Golden Gate Bridge

New Year Resolutions!

Where will you go?

When I teach composition, I tell my students how important it is to reflect on their work before moving on to the next project. Though we all strive to live fully in the present, when it comes to learning, it’s important to understand where we’ve been in order to make progress. In the same vein, and in the spirit of the new year, it’s important to look at what we’ve accomplished before making resolutions for the coming year.

So, on that note, 2014 was a great year for me! I accomplished the following:

Went on a motorcycle tour around Colombia, South America

Travel Colombia

Traveling around Colombia by motorcycle!

If you read this post or this post or this post, you know I spent three weeks in Colombia, where the scenery is gorgeous no matter where one looks, the locals friendly as can be, and the places varied and nearly indescribable. You also know I saw it by motorcycle for 16 days — which was amazing, exhausting, exhilarating and terrifying all at once — and then spent several with a local family there. The trip was unforgettable, and a much needed start to my year.

Spent a week exploring San Francisco

Golden Gate Bridge

The Golden Gate Bridge rising from the fog.

My cousin got married just north of the city last June, so I arrived early and stayed late with my good friend who lives in a sweet apartment overlooking the Bay. We played tourist (well, she played with me), and saw everything from the Golden Gate Bridge to Fisherman’s Wharf, the Painted Ladies, the various districts that make S.F. so unique and fantastic, and Ocean Beach, to name a few. It wasn’t my first time to the city, but it remains one of my favorite in the world, on par with Hong Kong, Venice and Chiang Mai.

Taught First-Year Composition for the first time

This was a huge goal of mine, and it took many years of struggle to finally obtain the position. When I first left to teach English in Thailand, I did so with trial and error in mind; to discover if I could like teaching. Though my high school students there were very different from my freshmen students at Colorado State University, I learned that I liked many aspects of teaching and I set out to earn a Graduate Teaching Assistantship while studying for my M.A. in English/Creative Nonfiction. I applied three times before I was finally awarded the assistantship, but I worked my ass off in between, doing everything I could to boost my credentials. It finally paid off, and now that I have one semester under my belt, I feel like I was meant to teach. That’s a great feeling.

In 2015 I plan to:

Earn my M.A. degree in Creative Nonfiction, with honors.

Colorado State University

Colorado State University. Image courtesy of colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com

Hopefully this is a given, but I still have one more semester to trudge through, and it’s not going to be an easy one. I’ll be teaching two courses of First-Year Composition (as opposed to only one in my first semester) which means double the papers to grade, as well as taking a full course load of my own, finishing my thesis and attempting to stay involved in academia wherever possible. Add onto all of this loads of applications to figure out what’s next for me, and the next several months are sure to be a whirlwind of pressure and excitement! Bring it on.

Finish my memoir and get a publisher

The thesis portion of my memoir is nearly finished, and I hope to add a few more chapters to round out the edges before I call it a finished work. All in all, the book is coming together nicely, and I’m really excited about it. The working title is, “The People We Meet,” and it’s a memoir-in-essays about my encounters with locals in Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam and India while discussing familial and cultural differences and issues of power structure, genocide, white privilege and traveling with a fear of rape. It’s not nearly as depressing as that last sentence sounds. I’m going to have to work on that…

Become proficient in Spanish

Chapala, Mexico

Mexico. Image courtesy of www.veteranstoday.com

The most exciting part of this resolution is that it will take me to Mexico this coming summer! I’m planning to spend a month writing and practicing the language in the quaint artist community of Chapala, Jalisco. It’s located on the largest lake in the country (Lake Chapala) and only about an hour from Guadalajara, and two hours from Puerta Vallarta. Sound amazing? I think so too! I’m signed up to take a Spanish course next semester, to brush up on the skills I haven’t used since I studied abroad in Oviedo, Spain over five years ago. Wow, time flies when I’m having fun!

 

What did your 2014 look like? Do you have any exciting resolutions for 2015? Please do share in the comments below!

7 Comments

  1. Jessica says:

    Wow Jessica! What an exciting year. You’ve accomplished so much, good for you! I also studied abroad in Oviedo at the Universidad. Best of luck in 2015 🙂

    • jessicajhill says:

      Thanks, Jessica! I wonder if we crossed paths? When were you at el Universidad de Oviedo? I was there in the fall of ’08!

      • Jessica says:

        I was there in the summer of 2010, so probably not!

        I was actually just telling someone about your blog the other day. It is so weird, we have the same name, studied at the same Universidad and we both taught English in Thailand haha. So ironic!

  2. My 2014 consisted of 10 major trips and several getaways, and I learned to tweet and post on Instagram. In 2015 I would like to increase my social media numbers, and continue to get to know other travel writers and social media professionals!! Happy New Year and all the best to you and your major undertakings for 2015!!

    • jessicajhill says:

      That’s quite an accomplishment, Marilyn! Just conquering social media alone is great – it makes me want to pull my hair out every time I have to use it, but the numbers do grow somehow, like magic. Best of luck to you in 2015! Do you have 10 more trips on your list?

  3. Bhuwan Chand says:

    Lovely… I wish you all the best to not just meet but exceed your goals for 2015…

    2014 was a very crucial year in many ways. There were professional challenges which needed a lot of attention (new people joined the team who require a lot of coaching and regular motivation) – the satisfying part was two people that I mentored for last couple of years got the career growth they were looking for. At the beginning of 2014 the socio-political-economic environment of the country was gloomy – that changed drastically with the people that I politically align winning the elections decisively.

    2014 also helped me become a better person as I appreciated the unique lifestyles of people living in distant parts of India – diverse, interior, rural India, bonded by some invisible common thread . Engagement with people across the world on social media reinforced the same learning, we all are similar in nature in some basic/ fundamental ways, no matter where we live, how we live our life, what belief system we follow.

    I was able to read some wonderful books this year and share stories with my young kids every night, helping them get out of the home and enjoy the Outdoors provided so many beautiful memories.

    Some of the target that I missed were related to having discipline in my life – I renew my pledge to do so in 2015… I would like to exercise a bit more regularly, reduce some more weight, read some more books, grow some more in my career, save some more money for the future. These are the things we all want every year – at a very basic level, I wish that 2015 would offer me some more beautiful moments with my family and friends which we all will cherish for rest of our life.

    • jessicajhill says:

      Wow, it sounds like you’ve had quite a successful year, professionally! Thanks so much for sharing. I am particularly glad you were able to enjoy the outdoors, as that is important to me, and because you have so much beautiful scenery in your country! Very best of luck achieving your goals for 2015. Discipline is a difficult but necessary evil, and once accomplished feels amazing.

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