a year in review (2021 version)

January 01, 2022

reflecting on 365 days of chaos and change

i’ve seen these all over instagram, twitter, and linkedin, but they don’t feel like the right place for me to put my own year in review.

my spotify wrapped told me my music choice was wistful and confident, which i thought was a strange combination. a mix between longing for the past and an eagerness for the future. it makes sense for me, i suppose. maybe i’m just a strange person in general.

  • january: shifted my morning routine to a 5:30 am start, with 6 am sunrise walks and cooking excessive noodle soups for breakfast.
  • february: started driving for the first time since i passed my test in high school. very fun.
  • march: honestly, the period between march and august was kind of a blur, but i wrapped up my second quarter at ucla. had a happy accident of scheduling classes with finals crammed into the weekend before finals week, so my spring break was twice as long as everyone else’s.
  • april: the highlight of this month was a trip to san diego (i drove!) and visiting flower fields. i am a massive fan of flowers. downside was the sunburn.
  • may: got to work on some new projects through clubs/ucla. met a lot of amazing people (albeit over zoom). visited some ucla friends for a weekend :)
  • june: took some psych classes over the summer for fun.
  • july: got back into baking cookies and foods. the library reopened. got to explore more of socal!
  • august: reconnected with childhood friends. that was exciting. visited my high school and was terrified by how small all the children looked. i’ve never felt older in my life.
  • september: got a concussion and went to the er for the first time (exciting stuff). made it onto the ucla campus for the first time! an in-person quarter! what a delightful change. ucla dining is s-tier.
  • october: consistently fell asleep in my software development class and created a tradition for myself involving one latte before each lecture.
  • november: got really, really burnt out. to be frank, november was not a fun month for me. learnt the hard way that self care is hugely important. thanksgiving! it was exceptionally jarring to be back in my hometown. everything was so quiet. how had i spent half my life in silent suburbia before college?
  • december: wrapped up my first in-person quarter. replenished my sleep (i have a theory that i can survive on minimal sleep for extended periods of time as long as i hit a certain quota of hours within a few weeks, ie. 3 months on 5-6 hours + 3 weeks of 12 hours/night. has been really effective thus far, but we’ll see).

notes: the two weeks between late august and early september were my favorite. i started exploring coffee shops throughout my town and did work in aesthetic cafes. i also fell in love with driving during this time.

my favorite songs that i listened to this year on repeat (both new and old):

  • Girl of My Dreams (Juice WRLD, SUGA)
  • ‘tis the damn season (Taylor Swift)
  • Clean (Hey Violet)
  • Elvis Song (Maisie Peters)
  • Roses (Boy in Space)
  • dna (LANY)
  • Throw Me in the Water (WILD)
  • Ya’aburnee (Halsey)
  • blue bird (Zachary Knowles)
  • what are we (Virginia to Vegas)
  • When This is Over (Dabin, Nurko, Donovan, Woods)
  • The Road Home (Stephen Paulus, Conspirare, Craig Hella Johnson)
  • Marias voggesong (Max Reger, Trygve Brøske, Unni Boksasp, Cantus, Bendik Lund Haanshus, Magne Vestrum, Tove Ramlo-Ystad)
  • Loch Lomond (musica intima)
  • 鸿雁 (呼斯楞)
  • 荷塘月色 (凤凰传奇)
  • 刚好遇见你 (李玉刚)

the best books i read this year:

  • The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo (Taylor Jenkins Reid)
  • The Immortalists (Chloe Benjamin)
  • Wintering (Katherine May)
  • The Four Winds (Kristin Hannah)
  • Nervous System (Lina Meruane)
  • Project Hail Mary (Andy Weir)
  • Ariadne (Jennifer Saint)

this year was a wild one. so much professional, academic, personal, and emotional growth for me. more ups and downs that i can possibly even count, but i’m grateful for each and every one of them for shaping me into the person i am now.

here’s to 2022.


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word chaos by catherine hu, a computer science and environmental systems student at ucla with a terrible sense of direction and a passion for storytelling.
you should follow her on twitter (apologies in advance for the mediocre jokes).

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