I mentioned before that cooking was one reason why I’m not living on campus. Now that courses are over, I’m going to try to cook most of my meals…except for a few special occasions with friends. Besides, the canteen (aka cafeteria) closest to our lab space is starting to be a bit repetitive and boring for me. They should really invest in some better food stalls to fuel the brains of the next generation of scientists!
Finally, a trip out of Singapore! I’ve been here for 4 months and in June I’ll finally be doing some actual traveling. I know I haven’t done much in general, but now with courses being done, I’ll dedicate some time for exploration within Singapore! Yesterday, I booked my flights to Tokyo for an ultimate tournament that is a 4 hour drive into the mountains on June 1st – 2nd. It is a place called Sugadaira, and it is in the Nagano Prefecture near where they had the winter olympics a while back, at a ski resort. I’m sticking around for about 4 and a half days after that, so if you have any suggestions on where to go or what to eat, put it in the comments!
One of my favorite parts about playing ultimate is going to tournaments. Not only do I get to play ultimate against other teams and meet new people, but I also get to bond with my teammates and grow closer to them. On a side note, I need to brush up on my Japanese, so I’ve been using the website Memrise. I found out about it from a blogger Benny Lewis who has learned a lot of languages! I like his recent post on quotes to inspire language learning. It is decent so far. There isn’t a lot of emphasis on learning the written language though, and they don’t go much into explaining the different bits of the language. It is good for use as delayed recognition flash cards with photos or images associated with words and phrases.
Oh, another exciting bit, so for this flight, I used about 39,000 reward points from my Chase credit card. This means I paid no money for this flight that is worth about $480 USD! This is the most I’ve redeemed in way of miles or points for flights. (This is great news for my budget hehe) I did redeem a short one way flight from Tempe, AZ to Seattle, OR in December to visit some friends. That flight was worth about 12,000 points. I’m hoping to use the rest of my points for hotels and things for when I’m in Japan, because it can be an expensive country!
I’ve been here for nearly 4 months now, but I feel like it has been much shorter! So it goes, right? Anyway, I thought I should give a round up of what I’ve been spending my time doing
How I split my time:
- classes, about 7 hours a week (classes ended last week)
- teaching assistant, about 4 to 7 hours a week depending on how much time I need to prepare and if I’m doing grading
- ultimate practice, about 3 times a week (2 weeknights @ 2.5 hours, Saturdays @ 4 to 7 hours, but we’ve had the past few weeks off for exams, etc.)
Crossed off my to do list:
- I filed my US tax return!
- 1 research paper (handed it in 4 days ago)
- 67 hours as a teaching assistant (out of a required 144 during my 4 year program)
- Booked flights home to NYC
- 1 final exam
- Book flights to Thailand and Japan
- Submit an essay to a competition on sustainable development goals
Even though I’ve done a lot of things, I feel like I haven’t made enough progress on my PhD things. There is a lot of pressure on us, and on my advisor, for us to really get research going. It is typical in my department for PhD students to present results and already have some papers submitted for publication by the time they defend their PhD research proposal for the qualifying examination. This usually is scheduled for about 1.5 to maximum 2 years into the program.
I’m definitely taking on fewer teaching hours next semester. I had thought that since this is my first semester, I wouldn’t be doing much research anyway so doing a few more teaching hours would be good for getting a head start on the required number of hours. I don’t regret that decision, but I do know that I cannot take on as many hours for next semester. That said, it was nice to interact with undergraduates and try to help them out with their writing skills (though this got frustrating at times).
I bought flights to return home to New York City for 2 weeks in June! It’ll be nice to back in the city and recharge a bit after this semester.
I’m really grateful to my dad who offered to pay for my flight (roundtrip Singapore to Beijing to New York on Air China ~$1,240 USD), otherwise I would not be able to afford to go home this soon because the cost is so high and it is prime travel season for New York. I feel bad for taking his money, but I also really want to see my family and new nephew.
- Spend time with family
- Get to know my new nephew, who is going to be born at any moment now! [Insert jokes about my sister going to explode and/or pop]
- Hang out with friends
- Go see my friends play in a professional ultimate league game
- Celebrate my birthday
- Cook with my dad
- And…also get a lot of work done
I can’t believe my sister is giving birth soon. I missed the entire second half of her pregnancy, so the last time I saw her, her belly was much smaller than it is now. She sent me some photos of her recently, and her belly is huge! She also sent a photo from the 4D imaging that shows his little face! It completely blows my mind that we have technology that allows you to see the details of your baby’s face while still in the womb!
Something that I miss about NYC, besides family and friends, is the general feeling that you know a place. I don’t feel like I know Singapore yet. In NY, I have favorite places and I know my way around. Even if I’m not familiar with an area, there is a feeling of knowing the place. Maybe this will develop as I spend more time in Singapore, but it may not ever fully develop.
Some things that I absolutely DO NOT miss about NYC are the dirty looks or stares from men and generally feeling like I’m being hit on or womanized. They don’t even have to say anything. I can feel their eyes. This is the one thing that I feel more and more strongly about NY, and which might eventually make it hard to go back and live there again. Sure, it is great to be young and fit and attract attention, but over time it just makes you feel more and more grimy. A close friend of mine live deeper in Harlem than I do, and she had some very very bad experiences. Thankfully, she isn’t living there anymore, but I hope that she is coping well and hasn’t let it affect her now.
These are some things I’ve been thinking about regarding my move from the US to Singapore. I’m going home in June for a few weeks, so I’ve also been thinking about what I’ll bring over from the US and what I might want to bring home to NY.
Worst decisions (ok, some of these are not that bad…)
5. Wireless keyboard – I bought a solar powered wireless keyboard using a gift card and brought it along with me, even though I knew I may not have a need for it. I just started using it at school, but only after setting it up so that I can connect my laptop to the monitor.
4. Underwear – The type of underwear was not the bad part of the decision. (I bought some Patagonia and Eastern Mountain Sports underwear, see also best decisions.) It was the amount that I bought. I didn’t end up needing as many because I tend to do laundry pretty often (a function of #2, see below).
3. Foldable duffel – This is also on the best decision list. It is hard to roll around, especially when heavy! The foldable part about it makes it really unstructured and saggy. It was a pain to move from where I was staying to where I’m living now.
2. Not enough ultimate clothes – I could use a few more jerseys and pairs of socks. It isn’t like I’m reusing socks or anything, but I’m going to go through these 3 pairs pretty soon…I tend to have enough jerseys, but if I play a lot of ultimate in a single week it gets pretty close. Plus, I don’t have a few basic colors!
1. LUSH – This is the number 1 silliest decision I made! I didn’t bring enough LUSH items with me (shampoo, conditioner, etc). They are available here, but at least 40-50% more expensive.
Ok, now on to the good stuff!
5. Waterproof stuff sack – My backpacks are not waterproof, and living in a place like Singapore where it could rain at any point during the day, it is good to keep my cell phone and other small electronics in.
4. Hat – I have a good hat with me that I wear pretty much every day. It is sunny here, and we are close to the equator, so it is good for protecting my face and keeping the sun out of my eyes when the sun is high. Sometimes, I do break out the umbrella to shield myself from the sun, though. But, this is also a good hat is good for playing ultimate in and if I didn’t have it, playing ultimate for several hours in the sun every week would bake me alive!
3. Foldable duffel – This is also on the worst decision list (see above). I bought a foldable duffel to bring my things over in. It is large and can fit a lot of things, and now only takes up a little bit of space in the shared closet in my apartment!
2. Moisture wicking clothing – I bought moisture wicking underwear and merino wool shirts, and I haven’t had a bad underwear day yet in humid and muggy Singapore. The shirts still get a little damp from sweat sometimes, but I don’t freeze when I go into air conditioned rooms.
1. Refurbished 13 inch MacBook Air – The number 1 best decision was when I was deciding what to get to replace my 5 year old laptop. That old thing was my first Mac, and I knew I would go with Apple again but I wasn’t sure in what form. There was a laptop that I used for work that I could try to buy from my employer, but I ultimately decided instead to buy a refurbished 13 inch MacBook Air. Best decision ever! For the longest time, I wasn’t considering the 13 inch but had been thinking about buying the 15 inch MacBook Pro off of my employer and then maybe getting the 11 inch MacBook Air as my mobile computing device. After some thoughts contributed by friends and family, I realized that it would be really silly and burdensome to have 2 computers, and also that having a light computer was a HUGE priority for me. And so, I have my 13 inch MacBook Air and I’m super happy! [PS. I asked my sisters for this for my birthday!]