2009: A Year in Review

in which I consider the adventures of the past year, in high anticipation of a new year full of new ones.

The idea is simple: convey my year. 12 months, 12 pictures. One picture each month. Though, warning: I have zero pictures from February, enabling me to put up two for June (it was an eventful month).

So, January. The new year began spectacularly. I greeted 2009 with Neil and Kate, in Champaign, IL, part of a baby midwest roadtrip, intended to introduce Neil to the middle of the country. The January portion included Champaign and Columbus, then the three of us went off to Boston. The first of the month saw the Peisker-Schneider annual gingerbread house event, and we participated, to great critical acclaim:

January: An edible Dutch Farm. Not that you'd want to eat it.

As already indicated, February was lame. It was a time of thesis writing and generally surviving Harvard. It has the distinction of being probably the only month of my life for which I have not a single photo to document my activities. At least, since the dawn of my first digital camera. Thesis, thesis, thesis. When ended up at 130 pages and was happily cast off on March 19. Time for happier times.

Like the spring break trip Daniel and I took to Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama. It was a ridiculous whirlwind trip, but one of very happy memories. Within our days, we covered what would take a normal person at least two or three weeks, which added a fantastic level of insanity. And of course, it is ALWAYS marvelous to see my brother, particularly when it comes to traveling.

March: In Santa Elena, in the Costa Rican highlands. An amazing trip with my brother.

No great surprise, but the trip ended all too soon, and I soon found myself back at Harvard for a month of catch-up (thanks to that dear thesis of mine) and general merriment. There were also frequent afternoon and weekday outings for margaritas or beer, though, so it was a month of fond memories. Kate and I also presented our theses at the Davis Center Colloquium.

April: Kate and I with our loving boss, Hugh, at the thesis writers symposium.

May, of course, started with a huge bang, the subject of the month’s photo. Namely, the grand Friendship of the Nations party hosted by my roommates and me. On offer were food, drinks, and music representing all 15 republics of the Soviet Union (yes, complete with Georgian and Armenian rap/hip-hop, Uzbek plov, Lithuanian cranberry vodka, and so, so, so much more. We spent most of two days cooking for the event, and it was a true success. I will probably never again host such a successful party.

May: A little worse for the wear, but very merry. To the Friendship of the Nations!

The rest of the month continued in much the same way. It was a month of formals and finals and senior week. In truth, I was tempted to include two pictures from this month, too, but I am going to hold off–June was far more important.

And thus, as senior week drew to a close, and as May gave way to June, our Harvard careers finished up. Alas, newly minted college graduates.

June 1: And with this, our Harvard careers had come to an end.

June, however, was quite an eventful month, and from Harvard, it was a long drive home, via Niagara Falls. After arrival in Columbus, Tom and I took off on a grand tour of the Midwest, hitting up Detroit, Chicago, Milwaukee, Iowa City (briefly), Kansas City, St. Louis, and Indianapolis, ostensibly to see a high school friend of mine, Kaitlyn, get married in Kansas City, but also in hopes of conveying and sharing my love for that grand middle of the country that most foreigners never get a chance to see (taking British friends through the US seemed to be a theme of the year). In some ways, the trip was strange, mostly because it gave me a sense that I no longer belonged in the Midwest, but whatever, such is life. The month’s second photo comes from our brief stop in St. Louis, which included the necessary trip up the arch, and of course: the Budweiser factory. Which was entirely absurd. Without further ado:

June 2: One of my favorite pictures from the trip, mostly because I enjoy making absurd faces.

Then, with July came the beginning of my two month stint in Asia, mostly spent in Korea (and sporadically covered within the blog). So, July’s picture is of Caroline, Brittney and I at one of Seoul’s five palaces.

July: with Brittney and Caroline in Seoul.

I worked through most of August in Korea, as well, but the end brought a fantastic 10 day stint in Japan, the highlight of which was easily climbing Fuji. The Japan trip was covered in great detail on my blog, so I will mostly leave it there. Also, this picture is slightly cheating, since it was technically from around 6 or 7 am on September 1, but whatever. I can do what I want. And September had other adventures.

August: Technically this is September, but I started up Fuji in August, so close enough. Here I am at the top, Fuji's shadow behind me.

I returned to the States in early September and had a swift 28 hour turn around at home, which was filled with some laundry, lots of family time, frantic packing, and very little sleep, and on September 6, I found myself roaming the streets of Frankfurt, about to begin my school-year long stint in Germany, beginning with an orientation. For September and October, I lived in Erlangen, the town I currently work in, and September was filled with settling in and getting adjusted. And, most importantly, a trip down to Munich to take in Oktoberfest first-hand.

September: Auf der Wies'n at Oktoberfest! Prost!

During October, I spent my weekends mostly in Nuremberg and excursioning from Nuremberg. My companion for the month was predominantly Julia, a German friend that I met in Petersburg who lived in Nuremberg at the time. Excursions included Regensburg, Munich, and the Alps. And I also ran a half-marathon. By the middle of the month, however, Julia headed back North to start uni in Hamburg, and the last weekend of the month took me back to Munich, this time for a reunion with Brittney, a Harvard friend. We did some things in Munich, hiked a bit in the Alps, and then headed back for Nuremberg/Erlangen for another few days. A nice month of small trips. Here, we have Julia and I in Tegernsee.

October: Spreading my love for the Alps with Julia.

And then it was time to be off again, and Brittney and I set off for Switzerland, and I spent my fall break on a whirlwind trip that included Basel, Interlaken, Bern, and Geneva in Switzerland. In Geneva, Brittney and I parted ways (only to meet again in Berlin some 10 days later). And the first of November found me in France, meeting Rachel, a high school friend in Lyon. We spent our three days together in Lyon, Marseille, and Nice, before we then parted ways, and I continued on to Monaco, then saw Rome and Florence with my brother. And from Rome, it was off to spend my birthday in Berlin, where I met Brittney and Marina, and rendezvoused with other assorted friends from my study abroad days there. The trip came to an end, and then it was back to Nuremberg, where I moved into a new apartment, and spent the rest of the month uneventfully. The picture comes from the single best day of the trip (Florence was a close second), with Rachel, in Marseille.

November: With Rachel in Marseille

And with that, the final month of the year began, a month full of traveling. First, to Munich with good friends Alex and Ulrike, where I then met my brother for a day-trip to Garmisch. Daniel stayed with me for a week in Nuremberg, and the following weekend included two day-trips: one to Eisenach, Weimar, and Erfurt, the second to Rothenburg and Ansbach. And after he left, I visited Jan in Prague, before returning home for less than 12 hours before taking off again (after a day at work) to see Julia in Lübeck for Christmas. Then, back south, for a couple days in Munich (and the general area). And from there, in a somewhat bizarre set of circumstances, I suddenly find myself at the edge of the Black Forest with Tom and his family (both immediate and extended). Life is absurd, but we knew that already. The photo of the month comes from Garmisch.

December: With Daniel in Garmisch.

And with that, we have 2009. According to a Russian proverb, how you meet the new year is how you will spend it. 2009 began wonderfully, and it was, all in all, a great year, full of work and play, and friends and travels. A great year.

And, judging by the impending beginning, 2010 is not looking to be half-bad either.

Einen guten Rutsch ins neue Jahr! С новым годом! Happy New Year!

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