult, food didn’t meet our taste, no relatives and friends, fear of losing the job. All of them made me anxious and stressful about life.

But after a year, things got so much better. I’m getting more confident in work and communication. Getting some new good friends. Organizing time better so I can work on many different things.

And the best thing about living and working in Singapore is that I have a better condition to travel to other countries, like Europes.

First time traveling to Europe

Going to Europe was always my dream. And I didn’t think I can do it when I was young. Because it needs lots of money. It wasn’t easy for Vietnamese people.

But last November, my wife and I went to 5 different countries, 8 cities in 18 days. From Berlin to Paris, Rome,… and Santorini. Memory brings me back to Europe every time I think about them. Cold, rain, cappuccino, baguette, planes, trains, oceans, sunset,… they were noted on this post. I’ll be back.

Visiting Europe was a big trip, and it was a part of our honeymoon.

We got married

In July 2019, we got married. I wasn’t sure that I had been ready for the relationship yet, she neither. We all still felt that we were too young to get married. But it was good for us, good for our parents.

Nothing different before and after marriage. People say that our life would be very difficult when we get married. Until now, everything stays the same.

We are ready when we’re ready. It’s never too early, either too late. Many things are waiting for us.

Discovered GatsbyJS and built my website

Gatsby was the most important discovery this year. I used to struggle with building my website. I thought that building a website was very complicated. Trying with some web builder services like Webflow, Tilda, Wix. But it took lots of time to build page by page, and I couldn’t blog with those services. Then I customized a Tumblr theme to make it mine. And adding handmade HTML to build my portfolio. It even took more time. But at least, I had my portfolio and a place to start blogging.

Then Gatsby came to me by chance. One day, engineers in my team were talking about GatsbyJS. They said that my ex-colleague designer built his website with Gatsby. “Even he can do it, I should try.” - I talked to my self.

And it worked beautifully for me. I built this satisfied website with Gatsby. After that small win, other ideas just came to me, so many things I could make it possible, with Gatsby. For example Reading list where I shared my bookshelf with great books I had read. Other ideas like Moodboard to show my proud piece of designs, Image Gallery to show my good photos,… which I’m going to make it.

Great Gatsby!

Started to blog in English

Comming with the new website is my blog. This is the most important thing on my website. Writing in English was the main reason why I built a new website.

Communication was the biggest weakness on the job, as a product designer. I was very timid and self-deprecating about my English. But communication is essential to do a good job as a designer. If we can’t explain and convince our ideas, who else will do that. My manager knew it, and he gave me excellent advice: Find a way to raise your voice.

He let me know that speaking isn’t the only way, writing is equally important. Find changes to raise your voice: via slack, email or document. Just pick one medium that works for you. You don’t have to be perfect in everything.

So I started to write in English, published one post every week.

I’m seeing the improvement in my communication.

Making new good and fun friends at Carousell

Writing isn’t the only way to improve communication, chatting also help. I’m lucky to find good friends in Carousell. They are Darren, Mag, and Aadil. Each person has different personalities, and different from me. Maybe the common thing on us is the humor. All of them are very fun.

When we stay near each other, we talk a lot and having lots of fun. Sometimes, we have lunch with toast that I think it’s a stupid idea for lunch. Sometimes, we book a room during working hours, to…. drink wine. And sometime, we stay very late after work to drink and talk about stupid things.

I realized that I talked much more when hanging out with them. And it’s a way of learning English.

Swiming and going to the gym very often

Actually, it’s not very often. I only swim and go to the gym every weekend. But it’s more often than before. It’s a habit I wanted to form last year. And next year also.

My body looks better, less stress and feeling my mental health better.

The year of reading and buying first physical English books

I bought a Kindle from the budget that Carousell gave to each employee. First half-a-year, I didn’t read much. After moving to the new house at Yishun where is very far from the office, I read more.

I have more free time on the train, it’s a good time for reading, and writing. I described here why I live so far from the office is the best thing for me.

Most of the books I had on my Kindle are unofficial books. It meant I downloaded them from somewhere on the internet, without buying them. I didn’t feel guilty, sorry the authors. It’s just the way it has to, for me.

I also bought also some physical books that are very expensive. English books are so expensive. You know the reason why I downloaded them. But the smell of physical books is very sexy. I will buy more.

Filled up 3 notebooks

Yeah, in the digital age, remember to use our digits. I’m very happy every time I see all the pages are filled up by texts and sketches. And I close the back cover then put it to a corner and grab a new one with an intense desire: to conquer it.

So many things for 2019. It’s always good to put them somewhere. Some day in the future, we will look back and see how we were every year.

Bye 2019!

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