Reflections on 2022

There was a time many years ago when blogging was the fashionable thing to do and the “blogosphere” was still a term that people used. Perhaps simply by mentioning such a time I run a considerable risk of confusing any younger readers — or indeed any of my non-writer friends — for whom the period before Instagram is akin to the Cambrian era. And sorry, this is not a Substack. But I wanted to do some old-fashioned blogging today with a little different content to the usual political programming on this site, simply because 2022 was the sort of year where I felt like I had to write about it just to make sense of it.

2022 was, to me at least the first year since 2019 when relative normalcy reigned, lockdowns finally became a thing of the past and life resumed its regular rhythm. It’s easy, I think, to quickly forget how these things we used to take for granted — taking classes on campus, for example, merely the act of connecting with people in person — had been so quickly and summarily deprived from us back in 2020. I’m still grateful for it. 2022 was a normal year.

But personally, 2022 was also anything but. I started the year in Bangkok and will end it in Ann Arbor. A lot happened in between, to say the least.

I started out the year at TDRI, about two-thirds of the way through what ended up being my one and a half year stint. I wrote some reflections about my time at TDRI here, and I echo them again in this post: it is an exceptional place to work, and I truly learned a lot. At the same time, I was also waiting on the results of my graduate school applications (of which the result ended up being Michigan). I wrote a couple of thoughts here on applying to a Ph.D. program in political science, but make no mistake: it’s much easier to write about a process once it’s completed than it is to sit there and wait for the results!

July was an interesting month in itself. I visited Berkeley for the first time since fleeing the US when the pandemic started — nostalgia galore! — and while I’ll never get that senior year back, it reminded me of how much I appreciated this city that radiates a creativity and energy I’ve never seen anywhere else.

I then headed to Ann Arbor, where it’s been an interesting few months. For one, I’ve never lived in a genuinely cold place before and that has required…adaptation. I have gotten to enjoy the delights of Michigan: I highly recommend an apple cider slushy with a warm donut on a frigid day, and few things in American sports will beat the atmosphere of a Michigan football game.

Even more importantly, I’ve enjoyed being in the Political Science Department at the University of Michigan. Via trita, via tuta, goes the proverb: the well-worn way is the safe way. Pursuing a Ph.D. in political science is probably, for most people, a little off the well worn path; most people in academia probably underestimate how rare it is to actually do a doctoral degree. But if I’m going to be doing something a little unorthodox, and indeed more than a little challenging (I’ve done more math in a single semester than in the past five years combined), I’m glad to be doing it in the warm and supportive environment at Michigan’s political science department.

It was also a busy year for me, writing-wise. I was excited to have co-authored a piece for the Washington Post’s Monkey Cage Blog. I’ve always wanted to write for an American publication, and I won’t deny that seeing my byline in WaPo is still a personal thrill. This was also my third full year writing for the Thai Enquirer (29 pieces this year!) and I’m grateful to the leadership there for continuing to give me this opportunity. Funnily enough, though, my most-read piece this year had little to do with politics; it was an article on Pad Kaprao, Thailand’s real national dish. (Should have become a food blogger instead.)

At the end of the year, I also started writing in Thai at Blockdit. My posting on there is still quite sporadic for now, but I hope to do more of it next year. My plan is to write mostly about issues in international affairs that interest me and that I feel is under-covered by Thailand’s media outlets. If you read Thai, I hope you check it out.

So overall, this was a year of big moves and big changes. As always I am immensely appreciative of everyone who has read, supported and critiqued my writing and I hope to continue sharing my thoughts and learning from everyone (hopefully on Twitter, if it makes it through the next few months) next year. Happy holidays, and see you in 2023!


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