Things I did in 2022

Things I did in 2022

Happy New Year! Yeah, I know, it's been exactly 3 months since the majority of the world celebrated the new year and I am finally finishing this post. However, the equinox brought along Persian New Year, Nowruz, which I celebrate a little and that presents a great opportunity for me to complete my reflection on the past year. Lots of things have happened.

I had a particularly difficult time transitioning into the new year. The transition from 2022 to 2023 happened so fluidly, it didn't feel like a new year at all. I had so much on my plate at that time (or at least that's what it felt like) that I did not feel like it was the time for reflection on my past year, achievements, and losses. I know of the importance of reflection but strangely, I felt that I was not ready, as if I wanted to keep on with the same story that I was telling myself in December 2022. And why wouldn't I? How much rational difference does it make whether I do my reflection in January, in March, or any other month? However, I cannot remember when I had my last retrospective reflection - most of my thoughts are usually directed toward the future. Thus thinking back was a valuable exercise in appreciation for a significant period & proportion of my life (approx. 4.3% of my life so far).

Anyway, that is why this review of 2022 is coming 3 months late. A fresh wind is blowing. It is finally time to do justice to the past and move on to a new start. All my years have themes that I choose during New Year's. 2022's theme was believe. 2023's theme is start up. I hope you enjoy my collection.

Note: This is about me and my achievements and failures, not about world events. Generally, I look at the past with optimism and gratitude for I had the luck to live through it, make experiences, and grow. I hope that will one day help me make a positive dent in the world.

🐛 farmed edible insects at home

Takeaway box filled with oats and three brown bugs running over a piece of cardboard

Yep - my boyfriend and I became interested in meat alternatives in 2021 and discovered edible insects. These have a far smaller CO2 footprint compared to meats and are also a form of upcycling! Long story short, we started our own mealworm farm in the kitchen (to the detriment of our flatmates). However, with all that effort in caring for them, we grew attached to them and actually never ate them!

📖 read 5-6 books of the Hebrew Bible

(While writing this section, I realized I have actually already finished the Torah without knowing and was already on the second major division of the Hebrew Bible! 🎊)

When it comes to religion, I am a self-learner. I started reading the Tanakh (the Hebrew Bible) in 2021 and it's still ongoing. Similar to when I read the Quran, I read about 10-20 verses every day. I read everything, no skipping - which, in all honesty, can be boring at times (they were very exact in describing the architecture and family relationships in those times - which does make it interesting though from a historical perspective). Overall, I covered some interesting and famous stories in 2022 - from Moses to Joshua to David and of course all the ones in between and before. I had always wanted to read the holy books of the large religions, even just due to the enormous impact their stories still have on our modern society.

📐 achieved and lost a 2-year daily streak

Brilliant stats, showing a current streak of 0 days with a longest streak of 732 days, 353 finished quizzes and 2,664 problems solved

I am a long-term user of the app Brilliant, which teaches STEM subjects in an intuitive way. They have a daily streak system where need to solve 3 (used to be 1) puzzles a day to continue your streak. I started challenging my streak again in 2020. Yet I typically only begin solving the puzzles around 2-15 min before midnight (1 min before does make me panic a little bit)! In 2022, I cracked the 400 days, 500 days, 600 days, 700 days, and two-year mark. That was so cool! One of these small things that I am a little very proud of. For all fairness, my streak had actually been lost two times during that period - due to a wobbly internet connection (I had solved my puzzles locally but it hadn't synched). Always on special days, for some reason!

But, exactly 2 years and 2 days after starting that streak I legitimately missed it by 15 min over late-night work on a Real Analysis paper. The ending was bittersweet. I love playing on Brilliant but I am glad the small pressure of keeping my record streak up is over. I am currently taking a Brilliant break but will come back to it.

💪 did 50-60 pushups per day

I started with 5 pushups every time I visited the bathroom during the first lockdown in 2020. As they got easy, I did more. When the volume of pushups got to a point at which it was just not practical anymore (imagine doing 30-40 pushups every time you go to the toilet), I switched to one large session every evening before going to bed. 2022 was my peak with about 50-60, with ups and downs.

👩🏻‍🎓 completed a three-month web development bootcamp

This bootcamp was without doubt the best learning experience I have had in years. I was so happy to intensely focus on one thing only - learning to program modern web applications - with amazing, funny instructors and classmates that became friends for life. I seriously wish it had continued for another few months - if only all education was like that! To give it credit, the company that made this bootcamp possible for me (I got it for free) is called BrainStation, and they probably offer one of the best web development courses in London.

❤️ made great friends

I already covered my bootcamp classmates. But there are some more! I was so lucky to meet some great people in Berlin and Leipzig, at work, at the gym, through an app called Lunchtime, at university, through TechStars, through the Foundation of German Business, and through my volunteer work at the Student Forum in the Toenissteiner Kreis. You guys are amazing and I feel blessed to have met and spent some of my life with you in 2022.

♻️ explored recycling education

Last year, I had the chance to work on a startup or non-profit project supported by the Foundation of German Business (sdw). Although my team started with a pick-up service for electronic waste, we had to realize that the lack of disposal option wasn't the true problem and e-waste just wasn't very profitable. This experience taught me a lot about user research, which can be tedious but is so crucial before starting to build. Our research led us to pivot and focus on recycling & sustainability education, and we had a really good start. However, we are not continuing the project for the moment. I feel like I will return to E-Rey one day but now there are - in a way - more important, effective, and impactful things to build.

🔐 downloaded the entire bitcoin blockchain

Bitcoin Core program running, synching a block from Apr 3 3009

I almost forgot about this one! A year ago, web3 and crypto was still on ☄️ and I was convinced I wanted to move into that space. (Glad I did since that inspired me to do the web development bootcamp.) While I was more interested in smart contracts, a friend of mine who is an open-source Bitcoin developer brought me over to look into it. And yeah, I downloaded the Bitcoin code and verified the entire blockchain. Took my poor laptop almost 3 days. Engaging a little with Bitcoin development made me learned a lot about open-source development, versioning, config files, and documentation!

🪐 created a project to upload & watch videos from the Interplanetary File System (IPFS)

This was my final project of the coding bootcamp. The Interplanetary File System is a decentralized system of independent nodes (computers) that are running all over the globe and storing data. I had the idea of creating a platform for people to upload videos of their elders, or people they admired, which should be preserved forever for generations. My grandparents and parents have fascinating stories to tell and I imagined others would know similar people with interesting stories - all human stories are interesting because they are history.

✈️ spontaneously went to a symposium

In spring, I became quite interested in neuromorphic computing, a way of computing that is inspired by the human brain and was thinking about doing research in the field. Then I discovered the Technical University of Munich was hosting a symposium on it in 3 days! I believe in the importance of taking opportunities when they present themselves. So I booked a flight, found a friend to spontaneously host me, wrote "looking for research opportunities" under my name tag, and had lunch with some students from the Neuroengineering Master program. And it worked! People were intrigued by my spontaneity and openness about my intentions - and several researchers told me to email them afterward.

🏕 visited my first hacker camp (Electromagnetic Field)

Camping site with tents surrounded by neon lights

Inspired by the Chaos Communication Camp, Electromagnetic Field is a 3-day event where hackers of all types come together and camp in England. It's a very diverse crowd that shows up at the camp - from hardware geeks to mathematicians to the LGBTQ+ community - which is lit with neon lights and features a mixture of engineering art pieces. I froze my butt off sleeping on the English grassland in May. But I got to explore ideas and passions that I never had access to before. If I could describe EMF with one word, it would be interesting.

🗳 was voted into the board of the SF with an amazing team

The Student Forum of the Tönissteiner Kreis e.V., or SF, is a special German club for internationally-minded students and young professionals from all disciplines. There are some really interesting people in it and it's been a pleasure working on the board, which, honestly, consumes most of my free hours. In return, I have been able to implement some cool changes and improvements, like a board newsletter, monthly meetings in which members present some of their expertise or interests, stronger integration with the professional Tönssteiner Kreis, a different structure of our conference for new members, new funding mechanisms, and potentially a yearly journey to another country (plus the day-to-day management and other crises). I am so grateful for my fellow board members - they are probably the most capable team I have worked with. Our personalities differ a lot and yet we are able to work well together - it is precisely our differences in thinking and operating that I have learned so incredibly much from.

🇬🇧 left London for Berlin & Leipzig

Big Ben Tower

After 5 long years, I finally left London to visit the place where I study. It was bittersweet; perhaps just when I started liking London, I left. But returning to Germany and living in new cities is exciting too and has opened a new chapter for me.

👩🏻‍💻 worked at an exciting startup - my first job as a software engineer

Startup team sitting on a sofa and discussing matters

Supporting the one-person tech team at muffin, an insurtech startup, was an experience. I learned about Flutter and some other tech stuff but even more about startup culture and product development. Props to muffin - I am glad I started there because I think they do some culture things right, and I had a really good time with them. Funnily, I probably supported the product team better than tech - which led them to ask me to stay and work on Product, making me realize that my past has led me to a deep interest in and some knowledge about product development.

🇩🇪 discovered how many people I know are in Berlin

Berlin, baby. Didn't know it was the centerpiece of my network but seems like it is. I found that surprising. Despite having lived in London for 5 years, my German scholarship and student club networks are still stronger. I probably do actually vibe better with Germans, as much as I'd like to equally get along with everybody.

📄 deferred nearly all of my exams

I was hoping to take some exams while doing an intense full-time bootcamp but that turned out to be too much. And since I had to be in the US in the summer for family, I was not able to take most exams then, either. So even though I have spent more than a year on my Masters by now, I still need to take several exams, which is a bit concerning and puts a lot of pressure on me now.

🎓 visited (my sister at) Harvard for the first time

Two girls around the statue of John Harvard
My sister and I around the statue of John Harvard

My sister getting her Harvard acceptance letter was one of the happiest moments in my life. Visiting Harvard then was exciting - not at least since I was at a crossroads in my life then when I had to pick my priorities for the coming months. Harvard surprised me with its openness and friendliness - it is definitely more accessible than UK universities - and impressed me with just how many resources there exist for students.

🏨 slept in a hostel because I hadn’t found a flat yet when uni started

Not much to say, it wasn't pleasant. Lesson learned: don't delay your flat search until right before the semester starts - you will be competing with a ton of first-years who haven't found flats yet.

😷 got Covid

It got me too. During a conference that I was co-organizing where the main organizer had also caught Covid the day before the conference. A little stressful but it got me a really good excuse to go home and not live in a hostel anymore.

🎄 lived in Leipzig (the city where I’d been studying for a year)

Leipzig University Paulinum church

Leipzig was the most beautiful and the first mid-size city I have ever lived in. Within a 20-30 min cycle, I could get anywhere. I loved its history and architecture, and the ease and friendliness of the people. For the first time ever, I had space at uni (very unlike London) and lived in a truly beautiful flat. Also, Leipzig is a very green-lefty city, and it's incredibly easy to find good vegetarian food. The university cafeteria ("mensa") was the best I have ever seen! Not to mention the Christmas market (one of the largest in Germany) I have ever been to - the entire inner city turned into a continuous Christmas market - an experience unlike anything!

🏋🏻‍♀️ had more joy with weightlifting than ever before

Gym floor of Weightlifting Leipzig, a functional fitness & weightlifting gym

Leipzig did not only introduce me to a Christmas market but also to my favorite gym and coach. Oli from Weightlifting Leipzig managed to get me enthusiastic about Olympic Weightlifting again at a time when I considered quitting. Group sessions and a strong coach can make such a difference. I am so grateful for a coach who genuinely loves to coach and had feedback that worked like a charm for me. Not to mention the other weightlifters who welcome and inspired me beyond reason (especially thinking of one near-end-of-pregnancy member who still came to work out).

➗ did more math than ever before in my life

Blackboards filled with mathematical equations and a professor standing on top of one board to write on it

I decided to only choose math modules in the second semester of the year. For 20-40 hours a week, my brain was flooded with math. And yet, looking back, I realized just how little I had actually learned and understood. The frontal lecture style is a terrible idea for teaching math and I have gained more understanding from Brilliant and YouTube channels such as 3Blue1Brown than a full semester of math. It forced me, however, to engage with math every day, which I might not have done otherwise. Mixed feelings, therefore, but I got what I wanted: I am not scared of complicated-looking equations and proofs anymore.

💥 laser-cut my first item

I've been wanting to get my hands dirty with 3D printing, laser cutting, and soldering for so long but often have trouble either having the resources near me or making time for it. I'm happy I got to start with a picture of my sister and me towards the end of the year.

✍️ didn't manage to finish the main blog article for my blog

Hehe yeah, the top reason I started this blog is still dangling around in the drafts. Since so many of my ideas and theories are based on them, I find it hard to finish a proper version that incorporates all the important concepts in a structured way. A challenge to overcome in the next year.

🎥 started a YouTube channel - and didn't manage to cut the first proper video I recorded

Screenshot of my YouTube channel

YouTube has been another vision of mine for so long. I wish I had started back then in 2017! Now I am probably less shy but also more occupied. I spontaneously started a channel around March 2022 after watching a SkillShare class by Ali Abdaal. I have a full list of video ideas and the first one or two even made it into production - turns out the most time-consuming aspect is actually cutting it. Another project I haven't come around to doing last year (blog has priority) but hopefully sometime in the future.

Overall, it was an eventful year that also had its ups and downs. I am very grateful for my time and will look to take the lessons and connections with people further into the future ❤️