Trapped in Paradise – the DC Edition

Part travel blog, part philosophical musings. All tongue-in-cheek ridiculousness.


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Study abroad, week 1: School, food, Cubs

What a way to start off the day! I declined to watch the World Series final since it started at 2am here in Israel, and had hoped to wake up to news that the Chicago Cubs had prevailed. However, when my alarm went off at 6:00 this morning, I discovered that the game was still going on with a 10th inning and a rain delay! Needless to say, I postponed my morning run to watch the stunning conclusion.

cubs-win

Obviously it was destiny!

I’m not even a baseball fan. I guess you could say that I get to be a Cubs fan by marriage since Chuck had spent several years in Chicago and loves his team, but even that’s a stretch. However, everyone loves a good story, and who out there was not rooting for the Cubs to win it all? (Other than Cleveland, of course.) Congratulations to the team and to their fans, this truly was a game for the ages!

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Today, Bill Murray is all of us.

Anyway, classes started this week and I have to say, any reservations I had about studying abroad have gone out the window. The quality of instructors here at TAU is quite high, and the classes are interesting. Plus, this school seems to be strong in areas where my home university is a little bit lacking, so I’m thrilled that I’ll be able to fill in some of the gaps in my education.

Plus, we get to do cool things like open the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange.

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“All I see is signs, all I see is dollar signs…”

Many of my international classmates didn’t think this was a big deal, but I’d seen plenty of famous figures, celebrities, and sports stars open the NYSE in past years. You’d better believe that I elbowed my way to the front of the group so that I could have my hand on the button!

Last weekend, I also got to experience a bit of culture in the form of my first Shabbat dinner with a local family. One of my roommate’s parents had a work colleague living in Tel Aviv, and they were kind enough to invite us over for a traditional Jewish dinner last Friday night.

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SO MUCH DELICIOUS FOOD OMG

This was such a cool experience, and not just because this was my first time being exposed to Jewish culture. Despite our Catholic upbringing my own family is skimpy on traditions, and the family get-together is unfortunately becoming more sparse in a lot of American households. Truthfully, the only real formal dinner we ever have is on Thanksgiving (and even then, it’s hard to get all the adult children under one roof) so it’s wonderful that these families manage to do this at least once a week!

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Where I come from, family gatherings are little less relaxing.

I do have a tiny confession, though – before the meal, when the challah bread was dipped in the salt (which I learned is a tradition of its own) my initial thought was, “oh good, now I have guest right and I don’t have to worry about being killed tonight.” Clearly I’ve been watching too much Game of Thrones.

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No Red Weddings here!

In all seriousness, the dinner was wonderful, and the family who hosted us was so kind and generous. The hospitality of the Israelis I’ve met so far has been unparalleled. It’s only been two weeks! I can’t wait to see what else is in store.


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Post-vacation blues

…And just like that, it’s over.

vacation is over

It’s always such a letdown coming home after a long trip, even if that trip involved a ton of work and not as much leisure time as you would have liked. We’ve been working toward the China trip since the beginning of the year, so now that it’s finally over, I kind of don’t know what to do with myself. Yeah, I still need to write about Beijing (which was a BLAST) but now that the summer break has finally begun I need to finally figure out what I’m doing for the next few months.

On my short list of things to do:

  1. Get an internship
  2. Get caught up on Game of Thrones
  3. Go grocery shopping

Okay, not necessarily in that order. Obviously GOT was first, because everyone and their mom was posting spoilers on social media! I was logging on to Facebook just long enough to post pictures from China (and therefore letting my family know I was still alive without having to actually call home) and trying to close the screen before I could see anyone else’s updates, and I was still able to piece together what had happened to Hodor. Ugh, the internet annoys me sometimes.

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Even in a communist country where the government censors the internet!

On the internship piece, good news! After all my struggles over the semester, I was finally able to secure something right after I returned from China. I was really worried about this, since I had been getting requests for interviews while I was abroad, but thanks to China’s strict government regulation of their internet, my connectivity was intermittent at best. Using a VPN helped (I had fairly good luck with ExpressVPN, utilizing their 30-day free trial period) but it still wasn’t 100% reliable. Therefore, I had lost out on a few opportunities and there was nothing I could do about it.

Thankfully, on my last night in Shanghai, I was able to schedule an interview with a local start-up for after I got back into DC. The interview went well, and the next day I was told I had the job. Oh THANK GOD. Sitting under the cloud of impending unemployment was not a fun experience, especially since they’re always telling MBAs that if you don’t get an internship, your prospects for employment after graduation are next to nothing.

unemployed

MBA Class of 2017

So with 2/3 of my short list taken care of (I still need to go grocery shopping, don’t judge me) I can at last focus on the long list:

  1. Find a place to do volunteer work on the weekends
  2. Keep up with the blog. Maybe start a travel-specific blog.
  3. Sign up for a summer class, such as programming or something tech related
  4. Attempt to learn Hebrew in preparation for studying abroad next semester
  5. Consider freelance writing to earn extra cash
  6. Work on writing something for fun, taking one of the many novels I have mulling around in my head and actually putting it on paper
  7. Get my health back on track (it took a serious backseat during the last month of school)

#7 actually needed to be higher on the list, since I’m pretty sure I had an allergic reaction to something in the food in Changsha. I never did figure out what it was, only that my hands and feet swelled up to the point where I couldn’t wear jewelry or some of the shoes that I brought, and my face was the size of a melon. I didn’t realize how bad it was until a friend had posted on Facebook two pictures back-to-back: one was on our first site visit in Shanghai, at the beginning of our trip; the other on our last day in Changsha after we gave our final presentations. In the first picture, I still have cheekbones. In the second, I look like I’d been stung in the face by about 50 bees.

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I went looking for a stock photo of a swollen face after an allergic reaction and now I’m scarred for life. So instead of sharing the pain, here’s a stock photo of a fat kitten.

If I ever figure out what it was, I’ll let you know. There were so many strange things we ate over there that I’m pretty sure I’ll never be able to figure it out. Oh well. The only thing I can do now is continue to detox and work toward getting back in fighting shape.

Anyway, it’s no accident that writing is involved in 3 of the 7 items on my list. I’ve been wanting to get back into it – really get back into it – for a long time now. We shall see if I can actually follow though with it this time…