Now that I've had a wee little bit of time to kick back and reflect some on last year, I thought I'd make a little list, mainly for the sake of my own memory, of some of the rather awesome year that 2011 turned out to be.
I'm the first person to say that I am really not a fan of New Year's Eve - there is something about events like Valentine's Day, "big" birthdays and NYE itself where the idea of having to have a good time or having to make something the best party/event/date ever can get in the way of actually spending awesome time with people you care about. I guess I always like spontaneous fun better than planned fun....if fun can ever be (really) organised anyway.
But the bookends of 2011 were pretty wonderful. On 31st December 2010, my gentleman friend and I hosted a lovely get-together of some of my U.K. friends at my parents' house in Warwick, England - there was good homemade food, good homemade chats, a wee bit of good not-homemade drink and a nice chance for us to hang out more with some of my people. On 31st December 2011, we hosted a slightly bigger get-together in Kettleby, Canada at my boyfriend's mother's house for some of his friends here, complete with more homemade food, probably a lot more snow-chilled booze and a similar amount of time spent chatting and just enjoying the company of friends.
And, in between, there was a LOT of stuff. During the course of 2011 I lived in three different countries for a start, something which seems pretty unlikely to happen again in my life.
It was also very much a year of exploring cities previously known and unknown: Sapporo, Paris, Cardiff, Kyoto, Toronto, London, Edinburgh, Dublin and Tokyo.
It was a year which ranged from about -20oC of nice, dry cold in a bunch of places in Hokkaido to a genuinely horrendous, 90% humidity and 38oC during early August in Kyoto, Japan.
It was a year of some super fun active-ness in the form of snowboarding, epic cycle rides, swimming in the ocean and various pools, a goodly amount of squash and a LOT of walking.
There were some new skills learnt and old ones revived: I actually learnt to drive, revived a bit of my French during the time we spent in Paris, got to try my hand at classroom management in the U.K. for the first time ever.
I certainly ate some weird and wonderful things for the very first time - sea urchin, deep fried mars bar, Canadian butter tarts, chocolate chip melon pan (a kind of very sweet, very airy Japanese bread which doesn't taste of melon in any way but rather looks a but like one on the top), peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and a whole buffet of cake.
I've read some damn good books this year: at least four I can think of off the top of my head that I completely and utterly fell into, I've seen some good TV shows for the first ever time (Battlestar Gallactica being foremost amongst them!), got more into volunteer translation and education-related work than before and managed to find myself in seven different countries, which is basically half the number of countries I've ever visited!
A lot else happened in 2011 - the best surprise anniversary present ever for my beau and I (all arranged clandestinely by two amazing friends in Japan) which found us in an enormous suite of rooms, complete with jacuzzi, sauna and living area for a weekend, and amongst all the social engagements and time spent with friends and family, there was time to reflect a lot on where I'm going from here.
Even though 2011 was also a year of big goodbyes - to my life, friends and colleagues after two years in Japan and to yet more friends and family in the U.K. when December came, I couldn't really be more excited about what 2012 will bring and how the years following it pan out, too.