From June till August 2014, I will be in Mannheim, Germany, birthplace of such glorious inventions as the bicycle. In this post I outline what I’d like to achieve with this blog.


From June till August 2014, I will be in Mannheim, Germany, birthplace of such glorious inventions as the bicycle. I will be working at the Central Institute of Mental Health, assisting with research on social cognition in borderline personality disorder. I have my own thoughts on mental health and overpathologization, but all the same I’d definitely like to learn more about social cognition and the world of clinical psychology. Plus, I’ll be living in a really different country (the US wasn’t that much of a culture shock) for two months! It’s going to be terrifying and hopefully lots of fun.

Friedrichsplatz Mannheim
Friedrichsplatz Mannheim (Photo credit: Chingon76)

I’m starting this blog to keep track of, and keep myself accountable regarding, a few things:

  • I had/have many feelings about my summer not being anywhere close to the tech industry ideal, or not as cool/lucrative as what many of my friends are doing, or – I’ll stop now, but I know that I am totally mentally exaggerating how bad it is. Summer 2014 is definitely going to be cooler than I think it will be. I want to keep a record of that.
  • The details of navigating Grownup Things like housing and cooking.
  • My attempts at teaching myself German, and then forcing myself to use what little I know in an industrial/university town where almost everyone speaks English.
  • Mannheim! Most people outside Germany haven’t heard of it – I certainly hadn’t – and I’d like to contribute to the content available on the English-speaking internet about Mannheim.
  • Work! I hope it will be interesting, that my colleagues will be nice, and that I will be able to make a contribution given how little I know about psychology (read: almost nothing)
  • Continuing my aikido training over the summer under a different teacher/style, as a beginner with only a few months of experience.
  • Experiencing part of Europe for the first time, as a Singaporean with close ties to China living in the US for college. I think there will be lots of interesting little cultural details to write about.

That’s not all. Before leaving, I’m also going to have a few weeks of downtime to relax, prepare for my trip, and also:

  • Refresh my knowledge and skill in graphic design.
  • Make a new personal website (if all goes well, this blog will be migrated to that site)
  • Create (or start on, at least) a new artwork that I’d be proud to show others – for the first time in ages
  • Work on one small user experience design project and document the results
  • Make a simple web app?

It’s a lot to accomplish in three weeks, so this blog will be even more important in keeping me motivated. If I can’t finish these in the three weeks, that’s all right, but I want to have these done by the time I’m back in school.

I hope that this project will help me get back into blogging again. I have a regular blog and experience on several others, but despite several attempts I’ve always felt a little strange about making it part of my public identity again – it was started 7 years ago and abandoned for five of those years, and picking it up again would be like trying to add to a piece of old clay that has already dried out. I am very apprehensive about posting in my existing blogs because of a mixture of perfectionism and fear and personal stuff – but hopefully I can try to push those feelings to the back of my mind with this fresh start.

A final side purpose of this blog is to work on the wordiness problem that has plagued my writing for many years. I’m aiming to keep every post here under 1000 words, and to get comfortable with the fact that writing doesn’t have to be over 500 words long to be worth something.

picture of people cheering

I made a post! I made a post after almost a year of not blogging! It’s only 600ish words long!

(P.S. It would be really helpful, motivation-wise, to know that friends are reading this. There is a comment form below! And if you hit Follow on the sidebar, you can get updates in your email or reader.)