Card Collecting Journey, 2006-2010

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While in grad school back at Iowa State from 2002-2004, I had become friends with several of my Chinese classmates.  And through my new pals,  I started learning about the Chinese culture and language (Mandarin Chinese).kd  In fact, my interest in China grew so quickly that by 2005 I decided to look for permanent work on the Chinese mainland.  I soon found a job teaching oral English and introductory statistics at Nanjing University of Finance and Economics in Nanjing, China; I made the move to the Middle Kingdom in August 2005.  Similar as to when I headed off to college in 1998, I left my entire card collection at home in Iowa with my parents.  While living in Nanjing, I pondered about my cards from time to time, but for the most part I did not actively think about card collecting.  I was too busy immersing myself in my new and unfamiliar surroundings.  China mesmerized me, and I put all of my energies into learning more about the country.

In the summer of 2007 I returned to the USA in an effort to learn even more about China; I had been accepted into the University of Washington’s China Studies master’s degree program and classes would begin in September. Finding myself back in grad school was thrilling, but paying for out-of-state tuition was not going to be easy.  My sports cards (they had remained unscathed at Mom and Dad’s house while I was in China) were the only items of value that I owned, and so after much thought, I decided to sell my card collection to help pay my tuition.  And while the value of my collection wasn’t going to even come close to covering the full cost of tuition, any little bit would help.  In 2007 (as I still am today) I was committed to improving my understanding of China.  If selling my cards could help me reach this goal, then that is what needed to be done.

I spent 2007 and 2008 selling my collection on Ebay and Craigslist.  Looking back, I think I could have gotten a little bit more value for my cards than I did – as a seller, I was not quite as patient as I could have been.  Deciding to sell my collection was a difficult decision, but once the decision itself had been made, I did not look back.  By the spring of 2008, after two decades in the hobby (with a hiatus from 1998-2001), I had managed to sell off my entire collection.  Not a single card was saved.  Selling my cards left a sense of emptiness in me, but I am still convinced that it was the right thing for me to do.  As wonderful as card collecting is, we must all make rational decisions that are in the best interests of ourselves and our families.  I wouldn’t be back in the hobby for another three years.

Word of the Day

obstreperous – difficult to control and often noisy; a room full of obstreperous children; obstreperous teenagers


  1. How awesome that you have such a passion for China. My wife and I are in the process of adopting from China. We should be heading over for three weeks in about 6-8 months to finalize the process. I am a bit worried about the language barrier and the long journey, but it is heartening to know you had a great experience there.


    1. China is an amazing place. The country can be extremely overwhelming at first, especially if you find yourself in a heavily populated and polluted city. But the PRC has so many charms and cultural history that just can’t be beat. I’m not sure if you will have any time to explore the country as your focus will be elsewhere, but as long as you go with an open mind, your trip will be rewarding. Best wishes to you and your family.


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