I particularly like to find odd usages of English, while Nate loves finding local strangers to chat up.
We also spend a great deal of time entertaining ourselves via listening to downloaded podcasts (RadioLab, That1Podcast, The Dollop, CarTalk, etc.) reading Harry Potter aloud to one another (we just finished book 2!), or journaling.
- What do you and Nate talk about all day long?
This is one area that I received a little advice about before I left the country. My dental hygienist recounted her experience of hiking the Appalachian Trail for a month with her husband before they decided to have children (I nodded appreciatively as a straw sucked my face inside out). “We talked about everything. We talked about what Halloween costumes we wore when we were 5.” She was right. Nothing is too big or small. We talk about everything from what shade of yellow our pee is on a daily basis to aspirations for the next iteration of ourselves. We’ve also graduated from the honey-moon phase of being uber-interested and sensitive and now talk to each other with all the honest brutality that best friends should have.
J: “I don’t understand hashtags.”
N: Eagerly. ”Do you want to learn?”
J: “Meh. Not really.”
N: Disappointed. “You suck sometimes.”
J: “I know.”
N: Shows me how to use hashtags.
- What are your aspirations for the next iteration of yourself?
Nate and I spend a lot of time talking, thinking, and journaling about this. Which is super nice. I think as Americans, we don’t give ourselves too much time to think about what we really want to come next. We’re wired to follow a certain path, usually the path traveled by our family and friends before us: school, job, family, house, retirement in Florida. I felt this way about my bachelors and my masters. I dove right into both because I felt that was what was expected of me. I didn’t really feel passionate about either though, so I floated through my coursework without direction or conviction. Luckily, I came out the other end with a line of work that I really do love, but I fell into the trap again of just moving into jobs that provided security and health insurance without stopping to notice that I was in a vortex of soul-sucking stress.
Now I have the luxury to really figure out what I want to do when funemployment is no longer an option, but it is a daunting task. I came across an article about how to make decisions about big life changes like a career shift that made some pretty good recommendations about how to do just this. My favorite was to create a personal board of directors to consult on the matter. So, I’ve been busily emailing a lot of my mentors, friends, and coworkers to ask their opinion about my possible paths. With their sage advice and Nate’s unconditional support, I’m mostly settled on – drumroll, please – applying for a doctorate program in Applied Linguistics with a focus on English for Specific Purpose. Now I just need to study for and pass the GRE, find a research interest, find a professor with a similar research interest, write a statement of purpose, procure several letters of interest, and apply. Looks like I know how I’ll be spending my spare time in 2018!
- How are you surviving without an income?
It’s not as hard or as scary as I thought it would be. Having a finite amount of money in my bank account changes my mindset about spending money. There is a constant calculating going on in my head.
I could buy this $45 bike jersey to remember an awesome bike ride through the National forest OR we could use that money for a 2-hour Muay Thai class.
We could buy the first class train tickets ($12) and have our own room with AC, or we could buy the third class tickets ($1.50) and spend the difference on a couple nice meals.
Experiences and food usually win out over one more thing to shove in my bag or a bit of comfort. Luckily, all this is going to be good practice for being a poor student again (see number 6 above).
As part of low-budget traveling, we also usually try to find free transportation versus taxis. This means we walk a lot or find free buses. We also almost never eat in a restaurant, preferring to find a street cart that has the same food for half the price. We also try to find the cheapest accommodations possible, including free Couch Surfing when available.
- Is Couch Surfing really free? What does the host get out of it? Are you scared of being murdered?
Yes, it really is free. Nothing generally. Not anymore. Take Bangkok for example, Nate put out the call to several hosts in the city, but we weren’t hearing a lot back because we were going to be there over the New Year’s holiday. Then we got a hit from an angel named Sanyo. Sanyo explained that he’d be going out of town for the holiday, but that we could use his apartment. That’s it. No strings attached. He waited for us to arrive to his apartment complex, handed over the keys with a hug, and ran off to catch a flight to Taiwan. Sanyo gave us free reign of his 14th-floor, luxury apartment in the heart of Bangkok for five nights completely free. We didn’t have a lot of time to chit chat, so he even took the time to write and scatter adorable little post-it notes around the apartment. The kindness of strangers!!!