One Year Ago Today: The Top 40 Milestones from Our First Year Overseas

Around ManilaForeign Service LifeMisc.PhilippinesRecommendationsTravel
July 1, 2010

Since it’s become obvious that I can’t stop time and prevent the one year mark from happening, I’ve decided that for today’s 1 Year Commemorative Post we’ll take a more positive slant instead and celebrate all the milestones that have happened in the last year.  Kind of a “Year in Review” with links and pictures… thanks for joining us on the journey!  It’s been so much fun to share it with you all…  XOXO, Sarah

Here’s the audience participation part: Please leave comments as to which were your favorite to read about and why!  I’ve made it really easy for you by linking to the posts/milestones referenced!

Milestones from Our First Year Abroad

  1. 9 Trips within the Philippines including: Batangas, Puerto Galera (twice), Bohol (twice), Donsol, Batanes, Boracay, and Cebu
  2. 5 International Trips including: Kota Kinabalu, Hong Kong, Cambodia, Bali and Bangkok
  3. Learned to shoot with a Digital SLR and can now officially call myself an amateur photographer
  4. Received 52 massages and can articulate what the finer points are of each different style
  5. Can tell the difference between different types of rice (and now own a rice cooker)
  6. Embraced eyebrow threading and swore of waxing for good
  7. Learned how to select a good set of pearls and put those new skills to use when purchasing my 3 sets!
  8. Witnessed the death of Corazon Aquino and the Inauguration of her son NoyNoy (both major historical events in the Philippines)
  9. Fit WAY TO MUCH SH*T into one tiny condo (and started the process of simplifying our material life)
  10. Successfully hired and managed a household staff of 2 (whom we adore and everyone wants to steal when we leave)
  11. Found Corn Dogs
  12. Determined that I was NOT meant to be a SCUBA diver
  13. Found Friendship Home
  14. Survived my first Typhoon
  15. Mastered the art of drinking High Tea and noshing on scones
  16. Attended my first Hoe Down
  17. Survived the Neighborhood Shoot-out Unscathed
  18. Custom-designed my very first Chaise Lounge!
  19. Picked up the ‘Manila Crud’ and started visiting the Emergency Room (a lot)
  20. Attended my first marine ball
  21. Chose our first Xmas Tree as a married couple
  22. Rode an elephant
  23. Watched Nick fall in love with the Friendship Home Kids (and realized he’s going to be a great Dad)
  24. Survived my first Christmas Away
  25. Welcomed 5 guests: Rachel, My Parents, Sarah J, Jenna and Karolanne
  26. Survived another MELTDOWN
  27. Successfully made it through my first year of marriage (and enjoyed every minute of it with my amazing partner)
  28. Had our wedding published in MN Bride!
  29. Swam with the Whale Sharks (and didn’t die!)
  30. Taught Norma how to make Tator Tot Hotdish (a proud moment indeed)
  31. Witnessed poverty on a level previously unimagined and allowed it to change me
  32. Turned Blog Readers into Friends (instead of vice versa)
  33. Enjoyed my first Earthquake
  34. Found Carewell!
  35. Swam with Dolphins!!!
  36. Celebrated as the last Miller graduated from CSB
  37. Rocked my first Corporate Retreat in Malaysia
  38. Started the spiritual practice of tithing
  39. Stepped into my calling as a Cancer Coach
  40. Tried Acupuncture!

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  1. Sara Roy says:

    You have had an amazing year! I’ve loved going through the journey with you!

  2. FSO Hopeful says:

    There are two things you’ve written about that I loved. First, the chaise lounge. It looks UH-MAY-ZING and incredibly comfortably. Second, the Friendship Home. I have no desire to have children of my own, but I do believe in working with kids to make their lives better. Seeing them so happy and smiley after having a visitor who does her best to make their lives a little brighter always chokes me up a little bit. I can only imagine some of the lives these kids have to go back to when it’s time to head home, and you can tell they’re actively making memories that will continually impact them throughout their lives.

    What you’re doing with them is inspiring. Thank you for posting about it.

  3. Christen says:

    Yay, Sarah! I’m so proud of you for your latest and greatest risk taking – acupuncture! I left you another note in a link to a previous post, too but you KNOW I had to give you props for acupuncture, too. :-)

  4. minnesotagal says:

    Thanks Sara – you were 2nd blog reader that I got to meet in person! How cool to be able to turn online connections into long-term relationships!

  5. minnesotagal says:

    Awww- cool! I love hearing what touches a nerve for people! Can you find me on Facebook so I can get to know you better? Look me up under Sarah Miller Novak! And keep me posted on WHEN you get the call! Sarah

  6. minnesotagal says:

    Thanks- That has been on the list for a LONG TIME. Let’s exchange details about our experiences when I get home. I did learn that my doctor only does 1 needle because of the combined effects of the Acupressure. Those two therapies are the equivalent of using multiple acupuncture needles!

  7. Alison says:

    Wow! What an incredible year you’ve had! Now I feel lazy :) I love reading about all of your travel adventures because that’s my real passion. I signed on to expat life so I could see the world. When I can’t get to a destination myself, I love to see it through the eyes and stories of people who have been there. That’s why I love the expat blog community so much and I’m so glad I found your blog this year to add to my list :)

  8. diplowife says:

    Congratulations on your first year. I am envious and wished that mine was as fulfilling and was as adventurous as yours. I am really glad to you are enjoying your stay in the Philippines. I really loved your post on your trip to Tondo. It is sad that despite its beauty there are a lot of kids living that way in my home. But it is nice to know that there are persons like you who took time to see, you could’ve easily distracted yourself with the malls and beaches, but it is part of the country and your experience shared via your blog creates awareness and open the doors for those who would like to help. And that is another accomplishment for you.

  9. Christina says:

    Sarah, thank you for allowing us to peek into your adventure and share it with you. A year goes by so fast! You have had so many new experiences and have done some amazing things, you are truly blessed. Thanks for reconnecting with me over a year ago, it was nice to catch up over coffee. I look forward to reading about your next years of adventures.

  10. Allie says:

    Love this! Thanks for posting–you’re such a great inspiration for stopping, looking around, and appreciating the things that change us for the better.

  11. Joye says:

    My favorite was just the one of you getting on that airplane and actually going to Manila. Says a lot about how you are going to make an excellent Foreign Service partner and representative of the USA.

  12. Erin Beck says:

    Wow! Sara what an amazing year you have had! Keep up the updates. I can’t wait to see what the next year brings you!

  13. FSOwannabe says:

    Wonderful post! Thanks so much for sharing!

  14. Chris Coleman says:

    I think each and every accomplishment and experience has made you who you are today – an amazing young woman. Can’t wait to continue reading the chapters of your life as they unfold. Hugs,

  15. minnesotagal says:

    And I am glad I found you – mutual love ROCKS! Can’t wait until we meet in person some day!

  16. minnesotagal says:

    Thank you Diplowife – Tondo was an eye-opening experience. It really shifted my perspective on life! I continue to be amazed by how resilient the Filipino people are… glad we’re connected on FB now!

  17. minnesotagal says:

    Yeah- I’ve really enjoyed getting back in touch with you. Such fun to nurture long-term relationships! Thanks for following the fun… Sarah

  18. minnesotagal says:

    Thanks Allie- I always look forward to your comments. They really resonate! Big hugs, Sarah

  19. minnesotagal says:

    Thanks Joyce- you’ve been so supportive this entire year and that’s made such a difference to me. I appreciate the constant flow of feedback and re-assurance! Best mother-in-law EVER! :)

  20. minnesotagal says:

    You know I will Erin – so glad to be reconnected. Thanks for following along…

  21. minnesotagal says:

    Glad you liked it! I had a blast writing it and looking through the old posts… I had forgotten how much had happened!

  22. minnesotagal says:

    Oh Chris- I adore you! Can’t wait until we meet some day in person! Until then, I am pleased to have this constant online interaction with you. We are kindred spirits, I think! :) XOXO, Sarah

  23. KatieJ says:

    I’ve had a fabulous time reading about your first year overseas and can’t wait to hear about future adventures! :)

  24. Katrina Buetow says:

    Sarah-I can’t pick just 1. I have LOVED reading your blog and hearing about your journey with Nick. I think that this is even better than our coffee’s and lunches we used to have at Target together (although, it would be fun to have another one soon!) I can’t wait to see what the next year brings to you and where you will be off to in another year. Love from the Buetow’s!

  25. Chris Coleman says:

    Kindred spirits without a doubt!!!

  26. bfiles says:

    i too loved this post and have really enjoyed sharing your adventures. you have an amazing way of letting people into your life and that’s one reason your blog is among my favorites.

  27. minnesotagal says:

    Thanks Katrina- I love staying connected to you in this way!

  28. minnesotagal says:

    Thanks bfiles – it was intimidating to put myself out there in this way at first, but I’ve gotten so many cool new friendships and insights from it that i can’t imagine ever stopping now! Thanks for reading… Are we connected on FB? If not, please friend me at Sarah Miller Novak!

  29. John says:

    Hi Sara,
    I came across your blog and read it the whole afternoon. I love your travels and how much you appreciate the Philippines, I’ve always wondered what expatriates think of Manila and your stories make it as if Manila is a paradise :) Your volunteer work is inspiring and you and your husband are truly great representatives of what the United States has to offer – kindred souls that always try to make a difference. Enjoy your stay in the Philippines and would continue bto look out for your future posts.
    John :)

  30. minnesotagal says:

    Awesome John- I love that my blog is now officially a procrastination tool! :) Manila definitely has its low points like any city, but on the whole we feel so blessed to have ended up here! Thanks for taking the time to learn about our adventures. I can’t wait for more comments from you!

    Cheers, Sarah

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