2020: A Year in Review

So where to start….?

We had only two certainties about 2020 when we started the year. We were going to be leaving Japan this year and we were going to leave in the July. Apart from that, we had no plans, no idea where we were going next. It was going to be an exciting year.

Rob’s parents at New Year 2020.

In January we went to China. Yes you heard me correctly, we were in China. It was our last Asian trip to Shanghai to visit an old colleague and achieve our ultimate goal… to visit Shanghai Disney. It was the last Disney park to complete the set and we did it. It was such a great weekend and I remember thinking 2020 was going to be the year for achieving goals…

Shanghai Disneyland

In February, Rob and I were both offered a job teaching at the same school in Sweden. It felt like a sign and we took it. Another month another goal achieved. We felt this was going to be good year.

And then it all changed.

Come March and COVID 19 was no longer just a foreign disease on the news, it was now becoming our reality. School closed, we had to cancel our trip to Australia and we were thrown into a period of uncertainty that lasted until June when school reopened.

A hanami walk during a National State of Emergency

In July we said goodbye to our friends and family in Japan and flew back to the UK before continuing on to Sweden. Up until the day we flew, we had no idea if we could leave. We had already changed our flights but luckily we made it back safely.

Last week at work

August to November was all about starting our new jobs in Sweden. It was a huge culture shock to what we were used to in Japan but we enjoyed the challenge. We started to make friends, enjoyed some very Swedish experiences and finally became residents after a four month wait for our personal numbers.

Floating sauna in the rain

In November we caught COVID. Well, I did officially and we think Rob did unofficially. We were lucky enough to only suffer mild symptoms and within two weeks, we were back at work.

Finishing the year in true 2020 fashion, we had to cancel yet another trip home which meant we experienced our first Christmas and New Year in Sweden. You can read all about it in our post “Our First Swedish Christmas.”

Christmas Day fika

It is always a strange feeling when I review each year. This one more so than most.

Globally, 2020 has been a year that has challenged us in many ways. We have seen some of the most life changing events happen that will continue to influence us as we welcome in the New Year. From the devastating Australian Bush Fires at the start of the year, to the Covid pandemic and the powerful Black Lives Matter movement which has forced us all to re-evaluate what we thought was the status-quo and face some very uncomfortable but necessary truths. It is certainly going to be one to remember.

Personally, it has been big year too. We took a risk when we decided to leave Japan and luckily it has paid off. We are in a new country, with new opportunities and new exciting challenges. I started the year feeling like 2020 was going to be the year for achieving goals and some where in the middle, I felt that it had all fallen apart but I was wrong. Even in the face of a global pandemic, we were able to achieve some pretty big goals, we visited the last Disneyland, we got new jobs and we moved countries on our first ever (and probably last) business class flight.

Qatar Airlines – Tokyo to Doha Business Class

So in reality it has been the year for achieving goals, it just didn’t follow the path we had planned. Life took us down a different route but we got there in the end.


So that was our 2020 in review. Learning from this year, we will go into 2021 with no plans at all but we will hope for a time when we can all reconnect in person. Until then, we hope everyone has a very healthy and safe 2021.

SP x


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