Monthly Archives: October 2012

chains explained

I realize chains are kind of an extreme metaphor, so here’s the awkward context.

The whole chain thing became a joke after my first encounter with real life in my last quarter of college, during a preliminary job interview with a firm in San Francisco that will remain unnamed.

“So, what are you looking for in your first job out of UC Davis?”

Anyone who remembers their college graduation and the impending wave of infinite life possibilities can understand why this was a particularly loaded question. What did I really want to do after college? Something creative. Something that would be challenging on an intellectual and social level. I wanted a job that would let me do everything I was good at in college and more. To take a step in the direction that would eventually lead me to becoming a well-read name in the world print media, a music journalist, a travel writer, food writer, whatever. And obviously something awesome that I can brag about. (Doesn’t everyone?)

Up until this point I’d been searching for jobs that matched this criteria and of course found nothing that would suffice by my standards. So, in a moment of frustration in an interview for an entry-level sales job I frankly never saw myself doing I responded,

“I just don’t want to be another… another chink in the chain.”

COOL, mouth, thanks for that one. I still, to this day, have no idea where that phrase even came from. I probably meant ‘link,’ and the alliteration likely just trumped political incorrectness in my head. I didn’t even really appreciate it for its value in humor until I rehashed the details of this interview a few months later and then realized the mortification of saying that as a Chinese person applying for a job in a heavily Asian city and that even though the word ‘chink’ sometimes slipped through the cracks as a non-racial slur it still might have come off sliiightly offensive… oh well. My cousin Josie found the story incredibly hilarious and, after telling everyone we came in contact with for the rest of the weekend, laughed it off as the perfect one-liner for a blog title. So… this is it, the documentation of my efforts to avoid being, well, just another chink in the chain.

I’m currently sitting in a studio apartment in the Norrebro area of Copenhagen, Denmark. What brought me here? Sheer avoidance of real life… interviewing for jobs, evaluating priorities and miscellaneous life goals, living at home for the whole thing. Luckily, Josie, the smart one in the family and my savior, is doing a fellowship for ten months at University of Copenhagen as part of her Ph.D program, and very very generously offered to allow me to live with her while I dealt with my post-grad funk. I have to ask myself what I’m doing here every day, but I’m assuming that it’s all part of the process.

My hope is that this blog will a) help me answer this heinous question, b) inform my parents what I am spending all my money on and c) maybe, eventually, inspire someone to do something random and off-the-grid-ey like move to a random country and just see what happens.

Flying off the chain… on Mount Niederhorn, Switzerland

So here’s to running around in countries where I don’t understand the language, eating in restaurants too expensive to enjoy responsibly, and walking down streets I don’t recognize and learning my way around the hard way. It’ll be an interesting one.

vi ses senere!



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Filed under Copenhagen, Postgrad blues, Travel

uc davis @ oktoberfest 2012: pretty much exactly what you’d expect

Looking back: The only thing more disastrous than drinking heavily and running around is drinking heavily and running around in a city you’ve never been to before with zero knowledge of the local language. Apparently, you’re not supposed to partake for more than one day of festivities.

But of course.

Conveniently, Oktoberfest gave me the chance to reunite with several college friends who happened to be studying or working elsewhere in Europe. This is when I discovered the true meaning of bierleichen… German for “beer corpse.”

We rented a (ridiculously overpriced) apartment in Munich for the weekend, complete with one bed, a blow up mattress, and a couch. For ten people. So the cow skin and the ottoman came in handy too, thanks Wimdu!! This was booked three months in advance so- if you’re looking to go to Oktoberfest 2013 and feel like too much of a diva to camp, figure it out now.

On the first day, we found a table in the Hofbrauhaus tent, aka where all the Americans ended up. It was dirty, because obviously, tables were meant to be stood on, stomped on, and spilled on, right?

This was our first day all together at Oktoberfest- where we got too excited, kept the massive, 10 euro, 1L steins coming, belted along to Sweet Caroline toooo many times (??), and then woke up on the grass outside. Bierleichen.

The second day, we got our shit (more) together and lasted past the early afternoon. After watching Ian chug too many beers and being booted out of Spatenhaus when they changed up the seating, Avery, Ryan, and I headed downtown to explore the area of Munich that wasn’t (as) over-crowded with belligerent tourists in lederhosen.

The result was each of us drinking more than we should have and getting separated in the rain, leaving each of us to run alone, haphazardly, around Munich. Maybe worse than bierleichen. Pretty sure there was hat-throwing and bleeding and Ryan partying by himself on his birthday. Lesson learned.

Things we did right: 

  1. People line up on the outside of each tent at Oktoberfest until that golden minute when everyone gets to pour on in. Since we were towards the back of the line, the ten of us immediately split up to run up and down the rows inside for an unclaimed table, finally bullying a lone German guy off of a table that subsequently became ours. It was a survival of the fittest.
  2. Refrained from chugging beer on the tables. Drunk me definitely considered standing up and chugging an entire liter of beer to the cheers of hundreds, but there is no way that would have ended well.
  3. Ate chicken and pretzels (together of course, with lemon juice). It made the difference between waking up on a hill at 2pm and making it to dinnertime with energy to burn.

Things to do differently:

  1. Consider camping. You still get all the hot showers, and after a day like that, who needs more than just a flat surface to themselves anyway?
  2. Don’t go on the weekend all the Italians are there. Unless you enjoy molestation.
  3. Invest in a dirndl!! Everything is more fun in costume.



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Filed under Beer, Germany, Travel