“Plans are nothing.  Planning is everything”-Dwight D. Eisenhower


It’s been a while since my last update to this blog.
I suppose I had thought that there weren’t many major developments that warranted a blog post but upon realizing that it’s been roughly a month since my last update, there must surely be something to write about.
What there is to discuss is planning.  After all I think planning, or the lack thereof, has been the central theme of the past 4 months.  I certainly don’t think for a moment that the importance of planning is something confined only to graduate school.  I can only picture the look of disgust that must be on the faces of my friends with real jobs if they thought that I was the only one who thought planning was important.  I think what has made this post necessary to me is that I’ve been spending a lot of time over the past few weeks thinking and, not to be redundant, planning about not only my more immediate concerns but the long term concerns as well.
Each week I need to outline the amount of work that needs to be accomplished every day for me to continue being successful in my MA program but simultaneously I have to also consider what needs to be done for my time outside of the University.  This manifested itself today in that I had to draw up and formulate my itinerary for my forthcoming trip to Ireland and Northern Ireland (more on this a little later).  I’ve also been forced to search and apply for internships that could prove to be the framework for  the rest of my career.  More than anything I want to have a successful position within the field of International Relations and at this point the thought of not being able to do that is unthinkable.  It must happen.
This unrelenting drive to do what I love has led me to consider paths and options that I had not previously considered.  If you had asked me earlier this year if I had planned on pursuing more schooling after my MA program I would of said unequivocally no.  Now I am not as certain.  Though the thought of spending 4 additional years in the pursuit of a PhD is still unpalatable to me, it has become something that I have been forced to consider as of late.  I have begun to reconsider this option for a few reasons.  One of my professors has been urging me to consider a doctoral program (which he said does not need to happen right after I’m done here with my MA) and I have been surprised to discover how many senior level government officials within the State Department were not career foreign service officers.  In fact many of them are professors who are hired by the US government to take up policy planning and consulting positions (just the work that I’d ideally like to do).  I’d hasten to add that this is just an option I’m considering, as I can surely imagine the blood draining from my father’s face as he’s reading this, but it’s something that I’ve been giving more consideration to.  Especially since I realized that the majority of PhD students are funded and paid to teach undergraduate classes, so my debt burden wouldn’t increase dramatically.  Ideally though, in a perfect world, I’d like to dive in to the workforce immediately after graduation.  This of course makes my plans to find a fruitful internship even more important.
I’ve also had to plan what I will be doing during the month and a half that I will be on my own in Europe before the next semester begins.
That brings me to the topic of the picture that I included at the top of this post.  In case you were wondering the banner that was hung out of a window in Bamberg, Germany (o yea I was in Germany a couple of weeks ago) reads “Freedom instead of Dictatorship–Get out of the EU”.  The ongoing EU financial crisis has served as the inspiration (it feels weird to use the word inspiration when talking about a financial crisis) of what I am planning over the coming weeks in December and January.
When I first arrived in London my plan for winter break was to be sort of bohemian and just see where the road took me as I traveled wandered around Europe.  But as I began to investigate the logistics of what that would require (again planning!) the idea became less attractive.  I need to feel in control over my travels.  In an odd sense I find it more relaxing.  So I have instead decided to emulate one of my favorite writers Michael Lewis who wrote a fantastic book called Boomerang in which he traveled to the countries most affected by the fiscal crisis and recorded his observations.  So I am planning on traveling to Greece, Spain, Portugal, Ireland and possibly Italy to see how the lives of everyday people in these countries have changed.  I have always been keen to visit places that I read about but have never seen for myself.  I think after having gone to Malawi, this idea has only been reinforced.
Maybe when I get to Greece I will find that the riots and demonstrations are confined to some angry students and union members or maybe I’ll find the volatile Athens that I have seen splashed over the internet.  Who knows for sure?  Maybe when I get to Dublin and Belfast I’ll find cities decimated by financial collapse (Dublin) or years of religious hatred and intolerance (Belfast) or maybe neither or maybe both.  You get the point.
To bring this post full circle I must emphasize how none of these trips are going to be possible without planning.  Don’t worry though.  It’s something that I have become increasingly better at.

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