Thinking about moving abroad? Read this!

Ever since the presidential election in America picked up steam, many people have joked about moving to Canada if the ‘wrong’ person gets elected.

But seriously, have you thought about living in another country?

For many Americans, a brief vacation overseas or a semester abroad during college is the extent of their time spent outside their native country. As a thirty-something who has lived abroad in Europe and Asia for a total of 6 years, I know what’s necessary to successfully work, study, make friends, and learn to live in a foreign country.  The benefits of living abroad are many and far-reaching, and I want to help others explore the idea of living abroad. We can act as informal ambassadors of our country, building bridges across languages, religions, and cultures.

Last week I published my Guide to Living Abroad on Amazon, which helps you approach living abroad in a holistic way, preparing you to reach your goals and have an enriching time.  The e-book takes you from when you first have the idea, all the way through your return home with useful worksheets and flowcharts as well as anecdotes from my own time abroad.  Some of the ideas covered in the book include:

  • Is moving abroad the right idea for you?  What can you do to prepare?
  • What should you take care of before departing?
  • What things will help ease the transition to your new home?
  • What can you do to align your daily life abroad to your bigger picture goals?
  • How can you ease your transition when you head home?

My e-book is available both for purchase and as a loan through Kindle Unlimited.

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Why not try a new way of life abroad? (Venice, Italy 2016)

 

Reading Update Q3 2016

My reading goal for 2016 was to read a book each month.  This was fine, a reasonable decision for a busy professional such as myself, and totally doable… until I started reading and listening to Shantaram in April.  This book is a hefty 946 pages.

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Our reading nook 

I read books mostly by borrowing them from the public library as e-books or audiobooks, so sometimes I have to wait until they are available if others are ahead of me in line.  So that is part of the reason why it took me so long to finish it, another reason is that it’s poorly written and very slow to get into.  But I recently finished it! So to date, I’ve finished 7 books this year, with two currently in the works as well.  See below for the books I’ve completed, and the others still on my list to read this year:

Go Set a Watchman  DONE!

In Other Words DONE!

How to Be a Productivity Ninja

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle  DONE!

Sea of Poppies

Last Man in Tower

The Swerve: How the World Became Modern  DONE!

Cutting for Stone

Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil

Shantaram  DONE!

The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History

Positivity Attracts

The Winter of our Disconnect  DONE!

Food: A Love Story DONE!

Hagakure  In progress

Savor  In progress

I found Hagakure after watching the movie Ghost Dog with my boyfriend, and really appreciate the book’s link between behavior and values.  It’s also a quick read, at less than 200 pages.  I’d like to read a few shorter books to catch up with my goal.  5 more books before the end of the year is an ambitious goal, given that it’s almost November!

I’m also still reading the daily devotional book Savor.  I was good during the first few months of the year to read and write briefly about the essay every morning, but haven’t done it regularly since then.  Every once in a while I read the day’s essay and think about it, but I think it would be nice to get back into that habit to reflect a bit more every day and keep things in perspective.

What are you reading this year?  Do you have a reading goal on Goodreads?  If you’ve read any of the books I list above, what did you think about them?

Fitness v. Reading

As a goal-oriented person, I take my commitments very seriously and take immense pleasure in seeing progress as I get closer to my goals.  Unfortunately, each day only has a limited number of hours in it, so we can only accomplish so much in a given day.  There’s a push and a pull for each decision I make on how I spend my time.  Lately, the tension has been between my goal of finishing the P90X fitness program before my boyfriend and I set off on our European vacation in late August, and making progress on my reading goal for this year.

When he suggested we do the P90X program, we calculated that we had plenty of time to finish the 90-day program before our departure, with some extra days thrown in, in case of sickness or if we needed extra rest days.  What we soon realized after starting the program was that when it’s both a work day and P90X day, that usually doesn’t leave much time or energy for any other activity.  If we had dinner planned with friends, that usually meant we wouldn’t be working out that day.

It is helpful to have a workout sheet on the fridge and see what’s coming up in the next few days.  I love washi tape and use it to cover each workout as we complete them.

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I joke that playing with washi tape is the reason why I do the workouts.

We’re now on Week 10 of the program (woo hoo!) but that means I’ve really dropped the ball on my reading goals.  It also doesn’t help that I started reading a 900+ page novel that’s pretty slow to get into.  I’ve recently made an effort to get back into listening to the audiobook on my walk home after work, but it’s a real struggle some days.  Perhaps I should start a vision board for my reading goals just like I have for P90X.  That way I could see my progress and get motivated!

Precious Words

It’s difficult to appreciate the freedom and privilege we have these days, when words and information and theories abound and can be googled from most places on Earth from a handheld smartphone.  I can learn about basically anything, and write about basically anything, I want.  True, some countries still try to stop their citizens from reading or writing about certain topics. But there is an almost endless supply of information shared today.

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Fleeting beauty of a passion fruit vine

Even one or two generations ago, though, hard copy books were where information could be found and a publisher was needed before someone could become a published author.  If we take this back a few steps further, to the Classical Age, very few people (relative to today) could read and write. The manuscripts from this age, written on papyrus or parchment, captured thoughts and theories that were, and still are, pretty wild and contentious.

The amount of time, effort, and luck that went into keeping those words alive throughout the past two thousand(ish) years is remarkable.   Perhaps then too there were useless, long-winded narratives, but many were probably lost to the elements.  The ones that still remain and can be read by us present us with ideas and theories from a very different world.

What kind of valuable contribution would you want to create, if you knew something of yours would be one of the few books that survive for the next two thousand years?

Inspired by the book The Swerve: How the World Became Modern by Stephen Greenblatt. 

Book List Update: Q1 2016

It’s already the end of March so I thought I’d check in with ya’ll on my 2016 Book List progress!  I wrote a blog post on my goal of reading 12 books this year, and listed those I thought I’d tackle in this blog post.

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle was a beast.  I started reading and listening to this book right before Christmas and it took me until the third week of February to get through it.  I’d listen to it when I was working on renovating our bathroom, so when I think about painting the wall or tiling the back wall, I think about the chapter I was listening to at that time.  I appreciated parts of this book an its portrayal of marriage and the self, but overall I thought it was a slog.

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I have also read Winter of Our Disconnect which wasn’t on my reading list as of late December last year.  This was some entertaining non-fiction, documenting a single mom and her children’s disconnect from at-home internet and smartphones.  I think being able to disconnect and live life without wifi is becoming a lost art, and worth exploring. Perhaps ironic that I read this book on my Kindle…. even though my sister sent me a paperback version… >.<

I’m still trying to read each daily essay in Savor.  The past few weeks I’ve fallen out of the habit since my parents were visiting from Europe and I’ve also been trying to get over a nasty cold.  I do appreciate the chance to think about larger ideas each morning though, and connect them to whatever is happening in my life that day.

I’m currently listening to Go Set a Watchman since the e-book wasn’t available from the Hawaii Public Library but the audiobook was.  So far it’s pretty good, telling the story of Jean Louise coming home to Maycomb Alabama from New York for a visit.  Things might have just shifted for her though, when she sees her father and potential fiance at a citizen council meeting…

What are you reading these days?  Do you have any recommendations for me on what to tackle next from my list?

Fika Book List 2016

As 2015 wraps up, I’d like to plan a list of books to read next year.  I have an account on Goodreads and have completed my reading challenges for the past 3 years.  Here’s my preliminary list, taken from my wishlist on Amazon of kindle books I’ve been interested in reading and my to-read list on Goodreads:

  1. Go Set a Watchman
  2. In Other Words
  3. How to Be a Productivity Ninja
  4. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
  5. Sea of Poppies
  6. Last Man in Tower
  7. The Swerve: How the World Became Modern
  8. Cutting for Stone
  9. Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil
  10. Shantaram
  11. The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History
  12. Positivity Attracts

This would give me a book a month, which has been my goal for the past few years.  I used to have a much more ambitious goal of 20-25 books, but I think one a month is realistic for me again in 2016.  I like mixing it up between fiction and non-fiction (incl. self-help). Which books have you always wanted to read?  What new releases are a must-read? Are you also planning on reading any of the titles I list?

I’m also thinking about reading a daily inspirational book, and got a recommendation from a book club called Paper and Glam for a book called Savor, which includes short essays for each day of the year.  I like the idea of having a short essay (I think they’re only a page long) to read each day, perhaps to start the day with.

After completing my goal of 12 books this year, I’ve also read Dreams from my Father by Barack Obama, which is pretty hefty at over 400 pages, and Work Simply, about catering your work flow to your own productivity style.  I’ve been borrowing e-books from the public library onto my kindle and kindle app on my phone, and since I only get each book for 20 days or so, that’s a good way to ensure I work diligently at reading and don’t slack!  Plus, it’s free!  Spending $10 per book on Amazon isn’t a bad thing if it’s a great book, but if I can get it for free, that’s even better.  ^_^