A Change of Pace

New countries and new studies.

Last time I sent out an email, I talked about Hong Kong and a couple projects I was working on. You can check out that newsletter here.

I'll be giving some more updates this time around. If you like keeping up to date with me, or are interested in how I see the world, you can subscribe here. 😄

Hey everyone! This time around, I'm going to share my trip to Japan (and Malaysia), updates on Hong Kong, and a change of plans in my studies.

Japan 🏯

What would a great study abroad experience be without some travel? I spent Friday to Monday in Osaka, Japan, experiencing some culture and some fantastic foods. 🍙

I went with 5 guys from my program. They're fun to hang out with, and all know a decent amount about the culture from the media. I was beyond thrilled to go with them.

We spent Friday in the Dotonbori area where we saw a lot of video game arcades, shops for old Nintendo gear, and plenty of comics. Given my past with Nintendo, I was stoked. 🤩

They knew a bit more about things than I did, so it was nice to have them around to explain things.

What I noticed about the Japanese people? They’re extremely attentive, ready to help you out even before you realize you needed their help. And they're super sweet. When you interact with them they wear the largest smiles with the happiest eyes, they use the nicest words and are so appreciative of everything. ❤️

Saturday had us travel around to temples, getting good food and playing with owls at an owl cafe.

Typhoon Higibis hit Japan further northeast than we were, and we only had some mild rain. But so far, fatalities are at 74 people in what was called Japan’s strongest typhoon of the century.

We went to Kyoto on Sunday to do more sightseeing. At night, some of us went to an amazing sushi spot, where we saw fish-tails that were still flailing hit some of our plates. I might need to rethink my fish eating habits. 🐟

Today (I'm writing this on the plane back, Monday the 14th) we relaxed, ate at our favorite grocery store (Lawsons) and made our way back to Hong Kong, where I have classes at 9am tomorrow. I'm so glad to be near so many countries -- Southeast Asia and its neighbors are definitely amazing to see.

Malaysia ☪️

I’m writing this piece a bit after (a week later), since I booked a ticket to Kota Kinabalu for the Thursday after I got back from Japan. When you can travel, travel… 🌏

The areas I went to are full of friendly people, beautiful mountains covered by clouds, and amazing food.

One of the concerns I had coming here was with my Israeli citizenship. Malaysia doesn’t have diplomatic relationships with the country right now, and Israeli citizens have to attain special visas in order to come into the country. 😨

But as a dual citizen, I was able to get through customs easily. Although my passport says Jerusalem as the place of birth, I don’t have any Israeli stamps and they let me through (but I kept some of my friends behind me to make sure I wouldn’t get stuck in the airport).

I was looking for a simple, easy vacation this time around. I told people I was hoping for “beach days where we can just read, nap and drink. And also some time for my homework.” And I got exactly what I wanted! I’ve truly enjoyed. 🧘

This was the beach we hung out on, before a massive rainstorm pushed us off the island. 🏝️

Hong Kong Protests ⚫

During the week, not much changed. The public transportation system was severely shut down, including station closures, station curfews, and workers having to fill in for automated processes that were "vandalized."

Typically these stations work themselves, but instead were being run by a ~10-person team. Not seen here were the broken glass, tarps over machines and taped off sections of the station. 👷

I've been told that over the weekend, the current status quo maintained course: protests around the territory, transportation disruptions, arrests, the works. No large movements in what seems to be a sort of stalemate while authorities and protesters decide on their next method of advancing their goals.

If you're not sure what's going on, make sure you head over to my post about the overall status of the area. 🔎

What Are You Studying Exactly?

To those who've asked me in the past 4 years about what I want to do with my life, I haven't been able to give much of an answer. But after lots of soul searching, finding out about jobs and titles in the real world, talking with industry leaders and professors alike, I've finally found a major that suits me. 😄

Well... I made a major that suits me. 😅

My school offers an "Individual Major" path, where you can create a major and courseload attached. You have to jump through a lot of (important) hurdles, such as creating a personalized courseload, finding advisers to support you, writing up why the major is an appropriate culmination of studies, and the goals you hope to achieve with it.

After about a year of compiling the major, you're looking at a "Human Centered Engineering" student. 🎉

While learning an adapted version of the mechanical engineering coursework, I'll also be taking various classes throughout the fields of environmental studies, psychology, technology management, sociology (and a couple others), I'll be focusing on how to effectively understand a population's (and individual’s) needs. This way, I can develop engineering solutions one day based off user needs, not part specifications.

If you're looking for archetypes currently out there, here's the mashup: take a typical mechanical engineer's ability to make things, throw in a sociologist's method of understanding what makes people tick, add some designer's finesse, and you have an overview of what I would do. 🧠

Design Thinkers, such as hubs like Stanford and IDEO, were the basis of my thinking. You can find other majors like mine at schools like Lehigh, Ohio State and Northwestern.

My experiences joining circles in entrepreneurship, user experience, social innovation and impact have helped me understand this field, so I'm very excited to put it all together!

What am I reading?

  • I just finished What Money Can’t Buy on markets, and how they impact community values. It was full of examples and -- although extremely dry and repetitive in style at times -- was an interesting take on how the economics of life change the way we cherish and place value on important institutions and emotions. 💹

  • I'm reading more of Yuval Noah Harari (one of my favorite writers, who happens to be Israeli) in his book, 21 Lessons for The 21st Century. It has loads of interesting logical connections between our era and the role of religion, land, culture, and technology (to name a few). He does a fantastic job painting a picture of what the heck is happening around the world right now. He's also the author of Homo Sapiens and Homo Deus, award-winning books describing humankind’s history and future.

  • A fun little article on coffee shop etiquette when working, which is important for students, freelancers, entrepreneurs and people who just really love the vibe of a good coffee shop and want to spend eternity there. ☕

Thanks for keeping up with me! One day I'll learn how to write less in one post -- but I think that would mean me experiencing less things. If you're interested in me writing on the important of writing and self-reflection, let me know -- I have loads to share.

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