just a small town girl, finally leaving the United States

Official countdown: one week!

Seven damn days.


The World’s Largest Rubber Duck! (in Hong Kong)

The World’s Largest Rubber Duck!

Learning to [kohp]

Part of my disbelief upon my acceptance to the program was something that has followed me my whole life.  I am presented with an opportunity and if I happen to receive it, I am floored, thinking don’t they know how absolutely bat shit [crazy] I am, was, am?

I am the proud sufferer  owner of an anxiety disorder, sprinkled delightfully with depression (“highly sensitive persons” unite!).  Nail biting all of childhood. Crying if my parents were even a few minutes late to after school program.  Not sleeping at night. Crying mainly, lots of crying.

Then one day as a sophomore in high school, I couldn’t breathe.  I couldn’t stop staring at the door, feeling every moment that the air from the room was slowly leaking from the room, eaten up greedily by my peers.  I was going to suffocate, and my teacher happened to close the door at that moment.  That was all I could stand, but it was even harder for me to raise my hand, to feign sick, to call home knowing everyone was at work.

Needless to say, things are as under control as they are going to be.  No matter how debilitated I felt at that time, no matter how bad it got, or gets from time to time (last flair up being the terror that was first semester of this school year), I am so happy with how this has formed my decisions.  I fully expected to transfer out of Wellesley because I couldn’t stand being out of Maine.  I didn’t want to go abroad, for a handful of reasons I could list off, but I know it’s because I was scared.

However, I am proud of myself for constantly testing those limits.  This has resulted (finally) in an ability to adapt to foreign situations in a short amount of time, to not become overwhelmed with my emotions, my love for where I grew up.  Living in Boston for three months and getting thrown into the workforce? I honestly don’t think I could have done it with who I was at 18.

And now this.  I am positive that I will survive this, though it is a challenge not to revert back into paralyzing fear.  I know I can do this.  It is a step in the process of expanding to more travel opportunities.  It has the criteria I [didn’t know I] was looking for: completely free of cost, intensely scheduled, meaningful, and affiliated with a familiar entity (the college). I am so excited.  I am proud of myself, which feels odd of me to say.

That being said, I now know how I can cope when the fear does set in usually.  I’ve been doing a piss poor job of helping myself lately. It certainly doesn’t help that this is what I’ve had to look at for the past week and a half:


I don’t even mind the rain in general, but this rain is cold and ubiquitous. I silently wish for  the warm summer rain you can run through or sit out in, the kind that makes the comforting smell of soil seep into the air.  It hasn’t gotten much above 50 degrees in this great state.  We’ve moved over semi-permanently to the house my parents built on the land my grandfather gave us when he passed away over 25 years ago.  Beautiful, waterfront, the site of my favorite childhood memories. Lately, the seclusion that I usually cherish has not done me well.  Neither has the Memorial Day marathon of Law and Order SVU.

Where I would usually be outside, I’m stuck in.  It is damp.  I’m not used to my bed yet. The wood stove I love laying by is too hot to run but it’s too cold not to. I’ve gone from watching no television to grotesque screen violence. I’ve felt myself slipping, energy gone even though I’ve been averaging 12 hours a day of sleep.  Paranoid, can’t stop thinking about death (my own, my parents, fearful of opening my window last night). An inability to rationalize.

The thing that I can identify that makes me feel profoundly better? The internet.  And I’m proud of that too. Despite what this horrible dude says about my generation’s dependance on technology, I’ve found that with this access to information, I can quell my anxiety.  It’s a complicated process, no doubt, but having internet access can provide much needed mindless distraction (games, etc.) but also gives me the resources to rationalize in a moment of panic.

The plane will crash on the way over? my mind may tell me.  So I google the types of jets I will be flying on, learn as much as possible about them, their safety ratings. What will I do for four hours in an airport in a state I’ve never been to? I learn as much as possible about EWR and my terminal. It helps someone like me get their bearings.  Then, with that knowledge, I can focus on the whole “Challenges of an Urban Future” thing. Creating comfort, learning to cope.


Upon re-acquaintance with the Chinese timeline, I stopped reading “Understanding China” for a moment (which has thus far proven very palpable and useful), looked up, looked around.   I crawled out of bed, sporting the scraggly/rainy day/don’t care look, and grabbed my program folder.   June 4th, the day I land in Beijing. June 4th, […]

“China’s Entrenched Gender Gap”


NY Times Op-Ed: “China’s Entrenched Gender Gap” by Leta Hong Fincher

Forwarded to me from one of my fellow conference goers.  Definitely interesting in light of my own opinions and the pride Wellesley women, like myself, take in our postsecondary education and future careers. Very clear requests of the PRC here:

“End the state media campaign against “leftover” women. Stop imposing gender-based quotas that favor the admission of men over women in many university programs. Enforce laws against gender discrimination in hiring and compensation. Introduce and enforce a law against sexual harassment in the workplace. Introduce and enforce a law to punish perpetrators of domestic violence. Reverse the erosion of government subsidized childcare, which forces many mothers out of paid work. Reverse the 2011 Supreme Court amendment to the Marriage Law, which dealt a severe blow to the property rights of married women. Appoint more women to political office.” (pg. 2)


Becoming ever truer, my “Student Note” released by the college to my hometown newspaper ran in this week’s paper. While I was grabbing some water, I noticed this puppy, freshly clipped and plunked onto the fridge. Poorly edited on my part.

textPlus – all my communication problems solved?

At our pre-departure orientation given by the college, if it is at all possible, I left with more questions than answers. The big worry for someone who is very close to their family and friends?  The person who receives 2+ calls a day from home? That’s me.

And, I will admit it, I am madly in love  and therefore obsessed with my phone. Since the minute I saw the promos for the Samsung Galaxy S3 during the summer 2012 Olympics, I coveted.  My whole apartment knew.  “That’s the phone I REALLY want!” I’d say.  To which I would get a, “We know, Kaley.”  Needless to say, I love technology.  I love the modern ease of communication and the many methods which I can communicate.  Just as long as I have this thing glued to my hand, right?

However, where I’m from, the most reliable service comes from a carrier that no one in Boston has any idea of: U.S. Cellular.  I’ve had the same cellphone number for nine freakin’ years and change isn’t going to happen very soon.  I’ve had good luck with U.S. Cellular.  I’ve been boating in the middle of a lake or a mile offshore and have still been able to get service.  I have 4G when I’m home, but for some reason, not in metro and Metrowest Boston. With this mystery carrier, I have enough problems figuring out what will and will not be charged as roaming.  Going international with a carrier who no one knows of even 300 miles away?  Nah.

The answer?  At this orientation, we were inundated with information regarding our cellphone service.

  • Make sure to turn off your 3G.
  • Take out your SIM card.
  • Your iPhone will be fine.
  • There’s wifi in public places, but it is very slow.
  •  You can buy a Chinese domestic SIM card for $20-$50.
  • Google Voice
  • Skype
  • Just check your carrier!

Just all of these snippets of information.  And, as a devout user of the Android OS, I more or less tuned out.  For those of us who could never afford an iPhone and whose carriers don’t support such wholly technology, I was at a loss. Do I even have a SIM card?  Did I just ask myself that?

Skype, I think.  I know Skype.  Skype got me through my first semester of college. And then I looked at our schedule and I thought, there’s no way in hell I will have time to Skype.

Google Voice sounds cool. I checked it out. Glaringly in the PlayStore: “Currently only available in the U.S.” Problem.

The beautifully designed answer to my problem?


textPlus, an app for both operating systems, is not only gorgeous but just what I need.  It works about the same as GoogleVoice, creating a new number for you from which on a wifi connection, you can text (free) and make high-quality voice calls (2cents a minute from the PRC, with a starting credit of 10cents).


The great thing about this?  I don’t like to talk on the phone. I hate it.  I’ve been with my significant other for almost four years and we’ve only talked on the phone a number of times. So, given that I will be staying on a college campus and have access to an American VPN — if necessary, I think it’s safe to say I should be squared away.  Droppin’ messages before or after lectures to prove the maintenance of my existence?  I can do that.

Now let’s pray that Candy Crush Saga will run on just wifi.

Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory/Retraction

You know I had to post about this.  It was inevitable. It’s infamous now, the story that This American Life, staple to the crunchy, rootsy, hipsters new and old, audio published under the veil of true journalism, and then, promptly retracted in the following weeks for it’s (pardon the politically incorrect pun) yellow journalism. 

However, I still loved this story even if it was fictive.  When I listened to it, driving across my home state back to school, I was laughing mercilessly one minute, the next I was teary-eyed. It’s been quite a while since I last listened, but I’ll never forget the lines:

“…And at the end of the day, I am large, I am American, and I am wearing a goddamn Hawaiian shirt.”

Though I had not traveled at that point, and still have yet to, this was the epitome of the not-so-subtle American persona, the embarrassing yet all-knowing tourist image I had assumed.  We are foolish, generally, in a new place.  We are not, as we should be, purely listening, thoughtfully listening (hence the blog name, “mindful quiet”).  

Though TAL has removed the audio stream from their website, and it’s highly unlikely that I still own the episode, it was a fascinating story to hear.  It was perhaps even more interesting to hear the Retraction episode.  

Part of me, of course, didn’t quite get the big deal (which is why I’m not in journalism but rather, in my mind, storytelling).  With that in mind however, it’s always interesting to look into the technicalities of something I had, until that point, considered my weekly dose of storytelling and nothing else.  I had not considered the stakes, which in this case were both corporate (Apple) and cultural (China). Give it a listen!

Click for the stream of TAL’s Retraction

Women. World. Partners.

Women. World. Partners.

A brand spankin’ new website designed to detail the program.  Aesthetically this is quite a joy, and I believe they’ll be putting up the participant information shortly!

Lens suggestions?

I’m considering an investment in another lens besides the basic mount for my Canon (T1i/EOS 500D) in preparation for my trip.  When it comes to lenses (and let’s be honest, cameras too), I bullshit myself into thinking I know what I’m talking about.  I don’t.  I have absolutely no idea, though in these weeks I have before the trip, I’m trying to learn. 

The problem is, inevitably, that I have no idea how to divine what internet sources to trust. 

Right now, I’m focusing on cost as in, the lowest possible cost for a passable quality. What have I come up with so far? Canon’s EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 – the most basic telephoto lens I could find! 


Thoughts, suggestions?

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