2018: Lessons and Highlights

2018 has been a rollercoaster ride, with exhilarating highs and depressing lows. When I think about how I started 2018 versus how it ended, it’s so hard to believe that everything happened in just a year’s time! Things have been moving so fast and I haven’t really had the time to sit down and reflect on all that I’ve been through so far, and I think the start of the new year is the best time to do just that!


In Taiwan

  • In June, I graduated with a Master’s degree in Applied Economics and Social Development!
  • Celebrated my graduation day with the whole family + friends with me! I really appreciated having them with me on that day because I really felt their support!

    With my family, who flew all the way from the Philippines just to see me graduate!
  • Completed a data science class on my last semester. I didn’t realize how much I’ve learned until I started helping out in other people’s research projects. Definitely one of the best classes I’ve ever taken!
  • Completed the Intermediate 1 level of Practical Mandarin classes in university. I still speak a bit slower than the normal pace but my reading comprehension has improved significantly. I can also understand more of the locals’ conversations.
  • Discovered the Jingmei White Terror Memorial Park (Jingmei Prison), IMO one of the best historical museums in Taiwan.


  • Moved out of my Taipei apartment, and back into my home in the Philippines!
  • Started doing the 101 Things in 1001 Days Challenge to keep track of my goals. I also shared my goals on my blog for accountability!
  • Not a positive highlight, but still one of the most significant events last year: Freya and Ellie, my 5 year-old guinea pigs, passed away while I was still in Taiwan. Definitely one of my lowest lows for 2018. Until now I still feel so bad for not being in the hospital with them during their last moments.
  • Proactively arranged meetups with my friends to make up for the self-isolation I did during thesis period!
  • GOT HIREDย after a long and tiring job search! I recently started work as a research analyst!


  • Renewed my US visa! Hmm, should I plan another trip to the US in the coming years?
  • Spent 3 weeks in the United Kingdom and FELL IN LOVE with this country. I want to go back!
  • Kind of last-minute, but we were also able to squeeze in a few days in Oslo, Prague, and Paris!

    Prague <3


  • Finally came to terms with myself and my online persona. You have all been very supportive of me and I was reassured that being a blogger simply meant that I own a blog and love what I’m doing – it didn’t mean that I had to write about a niche or make money from what I write, or that I had to know how to code. So, I decided to keep on blogging for as long as I can and finally accepted myself for the kind of blogger that I am. No, I don’t do this for a living and I won’t ever want to, and no one can tell me I’m doing things wrong because this is my blog and I decide what I want to do with it.
  • Started vlogging and editing videos just for fun! This is part of my 101 Things in 1001 Days challenge to overcome my camera shyness and be more confident with myself. It still feels a little weird talking to the camera but I’m really enjoying learning how to edit videos! Any ideas on what I should vlog about next?


1. Hard work and discipline go a long way

It’s easy to feel excited about an upcoming project or job, especially when you have so many ideas in your head about how you want everything to go. But pushing on and actually seeing things through until the end despite the difficulty and the setbacks – that’s the hardest part.

I’ve encountered this countless times last year, especially with my thesis. I had so many ideas based on the previous studies I’ve been reading and I was so excited to collect my data and start writing. But when everything wasn’t going according to plan because of things I couldn’t control, I felt discouraged and frustrated. It’s okay to let yourself feel that when you encounter difficulties, you’re human after all. But at some point, you have to develop the discipline to pick yourself back up and face those challenges. The important thing is constantly working hard and improving yourself no matter what life throws at you. It’s hard, but that’s how you learn and grow stronger.

2. There’s nothing wrong with taking time off

I was raised in a workaholic culture where breaks or downtimes are frowned upon, especially if you haven’t even finished anything big or significant for the day. I used to have this mentality as well. When I was working on my thesis I skipped so many meals and avoided socializing with people, thinking that I didn’t deserve those breaks since I still wasn’t done with a chapter or a pile of literature review. There were even days where I didn’t sleep (literally!) because I didn’t think I deserved it!

I continued living like this until I realized that the quality of my work deteriorated the more I deprived myself of rest. I was unable to concentrate and felt so burned out for so many days because my body was telling me that it needed to replenish its strength… and finally I got sick.

Even though it sucked, I am thankful for falling ill during that time because it made me realize that I’ve had enough and that I needed to take care of myself. Getting sick meant that I had to stay in bed for a few days, and I had to rest up as much as I could if I wanted to get back to work as soon as possible. Those few days of rest did wonders for me – I was more focused and productive when I recovered.

Resting or slowing down might feel like a waste of time and you may feel like you’ll be behind everyone else if you pause and let yourself recover. But taking some time off to look after your needs would mean better focus and better productivity, and in turn better-quality work.

3. Don’t be afraid to seek help

For some people like myself, asking for help is one of the most difficult things to do. I never liked admitting that I don’t know what I’m doing, or that something is unclear to me. Living alone has taught me that while it’s great to try doing things on your own, there’s only so much you can do by yourself.

Professors and peers alike have always told me that asking for help doesn’t mean you’re weak. It actually demonstrates self-awareness and openness to new things, since you’re acknowledging that you don’t know something and are willing to learn from other people. Most importantly, no one is out to get you and people are more helpful than you realize, which means that you are bound to get some good advice or guidance from someone. I admit that I’m still in the process of learning this, but compared to before, I am definitely more open to asking for help and other people’s opinions.

4. Don’t settle

I’ve always had this habit of grabbing the first opportunity that presents itself. This stems from my self-insecurity and imposter syndrome, since I used to think that I’m only getting opportunities because of luck and not because of my abilities. But recently, I’ve learned that it’s not wise to just grab whatever opportunity there is without thinking of your long-term growth and priorities.

When I was looking for a job, I was tempted to accept the first offer that fell on my lap, no matter the compensation or growth opportunities. But at this age, I also had to think of my career goals and my interests. During the interview process, I quickly discovered that the job was not aligned with what I really wanted to do in the long run. The compensation was amazing though, and I was scared that I just got a job offer out of luck, and that I would not be able to get good job offers from other companies if I ever declined this one.

In the end, I stayed true to my goals and interests, and so I declined. I kept on applying for other jobs and contrary to my expectations, I did get a good offer from another company I interviewed for, and I’m currently undergoing training now! What makes it even better is that it’s a job I’m genuinely excited about and definitely in line with what I wanted to do!

5. Loving and staying true to myself

For some people, being alone is intolerable. But after living alone in a foreign country, I can definitely say that I love having time to myself because it has helped me know myself on a deeper level. Living on my own enabled me to develop a sense of self-awareness and independence that I would never have gained if I stayed home. In the process of learning new things to get through life, I also gained some insight on how I handle problems and obstacles, giving me more confidence in my abilities.

And most importantly, being on my own has helped me develop a sense of contentment within myself. Before, I used to care too much about what other people thought of me. I always wanted to please people and say yes to all of their demands just to get them to like me. Now, I don’t feel the need to put on a facade because I know deep down that being true to myself is the most important thing. It’s better to be genuine and only attract certain kinds of people, as opposed to pretending to be someone I’m not just to please everybody. My life has become happier and more positive since I started to accept everything about myself, flaws and all.

Here’s to a great 2019!


  1. Congrats on the job! Job hunting can be so hard, especially these days. And kudos for sticking to your guns. Obviously it pained off.

    From what you write it seems you’ve really grown and should be proud of yourself! Have a great year!

  2. Congratulations on finishing up your job hunting! That’s awesome. I’m going to start soon and I’ll admit that I’m a little nervous about it…

    I’m jealous you got to spend 3 weeks in the UK! That must’ve been such an amazing experience ๐Ÿ™‚

    I can relate to all of your 2018 lessons, and I think they were important lessons that I needed to learn in 2018. I’m glad you grew from the year too! Every year teaches something new and I’m thankful for that.

  3. I always love reading new posts from you Claudine, especially since we met, I read everything in your voice haha I hope that doesn’t sound weird ๐Ÿ˜‚

    Congratulations on such a successful year! I remember reading your blog posts about your Masters degree and the hard work that you put into it – it definitely has shown. You’re totally right about hard work paying off, it truly does! Nobody gets to where they want to be taking endless shortcuts. ๐Ÿ˜ŠWell done on getting a job too – it is SO tough (especially nowadays i think) but you did it! That is something to shoutout about and be proud of ๐Ÿ’œ

    It was such a pleasure meeting you last year, honestly it was such a huge highlight of my year. ๐Ÿ˜Š I hope we can do again soon!!

    Best of luck with your 2019 goals!!

  4. Sometimes, we need the little rollercoaster to make our year worthwhile. Congratulations on graduating with a master’s degree! It is always nice to see others reaching their milestones. More congrats with finding a new job as well. Hope you’re enjoying the work you do. At the end of the day, you can blog about whatever you want and you don’t even need to code. Most bloggers I’ve interacted with buy premade layouts and that’s totally cool. Hope you’ll have a wonderful 2019 :).

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