Hello 2017, Goodbye 2016: Life Goals Over Travel Goals

Exploring Tromso in Norway

It’s that time again. January. A month marked by crap weather and Blue Monday, a day described as ‘officially’ the most depressing day of the year, but really it’s just one big marketing ploy.

I said it last year, but how the time has flown! It feels like little time has passed since I wrote about 2015 yet so much has changed.

January is also the time for self-reflection. Even if you’re not one of those people who make New Year’s resolutions, I think it’s human nature to spend some time shedding the proverbial skin by thinking about the year that ended and the one that’s beginning. I have generally fallen into the the latter category.

I prefer setting myself goals for the year ahead, and none of them need to begin in January either. For example, I start one goal in February and another in April or June. Staggering my goals this way makes fulfilling them more manageable. If I try too much too fast, I’ll crash and burn all before February.

So, if you hadn’t already guessed, this post is a summary of 2016 and also a few things I wish to aim for in 2017. Quite a few changes happened in my life and what’s surprising is that whilst I feel more fulfilled than I have in a while, I’m also travelling less. What this means is I’ve (somehow) managed to cut loose the cord that holds fulfilment and travelling so tightly together. In the process I’ve found new interests that have taken precedent in my life.



volunteering at Care4Calais during refugee crisis

Looking at the bigger picture, what I can say about 2016 that hasn’t already been said, shouted and screamed about? I don’t think I’ll live to see another year like it. Humanity took an epic nose-dive with the call for Brexit and then Trump being elected for President of the world, despite not receiving the majority vote. Sad times, eh? (And for the record, I do see valid reasons for voting Brexit, and I wasn’t pegging for Hillary either. After listening to Zizek’s views on Trump, a part of me is hoping there might be a silver lining. But I’m not convinced).

You might be wondering what global politics has to do with my personal life, and I apologise if you’re sick to death of reading about the woes of the world, or even my opinion on the matter, but many of these events account for my new direction in life. Last September I went back to university to start a MA in Human Rights and Social Justice.

I had no idea at the beginning of the year that I would be going back to uni, but it’s the best decision I’ve made in years. Going to Calais in May and helping with the refugee crisis was the catalyst for this new change. I was only there for a week, but it was enough time to realise that I wanted to acquire new skills. I want to help the plight of those who are discriminated against in any sense – gender, sexuality, religion, race. As part of the course next year I’ll get to experience working for an NGO so I’ll need to start applying for the ones which interest me the most. I find work done by Reprieve, Redress, Survival and many more organisations incredibly inspiring and would love to be part of their work in some capacity.




Upon looking back at my year, what becomes strikingly obvious is that my personal life preceded my travel goals. For the first time in 10 years I felt happy to stay in England for longer periods at a time in order to settle down some roots. I moved back to London last February. So far I’m happy with that decision even though anyone will tell you it’s not a cheap place to live.

With all this talk about personal goals over travel goals, let me be totally honest. I haven’t had a complete brain transplant. For there wasn’t a day that went by in which I didn’t wistfully dream about rushing off to Delhi and revelling in the chaos before jumping on a train to the rose-coloured city of Jaipur. What I discovered in 2016, was greater self-control (some of my friends might contest that though!). Travel isn’t always compatible with everything, least of all time, finances, and studying. Of course I’ve always known this, but I was never able to resist the possibility of travel. Until now.

That’s not to say I didn’t travel in 2016. I managed to squeeze in a few trips but not for longer than 10 days at a time. In the springtime I travelled to Iceland, Berlin, Norway and France, then during the summer I went on a wonderful solo train journey between Budapest, Bratislava and Vienna. During the autumn I started uni so I stayed put in London until December when I visited Athens and Valencia.

What left the biggest impression? Meeting other volunteers and listening to the stories told by refugees left an indelible mark in shaping what matters to me. Whilst upsetting to see and hear the effects of war and tragedy, I was also left with a sense of deep respect for the human condition and its resilience.

The destination which I enjoyed the most was Valencia. It was more beautiful than I imagined it to be, the food delicious, the architecture sublime, and I had a really nice time there. True to form, I ensured that Ruchi and I, my perpetual travel buddy, had a few trips of our own. We went to Berlin at the start of the year with some of our other friends which was really fun. Then at the end of the year we went to Athens but it rained the entire time. However, we compensated by pigging out on mouth-watering Greek food at every conceivable hour of the day.


2017 Goals

My goals will be a continuation of what I set out for myself last year – an emphasis on personal goals. At the beginning of January, I joined a chess club (if you love chess too, come join me at Tottenham Court!) in hope of improving my skills and making some friends along the way. I’m on a losing streak at the moment which I need to dig my way out from before I start throwing my toys out of the pram. I’m a sore loser.

I still haven’t learnt another language, and I’m beginning to think I never will because every time I try, I quit within a month. If there’s one thing I really need to work on, this is it. It’s getting beyond a joke now.

Finally, 2017 is the year I turn thirty! Thirty, I say! I can barely believe it myself. It only seemed like yesterday that I was too scared to go to bed by myself. How times have changed. Luckily by this age, I hadn’t subscribed to the idea of being married with children, otherwise I might have to start writing ads on the Rush Hour Crush column in the Metro.

Instead, I’m going to celebrate the occasion my spending a few weeks in South America with Ruchi if all goes to plan. Hopefully, I’ll sneak off to a few other destinations in the meanwhile, otherwise this blog is going to start running thin on material.

Let’s see how this all goes…

And may you all have a wonderful and productive year too.

Love Shing xx


What are you life goals for 2017?

A travel & culture blog specialising in Scandinavia and the Arctic, peppered with the rest of the world in between.

'Hello 2017, Goodbye 2016: Life Goals Over Travel Goals' have 9 comments

  1. February 1, 2017 @ 12:32 am Wesley Pechler

    THIRTY?! If this is what thirty looks like, sign me up! 😉 Also, I love how you’re trying to convince us that 2016 wasn’t a travelling year for you, right before listing the 9 (!) countries you’ve been to outside of the UK in the span of 12 months haha. But in all seriousness, I think you’ve made an amazing choice going back to uni to pursue a degree in Human Rights, as I honestly think it’s one of the most important studies currently around, and I’m sure you’ll do amazing work with it once you’ve graduated. <3

    As for my personal goals, I'll hopefully be graduating my MA in Writing & Editing this June (so far, so good) before FINALLY moving out of my mum's place at the ripe age of 24 in the fall (fingers crossed). Travel-wise, I'm hoping to break that magical limit of 50 countries this year – currently at 40 and have got trips booked right up until #47! Gonna be a lot more difficult adding new ones once I'm done studying ;O


    • February 21, 2017 @ 3:58 pm Shing Yoong

      Haha in retrospect, 9 countries seems a lot but I swear it felt like I barely travelled in 2016 😉

      Sounds like 2017 is going to be a big year for you with graduating and moving into your own place – I hope it all runs smoothly. Whaaat, 50 countries at only 24. Boy, I don’t know how you have the time to fit it all in bit I know you’ll do it! And see you in London this year darhhhling.


  2. February 1, 2017 @ 7:38 am Virginia

    Really great post Shing. It’s nice to read a blog by another person who’s returned to uni slightly later on – I’m also in my late 20s and I had some reservations before starting my Master’s in September, but like you so far am loving it! Hope you have a great 2017 and you definitely do not look nearly 30!


    • February 21, 2017 @ 4:06 pm Shing Yoong

      Thanks Virginia. I agree, and that’s one of the reasons why I enjoy reading your blog. It’s nice to read a blog by another person who is also going back to uni slightly later whilst still trying to maintain blogging and travelling – oh and that’s without the addition of work! Haha, thanks, I’m glad my age isn’t wearing itself too much in the form of wrinkles just yet 😉


  3. February 2, 2017 @ 3:12 am Colleen Brynn

    Welcome to 30, girl. It’s only better from here.
    I’ve been playing chess with my boyfriend a bit lately. It’s such a good brain massage for us as a couple.
    Wishing you the best. x


    • February 21, 2017 @ 4:09 pm Shing Yoong

      Colleen! Ahh thank you for welcoming me into the 30 club soon. Ooou chess you say? If you come to London you have to let me know, I’d love to meet up with you and also play chess! 😀 x


  4. February 3, 2017 @ 10:53 pm Ted

    I note your remark about learning a language. It’s nice to know that I’m not the only one who has difficulty in that way. Maybe substituting the English word for a local one might help. I tried that in Jerusalem and managed to actually remember a few words (I was only there 2 days). So there is hope on that side of things, tov.


  5. February 5, 2017 @ 6:34 pm Richard

    Looking forward to reading about your South American shenanigans – enjoy the last days of your twenties and do it in style! You’re only as old as you feel and you definitely don’t look that age.


  6. February 7, 2017 @ 6:19 am Victoria @The British Berliner

    ‘Love your post! And I do like the fact that your personal goals outwit anything else, and I like why they do so. You have compassion, strength, and courage. And you still manged to travel s well!

    Yeah, I remember you saying that you were going to start an MA, I finished my second MA last year, and even though it was hard work, and I had to commute from Berlin to Chester every 6 weeks, it was well worth it! So much so, that one of my goals for 2017 is to actually start a PhD which will probably take me forever to finish… Yeek!

    p.s. I can’t believe that you’re 30, you look so much younger! 🙂 🙂


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