East Asia (Backpacking trip, 2018)
I’ve been interested in Asia for a long time, ever since my childhood doing pretend kung fu in the woods of Vermont. As I got older these interests turned more towards China specifically, especially after a semester-long Mandarin immersion program in Beijing I did during college.
After finishing my PhD in 2017, I had a wonderful opportunity to do some extended traveling, and was dying to get back to Asia once more. Following a motorcycle trip in Fall 2017 (see below), I headed out in January 2018 for Taiwan, which was my jumping off point for a lovely four month romp around East Asia. I biked around Taiwan, saw old friends in South Korea and Japan, and spent a month meandering through China and learning more about its fascinating history.
After eventually returning to the US, I had a fun time giving a presentation about the whole trip at our local library, with the slideshow from that available above. The slides don’t do much storytelling on their own, but there are a lot of my pictures that give a sense of what the whole trip was about.
US and Canada (Motorcycle trip, 2017)
After completing grad school I decided to take a “gap year” to travel, catch up with friends and family, and think long and hard about future career plans. As a means to these ends I bought a motorcycle shortly after graduation, and went on a long, winding road trip across the US and Canada during August-November 2017.
Although the trip started and ended in Vermont, it covered a lot of ground in between, with the whole thing totaling around 14,000 miles. Some highlights include seeing my first eclipse in Wyoming, taking part in my friends’ wedding in New Mexico (also a first), and helping with hurricane recovery in the Florida Keys.
There were a lot of highs and lows along the trip (both metaphorically and geographically), but more than anything else it gave me a wonderful opportunity to grow closer to the many important people in my life who I had lost touch with during my busy years in grad school. There’s no question that taking time off to think things through and reconnect with myself, instead of the “obvious” choice of jumping right into the next job, was the right decision for me, and I would highly recommend it to anyone who finds themselves in a similar situation. If you can make it work then you won’t regret it, trust me :)