The Last Semester Stretch

Here we are, the final countdown- the last semester.

This semester has, by far, been one of the hardest I’ve ever had. Sadly, up until a few months ago it was designed to be one that wasn’t exactly easy, but at least doable. I wanted to focus on my project (my thesis) wholeheartedly. Instead, I was placed in a position where I had to finish two major projects at the same time. I’m not trying to whine or complain- I could have tried harder to avoid this, and ambitiously, I tried to tackle it. But I guess I need to remind myself and maybe the outside world that if I seem stressed or struggling, it’s because I’m under a ludicrous workload. I have learned my lesson, cross my heart! When in The Real World, I will make sure to leave ample time to recharge and do nothing. I never realized how difficult it can be and how fuzzy it makes your mind when you never have “off”- when every weekend there’s a task or project to do.

You miss out on birthdays, coffee with friends, or even just naps on the couch where you don’t HAVE to be awake for at least an hour. I’ve done a great disservice to my dog by allowing myself to become so busy, and I’m genuinely sorry for it. I know I need a break soon. I’m hoping this summer, things will calm down for me.

In the meantime……there’s always more thesis work to be done.


The Two Week Trek to Taiyuan

From February 15 to March 3rd, I was in Taiyuan, Shanxi, China, doing research for my master’s thesis about Taiyuan’s master urban plan.

I had lived in Taiyuan from 2007-2011. The changes I was starting to see at the end of my tenure are what inspired me to focus my research there. I had read a great deal online before I left: new stadium here! More buildings moving south! but nothing really prepared me for standing in the midst of so much breathtakingly rapid development.

It began the moment I left the airport.

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510 Final Guest Lecture: Dr. Haglund + Dr. Aggarwal

This pair of guest lectures was my assigned group, but I did not get a chance to be present at the interview of Dr. Haglund. She used a Prezi, which was quite a changeup from the usual powerpoint presentation. I’ve used Prezis, students use Prezis, but I’ve never seen a professor use one.

She opened up talking about human rights to water and issues being addressed in courts in Brazil. She looks at globalization and it’s relationship to money, land, and labor. She asked a question: How can we foster social transformation? What are the ethical issues at stake? What stops us from moving beyond unhelpful beliefs?

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SOS 510 Lecture: Dr. Abbott & Resource Economics

Dr. Abbott’s research is focused on fisheries management and marine conservation, as well as statistical modeling of urban ecosystem services. According to him, “There was a time in sustainability science where it was believed that better knowledge of physical and natural systems was all that was needed.” But in reality, there is much more we need to know to create sustainable and equitable outcomes.

“Theory” means different things to different disciplines. To Dr. Abbott, theory emerges from the development of models and confronting them with data. A model is the formalization of cause and effects. It can mean categorizing, drawing arrows of influences, very quantitative models (a set of differential equations), or it could be a very conceptual model. Regardless of where you are the quantitative-qualitative scale, everyone has some sense of their model of how things are being influenced.

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