Saturday, July 12, 2014

WHOA! I'm a grad student!

[Written in early September, 2013 and promptly forgotten about, then published July, 2014. Pics to be added once I dig them up.]

You know that feeling where you have something exciting planned in the future, and you aren't fully excited yet, but you know you should be? That's how it was for me and my big move to China to begin grad school. Until yesterday...

Yesterday was the first day of class, and in the afternoon we were assigned to write a simple essay, citing sources to support our position, etc, and halfway through the process, it dawned on me...


I've wanted to go back to school for years, but the time was never right. I also have changed my educational interest since I began thinking about it years ago, but the compulsion to go back was always there. I also don't think I realized it, but I held grad students high in regard, much more so than expected. In my mind, grad students were highly studious, rarely seen, and even more difficult to become. And I always wanted to be one of them!

My initial days of being a grad student are far different than I had envisioned. First of all, I moved to another continent, to a place where I do not speak the language (yet), and am definitely a minority. Sure, I've been a minority before (south Tejas is 70+% Hispanic), but this is a new world.

I'm loving it though. I've already figured out the subway system here in Shanghai and can get around easily, even after hitting a bar with fellow students. The school has far exceeded my expectations, with a beautiful campus, professors that were all selected for their high academic background as well as their inter-personal nature. They're all very engaging and care. I've been to many schools before, but I have never felt this supported or engaged until now.

Yesterday's first class was like being thrown into the deep end, beginning with International Accounting. I'm good with numbers and math, but this is all new to me. I have never taken an accounting course in my life, and the closest thing I've done related to the subject would be balancing my check book when I actually had one (I pay all my bills online, but no longer use a check book). Surprisingly enough, I was so engaged by the professor, I am now completely fascinated with it. I look forward to the next class.

After class got out for the day, around 4pm, a few of us decided to run some errands and shop around our campus, situated near the beautiful People's Square. I finally got my SIM card cut down to the micro size my phone requires and finally can use my Chinese phone number and data plan. WOOT! Then we went to this nice restaurant called Charme for a tasty dessert made of a block of fresh baked white bread, with ice cream on top and butter dripping deep inside. With five of us hungry students, we demolished this tasty treat in less than 90 seconds.


Then another stroll down a lovely open walking mall, before hitting the Metro (subway) home.

[INSERT mall pics]

Monday, July 29, 2013

July 28th, 2013

Today, I completed my final requirements and tests and am now a certified yoga instructor! Details to follow (the paperwork isn't in my hands yet, but I did it!). It's been an amazing month, WHEW!

Now I can rest for a couple days, taking a good rest after such intense practice. My body is gently worn out, but in that good, strong sort of way I haven't felt in ages.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

July Update

In late June, I went to LA to visit several friends while I had the chance, and enjoyed the most amazing scenic drive back, stopping at the Hearst Castle on my return trip. Normally I prefer flying such a long distance, but the castle is too far from either San Francisco or LA that simply driving the trip made the most sense.

Hearst Castle

Hearst Castle is a strange, yet beautiful mix of purchased art pieces and architecture from all of the world, including many pieces from Europe, Egypt and the Middle East. Among the most gorgeous spectacles are the two pools—the Roman Pool and the Neptune Pool. Enjoy these shots and be sure to click to view them in their full resolution glory.

Roman Pool (panoramic)

Neptune Pool

One of the beautiful, massive fireplaces

 A lounging Roman

  A beautiful chandelier in the theater

  A gold nymph fountain

As for the update on my yoga teacher training, I'm nearing the end of my third week. I'm almost done! All the yoga posture study, philosophy, history and sequencing is starting to come together and make sense. I am feeling more alive than I have in years and feel stronger than ever too. Class has been surprisingly intense at times, and relaxing at other times. The fun part is that in this group, I happen to be the only guy, but the ladies are all very welcoming, and I learn from them every day. This was a great decision. Though I never planned to teach yoga, and only take the course to deepen my practice, I am getting far more out of it than I ever could have dreamed of.

On the sleep apnea issue, the overnight sleep test showed that I am an ideal candidate for a special dental device that will help open my air passage way. Unfortunately, like the rest of this ordeal, it'll be several more weeks to get it. Total time since initial diagnosis—about 3 months—but it'll be worth it. 


Saturday, June 22, 2013


About 6 weeks ago, I was diagnosed with a sleep apnea. Early information showed that I was in the moderate to severe range, which is unfortunate, but knowing means I can begin treatment.

While not the sexiest sounding issue, sleep apnea is not uncommon among the many sleep disorders that plague Americans. The effects are many, including high blood pressure, depression, irregular heart beats, and more. In addition, untreated sleep apnea may be responsible for poor performance in everyday activities, such as at work and school, motor vehicle crashes, and academic underachievement in children and adolescents. This is scary stuff!

After waiting a month and a half for an in-depth overnight sleep study, my appointment finally arrived.

Sexy, huh?

After taking several dental molds and getting a ton of wires glued onto my body, literally from head to ankle, I went to sleep. With a full mouth mold connected to a computerized device to alter the location of my lower jaw, and sticky electrodes everywhere, I managed to fall asleep within about half an hour. Mind over matter, I always say.

I woke up around 4am because my jaw was really sore. The mouth device had slowly and gently pulled my lower jaw so far forward, nearing the maximum distance it would go, but since it was most of a night, the masseter muscles of my jaw were just tired and hurt.

They lessened the stretch and let me go back to bed. Fortunately, the rest of the night was acceptable and the overall test seemed to go successfully. My full results will be back in about a week and therapy will be designed based on the data.

Knowledge is power. If you suspect something, even small is wrong, I recommend chatting with your doctor. Sleep disorders are no laughing matter and they affect almost every aspect of your life. My hope is to get this figured out in time for grad school.

Monday, June 17, 2013


With a summer off for the first time in decades, I want to pack in as much as I can. Currently, I'm vacationing with my parents in Lake Tahoe, which is a total treat, but I always have the itch to learn. As a long-term fan and advocate of Yoga, I have been wanting to do an intensive class for a while now.

On June 10th, I was accepted to a 1-month 200-hour Teacher Training course at Yoga Garden here in San Francisco. It'll be intense--6 days a week, full-time with only Sundays off. It will be a challenge, but I can't wait! To prepare myself best for a year abroad, I want to be fully in-tune with my body and feel able to continue my yoga practice without the guidance of a teacher. This should serve me very well for life. I just paid my full tuition, and after my little vacation with the parental units, I'll be expanding my mind, body and spirit.

Wish me luck! 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Typhoid, Cipro, and Hepatitus, oh my!

Today, I picked up several immunization medications and am scheduling a shot in preparation for my trip to China. Fortunately, my medical system makes it really easy, and I've been through the process before when I went to India a few years back.

What did the doctor order?

Hep A (shot)
Typhoid (Vivotif Berna capsules)
Traveler's Diarrhea (Cipro pills + Prescription Strength Immodium only as needed)

It's less than I had to get for India, at least. Only one shot this time.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

New Chapter

Many changes are coming my way very soon. I'm terrified and excited at the same time, but fortunately the excitement wins out.

This month, I've left my job at PlayStation and am about to embark upon a new chapter in life.

I've been considering going back to school for years now. In the past, I was interested in getting my MFA in Graphic Design or Game Design, but in the recent couple years, I've become far more fascinated with the business end of the game industry. My position as a Community Manager for Sony has exposed me to many challenges, but the most difficult and satisfying one has been to sync with business leads to find an ideal solution that provides the highest amount of satisfaction for the community (make 'em happy!) while monetizing them in a way that is perceived to be a good value (also happysauce).

So I'm moving to Shanghai, China to pursue my MBA at Hult International Business School. I've already received 3 scholarships, including the Global Leadership Scholarship. In total, I've been awarded enough to cover ~77% of the tuition, and yesterday I was informed that my application for financial aid to cover the rest (plus room and board) has been approved. WHEW!

Getting a student VISA for China requires a lot of additional steps than I expect other countries do, but it's all in motion. Fortunately, the local Chinese Consulate is just down the road from me, and the school has admissions folks specifically tasked with easing this process.

So what next? I have the rest of the summer to enjoy for the first time since junior high, and I have some really cool ideas that I've been wanting to do for years now. To be continued...

This is Shanghai from Rob Whitworth on Vimeo.