Between the winter blues, studying Spanish, working on my New Year’s resolutions, and despairing over wildlife affected by the Australian bushfires, it has taken me a few weeks to get my act together enough to write this post, a post I would normally write in the first couple of days of the new year. But I didn’t want to skip it because there was some interesting data to reflect upon and it’s also a tradition, so finally…here it is!
In 2019, I wrote more posts and content than in any prior year, and the blog received – by far – its greatest number of both views and visitors to date. I also traveled thousands of miles across Australia, finished my role as a political officer in Canberra, and returned to Virginia to prepare for our next assignment to México. I also spent two weeks in Ecuador on a Spanish language immersion trip and visited eight U.S. states. In summary, 2019 was a year filled with movement, and a lot of change.
Year in Review… briefly
We started off 2019 reflecting on V’s holiday bicycle accident that almost derailed a once in a lifetime NYE at the Sydney Opera House, and spent most of Australia’s hottest summer month of January furloughed without pay. That was the only fortunate thing about the disgraceful government shutdown and forced time off: it provided much-needed time for V to heal without draining all his sick leave, and for us to spend time together at south coast beaches and just relaxing at home.
In February, my mom came to visit us for her birthday (and V’s birthday!), and we traveled around Canberra, drove down to Melbourne, across to Tasmania by ferry, and then back home. My mom also learned to drive on the left, albeit for five minutes! I wrote a three-post series about our adventures, starting here.
In March, April, and May, I was extremely busy and stressed out at work, and reflected on some work-life balance issues and my love-hate relationship with email. We did try to have some fun and make some memories in Canberra as the months drew down, as preparation for our Permanent Change of Station (PCS) move started to become real, and move into fast-forward. I started to think very nostalgically about what I would miss when we left, and I wrote about the nuts and bolts of how we prepared for our move here, here, and here.
I also spent some time writing about how housing works in the Foreign Service, what it’s like to drive in Australia, and one particular type of wildlife in Australia that I absolutely adore. I talked about the sensitive topic of Reconciliation in Australia and our experience at a cricket game. I also announced my tenure and that for the first time in more than two years, Australia officially got a U.S. Ambassador! (A chargé d’affaires ad interim had been very capably handling things in the meanwhile.)
In June we took the trip of a lifetime across Australia on The Ghan, a famous train in its 90th year of service, starting off in Adelaide and Kangaroo Island, making our way across the Outback to Marla and Alice Springs, Uluru, Katherine, Darwin, and Kakadu National Park before returning to Canberra by plane. It was the trip of a lifetime and one I will never forget as long as I live. I wrote a series on our Ghan trip in five parts starting here.
July was our last month in Australia, and we found time for one last visit to Sydney before we sold both of our cars and really packed up our household. It was hard to say goodbye to Australia, even if meant we were coming home.
August we spent on home leave across Hawaii, California, Oregon, and Washington, before finally settling back into Virginia as the bumpy ride of September and October began and I tried to make my peace with having left Australia.
During the autumn we took a couple of trips to West Virginia (Berkeley Springs and Harpers Ferry) and I got deeply into my Spanish study, passing both of my informal progress assessments slightly ahead of schedule. I have been writing an entire series on the 24-week Spanish program at FSI, starting here. And then during the winter I was lucky enough to study Spanish in Ecuador, a country that was new for me. I wrote a four-part series on the Ecuador trip starting here. Then I wrapped up the year with the shortest-ever decade in review.
I spent quite some time this evening making a 2019 travel map with pins across three continents. It looked so cool, especially compared to my 2018 map in which I only had pins in southeastern Australia! However, I inadvertently clicked in the wrong place and it didn’t save, and reloading the page and hitting “back” were all in vain. It was like 1997 all over again! I couldn’t bear building it again from scratch and so, I will endeavor to be more cool and high-tech in 2020.
Blogging in 2019
- In 2019, I wrote 47 new blog posts, up from 39 in 2018. (My previous record was 46 posts in 2015.)
- The blog received 32,892 unique page and post views from 9,936 visitors, representing a 22% increase in views and a 19.9% increase in readers over 2018.
- In October 2019, the blog received its highest ever number of monthly views: 3,633. That was almost 400 more views than the previously highest month! But since then, monthly views have consistently been above 3,000, so I hope that means I have attracted some new readership. (Hello!)
- Blog readers in 2019 hailed from 146 different countries (down slightly from 149 in 2018).
The top 20 countries from which readers visited the blog most frequently in 2019 were:
- United States
- United Kingdom
- South Korea
- Hong Kong (*note I’m not making a political statement here; WordPress differentiates between viewers from Hong Kong, Taiwan, and China and breaks their stats out accordingly)
- South Africa
- (BONUS!) Macedonia
Not counting the home page, the top 20 most-viewed posts of 2019 were (along with their year of publication):
- Becoming an FSO Part II: The QEP (2014)
- My Foreign Service Timeline (2014)
- Foreign Service Housing (2019)
- Becoming an FSO Part III: The FSOA (2014)
- Cheeky and Curious: Australian Cockatoos (2019)
- Becoming an FSO Part I: The FSOT (2014)
- About the Author (2014)
- Flag Day Recap (2014)
- Your Questions Answered, Volume III (2019)
- Becoming an FSO Part IV: Clearances and the Register (2014)
- Flag Day Announcement… III (2018)
- ConGen (PC 530): Weeks 1 and 2 in Review (2015)
- Second Tour Bidding (2016)
- About the Foreign Service (2014)
- Work-Life, Unbalanced (2019)
- Career-Related News From the Field (2019)
- Five Weeks a’Furloughed (2019)
- Spanish (LQB100): Weeks 1-4 (2019)
- What I Miss (and Don’t Miss) About Australia (2019)
- A Bumpy-ish Landing (2019)
I have been inspired by some other WordPress blogs with better-organized sections for their prior travels and blogs they follow. So I will be working on rejuvenating mine during 2020 with the hopes of making things easier for readers to find. In the meantime, the best way to find posts that interest you is via tags, categories, or by using the search bar on the home page.
I recently responded to a slew of emails that were lurking in the blog inbox. If you have questions or can’t find what you are looking for, please let me know! I may feature them in the next edition of Your Questions Answered. And of course, if you enjoy this blog, I just want to say thank you so much for reading. I am also happy to hear feedback or receive additional ideas for things you’d like to read about. I think 2020 is going to be an amazing year!