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I just got an e-mail from Tumblr telling me that I have had this blog for four years - what on earth. That means that just about four years ago I was prepping to embark on my first trip to Africa. My oh my how I would have no idea how my life would change! Four years ago, I was a 22 year old semi-recent graduate from undergrad. I was confused, depressed, hopeful, and excited all at once (cue: Taylor Swift’s “22” song). I went to South Africa and 6 months later I came back a very different person. I now have multiple experiences in Africa under my belt, but that first trip will always be so special and life-changing for me. I’ve had lots of ups and downs since then, but let’s focus on the exciting positives.
Academically, in the past four years I have gotten a Master’s degree, went through the vigorous process of applying for PhD programs (& thankfully accepted) and survived my first semester in said PhD program.
Geographically, four years ago I had only traveled outside of the US twice - once when I was 16 on a 12 day school trip to France, and another when I was 18 on a cruise to Mexico. Now, I have lived in four different countries and visited tons more (to the point of literally filling up my passport).
2010: from the USA to South Africa, Swaziland, Mozambique, Zambia, Botswana
2011: South Africa, Mozambique, United Kingdom, France, Ireland
2012: United Kingdom, Nigeria, France, Spain, Italy, South Africa
2013: South Africa, Botswana, Mozambique, and back to the USA
2014: USA (for now)
I am incredibly thankful for these opportunities that have helped me grow personally & career-wise. I am excited for all the new adventures to come! It’s time to start focusing on the now and focusing on the positive.
That being said, I need to revitalize my blog. I never know what direction to take it - personal anecdotes and photos, fun stories about primates, and other wildlife, both? Because I haven’t figured this out, it makes me feel apprehensive in posting anything. I am going to try to get over that and just post. Whatever it may be! And cross my fingers for no external judgement.
Here we go!
I feel like there is so much that I want to write about, but I have been in the midst of a lot of big changes! I still want to record my journeys and experiences from the past few months and I think I will begin with the most recent and head backwards.
But for now, what am I doing? WELL, I have just arrived in New York City! What a strange place to study primates and other animals?! I am here because I am about to embark on the newest chapter of my life… the PhD. So, for the next 5ish years, NYC will be my home-base. It was a tough decision to leave South Africa and my great job, but long-term this is definitely my best option and is something I have always striven towards! In actuality, I’m in my dream program that I have wanted to be a part of since undergrad! Things could not have worked out better.
That being said, I kind of currently feel like Mimisiku from that old 90s movie, Jungle2Jungle.
I’m definitely having reverse culture shock going from the wide open spaces of a game reserve in South Africa to the concrete jungle. I actually got dizzy in a grocery store the other day and could not believe that a wrap cost me $6.50!?
The U.S. is expensive and of course I have to pick one of the most expensive places to live! Oh well. I was fortunate enough to be offered a generous funding package with my PhD and so once my paychecks start rolling in, hopefully I can cope better with this new pace of life.
I seem to be settling in okay with my new colleagues, and I am excited for classes to begin! I have also already been given a research project on the side on a really interesting topic. More on that once I get stuck into it all.
I think I’m going to survive New York :)
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