πŸŽ’ The 2018 Year In Review β€” US Academic Exchange, WordCamp, Open Source, & Travelling

It’s probably quite late to publish the 2018 review β€” ikr. But the more I read the year in reviews of fellow devs, the more I feel inclined towards documenting my own. It’s amazing to see what you have accomplished in the previous years and where you’re headed down the road. On the top, you get to analyze and align your track.

For me, 2018 has been a phenomenal year both in terms of personal and professional growth. I got to travel a lot, advocate my views, organize meetups, contribute to the Open Source, and met a lot of new friends from around the globe. And yes, I got to attend a WordCamp too!!

saqib ameen - year in review 2018 main header

πŸ”₯ TheDevCouple β€” F/OSS Contributions & Reviews

It’s been almost two years now, I have been working with the incredible team at TheDevCouple. We, at TheDevCouple, produce some solid and extensive reviews of some awesome products and contribute to the Open Source. That’s the reason every member at TheDevCouple is a WordPress Contributor. πŸ’―

Like 2017, I got to review some great products along the awesome colleagues in 2018. Some of which mounting up-to 5,000+ words. They contain great facts and insights about the products. If you’re confused about a product (we reviewed), you should definitely check out the review.

πŸ’» WordPress Hosting Week 2018 is definitely a highlight of 2018. So we featured some great WordPress hosting providers throughout the week. It included players like Kinsta, WPEngine, LiquidWeb, and CloudWays. Lots of interesting stuff got published in the week. πŸŽ‰

In terms of F/OSS, I got to contribute to multiple projects at various levels. During the process, I not only got to know GitHub better but also reading other’s code helped a lot. In fact, I would say, reading other’s code helped me write code better β€” readable and maintainable. Check out my GitHub profile β†’.

🎯 Meetups β€” JavaScript, Serverless, WordPress, and Much More…

If you don’t know already, I am an organizer of DigitalOcean and WordPress community meetups. I have been organizing meetups for well over more than two years now. Over the course of two years, we have been able to massively increase community engagement. Personally, it has been an amazing experience in managing events and giving back to the community.

I’m going to list down highlights of a few meetups from the 2018.

⚑️ WordPress & JavaScript Meetup 2018


WordPress & JavaScript Meetup 2018

This was the first meetup of 2018 which I organized, probably in January 2018. The main theme of the meetup was JavaScript and WordPress. Ulrich Pogson also joined us for a talk all the way from Switzerland. He is a WordCamp organizer, WordPress Contributor, and a part of WordPress theme reviewing team.

Ulrich gave a talk on the process of theme reviewing and what they look for in a theme before approving it. Also, he talked about his experience of organizing WordCamps and how one can get involved in it. It was great to have him onboard.

Also, Ahmad Awais gave a talk on the state of JS. He primarily talked about ES6/7/8, async/await, and in general where JS is headed. It was followed by Q/A on career choices, whether or not JS is a good bet and server-less tech.

πŸ”₯ WordPress 15th Birthday #WP15 & Azure Serverless Talk


Another meetup from 2018, organized in May to celebrate the 15th birthday of WordPress. We had a cake, lots of pizza, DigitalOcean & WordPress Swag items, and of course discussion on Azure Serverless. Unlike our other meetups, it was more of like a celebration and discussion.

That’s the last meetup I got to organize in 2018, coz I got to spend rest of the year in US. More details below!

πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡ΈπŸ‡΅πŸ‡° US Academic Exchange

The key highlight of 2018 β€” US Academic Exchange. So, I was selected as an exchange student at the University of Minnesota (U of M) – Twin Cities, by the Bureau of Educational & Cultural Affairs Exchange Programs. I got to study a complete semester at the U of M. Being in the US meant tons of opportunities for me to learn, explore, travel, and meet new people.

πŸ¦„ It’s impossible for me to pen-down every bit of my experience. Words have a limit. There are moments in life which can only be felt.

As a part of this program, I got to represent Pakistan at 17+ conferences around the United States as a Cultural Ambassador of Pakistan. It helped me fight the fear of public speaking, practice advocacy skills, and get to know some amazing people. Apart from these, it also left an impression on my values, perception, and ethics. πŸ’―

Also, I got to observe the US people, their culture, and the education system closely. Talking about American People β€” they are amazing!!! They are courteous more than you can imagine. Something, in particular, you’ll get to hear the word sorry a lot, I mean a lot! And more than often you’ll find a person walking next to you holding the door for you. Those little things make a difference!

Regarding education, I studied Computer Science at the U of M. It was a pretty good experience to sit in a class full of international students and talk about different ideas. I took a Master’s level course along with a few other courses. Also, I ended up scoring a 4.0 and made it to CSE Dean’s Honor List. πŸ’ƒ

✈️ Traveling

I love traveling! I have been to the UK/EU in 2016. Last year, I got to travel more than ever. I have been to New York, Massachusetts, Washington D.C, Florida, Wisconsin, Minnesota (obviously), Utah, Las Vegas (🀫), and California. Every state has something unique and interesting to offer.

I loved my time in New York, California, and Florida, in particular, due to different reasons. If you ever go to Florida to visit Universal Studios, go early in the morning and spend the whole day! You’ll hardly be able to visit it completely. Themed parks and rides are so much fun!

The busyness, nightlife, skyline, and diversity of New York mesmerize me. I have been pretty much all the famous places in New York. Never miss a sunset at Brooklyn Bridge β€” my DP? Yes, you got me! Last but not least, I did a road trip to California, all the way from San Diego up to San Francisco. And I don’t have words to describe it. 🎯

So, I have been pretty much to the all-time zones of the US. There’s a whole great lot to share, but it’s hard to get it all down. I have a treasure of memories and pictures which I post often on Instagram. You can follow me on Instagram for some amazing pictures from my travelings. 🀞

Universal Island of Adventure β€” Orlando, FL

πŸ’― WordCamp Minneapolis 2018

It finally happened! After using WordPress for quite a while now, I got to attend WordCamp Minneapolis 2018. I mean, I was doing academic exchange at the U of M and fortunately, WordCamp Minneapolis 2018 was happening at U of M McNamara Alumni Center. What else you could ask for! 🀘

I went ahead and volunteer to help organize the WordCamp. This way, I got to both attend the WordCamp and got an idea of what goes behind organizing such a huge event. So, it was a three day event, jam-packed with tons of speakers and incredible people from around the US.

The first day was reserved for workshops and next day there was a keynote talk by the Michelle Schulp followed by other talks for two days. I attended multiple talks, particularly on Gutenberg and content strategies. Also, I got to meet a lot of people and collect tons of swag items. 😁

So, yes! Achievement unlocked!!!

Keynote talk at WC MSP 2018
Keynote Talk at WC MSP 2018

πŸ₯‚ Open Source Contribution

So the streak of contributing to Open Source continued last year as well. Not only did I contributed to Open Source projects, but also started open sourcing my side projects and term projects. And believe me, the response is always overwhelming when someone reaches you out to talk about your open source software or need some help! Open Source FTW!!!

Last year, I became Local Manager for managing Urdu Locale for WordPress. I contributed a great amount of time managing the translations. Had a really bad time as well during the process. It hurts so much when you give your time and energy to the Open Source and still you have to listen to the people. However, we managed to have WordPress v4.7, 4.8, 4.9, and 5.0 all 100% translated into Urdu.

Another amazing happening in this regard was getting props for contributing to VSCode. So, I got a mention in the v1.29 release of VSCode in efforts for localization. BTW, VSCode with Shades of Purple is my go-to code editor. Also, I took VSCode Power User course by the amazing and inspiring Ahmad Awais. You should definitely check it out to become a VSCode Ninja!

VSCode Props

πŸ’ͺ What’s Next!?

I’m super excited for 2019 and there are multiple reasons for that. First thing first, a few things which gonna remain this year as well include organizing meetups, contributing to the open source, and traveling. But a few things are going to change this year.

I have been working for over the past two years contributing to open source, doing projects, freelancing, and organizing the events. Which has contributed a lot in gaining experience and getting good at what I do. But soon I’m going to graduate and will be taking a full-time role as a developer.

Down the year, I plan to further work on my JS skills. In particular, I’m looking forward to learning JS testing. Apart from that, I plan to develop a Gatsby blog theme and move my blog. I guess that’s basically all on top of my plate right now.

And, yes if you’re looking to hire an experienced all-rounder who can write good code and advocate for you against a JavaScript (React, in particular) and front end position, reach me out.

Wish me luck for my endeavors down the road and let’s get in touch on Twitter.


Last but not least, this section is the most important one and dedicated to all the awesome people who inspire me and made me what I am today. It would be an injustice if I don’t start with my incredibly hardworking mentor Ahmad Awais β€” you should definitely definitely follow him for some crazy awesome stuff. And the wonderful Maedah Batool β€” an inspiring superwoman who contributes to open source and making remarkable efforts to teach girls how to code in the local community.

A few other people, primarily related JS, who inspire me every day include Sarah Drasner, Brian Holt, Dan Abramov, Sindre Sorhus, Kent C. Dodds, Ryan Florence and so many more. And this list definitely tend to grow more this year!

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