Back to New York

•August 13, 2012 • Leave a Comment

This weekend I made a quick trip to NYC – not my first trip (that was in 2011) but the first trip I’ve made in a while. It was also my girlfriend’s first time in the Big Apple, so we mostly just took in the sights and walked around a bit. While I’m not sure I could ever live in NYC (at least not Manhattan), I do like visiting: lots of cool architecture, always something going on, and reliable 24-hour public transit. WMATA could learn a thing or two! However, word of advice for anyone thinking of going: avoid the summer months! The heat wears on you after a while, way too many tourists, plus we managed to get stuck in weekend beach traffic making for a very long bus ride. Next time we’re going in the winter!

The Chrysler Building, one of my favorites:
NYC - Chrysler Building


Online-Trainers for German

•August 9, 2012 • Leave a Comment

In an attempt to start working on learning German, I’ve been combing the Internet for viable language-training options. Rosetta Stone is probably the best known, and while I’d like to try it, the cost is a little too high for my budget ($500 for the whole set!). Pimselur is a bit more affordable – I used it in the past to learn Korean; it’s audio-only and great for pronunciation but I felt I didn’t learn new vocabulary very quickly.

I came across this Groupon yesterday for an online service called Online-Trainers and decided to try it out. It doesn’t seem as well-known as some of the other language courses out there, but the courses seem well put together and the price is right. I plan to give the German courses a go when I get more time, fingers crossed that I’m actually able to learn something 🙂

Onward assignment

•August 1, 2012 • 1 Comment

So the 2013 bid season is over, and I finally have an onward assignment! It’s a friendly little country, known for its dense woodlands, famous roads, and efficient workers. Oh, and is also well-known for its beer and pretzels 🙂 As you have probably guessed, it’s:


That’s right – looks like I’m headed to Germany! More precisely, I’ll be headed to Frankfurt, Germany sometime next summer. While I changed my bid list several times over the last month or so (SE Asia, North Africa, even considered another domestic assignment), I ultimately took my girlfriend’s suggestion and went for Germany – and I’m really glad I did 🙂 My experiences in Europe are actually pretty limited: a week in Hungary last fall, and a week in London many years ago. While I loved my time in Korea and Japan, I’m actually kind of looking forward to exploring someplace totally new and different.

In an effort to keep my friends and family up to speed, I plan to start updating this blog more often (yes, I’m serious this time!) as the move gets closer so stay tuned. Until then, guess I better start working on my German…

I have a car again!

•March 13, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Not quite two years ago I sold my beloved maroon red 2004 Corolla and thus began my first-ever attempt at embracing the car-free lifestyle. At the time, I was living in Seoul and didn’t really want a car – public transit was stellar, and parking was pretty much nonexistent (Seoul-style parallel parking = parking your car on the sidewalk). Decided to continue going car-less when I moved to DC for various reasons; while it’s been a bit more of a challenge here, it’s still been surprisingly doable.

Still, the continuous delays of relying on Metro on the weekends, plus the fact that I’m spending more and more time outside the District (and up to renting cars almost every weekend), finally compelled me to start shopping around. Last weekend, I finally broke the car-free streak and bought a slightly-used Mazda3. Kind of nice not always being at the mercy of infrequent bus schedules or WMATA’s “scheduled track maintenance” anymore.

I’m back! What I’ve been up to since I posted last

•March 11, 2012 • Leave a Comment

So I’ve been taking a self-imposed hiatus of sorts from blogging over the past few months, decided it was time to start updating it again. We’ll see how long it lasts, but hoping to post things on at least a somewhat regular basis!

First off, bidding. For various reasons, I ended up getting extended on my current tour for another year. Fortunately I like DC, have plenty of friends here, plenty to do, etc – still hope to get back out there eventually but for now I don’t mind 🙂 I’ll be re-bidding this upcoming summer, will certainly be interesting to see how it turns out.

I also had the chance to take a few trips near the end of last year. In September, I traveled to Budapest to visit a few friends and enjoy a week of well-deserved vacation. Also used the chance to hone my photography skills a bit. Here’s some pics:

St Peter's

Castle Moat

As you can see, I’ve been toying with black & white photography a bit – kind of cool what you can do with it!

In late October, I had the chance to visit Dakar, Senegal for work. It was an interesting experience, certainly different from other places I’ve visited but I still had a pretty good time. Gave me a little of a well-needed intro to the “Africa Experience”, assuming I stay in the Foreign Service long-term I’m sure I’ll end up there again someday! Here are some of my favorite pics from the trip:

City skyline from lighthouse
Beach Scene in Dakar

First pic is of westernmost Dakar, the part jutting out to the left is Pointe des Almadies (might be misspelling that) – it juts into the Atlantic and is the westernmost point in mainland Africa. Second pic is a fishing boat – I saw quite a few similar boats in Dakar.

Giant TortoiseLast picture! This is one of two giant tortoises that some of the embassy employees in Dakar keep as pets (they’ve gotten pretty big, the shoes give you some idea of size). They’re “free range” and quite friendly, mostly living off the grass and the occasional piece of fruit. Quiet, not likely to run away, and they mow your lawn for free – I wouldn’t mind having a pet like that 🙂

Bidding Season has begun

•July 24, 2011 • Leave a Comment

As you can probably guess by the lack of posts, the past few months have been a bit hectic. Between classes, family, and everything else, I’ve definitely had my hands full! However, now that things are slowing down a bit I thought I’d try to get this blog going again.

One of the biggest events at work this past month has been the start of bidding season. The 2012 entry-level specialist list came out about two weeks ago, with bids due the first week of September. The potential list for my specialty is fairly short – about a dozen posts overseas, plus another 4 or 5 spots here in DC. While DC is great, I’m definitely hoping to get overseas with this next tour. Both for career advancement (not much I can do here in DC as an entry-level employee with no field experience), and because I really want to get back out there…but we’ll see how it plays out. Either way, I should find out where I’m headed (or not headed) by late September/early October.

Speaking of travel, I do have a few trips to look forward to in the next couple of months – think I’ll be headed to Europe in mid-September, followed by a trip to visit family back in the Midwest. Should be fun!

Cherry Blossoms

•March 26, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Yup, spring is officially here! For DC, this apparently means only one thing – cherry blossoms. In an effort to see what all the excitement is about, I headed down to the Tidal Basin this morning and took some pictures. Having never seen the blossoms before, I was surprised at how much color they add – the whole area is awash in white and pink. Really makes the whole area pretty.

Jefferson Memorial + cherry blossoms

Cherry Blossoms

Not much going on outside of blossom festivities at the moment. Work has been going well so far; I’m mostly taking classes at the moment to finish my job training, which will continue to keep me busy until at least August. August will also bring the much-venerated summer bid cycle, when I find out where I’m headed for my next post! Kind of ready to get back overseas and definitely have some ideas on where I’d like to go, but for now I’m just waiting for that bid list to come out 🙂

New York City trip

•February 22, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Lately I’ve been a bit busy with work and other things in my life, so this week I decided it was time for a break. Being on the East Coast now, I took advantage of the holiday weekend and headed up to New York City for a few days of fun. The trip went pretty well! I took the super-cheap Megabus (which is actually fairly nice) from DC to Penn Station Friday morning. After arriving, I met up with my friend Grace. We did some sightseeing around Midtown, and then visited MoMA. Later that evening we headed to Rockefeller Center and Times Square for some night shots.

Times Square area from 30 Rockefeller

Times Square

Saturday was a bit quieter. It was really cold, so I checked out lower Manhattan and the Time Warner Center, then walked around the West Side a bit before heading down to Koreatown to get dinner and do some shopping. New York’s Koreatown is reasonably authentic, but depressingly small – only one block of one street! Still, I was at least able to get my kimchi fix 🙂

New York City’s Koreatown

I headed out on my own Sunday to check out the Metropolitan Museum of Art – really impressive, but way too big! Unlike MoMA, it had more “traditional” art: really old paintings, lots of religious art, and plenty of ancient but impressive-looking Greek sculptures. I only saw about half of it before I got tired and decided I had seen enough.  Afterwords I met up with some other travelers at my hostel and wandered around Greeenwich Village and Midtown a bit looking for Sunday nightlife. To my surprise, Manhattan is apparently kind of dead on Sunday nights.

My bus back to DC wasn’t until Monday evening, so I spent my last morning in NYC checking out the Museum of Natural History. I was less than impressed with the Natural History part of the museum – they have an excellent collection, but the crowds were insane. Maybe too many kids who saw “Night at the Museum”? The science/space portion of the museum however was pretty awesome, particularly for a science geek like me 🙂 Afterwords, I killed my last couple of hours wandering around the Upper West Side before catching the bus back to DC. Unfortunately, due to snow in Maryland + Metro delays here in DC, I didn’t get home until about 1am – just 5 hours before I had to get up for work today! Despite the lack of sleep, it was still a fun trip. I plan to make it up again before the end of the year – but next time I hope the weather is a bit more bearable.

Christmas time

•December 19, 2010 • Leave a Comment

So once again I seem to be neglecting my blog…but I can assure you that this last month has been anything but boring. Between happy hours, holiday parties, classes, museum visits, and everything else, I’ve had my hands full but am still having a blast 🙂 I’ll say this – D.C. is a fantastic city, and I for one can definitely see myself coming back here if the Foreign Service life doesn’t work out (hoping it does, but you never know…).

Since the holidays are almost here, I thought I’d share a few seasonal photos I took last week. I’ll be visiting the family later this week so this will be my last post before the holidays are upon us – so an early Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Ice-skating at the Sculpture Garden downtown

The National Christmas Tree, across from the White House


Taking pictures around D.C.

•November 21, 2010 • 2 Comments

In case you’re wondering about the lack of updates, I’ve been a bit busy as of late and have had to scale back my writing a bit. One thing I have been getting into during my free time (that is, when I have free time) has been photography. Below are a few of my better shots from the past month.

Inside the National Cathedral

T-Rex at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History

The Rally to Restore Sanity / Keep Fear Alive over Halloween weekend