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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First time trying Panera

In all the time we’ve been here, we have heard about Panera but have never actually gone there. It was just never on our list of places to eat at… I don’t think we would ever have gone if not for a friend of ours who took us there one day. From what I heard, Panera is supposed to have lots of healthy and delicious options.

Does it, though? I saw a lot of white bread and deli meats (bacon, salami, ham) and some soups on the menu. Being in the major that I am, I couldn’t help thinking: okay, white bread equals refined carbohydrates equals blood sugar spikes… and deli meats equals processed foods equals everyone knows processed food is no good for you… and soups? Oh, don’t get me started on the sodium level and the stuff I learned about salt.

I’m not a health freak (lol inside joke) by any means but I was curious to know if the rich  (oh yes, they are) health freaks who eat there regularly actually think Panera is healthy.

We generally don’t order sandwiches at restaurants unless we are at Subway or Togo’s because my mom’s idea is that sandwiches can be made at home for less and better. Almost everything on the menu seemed to be something I could make at home and not have to pay $7 for half a sandwich or buy double the amount at a store for the same price.

Well, anyway, the cashier explained how to order and I went with the roasted turkey and caramelized kale panini. “Did you want half or the whole order?” she asked. She somehow couldn’t tell me exactly how big half was…? “It’s just half an order,” was her very helpful answer. I decided to go with half. It was $6.59 for half an order and I could apparently choose a side of either apple, bread, or chips. I went with bread.
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So this is it. This was all it was. Maybe my expectations were too high for a place that seemed to be adored by many folks. I looked down at the panini… disappointed. I paid $6.59 plus tax for this… Can I have my money back and go home and make it myself?

Okay, but the real question in your mind (at least for those of you who haven’t tried Panera) is, was it any good?

It was neither tasty nor yucky. It was just a panini. It would have benefited from having some herbs inside but it was alright. I guess you could say it tasted ‘healthy’ since it wasn’t special in any way that would make you wonder if they had put some ‘extra ingredients’. It tasted like something you would make at home thus the ‘healthiness’ factor, I suppose.

Who serves cold, hard, and dry bread? Panera does. Who likes bread that way? Not me. It was a sorry piece of bread that couldn’t be saved by the pats of butter you tried to put on it. You look at the luscious loaves of bread arranged on racks behind the counter and think, my god, that looks delicious, I’ll have that bread. When it arrives on your plate, you find it COLD and TOUGH. I’m sure I saw a microwave somewhere in their open kitchen. They are certainly generous by giving half a loaf of bread but perhaps they are just trying to rid their kitchen of days-old bread.

The elderly lady who was with us had a hard time trying to rip her bread apart and chew it. I was tempted to ask her if she needed any help shredding it to bits. In the end, she tore the remaining bread into chunks and fed it to the birds who were more than happy to have their go at the stone-cold and rock-hard bread.

My sister got the roasted turkey cranberry flatbread. It, too, lacked any kind of appeal except maybe for the fact that it is listed on the site as being a mere 300 calories.

People who don’t know how to make their own sandwiches and have extra money to spend, I get why you love this place. People who do know how to make their own sandwiches and have better things to spend their money on (I don’t know, utility bills and tuition fees), save yourself a trip here.

I’m almost afraid to try Chipotle which is the other place that have people singing praises about…

Raine
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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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Movies I watched on yet another long flight (edition 2)

Hello. Hope we are still doing this blog justice by blogging once a month. Here’s a short post.

The Avengers 2

Yes, after trying to work out our schedules to watch it with a friend before summer and ending up not being able to coordinate a proper movie time, I watched it on the plane. I didn’t expect to watch it for another year or so because I hate to admit it but my interest in blockbusters have kind of gone down the toilet.

So what happened in Avengers 2? There was no Loki but there were… Transformers… uh, I mean, Russians… uh, alien Transformers, I guess. Or maybe it was that melting silver dude from Terminator, only less handsome.

Never mind. The plot was okay but nothing to scream about. The enemy was what you would expect of a superhero movie but honestly at some parts, I thought I was watching Transformers. Did anyone else feel that way? There was lots of action and lots of green screen scenes but also plenty of stilted, unnatural conversation. No, actually, I feel like everyone’s lines were limited to like 10 words and most of them were attempts at humor. I didn’t like the lines.

5/10. What a disappointment.

Dragon Blade

Okay, this was a Mandarin+English movie that I watched with subtitles because my Mandarin isn’t powerful enough to get me through a whole movie. The story was about Jackie Chan and his friends who work as peace negotiators on the Silk Road (recall your world history classes for this). They were betrayed and sent to a hard labor camp as punishment… and somehow one day, while they were working at this base, a bunch of hungry and wayward Romans came to invade them. John Cusack was the general leading the small party of Romans who had fled from Rome because some other guy was out to kill his kid brother. I won’t spoil the rest of the movie.

I liked it. It was exciting and intense and gory. I didn’t like the gory parts. I didn’t expect to see John Cusack in a Chinese movie but there you have it. There was lots of camaraderie and fight scenes – signature Jackie Chan movie elements. I wouldn’t watch it again though.

6.5/10

Tangled

After flipping through countless movies and TV shows and music albums, I gave up and picked something familiar. You can’t go wrong with Tangled. I fast-forwarded through all the Mother Gothel parts and listened to most of the songs but ended the movie before it ended.

Show ‘Em What You’re Made Of (Backstreet Boys documentary)

It wasn’t what I expected but it was alright. I expected the documentary to be a journey through the years but somehow they cut out a whole chunk in the middle that range from the Never Gone album to Unbreakable to This Is Us. All the focus was on how they started out and the current album.

I thought the movie would be more personal but mostly it was band-related and only skimmed over some parts which I thought would have been nice to delve a little deeper into. I was also thinking we might get to see live performances but we only got glimpses of acapella performances. But at the end of the day, the movie had its heartfelt moments, great acapella moments, and it showed us even though they are larger than life during performances, the Backstreet Boys are as human as they get. And that’s what we love about them.

Showbiz isn’t easy and I don’t think I could do it so I salute people who can stick true to their values throughout their years in the showbiz. And I salute the Backstreet Boys. They’ve had their own personal struggles but they managed to overcome them and give the fans all they’ve got, and you can see how much each of them has matured.

Proud to be a Backstreet Boys fan. P.S: We are behind you all the way, Brian!

As for other movies, I tried to watch Cinderella after watching bits and pieces while my sister was watching it but I gave up. I wasn’t in the mood and zoned out eventually.

I had high hopes for the Japanese and Korean films since I watched some on a previous flight and enjoyed them but this time, they all sucked. They were all so bad, I couldn’t get through FIVE minutes of any show I selected. The Japanese movies were depressing as heck and one even showed a man’s bare butt in the first 5 minutes. The Korean movies were all somehow related to adult elements which I didn’t care for. Does anyone even screen the movies that they put on flights? Because I could do that for them.

I’m sure I watched another movie and fell asleep halfway but I don’t remember what movie it was. Update: my sister just reminded me that it was Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (I had to Google that). I watched it years ago and enjoyed it so I thought, hey, since the other movies aren’t my cup of tea, why don’t I re-watch Indiana Jones? Nope, got about 5 minutes into it and zonked out.

Oh yes, I remember one other show I watched. As you may or may not know, we used to watch White Collar. It was good – and if it’s relevant, Matt Bomer is gorgeous – but we stopped watching halfway after things got in the way and we didn’t have time for TV. I decided to cut to the chase and watch the last 2 episodes of the final season. Have I told you that I do not mind spoilers? So I watched it… and the last episode didn’t even feel like a last episode… which, after I thought about it, was good. I’m not spoiling it for you because almost everyone I know hates spoilers.

That’s all I have. What movies have you watched lately?

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

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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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Movies I watched on yet another long flight

I was recently on a 2-part flight which totaled to about 15-16 hours of flight time. I actually managed to sleep for 1/3 of the longer section which was just nice because the flight didn’t feel terribly long neither was it too short to make use of the in-flight entertainment.

Here’s what I watched, according to the order I watched them. Note that it has been ages since I’ve watched anything new let alone any kind of TV.

taken3Taken 3 – I expected it to be half-crappy since lots of sequels have been disappointing or ridiculous but Taken 3 was good. Brian Mills is still the same badass as he was in the first movie and the story had a solid plot. I’d give it a 8.5/10 and I would definitely watch another Taken sequel. Liam Neeson, you can’t jump into a sewer drain and come out looking so good LOL. But damn if he isn’t one of the sweetest and most protective movie dads.

22jumpst22 Jump Street – Now this is a sequel that partially lived up to its expectation except towards the end when the humor began to get lame and slapstick. I didn’t quite care for the bad guy (or should I say girl) and the movie felt really short. The Ice Cube references had me laughing so hard. The credits were funny though and I really admire the fact that they came up with so many posters for ‘future sequels’.

kingsmanKingsman: The Secret Service – I can’t really tell you how I felt about this show because I barely watched it. Samuel L. Jackson as the bad guy was rather annoying too so I wasn’t motivated to pay attention. I only watched 1/4 of this show because 1. I kept falling asleep and 2. when I woke up and started to concentrate on the movie, I got distracted by the man sitting in front of me who was watching American Sniper.

americansniperAmerican Sniper – Which is how I ended up watching – uh, I mean reading the subtitles – 3/4 of his movie. I probably wouldn’t have enjoyed it as much if I had tried to watch it on my own. Isn’t it far more interesting when you watch a movie over someone else’s shoulder (without being nosy or creepy)? I believe I also watched someone else’s movie on a previous flight. Anyway, the movie was rather deep and thought-provoking and even though I’m not a big Bradley Cooper fan, I thought he did a good job in the movie.

I will have you know that the guy infuriatingly ENDED the movie before it actually ended. So annoying! There was only 5-10 minutes left but he just had to exit the screen… I’m not bothered to read the Wikipedia synopsis but if you leave a comment about what happened at the end, I’ll be grateful.

ST_MPD_Scientific_Investigation_Squad_(Movie)-p1ST: The Movie – I couldn’t find anymore English movies that I wanted to watch (and there were plenty but I’m picky) so I moved off to the Asian movies. ST: The Movie is a Japanese mystery/thriller movie which kept me hooked till the end. The story was about a special team on the police force that solves tricky crimes getting involved in a complicated technological crime. There were also internal conflicts that led to interesting relationship development between the two lead actors. One of the lead actors also happened to be the same guy from the other Japanese movie (it was Oh! Father and I really liked that show) that I watched on a previous flight. Japanese movies can be really interesting because of the sheer complexity of some of the stories.

theroyaltailorThe Royal Tailor – The other Japanese movies were not to my taste so I picked a Korean show instead. It was beautifully written and directed. The story was about a royal tailor (the older guy), a young but talented tailor, the royal family, and the conflicts that arose when the young tailor began to receive personal requests from the Queen. It was so moving that I cried into my airline snacks. My favorite character has to be the young tailor – so passionately curious and wildly passionate. The costume department did an A+ job on all the outfits. I wish I were a bit more eloquent in describing my feelings for things but it seems that lately words fail me when I try to think of how to describe things

abigmatchBig Match – This was action-packed from the beginning. Uh, I guess I saved a poster with Mandarin instead of Korean but it’s actually a Korean movie. Get past the first 15 minutes and you’re good for the rest of the movie. It was one of those fast-paced everything-happening-in-one-day kind of movies. The story is about a boxer whose brother gets framed for a crime and somehow the police suspect him to be in cahoots with his brother and arrest him. From there, the boxer gets a call while in prison from the antagonist who has captured his brother for leverage purposes. The boxer has no choice but to follow the antagonist’s orders to go on crazy missions. I was on the edge of my seat till the end. The protagonist is hilarious!! If only for him, watch it.

edgeoftomorrowEdge of Tomorrow – I only watched 1/3 of this because I fell asleep (yes, even with the sounds of raging gunfire and Tom Cruise shouting into my ears). Tom Cruise as a pathetic army guy was refreshing to watch since he’s usually the intelligent or skilled hero. I missed the entire middle part of the movie and woke up towards the ending but I quickly gathered what I had missed. But yeah, Tom Cruise basically saves the day in most of his movies anyway.

That is how up-to-date with English movies I am. I have yet to watch The Avengers 2. I can’t believe it myself haha. Let’s not even talk about English music.

Have you watched any of these movies? Which ones did you find good/disappointing?

Raine
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