Top 20 Best Moments 2014

Top 20 Best Moments 2014

The past few months have been very difficult. Now that there are just a few more hours left of 2014, it got me thinking: Was this year really so bad? Is this feeling of failure and having not achieved what I set out to really justified? Or do we just sometimes drown in our own sorrow, self-pity, overwhelmed by the momentarily difficult situations?

The answer is yes. Thanks to the age of social media, and a habit of mostly sharing good, happy moments with the world, I have a whole set of photos on my WeChat, Facebook, Twitter, you-name-it-account, detailing how awesome this year actually was. So, my advice to you, take a few minutes today, and think about what good things have happened to you this year. No matter how awful 2014 might seem to someone, I am sure there were at least ten good moments.

For my part, I found more than ten, so my top ten list had to change into a top twenty list as I just couldn’t decide which moment was more precious.


My Top 20 Moments of 2014

1. The first German ice cream with my husband (2. January 2014)

01 ice cream

True, it was winter time, and raining. But my husband had come to Germany for the first time, and after telling him (and illustrating with colourful pictures) the deliciousness of German ice cream, and of course our shared love for such, we wanted nothing more, but to enjoy a huge cup of that ice cold sweetness together. So we did. Early January. Seemingly small, insignificant moments can actually become great ones, if we let them.


2. First successful Skype job interview (7. January 2014)

02 skype interview

At the beginning of this year I didn’t know I will end up in Anhui, Bozhou. My plan was to find work in Shanghai. So I applied for several positions and early January 2014 I was finally invited for a Skype interview with a Shanghai based company. There is nothing more frightening for me than a job interview. Adding to that it was in Chinese, over Skype. I was surprised how smoothly it went. A great moment for my self-confidence.


3. First Ballet class at London’s Central Ballet School (23. January 2014)

03 ballet

Forever I was dreaming about starting ballet classes, but always felt I am already too old, and people might laugh about me. With the help of my 2014 New Year’s resolution I convinced myself to try one of the adult classes in one of London’s ballet schools and it turned out to be a great experience. Surrounded by like-minded people I took classes for several months and felt accomplished for the first time.


4. Chinese New Year’s Show in London (3. February 2014)

04 london cny

Actually I have not seen many Chinese New Year’s shows, but I am sure London’s is one of the best. I was standing in the first row and enjoying the artistry of the different Chinese acts.




5. My best friend coming to London to visit (22. February 2014)

05 best friend

When you are abroad studying, especially when you are separated from your loved ones, you can feel very lonely. The best moment was when my best friend came all the way down to London! Sightseeing with a friend is a thousand times better than alone.



6. A day in Shanghai’s Century Park with my husband (5. April 2014)

06 shanghai park

Due to the mostly long distance relationship back then, my husband and me rarely got the chance to just go for a simple walk in the park together. When I moved to Shanghai in April, he came to visit and we spent an entry Sunday strolling around Shanghai’s biggest park. Those are precious moments.



7. The day my parents-in-law adopted a little puppy (5. May 2014)

07 puppy

As I have written in another post, my Chinese parents were not fond of dogs in general. I was delighted when they decided to give it a try. And it changed their attitude completely.




8. The UK premier of the new X-men movie (13. May 2014)


08 x men premierWhen I had to go back to London mid-May for final exams, I had the chance to be there for the UK premier of the new X-Man movie. The little geek in me was alive and even though it was raining and I couldn’t see a lot, it was still an amazing moment.



9. The first sold commissioned pastel portrait (30. May 2014)

09 pastel portrait

I have been a very lazy artist to be honest. And when I decided to do more work and learn how to use pastels this year, I didn’t know people will want to even pay money for my portraits. The support I got from friends and family is priceless for me.



10. Chinese Bridge Competition in Changsha (8. July 2014)

10 chinese bridge competition

Thanks to the encouragement of one of the best Chinese teachers I had so far, I was selected to take part in this year’s Chinese Bridge Competition in China. Those two weeks were full of memorable moments and I have had the chance to meet brilliant people from all over the world.


11. First cinema visit with my husband (18. July 2014)

11 cinema

You read right. My husband has never been to the cinema. Always arguing that it is so much nicer to watch movies at home on the sofa off you tiny little laptop. The new Transformers in 3D has changed his world forever.



12. Training in Beijing’s Sports University (10. August 2014)

12 training

One of the best sport universities in China, I had the chance to train where Chinese Wushu stars have come to be, on the carpet Jet Li and Jackie Chan have been standing on. Adding an amazing group of dedicated kungfu people, it was definitely a great moment.



13. Climbing the Great Wall of China with my husband for the first time (13. August 2014)


13 great wallYes, my husband has never climbed the Great Wall. And the only time we went on holidays in Beijing back in 2011, we couldn’t make it to the Great Wall. So, when we finally got the chance back in August, it was a memorable moment. And even though he is too cool to admit it, it is also one of my husband’s memorable moments of 2014.


14. The day I finished my Masters dissertation (23. August 2014)

14 masters thesis

Everyone who has written a longer essay knows how stressful it can be. Writing a whole dissertation, outside of the country of your university (and access to your library) can be a insurmountable task. With distractions from morning till evening, straining my patience slow Chinese internet, and just hating to write those long works in general, I still made it through the 10.000 word dissertation. I am so proud of myself.

PS: I have passed the Master degree.

15. Moving in our first apartment in the city Bozhou (13. October 2014)

15 moving

After giving up the job in Shanghai, finishing my Master in London, I decided to move to Anhui, Bozhou to be closer to my husband and get rid of that long distance relationship once and for all. The day we finally moved into our first place, where bedroom and living room are separated and we have our own kitchen, was the best day of our relationship so far (ok, I am over exaggerating, there have been as equally great moments in our relationship, but for the sake of this post, stay with me).

16. The first birthday cake anyone ever made me in China (8. December 2014)

16 birthday

Actually, I was not looking forward to spend my birthday in Bozhou. But when the day arrived and one of my work colleagues put a self-made cake on my office table, I changed my mind. Sometimes things happen you don’t expect. Cherish them.



17. The day order for my pencil drawings started rolling in (12. December 2014)

17 fiverr

When I offered dead cheap pencil drawings on the internet, I never thought anyone would even be interested. Imagine how surprised I was when orders came in one after another. It gives an artist a great feeling and helped me to feel more confident about my art.



18. Launch of my new blog site (14. December 2014)

18 new blog

I had been working on a new design for three months. When the site finally went online and the responses where positive, it was a great feeling.




19. The first pictures I have seen of my grandparents in nearly 20 years (19. December 2014)

19 grandparents

Except my mother, the rest of my family still lives in Russia. I haven’t seen them since I can remember. The only photos I have of them are old ones when they visited us in Germany over 20 years ago. It was one of the happiest and moving moments when I opened my emails that day and had two photos of my grandparents and my uncle in my email account. There is nothing more precious than family.


 20. The first self-made pizza in a Chinese little oven (27. December 2014)

20 pizza

I know again one of those seemingly unspectacular things. But whoever has lived abroad knows the feeling of longing for mama’s home-made food. Chinese kitchens don’t come with an oven, and when I finally bought a small one and was able to bake cookies, cakes and a pizza, I felt a little bit more home here.



In addition, I wanted to thank everyone who has been a part of my journey this year. I am very thankful to be a part of such a supportive community. Jocelyn from Speaking of China has helped me to stay sane when I thought I might lose my mind. Thank you.


Also here are a few blogs that have inspired me this year:


Happy New Year to you all!


What were your best moments of 2014? Are you looking forward to 2015?




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Anna Z. is a freelance illustrator and portrait artist in her late 20s, with a passion for Martial Arts and Chinese culture, and is the creator of Lost Panda, a blog to China and Art. Together with her husband, a Chinese national, she writes about daily life in rural China, focusing on cultural and social differences and the joys (and sometimes difficulties) as an intercultural couple. Apart from China related topics, she publishes her artwork, photography, art material reviews and tutorials to help more people discover their creative side. She is fluent in German, English and Mandarin Chinese.

5 thoughts on “Top 20 Best Moments 2014

  1. What an amazing 2014 you had!! I hope the new year is everything you want it to be plus more!!

    I love your drawings – both with pencil and pastel!! You definitely have an amazing talent.

    And thanks for mentioning me!! I love reading your blog as well. :)

  2. Thank you for mentioning my blog :)

    Right now I am wondering why you don’t visit at some point your grandparents in Russia?

    Well, I am probably not the right person to say this as I havent visit my relatives in Russia for about 15 years either :P

    • I really want to, believe me! But first of all every time I would have the time to go, no one wants to go with me. And my family lives in Siberia, some not far from the Chinese border of Heilongjiang. That part of Russia is considered very very Russian, and I don’t speak very good Russian anymore. People would notice. And as that part is not as rich as the Moscow part of Russia, there are a lot of bad people, and my mother and my grandparents would never allow me to travel alone as a girl.
      Now this end of May my mom will finally be travelling all the way up to her parents. I really really wanted to join them with my husband, but if I leave China I will lose my Chinese visa. And I wouldn’t even know how to get a new Chinese visa in Russia (especially in that part of Russia) :( Plus, a flight from Harbin to my grandparents city costs over 4000RMB for one person, something we also cannot afford at the moment :( It’s very depressing…

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