Friday, August 31, 2012

Falling in love

University F feels like a real city, or at least the area around University F does. Walking down the streets to various meetings with HR and banks and IT and whatnot, I pass small boutique shops, bars and restaurants with outdoor seating, used bookstores at the "garden" level with bikeshops and musical instrument shops above them. There's a group of women walking in front of me exchanging stories and laughing as they return from their lunch break. Its been a long time since I've been able to wander streets like this freely. I've missed it. I think I've developed a crush on this city.

Getting 12 hours of sleep last night, along with blackout curtains and a beautiful sunny morning hasn't hurt, of course. Nor has the fact that my office has floor to ceiling east facing windows. It's clouded over now, but I still find a part of me wishing that I could stay and explore this city, language barrier be damned, and get to know it.

Then again, I fall in love with cities with the same bad habits of a chain monogamist. I have a completely irrational need to love where I live, to feel like I belong there. Up until arriving here, I was determined not to love where I live, not to learn the language, not to enjoy any aspect of my stay here except my work. Now, I find myself looking for running trails near campus, and making note places that look interesting to go for dinner, and checking out book stores to see if they have an interesting English language collection, wondering if I should invest in language learning tools.

I shouldn't I know. These are bad habits that will only lead to heartbreak when it is time to leave. It seems these are bad habits I cannot be happy without. I can always hope that my city crush will keep the misery of leaving my partner and Epsilon every week at bay for a while.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Mover's basket

How do you tell, as a cashier, that someone is moving into a new house?

Okay, unfair question. But the probability that a person checking out from a drug store is stepping off a plane and moving into a new house increases with the number of these items found in their cart:

Dishwashing solution
Toilet Cleaner
Toilet Brush
Laundry Detergent
Garbage bags
Toilet paper
Paper towels

Bonus points if a) the customer doesn't speak the local language well b) is putting things away in a university tote bag.

I've gone through this routine so many times now that I seem to walk through drug stores with this checklist in mind. But at least I'm moved in.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

A recent toast

I was at a relatively female heavy conference recently. The modal conference I attend has about a 1:10 F:M ratio. This one was about 1:4. This fact was toasted several times, by men and women alike, at the conference dinner. One gentleman (he is of the age and class where the word gentleman is still appropriate) stood up, and after declaiming the history of the building we were dining in, told us how grateful he was that we are no longer living in a world where we would not be returning to our respective monasteries after the conclusion of this conference; that the current situation allowed him to interact with his "monastic sisters"; that he is happy to see this change occur in his field over his lifetime.

Some of us rolled our eyes at each other at the slightly patronizing tone of his comment, and were immediately, simultaneously, aware of how lucky we were to be in a room with enough women to be able to roll our eyes, and also aware that his age and experience perhaps allows for some condescension to what must seem a supremely young crowd gathered at his knees.

Here's to old men who get it in their own ways and really care.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

School and class

I was listening to a BBC debate on the British education system last week. It was notable as a cultural experience. Many of the same issues that appear in the "American education crisis" appeared in the program: whether the important issue is testing or non-testable aspects of education, like music or art or values; the decline of test scores, and what to make of a recent renormalization of some standardized tests (A levels); the value of vocational school versus a more academic track; what to teach, and more importantly, what not to teach, since one can't teach everything that is societally accepted as "good for kids"; the value of free schools (which I think are the British equivalent of charter schools.)

Like many of the similar debates States-side, there was little discussion of the fact that economics factors at home are still the leading indicator of academic achievement in both the US and the UK. This was very frustrating. Though I do appreciate the panelist who pointed out that that students from poorer families were by far more likely to enter vocational programs rather than middle class families with a family history of college education. Similarly, I wanted to smack the audience member who commented that maybe the problem was that upper class children were being deprived of their full potential by not encouraging them to become car mechanics.

Privilege. I know its an issue everywhere. The different forms of it in different countries strike me. For instance, I am fairly certain that poor families here actually means poor families, and is not code for "poor brown kids." But the racism that sets my teeth on edge in the US was just replaced by classism in this debate. The amount of discussion about whether or not a student was capable of learning things like physics or Shakespeare was dumbfounding. There really does seem to be a portion of British society, (or at least of BBC radio 4 listeners) who believe that some people (upper class people) are more intelligent than other (poor) people. Like all discriminatory views, I got the impression from the debate that for many people (such as the moderator) this was known to be a politically incorrect view, but was still held (at least subconsciously).

On whole, this debate was as useless interms of actually informing me on what good policy pathways could be as the ones I listen to in the States. But I walked away with one sad thought. In the US, we love to talk about failing teachers. This is sad and frustrating and untrue, and the meme has permeated the public consciousness, and it seems that many Americans believe that teachers are lazy and incompetent. But teachers are adults. How much worse must it be to grow up in a society where the discussion about education is not whether or not your teachers can teach you, but whether or not you are capable or learning?*

The second part of the debate appears tomorrow.

*There are definitely policies that are set up not to teach poorer students, and there is an underlying (and sometimes spoken) belief that these students can't learn, but I haven't heard it as part of mainstream debate in decades.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Seeing Mini-me's

Being asked to write a letter of recommendation for a student for something other than a gradschool or summer job application is, I think, an interesting way to get to know someone. I've been lucky enough to not have a student who did poorly in my class ask me for a letter. There are a few students who ask me for a letter, and I tell them that I don't really know them outside their good grades in my one class, I don't think I can say much about them. Most of the people I write for, I feel like I know a bit of their academic capability, as well as their hopes and ambitions. I like chatting with my students, so if I see them often in my office hours, or if they ask questions before/after class, pieces of both our personal lives sneak into the other's knowledge.

But letters for scholarships that judge on more than just a student's ability in my field require more knowledge. I've been asked to do this twice now, and both times I've conducted a bit of a lengthy interview with the person I'm writing for, so I can say something about the other relevant aspects of their life. And both times* I've come out seeing shadows of my (younger) self in the person I'm writing for.

It may be that I remember going through some of the same trepidations about balancing science and family, or having the same favorite poem, or caring about the same social issues. Whatever the case, it leaves me feeling more invested in the success of the student, which (I hope) causes me to write better letters. It also makes me want to become friends with the student. Between being a postdoc and the fact that letters are usually written at the end of a student's tenure at a university, this hasn't caused me to cross anything that might be misinterpreted as a professional line. However, I wonder if other people have the same experience when writing letters for undergrads.

*Yes, I realize this is a tiny, very biased sample.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

On women and ducks

I just have to chime in on the Ted Atkins issue. Yesterday he said
"From what I understand from doctors, that's really rare," said Akin said of pregnancy caused by rape. "If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let's assume maybe that didn't work or something. I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist."
This story of legitimate rape is not new. The fact that some men cannot grasp the idea that the physcal discomfort of pregnancy, let alone the emotional trauma of carrying a fetus resulting from rape could possibly be viewed as a punishment for the woman carrying the fetus is not new. For instance, this 1988 quote from Stepen Freind, Pennsylvania state representative at the time*:
"Rape obviously is a traumatic experience. When that traumatic experience is undergone, a woman secretes a certain secretion, which has a tendency to kill sperm."
This is new. Well, no. Its a 14 year old quote. Its just new to me, and a novel concept to human biology.

I'm not an evolutionary biologist, zoologist, or anyone who knows a lot about the animal kingdom. Experts, please correct me if I am wrong, but I only know of one species where the female has evolved any sort of protection against  forcible sexual encounters, once penetration has occurred. Ducks. Quack Quack. Specifically studied were Muscovy Ducks, at Yale in 2009.**
To gain the edge in these conflicts, drakes have evolved large corkscrew phalluses, lined with ridges and backward-pointing spines, which allow them to deposit their sperm further into a female than their rivals. ... [Female ducks'] vaginas are equally long and twisting, lined with dead-end pockets and spirals that curve in the opposite direction.
Fascinating. TMFI. Fascinating. After some duck erections and test tubes, the group at Yale concluded that
[T]he shape of the female duck’s vagina is a physical barrier that prevents the male from launching forth his ballistic penis to its fullest extent. It won’t stop a drake from ejaculating (and those in Brennan’s trials always did), but it does limit how far the semen is deposited along the vaginal tract.

Thus decreasing the likelihood of  zygote formation in the case of non-consenting sex. This is similar to what was claimed at the start of this post. This leaves me with one thing to say.


*Thanks to Rachel Maddow for making me aware of this quote.
** Quotes taken from Ed Yong.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Why I would do better in a diverse department

While in the swing of things, its easy for me to convince myself that things are OK. At my last position, there were only a few female postdocs, and I was the only one with a family. But there were other postdocs (male) with kids, even one with a child Epsilon's age, and a two body problem that looked identical except that the gender were switched. I had a female faculty mentor, there was another female faculty with kids down the hall from me, and a very friendly tenured faculty next door who was always very free with advice. What more could I want in a support network, right?

The problem is with sample sizes and the probabilities. The more people look like me, the greater the chance that they will have similar life experiences, and the more likely they will turn into something of a confidant/friend/mentor/support person.

I use the word "look" loosely. By being a woman who wants/has a family, I have taken myself out of the pool of people likely to be useful to women who don't want that path. Similarly, young male postdocs who do at least 50% of the parenting of their kid(s) may not look like me, but probably share a lot of the frustrations/struggles I have. But a woman at a similar career stage, with a similar looking family, who is also a person I can have over for dinner? That's gold. Finding such a woman  requires having a large sample of females in the department to choose from.

I was reminded of this lack in my life in the best way possible recently. I met up with an old friend fitting the above description a couple months ago. We've kept in sporadic e-mail contact, but after grad school, we'd both gone in slightly different academic directions, and stopped seeing each other professionally very often. I reunited with her at a point in my travels when I was feeling particularly bitter and miserable about the upcoming move. It was great to catch up with an old friend and hear about the exploits of her family. It was just as nice to have someone applaud my efforts in my 2-body problem. Her family has resolved their situation differently, equally problematically, in a way we could never deal with. It was nice to have someone encourage me to vent about the issue in front of colleagues I did not know very well and actively create a safe place for me to speak.* It was nice to have someone to compare and contrast and hash over the costs and benefits of different career choices.

Seeing her again was a good reminder of both the fact that I have good friends scattered around the globe, and an explicit example of why departments need to "diversify" their hires.

* A space space often just takes one person being willing to politely set the tone of a conversation.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Talks to student audiences

When talking to undergraduates and grad students at various departments, I've often heard them wish that speakers would give a talk pitched at a lower level so that they had an opportunity to understand what current research in the field looks like. If such a program was in place already, I've uniformly heard from grad students how much they appreciate the feature. In general, I think this is a great idea. Coming out of undergrad, other than some small summer "research" jobs coding, I had no idea what real research looked like.

I've seen various implementations of this idea. My graduate program had a seminar series given primarily by professors in the department pitching their research to first and second year students. This was mostly a way for professors to attract gradstudents. It also gave a way for older students to know what research was happening in the department outside their area of specialization. Sometimes grad students would use it as an opportunity to talk about their own research before a thesis defence or a conference talk. My first post doc institution had a series where a few outside speakers a year would come and give a colloquium talk aimed at the general public. Needless to say, these were generally big names with sexy topics to draw an audience from outside the department. I've seen one department have regular pre-talks aimed at grad students, given the same day as the regular talk. These had the goal of giving the grad students enough background material to be able to understand some of the main talk. And recently, I had the opportunity to participate in a seminar series with talks aimed primarily at undergrads and gradstudents.

The only other time I've given a talk aimed at this audience was in my graduate seminar series. At that point, my goal for the talk was to gain practise at giving talks. I think this recent talk went well, but I'm not sure how I should judge that. Nor am I sure what my goal for this talk should have been. Surely there is a "service" aspect of it; exposing other students to what modern research looks like. But are there other aspects I should be looking at when giving such talks? Is there a long term networking aspect to this? Am I overthinking the issue too much? I certainly enjoyed the experience, I'm just not sure what to make of it.

Have other people given such talks? What were your goals going into it, and what do you get out of it? 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Emmigration Surprises

University E town is the closest I've ever been to living in a small town.* Normally, I find myself somewhere between scoffing at and terrified of living in a small town. But I have to point out a few cultural differences that I am finding quite pleasant.** I have no idea how much of this is due the the universal small town nature of things, and how much is cultural/geographical.

  1. Blackberry bushes. Epsilon LOVES picking blackberries off the bushes and popping them in his mouth. (Then wiping his hands on his shorts, but that's a different matter.)
  2. Wildflower fields next to campus. I have a soft spot for wildflower fields, since one of my earliest memories is being chased out to play in the wildflowers in the undeveloped lot next to our house.
  3. Busdrivers who stop and chat while I find my change, and who wait while I struggle to get my toddler of the bus from the back. I think this is cultural, since I've noticed this, to a lesser degree in larger cities in this country as well.
  4. Clothes lines. Everyone has them, so no one looks at me like I'm bringing down my neighbor's property values buy hanging up my sweaters.

*Technically speaking, the town University E is in is smaller than the neighbouring town with good bus and train connections I'm living in.

**All opinions stated in this post subject to change as I actually get to know my neighborhood better.

Monday, August 13, 2012

How to have a clean kitchen upon moving in: 5 easy steps

  1. Open the first box in the kitchen to find a glass Pepsi bottle you have never before seen in your life.
  2. Look a the bottle with confusion and put on the counter.
  3. Continue unpacking.
  4. Reach over to put something else away, knocking the bottle onto the stone floor, where it shatters, including into glass dust in the grout at the point of impact.
  5. Mop. Repeat as necessary.
All of the boxes are unpacked and it only remains to find homes for those occaisionally used small objects where it is unclear whether they are really important, or trash.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Moving Day 1

The truck with our stuff is supposed to arrive today. We have the front door keys. I sent my proofs of last night. I'm getting the lease agreement for my place near University F on Monday. (More expensive than I'd like, but through the university, so I don't have to deal with outside landlords, which will be nice.)

Things are looking a lot better today than they did at the beginning of the week.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Academic dating

Yesterday, Potnia Theron on Dr. Isis's blog wrote about intra departmental dating. The specifics involved a female grad student dating a male professor (not on her committee) in the department. The ensuing discussion was mostly about why this is not a good idea (and some about Dr. Isis's soccer playing habits).

I'd made a not very deeply thought out comment about the intrinsic sexism in the situation. I'd like to flesh out my thoughts on the matter a bit more here.

My basic stand was, and is, that whether or not a relationship within a department is a good idea, the common wisdom seems to advise women away from such relationship far more strongly than it does men. There is a perception/fear/reality that a woman entering into such a relationship will be plagued in her future with doubts at every step about whether her accomplishments are her own, or due to who she is partnered with. There is also the fear, put forth by Potnia,
My concern is the message to the *other* women trainees – that this is a dept where you get ahead on your back (or knees or whatever…).
So here's my breakdown of various (idealized) relationships that could be occurring in the post (and a few more cases).

Grad student sleeping with a professor who has any sort of power over them (teaching a class they are taking, the teacher for a class they are TAing, advisor/advisee relationship, committee member, etc.) is potentially coersive and universally a bad idea. BAD. BAD. BAD. There is too much of a power relationship in the game. It doesn't matter what the gender distribution is.

At the other extreme is a grad student dating a faculty member in a different field (possibly at a different university). I see no problem with this, no matter what the gender distribution. If the relationship works, and the junior woman gets a job at the same university as her partner, she will be plagued by doubts about her achievements, but the woman in almost any spousal hire situation will have to deal with this no matter what the circumstances of the relationship are.

Then there are the middle cases concerning whether or not the faculty member is in the same subfield as the grad student and whether or not they are housed at the same university as the grad student.
  • Same department, same subfield is a risky proposition for any gender configuration. If the student doesn't have a committee yet, or wants to make changes to it, it limits the people he/she can consider. There is a good chance that the senior person works closely with someone on the committee and the relationship could cause tensions there. In general, the closer the senior person's work is to the junior persons/ junior's advisor, the riskier the proposition.
  • Same department, different subfield is a safer bet. Other than the inherent complications that humans have with relationships once sex enters the picture, I don't really see a problem with two mature adults entering a consenting relationship.
In either of the same department cases, there is a concern of what happens if the relationship breaks up badly. There is a good possibility of bad feelings within the department, but this is true if a dual hired pair goes through a divorce, or two tenure track faculty fall in love. Isis's don't fuck where you eat dictum is just not as simple as it seems. In a relationship where one member is more junior than the other, the junior member is more vulnerable in the case of a bad break up. I believe this is true for any gender configuration, but the advice not to date more senior scientists is doled out to women more than men, which is where my problem with the entire issue comes about.
  • Different department, same subfield is less risky than if the senior person was in the same department. A romantic relationship could interfere with the relationship the grad student has with their committee if the senior partner is a collaborator of a committee member. A bad break up here could follow a person around to conferences and polarize a community interfering with future post doc positions. I feel one can proceed with caution in this domain. It is seen as acceptable to form close personal as well as academic friendships with people one meets at a conference. Since universities are no longer mostly housed in monasteries, I don't see why that can't be taken a step further.
  • Different department, different subfield is very similar to the discussion about dating people in a different field altogether.
I should say a word about Potnia's concern. I think the message sent to other women in the department depends on how many women pass through the department. If there are several women in each year's cohort, (suppose the department has 20 female grad students in it at any given time) one woman having a relationship with a professor isn't going to send much of a message either way. If there is only one woman every few years then it only needs for a female dating a professor to succeed and the following female to fail to get her degree before the rumor spreads to the third woman entering the department 6 years hence that you need to sleep around to get a degree.

This is a deeper problem than what message this one person sends by dating a professor.  I question why a woman dating a senior man is immediately labelled a slut, getting ahead on her back, while a man dating a senior female is not immediately labelled the male equivalent. (The fact that there is not an equivalent word for men with a negative connotation is a discussion for a different post.) Whether one chooses to attack the more global issue of perception of women or the local issue of protecting the woman's and the department's reputation is a personal choice.

No matter what the configuration of fields and departments, I fear that a woman dating a senior man is far more likely to have her work attributed to her partner than in the opposite gender configuration. Any position she gets will likely be rumored to be given to her to keep her partner. But this is true of any academic pair, even those to get together as undergrads and manage to make the relationship work through grad school and post docs. On more cynical days, I fear the only way for ladies to escape this sort of doubt is pair up with a non-academic.

Finally, I have a fear that a junior female/senior male pairings are more likely to lead to the woman not pursuing as active an academic career as her partner. But I don't think the circumstances under which such a pairing was made plays a major role in that outcome.


A friend of mine once said that he hated having too many keys on his keyring. Each key represented a responsibility to him. He couldn't drop them and go travelling whenever the urge took him.

I was 19 and the idea of travelling was appealing. Three years later, when I graduated from college and changed continents for the first time, I found myself keyless for several month. I flipped out. For me, it would seem, a house key represents stability and community.

I am currently in the middle of my fourth transcontinental move, and my unease at not having house keys has only diminished a little. This is not an unusual situation for academics, and PLS and Dr. Becca have talked about their feelings on this recently.

I'm trying to put a positive spin on things right now, so I won't focus on the fact that I miss hanging out with Epsilon's friends' parents, or the problem of being science lonely, or the difficulty meeting people without a cohort of gradstudents.

Our last major move (to First Postdoc Town) was when Epsilon was -.25 years old. As my partner pointed out, it is a lot easier to meet neighbors with a 2.75 year old than with a -.25 year old.

My partner's department has a lot more people with kids Epsilon's age than my postdoc department did. This means there is a real chance of making friends with people with whom we share more in common than our kids.

One of my partner's colleagues is a friend of his from grad school. He has been in this department for longer, and is a very social person. He's taken it upon himself to drag my partner out to meet people. As a result, we have a bit of a social network set up near University E already.

When I move to University F, while I'll have linguistic difficulties in meeting people outside the department, I've heard rumors that it is a very friendly and social department. This means that there is some hope that I can knock on office neighbors' doors and grab people for lunch. If the main social activity for the department is drinks/dinner after speakers, Epsilon's sunrise wakeups won't keep me from attending.

Its a plan. Not a great one, but a plan. A friend of mine wrote me when I was complaining about this move
Moving only sucks for a few weeks! You've had an amazing adventure with your family that most people in the world would never be able to have!!
She dreams of picking up her family and going backpacking through Europe. I dream of PTA meetings and watching Epsilon's friends grow up. She's right of course, about the adventure and the privileged position we are in. I'll feel better once I have two sets of house keys in my hand.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


Lesson 1: Never make a job decision based on which routes low fare airlines fly.

When my partner had a job in Chicago, I commuted back and forth during fall and spring term. Fall term, there was an direct flight from a near by airport at a good time. By spring term, that had disappeared, and I had to go a bit further to a larger airport to make the commute work. This is part of the reason why it was a 10+ hours door to door commute twice a week for me. You'd think I'd learn. When I accepted my post doc at University F, there were several direct flights a day from the local airport to an airport an hour away from University E. All told, it would take me 4.5 hours each way. Not great, but it could be worse. Those flights don't exist any more. Now I can either fly at odd times from a different small airport an hour away by train, or I can land at a major airport 2.5 hours and a couple transit changes away. Not cool.

Lesson 2: Craigslist is better than a rental agency.

We spent the last several days looking for rental properties. We saw 13 houses in 2 days. We found a house that we really like, with a very friendly and helpful landlord in a good location. The landlord would love for us to have moved in last
weekend. We would love to have moved in last weekend. The rental agency
couldn't possibly have us moving in until Wednesday. Some of the delay is
understandable. These agencies exist to take the risk off of the renter and the
landlord by providing credit checks and other screenings. Some of the delays involve steps that could have happened before we saw the house in the first place. At least it's almost Wednesday.

Lesson 3: International moves always take more time than you expect.

The movers have been bugging us about where to send our stuff for the
last few weeks. It's been sitting in port accruing fees for a while
now. However, we haven't had an address to send our furniture to until
Saturday. Calling them on Monday with an address, we find that they
need 2 weeks notice. Lovely. We begged and cajoled and just heard that they will try to have our furniture to us by Friday. Every time I visit the country of my parent's origin, I think about buying a mat for sleeping on the floor. Every time, the hassle of transporting it overrules and aesthetic or practical desire to own one. Too bad really. It would have come in handy for Wednesday and Thursday nights.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Internetless for 3.5 weeks

Well, I'm back. I think this time for good. Chez Barefoot has just completed 8 weeks of travel through 3 continents, and are about to have a house again. Exciting times!

To recap: We left our old house on June 12 to go to Conference City 1. We had a lovely hotel room with 2 balconies, one of which looked over a tram line. Every morning, Epsilon would wake up and go sit on the balcony waiting for the trams to run under his window. After the conference, we took a few days to sight see around the area, and introduce Epsilon to the ocean and the magic of tide pools.

It rained in Conference City 2. This was a much larger city than CC1, and we were put up in a soulless large brand name hotel in a major tourist center. The advantage of this is that Epsilon got to take lots of tour buses and boats. There were views of trams and excavators from our hotel window here as well, but it was not nearly as exciting. CC2 is a somewhat near University F. The rain and the cold in the city did not do much to make my look forward to my move there.

We had a week before conference 3, so we spent it with a my partner's colleague in Friend's City 1. I've been to FC before, 10 years ago with my partner and his sister. I'd hoped to revisit some of the places I'd loved before, but travelling as a group of 20 somethings is very different than travelling with a kid. Still, FC is as beautiful as I remembered it being. We were able to take Epsilon swimming in the ocean again. I taught him to ride the waves "like a roller coaster."

I didn't really get to see much of Conference City 3. The conference hotel was far from the conference location, so we were away for 11 hours of the day. It was an amazing conference, so I wouldn't have minded at all if not for the fact that I never made it back for the little guy's bed time. Epsilon went to see a lot of old churches and palaces with his father.

The transition to Friend's City 2 was difficult, in so much as going in a large hotel near the center of town in a rich country to a two room apartment shared by 4 adults and 2 kids in a poor country needs a large emotional gear shift. Once I'd put my guilt at being born well off aside, the visit there was as lovely as it always is. The friend we stayed with for 3 weeks has a daughter a year older than Epsilon. I'd say they got along famously, if not for the fact that I try not make this blog a fiction. They had enough fun together that I hope they grow into each other as the years go by. My partner and I have been visiting FC2 every couple years for more than 10 years now.  That's enough time to look back an see the progress the city has made. Perhaps not as much as other cities in developing countries, but progress nonetheless. Which brings me to my internet silence for the duration of my visit. It used to be that most people in FC2 did not have computers at home, so it was easy to find an internet cafe in any part of town. Now, as highspeed connections have become available all over the city, these cafes can only be found in the tourist and poorer parts of town (and in the latter case, open only in the evenings after work.) My friend, of course, does not have a computer at home.

Our travels are now over. We are staying in a hotel in University E's city, waiting to have a house to live in.