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2015 : a year in review

travel + culture

on the road and what's out there.


2015 : a year in review

Caitlin Surakitbanharn

i honestly cannot believe that 2015 has come to an end already.  it seems like just yesterday, i was dancing the night away, saying goodbye to 2014 and ringing 2015 in with a glass (or 13) or champagne and a sequined romper.  fast forward: this year it was in a ballgown skirt and below the sparkle of beautiful fireworks after a big korean bbq dinner and yummy soju.  

2015 was a wild year!   we lived in Bangkok for half of it, went back to Purdue for a few months and Jao graduated with his Ph.D, we traveled a lot, and we moved to Australia!  i discovered sak yant tattoos, my language skills in Thai picked up dramatically, i started doing more bikram here in Australia, i held a koala, i earned my motorcycle license, and i've eaten my way across the world and discovered and learned so much.

i always try to wrap my year up with the lessons i learned along the way.  previous years have included...always wear a helmet on your bicycle, home isn't a's who you're with, and the place you fit in (or find to be home) isn't always where you look like everyone else.  so okay.  here's 2015.

1. you can never read too much or learn too much.

this is a continuation from last year.  last year, i'd really started picking books up and learning about American politics, history and policy.  i took it up even farther this year, and have started diving into constitutional policy, the history of Thai politics, the differences (however nuanced) between the right and the left in America, and everything in-between.  we listen to NPR every single day, i read the NYT every day (time-willing), i read every story i come across from both sides of party lines because... when living abroad, people really expect you to be able to speak intelligently about your home country and their foreign policy.  and if you can't...they write you off as "just another dumb american."  and that's not a cool feeling, nor do i think that's a fair representation of all of the awesome people that live in America.  so...we want to make sure we represent ourselves and Americans well.  there aren't enough books or stories or articles or will learn something new from everything you read, everything you listen to...even the stuff you think isn't going to apply to you.  just take it all in and go.

read...anywhere and everywhere.

read...anywhere and everywhere.

2. it is ok to get older, get wiser, care less about small stuff...and it's OK to clap back once in awhile.

i realized more this year than ever that i am older and i have changed.  i am not 23 anymore.  i am not the same girl who was stomping the streets of Manhattan in 5 inch heels a few years ago.  i am way more fabulous than that girl, to be honest.  i used to have so many small insecurities.... i used to be embarrassed to be caught lip synching along to my songs while walking along with my headphones.  i'd be heartbroken if someone said they thought i was mean.  or devestated if someone thought i was superficial or something like that.  well those days are LONG GONE.  you don't like my lip-synching karaoke performance as i'm walking to lunch...don't look.  if you think my waist trainer superficial... that's your problem.  you don't agree with my obsession with Kim Kardashian... that's fine, no one is forcing you to watch her show. (and yeah, that's right, i became obsessed with Kim this year...i think she's totally misunderstood).  i'm doing me.  

and sometimes, when people throw shade... it's totally OK to clap back.  see below.


3. korean pop (k-pop) is incredible.

i discovered k-pop this year and it's awesome.  my favorite song ever is Hyuna (Roll Deep).  it's my new theme song, she's super sexy, and i love her.  the lyrics basically translate into... you guys are all haters, i don't care if you don't like me, get over it.  enjoy.


4. my body has changed, for the better. 

i am not a size 0 anymore.  i was.  i am not.  i am also not 24 anymore.  but you know what i am? WAY MORE healthy and VERY happy.  i came to terms with that this year.  and i mean... i'm not fat.  i'm still a size 4.  it's not like i suddenly went up 8 sizes or anything.  but at first i was like...omg my shorts are tight on my butt!  i have to go on a diet!  but then i girl.  no.  you are 29, you have a nice booty, those squats are WORKING!  and then i also realized....i feel INCREDIBLE.  with a seriously clean (but occasionally indulgent) diet (meaning very little, if any, processed foods and as little added sugars as possible), great workouts (running, bikram, tracy anderson, squats), and their by-product...a great night's sleep...i've never felt sharper.  i've never felt or looked better.  and that's a change i can get on board with.  even though the fashion girl in me had a moment of like...omg my dress size!  i realized this year that.... i'm stronger, i'm healthier, and the toned, fit body with a little booty....looks better on me.  a healthy relationship with food where i use it to fuel my body the right way....looks good on me.   and i'm REALLY happy to have figured that out.

so 2015 was a great year.  learned a lot, saw a ton....really enjoyed life and felt like i was LIVING.

and's suddenly 2016.  big things to come this year, i suspect.  i have some goals, ideas...things i'm determined to accomplish.  continuing to improve my Thai, pick up more Arabic, learn to make more Thai food, finish my prelim for my Ph.D, continue rocking at bikram, read lots of books, keep my blog up, etc. etc.  

it's about to be the year of the Monkey..but no monkeying around ;-)