Soldier Taking a Break

It’s been a while! I hope everyone enjoyed the summer. I certainly did, even though I spent most of it at the office (and the army barracks). But as I’m writing this post, I’ve got 10 days left in the military. It feels incredible to have 260 days under your belt.

There’s also another announcement to make. I’ll be heading off to South Korea and Taiwan at the end of October, and I’m planning to share my experiences through Twitter so be sure to follow me at @ericnishio!


As you might guess, life in the barracks can get extremely boring unless you come up with things to do in your spare time. But rather than think of it as a source of frustration and boredom, the better alternative is to treat it as a great opportunity to focus.

As a soldier, the number of personal possessions that you keep in your locker is limited. You won’t have your entire book or magazine collection with you, nor will you have a fancy entertainment center equipped with Xboxes and audio systems to play with.

My personal belongings were limited to three things primarily: a book, an iPhone, and a journal. Surely I could have crammed my locker full of items, but I don’t think my superiors would have liked the mess—especially during basic training when they did frequent locker inspections to see that everything was arranged according to the instructions given.

The good thing about having so few items with you is that it sets limitations on what you can do. I was lucky to have my iPhone connected to a 3G network most of the time, so I was able to peruse the YouTube library quite comfortably, and spend at least a couple of hours each day learning Mandarin Chinese. I didn’t have a single boring moment during the 9 months, and I was able to accomplish more than ever.