A 2015 recap of sorts, and other things

Until a few weeks ago, I had thought 2014 was my worst year ever, but in reality, it was only the last quarter that was horrible, the rest of the year was quite fine and fun. I wonder what factors people consider when they measure whether a year was ‘great’ or not: Goals achieved? Fun had? Horrible things and frustration kept to a minimum? I personally consider how well things went as a whole, how well I was able to navigate unexpected twists and turns, how much fun (travel, friends, maybe work) I had, etc.

2013 remains my best year so far, though. I travelled to so many new places and experienced lots of new things, was always financially okay (never buoyant but never broke), didn’t have to worry about work because I was in school, met and rolled with interesting people. So. fun. Also, I can say I really didn’t like 2014 at the end because the twists and turns were a bit too much for me.

Dec 2014 – Mar 2015

I’m happy that my problems began to resolve themselves between December and January, though. I visited Nigeria and had fun, had interviews and got a new job, I could pay my rent – this became a big deal at some point because I was broke and jobless – and moved to Amsterdam. Company bought me a new laptop and it was so fun to be working remotely, AND then I got a new client for my side hustle, which doubled my work load but it was good to be making extra money, however little.

I had a nevus in my left eye (which was there for ~11 years), I had it checked out (because I’m getting older and need to start caring about my appearance) and got scheduled for surgery to remove it.

I took a road trip to Luxembourg with my friends, and we went through Liege (Belgium), slept in Metz (France), and on our way back, had lunch in Trier (Germany). I was especially happy to take this trip because I was scheduled to move back to Nigeria after surgery and I wanted to take 1 or 2 more trips. This was it (because after this, I got broke again and there were no more trips till I left).

Apr – Jun

Living in Amsterdam was nice because I was right in the centre, near Dam Square, and it was such a good feeling to be able to walk to all the nice places (instead of having to take the tram, for example). That said, my lodgings in the centre were temporary and lasted 1 month, after which I moved again, this time to a very kind friend’s house. This friend is my person of the year 2015, because she gave up her bed for me and slept on her couch for the 3-4 months I stayed in her house and if it weren’t for her, I’d have had to move back to Nigeria sooner and broker than I’d planned, or put up in a rubbish-but-cheap apartment. She cooked for me once in a while, tried to get me to have a social life, and basically made me feel at home in her house. She also insists this wasn’t a problem at all, but she’s the type of person who likes her space and doesn’t quite like ‘invasion’, so doing this was a sacrifice of sorts, I’m sure. I hope I can be this gracious to someone in the future (or at least have enough money to rent the person a flat of their own -_-).

I finally had eye surgery, and the best part? My insurance covered it. I had to go for routine checkups and what not afterwards, which was why I was still in NL.

I lost my still-new job at some point towards the end of March. Reason? I was hired as a Product Manager but they changed strategy and didn’t quite need a full time PM any more, so it was too expensive to keep me on. Fine. In any case I had been casually reading about things, and at this point I started to think that if I was going to move back to Nigeria, maybe I’d be better off learning and specializing in UX Design because that seemed more useful, with more quantifiable benefits in the current Nigerian environment.

For UX Design, I paid for a web-based 3-month course that gave me tools and tips and taught me lots stuff that might have taken me more time to figure out. I didn’t quite finish the course though – I got so busy at one point that I started skipping classes, and then catching up was difficult after a while. Or maybe I was just scared, because I caught up on everything but the Javascript (JS) portion.

Aside: To be honest, JS looks hard and scary but when has that ever stopped anyone? I feel like this is one thing I should conquer in 2016, BUT am I going to use it for anything? Like, it’s good to know it so I can write some code once in a while, and so I can parse through code someone else has written without feeling like I’m reading Klingon, BUT in my daily life, is it necessary? I’m the sort of UX designer who likes to use visual, drag-and-drop tools to prototype my designs, so I’m a bit torn. I think I only want to learn JS so I can cross it off the list of things I ‘know’.

Moving on, I started looking for work as a UX designer. I discovered new tools and was using them to practice UX/Web design, and then I was working on my side-hustles almost full time. I don’t think I ever applied to any UXD jobs though, and I think it’s because I lacked confidence in my abilities. Instead, I’d admire the job postings, decide I don’t have the experience they’re looking for and need to practice some more, and then go and apply for the customer service jobs. Sigh.

This has gotten too long so I’m breaking it up. Part II is here.

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Luxembourg

I moved back to Nigeria. And I think I’ve lost my writing mojo. This has little to do with the rest of this post.

In March, on the weekend RUJ(A) got married, my friends and I took a road trip to Luxembourg, and it was such fun (even though I was nursing a cold and was often tired), I wish I could have squeezed in one more like it before moving back to Nigeria.

One of us now has a car (yay!), and we rented another one because there were 10 of us in total. Because of some errors or whatever, we didn’t get the rental car we wanted, we got a shiny silver Mercedes C-class that looked like it belonged to a drug dealer. It was so shiny, people would stop and stare everywhere we went. We went from Amsterdam to Eindhoven to Weert to pick up other friends, stopped at Maastricht to grab lunch, and stopped again in Liege, Belgium to rest a bit because, like me, the owner of the car I went in also had the sniffles.

We got into Luxembourg around 17:00, and walked around the city for about 2 hours, just taking it in and marvelling where appropriate. I remember needing to pee but the toilet was locked because it was late or something, and one of us met a friend she hadn’t seen in so many years, while we were walking on some bridge. How nice. Anyway, that was that, and off we went, to our hotel in Metz, France. We had to sleep in France because hotels in Luxembourg are (or were?) too expensive for us, and anyway it was an excuse to explore a bit of France. We had dinner in a nice restaurant, and I used my mother’s card to pay for mine – after which she sent me the sms debit alert from her bank, probably wondering if indeed, her daughter was still out and about at 23:00. Yes mother, that was me. After dinner, we thought we’d wander about a bit, and we ended up in a bar/club space that made me remember Aix en Provence *sniff* but I couldn’t stay long as I was super tired, neither could my friend, the driver-who-also-had-a-cold, so we drove back to the hotel and I slept off.

In the morning, we went looking for breakfast in the city centre. We ended up in some place that appeared to be the town square, and had regular French breakfast fare, croissants and tea and all such things – and then we decided to explore the city and the quaint shops, churches, etc. We spent a bit of time walking along a river, during which I discovered that apparently, swans are (or can be) terrified of geese, if the geese honk loud enough. Some people were feeding stale bread to swans, and the geese spotted this from about 500m away and started honking and moving en masse to the food-sharing location. I thought there’d be a scuffle, but no. The swans moved away, waited for the geese to eat their fill and leave, and then returned. And here I was, thinking that the bigger you are, the more feeding priority you get.

From Metz, we drove to Trier, Germany, for lunch. I don’t remember what I had, but I remember struggling to choose between pasta and standard German food, and I think I chose schnitzel. We wandered around before lunch too, but we couldn’t do too much because this was 17:00 on Sunday and everyone had to be at work on Monday, and Amsterdam was 4 -6 hours away. I was tired but happy, and I remember getting home around 23:00 and tumbling into bed.

That was my weekend in Luxembourg. There are pictures, which might be uploaded later, but because I’m lazy, maybe not.

I’ve just written this post because it’s August 31, the unofficial end of summer, and even though I’m in Nigeria where (at least weather-wise,) summer never ends, I feel some type of way not having gone on any ‘interesting’ trips this period – so I thought I’d cheer myself up by writing about the time this year when I did go somewhere. I miss Amsterdam, and Finland, and France, and cheap, easy travel. This feeling was a tad amplified by this post, but well, like the writer, I had a nice alternative summer in which I did other things, too.

For people who had a proper summer break and are resuming school or work or anything else, welcome back, and good luck with the rest of the year!

À tout!