A Tale of Two Summers. But first, Shakira and KBBQ (Week 3)

This past weekend was full of ~unique~ experiences. On Friday, a few other W&M students and I spent the night out on the town in Makati. What started with a subpar dinner soon transitioned to watching midget boxing (a recommendable one-time experience) and then clubbing. At the fight ring, the boxers were treated respectfully as fighters/actors/professionals, for which I am glad. We got to the club a little too early, so someone had to break in the dancefloor – that person was me. Shakira came on and that was that. After a couple hours of dancing and making sure everyone else got back to their residences in Makati and BGC safely, I took a Grab back to my hotel in Quezon City. I spent Saturday working overtime on some data analytics in R for CheckMySchool and weightlifting at Gold’s Gym down the street. On Sunday, we regrouped in Bonifacio Global City (BGC) to explore some malls and swim. The highlight of the day, though, was Korean barbeque for dinner. Tell me I have 57 minutes left at a buffet and you will witness 57 minutes of me trying to meet my macros for the entire week.

The work week has and will continue to be very fluid. Last summer, my life was ruled by a very strict regimen:
• 8:30 AM – wake up, get dressed, cook breakfast, and prepare lunch
• 9:30 AM – walk to AidData and begin working
• 11:30 AM – working lunch
• 2:30 PM – working snack
• 3:30 PM – walk home and make a pre-gym snack
• 4:00 PM – walk to the gym and weightlift
• 5:45 PM – walk home, shower, and cook dinner
• 8:00 PM – go to a quiet place on campus, usually Tyler Hall, and work on my Charles Center Summer Research Project and/or my Freshman Monroe Research Project.
• 9:30 PM – working snack
• 11:00 PM – working snack
• 1:30 AM – return home, make a pre-sleep sandwich, and go to bed

This schedule was more or less followed Monday through Friday. This summer, it is easier to just summarize my week as a collection of events that will happen at some point:
• Wake up at 8:00 AM at least three times
• Wake up at 9:30 AM at least three times
• Wake up at 10:30 AM at least once
• Sleep at 1:30 AM at least once
• Sleep at 2:30 AM at least three times
• Sleep at 3:30 AM at least once
• Sleep at 7:30 AM at least once (like I said last week, when I’m on a roll coding, I keep going until I’m satisfied with the results. Nothing but the best!)
• Have at least one or two meetings at the office, a government building, or a conference with other NGOs
• Have one training session where I teach R to my coworkers
• Go to the gym at least five times for at least 1.5 hours
• Eat Japanese katsu curry at least three times
• Eat Kenny Rogers Roasters grilled chicken with vegetable sides at least five times (listen, try to live without a kitchen and eat non-fried food on Katipunan Avenue. You’ll be at Kenny’s that often too)
• Hang out with friends at least twice, most often in Makati or BGC
• Go grocery shopping and do self-service laundry at least once each
• Fill in the blanks with working/coding for CheckMySchool (at least 60-hours each week – by personal choice and commitment to quality results more so than any pressure from my supervisors).

Both summers, I’ve worked at least 60 hours each week, had a consistent meal plan, and made time for friends and hobbies, but my schedules (as you can see) could not be more contrasting. At the center of this difference is my work schedule. When I do not have meetings, I can work remotely. I can work as much as I want whenever and wherever. Technically, this internship is a 40-hour/week placement and I was paid a lump sum, not hourly, but I want to see this project and my organization succeed. That means working a lot. I worked just as hard last summer (if not more) but it was spread across at least three projects at any time. Not having to stretch my brain across multiple simultaneous research topics has definitely been better for my sanity.

Anyways, my next couple posts will describe my upcoming trips to Bangkok and Bali, as well as my reflections on privilege and my Asian-American identity. Until then!