So long, 2016.

I wasn’t going to write this post even though I’ve been doing it for the last 3 years but lots of things can happen in one year so I’ll make this short and sweet.

2016 was rough, I’m not going to lie. It. was. rough. Most of it being in the 2nd half of the year.

Rereading last year’s annual reflection post was hard. I felt like someone else wrote that post. On one hand, I am proud of last year’s me and on the other hand, slightly jealous. I didn’t achieve as much greatness as I did last year. I didn’t do as much as I would have liked and I certainly did not grow into the person I hoped to become. I am filled with disappointment and regret which is honestly really sad but there’s not much to be done now that the year is over.

I interned over the summer and learned that I hate being stuck behind a desk. Then I went to potential future work places and realized that maybe being stuck behind a desk isn’t so bad. The honors program thingy? A total letdown, thanks to a bunch of empty promises made by an irresponsible professor. I worked hard to get into the program – nobody truly understands how much mental work went into simply applying for it – and in the end, it turned out to be like this.

But so as to not be ungrateful and unrealistic, good things did happen. 2016 was the year of discovering KPop. I discovered Teukie who needs to find me so that we can hold each other and have a heart-to-heart. Okay, more than that, I did meet great people (friends and teachers) along the way and I had some enlightening moments. I made mistakes but I will try to learn from them and push myself in the right direction.

We discovered Yogurtland and I ate a lot over summer. I lost a lot of weight but I put most of it back on – half good, half bad thing, I guess. I had some kitchen successes – making my own alfredo sauce, okonomiyaki, foil-wrapped everything aka easy cleanup. What else… More and more gingko trees are being planted on campus; I want to be engulfed in their blazing yellow beauty. Oh, and I did read some awesome books so I guess that’s a plus right there.

As for my birthday, I had cake, lunch at my favorite Thai restaurant, dinner at our usual dim sum place, and I got great gifts – a meaningful necklace from my mom and original artwork from my sister. Can’t complain.

I want to be kinder, I want to be more patient, I want to appreciate the little things, I want to remember that it’s okay to ask for help. I want to stop being so hard on myself, to stop comparing myself to my past selves/others, to stop giving in to negativity. I want to remember that I am responsible for my actions/emotions and that my emotions are not my enemies. None of that is going to happen by itself so it’s going to have to be me making the effort. Most of all, I want to tell myself that I am capable of all this.

I don’t have new goals or resolutions for next year.

Happy New Year. Hopefully you made it out of 2016 better than I did. Let’s take on 2017 together.

Raine
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The new year

Once upon a time, there was a girl who wanted to write about the two people she became in one year. And here’s her story:

As usual, I wanted to talk about the second half of this year which was filled with a lot of negative things but then I remembered that there are positive things in my life as well and so I’m going to start on a good note.

The most memorable event that keeps coming back to my mind is of how my dad decided to take us to a dessert store at night when we were back for summer. It’s something we don’t do often so I thought it was fun and interesting. We ate matcha ice cream, hated it, and jumped to the other dessert shop where we discovered my new favorite dessert, Shibuya honey toast. Thinking about it makes me want to cry a lot… and that’s exactly what I’m doing right now.

Summer was wonderful. I have a lot of good memories that I often think about. I took a summer class (again), befriended some people, hated some parts of it, loved the rest of it. I ate a lot of good food that I am very thankful for. I bought clothes beyond my yearly quota and was pleased with the choices I made. I also discovered that I actually like driving, sort of. I listened to a lot of music, lazed around like a panda (hello, two months of jet lag), did my homework diligently, worked out to my favorite songs, discovered a Youtube artist who inspired me to pursue my dream again (thank you Alphonso) and drew a lot.

Around March or April, I started working out. At first, it was for fitness. Then it was to be  lighter. Then it became a passion. I fell so in love with working out that I did not realize that I was hurting myself. I exercised for 5 days a week at first. Then I wanted a challenge and did 6 days a week. That was when everything changed.

I don’t really know how it happened but it’s been two months and I’m still suffering from muscle strains. I have been extremely upset about that. I’m still struggling to accept the fact that I have to take a break from exercising. I feel like I have lost a part of myself with this issue. I’m trying really hard to get back on my feet. It’s depressing for me to write about this but as always, I hope someone will read this and realize that they are not alone in fighting whatever difficulties they are going through. Our problems might be different but our fight is the same.

I’m usually aware that life has its ups and downs but I have been in great denial for this matter. I have been reading the book of wisdom that my sister and mom gave me last year and trying to lift myself out of sadness that I somehow keep wanting to swim in. A lot of the content makes me cry because it’s so raw and real and true to my feelings. One particular quote that really sent a ray of hope through my current hopelessness was this:

When we have an unpleasant feeling, we say to ourselves, “This feeling is in me, it will stay for a while, and then it will disappear because it is impermanent.” -Your True Home by Thich Nhat Hanh

It’s not an easy process, but I’m going to keep trying. And I know you will too.

“Onward to the next year with a shield and sword in hand!” -Myself in 2015

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Awkward Encounters: the apartment on the second floor

You know the basketball player I successfully had a conversation with last semester? I meant to wish him good luck in his future endeavors since he was graduating at the end of the semester. Well, as it happened, I only ran into him once and I was in a rush so I simply and breezily said hi to him. He said hi to me and that was it.

I went home for summer and he graduated. Summer went by and basketball season seemed like years ago.

Two weeks after returning to our apartment, we were outside one day giving the car interior a quick antibacterial spray. We heard someone’s door opening and closing then two people talking.

We are, um, rather antisocial neighbors so we try not to bump into anyone but if we’re forced to, we’ll just exchange greetings.

I looked up and saw that there were two people coming down the stairs from the apartment opposite ours. My eyes couldn’t believe who I was seeing but yes, it’s true. It was him – the basketball player. I mean, our new neighbor. He was with his girlfriend.

My eyes couldn’t believe it but my reflexes were quicker.

“OH MY GOD, IT’S HIM!” I think I whispered to my sister.

“WHO?” She tried to look over her shoulder.

“GET IN!” I dove into the backseat and pretended to be busy digging for something.

We both were lying across the seats and had our legs flailing outside the car (obvious dramatization) but better than an awkward situation where we meet each other’s gazes and he recognizes us and is like, wth??? No, no, no.

So yes, hello, new neighbor, how bizarre.

He spotted us last week. He seemed confused and surprised and probably doesn’t believe that it’s us. Same. Well, I’m over my reluctance to run into him but still, the initial surprise lingers because how the heck is the world so small?

Not sure if we’ll see him at this season’s games as an audience member but until then…

He has a small dog and lets the little thing run around and does its business on the grass between the apartments. First off, that’s not considerate and second, THE SMELL!!!

Maybe we need to have a word soon.

Raine
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Happy Mother’s Day!!

Happy Mother’s Day to the one and only queen of our heart!! Every cheesy thing has been said but we want to say it anyway: You mean the world to us, we’re always here for you, and we love you sosososososo much!!

We’d like to dedicate this song to you:

English translation:

(Thank you) I can’t express with words
(Thank you) I’m here because of you
You always embraced my young and immature self

(Love you) Words I couldn’t tell you
(I love you) I’m finally telling you now
Now I know your heart and how you always believed in me

And I know, Yes I know, you always look to me
And I know, Yes I know, even if the world turns away

Love you mother, I love you
Like no other, I thank you
I endlessly shed tears when I think about you
Love you Mother, I love you
Like no other, I thank you
Now I’ll be your strength and return that bright smile

And you know, You know,
You know, I love you, I thank you

(Thank you) Wherever you go, don’t be small
(Thank you) Because I’m standing right behind you
Even if your back is hurting or your eyes grow dim

(Love you) Words I’m so bad at saying
(I love you) Finally, I’m saying them
You’re the prettiest in the world, I’ll place you in my eyes

Look at me, don’t rush anymore
Lay down your heart, it’s alright now, slow down
Because of your endless love, your unchanging love
I am here today

Thank you Mother, I love you

And obviously if your mom is already on her way to becoming a Korean karaoke champion, here are the romanized Korean lyrics:

Thank you
Mallo pyohyeonhal sun eopseoyo
Thank you
Geudae ttaemune na yeogi isseoyo
Hangsang gamssajusin naui eorigo
Cheoleopsneun nae moseup

Love you
Haji mot haessdeon geu mal
I love you
Ijeseoya na yaegihaeyo
Hangsang mideojusin geudaeui maeum
Da ije algesseoyo

And I know yet I know
Eonjena nareul barabojyo
And I know yet I know
Sesangi nareul deungjyeodo

Love you mother saranghaeyo
Like no other da gamsahaeyo
Hayeomeopsi nunmulman heulleoyo
Geudaeman saenggakhamyeon nan

Love you mother saranghaeyo
Like no other da gamsahaeyo
Ijen naega geudae himi doeeo
Geu hwanhan miso dollyeojulgeyo

And you know you know
You know I love you da gamsahaeyo

Thank you
Eodil gado jagajiji mayo
Thank you
Geudae dwie na yeogi seo isseoyo
Gubeojineun dwismoseube
Heurishan nuni goerophyeodo

Love you
Oh pyohyeoni seotun geu mal
I love you
Ijeseoya na bulleobwayo
Sesang gajang yeppeun geudael
Nae nune geudael dameulgeyo

And I know yet I know
Eonjena nareul barabojyo
And I know yet I know
Sesangi nareul deungjyeodo

Love you mother saranghaeyo
Like no other da gamsahaeyo
Hayeomeopsi nunmulman heulleoyo
Geudaeman saenggakhamyeon nan

Love you mother saranghaeyo
Like no other da gamsahaeyo
Ijen naega geudae himi doeeo
Geu hwanhan miso dollyeojulgeyo

Nareul bwayo ijeneun seodureuji mayo
Maeumeul nohayo
Ijen gwaenchanhayo slow down
Kkeuteopsneun geudae sarang
Byeonhameopsneun geu sarang ttaemune
Jigeumui naega issjyo

Love you mother saranghaeyo
Like no other da gamsahaeyo
Hayeomeopsi nunmulman heulleoyo
Geudaeman saenggakhamyeon nan

Love you mother saranghaeyo
Like no other da gamsahaeyo
Ijen naega geudae himi doeeo
Geu hwanhan miso dollyeojulgeyo

And you know you know
You know I love you
Thank you mother saranghaeyo

Love,

The two who think you’re the best singer in the world.

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The old year’s revolution, the new year’s resolution

I always never know what to say when I write these posts. I always end up writing more about myself and that makes me feel selfish at the end of the day. I also always end up writing about my interests instead of the things that have happened or something that I found memorable. Selfish, right?

So, let’s try to fix that problem right now and start off with my favorite memory of this year. Hmm, let’s see. I’m not coming up with anything. As usual, a lot of things were amusing to me. As usual, I let anger get to me, more than I’d like to admit for this year. (I should probably fix that as well.) As usual, I was offended by the same things. As usual, I didn’t say things that I should’ve. I also said things that I shouldn’t have. I’m sorry if I did or didn’t…

I’m sincerely trying to think of a memorable thing that happened. As usual, I can’t think of any. Does that mean I treasure my memories less than other people? Or does that mean I have just too many that I can’t name one?

I guess my favorite memory would be laughing. Laughing with my mom, laughing with my sister, laughing with my grandaunt, laughing with my dad, laughing on my own. Anything with laughter is good. Smiles are good too. Hugs are very excellent.

This summer, I went home. As in, HOME home. I loved every second of it. One of my goals was to spend more time with family and I did. At the beginning, I glued myself to the computer. Later on, I (figuratively) slapped myself and told myself to get out there and make good use of my time. I did the dishes, which is something I have not done very often in my own house and never for a second did it feel like a bother to me. I’d like to say that this year, I put myself into other people’s shoes and perspective a lot.

What else about summer? I took classes at a local college for the first time. It was extremely exciting for me. The experience was amazing and I loved it more than I thought. I wore a t-shirt and flappy lounge pants every day and did I mind that other kids were giving me funny looks for my taste in fashion? Nope. I was perfectly comfortable every day, thanks to the Western influence. I was confident to put my hand up in class and answer or ask questions. I loved taking math class, loved studying for it, loved asking questions about it. Thanks to my sister, I managed to get through a chemistry class with a passing grade.

Surprisingly, I made a few friends. I really enjoyed talking to them. Sadly, the friendships were short-lived, as are many today, because modern-day youngsters expect you to contact them first. If you don’t, the friendship just vanishes. Speaking of which, does anyone else experience this?

Another thing about summer: MALLS. Man, I missed the malls so much. This time, I really took the time to appreciate my surroundings. I also hung out with a friend and it was super fun. … I just realized that I sound really enthusiastic. This was fun, that was fun. My family might raise an eyebrow because at that point in time, I usually act like I’ve been forced to eat my least favorite vegetable. In retrospect, it’s like seeing happiness through a microscope. One smile multiplied into a billion. Is that good, I wonder?

One thing negative about this year, I would say, is vanity. I’ll admit that looking at all those pretty Korean celebrities have made me look in the mirror and sob a little at what I saw there. Girls, women, ladies, do not try this at home! I’m glad I got over that phase. It makes me seem like a fool. Those are what other girls do, not me. With all that cleared up, I’d like to say that I want to lose weight and exercise more because I overate last year. Am I done crying about my weight yet? Yes, I am, so let’s move on.

I suppose this is supposed to be eventful, so yes, I got my driver’s license. I’m very indifferent about this. Sometimes, I don’t even remember that I have an extra card in my wallet. It was a boring event, but probably exciting to my family. Other people also probably find it exciting. I guess hooray to the fact that I don’t have to think about it anymore? (Not really.)

This year, I think I found my place in this town. I used to dislike the fact that there weren’t many malls to go to, but nowadays, I don’t think a lot about it. I guess I started appreciating the simplicity of the town. I studied very hard this year. I did homework like every single day. That was definitely not eventful because I had less time to exercise, read, draw or whatever it was.

Speaking of drawing, I haven’t done much of it this year. In fact, out of 12 months, I probably drew for two months. I hate how I lost my enthusiasm for art and I’m struggling to find that spark again. I still continue to wish that I could draw the same kind of things, but I feel that I’m more pushed to the semi-realism side now. I no longer just want to draw manga/anime style or whatever it is. I hope that I’ll be able to combine those two things and form something new and appealing that I’ll enjoy for a long time.

Something successful that I did this year was surprise my sister with a birthday present. I feel like it wasn’t the perfect present for her, but a friend assured me that my sister would like whatever I buy for her and it turns out she was right. Now that I know she really likes it, I have turned my attention to the fact that it wasn’t my money that I used. The employment world is something that sounds tiresome and scary to me, but I guess that’s the reality of adulthood, isn’t it?

Let’s move on to something hopefully lighter. This year, I really got into Korean music. I explored a lot of Korean songs during my free time and spent way too much time watching Youtube videos than I would’ve liked. I like to think that all my favorite Korean artists are unique in their own ways. It’s all in the pop genre, but each has a different sound. The slow songs are also really nice. I’m sad that I can’t sing them, but then again, I’m always torn between starting a new hobby and honing the skills that I already have.

Okay, I think that’s the positive note (no pun intended.. music note, get it?) that I’d like to end on. Have a Happy New Year! Onward to the next year with a shield and sword in hand!

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Thank you, 2015. Hello, 2016.

sb-happynewyear I previously put the title as ‘you’ve been real, 2015’ but it sounded like I’m glad 2015 is over. That’s not how I feel about this year though. If I wanted to use ‘real’ in my title, the word ‘surreal’ would be more appropriate.

So how was 2015 for me? is what I always use in my year in review posts.

This year was surreal and filled with lots of firsts. Our biggest first this year was being alone for school over here. When Mom went home right at the beginning of this year, we had to manage on our own and having technically never been away for school alone, we had no idea how we’d do. I’d say we did okay. We fumbled, learned, and grew. For me, the most important thing I learned was to go easy on myself. I’m always very hard on myself and I have control issues born out of fear of things not being done right and also the annoying need to take on burdens by myself but this year I’ve actively tried to let go.

Other firsts: making jams and sauces from scratch (!!), lots of cooking and baking firsts (mishaps and deliciousness all happen in the kitchen, my friends), my sister getting her driver’s license (holla!!), going to our first college basketball game (and subsequently trying to go to all of them this season because we love basketball), taking a flight alone (well, with my sister but it was our first time doing it ourselves), witnessing all 4 seasons in California (fall is gorgeous), first time at a Christmas party, driving through decorated neighborhoods for Christmas, first time going to a craft fair (read about it here), Major’s first birthday (wait, you mean you don’t name your car?), and I really cannot list everything here.

Here have some pictures that I cannot seem to slot into the post appropriately (and please feel free to follow me at my new Instagram handle @raineandraisin because I forgot the password to my other account lol):

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I am rereading last year’s ‘year in review’ post as I write this. Reading the part where I quoted the Barakamon opening theme song, I’m really moved because I feel that I’ve found bits and pieces of myself this year and it’s true that you don’t have to go back to the beginning to find yourself. I compared myself with others less this year and I was kinder to myself (for the most part).

One of the biggest turning points in my life so far has been learning more about Buddhism. Buddhism is something I want to write about one day. Though I have some ways to go, I am determined to learn and practice Buddhism as much as I can. Hustle, hustle, muscle, muscle! (That’s a quote from one of the weirdest, funniest shows we’ve watched this year)

I am also pleased to tell you that this year I stepped outside of my comfort zone and pushed myself more than I ever have. So one of the biggest things that I accomplished this year is getting into an honors program. The thought of doing research is nerve-wracking yet exciting?! These 3 sentences don’t even begin to describe all the feelings I had during, before, and after applying for the program. I wrote 2 long posts about it but never got around to wrapping them up.

I met a number of people this year who have inspired me to do better and learn more. I met new friends and kept up with old ones. I feel like this year I have become a better friend which is nice (oh god my vocab). I am thankful for all the people in my life this year, whether they taught me something or silently motivated me or made me feel like I belong or remained by my side when I most needed it.

As usual, I’m throwing in a bit about my birthday since my birthday is in December and I ended up not writing about my birthday. I turned 22 this month. It was a modest affair (I reread 2013’s year in review post and it seems that ever since I entered my 20s, my birthdays have been really mild). My mom and sister took me out to another fancy lunch AND had dessert just like last year. This time I had a huge chocolate chip cookie topped with ice cream and it was deeply satisfying.

My ninja gift givers also pulled off yet another birthday surprise. My sister got me a keychain which is always nice because I used to be a keychain hoarder (had literally 20 keychains on my pencil case at one point in time) and I still do love keychains. I did NOT expect anything so it was a fun surprise. I asked my mom for lipstick but there have been some hiccups with the site that we want to order from so I’m still waiting for that. I haven’t made birthday wish lists in years because as I’ve grown older, I realize that I don’t need material things to be happy on my birthday. I’m happy with just cake and family.

As for our love for Japanese things, I’m happy to say that it was a successful year of discovering Chemistry, watching sooo many new animes, and finding manga gems. Oh yes, we managed to make a huge step forwards in our Japanese learning which is super exciting. Has it already been 2 years since we dove back into the anime/manga world?! Like I said, surreal.

Random: I took 6 weeks of Korean classes this year during summer but sadly haven’t made time to continue learning it on my own. My retention is likely 15% haha but I want to work on it so that all that time and money won’t be wasted. Also, I just really love languages and want to learn as many as I can. Being in California, I would like to learn Spanish buuut I don’t know how doable that’s going to be if I’m still working on my Japanese. This was so random.

Learning a new language isn’t easy and though it has taken us longer than expected to get to this point, it is still deeply rewarding and I want to tell everyone who is learning a new language not to give up even if you think you’ve fallen behind or that you won’t get to where you want to be or that you won’t actually get to use it so why bother. And whatever you do, don’t feel discouraged by people or books telling you that their way is the best and only way to learn the language. There is no RIGHT way to learn a language and it’s perfectly OKAY to go at your own pace.

There is one main thing that I wanted to do this year which I half-accomplished, half-failed at. That was to control my emotions better. I am disappointed at all the times I gave in to my emotions and did/said things I can’t be proud of.

Overall, this year didn’t feel like it went by super fast. It had all the ups and downs and loop-d-loops but it was also a year of accomplishments and solid life lessons. To quote last year’s post but with a different spin: I stumbled and fell now and then, sometimes I was helped up, sometimes I helped myself up, but ultimately I’m grateful for everything I’ve learned this year and for the less pleasant things, I will chalk them up to experience and grow from there. Probably the wisest thing I said last year.

I don’t have a theme song going into 2016 like I did for last year. I hoped that I would find one but I didn’t. I have been trying to think of my ‘word’ or ‘phrase’ for 2016 because I’ve seen lots of inspiring ones out there but ultimately, here I am on the last day of 2015, still undecided. When I think of next year and some of the things that I know lie ahead, a few words come to mind but if I want to pick a word, I want it to encompass both the known and unknown.

Mindfulness.

It’s been a word that has been coming to me frequently and I can’t think of a more appropriate time to bring it up. Mindfulness used to be a word I didn’t understand and didn’t think about often. It is actually a really simple concept – that is to be fully present – yet it is not as easy to practice as we think.

With that, I would like to declare mindfulness as something I would like to actively practice going into 2016.

Here’s to being present and cultivating more compassion! Let’s meet again soon.

Raine
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Looking back on 1 year of studying abroad in the US

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It’s been a whirlwind of a year. Part of me feels that way but another part of me says, hey, it was kind of relaxed after the first few months. It’s probably a bit of both because you take the slow days with the crazy days.

Well, it’s been a year and I feel like there are things – big and small – I have learned over the year that I’d like to blog about so here it is. In no particular order, after studying in the US for the past year, I have learned:

To dance in public. I used to think that dancing in public was kind of embarrassing especially when my mom and brother did it. My mom and brother studied in the US and came back with this funky, shall we say, quality. In the US, people dance and they dance freely. Everyone’s got moves. Now I dance. I’ve been told that I’m a poor dancer and I kind of think that I am but that hasn’t stopped me. I do think I’m better than Taylor Swift so there.

My sister and I attended a craft fair early this year which I blogged about and there were concerts every afternoon. I still can’t believe we sat on the bleachers, stuffing our faces with fries, and singing along and bobbing our heads to the music. To dance in public is to know how to let your hair loose, I say.

To ask ‘how are you’. Pleasantries are never exchanged back home with store clerks or people you bump into. Here, people ask how you are every. single. time you meet.

It’s automatic to answer with ‘Good, and you?’ now. Sometimes it’s automatic to answer ‘Good’ before you even manage to think, hmm, I’m not doing so good. In Vancouver, sometimes I felt that people ask you how you are for the sake of asking, not so much because they care. Here, I get the feeling that some people actually care about how your day is going and it’s nice.

To hug. Hello hugs, goodbye hugs, all kinds of hugs here. I’m not much of a hugger but I’m getting the hang of it. At least I’m not awkwardly putting someone’s eye out when I reach around them to return the hug.

To be (more) on time. Try attending a wedding dinner back home. If it says it starts at 7pm and you’re the kind who eats dinner before 7pm, please have a Double Double from In n Out before arriving because dinner will start at 8:30pm (hopefully not 9). My parents are the timely type even though the norm back home is to say you’re almost arriving when you’ve just barely put on your shoes. I have gone to wedding dinners at 6:30pm because my dad likes to be early. I have stood in high heels for over an hour at the reception just waiting. I recommend wearing flats and bringing your own chair.

Here, people are timely. Well, probably not as much as the Germans whom I have heard take their timing very seriously but still timely enough. Which is good because who the hell wants to wait for someone who says they’re going to meet you for lunch at 12.30pm but just woke up at 12.30pm?

To be cleaner. Have you seen how proper they are about cooking meat here?! Because there are plastic bags in Costco that have a thermometer printed on them to tell you the proper temperature you’re supposed to cook and store chicken/pork/beef at.

My sister and I now get so fussy about thawing meat and cooling food. T_T I can’t say this is a good thing.

To be dirtier. Yeah, you read that right. The Americans who use soap to wash their hands then the dryer to dry their hands in the bathroom are also the ones who dump their backpacks onto the bathroom floor and put their food on the floor. Other examples: throwing their clothes onto the floor then picking it up later and wearing it; lying face down on the sofa which they know people have placed their feet on. I don’t really get it. @_@

But I’ve somehow become dirtier in less extreme ways. I always put my backpack on the floor now which is something I hardly ever did before this. It just feels so yucky to put your bag on the floor where people’s shoes have tread all over (especially from the bathroom) and I would rather put my bag on the chair but with those chair-and-foldable-desk thingys, it’s impossible so on the floor my bag goes. It feels normal now to do this.

Sometimes you can catch me dumping my jacket onto the table or draping it onto the back of the chair with the sleeves hanging dangerously close to the floor which is something I also never used to do. I even put my umbrella on the floor now omg. Who am I?

To embrace my Asian roots more. More than I’ve ever embraced it, I will admit. I grew up in a half-Westernized, half-Asian household but always liked to think of myself as more Western.

My family doesn’t do many things that Asians do but at the same time, we do do Asian things. It’s complicated. I won’t lie to you: Asians do some seriously strange things but we also do some seriously amazing things too. Well, every culture and ethnicity has its pros and cons. Reminder for those who still think that Asians = Chinese. No, Asians = Asians. You can look up a list of Asian countries.

After coming here, I oddly feel protective and, dare I say, proud of being an Asian. It’s weird to be typing that out. I guess you don’t know how to appreciate your own culture until you’re surrounded by a different one.

How has our assimilation into American life going so far? Well, there are things that we have embraced and other things that we can’t because we didn’t grow up here and the differences between us and them are distinct. I like to think that we have become richer culture-wise. Getting to live in a different culture and learning new things, it’s really fascinating.

Of course we do get looks and strangely ignorant comments now and then and sometimes it can really get to you but racism is everywhere. It just depends on how big or small the scale is.

That it’s okay to be wrong. I haven’t enjoyed being in school more. Back home, if you answer a question wrong in class, you’ll likely either be criticized for not knowing the right answer or be punished for giving the wrong answer. Why yes, being punished for not knowing the right answer… because apparently everyone needs to be Einstein in school and school is NOT the place to make mistakes and learn from them. In elementary school and high school, more often than not, a teacher would make the whole class stand up and you would only get to sit down if you answered correctly.

Maybe that’s why a lot of us come out of the system being scared of being wrong. If you answer incorrectly, you get shot down/mocked/punished in front of the whole class. The teacher will not hesitate to make you feel stupid. Imagine what that does to a person’s self-confidence, motivation and interest.

In college here, there is nothing wrong with giving the wrong answer. You tried your best, you got the wrong answer, it’s okay. Professors will tell you ‘good try’ or ‘not quite’ or something that isn’t mocking or nasty. You’re encouraged to make mistakes in order to learn. I’m not saying all professors are like that because you will meet some mean ones but for the most part, your self-confidence and motivation are not stomped on until they are unrecognizable.

You can actually go to office hours!!! And it feels good to go to your professor for help and actually get help and understand the subject better and get an A in the class that you thought you wouldn’t be able to ace. -tears of joy-

To be more honest. What I mean by this is being upfront about your financial situation. Here, it’s okay to admit that you can’t afford something.

Like the other day when we potentially needed a ride back from another city, I asked a friend who lives in that city whether it was okay to drive us 45 minutes back home. The honest answer was sure, but could we handle the gas expenses? That’s totally okay by me especially if someone is upfront about it. I understand because we’re students, we’re already forking out enough money for tuition and living expenses, and a 45-minute drive isn’t short. I wouldn’t like it if the someone agreed begrudgingly and expected us to pay for gas without telling us in advance.

How different and refreshing than the norm back home which is to never admit that you’re not well-off. Why? Because people will run. People are so shallow and superficial that they need to surround themselves with ‘rich’ people. I mentioned something similar in this post. It’s so stupid.

To be more self-conscious. I’m more self-conscious about things like my accent which is funny since I didn’t think I’d worry about it.

To be less self-conscious. I’m less self-conscious about the way I look. Another day back home is another day of being judged for how you look. In the US, I can wear a lot more things and not be stared at. That is saying something since I am a semi-conservative dresser and don’t see why women should be stared at for wearing something as simple as yoga capris. ???

To be bigger, braver, better. Living on your own in a foreign country takes some guts and getting used to. It’s strange and scary to be so far away from home and having to do things like getting used to a new culture or buying a car or apartment-hunting in the middle of a semester.

I’ve found more pieces of myself that I like. There were ups and downs, for sure, but at the end of this first year, I’m here, feeling like I’ve learned and grown a lot.

I still have so many stories about my college life in the US to tell but as usual, I’ve been sitting on this post for so long that it really should be published. Any longer and it won’t even leave this draft box haha!

Thanks for reading! <3

Have you studied abroad? Did you like it? What did you learn from your time spent in another country? Anything that struck you as weird or true or funny in my jumbled list?

Raine
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