Uncertainty can be happiness

"Security is a false god," or running around the world as an FSO

Archive for the ‘Graduate school’ Category


Posted by quirksalight on April 3, 2011

The most common question I get, considering my educational background, is, “How did you go from biomedical engineering to the Foreign Service?”

Convoluted? Yes and no. There’s a bit of history, and the kernels behind all this were placed a long time ago. In high school, I was on the high school debate team and that ignited my interest in politics and international relations. However, I was rather obsessed with science and had dreams of developing a treatment/device that would revolutionize medicine. It wasn’t until grad school, after being burned out of medical research, when I had to start thinking of, “now what?”. My temporary answer was to take a leave of absence for a year and teach English in Korea. That’s one of the earlier points in this blog, back in 2007.

But in Korea, teaching was one thing, but straddling two cultures socially and linguistically was a whole ‘nother beast. Plus, I came to Korea at a political change; for the first time in 10 years, the progressive party was out of office and the conservatives came into power the month I arrived, March 2008. This combined with my background in Korean culture and language, sciences, and interest in politics led to some interesting discussions with the faculty in my middle school, handling getting punched on a subway, acting as a facilitator for my foreign friends in Korea, and occasionally having to explain what the U.S. government was doing to my students, colleagues, and friends.

I really enjoyed that interaction – facilitating the understanding between two cultures, though not so much the getting hit part. Which led me to starting thinking about the Foreign Service. I always planned to go into public service, someday, when I was on the academic track. But I hadn’t thought about it again until when I was in Korea, pondering my next step. So I did – FSOT exam date was November 5, 2008. I got the acceptance in to the QEP in December 2008, decided not to sign a teaching contract for another year, gambling that I would pass the QEP and get to the OA, which I did. So I left Korea, with a freelance editing gig, prepped for the OA and passed on June 15, 2009. A year later, I was prepping to leave DC for my first tour as a POL officer in Seoul. whew! What a whirlwind…


Posted in ancedotes, commentary, election 2008, Graduate school, Korea, New York, school, Science, Seoul, teaching english | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »

Good bye, NY

Posted by quirksalight on November 2, 2007

My car is packed, the room is empty (of my stuff at least), and I’m craving coffee. Today, I am moving out of Long Island, NY, etc. Can’t say that I’m going to miss the location much, but it is always a difficult process to part with good friends. But it’s time.

So au revoir, ciao, etc… good bye NY, it’s been a crazy three and a half years.

Exeunt, stage left, no looking back.

Posted in Graduate school, moving, NY, Otherlife/grad school | 1 Comment »

Dawn of a new day…

Posted by quirksalight on October 20, 2007

And it’s a wrap! Well, mostly. Yesterday (Friday, 10/19) was my last day in the lab, and today is officially the first day of my leave of absence. And now… well… it’s interesting…the amount of free time I have is making me more a bit giddy.
It was rather sweet; two of my friends organized a surprise going away party for me; cake and ice cream with friends. Fantastic! =) On top of this, a night out in Manhattan to a great Moroccan restaurant called Tagine Dining Gallery led to a grand ol’ time.

Sometimes, I wonder about my decision, but with the medical problems I’ve been having, my general unhappiness with being a graduate student, and lack of focus, this is the best choice for me. The leave will let me decide if I miss research or not, and give me a chance to focus on my rehabilitation of my knee.

Posted in Dinner, Food, Graduate school, knee, Manhattan, moroccan, moving, musing, New York, Otherlife/grad school, travel | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Drag Queens and Food

Posted by quirksalight on October 10, 2007

This past weekend, the ladies of the “wool crew” (as the stitch n’ bitchers have been referred to) took me to Lucky Chang’s in Manhattan as a celebration of my eminent leap into the great unknown.
Now, Lucky Cheng’s is a place with a dinner and a show. Dinner being a “pan-asian” cuisine with the drinks having rather raunchy names, and the description of the serving sizes too! On top of that, the show is a drag cabaret performance by Maxxy and the Asian dollys. (yes, the stereotypes run riot there)
I had an absolute blast! Yes, there was audience participation. 😛

Posted in Alcohol, amusing, Asian-Americans, Food, Graduate school, Humor, Knitting, New York, restaurants, she/he w/sticks, stereotypes, Stitch n' Bitch | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Apparently I’m safer out of school….

Posted by quirksalight on August 9, 2007

The latest issue of Wired magazine had an amusing article: The Best Dangerous Science Jobs
My current profession: #6 – Graduate Student
Kaboom!?!? [Source: Wired magazine]

Is it a bad thing if I look at the list and think, “hmm….possible checklist?”

#1 (Astronaut) – I wanna go to space!!
#2 (BSL-4 researcher) – Ebola, anyone?
#3 (hurricane hunter) – “We’re off to see the Wizard! The wonderful Wizard of Oz!”
#4 (Doctors without Borders Lab tech) – Danger, with a side of microbes…
#5 (Propulsion Engineer) – nah…
#6 – (Grad student) – Doing it now
#7 – (Volcanologist) – cool, but not really interesting
#8 – (Biologist) – done it

Posted in amusing, danger, Graduate school, Humor, Nerdity, print magazine, Science, Uncategorized, Wired | Leave a Comment »