Tuesday, August 21, 2012

One year later

So this is it. The day. The number. It’s here. Doesn’t matter if I’m ready or not, because here it comes: Bye, bye twenties. Hello thirties!

It’s funny, because when I have, in discussions with fellow patrons, tried to share my slight fear of entering 3.0 and leaving behind 2.0, my worries have been compared to “silly ideas.” “The thirties are the new twenties!” everyone keeps saying (no one who’s still in their twenties though!). I’m actually not sure if I agree, or even wish to agree.

I mean, do I want be 20 again, being so full of what I know, yet know so little? Do I want re-do my university years, spending hours in a dusty library, trying not to fall asleep at lectures, writing essay, articles and assignments who never see daylight but that are marked and put into a folder to collect dust? Do I want to go back to living on a minimum budget and eating 3-minute noodle meals so that I can afford a glass of wine at night? Do I want be a fresh graduate again, and have my positive energy and excitement killed by companies and employers who don’t want give “people with no real work experience” a chance? (God, getting that first job was a nightmare!) Do I want be the girl in the office that everyone refers to as “so young and inexperienced” and who takes on tonnes of unpaid overtime just to show that she’s ambitious and hard-working? Do I want do about 7834862 odd jobs so that I can finance going back to school in order to learn Mandarin, having everyone around me questioning what I am going to do with this “third language” and what my “future plan is” (hell, I had no plan!)?

Nah. I’m actually pretty OK with the thirties being the thirties.  I’m done with the twenties. I feel satisfied, as I believe I really made the most of it. So, come thirties. Bring it on. I’ll just go on like I’m used to, trying to have an even better time than I’ve already had. I mean, at least I have learned from all the mistakes I made in my twenties. And just being able to say that is pretty cool.

So to start with some follow-up on my three “to dos”:

1.   Visit all four countries that I have referred to as home during the last 10 years.


In January we went to Australia again (the place that was my “home” for almost 3,5 years: 2002-2005). I just love Australia. I love the country, the atmosphere, the people, the nature, ah… everything (Australians, you are some lucky people!).

This time, we visited both Sydney and my beloved Perth. We made the most of our time: went crabbing, sand boarding, had picnics and dinners, caught up with all of my Aussie friends, and enjoyed wine tasting and beach walks. It was two fantastic weeks and, as usual, I cried like a baby when we eventually took the plane back to Shanghai.

The Pinnacles, Western Australia

In May, I went to London (the place that was my “home” for around 6 months in 2001-2002. I had actually only just turned 19 when I went to live in London but for some reason I still look at this as something that happened during my 20-ies. I guess it was the move that started everything) to be part of my best friend Tess’ wedding.

Tess (who’s my oldest friend) has actually been in London all these years. It was the two of us (+ 4 other friends) who went there together on September 11, 2001 (yes, THAT 9/11) And, as for today, she’s still there! On May 19 this year, she married her significant other, Will, in a beautiful ceremony that took place in Oxford. She looked gorgeous in her extravagant gown (made in China at the wedding market with me as her personal adviser), and me and three other friends of her also looked pretty good in our blue bride’s maid dresses (also made in China! I mean, how could I not offer to help for her big day?!). It was a magnificent day, and I am so happy I got a chance to be part of it!

As we came all the way from China for the wedding we took some extra days off and spent them catching up with friends and (in my case) visiting nostalgic London spots. I still have so many friends in London, so in a way it felt like coming home. 

Tess' and Will's wedding, Oxford, UK

Then summer came, and I went for a long wknd in Tokyo, a city that has been on top of my “dream destinations” for I don’t know how long.

My Finnish friend Anna (who I met when I was a student in Suzhou) just happened to be there on an exchange semester, so the timing couldn’t have been better. I went to Tokyo, caught up with Anna, and the two of us had the best time! I fell truly (madly, deeply) in love with Tokyo and Japanese people, who were so polite and friendly. We went out every single night, visiting the quirkiest little spots, taking “kawai” photos with cute Japanese girls, and, obviously, enjoying some of the best food I have ever eaten. I have always had a feeling that I was going to enjoy Japan, but I never knew just how much. Tokyo is simply outstanding and I cannot wait to go back to see more of Japan. I am even considering doing an evening course of beginner’s Japanese next year (this fall is too busy).

Heavenly sushi in Tokyo

In July we went for a summer holiday back “home.” We started off with a quick stop in Sweden (where I haven’t lived since 2001, but it’s still referred to as “home”), just for four days, to catch up with friends and family. I threw myself a garden party one month prior to my actual birthday, which was a great idea, as I managed to catch up with all of my old friends from back home. We were some 25 people: friends from all walks of life: childhood friends from my tiny little hometown, friends that I went to London with, friends that I lived and studied with back in Australia (one of my old housemates who celebrated my 20th birthday with me in Perth!), friends from Shanghai. And, of course, all of my siblings and their partners. It was a perfect day/night.

Bday celebrations in Sweden
After Sweden we went to Finland (where I lived 2005-2006) and spent the rest of our holiday over there. We stayed mostly in Tampere, but also went to the summer cabin and had a long-wknd in Helsinki to catch up with friends. I went running in the forest 5 days/week, swam in the lakes, had sauna, cooked myself all that kind of food that I tend to crave in China, caught up with friends, and made the most of the extra amounts of daylight (the sun doesn’t set until maybe 10-11pm) by going for BBQ picnics and evening walks.

In Helsinki

We came back to Shanghai (where I have lived since 2006, so more than 6 years now) just in time for my real birthday (that was on August 15) and on August 18 I friend of mine threw me yet another birthday party, this time for all of my Shanghai friends. We had a great evening at a lounge bar in central Shanghai, and I was overwhelmed by the turn-up. Although the next day my boyfriend asked “so, are we done with the celebrations now?” and yes, I guess we are.

Bday celebrations in Shanghai

Run a full marathon (and at least one more half)


Yeah, this dream of mine wasn’t even close to be fulfilled. When running in Finland last summer (2011), I started feeling pain in my hip. Silly as I am, I ignored the pain and kept running, which turned out to be a bad decision. That hip pain has stayed with me since, and although it’s slightly better now, I can still feel it on weeks when I do heavy exercise (I went to two different hospitals to have it checked, but found nothing).

I guess this is a wake up call saying “hey, you’re not invincible (anymore)!” By running a lot, you obviously run the risk of getting injured, and this is just what happened. So the last year has been quite boring, exercise wise. I’ve kept my fitness level up by doing alternative training: spinning, yoga, and then around May I started running again. But like I said, I can still feel discomfort in my hip, and lately, my Achilles tendon started hurting, so I guess I need to slow down a bit. I am not sure if I will be able to run a marathon this year, but I still haven’t given up the thought of it. Not at the price of injuring myself badly though.

It is a bit of a downer, because I love running, and especially long-distance running.

Write a book.

Fail. But then again. I did get something pretty cool published… 

The book thing is a sensitive matter. I’m an idiot for publicly announcing it on my blog like I did last year, but I thought that by doing so, I would be under enough pressure to get it done. One of the reasons why I stopped blogging, was because I was going to spend that morning hour (that used to be devoted to this blog) writing on my book.

It didn’t really work out.

I did get started. Several times. And in the beginning I went for weeks. Then, I don’t know. Something happened. And I stopped.

I am pretty lucky to have some amazing friends, however, who kept reminding me to stick to my promise. So for my birthday, one of my friends gave me this book, and told me that now the pressure is off. The first book is out, and I should start focusing on a follow-up.

SHE in China -first edition!

And as for blogging –I’ve actually really missed it! I’ve been thinking a lot about starting a new blog. I don’t think I want to have an anonymous comment function though, because seriously, people behave like jerks when they don’t have to reveal their real name, and I had some pretty wacky comments towards the end of this blog. I never published these comments, obviously, as it was some pretty foul language, but overall it wasn’t that nice to start your day by opening blogspot’s comment moderation page, and be greeted by 15 comments telling you to go to hell and get out of China. So yeah, I am a bit torn when it comes to all of that.

When you blog, you obviously have to put yourself out there. No one wants to read a blog about some anonymous person who doesn’t dare to share his/her experiences. But by sharing you need to be able to take all those kind of weird comments. Am I ready for that again? Not sure. But let me tell you this much: just writing this blog post has been a treat! 


조안나 said...

I'm happy to see a new blog post! I've missed this blog a lot in the past year! If you do pick up and start blogging somewhere else, be sure to post the link! I miss all your chinese adventures!

Sara said...

I'm so glad that I'm still subscribed to your blog so I got to see this post! Hope to hear more from you in the future.

I think you can allow commenting just for those who have Bloger/OpenID account. Reading nasty comments as a first thing in the morning really isn't a great way to start a day and I really don't see where those people found the energy to write those comments, especially to your blog.

yan said...

Hi Jonna,

Welcome back! It was a pleasant surprise to see the new post, and I eagerly read your updates.

Congratulations on achieving some of your very ambitious goals. Like many of your readers, I envy all the traveling you are able to do. I look forward to reading more from you.

Anonymous said...

Jonna, one year no see you look so much older.


Sweetina said...

So wonderful to have you back and here about all your adventures! Happy 30th! The 30's are much better than your twenties...you will be very pleased. Each decade gets better and better! It sounds like you have done plenty in the last year! best wishes

Anonymous said...

Jonna you look like you turned 40.

Jeanette Kongsgaard said...

Hej Jonna - dejligt med en post fra dig - jeg har glædet mig til du begyndte at skrive igen, jeg håber virkelig at du kommer helt tilbage med daglige posts, det er så spændende læsning.
Krydser fingre for, at der er nyt imorgen igen :)

Tillykke med de 30 !


mantse said...

so lovely to know that you have fruitful and great year. Happy bday and wish you have more great day to come~~

Aileen said...

Welcome Back!!! I cannot believe it has been a year already!
Turning 30 in a year, and inspired by your post, I am also considering to make a to-do list. Not that heading into the 30s is such a big deal, but somehow, it is still a bit well, big, I guess?

Ramesh said...

Great to see you back in blogosphere Joanna. Belated Happy Birthday.

Now that you are back, you can't go away, can you ??

Tarja said...

Hello there! Great that you wrote this post, glad to hear how you're doing. Hopefully you continue blogging :)

Happy Birthday and welcome to the thirties! It's true what people say, it is the new twenties...

ordinary malaysian said...

Welcome back! 30 is just a figure. As long as you are healthy and happy what is a number? Anyway, everyone has to pass through their 30s, 40s, 50s ...And at your age, you have already seen and experienced so much. You are a lucky woman! Of course you deserve all that you have achieved. Go slow on the marathon. Is the book a collection of your blog posts? It's been a long wait for us followers of your blog. Happy to see you back!

Anonymous said...

As a 35 year old I can say that it's not true that "thirties is new twenties". Aging is real.

Jonna, interesting point that you don't want to relive your twenties. Within last five years I got so many experiences and learned so much that I wish I was five years back with all my current knowledge. I would do less mistakes and communicate better, work better, live better.

Keep It Real said...

Yay, Jonna! So glad you are back!
I can't believe it has been an entire year without reading about your adventures several times a week. I have been lurking here a few times over the past month hoping you would post soon, so we could see how your year went! I am so glad you got to travel and fulfill most of your goals!

Happy belated birthday, and welcome to the 30s! You will like this one a lot as well, even more than your 20s I bet. For the past nine years and six months I have loved it all. New journey for me in January, going for that 40s decade, hopefully it will be every bit as fun!!

thora said...

I have been waiting for this post! Happy belated birthday and I hope you are still going to blog.

Greetings from Germany.

Jennifer said...

Ahhhhh! You're back!

I'm still in denial about being in my mid-twenties, but your post is making me reconsider!

I've missed your posts, so it's lovely to read about your year and goals - though sorry to hear about your hip + book. Incidentally, I once attempted to take up running because you made it seem quite enjoyable in one of your posts! I bought some running shoes and, like you, announced my intentions to everyone in an attempt to tie myself in financially AND reputationally (not sure this is a word, but it should be). It didn't work...

Your traveling this year sounds amazing though; I am very jealous! I especially like the picture of your birthday celebrations in Sweden - you and the guy on the far left are by far the best jumpers! Although I quite like the guy third from the right too as you wouldn't know he was jumping if it wasn't for the space between his feet and the ground.

Anyway, would love for you to start blogging again but understand if you don't! (Not that it matters if I didn't...) Hope there aren't any anonymous comments for you to wade through on this post.

Anonymous said...


Jonna Wibelius said...

Wow! Cheers for all the comments guys (except for 2 anonymous ones who felt they had to point out I look like 40. But I hope it made u feel a lot better about yourself doing that, hence why I published your comments).

I am surprised and happy to see that so many "old readers" came back to post a comment! You guys rock!

Ordinary Malaysian -Yes, the book is a collection of my blog posts. A sweet memory. I got all teary eyed when she handed it over to me!

Anonyous who want to go back 5 years -During the 20ies I have had some great and some bad years. But I sill wouldn't go back. I think everything has its time and place and if you never made mistakes/experienced real hardship you wouldn't have that experience of learning/appreciate the good times. When I yesterday discussed this with a friend and she said: "are u crazy, would u not wanna go back to living in Australia?" then I was obviously torn. But then I thought, "nah, I don't wanna go back and do that again, I've already done it. I wouldn't mind moving to Australia for a job though, and have a completely new experience." It's a pretty interesting discussion and something u can spend hours just thinking about.

Jennifer -that's awesome, I am so happy to hear I inspired u to go running..! Can u start again, if just... with small runs? And no announcement?

Yeah, the jumping photo is a good one. I love it too. Really good idea to ask everyone to jump to capture a moment.

Some angry comments, of course, but a majority was good ones! :)

Martin said...

Is it strange to say that I've missed you? Or maybe better to say, I've missed your writing. I was so excited to see you had made a new blog post. Welcome back!!! And I agree with the anonymous comments thing...no need to let people comment that way.

This book of yours...is there only one copy, or is this something that can be purchased? Glad to see you back Jonna.

All the best,

Kate said...

I am glad to 'hear' from you again, Jonna. Life seems to have been extremely happy for you, and that is what truly matters most!

Anonymous said...

Jonna..What a pleasant surprise to read your post!! I have missed you this past year, but I am pleased that you have had time to work on your achievements. Happy birthday to you. Hopeful that you will blog again..you are such a terrific writer.

A California fan

******************** Shanghai MiFeng said...

Well come back Jonna!!! Can't believe I made it through a whole year without your Blog Post's? Anyway, is your Book available in the States.. love to have it.. as your Adventure was one of a kind for sure. Good luck in your thirties, they now so bad at all.. I've made it almost through my 50's and still going strong.

Jennifer said...


I have actually been thinking about it lately (my brother + sister have been training for sponsored 10ks) but then again I think about a lot of things so we'll see! I took out my running shoes a while ago (burst of inspiration from the Olympics) and looked at them for a few minutes. Then I put them back in the box... that is about as far as I have got! But yes, if I do start then this time it's a secret!

Anonymous said...

Hi Jonna!

Could we get more fashion (your own style or Shanghai street style) in this blog or in the new blog? :) Or something more personal like about your hobbies; book, music and movie taste or your home interior decoration pics. What do you do in your free times besides go to the gym or restaurants? Do you go to concerts? Do you like Asian entertainment and fashion magazines? I'd like to see something cute e.g. decorated photos like Chinese model bloggers have. ;)

Sometimes it seems like more and more people are visiting China thesedays even I have been there more than twice and lived in Chinese home and hotels for few months and I always read the same stories in blogs about things which people notice while visiting China for the first time and many are complaining about the same things like pollution or spitting in the streets etc. At least I'd like to read something special and different about China which most of the people don't notice or know. You've had some new things to tell. But I'm a lazy reader and I like to see more pictures. ;) Travelling stories interest me the most. Nice example of a blog is vivianlostinseoul.

I think you know the best what kind of new blog you'd like to make. If I want to see something, I should have my own blog. ^^

I wish I'd done the same things like you such as study Chinese in China before I'm 30 which is next year. I remembered your b-day is in August and came to see if you've updated. Glad to see you finally back.

Jonna Wibelius said...

Anonymous -thanks for some great ideas. I actually like most of them, and I think after 6 years of living over here, people spitting on the streets aren't that interesting anymore (actually, I don't know if it ever was?). Maybe if I start a new blog I should focus more on the modern culture and life here. I am currently looking into buying a domain and hosting my own blog.. to be continued! :)

Emily said...

Welcome back!!! I can't believe it's been a whole year! Congratulations on everything that you've done this past year! And Happy belated Birthday (your birthday is very close to mine)! I hope to hear more from you soon!

WoAi said...

Nice to see a new post! Happy 30th Jonna, let's have a celebratory drink some time!