Time, resources, and brain power: the three resources most in demand here, as a Minerva student.
Time spent doing co-curriculars, in class, doing readings and assignments, sleeping, eating, cooking, socializing, doing what you love (city exploration or MOOCs on game theory) and doing what you want (reading, watching netflix, staying in bed), MiCos, laundry.
Resources spent on organic or commercial, convenient or raw, this coffee shop or that, staying in verses going out, Mexico or SxSW or Sweden.
Brain power; energy: perhaps the most precious, at the end of the day. Does it matter if you complete your readings an hour before you need to sleep if you’re too tired to pick up that new book from the library? What do you spend your energy on to organize? Upon whom do you bestow your thoughts? Which HCs do you look for in the real world, and which do you avoid like the devil?
Time, resources, energy. In a way, they all equal the other. You can buy time with resources and sell time for resources; put energy into a more effective or effective solution and you’ve got more resources or time, somewhat respectively.
The only question becomes that of prioritization. Overload your plate, and keeping them all at high levels becomes impossible.
What do you value more?
Raw time to do the stuff you really want to do?
Money to propel your dreams, propel your present?
The capacity to enjoy what little you get of these things, to enjoy your moment alone, drinking a cup of tea?
Today was a Minerva Friday, alright! (No classes on Friday means Thursdays like today feel like the beginning of our weekend.)
I’ve begun a new habit of turning off technology after classes end for the day and spending at least half an hour slowly eating lunch upstairs with other people. The intention, of course, is to eat for pleasure instead of just to sustain myself. And the break has been good for my mental health; most days begin with me rolling out of bed to review readings, taking class, reviewing more readings, taking more class––a break is far overdue by 12:30.
Today I went up about 1pm to eat, right as the Little Green Shoes began their regularly scheduled poetry reading circle. I just went up to listen and support, but ended up reading two poems I had forgotten about on my phone, Desiderata and The Cremation of Sam McGee. It was surprisingly fun––I’d forgotten my love of performance. Maybe 10 people attended, a good turn out for our small cohort: 6.3% of the student body. Okay, math challenge for those who haven’t yet forgotten what they learned in middle school: how many people would have needed to attend from the student body (45,000 people) at University of Arizona to get 6.3% turn out?
That morphed into a big game of Settlers of Catan (thanks for the suggestion, Connor!)…
Uh oh. I had to google this to make sure I was spelling Catan right… and it turns out… YOU CAN PLAY ONLINE.
Wellllllllll there goes all the rest of my free time.
I’ll finish the post before I go though.
A small group of us then went to Yves Klein’s Monotone-Silence Symphony: 20 minutes of a single note, followed immediately by 20 minutes of silence, in Grace Cathedral. It was quite a good time. The note inspired an oil painting in my mind of colors interweaving, while the silence was heavy and restless and made me thankful for having friends around me.
Stefan and Chris and I then spent several hours getting food at an excellent Korean-Mexican fusion joint, talking about the symphony, our plans for life, childhoods, even––dare I say––gossiping a bit about relationships. All very fun.
And now I’m home, wondering if I should go to sleep or watch Sherlock, or D-Day, a new Korean drama I just started…
This post is dedicated to Gabe, without whom I would have lost interest in blogging. My friend Chris really wants to meet you, Gabe. Your reputation precedes you!
Hey hey folks!
I’ve been keeping a daily blog on Minerva elsewhere on the internet, primarily for other Minerva students, and it’s been going so well I figured I should start sharing out to the rest of the community a few times a week. I try to write down funny things that have happened, lessons learned, or just reflections on the experience so far. I also usually include some music I’ve been listening to at the top of the page––hit the play button and let it wash you into my life. :)
Today was my first day back at school, after a unfortunately short break (3 weeks!) I spent in Tucson celebrating holidays and my 20th birthday, and hanging out with friends and family. Despite the new teachers and classmates, the transition was so smooth that it almost feels like I never left. I just have some more energy to spend on readings.
Sometimes I wonder if I have the adult version of the struggle with object permanence that toddlers have––when I leave something, it generally disappears from my memory. I wonder if that it’s a sort of defense mechanism from my many many years of switching cities and schools. Loss is easier to deal with if you don’t remember what you’ve lost. When I went home, Minerva and San Francisco felt like they stopped existing. Now that I’m here, Tucson seems to have disappeared. Like weather, actually–I can never remember what hot weather feels like when I haven’t experienced it in the last day, and visa versa.
(Unfortunately, this unintentional deletion of old memories and people leads to embarrassing moments at hometown parties when I introduce myself to somebody I went to 5th grade with. At those times, I try to downplay Minerva in general. The last thing I’d ever like somebody to think that I somehow think I’ve moved on to ‘bigger and better things’ and have forgotten them. I have forgotten some people, but I swear it’s not because I think I’m better than you. Just remind me of your name and the memories will start to come back.)
It’s 5 o’clock, but I’ve already finished all my readings for tomorrow. Isn’t that spectacular? :P I’m going to get started on Wednesdays now, and once I finish, continue watching The Borgias. One of my goals for this semester is to watch Netflix, actually! I’m calling it my Arts and Culture goal––I’m going to spend time each day taking in works of art: books, movies, TV shows, art… to refine my taste (and relax). After The Borgias, I’ve got several more books on my Kindle just waiting for me…
Erik Cohen wrote an excellent article in 1972, which has been referenced by most publications on tourists I’ve read. “Towards a Sociology of International Tourist” is a quick read, and will shape how you view the tourism industry and those who leave their physical home environments forever. I highly recommend, even for the casual reader. This one is very nice but may require you to create an account (for free), otherwise here is a badly formatted but free access pdf online!
I’ve finished the final draft of my research proposal and am just waiting on feedback from a mentor, and then I’m excited to share it with y’all!
Today marks one month since my arrival to San Francisco. Doesn’t feel like that at all––every day has been stuffed full to the brim.
Since I have zero time to write you a post (I’ve literally been working on homework nonstop since Monday morning and I’m STILL behind for tomorrow), I’ll just include an email I wrote to my advisor when he asked for a check in letter. :’) enjoy
Today marks my one month anniversary in San Francisco! Time flies when you’re having fun––or simultaneously accurate, when your every waking moment is filled with Minerva events. Things have lessened a little with the second week of regular class… in that, we’re down to one mandatory event/training/workshop/team builder/conference/once-in-a-life-time opportunity a day. :P
Beyond the stress of completing homework while attending the most prestigious conferences San Fran has to offer while doing yoga for twenty five hours a day broken only by meditating on the biggest questions of universe…. anyways!
Two minutes left.
At the Market, now, with many other students near by. We’re all taking advantage of $2 tacos at a place normally far out of our financial reach. Braden and I are sitting outside doing assignments and readings. (Actually, we’re both just trying to get into a good space to do assignments. Checking email, responding to surveys, emailing our advisor, our work study bosses, downloading python packages for extra make up work, so we can do readings and not wake up one day to find our metaphorical electricity turned off.)
Everything else is pretty good––love this community, love myself, all the good stuff.
Being an RA is hard, but I guess it was to be expected that students would flock towards anybody who seemed like they knew what they were doing, even if in name only.
I get no end of pleasure from telling people I live in San Francisco.
Which is fortunate, really, since my phone has been blowing up (relatively) with calls from pizza companies and law offices looking for people I’ve never heard of. No, I couldn’t have ordered that pizza, I live in San Francisco. No, I don’t know whoever didn’t return that lawsuit information, I live in San Francisco.
Oh, by the way––I’m a resident of California living in San Francisco.
The last week, I’ve been participating in RA training for my dorm. RAs, or Resident Assistants, provide peer support to fellow students living in the resident hall. (Which is the entire school at this point, all 160 of us.) This ranges from being a resource to students and providing info on the city, programming, academics, rules, etc. and being a link between the student body and the school administration.
It promises to be an awesome learning experience for me, as well as a lot of fun! I do enjoy knowing what’s going on and taking a leadership role, so this role seems pretty perfect to me. Training has been intense––in the last week, I’ve become first aid and CPR certified, participated in two peer counseling and suicide prevention workshops, made name signs for all my residents, been woken up by the fire alarm going off 3 nights in a row (they’ve fixed it now I think, good practice though), gone through building safety lectures and pop quizzes, identity exploration, icebreaker training… and so much more. Oh, and we had to build most of the furniture from IKEA in the building by hand! #somanyskillz
It’s midnight, now, so I’ll head to bed now and just leave you with some more photos and a revelation. I have to get up at 7am tomorrow, and I’ve still got to read some Game of Thrones tonight. I’m halfway through the third book, and THE RED WEDDING JUST HAPPENED OH MY GOD OH MY GOD OH MY GOD–
I guess I can’t really speak for all of Minerva yet, or the other students, since we haven’t started school yet and the other students haven’t arrived yet.
But there’s something about this whole thing that is magical.
And in a way, the part that is so magical about it is how normal it seems.
I feel like I’ve been a part of this organization, that I’ve been with these other RAs, for the last 10 years. It feels like a natural extension of myself. I enjoy being around the people. I really like, respect, and trust the adults working on the project. My fellow RAs are the most mature peers I’ve ever met.
Part of this ease of mind comes from the fact I think I’ve finally stopped fighting myself. I haven’t started over completely in a while. I’ve lived with my family for almost my whole life, and for the past ~8 years in Tucson, Arizona. Even when I spent a year studying abroad in Panama, I clung to home and family. (I was 16 and had never been away from home before. And by clung I mean I kept myself updated on the occurrences back home, and had the mindset I would be returning. I was not always on my phone, don’t worry. :P )
Last year, I went to my in-state university in Tucson, where my dorm room was 5 minutes walk from my dad’s office, and old friend groups were easily accessible.
But now… now I’ve left home with the intention of moving out completely. I’ve grown, I have my individuality and independence. I know how to take care of myself, and well. I know who I am, and more importantly, I have a good idea of who I want to be.
It feels like my entire life so far has suddenly paid off. All the hard work I’ve put in over the years shows suddenly in this moment.
I miss my friends, family, and town, but it feels so healthy to be able to shuck off all identities and impressions and obligations I no longer want to keep as a part of “Phoebe.” I can be whoever I want to be… namely, myself.
Hmm, I think I said that in a previous post. I just really like that sentence. :)
And I’ve accepted all the parts that make Phoebe, Phoebe. There are still some that I work ever day to change, obviously. But I accept them, I acknowledge them. I’m honest with myself and about myself. All those self-love workshops really did hit home––they just needed a full restart to kick in. That makes me happier than words can describe, so with that, sweet dreams, world.
Travel: Taxi: Purple House Hostel—>David bus terminal($1.25). Bus: David—> Lost & Found hostel ($3.50)
Lodging: Lost & Found hostel ($12/night to share a big bed in dorms, otherwise $14/night dorm).
Activities: Bus from waterfall ($1)
The Lost and Found ecolodge is my favorite hostel in Panama. Set in the top of the mountains between Changuinola and David, in the Chiriqui provence, the hostel is the only traveler destination for hours. The closest store is some 40 minutes walk away, next to a restaurant and some stands selling fresh fruits and veggies.
Once you’re dropped off by a bus from Changuinola or David, there’s another 10 minute hike uphill through the forest. Amazingly, all the supplies and building materials were carried up the same small trail you use today when they were building the hostel. Today, strapping, local boys can be spotted bringing up huge crates of beer, food, snacks, and whatever else the hostel needs.
What I love most about Lost and Found is the sense of community that grows between travelers (and staff) that comes from being the only visitors in the area. You wake up together, eat breakfast together, go on hikes or do the treasure hunt together, eat a family style dinner together cooked by the hostel (for $8), visit their rescued kinkajou Rocky together, go to the bar together. Some people even sleep together. ;) And many groups will leave together, to go to Boquete or the Bocas islands. It’s a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of most other hostels, where people you meet disappear on the regular.
The best way to get to know people is to go on the hostel’s treasure hunt. It’s a full day activity, taking you up steep, steep hills, along a sort of cliff edge, to a beautiful valley lookout, across deep streams. Deciphering clues is easy enough that you won’t get lost, but you definitely have a bit of a search for the clue itself once you get to the right spot. Upon your return, you have to put together a special story from clues hidden around the hostel, and if you share the story at the bar, there is a ritual and prize waiting for you!
My other favorite thing is the weather. Where I lived in Changuinola a few years ago, the humidity levels never seemed to drop below 99.9%. (Just kidding––they often got down to 90%.) This trip Ally and I traveled along the coast of Costa Rica, where humidity levels were similarly high. Up in the mountains was one of two places I stepped out of the shower (mercifully hot showers, too) and felt clean and dry. (The other place I felt like that was Hostel Bekuo, in San José, my favorite hostel in Costa Rica. Hmm, are you seeing a trend here?)
Unfortunately, this hostel brings heartbreak along with the joy. I always connect with the people here so much that it’s hard to move on. (I also met a boy so there you go.) Something I learned this trip was that I actually don’t really like traveling. I like living. Existing. Being. I like being those things abroad in new environments, with new people, sure. I love going abroad, don’t get me wrong. But I really enjoy being somewhere for long enough to understand the place on a plethora of levels, instead of just spending a few nights there. Social, political, financial, social justice, shopping trends, you name it. I’m curious about how everything comes into play in a place. Just as important to me is experiencing it with other people who you will continue to have a connection with in the future. For example, traveling with Ally this trip was wonderful, because we live right next door to each other and share our friend group. I’ve seen her many times since we returned, and we can look back on and reflect on our experience, grow even more. Relive the best (and the worst).
That’s how I want to travel from now on: not just going somewhere for the sake of having been; instead, exist in a new place with friends by my side.
Good thing I’m on the plane to San Francisco to begin my journey with Minerva as I write this, huh? A year in San Francisco, then a semester in 6 different cities across the globe with my entire college class. It’s going to be an amazing four years. If you haven’t heard about Minerva, my college, check out my blog post! Some of my finest work, if I do say so myself. :)
Activities: $9 – Costa Rica exit tax (suspiciously $9 instead of $7).
Pictured above: Ally on one of our long bus rides.
Awesomely, our Swiss friend from the hostel was headed in the same direction at the same time, so we got to ride the bus with him for two hours and talked, before he got off to catch other bus.
We went to the town that was nearest the board, whose name I forget (probably like most travelers), and caught a taxi about 10 seconds after we got off the colectivo bus (a local bus that makes regular stops instead of direct).
Crossing the border was easy, it took about 45 minutes. There’s a $7 exit tax to leave Costa Rica, although somehow we ended up paying $9. We didn’t feel like fighting over $2 each though, since it was a battle I’ve never heard of anybody winning. The only snag came when it was my turn and the officer noticed that I had a visa for Panama in my passport, from my year of study abroad there two years ago. With the special stamp comes a identification card that gives you temporary resident status, which we had to return when we left the country, and the officer want to know why I didn’t have it. I explained the situation a few times, she went to talk to a superior, and luckily I was let through without issue.
(Short history of other immigration run ins: When we first arrived in Panama in 2013, our passports were confiscated and we were held in the airport because of an identity mixup within our group on their part––they thought our program leader was going to be with us, and then assumed it was one of the exchange students, and thought she was trying to fake her ID because it was hers and not the woman they thought she was. Another time I was going near the border with some friends, and ran into an unexpected border control checkpoint. When I showed them my passport, the officer saw that I had been in the country some 10 months without a new entry stamp, which is illegal. He didn’t seem to understand what the visa stamp permitting me another 6 months in country was, and I had to go over it with him, pointing out the expiration date and everything. I don’t know if he’d ever seen one before. Luckily, he eventually let me through without problems as well, although after that everybody in the back of the bus who only heard me arguing with him over my passport gave me funny looks after that.)
Once we got on the bus to David, I realized I had been a fool to ever say that Costa Rica looked so much like Panama. How could I have forgotten the uniqueness of Panama? Bars, bus stops, and shops were all painted in familiar brands once again (Atlas, Movistar, Más Mobil); many women dressed in the bright style of the indigenous group Ngöbe-Bugle. Once we reached Concepción, a town about an hour from the boarder, I was in familiar territory. There was the bus stop where my Norwegian friend and I waited for our double date to pick us up on Valentine’s Day when I was visiting her after an orientation. Here was the stretch of by-the-hour love hotels shaped like castles. The David bus terminal I had been to countless times. As we walked down the rows of departing buses, each bearing the name of the city or town they were going to, pings of sadness went through me as I remembered a face of an exchange student friend who lived at the end of that bus line. Suddenly, I realized I had never been more alone in Panama. It was good to have Ally at my side.
We stayed in the Purple House. I felt very safe there, liked the owner and volunteers, and there was only two other travelers in the hostel. Everything was indeed purple. However, it was sort of grubby, which is what you get for $9 a night I suppose.
The awesome part came when Ally’s Panamanian friend she met while volunteering in Costa Rica picked us up to catch up, and we ended up picking up another friend and going out. To Boquete! Whatttttt! I did not realize that Boquete was so close to David. Only like half an hour! Boquete We got a huge plate of food for $3 at a local eatery (got to love Panamanian prices), then went to a gringo bar. There was a lot of 40-somethings there for the live band covering 80’s hits. I was wearing my University of Arizona Global Studies shirt, which caught the owner’s eye. She came over to introduce herself as a alumni of U of A! What a coincidence. We talked for a bit, I told her I was 19, etc. etc. Later, when I went in to order another drink, she saw what I was doing. “Oh, that’s the beer menu,” she said. “Can I get you the food menu?” I had to laugh (inside)—habits die hard, apparently, like not serving alcohol to under 21-year-olds. (Drinking age in Panama is 18.) After going to another restaurant where Ally’s friends were playing, it was time to go home. It was one of the best nights in Panama. :) Moral of the story: make friends and keep in touch!