Wednesday, September 7, 2011

One Year Ago...

One year ago today, I landed in Africa for the first time. Looking back at my journal, I arrived at my hotel, discovered I had no hot water, went to the office, and ate some chicken with jolof rice. Pretty typical day in west Africa, really, but it was anything but typical for me. I've come a long way since then, establishing an entirely new life and lifestyle for myself.

In short, some of my greatest accomplishments this year:

  • Visiting 2 new continents and discovering a newfound love for parts of the world I hadn't even thought of before.
  • Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro and visiting my friend Alma in Rwanda after over a year of planning.
  • Hitting 20 countries in the span of 12 months, many of them for the first time, and many of them more than once.
  • Expanding my culinary comfort zone by eating all sorts of unusual ethnic dishes (see Nigerian giant land snails).
  • Discovering frequent flyer miles and learning how to sleep on planes.
  • Becoming comfortable taking bucket showers and surviving without proper toilets or electricity.
  • Finally achieving platinum status on the Starwood Preferred Guests program (I'm actually way too proud of this given the fact that it just means I've spent way too much time living out of hotel rooms).
  • Making friends with some pretty extraordinary people.
  • Learning that I am in fact good at the work I've wanted to do for several years.
  • Coming to understand a lot about myself, what I value, and what kind of life I want to lead.

Here's to hoping that this coming year holds just as much growth, fun, and adventure as the last!

Friday, September 2, 2011

New Beginnings, Once More

Today is my last day at Google. Actually, to be more precise, today is my third last day at Google. After all these years, you might think that, by this point, I'd be used to coming and going, and yet, it's still pretty hard. It's been an incredible 12 months. Since I started this job last August, I've made my way to 20 countries, met so many fascinating people, and made some truly extraordinary friends.

And yet, one year later, I'm also ready for a change. The flip side of moving around so much is that I haven't had much of a home this last year, or more figuratively, much of a real place in the world. Living on the extremes of life has been profoundly eye-opening. Before I started traveling a few years ago, I had no idea that this type of nomadic, high-flying lifestyle was possible. Now I've lived it, and I can appreciate it for what it is. Many of my friends have commented that my life seems to be endlessly exciting and glamorous, and to some extent, it has been, though they miss the parts when I'm throwing up from food poisoning or stranded against my will in a strange city. But it's also been somewhat isolating. It turns out that the lifestyle I had growing up has some merit to it too: seeing the same group of friends more than once every few months, having a place to call home, feeling like you actually belong. These are the things I look forward to becoming reacquainted with next year at Cambridge.

Cambridge, approaching fast on the horizon. For the last few days, I've been receiving a barrage of emails about all of the places, activities, and people that await me. I wish I could express my excitement. If I decide to keep this blog through this next step, I think I'm going to have to change the title though... Suggestions welcome.

Until the next time, my friends.