Day 0: Fare Thee Well, Seattle

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After 2 years of anticipation and working towards this moment, I hardly believe it’s real: I’m really on route to China, to live more than half a year abroad! On my own!

(Maybe the more unbelievable part is that it didn’t really sink in until late last night, whence I promptly puddled on the floor, shredding InStyle magazines in a stupefied daze.)

My enactment of a jellyfish may’ve had something to do with my little project these past weeks: packing. And unpacking. And packing again.

Apparently I pack suitcases the same way I write essays: start with a glut of research then painstakingly trim here-a-word and there-a-word until I’ve gone from 20 pages to 6.

(- – What’s that saying about brevity again?)

(- – Shut up.)

To all my friends and family back home, I promise you only the most acerbic of blunders and honest of discoveries as I brave this whole living in a foreign country thing. There maybe a few times I’ll slip in posting because of Internet availability, but if I set up this VPN thing right you can expect new posts at least every week.

Maybe I should retitle this blog “Lionheart in Cathay” instead.

Xià cì jiàn!

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P.S. They’ve got Arrow on the mini-screens! Game of Thrones and Orphan Black too, but not the recent episodes. That VPN better damn well work so I can catch up.

The Lessons You Learn While Working Crappy Jobs

Shma:

I count myself lucky to have worked 3 ‘crappy jobs’ that I loved. Truthfully, what I’ve learned about humility and the social encounters I’ve had (ranging from very awkward to desperate to patience-testing) have furthered my personal growth more than any other experience in college.

Originally posted on Thought Catalog:

My first semester of college, I worked at a chain coffee and bagel café.

I have always affirmed that every person needs to work in food service at least once in their lifetime. It is difficult to express how exceptionally vital it is that people understand the toil behind where their services come from, and the crucial nature of treating workers with respect.

I have also always held the belief that every person needs to work at least one “crappy job” in their life to fully understand the value of hard work, and better understand how difficult the lives of people who serve them are.

When I first started working through the duration of my employment, I strongly disliked my job with a passion. It was what I deemed could satisfy the “crappy job experience” requirement from my mandatory life-experiences chart. I hated having no time…

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Sometimes We Lay

Shma:

Five minutes of wonder, five minutes to ponder, five minutes to write, five times replayed. Here we go again.

Originally posted on Clockwork Tea:

Sometimes we lay

Warm soft surrounding  tucked tight

Awake and we talk

The friends we love, the chances we missed

Whether we’ll find our faith

Amidst barren minds and altered faces

Why we lose when we fight so hard

How the world shines e’en so

Other times we race

Top top higher up

Where the universe is flat and unending

We stare

Into unchanging slate shades

We wait

For white to fall and dance

We dance our graceless prayer

But finally we dream

Blue houses long lawns

Phones reaching cross time

We find ourselves plunging toward

Ever toward

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Journey to the West

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In Which China is Geographically West, But Everyone Considers It the East

This week saw the start of my study abroad finalization paperwork. I am so thrilled to be going (each day makes me more anxious and excited), but there’s so much left to be done! Paperwork, visas, housing, financial aid, currency, plane tickets, choosing classes… oh gosh, I can tell next quarter’s going to be busy. (But it’ll all be worth it and more~)

Provided this all goes smoothly, I will be seeing my relatives this summer for the first time in 5 years. They last met me in all my glory as an awkward, antisocial teenager. With terrible Chinese, to boot. So we’ll see if I can give them a pleasant surprise by coming out of my adolescent shell.

Honestly, work and college have transformed me so much in terms of making me comfortable with speaking in public and speaking to strangers.

(Tip for people who are shy in front of crowds: get a job. Once you have to deal with impatient customers daily and give presentations three times a month, you will grow out of your introverted reluctances so quickly, you won’t even have time to be scared.)

You know it’s dead week when…

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  • You’re at the library, and a guy storms out the door muttering about “coffee, the fundamental evil of life”.
  • You skip one class to go study for another class, in which you fell behind because you were working on a project for yet another class.
  • Sleep is a luxury you really can’t afford. #PoorerThanACollegeStudent (which is just pathetic…)
  • You wait outside Starbucks for them to open at 5am, because you really need to finish your essay (– because, of course, you can’t write an essay without sufficient caffeine and sugar in your system.)
  • You set your alarm for a 30-minute nap… and wake up 3 hours later.
  • You forget it’s your birthday because your life is one long pattern of sleep-study-work-eat-study-sleep-study-work-study.

Looking Forward to 20

In which Shma enjoys an odd brunch under too many cozy blankets.

Since I got up a little earlier this morning than I usually do on a Sunday morning (the one day of the week I don’t have work or class), I decided to try a clever new recipe: The Baked AvoEgg! Not to brag (okay, maybe a bit), but I’m proud to say my attempt turned out a lot better than most people’s on the recipe page.

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It’s a very simple recipe, took only 8 minutes for the oven to preheat and 15 minutes to bake. Next time I try this, I’ll probably reduce the baking time to 10 minutes, since the egg came out a bit stiff and dry. Another tip (from my roommate) is to dribble some olive oil over the raw egg to help the top cook faster.

The taste was a bit…different, but with some white wine dijon mustard, I had a lovely Sunday brunch, with a pile of blankets on my lap.

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I don’t know how this happened, but over the last couple of days I’ve managed to acquire 4 blankets. They’re all very cozy, so I can’t bear to give any one up, and luckily they all look different, so I can’t complain that I have too many. Every one has sentimental value, so I guess no matter which one I use, I’ll be buried under memories and virtual hugs.

P.S. I can’t believe I’m turning my second decade. Aaah!

Aside

It’s official!

I’ve declared my formal options in the business school – I’m still majoring in Business Administration, but now with focuses in Operations & Supply Chain Management and Information Systems.

“If you make yourself a cup of tea and attempt to get an object working and the tea goes cold before you finish, you are dealing with technology.”

– Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

To get a head start on my first computer programming class next quarter, I’ve been teaching myself binary and C. Let it be known that I spent 5 hours this weekend trying to install Visual Studio. But I will not let this define my future!

Hurdles, or The One Time I Lost

I tried to write a post about everything that’s happened to me in the last two quarters of college. There are so many posts that I’ve started but I just don’t know how to finish. So I tried to write a post that pulls it all together, but this story kept interrupting. I need this to be written and out of my head.

Due warning: this story doesn’t have a happy ending. Is there a silver lining? Maybe I can find one for the next post.

Little known fact about me: I ran the 100m and 300m hurdles in high school. Tripping on one of those things scares a lot of people away from the hurdles. Choosing that sport was less about the running or the competition. wholly inspired by flight. Nothing felt cooler than being in my track cleats sprinting at a metal bar that rose above my should and leaping clean over.

But the reality remains that I’m very, very short. A good height for hurdlers is around 6′; I am a whopping 5’3. Have you ever stood next to one of those short-distance hurdles? They are tall! Even when we warmed-up using the low hurdles, I was the only one clambering over while everyone else merely stepped over the blasted things.

It’s greatly disheartening to know you must work twice as hard as everyone else in order to only be half as good. As such, my track and field career was fun, but short-lived. The athletes out there are sneering at me, but I wasn’t helping anyone by being last in practice everyday.

I never stumbled on a hurdle, and in all my practice videos I have great discipline and form. But I don’t think anyone on that team ever looked at me twice. Maybe three people knew my name. Even so, I kept going to practice. I kept running that warm up lap and coming in last. And I never finished a winner, yet I also didn’t lose.

*sigh* As the title says, this is a story about when I lost.

In the end it wasn’t my height or my physical inability that mattered. In the penultimate race of the season, I was against three other girls in the 300m. 100m in and I fell behind, as usual, when the girl just in front of me tripped on a bar and crashed to a halt. I was hopping over the bar next to hers when she got back up. For the last leg of the race, she and I were neck-to-neck and it was the first time my teammates had ever said my name – let alone hollered it from the stands.

That should’ve been my moment. I should’ve gone for the finish with all my strength. But I didn’t. I thought, there was no way I could ever beat this girl. I thought no matter how hard I try – it won’t make a difference.

I may never have stumbled on a hurdle before, but that race I stumbled inside. And the worst part is that I could feel it spreading from my heart to my legs. And I lost.

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