Orange and playing softball for the first time

Since returning home for the summer, I haven’t thought much about the spring semester. During the spring semester, I thought about writing about the spring semester… a lot. There were days when I didn’t quite comprehend what I was doing or whether I was okay.

While watching Orange – the new summer anime – yesterday, there was a scene where the main character plays softball. A memory flashed across my mind. Softball. Wait, I played my first softball game in the spring semester.

Having never been athletic in my entire life (think hiding in the gym storeroom to avoid being called out to play ball and always being the last one to cross the finish line for track races) – Okay, that’s not entirely true. I took swimming lessons and was good at it, and I also took golf lessons and didn’t completely suck at it. It was my dad’s secret dream that we become the next Michelle Wee (I’m sorry, I’m out of the golf loop so I don’t know who the top female golf player is right now).

Softball is something that I never saw myself doing… at all… in this lifetime. My mom talked about playing it during her school days – back when PE was actually taught in a useful way – but me, a hard bat, and a hard ball? And on top of that, running an entire diamond? Um, no.

But then came the day when my professor declared one day a sports day where we were required to play softball to earn participation points. A teensy weensy part of me was curious about trying the sport. The other part of me balked and wanted to skip class that day. I remember asking my sister if I should go. She didn’t force me to go neither did she tell me not to go.

I went, for the stupid 10 points and because I didn’t want to seem like a spoiled sport to my friend who was also taking the class.

Maybe I should explain why I didn’t want to go and why I avoid participating in most sports. I was once traumatized by a flying ball sent by my kindergarten teacher, I wear glasses, my hand-eye coordination can be compared to a scarecrow trying to be a soccer goalie (I don’t even know what that means), and my poor self-esteem makes me shudder at the thought of people laughing at my lack of athleticism. Valid reasons, I would say.

Here’s the other reason why I went. I wanted to get out of my comfort zone. I wanted to be able to say at the end of the day, yeah, I’ve played softball, wasn’t very good at it but at least I tried. I’ve been pushing myself a lot this year to get out of my comfort zone and this was one of those things.

I’m glad I went because I actually enjoyed myself. I managed to hit the ball two times out of three! Pretty good for someone who lets tennis balls sail past because I swung the racket five miles too far from the ball. “You’re swinging too early,” my professor, the self-appointed pitcher of the day, told me after I swung the bat milliseconds wayyy before the ball came within reach. “Keep an eye on the ball. Pace yourself. Focus on the ball. You got this.” His words didn’t help but I can’t say his patience and unwavering faith in his students (there were others like me, okay?) didn’t.

Focus on the ball, I scoffed inside my head as he readied himself for the second pitch. Right, very helpful, sir. I can’t even tell how far the ball is from me.

My shaking arms positioned the bat against my shoulder, wondering whether my form was even right. I ignored the watchful gazes of the people around me and assured myself that making a fool out of myself in a sporting event is nothing new. The bat felt heavy but the pressure to bat was heavier.

The pitch was gentle. I could see it approaching but I told myself to wait just a fraction of a second longer. I swung blindly, getting ready to be met with disappointed groans or smirks from the sidelines. Instead, there was a clink as the bat connected with the ball. Uh, what?

“Run!” I vaguely heard in my dazed and confused state.

There was also a satisfied “There you go,” uttered by my professor.

I started running. I reached the first base, breathless and still in a good amount of shock. You mean, I hit the ball and it actually went some distance? I was as pleased as punch. I didn’t know when to run to the next base the next round – and the girl in front of me gave me a withering look when I asked her to repeat the basic rules of softball because I was nervous and had already forgotten what my professor said – so I just let my teammates shout and cheer for me to run.

I didn’t mind the sand in my shoes or the sand clouds billowing when people slid to bases and kicked up a bunch of sand. In my excitement, I even threw down the bat which my professor reminded us several times not to for fear of bats spinning into someone else’s gut (true story he told) to run. If I had to describe my softball experience in one word, it would be exhilarating. It’s different from swimming and golf, neither of which requires running as fast as you can to the cheers of your teammates.

What made the game even better was that nobody jeered or booed at me, nobody gave me judging looks (except that one girl and even then it wasn’t too bad), and nobody kicked me out of the game. I just might say yes the next time someone invites me to play a sport.

Oh, my professor made us use his daughter’s old lighter bats and softer balls so in the end I was worried about hard balls flying into my gut for no reason. And because my self-esteem hadn’t seen the boost it deserved, I went to the another class session instead of my usual session because I didn’t want the people, who have seen me in class for 3 months, to watch as I flailed about helplessly on the field. Which I didn’t.

And in case you’re wondering why I can play golf (when is this post going to end?!) which is played with hard clubs and a hard ball but I kind of liked – or didn’t hate, if you will – golf because you know where the ball is, nobody but trimmed grass (or in unluckier cases, sand bars) is on the receiving end of the ball, and all you have to do is swing (or putt… or drive… or chip… never mind).

It has been said that college years are the best time to break free and venture into new and exciting things. Pretty sure I did that when I showed up for that softball game. 🙂

Raine
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Why give credit when you don’t need to… right?

In Asia, it’s always something like this:

Person A: Hey, can I borrow “object”?

You: Sure! (hands over object)

Person B to Person A: Hey, can I look at that?

Person A: Sure! (hands over object)

Person C to Person B: Can I see?

And on it goes.

This happened to me that day. I had to put up my hand because the teacher asked the person with full marks on the last part of the paper to do so. And suddenly, this little old hermit was a celebrity (for approximately three minutes). Everyone wanted to take a look at my paper. The above conversation happened between me and some girl who hardly speaks to me.

Sure, I said, ignoring the wary feeling in my stomach and assuming the best out of everyone even though this bullsh** has happened to me countless times.

She looks at it. The boy beside her peers over and looks at it.

“Holy sh**, that’s some long scripture right there,” he says with a big grin. He pulls out his phone and starts snapping pictures of my paper.

Again, I assume the best of everyone and think that he’s just going to keep those pictures for himself. After a while, it occurs to me that he might post it on the class group chat. (Yes, class group chats are common in [this part of] Asia because the teacher enjoys reading foul language posted at 2am and occasionally joins in on all the ‘fun’.)

Sure enough, he did exactly that, captioning the pictures with “Holy scripture”. A slew of ‘wows’ from my classmates follow.

I tried not to be annoyed. I really did try. But as an artist, I’ve read plenty of articles about copyright issues and seen many artists get depressed about copied artwork. As a person, I’ve seen plenty of my friends as well as relatives claim credit for something that they have never done before.

Some people might be all, “Why are you getting so worked up? It’s just a test paper!” But this is a general rule that applies to everything. If you want something from someone, you ask for their permission. You don’t assume in your own mind what a person will say or do and have it your way. You respect others by asking and confirming even though you think you know the answer.

I responded in the group chat by saying, “You didn’t ask before sharing.” Unsurprisingly, no one replied. The next message after that came hours later and it was some guy asking the teacher what day the final paper is on. It’s always like that. And so it goes on…

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Awkward Encounters: same player, different day

He lives next door.

What is going on?

This is the very short story of how we came to find out that the basketball player I met lives in the same apartment complex as us.

We were cruising slowly to the gate, on our way to school (because who doesn’t go to school during spring break?). It was just a regular late morning in the car, listening to Bruno Mars’ Moonshine and putting our sunglasses on.

I had just gotten over the small bump on the road when I noticed someone crossing the road in front of me. I hit the brakes again and looked ahead… and recognized the person crossing the road.

“It’s Jose,” I said very calmly.

“Yeah, right!” My sister snorted.

It. was. him.

I was joking when I said that it was him. I was half-joking. I recognized him – headphones and T-shirt with our school mascot – but in my mind, I thought, NO WAY.

And it was him.

He looked at us. We looked back at him.

I drove off.

The next thing I know, both of us are going “HOLY *BLEEP*!” and laughing because he’s the last person we expected to see.

Now he knows. And now we know.

I was in too much shock and disbelief to have the sense to wave or roll down the window to say hello. Also, because somehow I think people can’t see me when I’m in the car.

Hello, neighbor. You have some basketball skills and we would like to continue watching you play. -rotfl-

This is getting ridiculous, I know. I have no excuse to not talk to him the next time we meet. IF we meet, says Cinderella’s stepmother. -cackles away-

Raine
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Revamped series of Awkward Encounters, starring a basketball player

Now if you’ve been following on this dead-ish blog, you will have read my two highly interesting posts of how I failed to talk to my TA on the bus because of my social anxiety.

Those two posts are one of the many favorite posts I’ve written on this blog because they are truly a reflection of what my daily life is like so I thought it would be appropriate to recount a recent somewhat awkward encounter.

College basketball is our thing right now. We went to one game this season and we haven’t stopped going. When we take an interest in something, you can bet we will do our homework. For basketball, we picked up the free catalogs at the games, read it from cover-to-end, did some intense background reading on our school team, started following the athletics department on Facebook and Twitter, and even started watching live streams of away games.

Side note: We get our homework done.

So is it any wonder that we had our list of favorite players after the second game? Our school team has been killing it this season – the most wins in a couple of years – and it’s, of course, thanks to the players who make magic happen on the court.

We think most of the players are skilled and all-round awesome but there are two who stand out. I want to say they are easily the two best players… I think I will.

I digress. Here’s the story. We took a picture with one of those two exceptional players one fine day after a game and it was the most exciting thing to happen that whole weekend. Let’s just call him Jose* (haha, omg, I laugh as I write this because I come up with the strangest yet most appropriate altered names for people).

The story of how we got the picture? I spotted him from one end of the court – mind you, this was after the game – and I grabbed my sister’s arm.

Me: It’s Jose!! Look!!

And my sister was like, What? Where?!

She had been pining for a photo with the players so of course we had to grab that golden opportunity to take a photo with him.

You ask.

No, you ask.

Yes, we had that conversation while awkwardly – I want to say wriggling across the court but never mind – going up to him.

He was standing with a bunch of people he seemed to know. He took a picture with them then started branching off with some man – or was it a woman?

He caught sight of us shuffling forwards and made eye contact with me. I blurted out (because sometimes I experience spurts of courage): can we get a picture?

And he probably said, sure. I hardly remember what I say to people when I’m excited and nervous so forgive me.

We got a picture and floated away on cloud nine. I still wish we hadn’t said thank you and walked away so quickly. Somehow I just have it in my head that people are busy and have no time for chit chat.

I thought that photo op would be the most interaction I would ever get with our college basketball superstars and I was okay with that. The least interaction being seeing them on campus (I saw Jose once or twice at school before that).

Which is precisely what happened. Lo and behold, who should I run into after getting off the bus a little over a week after we got that picture? Yes, sirree. Jose, indeed.

Okay, technically, he walked past the bus door while I was getting off so it’s not like I ran into him. I recognized him and was like, O_O!!! How cool to see him at school again. I should say something to him… maybe…

I walked behind him then beside him. He didn’t notice. Then I decided that my five seconds of awe were over and that I wasn’t going to say anything to him. I began to pull ahead of him.

I was already brimming with confidence from earlier on when I meant to compliment a guy for being super sweet to his mom (I overheard his call to her) but didn’t manage to because I was going to be late for class and he was still on the phone.

So what did I do? I decided, you know what? Screw it, Jose played well in yesterday’s game and we won and I’m going to tell him that. It’s no big deal. It’s what anyone who watched the game would say anyway.

I slowed down and looked over my shoulder. He had his headphones on – those Beats by Dr. Dre kind which might have been noise-canceling, come to think of it – but I kind of leaned in his direction and said his name.

Hahah, it was awkward calling him by his first name because he doesn’t even know me and I don’t even know him.

I don’t know if he heard me or if he merely noticed that someone was in his face – or rather, trying to be in his face since he’s over 6 feet and I’m nowhere near that height – but he kind of blinked and reached up to tug one side of the headphones down.

Good game yesterday, was all I could manage.

I expected him to say thank you and continue on his way. But noooo… Instead, we had a conversation. Did. not. expect. that.

I’m quite sure he said, thank you. What he didn’t do was put the headphones back on. I somehow recognized that as a sign that the conversation wasn’t over. So I said something along the lines of: I’ve been going to almost every game.

He surprised me by going, oh, were you the one who wanted a picture the other day?

Yes, yes, that was me. He recognized me… @_@

Then he kind of pulled me into a side hug and went, heyyy, how are you?

Being squashed under an athlete’s armpit is a new experience for me.

It was a very Princess Diaries moment for me, I guess. This one who has social anxiety (and I do not say this lightly) was walking beside and talking to an athlete whose plays have made it into our school’s basketball hall of fame. And he was actually being rather nice.

I think my reply to his question was, I’m good. I’m quite sure I asked him back how he was doing (it’s become automatic for me) but I don’t remember.

Do you have class? he wanted to know.

Yes.

What class do you have?

I told him.

And he repeated it, his expression suggesting that he hadn’t heard of it before. I don’t blame him. The class I’m taking is something nobody would know about unless they actively sought it out.

Do you have class? Can you tell that I find ways to keep the conversation alive based on what the person I’m talking to says/asks?

Yes ma’am, he said. My sister finds the ‘yes ma’am’ phrase hilarious somehow. I’m walking over to building x and I’m just going to cut across over here and take a shortcut to class.

Oh okay, was about all I had to offer.

Okay, this is the part where I have no idea what he said after that or what I said after that but I only remember him going, Yeah, I’m really tired from yesterday’s game. I wish I remembered how we even got there but sadly, I don’t.

And then it seemed that he was about to leave but I had a burning question on my mind that I had to ask. Reason being that if I told my sister that I met him, she would want to know if I asked the question.

Uhhh, I began, effectively stopping him from breaking off and heading in another direction. You know how the women’s basketball games have meet-and-greet sessions?

Yeah.

Do you happen to know if there’s one for the men’s games?

He was like, uhhh… then went, yeah, yeah, there’s going to be one in xx (which is where they’re having their tournament finals… also a six or seven hour drive from where we are).

I deflated.

I guess he noticed since I have yet to perfect my poker face. He said, well, the last home game is on -insert date- so if you’re going to be there… (or at least that’s how I remembered him saying it). I realize that his reply doesn’t answer my original question but I only realized afterwards.

I smoothly replied, Yeah, definitely. -inserts laughing-crying smiley-

Then we were saying goodbye. He patted me on the shoulder though it felt more like a slap on the back since his hand is heavy and said, alright, have a good day (I think), see you then.

To which I replied, yeah, see you. Because we’re two friends casually saying goodbye and going to catch up on each other’s lives over lunch or outside a classroom two days from now or something. No, I’m kidding.

And that’s another story I have added to my list of awkward encounters.

Of course the overthinker in me replayed and analyzed the conversation for the rest of the day and week, and wondered why I chose to say what I chose to say and why he chose to say what he chose to say.

The overthinker in me also wonders if after reading this post, you’re thinking that I have a crush on this guy. The answer is no. I just think it was really nice of him to have a conversation with me. It’s hard enough for me to start a conversation with people so I like people who are patient with me even though I’m a fumbling ball of social anxiety. -insert thumbs up-

P.S: For every one step he took, I had to take two so it felt like I was jogging beside him. No wonder I couldn’t catch up to the other player who is 6’9.

Double P.S: I only just realized that most of my awkward encounters are related to buses… ?_?

*name changed as always haha

Raine
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August’s life lately

Oh hey. It’s been a while and even though I’ve been working on a few posts, very slowly I might add, I feel like a life update is in order. Aka a ‘what’s up’ information dump.

1. We took a night flight back to our home away from home because it was the only available time slot left for the day that didn’t cause like $100 extra. We were already exhausted from our near 24-hour traveling time and we had already agreed that we were going to rent a car to drive home. Upon arriving at the little car rental booth, we were told that they ran out of intermediate cars, whuuut. We had to go for a standard sized one because we had too much luggage with us to go for the smaller option. What really told me that we were back in the good ol’ US was the car rental guy who offered to help us load our stone heavy luggage bags into the trunk of the car. It’s the little things like this that make me love this place.

2. After we arrived home – in the middle of the night no less – we started Operation Clean The Heck Out Of The Apartment Even If It’s Midnight Because Dust Is Everywhere. Literally. Dust on every surface. Also, it was BAKING inside the house because hello, 3 months of summer without turning on the A/C. Oh yes, the A/C filter wasn’t working too well so we had to bear with stale, lukewarm air. We Lysol-ed almost everything, washed the bed sheets, and even vacuumed the carpets. We even slipped in like 15 minutes to make ourselves some instant Shin Ramyeon.

3. Driving again feels really good. Sometimes I’m behind the wheel and it still feels surreal.

4. Our favorite Chinese takeout place has been closed for the past few weeks because the owners are on vacation or something. UGH, and we’ve been craving their food. We only found out after the second time we went there and saw that it was closed again, much to the disappointment of our empty stomachs. Waiting it out has been tough buuut we’ve been compensating by having Thai food. Oh god, I am melting just thinking about the delicious drunken noodles that our favorite Thai place serves.

5. Baja Fresh and Costco are the loves of my life right now. Well, also Burger King because Burger King fries are amazing. If you haven’t tried them, I highly suggest you do because sorry to say but it even kicks McDonald’s fries’ butt which is saying a lot. Burger King might have taken off their Mushroom Swiss burger (apparently it’s on Carl’s Jr’s menu now!) but their menu is still A+. I mean, the Big King is so good and the Chicken Fries and the Whopper. Mmm. A highlight of my poor college life is getting Burger King and Baja Fresh coupons in the mail because I am so down for those deals. Sorry, McDonald’s, you’ll have to do better than those bacon-filled burgers and un-potatoe-y fries. :/

6. It. is. hot. 106F out there today or so my car tells me. Doesn’t matter whether it’s 101 or 111 because either way the heat is stifling. It’s even more humid now if the sweat drenching my neckline is any sign. I don’t remember sweating this much last year. My umbrella is thanking me because it’s being used very frequently. I’ve also noticed that umbrella usage among college students has increased! Very good, my friends, you now understand that an umbrella is not just for rainy days. I officially dub every season except summer as my favorite because fall and spring weather are lovely and winter is just Californian cozy.

7. Getting to paint my nails again is so satisfying. I haven’t painted my nails in 4-5 months which is the longest rest period since I started regularly doing my nails. I wore China Glaze – Shower Together last week and this week it has been China Glaze – Spontaneous. They were from last year’s mini Thanksgiving haul from Sally Beauty and I haven’t worn them much since then so now I’m putting them to good use.

8. I’ve paid like $500 for textbooks this semester and I am livid. Do professors not understand that we’re struggling to put ourselves through the whole freakin’ college thing? Why is it so freaking expensive to get higher education? Especially online textbooks. Those are the WORST because you pay once and that’s it. You can’t resell it or refund it or have unlimited access to it after one semester. What kind of deal is that if I have to pay $100 for it? The most understanding professors are the ones who say they understand that textbooks are expensive so textbooks are not required or those who try to find the cheapest option for students (aka $5 used textbooks, not $90 bundled textbooks).

That’s all, folks.

I almost just signed off with ‘thank you’ because I have been writing so many college-related emails lol. See you real soon aka when I finally finish other non-life-update posts aka maybe next month.

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

studyanniversary1

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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January update: college, life and other tidbits

Hello.

About time I wrote a post, right?

I was writing another post earlier on about something else when I realized that I haven’t done a ‘random things’ update in a while. So here I am, with lots of things to say but of course, in random order.

1. Classes have started (which is somehow what I always end up saying in posts like these and it almost gives me deja vu). How are classes? One is coming along just fine, one is pretty much the same as the one last semester aka boring but only with more strange and annoying work, one is actually nice and slow (my stats professor’s patience is amazing), one is interesting (I even got to hold a 2.5 billion year old rock), and one I do not know yet but I’m guessing will be boring and annoying.

2. More stress. I don’t know about you but semester beginnings are tiring and stressful as heck. It’s not the same as high school where everything starts off nice and easy with a fixed timetable and fixed lunch break (kiss that goodbye in college). I’m stressing over so many things, I can’t even begin to count.

3. I need to SLOW DOWN. I have a Type A personality which according to this site (ironically a site about stress) means having these characteristics:

  • Time Urgency and Impatience, as demonstrated by people who, among other things, get frustrated while waiting in line, interrupt others often, walk or talk at a rapid pace, and are always painfully aware of the time and how little of it they have to spare.
  • Free-Floating Hostility or Aggressiveness, which shows up as impatience, rudeness, being easily upset over small things, or ‘having a short fuse’, for example.
  • Competitiveness
  • Strong Achievement-Orientation
  • Certain Physical Characteristics That Result From Stress and Type A Behavior Over Years : Facial tension (tight lips, clenched jaw, etc.), tongue clicking or teeth grinding, dark circles under eyes, facial sweating (on forehead or upper lip)

Am I guilty of these traits? Indeed. More so during the periods of time when I feel like I have so much more to do and just feel like hurling the chair (figuratively because I paid $80 for this chair). In short, I haven’t been very nice and I also feel bad about that.

Apparently there are TIPS, too, for dealing with a Type A personality. Let’s look at them while we’re at it:

  • Change Your Work Life
  • Change Thought Patterns
  • Start Journaling  – I tried for the first 5 days of the new year then things got busy (lame excuse obviously) and I forgot. I want to get back to that even if it’s only to write a few lines every day because I think that it helps.
  • Make It A Game – counting idiots on the road, they say. I could do that… probably.
  • Breathing Exercises – ugh, I don’t remember this until after I get frustrated or angry.
  • Love Your Pets – my pet is miles away from me. I need him. so. much. It’s so weird that I miss him a billion times more when I’m away. Or maybe it’s not weird, it’s natural.
  • Gardening – this is another thing I have been considering heavily. I was thinking of getting a bonsai plant but we’ll see if I have any extra budget for a plant.

ANYWAY, the third point is I need to slooow dooown. A lot. But it’s hard because I naturally rush around a lot.

4. Budgeting. Stop buying unnecessary things. Wait, we don’t. I guess the most that we spend on is food. I occasionally think about our tuition and expenses and try not to freak out. The question is, how to cut back on spending when you don’t really spend that much in the first place?

5. We went for our first basketball game this week. I hoped that it would be exciting and obviously hope that our team would win. It was both! We were on the edge of our seats, screaming and cheering for our team. It was a close match but we won. The last few seconds were gripping, I tell you. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and even showed up in our school colors.

What I can be sure of, after watching this game, is that Kuroko no Basuke has some dramatic and completely unreal scenes haha. Players do not have time for chitchat and trash-talking while trying to score; the ball does not remain in the air for five minutes while words are being exchanged. Also, I’m quite sure the referees do their jobs well so any kind of foul play would be detected… unlike in KnB where Hanamiya and Haizaki get away with things like elbowing other players or stomping on someone else’s foot. In case you didn’t get it, I’m just joking.

6. My coulda-beens. I’ve realized as of late that if I had been nudged towards the science-y direction, I would have taken astronomy or geology as my major. Even way back when I was younger, I remember telling my mom that I wanted to be an astronomer and a geologist. Why I didn’t pursue either: 1) at some point, the thought of there being SO MANY unknowns in the universe was incredibly daunting, and 2) being far away in some unknown desert or mountain (aka away from home) digging for fossils (possibly in unbearable heat or that’s how I always imagine it to be)  was also incredibly daunting. It was too much for my teenage brain to process.

One of my close friends has graduated with a degree in geology. Don’t think for a second that I didn’t think it was freaking cool that she actually went into the field of geology. I always wanted to know what classes she was taking and what interesting fossil finds there are. Can you imagine what I’d be like if I had a friend in the field of astronomy?

7. Nobody should make red sauce pasta with KETCHUP. Once upon a time, I went to a friend’s place and her mother made spaghetti for lunch. Guess what she poured onto the cold, overcooked spaghetti? Ketchup. Gag me. Okay, then she said there was cheese and brought out – wait for it, no, not parmesan – those square slices of Kraft American cheese. WHY? Never mind. Guess what she made us pair our ketchup-and-processed-cheese-laden spaghetti with? MILK.

I gagged on my lunch. Literally. I was the last one at the table except for my friend’s grandfather. Seeing me struggling to finish my ‘spaghetti’, he took pity on me and told me that I didn’t have to finish it. My mom has trained us to be polite guests and to not complain about the food served by others so I felt bad about not eating it but not bad enough to continue. So I didn’t.

Just thinking about it makes me shudder. How was that even pasta? I do not know.

This was a completely random thought because we were discussing it at dinner that day and I was reminded of how glad I am that my mom cooks some badass pasta.

8. It’s cold. I’ve had to break out our jackets from Vancouver. It’s actually rather annoying to have to wear so many layers.

9. Exercise. This semester’s schedule is enough exercise for me, I’m thinking. I’ve been marching/fast-walking to my next class which is on the opposite end of the campus every single day. Here’s the catch: I have to get across the entire length of the campus within 10 minutes and that is if the class finishes on time. By the time I get to my next class (also after which I climb three flights of stairs; holla quad and hamstring workout) and sit down, I’m out of breath and I feel warm and toasty because of the blood pumping. The 5-day workout I didn’t sign up for, here I come.

10. The end of nail polish… at least for this semester? I’m taking a class this semester that has a lab that kind of bans nail polish. Ugh, I’m sad.

Anyway, that’s it for today otherwise this post is going to get too wordy.

Raine
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