Life and Plans

Pre-tryout nerves and how travel has made me feel (almost) invincible!

This weekend marks the start of the tryout season for club teams in my sport of ultimate. Commonly known as ultimate Frisbee (but for trademark reasons officially “ultimate”), this is a pretty intense sport that has dreams of someday being a part of the Olympics.

Featuring full field 7 on 7 gameplay, this is the sport I’ve played for nearly 16 years now. Time and experience doesn’t mean I’m spared from nerves and butterflies, but if I can travel the world solo, then I can do this!

At the top of Lion Rock Fortress in Sigiriya Sri Lanka

Me at the top of Lion Rock Fortress in Sigiriya, Sri Lanka

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Lessons from living in 3 of the most expensive cities in the world

Sometimes where you live determines the standard of living you can afford. It can be a harsh reality, or something you deal with and plan for.

Over the last 5 years, I’ve lived in 3 of the most expensive cities in the world: New York, Singapore and London. Although salaries are generally higher in these cities to match the cost of living, if you are a poor student like me then you still need to be a bit careful with your money. Here’s what I learned from living in some of the most notoriously money-sucking cities of the world.

Snow covered Riverside Park in New York City

Snow covered Riverside Park in New York City

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On living at home into my thirties

I’ve been home in New York City for about three full weeks now. Home as in the hometown I grew up in, but also home as in with my parents in the apartment I grew up in. Although I’m living at home and in my thirties now, I can’t think of anywhere else I’d rather be. I haven’t gone completely insane yet, but I might be reaching my limit. There are some cons, but the pros outweigh them by far!

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I got home in time for a few snow storms in New York!

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On doing what you came to do (~1 month post PhD hand-in)

The dust has settled on the submission of my PhD thesis, and now I can think back on this whole process. I left to travel 5 days after handing in my PhD, to give myself physical and mental distance from it all.

As I’m writing this in a hipster cafe in Phnom Penh, it feels a little surreal. Did I really do that?

At the top of Lion Rock Fortress in Sigiriya

Climbing hills: this one is the Lion Rock Fortress in Sigiriya, Sri Lanka (2.5 weeks post hand-in)

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A quick and dirty Annual Review for 2016

This is coming a little late because…I just finished writing up my PhD thesis!

Besides that, it has been a big year for many people in many places. I was in London as Brexit broke the news. I felt proud when I mailed in my ballot for the US election, but then felt deflated as I waited up past 4:30 AM London time to watch the results coming in. There were some ups, though, amidst all the downs. I welcomed a new family member, and packed up my things to move back home to New York.

Last year, I wrote several blog posts for my annual review (following the style of Chris Guillebeau of the Art of Nonconformity, who has mixed up his style a little this year). I don’t think I will do a full review here again at least this time, so here is a summary of my 2016.
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Laptop on table on roof garden with blue skies

How travel is helping me finish my PhD

No question, travel is awesome. Even though I’ve been a poor grad student with lots of deadlines, I’ve managed to travel during PhD things and wouldn’t want it any other way!

These are the last few months of my PhD before I have to hand in, and travel is helping me get there. How? Let me explain.

Any excuse to travel

While I’ve been lucky to have a major move between Singapore and London built into my PhD program, I’ve also taken opportunities to go to regional conferences while based in both places. When I didn’t have a PhD related reason to travel, I would try to go home to New York. Having a young nephew and niece, this was important for me so I wouldn’t feel like I was missing everything. Continue Reading

Scattered leaves on grass

Leaving London, life and moving on

That’s it, I’m done with London! Although my student visa for the UK goes until May 2017, I’m leaving London in 2 months. Not that there is anything wrong with London. It’s just not working out for me at the moment given life and circumstances.

How I got here

I’m in a joint PhD program that allowed me to spend half the time in Singapore and half in London. I lived in Singapore for most of 2013 and 2014. In January 2015, I moved to London with the intention of staying through until I finished my PhD. I kept my mind open to the idea of staying in London, but wasn’t sure either way. Now a few short months from finishing, I had to decide how I would deal with my living and financial situation. Continue Reading

PhD: the final six months

This month marks the start of the half year of my PhD that I have left before my submission deadline. Since it’s pretty much a hard deadline, I have to take this time seriously. This is where I scream and pull my hair out.

Actually, no! I’m not going to do that.

Instead I’m going to tell you about what I’ve been thinking about lately about the whole PhD thing and how I’m going to tackle the last bit of it! I don’t know if all will go according to plan, but it never does anyway! The important thing here is that I’ve kinda figured out how to deal with it and I haven’t been freaking out about it.
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