End of 2017 Recap
End of 2017 Recap
I find that with each new year December 31st rolls around faster than I could even imagine. I honestly don't even know where to start but I guess the best place to start would be January 2017.
January 2017: Courage and Friendship
During this month, most college students took advantage of this entire month off to recover from the fall semester and get recharged and prepped for the spring. However, because my friends were overachievers, they convinced me to take an African Diaspora winter class in addition to the Chinese classes that were already a workload in itself. As you can already tell, staying at Hunter from 10am-8pm is not the ideal way to spend winter "break". But since I had a group of friends with me, sitting at a desk for 3 hours straight every day, listening to my professor talk about himself wasn't as bad as I thought it would be.
The highlight of January definitely would have been the skiing trip at Smuggler's Notch alllll the way up there in Vermont. I was practically jumping off my seat the entire 7 hours car ride there because this was the first time that I was going to attempt snowboarding. As expected, I spent the entire first day on the bunny slopes and yes, I fell on every single part of my body. I fell going up the bunny slope ramp. I fell getting off the bunny slope ramp. and I basically fell everywhere in between—and this was only within the first 30 minutes. (I will be prepared for this skiing trip for Jan. 2018 though. Ya girl invested in butt pads so the tush will be well cushioned 24/7 😉 ).
This picture is a perfect representation of the 3 days that we spent up in Vermont. I swear I was in that up-dog yoga position for a good 10 minutes before I decided that its best if I just roll down the slope. ( Of course, what are friends for if they don't capture the moments when you are struggling at your worst? Thanks, Ay ron)
But anyway, I know right now it sounds a lot like "ok this girl fell a lot on her butt, so what?" Well, this trip was definitely more than just that. It was filled with courage, filled with being unsatisfied with 'settling' and the 'familiar', filled with getting close to people who I met merely a couple months before, and last but not least, it was filled with learning to not let yourself be the reason behind your fears.
I was lucky enough to come on this trip with like-minded people who share the same passions and sense of humor as I do. You'll be quite surprised to notice the little quirks within a person even from "living" with them for 3 days. One automatically took on the responsible mom role, the other one has the ability to nap comfortably on any surface. Nonetheless, I am grateful for all the memories and the people I've grown close to on this trip. I couldn't think of a better way to kick off a new year than to roll down a mountain with some of the best people I know.
February: Up close and Personal
So spring semester started in February and a couple of friends and I decided to take a trip to Boston during one of those long weekends. There was a blizzard with a good 2 feet of snow pounding down on Boston yet we were all still persistent in touring this entire city in a couple of days. This was also my first encounter with renting out an Airbnb and of course, things don't like to go in my favor. Long story short: the Airbnb host lady told me that the keys to the house are in a Talenti container inside the BBQ grill. So after trekking into the backyard with snow coming up to our knees, we started wiping off the 2 feet of snow that piled on top of the cover of the grill—just to open the grill to find grease stains and leftover charcoal from July 4th. So it turned out that we ended up trespassing onto the 1st floor's backyard. So imagine being the dude who woke up at 8 am to the sound of a couple of college students near the state of hypothermia rummaging through your backyard for a set of house keys. Yeah... I would have called the cops on us too.
We were all 'shooked' from that experience (sorry for lack of a better word) but it was nothing that a 2-hour nap couldn't fix.
But anyway, besides that awful embarrassing story, February was still filled with good vibes from the William Singe + Alex Aiono concert and the Ariana Grande: Dangerous Women Tour. Now that I'm thinking back on these two concerts, I realized that I prefer the William Single + Alex Aiono concert since it was more up close and personal. Sure, the speakers were blasting in my right ear but the experience definitely beats standing miles away from the stage at Madison Square Garden.
March: Off the grid
So I looked back at my pictures to try to jog my memory of the highlights of that month. But I realized that 90% of the pictures for that month consisted of pictures from Biology lecture. I'm just going to assume that the stressful midterm
week month got a hold of me and so during that month I basically fell off the grid after the Leroy Sanchez Concert.
April: Buy one get one
Growing up in an Asian household comes hand in hand with having an Asian mom who would be the first to jump at any deal whether that would be BOGO deals at Chinese supermarkets or $900 package deal with a Chinese travel agency to travel to Western Europe over spring break. With a package that includes accommodations and the plane ticket there, there must have been a catch. We departed from JFK and touchdown in Milan, Italy 8 hours later. Then over the course of 10 days, it was hours upon hours on dreadful long bus rides from Milan, to Strasbourg, France to Switzerland then to Paris, Amsterdam, and Belgium then back to Milan.
Side story: So my family and I assume that every airport's security checkpoint is as crazy and strict as those in New York. So it took a good 5 minutes before we realized that we didn't have to take off our shoes at security. Imagine a whole group of Chinese tourists walking around with shoes, pride and all in hand. Yikes.
Although the bus rides were wayyyyy longer than our 2-hour stay in each city, I still felt lucky enough to immerse myself in the food, the language, the history and culture. I realized that this trip showed me exactly how I shouldn't travel. To travel isn't merely checking off places on a bucket list after a 2-hours stay in the country. To travel is to leave a part of yourself in that destination and take a piece back with you to share with your loved ones.
So I wrote the reflection above before 2017 ended and I just couldn't get myself to finish the rest of it. Like opening a college acceptance letter, I have to get into the right mindset and space in order to recall and share a piece of my memory or memories. Is that just me?
May: Time of Renewal
This month was definitely another one of those "ugly" months because to say that it was "stressful" is merely an understatement. Workload piled on top of each other and it just seems that once I completed an assignment, another one is lurking just around the corner. The workload in addition to the feeling of 'not knowing enough' for an exam kept me occupied and distracted enough for me to not even know what day of the week it was. I just knew that the end was near—but not soon enough.
I've always associated the month of May to the time of renewal. The thick coats, scarves, gloves and the whole shebang that comes with winter is finally being tucked into the back of the closet until the next year. I could finally wear open-toed sandals without being judged, welcome the warmer temperatures with open arms and even welcome the pollen that causes my face to swell up to the size of a ripe melon. (Trust me, it ain't cute) Most importantly, May is the month in which I get the chance to go hiking again.
Throughout high school and even middle school, every single one of my birthdays was spent over fancy dinners, bellies filled with mediocre food that wasn't necessarily kind to the wallet. There were so much time and effort put into not only finding the perfect restaurant to host a group of people but also putting together arrangements to see if one group of friends are compatible with another group. Should there just be one big group dinner or two separate ones? Would one group be offended if I take the other to a fancier restaurant? The list goes on and on. From reservations to "maybe.. idk yet until the day of", "I'm not gonna go if she's going", I finally realized at birthday number 19 that all of that, the whole shebang, just isn't worth it.
So I decided that for my 19th birthday, I wanted something simple. Something that will take me back to the roots away from all the unnecessary stress that has built up over the semester. This is not to bash on the other 18 birthdays but let's just say that it's been a looooong time since I celebrated a birthday as raw and uncomplicated as this. Who knew that sitting on the edge of a cliff on a mountain overlooking the thousands of trees can make me happier than sitting at a too-fucken-dark-poorly-lit restaurant in a dress that I'm only gonna wear this once in my life pretending that I'm full over this small $27 entree.
Thank fucking god that nature is free.
This topic requires more than just a couple of paragraphs to elaborate on. (I talked more about this experience here)
July: Finding Comfort out of the Comfort Zone
The day I came back from Lithuania, I headed straight back into Chinese class at Hunter. As always it was brutal in every way possible but at the end it was worthwhile (or was it though?). This was my second summer session with Chinese Flagship and it was definitely different from the first one. I realized that I never explained what Chinese Flagship is so I'll briefly do that here. So I applied and got into Hunter's Chinese Flagship program when I started college two summers ago. The program basically teaches you Mandarin Chinese throughout the 4 years whether your background in Chinese is as good as a native speaker or close to nonexistent. I grew up around Cantonese and Taishanese at home so because of the similarity in grammar and pronunciation, learning Mandarin wasn't entirely challenging but it was without a doubt, not easy either.
But anyway, during this summer, the program really emphasized applying our Chinese in a real life setting so our field trips included going over to a middle school in Chinatown and giving a power point lecture about our high school experience. Some students talked about SAT scores and the whole shabang but I was assigned to talk about my extracurricular. I'm probably not the best person to talk about this topic since mainly focused on academics throughout high school so unfortunately, joining sports teams and leading a research project to cure world hunger wasn't on my resume. But I did talk about my volunteer experience at a daycare and a hospital so I'll assume that they were (at least) partially interested.
But the main highlight was probably the day we all dressed up in highlighter yellow jackets and gave a boat tour of the Statue of Liberty to eager tourists. Imagine a pack of lemons boarding a boat with each talking about an aspect of the Statue of Liberty. This was definitely an experience in which I was forced to step out of my comfort zone. I can barely give a classroom presentation in English without turning tomato red, so standing up there in front of 300 tourists giving them my best attempt of my half-assed Chinese was not entirely my ideal spotlight moment. This was one of those moments that I always look back on especially when I'm getting the butterflies before a presentation or before I have to speak in front of an audience. I hated public speaking (with a passion) but to think that I had to present in a completely different language, doing a power point presentation to 30 students, who are probably worrying about themselves, doesn't seem so bad after all.
August: Rebel at Heart
It took 19 years. But y'all, it finally happened. Right before the semester started, my fambam decided to get this little 3 month old Shipoo (Shihzu + Poodle). We decided to name him Mantou (after the Chinese bun) since he has that mixed flour and wheat fur color. Also because it would be easier for my grandparents who do not speak English to say Mantou instead of (insert typical English dog name here). It's been almost 6 months and I definitely think that he fills a gap that we didn't even know that we were missing in our family. Something about his hyperactive energy and the way he wags his tail in all directions when he sees people makes us forget about the stress for the day. Yet it was nothing but stressful for the first few weeks, since this little dude peed and pooped everywhereeeeee. The lighting and floor panels in our house make it hard to see where he has peed until you stepped right into it. Nonetheless, he is now pooping and peeing in his corner of the house but on good days, he likes to leave the aftermath of last night's dinner at the foot of my room to show the fam that he's still a rebel at heart.
Again. I looked back into my 'September' part of my photo album and I found nothing but pictures from my lectures and oh, also pictures of my dissection in Bio lab but I doubt that y'all wanna see that. I did get the chance to reunite with a bunch of some of the best people I know.
I got to reunite with Moorea and Anika, both of whom I met in Lithuania. We reminisced about our trip and laughed way too long about the shitty side-of-the-highway hotel that we stayed at. Just from that month-long stay, it's undeniable that they are some of the most down to earth and intelligent people I know (I mean duh, they go to Columbia). Moorea and I also made vegan tacos with cauliflower and boy lemme tell you, it was so bomb that I went out and got cauliflower again the next night. Y'all have to try it here. (you already know I got the idea from Pinterest)
I also got the chance to reunite with one of my best friends since the 4th grade. From the day we both came in with the same butterfly shirt with rainbow-striped sleeves, I knew that this girl would be stuck with me for the rest of my life. (Who wore it better though? lmk) It was also meant to be since we lived less than 3 minutes away from each other's home, our dads went to the same high school and of course, even our grandmas knew each other. She is probably the only person I know who would go to the extremes with me to "Do it for the gram"—thanks for always doing the most-est to make me look taller in pictures. Although we only get to hang out maybe once or twice a year, it is rare to come across sisters who make it seem as though no time has passed when we do get the chance to finally meet up again. If you are reading this, I hope you doing well and not having that much fun without me at Stony. Not like I miss you or anything.
October: "I guess we are Avoca-bros" -better half a whole idiot
During the midst of midterms and projects, this was when my friend Angela asked me to help her kick-start the Eco Fashion Expo. This month made up of a lot of paperwork to apply for Hunter's TGIF (The Green Initiative Fund) to get funding for this sustainability project, getting together a team for the event, and just a lot of background stuff to get the ball rolling.
I also convinced another crazy best friend of mine to dress up as our favorite fruit for Halloween. If you can't already tell, we are two halves of a whole idiot and I wouldn't have it any other way.
To start off the month, I went to a MAX concert which was right at Gramercy theatre. It was kinda surreal to finally see an artist who I have been following since his fetus days on YouTube and Nickelodeon. Around this time, I was making my schedule for the spring semester and since the goal for being in the flagship program is to spend a capstone year, there were just a lot of stressful spreadsheet planning and basically mapping out the next 3/4/5 years right there on Excel. To say that I was "stressed out" was an understatement.
December: Coming Full Circle
So around mid-December, another close friend of mine posted one of those 3am life rants type of spiels which inspired me to include this part in the post. (Trust me I only have like 6 1/2 friends. It just so happens that I mentioned a few of them in this post)
It was somewhere along the lines of feeling too occupied with school work that there wasn't even room or time for your own thoughts.
I honestly couldn't recall a single weekend of this entire semester that I could confidently say "okay, now I have time for nothing but myself. No tests, no homework or projects that needed immediate attention." And most of all, none of those feelings of being overwhelmed, swamped with piles of tedious work and just feeling guilty if every second of the day is not spent doing something productive.
This semester has definitely left a toll on me. There were wayyyy too many all-nighters that I am not proud to admit. Too many nights (and days) that I have gotten upset and cried buckets of tears and of course, I was so caffeinated to a point where my hands are still jittery from the coffee I drank during finals week. There was always this constant burden that kept me occupied and distracted from confronting my problems that kept resurfacing every time. Then I remembered that this line sounds exactly like my 'for myself' post. I took this as a sign so I told myself that no matter what I had to launch this site before the new year. Even if it is not finished or if I'm not completely satisfied with it, I just had to do it. 2018 will be about coming full circle to free myself of the perfectionism that's making doing what I love feel like a chore.