anotherlongshot (anotherlongshot) wrote,

In the US!

I'm writing this from my Airbnb apartment in East Cambridge, Massachusetts; from my living room-turned-bedroom; from a non-descript but fairly comfortable brown canvas couch. It's a few days into my first trip ever to the US and what I have seen so far, extremely limited as it has been, confirms my impression of America: sprawling wide dual carriage roads, a mish-mash of old and new, highways snaking above and below each other, haphazardly. America, of course, is too vast and internally diverse to be generalised into my sketchy visits of a grand total of three places, two of which represents a slim minority of the population: Yale Law School and Harvard Law School, and Harvard more generally. Still, as someone who spends most of her time in Cambridge - the original Cambridge - these wide open roads seem distinctly American, if only because of the sharpness of the contrast and the vastness of the US.

So much for all that. I am rather tired and am desirous of going to bed, so I'll write briefly about what I've been up to so far.

First five hours in New York

We (Ivan and I) landed in JFK Airport and took a taxi to Penn Station, where we were due to get the evening train to New Haven. We arrived early and had a few hours to kill before the train, so we hung around the station, and after getting a SIM card, we went in search of a belt to temporarily replace the belt that came with my Calvin Klein coat which I stupidly dropped somewhere in Heathrow and didn't realise until I'd gone through security. (The security people let me step out to look for it but alas, I couldn't find it.) We went to K-Mart first but the belt was super ugly and definitely cheapened the overall (elegant) look of my coat, so we went to Macy's next.

We were so confused by the layout of the building. We didn't realise that there was an entire chunk of the building devoted to men's fashion - multiple levels of men's fashion. How is this even a thing? How much of men's fashion can a departmental store possibly try to sell? Apparently, 7 floors worth.

We soon realised that we were in the wrong part of the building, so we had to go all the way back down, our suitcases in tow, and finally located the women's part of the store. I mercifully found a discounted non-leather belt for $20-ish which was reasonable, and bought some gloves for rather cheap too.

I paid with my Singaporean credit card. At the till, the card machine asked me if I wanted to pay in USD or SGD. The cashier said, 'You're in the US. You can pay in US dollars or Shanghai dollars.'

It was hilarious in a rather cute way; it was also my first time experiencing the famed American Ignorance in person.

First impression of Manhattan: you don't really fully understand why it's called a concrete jungle until you get there. And I absolutely loved it.

New Haven

The train was delayed for 20 minutes. I was still struggling to finish reading all the papers for the conference. We'd been travelling for 16 hours, I was super tired, but I had to finish one more, so I read it on the train.

After that, I completely fell asleep.

Our Airbnb flat was amazing though - absolutely luxurious. It came with a fully stocked fridge and pantry, white fluffy hotel-like towels, and I slept on the king-sized bed like a queen for three nights. It was amazing. AMAZING. It even had coffee beans (albeit Dunkin' Donuts) and an electric grinder. Drinking freshly ground coffee every morning has definitely convinced me of what Matt has been telling me to do: buy an Aeropress and a grinder and stop drinking my lazy freeze-dried instant coffee. It tastes so much better.

Anyway, the Yale conference itself was fantastic. The feedback was great. I especially loved how a few people specifically praised my writing; it was poetic, they said; it was so readable; you just want to agree with everything; the organiser said to me, 'You have to teach me how to write.' That made me very happy.

Unfortunately, the jetlag suddenly hit me when my session rolled around at 4 in the afternoon, so I found it really hard to focus on the comments and questions. But the two main points weren't anything I hadn't heard before...which is a bit worrying because it means that the second point wasn't particularly well-argued. Oh well.

All I saw of New Haven was Yale Law School, the OMNI hotel where we had an amazing closing dinner and drinks reception, the Yale University bookstore, and the train station. But I'm confident that I didn't miss anything. I didn't even venture into any of the dodgy areas, so it was really a conference-focused trip.


Okay, I really don't feel like writing this. I'm going to buy an Aeropress now.
Tags: phd, travel

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