A Brief History of My Experience outside the USA:
- I went to the Philippines for a month or so with my family when I was in grade school. I barely remember the event except that it seemed like everyone in the island country was apparently an aunt, uncle, or cousin. My most memorable souveniers were endless mosquito bites.
- I visited Mexico briefly when my family went to San Diego for part of a summer vacation. I remember the difference in living conditions between the city I knew as Shamu’s home and the town that spoke the language of channel 18 on weekdays. My most memorable souvenier was a satchel that I used to carry one of my plush orca whales (“Bamu,” the uncle in a family of plush orcas that included mommy orca, daddy orca, and baby orca.). I remember holding on to the satchel while watching children crowd at my father’s window as we drove through the border and he gave them our left over Mexican coins.
- I went to Nagano, Japan for part of the 1998 Winter Olympics as part of a Visa art contest for children. My most memorable souvenier was the tune to the unofficial Winter Olympics theme song (Ile Aiye by Agharta, to this day I am still looking for an affordable copy of it). This is one of two times in my life that I cried when I was leaving a place because I enjoyed it so much (the other time was the year before at a summer program in John Hopkins University).
- I briefly visited the United Kingdom for a physics workshop for British graduate students and post docs in particle physics. They agreed to let me come if I paid my way there. My ulterior motive was to scope out Durham University and talk to some of their professors as I pondered how to spend the second year of my Marshall fellowship. My most memorable souvenier was the following photo in front of the Durham Cathedral (it was taken by a young German woman , about my age, who was also trying to get a photo in front of the cathedral :
Now I’m down to less than a couple of months before I’m heading back to the country that gave us the Beatles, Harry Potter, and Paddington Bear. I’ll be there for two years, and I’m not sure if I’ll be able to come back for vacations.
What do I pack?
The Marshall Commission was kind enough to arrange for up to 250 lbs. of luggage to be shipped out of New Jersey to my doorstep (wherever that ends up to be). I currently have used up around 120 lbs. on winter clothes and textbooks. I’ve been trying to figure out whether or not I should ship my road bike–it’s a bit of a risk if I don’t purchase a plastic shell (~$300). Should I ship more books? They’re the one thing I can find cheaper in Britain… which makes me feel stupid for the recent string–no pun intended–of Cambridge University Press physics texts I’ve purchased.
I’m bringing scooter (my plush puppy) with me, and maybe my giant microbe plushes. I’m also tempted to ship additional notebooks (which means I’ll have to make a binge notebook purchase soon, I hope I can find Miquelrius graph notebooks).
I’ve been warned to minimize the things that I have to purchase in the UK (everything costs twice as much), but I can’t imagine what I would be purchasing in the UK other than food. Should I bring a frying pan and eating utensils? Should I bring my shoeboxes of misc. stationary? Packs of jello?
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