Every year, Harvard gives its students the full month of January off, so after all the hubbub of final exams, Christmas, and New Year’s has died down, we find ourselves with a whole month of downtime, with no exams to study for and no projects to complete. Many students take this time to simply laze and veg out; others find a month-long internship or school-provided activity to do. I personally like to use this time to travel.
Two “J-terms”, as we call this break, ago, I traveled down to Kigali, Rwanda, where my eldest sister Elizabeth runs a non-profit school for women, the Akilah Institute, and my other older sister, Mary Patton, was moving to in order to start a new career. For a month, I lived with Dave, Elizabeth’s fiancé, Elizabeth, and Mary Patton, traveling about the city and helping out at the school, learning some basic Kinyarwanda and attempting to bargain in the markets.
Last J-term, I followed Elizabeth and Dave, who survived long enough in our overwhelmingly female family to become her husband, again; but this time to a different country: Hong Kong. There, I went on long hikes, explored outlying islands, prepared for Chinese New Year (year of the Snake), attempted to speak some Mandarin with Cantonese speakers, and interviewed with a few Hong Kong companies.
Now, sitting here in Perth, Western Australia at Dave’s family’s house, in the middle of their summer (it’s 104 Fahrenheit here and blizzarding back in Boston), with waves crashing up on the beach right outside my window, a weird bird that sounds like it has a kazoo stuck in its throat serenading me, and a steaming hot cup of tea beside me, per usual, I am feeling quite lucky. Because once again, I have been given the opportunity to travel to another continent for J-term. And now, with some kangaroo and koala sightings, many terrible attempts at an Australian accent, mate, and driving on the left side of the road, I am experiencing and enjoying another month of winter break just the way I like to- by being a traveling bird.
So thank you parents, for helping to ship me over here, and thank you Dave & family, for once again giving me a new place to explore.