Another day on the slopes! This time in the sun.

Out of all the animals on earth, I’d say humans have come up with the most elaborate and bizarre methods to accomplish the verb “play.” I’d also say skiing and snowboarding are such examples. Fancy equipment on your feet and mechanical chairs galore!

Emilio just shared his skiing adventures. So I also decided to write a report of my day at the slopes yesterday, my first sunny one all year! This post is much less informative, but if you’ve never gone skiing or snowboarding, it might help convince you to try! Minus the part where I talk about the things I lost…


The Academic Shift

McLennen Library, Cybertheque

I’m writing to you from the 3rd floor of McGill’s McLennan Library. It’s Sunday evening and I have just saddled up to a desk with a white table top and a bright orange partition. Sitting, here I am surrounded by  the numerous desks I’ve occupied in this library for the last four years, memories of my many years as an undergraduate student come flooding back. I’m sure many of you can relate:  All those endless nights of studying, procrastination, stressful lingering, and tearful calls to my parents and banging my head on the wall trying to figure out some problems in calculus. It’s funny to think how in every one of those moments and for every exam or assignment, it felt like the whole world was hanging on it and nothing else beyond would amount to anything.

I followed the thread leading from these reminiscing thoughts to pondering on the different mindset i am in now. The amount of work in grad school isn’t reduced but several things are indeed quite different. Here are some examples: (more…)

From West to East and Back Again: What I’ve learned about setting up research away from McGill

Travel Stamps I’ve spent almost two years in China researching tuberculosis control. Along the way, I’ve garnered a lot of experience in setting up research abroad. Here, I lay out ten points of advice for Grad Life readers that are on the road to do research away from McGill:



Grad Life: Hutong Edition

"In with the New Old: A reconstructed Hutong in Beijing" by E. Dirlikov

Throughout much of my doctoral field research in Beijing, I have been staying in an old Chinese courtyard (siheyuan’r) that a few old friends of mine share. Such courtyards were originally familial compounds, which were highly ordered (e.g., in their construction, lay out, etc.), and ordering, both within (e.g., gender, birth order, etc.) and outside (e.g., professional rank, economic status, etc.). Today these courtyards can house several families, who all share the open spaces to dry clothes, eat food, park bicycles, and of course, gossip.



Demonstrating the art of balance. Source: Wikimedia Commons

So far it seems that I am having trouble being as prolific of a blogger as I would like. I have a swarm of topic ideas in my head right now, but the problem is that to do justice to the awesome intellectuals who might read my post, I would have to do a substantial amount of background research to avoid embarrassing myself. So instead I was waiting for something interesting to happen to me so I could blog about it. (more…)

GRAD life

"It will cost you $200,000 to put me through university and grad school. If you invest that money instead, I can retire at age 18!"—Cartoon by Randy Glasbergen

The transition from undergraduate to graduate studies can be quite challenging. Gone are the lecture filled days of old. Instead, self-directed learning is the basis of all graduate pedagogy. (more…)

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