This one’s for Taylor

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From Wurster Hall, view toward Oakland

After nearly four months of travel, I’ve returned to berkeley for a much anticipated break.  It’s a chance to recharge, repack, meet with some professors, visit the CED library, watch my friends and classmates graduate, catch up with family and weddings, and gear up for the next leg of the journey.  Right now, the East Coast and Northern Europe are on the radar screen.

I can’t help but be astounded by how amazing the bay area looks and feels again.  We are a fortunate people.  Oakland rises out of the ground with the energy of a new city and the other day, while squinting through the fog and sun on the Bay Bridge, San Francisco could have been the hilly slums and towers of Navi Mumbai.

retrospective

I began this trip like I begin most things in my life: jumping head-first into the deep end.  Unanswered questions and unsought plane tickets weighed on my mind, yet the time was ripe to set sail, so I held my breath, closed my eyes, and took the initial plunge.  For those who know me, this is how I operate.  And so far in this life, it has panned out fairly well.

I’m not a neurotic planner (I’m an urban planner), but I am someone who takes comfort in the fact that some things pan out well and time and energy can be saved when things are prepared in advance.  I like to devise a basic framework in which certain things can be expected and others happen instantaneously.  I aim for the flexibility of change over time.  I like to see the light at the end of the tunnel even if I’m blind to the steps immediately ahead.  I’ve always been able to relate to Lou Khan’s “how accidental our existences are, really, and how full of chance by circumstance.”  I believe in tipping points and environmental/psychological determinism, and destiny, but also in the fact that a little free will goes a long way.  Of course, I also believe in God.  Faith is something that has often pushed me to jump when I couldn’t picture myself doing it alone.

When I first left Berkeley (and my jacket in the trunk of Jude’s car) to embark on this first trip around the world,  I wasn’t so confident that I had established enough of a framework to last the entire four months.  I was scattered, naive, unexperienced on the art of solo travel.  Now, four/five months deep, I am getting comfortable with the idea of the unexpected.  I am in control of the uncontrollable…and it feels nice.  I am able to stand back and compare the ins and outs of this journey….and hopefully, take one giant step in the direction of thesis.

So, at this half-way point, pre-Europe and the First World, I want to give all new acquaintances, old friends and family a shout-out.  Thanks for following the journey (both electronically and physically) and thanks for all your support.  I apologize for the brief lull in blog posts and promise to bust these out soon enough, expect higher frequency, more content, and sweeter links.  I might even have one hell of an editor helping me along.

I’m going to do some back-blogging of Seoul and Tokyo before I set sail again.  Then I’ll see you all in New England for a brief research stint at some top Universities before flying non-stop from NYC to HEL (Helsinki, Finland).  Check the Itinerary page: now updated.

Sometimes I own the cities, and other times they own me.

New cities are a worthwhile scope of study because I can usually wrap my head around their systems of transportation and rules of engagement.  These latest stops on the trip were a wake-up call for me to revert back to the original travel plan of staying in fewer places for longer amounts of time.  The intention, I keep reminding myself, is to get to know the place as thoroughly as possible.
Cheers!

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