How Vientiane Is an Analog for the World


I complained about the weather, walked the backstreets, and ate cheap.

This time the bus was a large, cyan blue thing with leather sleeping berths and cotton blankets. Upbeat folk music and the neon lights mounted above every bed gave the whole thing a strange feeling — as if I had somehow fallen asleep in a gaudy Lao nightclub. But none of this is to say that the overnight journey to Vientiane was uncomfortable. It wasn’t. It was like sleeping on a very peculiar southbound cloud.

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On Earth: Leaving Here


What a year it’s been.

Around this time last summer I gave up a teaching assistantship in Austria to come to Shanghai and learn Mandarin. Never would’ve guessed that I would get to see more of this country than my own, meet some incredible people, flip my brain upside on a daily basis learning this language, and understand myself a whole lot better than when I boarded the plane at LAX.

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Pre-Departure Traffic


I’ve waited for so long to receive this little sticker in my passport, and now that I have it am I ready?

I’m currently sitting at my dining room table in my humble abode in California. Next to me sits my passport with a freshly stuck visa for South Africa. The feelings are mixed, but I’m more than ready to jump on the plane for a 20+ hour flight to my new home.

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The Unexpected Worth of the GRE


Being wrong is the sweetest stab in the back.

Just like the GRE, you’re right or you’re wrong. It’s no less tricky out here either — you never stop getting fooled. The only difference is that every moment is a new question. Every second is no second chance. Every step is another rectangular “Continue” button reminiscent of 90’s internet in the top right corner.

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Both


With less than two weeks until departure, I start to see the value in letting things happen.

If there’s one person I’d follow blindly to my own undoing, it’d damn well be Professor Chang. This genuinely caring woman took her time in advising me about the thrill of life in the world’s largest city, but quickly followed up her comments by insisting that I watch myself around drink and Shanghainese women. I’ve been warned — it’ll just be schoolbooks and a recently developed proclivity to gambling for me then.

I better explain.

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