January 3, 2017

TL;DR: 2016 was one of my best years so far. I lived as student in Oxford, enjoyed the city, the University and made friends for a lifetime. But it was not only about studying and professional growth. I also travelled and read a few awesome books. More year like this please!

Lifestyle

In 2016 I learned a lot about myself, started practicing meditation every morning, changed some eating habits: I now try to eat only twice a day during the week and I fast at least once a week. It may sound crazy or just dumb to some, but there’s a lot of research showing that these practices are healthy. I’ve definitely felt much better and energized during the last year after starting these activities.

Oxford

Studying was obviously a big part of my year. After all, I was in Oxford studying for a masters. It was tough and hectic at times but enjoyable all along. On the academic side of things, I enjoyed the most studying Category Theory (this was a tough one!), Machine Learning and working on my dissertation. But studying is not all that Oxford had to offer. I also learned how to row and enjoyed every single outing with Pembroke’s M3! Formals, exchange dinners and bar nights were also a big part of my life there but what I’ll probably miss the most during 2017 are the Sunday brunch specials at 27 Wellington Street, I can’t have enough arepas, hummus and Mexican salsa!

Some numbers

I am a big fan of the quantified self. Here are a few numbers of my year.

Productive Hours

I was fairly productive during the year and my productivity peaked during the summer (notice the upward trend in the blue bars around the middle of the chart) when I was working on my dissertation. After that I pretty much stopped being productive for the rest of the year (I needed some time off!).

Books

I like to think I am an avid reader. In 2015 I read 18 books that in one way or another made an impact in my life and my thinking. 2016 was no different, I read a total of 19 books. Two books in particular made an impact in my life:

  • Deep Work by Cal Newport. Here Cal makes a strong and compelling case for the need of ‘’deep work’’, i.e. long and interrupted stretches of deep focus that open the doors for more impactful and meaningful work. Since I read this book I’ve been trying to work more effectively, by blocking on my calendar the periods of time where I don’t want to be interrupted and reducing the amount of noise and distractions that I am exposed to every day (e.g. Facebook, email, etc.).

  • The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday. This is a book about practical Stoicism, one of my favourite philosophical schools since I was introduced to it by a great philosphy teacher I had during high school who is now a very dear friend (Ciao Michele!). If you need motivation and practical tricks to deal with difficult situations and everything that life throws at you, then read this book, it is worth it.

Finally, I also read a lot of good essays and articles on the web. According to my Pocket year in review, last year I read 1,100,117 words which comes up at around 23 books.

If we add everything up, then, in 2016 I read around 41 books. Not bad, in my opinion, but still far from the 50+ books that Bill Gates reads per year or the 2 to 3 books per week that Tim Ferriss reads (that comes at 150+ books per year!).

Travel

Last year I also managed to travel quite a bit and finally visit a new continent!

I went home (Venezuela) for Spring break. During the summer, I spent some quality time in Italy with friends and family and made a flash trip to Puglia, a beautiful region with tons of lovely food and wine. Finally, after graduation I spent 20 days in a big game reserve in South Africa “working” and enjoying the Safari lifestyle with the people behind wanderingthru.com.

South Africa was love at first sight. It has so many similarities with my home country. It has so much nature to offer that I probably need a few more trips down there (hopefully this year!) in order to fully appreciate it, I might even stay there for a while during 2017 (Hola Ale!).

The year ended in Miami where I am currently spending time with my grandparents and enjoying the South Florida Sunshine!

More Like This!

Despite all the international turmoil and the (not so) surprising events of Brexit and Trump’s election (I’m sorry Panchito), 2016 was an awesome year for me. I managed to achieve most of the goals that I set for myself, travelled, studied and had tons of fun throughout the year.

I can only hope and that 2017 will bring more of all this to my life. More laughter, more interesting and awesome friends, more quality food, more books, more wisdom and much more fun!