In n Out of California in 10 days

As I wrote the title to this post I realized that I have not been to In n Out Burger since I have been back.. this makes me sad (hungry.)

So it is has been a week since I have been back from DC and it feels weird to not be ranting about that place, but my mindless ranting capabilities shall not be diminished. Getting back to DC was a doozy ( Do people still use that word?). My delayed plane caused me to arrive at the San Francisco airport at around 11:30pm. By that time, the weird time change caused me to essentially have been awake for 23 hours (luckily naps including). I got back home around midnight, unpack and did not get to sleep until like… 3am. Had a nice 3 hour nap and woke up at 6am to get ready and leave for the Spartan Race in Monterey Bay. The race itself was a great. Ada and I were both running a very little sleep as she was also just getting back from her Peru trip. We ran with a team of 12-13 folks. The race was 8 miles 20+ obstacles and took us about 4-5 hours to finish through the whole loop. There is a link to a video that someone took with their GoPro Camera. We were hoping that the race would be in the cool foggy weather that occupied the wee morning hours, but as soon as the race started the sun came blaring out onto our heads.  I made the realization that while all the parkour training was incredibly helpful, I had to lift many very heavy things. Strength training is recommended for Spartan races next time.

Carry a bucket full of rocks in the spartan race
Carry a bucket full of rocks in the spartan race
mud and hypothermia!
mud and hypothermia!


I also began and finished a 3 week data science course on Coursera in a week, cramming everything from lectures to exercises into my walnut sized brain at night. This is where I learned a very interesting thing about Coursera. The discussion forums are full of work professionals and ambitious folks trying to learn a new skill ( at least in my class, I guess it depends on the class). It is an incredibly good source of networking as you can find some like minded and equally ambitious individuals. We started a little thread for networking and meet and greets and people just added me left and right when I put a link to my Linkedin profile on the post.  Never thought about it until now, but I recommend you give it a try I recently just finished packing and am still on my streak of traveling solely with carry ons. So far I have done it with Brazil, DC and now I am all good to go for China. If this was purely travel rather than studying abroad I could probably get away with a lot less, but I am getting much better at this. Here are some things that I have learned about from the constant traveling I have done this past year. Some of it sounds like a rehash of points hundreds of other travel blogs.

my 2 bags for the next 6 months, far too big I think
my 2 bags for the next 6 months, far too big I think
Everything I will own for the next 6 months
Everything I will own for the next 6 months, I brought a bit too much eh?

LESS IS MORE walking around is much much more convenient with smaller baggage. It also makes you look much less like a target/tourist when you don’t have your whole house shoved into your bags. Pick pockets around the world all think “Hey this is person listens to Richard/ reads his blog, I know because he paid attention to that on post about packing he wrote in June.” and shall leave yee to your business.

ONE WEEKS WORTH OF CLOTHES (or less): because you really do not need much more than that. You always end up buying extra clothes for dirt cheap, or even better you get clothes for free ( this is especially true if you are a student abroad because these programs love to give you free shirts, especially if they have students flip over every semester/quarter, some might even have packed too much because they didn’t listen to me and leave things for you to use during your time abroad) less clothes also means more room for souvineers. If this was a back packing trip I would have only brought far less than a week’s worth

ALWAYS BRING ZIPLOCK BAGS AND TOILET PAPER: Because who knows when you need them. Zip lock bags make great storage for just about everything. Especially your electronics when it is wet and you don’t want them drenched. They do not take much space and are infinitely versatile. Toilet paper is always good for use ranging from butt wiping to sneezing into (hopefully not from the same piece of TP)

CARRY ONS ARE KING: For domestic flights, you almost always have to pay for luggage. Eventually those luggage fees add up to a nice meal, or extra nights at the hotel. When traveling internationally you do not usually have to pay for checked in luggage. Just because its free DOES NOT MEAN THERE IS NOT COST. Reason being that luggage is a pain to wait for. And anything big enough to be checked in cannot be fun to lug around. You are in control of all your own luggage. It cannot get lost That detracts at least 17 points from travel happiness/ fun level. The satisfaction and convenience of walking in and out of the airport without waiting for luggage is great probably at least 20 points to travel happiness/fun level. Can you really afford that big of a gap in travel happiness/fun level?

DIGITIZE(but not too much): Paper takes up space, gets crumpled and gets lost. Books are heavy, and once you finish reading them you have dead weight. If you have an ultra light laptop like a MacBook air or transformer book, use that to journal/log. Get a Kindle with over drive so in can have dozens of books at your disposal to borrow and read. Smartphones are great tools it eliminates bringing a camera, flashlight, unless you do heavy typing you can do most things to use a laptop for on your smartphone, just keep it on airplane mode so it doesn’t die so fast and bring an extra battery pack. Backing up your travel documents on the cloud saves carrying around a folder that gets lost/crushed/waterlogged you can print out as many copies as you want later. That being said, you are on vacation, and time spent on technology means less time spent enjoying your time abroad.

YOU CAN BUY MOST THINGS ABROAD. Most things you think you will need “just in case” can be bought abroad, and most times you will not need it anyway. Blankets pillows and etc, can be bought abroad for quite cheap if needed. I got all the bedding I needed for DC with about 20 bucks, long term shampoos and what not are unnecessary and get messy in the luggage. If you are going by the carry on rule large bottles of cleaning liquids would not be allowed anyway. Towels take up too much space, you can by them there too, or just learn how to shake water off like a dog. I have many many more shower thoughts on packing, but here are a few that I think are quite crucial to keep in mind.

Gratitude: It has been hinted that I am not the most gracious person. So I decided to make it a point to add a bit of gratitude  toward folks I met in my travels at the end of each of my posts. I shall start by talking about the person who gave me this idea.

Iris Wu


This woman has been instrumental to my experience in UCDC program this past spring. Her sense of sarcasm ( or maybe her receptiveness to my sarcasm) has been an endless source of entertainment during my time here in DC. I also appreciate her keen sense for delicious food, we have shared many delicious meals together in the name of food trucks and cool foods you can only have in DC. We share the same intense fervor of liberating Africa and seeing it become continent it is destined to be. She also is an avid fan of all things James Bond. Certainly one of the coolest characters I have met in DC. I fly to tomorrow, I have only been here 10 days and it is both sad and exciting to leave so soon.

Also, I graduated… I guess that is important


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