This site contains the archives of my travel blogs from 2010-2016.

I'm now blogging via Medium. For other life updates, including opportunities or requests to collaborate, visit my personal website.




Sunday, October 31, 2010

Planning for Grad School


You're probably wondering: Already? 

Already. Last spring it hit me: I have this Fall semester, a semester in Russia, and then just two more semesters next year before I'll be out of the Belmont Bubble and living in the real world.  And I'll have decisions to make -- important decisions.  Where will I work? Where will I live? When and where will I continue my education?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A 5th Grader's Solution to Inflation

I was on the phone with my mom last night, when Raam, my youngest brother, calls out,

"Hey Mom! Tell Shirah I know how to get rid of inflation...
                     ...Just wait a while, let the earth get more populated, and then more of the money will get used."

Sunday, October 24, 2010

TED Talk: Political Cartoonist Patrick Chappatte


Using clean, simple pencil strokes, editorial cartoonist Patrick Chappatte wields globally literate and to-the-point humor on world events -- the tragic, the farcical and the absurd.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Dad's New York City Début

Mom and Dad are in NYC this weekend for an awards dinner my dad was honored at last night.  As an aeronautical and design engineer, he entered and recently won a design contest sponsored by NASA Tech Briefs, one of the premier publications for engineering solutions for design and manufacturing. 

Friday, October 22, 2010

12 Reasons to Smile

1. It's the middle of October, and still 80 degrees in Nashville!  I'm soaking it in, and trying not to think about the Moscow winter ahead of me.

2. I've recently rediscovered Fido, the best coffee shop in Nashville.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

She thinks my life warrants a book?

I had the privilege of having lunch today with two of my favourite ladies in the world...my great friend Caleigh and her mama, Miss Stacie.  (We don't do first names in the South -- if a person is more than a few years older than you it's always Mr., Mrs., Miss., Dr., etc.) We went to homey, family-style Italian place called Buca di Beppo which had quite possibly the most complex floor plan I've ever seen in a restaurant.  I spent literally 3+ minutes weaving in and out of little corridors, looking for the restroom, and walked into enough broom closets and kitchen doors and off-limits rooms that the manager even chased me down and personally escorted me to the restroom. 

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Does Democracy Lead to Economic Growth, or Vice Versa?

I'm loving every minute of my International Business course this semester.  Both the professor and the textbook we're using are quality sources, and we've had some great class discussions.  Coming from an entrepreneurship point of view, it's been neat to see how the authors of the text approach entrepreneurship in the context of international trade and politics, and global economic growth and development.

Untranslatable Words from Around the World

I've posted a few of these "untranslatable words" lists before, and have gotten such great responses to them that when I ran across this one yesterday I knew I had to post it.

Monday, October 11, 2010


THIS is why I don't feel so bad about coming back from a year in Belgium with only a rudimentary understanding of the country's governing bodies.
The following video is a striking satire on the complexity and sometimes seemingly illogical structure of the Belgian system.

To my dear Belgian family and friends:
I may not understand your government, but I love you all the same :)

A short animated film about the Belgian political structure.

The text was written by Marcel Sel, a Belgian writer, author of Walen Buiten, a best-seller on the «Belgian Crisis».
The music was specifically composed by Laurent Aglat for the film, and Emma Dornan's beautiful voice gave the commentary its magical tone.
The film was directed by Jerome de Gerlache.
And a special thanks to Karine Quarant-Schmidt !

Pierre Bourdieu Speaks My Language

To those of you who sent kind words of encouragement after my rather flustered thesis post last Friday: Thank you, your thoughts and prayers were much appreciated.

It's Monday. And you know what that means....the craziness starts all over again!  I must say that this weekend I've taken more time off from the books than I have in months. Breakfasting with girl friends on Saturday, kayaking away the beautiful 85-degree afternoon, church and brunch with friends on Sunday, exploring a new park, and then gallivanting around a backyard campfire until 2 am...I'd say I've more than made up for the last few months of seven-day workweeks.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

The Letter "K"

The letter "k" is far superior to most letters of the alphabet.  

It so happens that "k"s are present in most every language, and they seem to be universally pronounced as the hard "ck" sound.  This is not so with the letter "c," which alone can say "sss," "ch," "sh," and "ck."  Vowel sounds are even worse, as their pronunciations differ drastically between languages and even between dialects of the same language. 

"I" can say short "i," "ee," "eye"...."A" can say "ay" as in "say," "aa" as in "lamb," "ah" as in the French pronunciation of "Paris."  And when combined with other vowels!?  The possibilities are endless.

So if your name starts with, or even contains, the fantastic letter "k," you are a lucky, lucky person.  For it is much more likely that your name will be pronounced correctly than if your name was Shirah. My name is currently at an all time low, being pronounced correctly (by new acquaintances) about negative 2.8% of the time.  I'm sure that if my name was Shirak, my correct-pronunciation rate would go up by at least 99%. 

But this is just speculation.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Thesis Committee Meeting

I have my first Thesis Committee meeting this afternoon....it's the first time my whole committee will have met together, and I'll be challenged to defend the development of my research model and provide strong reasoning for the individual variables I'll be testing: Social capital, social norms, and personal financial capital -- all in the context of the formation of entrepreneurial intent.

Just yesterday during a meeting with the Chair of my committee we had a big breakthrough with some new (or rather newly evaluated) network theory research -- I'm so excited about the new direction we're headed. My topic and research interests are so broad that we've had trouble narrowing it down to a very specific research question, but now it's all coming together.  

I'll be looking at how the social networks of young entrepreneurs may predict entrepreneurial intent.  Views and opinions on entrepreneurial pursuits vary widely between my generation and that of the "old Russia;" this is largely a result of the communist ban on entrepreneurship and propaganda which condemned the pursuits of personal capital gain.  With this in mind, and considering that the people whom one value's and with whom one interacts the most, most influence his or her social norms, you can see how it would be interesting to find out what a young Russian entrepreneur's social network looks like.  To throw one more variable in there, I'm going to investigate a potential relationship between personal financial capital (monetary resources that the individual has sole authority over) and the presence of entrepreneurial intent, with regards to the entrepreneur's social network.  
This probably sounds confusing....it is. It's one of those things where sometimes I think I have a complete grasp of the picture, and then I lose it for a second, and then it's back.  I'm still in the process of solidifying the model. 

I'm also finding out, through this thesis-writing process, that I'm not very good at setting aside time to just sit and think.  In fact, I don't ever do that.  My focus is always on produce, produce, produce.....papers, presentations, powerpoints, applications to a plethora of scholarships and study abroad programs.  So now that I'm faced with an academic assignment for which the solution isn't obvious, I'm struggling to force myself to sit down, not DO anything, and just think. 
This process has been so much more demanding than I originally thought, and I can honestly say that I've never been pushed so hard academically.  It helps to have some truly encouraging faculty here.

All I'm hoping for this afternoon is that my whole prospectus isn't torn to shreds, and that a least one small bit of integrity will be found in my model. Wish me luck.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010


Something is seriously wrong with me.
Monday night I got only 3.5 hours sleep, as I had two big deadlines on Tuesday: a big study abroad grant application, and a 10 page paper on Machiavelli to write & then give a 25 minute presentation on (which I found out about only last Thursday).

I met the deadline for the grant, and the presentation went really well, but then I had to face 3 hours of Marketing/Business law from 2-5 pm.  On a normal day it's hard to stay awake in Business Law, It's after lunch in a dark, warm room....one guy in the front row routinely naps through the better part of each class.  So running on half my normal sleep, I knew I needed an extra boost.  

Desperate for energy, I bought a 20 oz. sugar free AMP drink.  

Halfway into Bus. Law my leg started twitching and I was taking notes faster than ever and it was suddenly the most interesting subject ever.  I must have asked 30 or more questions, and leaving the class I was practically bouncing off the wall and could barely contain myself.  I got back to my room and got ready to go the gym, but decided to use some of that extra energy to check off some things on the to-do list first.  I was so hyper that my hand were visibly shaking. Ended up getting into a five-hour conversation, which somehow felt more like two hours, during which I was still super jittery and just all over the place.

Got back to my room and chatted for another hour....went to bed at 1:30am and didn't sleep AT ALL. Got out of bed about five times but couldn't focus enough to read or work on any one project.  It's now 7:30 am and I'm still "high" from an energy drink I had over 15 hours ago.

WHAT is in this stuff?? 
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