Happy new year! It’s hard to believe, but once again a new year is rolling in. I want to spend a little bit of time reflecting a little on the past year, and talking a little about what this new year will bring both for me and my writing.
2017 was a strange year, when time passed by both slowly and quickly.
It was slow, because the first half of 2017 was painful. There’s no point in even trying to sugarcoat this time. It’s almost unbelievable how dreary and monotonic revision for the IB could be. I never found school as unenjoyable as those few months, and it was the most unmotivated I ever was in my life. The final curve of senior year was without question the worst period of high school. Yet it was also fast, because every day felt like the final few pages to the last chapter of a book. As someone who has practically lived my entire life at one school, it was difficult to imagine a life after graduation. I felt torn: on one hand, I couldn’t wait for high school to be over; on the other, did I really want to step into the complete unknown?
Eventually, of course, an old chapter had to end and a new one must begin. There were some low points in my first few months in college that made things feel a little slow at times. It was strange not to have friends I’d known for fifteen years with me, for example, and there were times when UC Berkeley felt immensely frustrating. Overall, however, the fall semester was immensely exciting because it felt new. Exploring the Bay Area, meeting new friends and professors, taking new courses: it was a very welcome change from the rather colourless end to high school. Before I knew it, my first semester at Berkeley was over.
Now, of course, 2017 is over. I am stepping into 2018, my first full year in college, without the anchor of a routine yet familiar past in school. I don’t know yet what this new year will bring, but much remains at Berkeley for me to explore, so at the very least the next semester promises to be as interesting as the last. What I can comment on in more detail, however, is where I plan to go with my writing in 2018
2017 was a very productive year for my writing- I’ve never written quite so much and so often in my life- and this was for a couple of reasons. It was an exciting (if a little dismal) year politically, and that led to my usual steady flow of commentaries on worldwide politics. Berkeley also gave me plenty of material to work with. Finally, I came to the realisation last year that there is still relatively little English language material on Thai politics and history. I began writing more about Thai politics, which I had done relatively infrequently since the 2014 military coup. Most importantly, most fulfilling project last year was The Story of Thai Democracy, when I wrote ten articles on Thai democratic history.
With these three threads in mind, I have a pretty good idea of where I’m headed in 2018.
Firstly, global politics will continue to be a major focus of this blog. I want to write less about President Donald Trump and his administration; as I’ve said before, every post I write about Trump seems to end with the conclusion that his incompetence is breathtaking. Of course, it’s impossible not to write at all about Trump, but I want to write more about equally important political developments in other countries I’m interested in: China, Japan, Southeast Asia and beyond.
Secondly, I want to write more about Berkeley and the Bay Area. There are issues in both UC Berkeley and the City of Berkeley that I want to discuss in more detail: free speech, liberal and conservative politics, the housing crisis and the issues plaguing the public university. I might also consider writing a couple of posts on some relatively ‘lighter’ topics, such as student life, America from the point of view of an international student and some insider UC Berkeley perspectives.
Finally, I want to continue my work from last year in writing more about Thailand. 2018 will be an important year in Thai politics, as General Prayut wraps up his tenure (given that he doesn’t return as prime minister after the elections, of course) and the country prepares to return to democracy. It’s important that the public regains its voice and that more discussion is held about the future of this country. I also want to write more articles about miscellaneous aspects of Thai politics, society and history. An article on Thailand’s potential for greater soft power, which I started researching for during the summer, is still unwritten, for example, and I continue to believe that we as a nation do not pay enough attention to the lessons of our past.
I may also write about some random topics of interest; during the summer, I found it fun to write about things I’ve been reading on economics and history, and I feel like I would like to do more of that this year.
F. Scott Fitzgerald once said, “You don’t write because you want to say something. You write because you have something to say”. 2018 promises to be both testing but also an opportunity for progress both in Thailand and worldwide. Time, as always, is a scarce resource and the biggest limiting factor on my ability to write. But I will try my best not to let this impede my ability to write about what I have to say, and with some luck, this blog will continue to be a place where I can share my thoughts on politics and history.
Thank you very much for continuing to support my writing, and I look forward to another year of blogging!