Tag Archives: grad school

Packing is hell.

As I write this, our apartment looks an unholy mess. My desk is overflowing with books and papers, pens and knickknacks. Our furniture has been sold and given away, and piles of books, clothing, papers, and belongings sit directly on the floor. So many things are seemingly too relevant to throw away, but not important enough to fit in a few small suitcases.

That’s right. We’re on the move again. I have mixed feelings about all this, the chiefest of which is…

Tired, because we just got back from a four-day weekend trip to DC, where we got in quality hangout time with two sets of friends, visited the National Air and Space Museum, and applied for 10 year-Chinese visas at the embassy. We’re also packing everything up, of course, and selling and giving away what we’re not packing/ storing. We’ve done a good job of getting rid of things, so that moving isn’t the exact hellish experience it has been before, but it’s still bad enough to make Steve throw up his hands in the middle of everything, and exclaim that we should just give it all away.

Excited, because I’m pursuing some job opportunities in Taipei (the holy land). Out of a desire not to jinx anything or overcount my chickens, I won’t talk too much about it, but it seems like it may actually be possible to get that perfect trifecta: to work in education evaluation and work, live in Taipei, and be paid a decent salary. We’ll cross our fingers for now…

Sad, because we’re leaving Durham. It’s been a good home for two years if lacking the excitement and hum of the big city like Chicago or L.A. or even Boston. I will more than miss all the friends I’ve made at school in the past two years, but even if I were to stay here, it won’t be the same. What I will ache for sometimes is walking into an airy, vibrant, bright building where friends sit around every corner, and I can poke my head into a dozen offices to say hi to someone I know. I will miss all the opportunities to work on fun things, to make changes for our cohort, program, and university. I will miss running into professors and staff and PhD students who care about the same things that I do too.

More emotions on the way, but sleepiness is taking over. In four days, we’ll be out of here and to Greenville for a few weeks to regroup. I’ll write more then!

Statistics, social programs, and why do an evaluation.

Written on the 473
From Taipei to Taichung
Sunday, June 21, 8:17 pm

It’s Sunday, and I’m just two short hours away from being back in Taichung and seeing Steve again! A two-week separation has been difficult, but I’ve had a lot of fun in Taipei, and Steve has learned a lot of Chinese. The long weekend for the Dragon Boat Festival (端午节) means the trains are packed with people going home and coming back to work. Since I have some time, I’ll write a bit more about my internship, especially since it’s more than half over already!

When I started talking to the Taiwan Fund for Children and Families back in January about an internship, I knew three things: I wanted to do something quantitative with either economics or statistics; I wanted to learn more professional Chinese, since all my public policy training is in English; I wanted to experience the work environment in Asia, since we’re interested in moving to this continent (and very likely, this island!). By mid-March, we had hammered out two projects for the internship. Continue reading Statistics, social programs, and why do an evaluation.

Journey to the east!!

In just about another week, our travels are about to start up again! On May 4, we leave Durham, North Carolina, where we’ve lived for the past eight months, and on May 7, we board a flight for Taiwan once more. To our immense delight, I found a very promising summer internship in Taichung, Taiwan, for a national social service organization. That means Steve and I are gearing up for another few whirlwind months of travel in Asia!!

This summer is going to be quite a different animal from our World Tour, which occupied us for eleven months and almost as many countries. I have a ten-week internship which will keep me largely occupied in Taichung. On the other hand, as a part of my internship, I will be visiting local branches and sites across the island for a few weeks. I’m hoping that we’ll be able to check out different cities and towns in this way, maybe some places we’ve been, but maybe some new and different places too! In late July, we’ll have a few weeks to spend in our favorite places (probably Kaohsiung and Taipei) before flying to Hong Kong for nearly a week in early August, and then it’s back to the States.

I hope to spend some time blogging about the new challenges of traveling and living in Taichung. It seems again a different city from Taipei, which is large and metropolitan, Tainan, which is picturesque and historical, and Kaohsiung, which was industrial but has now reinvented itself as a very livable place and the center of southern Taiwan. From what we’ve gleaned, Taichung is more industrial and gritty, and we look forward to trying it out. Working for an organization is going to be much different than just traveling around Taiwan as well. I’m looking forward to working with the youth capacity-building program at this organization, which should really be pretty interesting. I anticipate the language and cultural barriers to be the most imposing part. While I have pretty much full conversational fluency in Mandarin, I do fall apart and splutter when faced with the challenges of technical and professional language. How do I even talk about policy analysis in Chinese? What are the vocabulary words? I barely remember the words for microeconomics and statistics! It’s going to be a challenge, to say the least.

Meanwhile, Steve and I are preparing the apartment for our subletter, starting to pack away the things we need, and oh, yes, I am also finishing my finals for spring semester. It’s going to be a busy few weeks and a very busy summer! Stay tuned for more details.


Have you ever seen the rain coming down on a sunny day?

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.

Drawing tulips with my new supplies!

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!  Continue reading Have you ever seen the rain coming down on a sunny day?

Five Things We’ve Been Up To

Since we’ve been up to a hodgepodge of things, which is too hard to pigeonhole into categories, just enjoy a run-down of five things we’ve been doing recently!

1. Still photography. One of the things that I really want to do is get better at photography; I like taking a lot of pictures of different things I find beautiful, but my technique is really just point-and-shoot. The rest is the gorgeous DSLR camera my mother gave me for my birthday two years ago. Some of it has turned out nicely. Some of it looks silly enough that I don’t even want to put it up on Flickr yet. Here, have one of the more mundane samples that I like somehow!

Our makeshift utensil jar.

Continue reading Five Things We’ve Been Up To