A New Chapter

I have a lot of things that I should be doing right now. I have to work on a CV and write a personal statement for graduate school (which should be done soon so I don’t have to worry about it in the pre-trip planning). I have to work on the S&R website. I should maybe do some filing or cleaning or other such productive things.
Instead, I brought over all the entries from my 2006 travel journal of Ireland. I reorganized the categories, set up a trips page, updated the about page and went through all my old entries and tagged things appropriately. Such a productive use of my time and totally out of line in the priorities I actually have presently.
I’ve changed a lot since my time in Southeast Asia. Rereading the entries, I’m actually surprised how (relatively) upbeat I was because my moleskine entries are a lot more depressing. It was hands down one of the most frustrating, depressing, miserable experiences of my life. And yet. I would do it again in a heart beat, so much of who I am today I can trace back to that four month period in Southeast Asia.
Pushing my out of shape asthmatic ass up a mountain in a Cambodian jungle and making it only out of sheer stubbornness was the tipping point in my decision to get into shape. I wanted to be able to actually do stuff like that. When I was abroad and afterward, I had all sorts of digestive health problems. Choosing to fix that by learning how to eat, I now eat a lot healthier. I lift weights, swim, do yoga and run on a pretty regular basis and changed my whole outlook on my body – and I’m about sixty pounds lighter than I was back then.
I was exposed to the ideas of remittances and diaspora while I was in Vietnam. Academically interested, I went home and ended up writing a thesis on the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 – one of the first pieces of American legislation that regulated migrants. I’m now applying to graduate programs in Migration Studies, hoping to take this intellectual interest further (and also make a career out of it, eventually).
I am a lot more mellow. Or I feel that way, anyway. More laid back when it comes to interacting with people. Some of that might just come from growing up. I’m also attempting to approach things in a less stubborn way, or at least a more productive form of stubbornness – languages, for example. I’ve always been bad at languages, Vietnamese was a disaster and I’ve struggled with French for years. In the past year or so, I actually sat down and figured out how I learned and how I functioned when it comes to language. And made progress with French. And I’m currently attempting Hindi and actually making progress. Instead of stubbornly denying that I needed to actually put effort into something academically, I’m doing this because this is something that I need to reach any of the life goals that I have for myself. So I’m stubbornly sticking to language study – spending one and a half to two hours a day on languages (which is still not nearly enough) – but recognizing that this will require actual hard work and a daily commitment. I can’t just learn it by osmosis as I seemed to have expected from previous attempts at studying.
But yes.

So, I’m going to India. Everyone keeps on asking me how the trip planning is going. The answer is, in short, that it isn’t. I bought my plane tickets (DCA > Newark > Delhi // KTM > Delhi > London // Paris > IAD) a few weeks ago. I’m getting a meningitis booster next week. I have to also get my typhoid shots again and probably a booster for Japanese Encephalitis. (It’s so weird that I need a *booster* for that). I’m slowly collecting the things that I’ll need for the trip, spread out over the course of the next few months so I don’t break my monthly budget. Getting new glasses. Breaking in new chacos. Acquiring pants and a new messenger bag (I prefer those when traveling, harder to steal when it’s across my body. In theory, anyway). Researching backpacks. Dealing with government officials in Canada. Yes, Canada. Apparently I have to have my Canadian birth certificate translated into English in order to get my Indian visa. Three half French, half English phone calls to Québec later, it turns out I also need a birth certificate. Québec decided to computerize its records back in 1994 and effectively invalidated any birth certificates from before that time in order to force people to resubmit the records and pay them for the pleasure. It’s all bull shit, but it’s bull shit that I’m really glad that I’m dealing with now and not you know, December.

Really, aside from the purchasing of various items I need for my trip, all I need to do is get a visa and get those shots. Then I’ll get on the plane and figure the rest out when I’m in Delhi.
Here’s to hoping it’s really as simple as all that.

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