I turn 33 today. It’s strange how birthdays are these amazing, special days when you’re a kid but become somewhat of a sad occasion as you grow older. I was thinking the other day about “adulting” — how you don’t just wake up one day and suddenly, BAM! You’re an Adult!, rather it really happens in pieces — you graduate college, you get your first job, you figure out how to file taxes on your own, you figure out what people look for when they buy a house, you buy a car, you get married, you have kids, etc etc…

My alma mater, a lovely, small liberal arts college in Midwestern USA, awarded me with their 2020 Young Alumni Achievement Award! I’m a bit embarrassed, because I am a work in progress but truly, truly honored. Knox taught me A LOT — I can say without hesitation that I am the academic I am because of the 4 years I spent there. I also met my husband there. And my mom went there! So this was so awesome.

They’d compiled a video on the winners, which you can view below!

We Are Not Going Back to Normal (I Think?)

I’ve thought a lot about how covid has changed so much in my life, but the past couple of weeks have been particularly stark with this reminder.

My sister, a doctor and GP trainee with the NHS in the UK, was able to come home after more than a year away. She had to quarantine for 10 days in a hotel as soon as she landed in Malaysia and get tested (and cleared) twice before she could come and see us. Usually, when she’s here, we spend our time visiting family…

Malaysia — where I live — was able to swiftly contain the first and second waves of covid infections last year. We enjoyed months where things were (almost) normal — my son started first grade, my daughter was at daycare, and I was having work lunches with colleagues and friends again. On the research front — we were even able to conduct some interviews in person! It was a marvellous time. Then, a huge outbreak in Sabah, one of the states in Malaysian Borneo, trickled over to the Peninsular through people traveling back from voting and campaigning in elections held…

I’ve not written very much at all this year, unfortunately. But I remembered that I had a Medium account, and that I should probably stop ranting on social media and channel it to a somewhat more structured method of information dissemination, so voilà! Here you go. Can’t promise I’ll keep this up, but let’s try anyhoo.

To start — I posted this picture of a lovely small variety of pink hibiscus from my mother’s garden earlier today. Somebody once told me about this quote, which I found out was from Gandhi:

“You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is…

Melati Nungsari

Economist and mother of two. Currently based in Kuala Lumpur. I write about labor economics, migration issues, industrial organization, and life.

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