Today I feel…

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sad and defeated.

There isn’t anything in particular I that has happened to me. This is a mixture of personal frustrations as a postgraduate student, sadness about the state of humanity and the world, and the seeming impossibility of dreams for the future.

Being a student again has shown me personal strengths and weaknesses. I am confident I have depth of thought, but I am less articulate than ever. I love learning but not all things. There are many things that I realize I don’t want to do, but the challenge is in determining when the task is just difficult or I’m being lazy and when my lack of desire points to a misstep in my prior choices or a challenge to my current trajectory. Being in a postgraduate program makes me long for vocational training in a craft–if only the lifestyle of a craftsman were guaranteed to be stable and respected, because unfortunately I am prideful. Having time to explore has shown me how much there is to explore–either to extend the knowledge of humanity or to learn for self-enrichment. I would love to be able to learn and explore forever, however, without specific directives or the concern of maintaining the socioeconomic status that affords me this privilege in the first place.

Reading the daily news and popular media makes me wonder if society has always been so fragmented. The terrors some people must live through make me grateful for the stability in my life, and the safety net that I have in my family and friends. However, I wonder what social responsibility means in our world today. With the ability to travel globally and the the rippling effects of consumerism, the individual has potentially more impact on the world than ever before. We are both more informed and less informed than ever. We have more access but less accountability. What people choose to care about seems to be haphazardly decided and their actions (or lack thereof) are equally misinformed. I do not exclude myself from these mistakes. I think we are all guilty and that makes me sad and regretful.

There are so many potential futures. Ordinarily, I’d say I straddle the realms of optimistic dreamer and pragmatic scientist, but recently I’ve become more uncertain about how much faith I can put into other people and myself to bring about the best possible future. I can only hope that these feelings will pass without loosing them as valuable reflections that drive compassionate actions in the future.

Creative Research Case

https://medium.com/ucl-antenna/navigating-dementia-65a233d43bb8#.o0kc6lrw2

I find the Sea Quest Hero application to be really interesting. Not so much the literal “app” but rather the use of the “app” to collect data. I know similar methods have been utilized before, but the use of a mobile application to collect information that would be relevant to dementia research… well that’s pretty cool. It’s a reminder that we have the capabilities to collect new sorts of data and more of it than ever before. I know “games” have often been controversial in their relevance and effectiveness, but I firmly believe that we have to think creatively with the tools that we have now to do valuable research.

View story at Medium.com

View story at Medium.com

View story at Medium.com

View story at Medium.com

Data-driven Parenting

http://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2016/12/16/505852661/advice-from-parents-on-screen-time-and-the-digital-world

It’s interesting that so many of the parents in this conversation are so interested in empirical studies to help them in parenting. There is both so much information online, but so few empirical studies since there are so many ethical issues and complications with studies of children. I suppose this is all just a sign of the the battles of epistemologies that are not often addressed head-on, especially in American society. (Oh, how reading about and trying to understand different epistemologies has plagued me in my postgraduate studies.)

Some things that are missing

I expected some things to be different in London, England than in Chicago or Boston, USA, but here are a few things that I have found to be unexpectedly missing…

  1. Apple sauce. Upon further thought this kind of makes sense.
  2. 25p coin. Instead there is a 20p coin (not to mention the 2p, £1 (which also means the £1 note doesn’t exist), and £2 coins…and the fact that people actually use 50p coins here). I wonder if this reflects a difference in thinking about numbers.
  3. The gaps around the door around a toilet stall. I rather like this.
  4. Walk signals. Not completely absent, but it feels like there are a lot fewer here.

I’ll update this list with more in the future. I think it’s rather interesting. I’ll probably do a list of things that are “additional” as well.

U.S. Presidential Election Results 2016

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I don’t even know where to begin. I didn’t on November 8th and I still don’t really know on November 28th. However, I just wanted to compile of few articles that I think add to the discussion, each with slightly different stances–some that I agree with and some that I don’t. I recognize that many of these opinions are fairly liberal, but I want to have them in a personal archive to reflect some of the surprise and emotion that struck me in the days after the 2016 election.

Some of my thoughts:

  1. “Oh my…” I knew it was possible, but still there is a bit of me that stunned.
  2. I hope everyone uses this opportunity to understand the “marginalized,” and I mean all who feel marginalized. This has to happen on many fronts all at once. There are perspectives to be validated and challenged.
    1. Along this line, I do think that many of my peers need to think about their own personal privileges and how they can help construct a positive future. This will mean different things for different people, but I do think now is as good a time as any to DO GOOD.
  3. I need to reflect on what I think is right and where my thoughts come from. I hope that I can discuss with others in ways that are thought provoking, but not violent. However, I am open to emotional challenges, which I think can be good in light of this election and Brexit, which some have pointed to as post-fact emotion dominated events.
    1. I think discussion will help me to articulate my thoughts and for others to as well. I know that I have been struggling to articulate the many facets of my thoughts.
    2. I hope people can discuss and argue in ways that allow for authenticity without compromising respect or friendship. I think a person is stronger for having friends who are not their exact clones, and a lot of us just have to “get over ourselves.”

Article Archive:

“An American Tragedy”

http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/an-american-tragedy-donald-trump?intcid=mod-latest

“What do we tell the children?”

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/what-should-we-tell-the-children_us_5822aa90e4b0334571e0a30b

“What so many people don’t get about the US working class”

https://hbr.org/2016/11/what-so-many-people-dont-get-about-the-u-s-working-class?utm_campaign=HBR&utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social

“I’m a costal elite from the midwest the real bubble is rural America”

http://www.rollcall.com/news/opinion/im-a-coastal-elite-from-the-midwest-the-real-bubble-is-rural-america

“This is no time for unity — Trump must be confronted with relentless protest”

http://usuncut.com/politics/no-hillary-clinton-trump-doesnt-deserve-chance/

“White Christians who voted for Trump: Fix. This. Now.”

http://johnpavlovitz.com/2016/11/10/white-christians-who-voted-for-donald-trump-fix-this-now/

“Aftermath: Sixteen Writers on Trump”

http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2016/11/21/aftermath-sixteen-writers-on-trumps-america#diaz

“Now is the Time to Talk about What We Are Actually Talking About”

http://www.newyorker.com/culture/cultural-comment/now-is-the-time-to-talk-about-what-we-are-actually-talking-about

“Smug American Liberalism” (from April 2016!)

http://www.vox.com/2016/4/21/11451378/smug-american-liberalism

“Why Donald Trump’s Victory Terrifies Some of Your Ethnic Minority Friends”

http://www.norvillerogers.com/why-donald-trumps-victory-terrifies-some-of-your-ethnic-minority-friends/

Welcome Week

Welcome Week, a.k.a. “Freshers Week”, is the orientation week at UCL. We call it Welcome Week because UCL has many postgraduates starting master’s and doctorate programmes. There are lots of events to help people meet each other and get oriented to the university.

Some notable differences between my experience as a master’s student at UCL’s Welcome Week and my experience as an undergraduate student at MIT’s Orientation Week

  • As an international student, I did attend a couple of events during the international orientation (I only came for the last couple of days, because the first half didn’t seem as useful or entertaining, especially as an American student who also wanted to maximize time at home). There was a day of talks, which was rather long… but overall helpful.
    • There are a lot of awesome international students at UCL, which I really love! I know there were a lot of international students at MIT, but I’m really noticing all the international students here at UCL, probably because I am one. Also, I have definitely found it easier to meet and speak with international students–among the many reasons, British English accents are surprisingly difficult for me to understand.
  • Of course as a master’s student I have this conception that I would have been out of place at some of the party events and such, so I didn’t go to as many of the club nights. I did go to one of the club night at KOKO and thought the venue was great. I do find it fascinating that most undergraduate freshers can go to clubs here in England since they are 18 and may drink, something that is not legal in the States. However, I would say the MIT dorms put on enough events that I never was bored and the parties at frats during rush week were entertaining enough.
  • Apparently unis do inductions here to introduce everyone to how to select modules, whereas I had an individual meeting with an academic advisor to choose classes. I also have been feeling underwhelmed by information. Things were just a lot more obvious when selecting classes for my undergrad.
  • Pub quizzes are great, but I suspect that this is actually an event I would have attended in the US if I were back in school State-side.
  • UCL seems to take advantage of other venues in the city, whereas MIT’s orientation was largely contained to the campus, except for a few events.
  • Because students live all over London, I don’t know how well students get to know each other at UCL, but I do sort of miss the days of living on “dorm row” at MIT. Proximity definitely makes meeting people and getting closer to each other much easier.
  • Welcome Fair at UCL versus Activities Fair at MIT: very similar in that there are tons of “societies”/”clubs.” However, I will say because of the venue restrictions getting around the UCL’s Welcome Fair was a pain that actually took me ~6 hours over two days to get through, whereas MIT’s Activities Fair had just as many clubs to take-in (I think actually more…) but was just a lot more pleasant (less crowded and less rushed though less time consuming). I’m looking forward to all the spam I’m going to get and will update if the quantity (and perhaps quality) of emails is a similarity or a difference.
    • I will say that I’m still good at getting freebies but am proud to say I am more selective!

Fun pics from this last week and a half: UCL Wilkins Building portico, Pearly Kings and Queens of London, Being touristy on a double decker bus tour

Cost of moving to London (Part 1)

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This is a look at my monetary cost of moving to London, UK from the USA to become a student at UCL for the next year. This should cover all major costs so far, but the cost of my everyday consumables during the application portion is not included, e.g. internet, printing, or gasoline costs.

Before setting foot in London:

  • Tier Visa Application Fee: $446
  • NHS Immigrant Health Surcharge: $306
  • Shipping the visa application and shipping label for return: $22.95 + $34
  • MA Education and Technology programme tuition as overseas student : £15,525
  • Welcome week ticketed events: £50
  • Round Trip Flight to London and back to Chicago (found a good deal earlier in the year): $589.26

Total so far: $1,398.21 + £15,575 (exchange rate is generally around 1.33)

I’m going to be looking for some ways to offset these costs.

Another go at this blogging thing…

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Okay. So here I am again thinking I should blog a bit more. I like jotting down my thoughts–especially as a cathartic release of anxiety, anger, or fear–and I want to work on how I present my thoughts, in writing and in conversation. Eventually I want to update the way this blog is organized, but I think I will start writing and trying to focus myself on producing regular blogs on a few topics. I’m thinking (in no particular order) I’ll start with 1) life transitions because I’m going through another transition in life: moving to London and starting a master’s program in Education and Technology; 2) education: current trends, policies, etc. and my thoughts (since I figure I need to learn more in this space and actually start forming some stances and ideas anyway); 3) stuff I like: so that I have a record of some of the things I find interesting as I try new things (and also revisit old things).

Yay! 🙂

Uncertainty

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Times of uncertainty are exciting and anxiety-inducing. Thrilling and oh-so confusing.

I haven’t been on this blog in a while. Perhaps it’s because, as I’ve mentioned before, I write most when I am anxious and concerned and these last few years haven’t been as dramatic  (at least not in the ways the ways that make my head spin, because teaching high schoolers is anything but calming). Revisiting this blog brought my attention to one of my favorite quotes:

Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something is more important than fear. The brave may not live forever, but the cautious do not live at all. (Meg Cabot, Princess Diaries; Ambrose Redmoon) (I find it hilarious that I attribute this quote to a teen comedy.)

Right now, I am definitely struggling to figure out whether my future decisions are acts of courage and bravery or just stupidity. I supposed they are not mutually exclusive, but I can’t help but think that I’m ignoring one side of my thoughts in favor of the other, and unfortunately I can’t figure out which side is correct. In situations like these, I think it’s impossible to know if “future-me” will reflect on my situation with 20/20 hindsight or whether that hindsight will be the same as what others have had. So what advice is worth taking and what advice is worth ignoring? What is a mistake worth making, if only to have learned from it myself? Do I invest blind faith into something, so that something might end up being fruitful–whatever that something might be?

Song: Lost Boy by Ruth B

The Month of January 2014

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I’m dreading the month of January 2014. I have been for a few weeks now. Tomorrow is the first day after my “winter vacation,” so it’s back to the work world.

I think there are many feelings that I have that explain my dread. I’m nervous. I’m scared. I’m exasperated. I’m overwhelmed. I’m uncertain. I guess it all comes down to the fact that I have more responsibility than ever and I’m scared that I won’t be able to meet my students’, my manager’s, my mentors’, my superiors’, my parents’, my future employers’, and my own expectations.

This month has more work responsibilities since we’re reaching the heart of the lab work for the science and engineering fair and I have 5 high school teams and 1 middle school team to help. I also have to prepare things for later in the year like the employee’s children day, preparing for the Citizen Schools apprenticeship, preparing for the summer programs, and hiring and training a high school intern.

I also have been feeling the pressure of figuring out what will be next after this fellowship is over. I had debated graduate school for a while. I took the GRE but found myself too uncertain and too unfocused to apply. However, I am proud that I took the time to speak to several people during the month of December about what they do. Many of them have reassured me that there are varied paths to success, but many also have advised me to go back to school (either to learn more in biology, education or to teach in high school). So we’ll have to see. I think at this moment, I hope to be doing education research “in 5 years.” We’ll see how I can get myself there.

I won’t be surprised if I end up writing here more this next month. I tend to write more when I’m upset.

However, so I don’t lose touch with friends (since I think this might become a month that I will hole myself in a little more, especially given the weather), I want to ask myself to write cards to my friends. I did my holiday cards (to the friends that are far–sorry to my friends that are near! You may get a card soon!) and read about the postage increase coming up, but I also read a few nice articles that reminded me what a wonder the post office can be. For less than a dollar they will take your thoughts to whoever you’ve addressed them to! So in the month of January, I’m going to be spending approximately a whopping $20 to hopefully send some of my thoughts to friends around the country! I’ve already bought a box of cards that I think are fun and well suited for this month of uncertainty and change. (I’ve recently bought two boxes of cards published by Chronicle Books. I think they are my new unforeseen fascination in the realm of life’s little things.)