Sunday, May 22, 2011

Born under an Irish star

Planning this trip leads to a few awkward conversational moments, when someone learns about my trip, asks me where/when I'm going, and I tell them the whole spiel, and then they kinda go "wow, that sounds great!" How can I possibly fill the conversational gap when I basically just said "well I had these huge dreams and now I am fulfilling them"? It's like saying I just won the lottery. (but without all the bad parts.)

I'll do the same thing here that I often do in conversations: talk a bit about how lucky I am to be able to do this. It's true that at least a few stars aligned: the time star, the money star, the health star, the no-calamities star, and (let's not forget) the supporting family and friends star.

Time star:
It's convenient that I can take this big jump without worrying about careers and stuff, because applying to grad school takes a long time. I do believe that most anyone can (and should) take a year off if they want to and it won't hurt their career, but it's easy for me to say that because it definitely won't hurt mine. I'll hit the ground running in grad school and nobody will even miss the lost year. Also, it's nice that I'm single, no dependents, not even any pets. It feels weird to say that I'm lucky not to have met someone that I want to spend my life with yet, but imagine if I did and she wasn't into travel! It'd make this particular dream rather trickier.

Money star:
I was interested by these computer things, and I happened to get into a high-powered college, and I happened to be able to stick with it and did well on interview day, and so got into a high-powered job, and that job happened to be at a booming company, and now I have enough money that I can do this trip, no problem! Again, I think you don't have to be as lucky as me; if you can stash away $20k, you can travel Asia for a year. Probably less. But again, easy for me to say.

Health and no calamities stars:
These are pretty self explanatory. There are a lot of torpedoes that could have taken out this trip. I'm lucky to have been missed by all of them.

Supportive family and friends star:
This one is not as obvious, but it's probably equally important. Deciding to travel for a year is a pretty weird move. Imagine if a few of my friends (or worse, my family) had called me selfish for spending my time and money on this trip, or sneakily suggested that maybe I ought to spend my time doing something more productive, or hindered my plans in any other way! It might not make me abort the trip, but it might give me mixed feelings. And believe you me, when I'm on some godforsaken 48-hour bus trip with a case of Delhi belly, the last thought I'll want in my head is "I shouldn't even be here."

Add these all up, and you get at least five stars aligning. If you were my grandma, you might just lump all these stars together and say I was "born under an Irish star." No, that's not a real saying. And no, it doesn't matter.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

May 1. T minus four months.

My recent planning has been a bit low-key:

- listening to some Indian pop music and Turkish pop music. I feel about the same as American pop music: mostly boring after 3 listens, but there are a couple standouts. (I'm very much looking for recommendations, if you know any good music from any of the countries I'll be visiting!)
- new driver's license
- registered for a motorcycle safety class, so I can get a motorcycle endorsement. Motorcycling around some of the places I go may be dangerous, but it may be a highlight of my life (as it was in Thailand), so I think that's worth it.
- new International Driver's License (just walk into AAA, show them your US driver's license, and pay them like $20); I don't know if this will help anything, but it seems good to have handy, just in case.
- new ISIC (just walk into STA Travel, pay them like $15, and name a university); this seems even less likely to be useful, but I feel like I've used it a couple times in the past when I needed "some kind of identification" and didn't have my driver's license for some reason? It looks kind of official, anyway.
- new pants (let's see if I can get away with only one pair!)
- check this out: Muslim for a Month. I like the spirit of this, anyway: what better time to explore religions than while I'm exploring the world? And while Islam is probably the least likely religion for me to ever actually follow, I feel like there's probably cool parts of it (sufism? dervishes? Rumi?) that I could learn something from. And I know very little about it, so that's exciting. I mean, still, tour group, so meh, but they aren't always awful, right?