Meanwhile, In San Francisco.

Outerlands

Back in San Francisco, life has returned to normal. Which is to say, generally avoiding writing my thesis with excuses like, “it’s so pretty outside!” And lets be honest, after living in Dublin for nine months, sun really feels like a drug, one I need to soak up before returning in six (gasp!) weeks. I don’t normally procrastinate academically, I pride myself on getting my work done about as fast as its given out. The truth is, that’s because I wouldn’t want something like a term paper to dampen the possibility of jetting off to Rome with my girlfriends. Regardless of the motivation, I tend to have little academic stress these days. So, why, here in the Bay Area have I taken to staring longingly outside, with my laptop propped open and notes strewn about in the vague hope they’ll jump onto my screen and arrange themselves into a semblance of a thesis? Why don’t I just write the thing? I mean, I am. Albiet, much slower and more begrudgingly than is probably appropriate.

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Travel, and What it Can’t Erase.

Home.

Home.

None of us like to admit it. Especially those of us who deem ourselves “travelers.” We fly (train, boat, walk, run) around the world waxing lyrical about how beautiful other cultures are, and how we’ve all been changed. And I think this is especially true of young American travelers. We want desperately to remove ourselves from the stereotype of the “Ugly American Tourist.” We admonish the seriously out of whack ideals of American culture that tells us money and a successful career determine your self-worth. We hate commercialism, we are so above that. But if travel, and in particular living in Europe has forced me to realize anything, it’s that for better or worse, I am (we are) absolute products of our culture. I know, it’s almost too obvious, but for those of us who look at much American culture and grimace, it’s hard to admit that it is indeed, deeply engrained in our being. The good, and the ugly. Not to say we can’t change, I know I have. But there it is, constantly in the back of our beings, shaping decisions and perceptions.  Continue reading

A Surprising Discovery in Studying Public Health

It's Christmas Time in Dublin!

It’s Christmas Time in Dublin!

It’s nearly Christmas here in Dublin! My first semester of grad school comes to a close in 48 hours. Well, mostly-there’s still this pesky thesis proposal that’s been sitting half finished for the past few weeks I need to tackle-but that’s an aside. The first semester was, despite a fair bit of fear mongering on the administration side, quite good. And not at all overwhelming, challenging to be sure, but manageable. The key, as it always is, is not to procrastinate and everything will subsequently go quite smoothly. I’ve learned a lot, and could hold many a discussion on health policy, economics, or epidemiology. And I’m glad to have gotten this education outside the states. It’s given me an exceptionally unique vantage point most Americans trained in the system don’t have. Not to say it’s better, just different. But there’s been this one little thing that’s been underlying everything, and causes great concern for a future career in public health. Continue reading

The Beginning: Week One-Grad School.

I’m watching the red tilted plastic clock that’s been haphazardly placed on the whiteboard tray, the minutes tick by at an excruciatingly slow pace. This feels, strangely familiar. At the end of our orientation week, an event that involved the highs of meeting new friends and the lows of what I consider academic bullying, we were given a writing test. Three questions, worded in such a way that you spent most of the time decoding the grammar, two hours, and a 600 word essay to read. All to determine what sort of “academic support” we would need throughout the year. I wonder if they’ll give us color coded stickers that indicate our academic ability like in grade school. I was done thirty minutes into it. This is probably not a good thing. But it was convient, as that’s when my hand began cramping up from having not handwritten anything substantial in the past few years. It felt like a dirty trick. I felt defeated. I didn’t trust our course director after having us schlep around Dublin for nearly ten miles the previous day on a evil scavenger hunt that would not end. And then having the audacity to quiz  us on trivial things the next day. It’s been an interesting first week. Continue reading