Thank you, 2019!

At the end of 2017, I wrote a Thank you, 2017! post where I documented my travels, events and accomplishments of the year. I don’t remember opening that post again until recently. It was so great to read it and remember all the moments I described there which made me really bummed I didn’t make a “Thank you, 2018!” post. But I knew I had to write about my 2019 as it was one of the busiest and most interesting years of my life so far.

To document 2019, I decided to write about what happened each month as opposed to organizing my story by categories as I did in 2017. In 2019, each month was filled with so much so that it only felt right to use that format. Let’s begin!

JANUARY:

In November 2018, my husband and I relocated to London, UK from New York City. We celebrated New Year 2019 in our new London flat:

Right after New Year’s celebration, on January 3rd we made our way to Andorra for a ski and snowboard trip with our friends from Russia. We spent a week there and it was super fun:

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Let's do it! 🏂🏔️⛄⛷️ #andorra

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On our way back home to London, we spent a day in Barcelona. It was our first time in Spain:

On January 29th, my husband and I celebrate our marriage anniversary. In 2019 we celebrated 5 years being married. We went to a very nice restaurant in London called Hide – can’t recommend it enough:

FEBRUARY:

February started with a work trip to Valencia, Spain. I went there with my former WooCommerce tech support team at Automattic where I currently work:

That week was the last week of me working as a Tech Support Engineer because on February 11th I became Software Quality Engineer at the same company. It was a major accomplishment for me as I was working hard for a really long time in order to get that coding role I wanted. If you are interested how I transitioned from Tech Support Engineer to Software Quality Engineer, you can read the 2 posts I wrote on that topic:

For the weekend of February 16-17th, we went to Paris to see DAU. It is hard to explain what DAU is. Here is an explanation from their website:

DAU is an ongoing experiment, evolving from a biopic about a Soviet physicist into a large scale project – part cinematic cycle, part behavioural experiment – involving hundreds of participants from around the world. Combining elements of film, theatre, science, psychology, architecture, visual arts and performance, it has created a complex and absorbing world that has to be lived as much as seen. It’s release took place in Paris, 2019.

The entire experience was extraordinary and unlike anything I’ve seen or visited before. The project is set to be running soon in London. If you are interested, you can sign-up on their website to be notified when registration for DAU London will be open:

On February 21st, WordPress 5.1 “Betty” was released. This release included my very first WordPress contribution. It was a big deal for me as I’ve been working with WordPress for many years already. It was so great to finally leave my mark in its history and see my name in the list of the release contributors:

MARCH:

March started from weekend trip to Istanbul, Turkey. We went there with my husband to reunite with my sister and her husband who flew from Russia:

On March 9th I run my first and last 10k race in 2019. I was hoping I could run more races but for some reason, running didn’t stick with me that year. I am hoping to get back to running routine again in 2020:

For the weekend of March 23-24th, my husband and I went to Kiruna, Sweden. It was organized by my husband’s employer (Spotify) where employees could take their family members or friends with them. Kiruna is located in the north of Sweden, 145 km north of the Arctic circle. The purpose of going there was to see the northern lights. On our way there, we made a stop in Stockholm first:

While in Kiruna, we went dog sliding and snowmobile riding. One of the highlights of that trip was, however, our one night stay at the Ice Hotel. This was one of a kind experience!

The hotel provides a sleeping bag that can hold up to -20C (it’s -5C inside the room) so it even gets hot sometimes at night. They also recommend sleeping in the thermal underwear, socks and hat. It all worked out pretty good. I was constantly amazed and couldn’t believe it was happening to us:

In the morning we were wakened up by the glass of hot mulled wine delivered to our room. We also received a certificate that we survived a night at the Ice Hotel 🙂 We didn’t see the northern lights while in Kiruna but the stay at the Ice Hotel totally made our trip.

APRIL:

The weather in London started to get much better in April and so we were out a lot with our friend Natasha:

On April 9th, I started to learn French language by taking French Beginner 1 Part-Time Evening Course at the Cactus Language School in London. It was a small group lesson class once per week. I managed to keep up with it until the end of the year.

At the end of April, I flew to Miami, United States to see my parents who also went there for vacation:

MAY:

I spent about a week in Miami where I also reunited with my old good friend Hannah:

My Birthday is on May 18th. I really love to celebrate my Birthday while traveling and this year was not an exception. We decided to go to the country which was on our list forever – Japan!

It was amazing! I wrote a few posts about our time there with many more to go as we spent 2 weeks in Japan. We went to Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka:

For the last weekend of May, we went to Paris to see our friends Artem and Natasha:

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🖤 #weekendinparis

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The cherry on my May Cake was a trip to Manchester with my friend Natasha for the Spice Girls reunion concert. It was epic!

JUNE:

Our friend Artur from Russia visited us in London:

We also went to Seven Sisters Cliffs near London with Artur:

The weather in London in May was really nice which allowed us to finally use our flat terrace:

And another concert with Natasha and Valya – Backstreet Boys:

WordCamp Europe 2019 was in Berlin where I went with my work. WordCamp Europe is an annual conference dedicated to all things WordPress. I was a volunteer this year which means I helped to run the event wherever it was needed:

JULY:

On July 5th I celebrated 3 years working at Automattic. Few days later I also switched teams and started to work on WooCommerce Core team. We are the platform team that is responsible for stability, performance and scalability of WooCommerce. We are also in charge of releases and all the testing for WooCommerce. My role is to oversee and work on automated and manual testing practices for WooCommerce. I consider this team switch as one of my accomplishments of the year:

On July 8th I decided that having only 1 French language class per week is not enough and added a 2nd class. This time with a teacher from italki.com. I now had classes on Tuesdays (at Cactus Language School with a group of people) and on Thursdays (individual conversation class with the teacher over Skype).

For the weekend of July 13-14th we went to Limone Sul Garda, Italy to reunite with our friends from Russia – Vasily and Alla and their son:

AUGUST:

During the first week of August, I went for a work trip to Brussels, Belgium with the team of all the Software Quality Engineers at Automattic:

For the weekend of August 17-18th, we went to Moscow, Russia to visit my husband’s family and our friends:

SEPTEMBER:

For the weekend of September 7-8th, we went to Sardinia, Italy to see our friends – 2 marries couples with their kids.

We reunited with Anya and Vanya and their daughter. Anya is my dear high-school friend:

We also met with Petr and Katya and their son:

After coming back from Italy, I flew to Orlando, Florida, US for our company’s annual Grand Meetup:

For the last week of September, we flew to Kazan, Russia to meet my family for my Grandfather’s 82nd Birthday:

OCTOBER:

First week of October I spent in Athens, Greece for work with one of the WooCommerce product teams where I was invited to work on the automated testing related project:

In the second part of October, I went to Cape Town, South Africa for yet another work trip. This time it was with my WooCommerce Core team. Cape Town was one of the most interesting, remote and exotic places my work took me so far:

NOVEMBER:

For the weekend of November 16-17th we went to Stockholm, Sweden:

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Weekend in Stockholm 🇸🇪 #gamlastan

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DECEMBER:

For the weekend of December 7-8th we went to Prague, Czech Republic:

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First time in Prague 🇨🇿 #weekendinprague

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On December 20th I merged a PR I’ve been working on since June 2019. It was my project to migrate existing e2e test suite in WooCommerce Core from Selenium WebDriver to Puppeteer. This was very satisfying and I consider this as one of my accomplishments of the year:

https://github.com/woocommerce/woocommerce/pull/24218

I worked until December 27th in 2019. After that we went on Europe trip with my husband. We flew to Frankfurt first, rented a car there and drove down south towards Switzerland. Our first stop was Baden-Baden, Germany:

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Somewhere in Baden-Baden 🇩🇪 #winterholidays

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Next stop – Strasbourg, France:

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Petite France 🖤 #strasbourg

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Our final destination of 2019 was Basel, Switzerland where we celebrated New Year 2020:

SUMMARY:

Traveling:

To summarize, I made 6 works trips this year:

  • Valencia, Spain
  • Berlin, Germany
  • Brussels, Belgium
  • Orlando, Florida, US
  • Athens, Greece
  • Cape Town, South Africa

I made 18 personal trips this year:

  • Andorra + Barcelona, Spain
  • Paris, France
  • Istanbul, Turkey
  • Stockholm + Kiruna, Sweden
  • Miami, Florida, US
  • Tokyo + Kyoto + Osaka, Japan
  • Paris, France (again)
  • Manchester, UK
  • Seven Sisters Cliffs, UK
  • Limone Sul Garda, Italy
  • Moscow, Russia
  • Sardinia, Italy
  • Kazan, Russia
  • Stockholm, Sweden (again)
  • Prague, Czech Republic
  • Baden-Baden, Germany
  • Strasbourg, France
  • Basel, Switzerland

This makes a total of 24 trips or 2 trips per month. I loved it! I can only hope I can continue with the same pace next year.

Work:

As fas as work accomplishments:

  • I became Software Quality Engineer in February
  • I became a member of WooCommerce Core team in July
  • I completed migration of existing e2e test suite of WooCommerce Core from Selenium to Puppeteer in December

Non-Work:

I started to study French language in April and continued throughout the year.

Family / Friends:

I managed to see many friends overseas and spend time with friends in London. I also spent some good quality time with my family 🙂

Sport:

I didn’t get to exercise as much as I am used to or wanted. I only run here and there and completed only one 10k race back in March. This is definitely on my To-Do list for 2020.

Books:

Something that I didn’t mention in this post but I did read this year. Not as much as I wanted but I decided to document it – read 7 books and started 5 books:

Read:

  1. “Prisoners of Geography: Ten Maps That Tell You Everything You Need to Know About the Global Politics” by Tim Marshall (Amazon)
  2. “The Almighty Dollar: Follow the Incredible Journey of a Single Dollar to See How the Global Economy Really Works” by Dharshini David (Amazon)
  3. “Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World and Why Things are Better Than You Think” by Hans Rosling (Amazon)
  4. “The Metamorphosis” by Franz Kafka (Amazon)
  5. “Lolita” by Vladimir Nabokov (Amazon)
  6. “We” by Yevgeny Zamyatin (Amazon)
  7. “1984” by George Orwell (Amazon)

Started to read:

  1. “Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind” by Yuval Noah Harari (Amazon)
  2. “Lenin: The Pantocrator of Sun Dust” by Lev Danilkin (The Russian Book Shop)
  3. “Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley (Amazon)
  4. “Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ” by Daniel Goleman (Amazon)
  5. “Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High” by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, Al Switzler (Amazon)

Podcasts:

I have several podcasts that I really wanted to get into a habit of listening to. But I can’t say I did in 2019. Something for me to look forward to in 2020.


I had a really great year and as I mentioned at the beginning of this post – one of the busiest and most interesting in my life so far. I am hoping to continue to travel, grow and learn more in the years to come. Let’s do it 2020!

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