What did 2014 look like? 2014 marked an important change in my life. After 5 years as a PhD student living in Hong Kong I finally defended my dissertation and graduated the PhD to leave Asia and begin a postdoc in the United States. Most of this year was surrounding these big events, and so almost all of my travels were somehow associated with my academic pursuits around the globe.
I spent most of January in Hong Kong, with a short trip to the tropical island of Hainan in southern China.
February started off with an academic conference in Austin and a stop on the way back in California visiting some of the local universities in the San Francisco and Los Angeles area.
Around San Francisco
For the final month write-up of my dissertation I made my way to Israel, where I spent most of my time laboring against deadlines on my laptop closed off in a dark room, only taking a bit of time off for an academic talk in southern Israel. But, at the end of the month the thesis was submitted and the thesis-defense presentation ready, and so I could relax for a bit before heading back to Hong Kong for the final defense.
On the way to Hong Kong, I made a stop in Europe after over 10 years of absence, originally meant to explore academic opportunities. But, by the time I arrived in Amsterdam I have already accepted an offer for a postdoc in the US so rather than jumping around between meetings and universities I could enjoy the wonders of the Netherlands.
At the end of the month, I successfully defended my thesis and could start to get ready for what changes that were to follow.
Daytrips from Amsterdam
After a rough return to hectic Hong Kong, I opened up May with a trip to nearby Guangdong province in China to Shunde. The end of the month I made an academic visit to Singapore, my second visit after my backpacking year in 2005.
The Singapore visit was brilliant, academically and travel wise. Thinking of what I want my farewell from Asia to be, it was clear to me I needed to visit Kyoto in Japan and have spent a wonderful time exploring this amazing city. Right before leaving Hong Kong I did a few hikes.
My goodbye to the China near Hong Kong:
My farewell to Hong Kong:
Last arrangements and farewells and I left Hong Kong. Wanting to return to see Europe I spend a couple of weeks in France, exploring Paris and the nearby areas. On the way for a quick visit to Israel I was happy to get stuck in Rome for a couple of days due to the conflict taking place at the time.
more specifically …
Still have a lot more from that trip.
In August I wrapped things up in Israel and relocated to the United States to the small twin towns of Urbana-Champaign in Illinois. In the area, I got to revisit gorgeous Chicago and get a first glance at Indianapolis. The transition was anything but easy, in all possible respects.
Northern Israel weekend trip
Various other short trips
September was mainly about adjustment and catching up with work. Only got to do a quick visit to Chicago. Possibly the most frustrating month of the year.
October was slightly more interesting, with trips to a nearby Amish town, Indianapolis and my first visit to Saint Louis.
More to come from Saint Louis.
November was my first real trip after moving to the US, with a long over due first visit to Mexico, starting from Mexico City.
Much more to come from my Mexico adventures.
But, wait, the year isn’t over yet. Lots of posts to come from my final travel for December 2014, featuring Phoenix Arizona, San Diego California, and hopefully – Mexican Tijuana.
Overall, this year I’ve been to the Unites States (Texas, California, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, and Arizona), Israel, China (Hainan and Guangzhou), Japan, Singapore, Netherlands, France, Italy and Mexico with a big farewell to my beloved Hong Kong. Not a bad year (compare that with 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010 and 2009). I hope 2015 will bring lots of new adventures and interesting places.
Honestly, I’m not sure. For now I’m in Illinois, but academic life is unpredictable with all sorts of possible changes and surprises, and a postdoc is meant for short term contracts. After almost 10 years living on and off in Asia, moving to a small university town in cold northern US is proving to be more of a challenge than I expected, but I’m sure things will be alright. A few conference trips expected to east and west coast US, as well as a big conference in Europe, and hopefully I’ll be able to do some trips to see more of Mexico and Central America. Definitely something to look forward to.