Since we got back to Zagreb, the skies have opened up. We were dreaming of spending happy afternoons walking everywhere in this fine city, enjoying beers and sandwiches in the parks here, newly greened under trees with their spring foliage, but were only able to do it once, thanks to the frequent showers. Despite that, however, it has been a joy to be back here in this city, which is blessedly flat in comparison to Dubrovnik. We even saw a corgi two days ago, which Steve and I both regard to be the height of auspicious signs.
To briefly illustrate our (mostly boring) activities this past week, we’ve been doing housekeeping and shopping, catching up on the things that we’ve been too busy to take care of these past months. I found a great art supply store half a block from our apartment and went on a shopping splurge, buying a real watercolor pad with heavy watercolor paper (the kind that’s 300 g/m^2), three brushes of varying sizes and shapes, and even blank watercolor postcards so I can draw some scenes for those at home. Price tag? $30 USD. Watercolors have turned out to be a great hobby to pick up — it appeals to my sense of creativity and the steep learning curve has taught me a lot, from how to mix colors to using perspective (something I haven’t done since Mr. Harris’s 8th grade art class) and how to hold a brush. But more importantly, since I find a lot of inspiration in our surroundings, it makes for a beautiful record of our time here. I have to thank Steve’s best friend Andrew, who is an awesome designer, for giving me a push and nudge in that direction!
Next, I ventured into some hair salons down the street and for the steep price of 300 kuna (~60 USD), got my hair re-dyed. It’s now a dark red-violet, slightly different from the color I got in Taiwan, but I absolutely love it, because it’s both subtle and gorgeous. True story: I always thought it would be too much trouble to dye my hair, especially a vibrant color like red, because I’d have to get the black bleached first. But it’s just been a breeze both times, where they just applied the dye and let it sit for 45 minutes. I feel comfortable with doing my roots at home now, so we should be keeping this color for a while. I don’t know if I’ll ever get used to having black hair again after this!
Steve has found his stride in programming since we got into Croatia, and he’s been working on two separate projects that hopefully he’ll eventually get around to chronicling here, but suffice it to say that he’s finally recovering his productivity after setbacks in Thailand and India. Bear with my short retrospective in photos here:
One of the tough lessons we’ve had to learn is that travel is really a full-time job. If you want to thoroughly immerse yourself in the culture, daily life, cuisine, and language of the places you’re visiting, there’s just a billion things to learn, absorb, and understand. There’s hardly time, let alone and more-importantly, the mental space and frame of mind left over to focus on your unrelated pursuits. For me, it’s been easier to focus on taking more pictures, making art of our experiences, and writing about travel in the blog instead of creating a website about career videos, which is something I started working on in Taiwan.
For Steve, it’s been more difficult to focus on his work, because it doesn’t dovetail directly with our day-to-day experiences that are so all-consuming. Also, people seem to think programming is one of those professions you can do anywhere because it only requires a computer and an Internet connection, but that’s just not true — you need a comfortable work-space and up to several hours of uninterrupted time to truly be productive and effective at writing code and debugging it. The same goes for the Microeconomics course I’m currently taking online — reading and taking notes on this is just not something I can pick up and leave off any time I’d like, and having a comfortable apartment is something that we’ve learned to spend our resources on, given how much work we do at home.
Finally, the biggest piece of news we have to share is that we’re headed to Durham this fall! I wrapped up the graduate school application process last week by submitting my deposit at Duke University for their Masters in Public Policy. I haven’t discussed it here as much as I wanted to, partially because it’s been such a work-in-progress. I’ve been preparing to apply to graduate school for nearly two years, and when I started writing about that process, I couldn’t restrict myself to just a few paragraphs. I ended up crafting a much longer post about applying to graduate school on my personal blog about public policy and other matters, so if you’re curious, enjoy!