Category: Friends


The secret to happiness: just one tennis ball

♪♫♪ I’m a new soul, I came to this strange world / Hoping I could learn a bit bout how to give and take…

I know I’m very lucky to be able to go to school in a city so close to home. On a good traffic-less day, Naperville is only an hour away from UIC, so my parents are able to come visit me pretty often, and they often visit me and bring me food or all miscellaneous items I was scatterbrained enough to forget. And when I do want to go home, it’s never far, just a short train or car ride away. I do my best to find a happy medium between spending time with friends, learning to be independent, and experiencing Chicago, and going home to familiar surroundings in the safe suburbs of Naperville. But I’ve never been one to be homesick because there is so much going on in the city around me. And to be honest, there’s not very much for me to miss in Naperville because I see my parents when they visit me, my brother is at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, and all of my friends are at various colleges.

He always looks like he's smiling, especially with his tennis ball! :)

But there is one friend that I always miss with my whole heart when I’m not home: Charlie.

Charlie is my neighbors Don and Caren’s dog, and he is hands down the happiest dog I know. Rarely do I step outside my house and not see him pacing his lawn back and forth, eagerly greeting all of his neighborhood friends with a tennis ball in his mouth. Everyone in our subdivision knows and loves Charlie, and he knows and loves everybody too. Many dog-walkers and their dogs stop by to say hello to Charlie because they know how well-behaved and friendly he is with other dogs and people. While he is just naturally very good-natured, I’m sure this is also in part due to Don’s unparalleled ability to train dogs to behave and listen to him so well. Growing up just across the street since I was a kid, I have seen Don and Caren raising their dogs to be the most friendly and obedient dogs in the neighborhood. Charlie is no exception, and he is able to lounge about the front lawn without a leash because he has been so well-trained to be friendly with others and to stay out of the street.

Of course Charlie has friends everywhere, but since Don and Caren live directly across the street from us, my mom and I like to believe that Charlie gets especially excited when he sees us! Both my mom and I are constantly dropping whatever we’re doing and going over to visit and play with him. He is even able to recognize my mom’s car and know when it is her turning into the street!

Hanging with one of my best friends

Charlie loves to play with my mom because he knows that sometimes he might even get a treat from her. Whenever my mom or I leave our house or return home, we are almost always greeted with the uplifting sight of Charlie on his lawn with his tail wagging quick as a whip, eagerly waiting for us to come over and toss the tennis ball for him to play. And boy, does he love to play with that tennis ball! Usually whenever I get home from the grocery store, the YMCA, or anywhere at all, I rush across the street so that I can greet him with a big hug and kiss. I’ll then spend some time just throwing the ball to Charlie as far as I can, into the next lawn, over and over and he will always find the energy to sprint to it, find it, and bring it back to me. I typically tire out first, and once I sit down on the grass, he often lays down next to me, still chewing on his ball. Over the years, Charlie has surely gone through countless tennis balls, and there’s always a few lying around the front lawn! But it doesn’t matter which one he favors that particular day because as long as he has a tennis ball in his mouth, he’s truly the happiest dog alive.

Just gliding through the water

Before I had to come back to UIC for summer courses, Don was kind enough to take me along to see Charlie swimming! As Don explained to me, almost all dogs love to swim, but Labrador Retrievers like Charlie especially love to swim, and are very talented at it because they even have webbing between their toes to help them. Don always told me how much Charlie loved to swim too, so I was so excited to be able to see it up close and personal! One sunny Saturday morning, Charlie hopped into the back seat of Don’s car and we drove to a pond just a few minutes away from our street. Once we reached the edge of the pond, Don threw the ball far into the water…and it took almost no time at all for Charlie to leap in right after it! It was astounding how strong of a swimmer he was, and within seconds he retrieved the ball, swam back, and climbed back out, dripping wet and looking as happy as any dog could be. After shaking off all the water (onto Don and me!) he was ready right away for another round of swimming. For the next hour, Don and I took turns playing fetch with Charlie by the pond, and I was able to see just how much Charlie loved to swim. Don also showed me a little bit of how he trains Charlie by commanding him to stay after the ball is thrown and wait (with a great deal of patience) until Don allows him to chase after the ball. A couple of times, Charlie would be too eager to get his ball back, and he would jump the gun and leap in the water early. Then Don would hold him back and command him again vocally with hand motions, and Charlie would learn very quickly what he was supposed to do. After a couple of tries at sounding stern, I was also able to get Charlie to listen to my commands! It really shows how obedient and smart he is, especially when he’s able to discern Don’s commands by hand gestures alone. After spending some time running in the sun to dry off, we drove Charlie home for his bath…it was a fantastic day for all of us!

My neighbor Don with his dog Charlie

So whenever it’s time for me to go back to the city, I probably miss Charlie more than anything else in Naperville. Dogs are just so wonderful, always channeling such a carefree, bubbling joy that’s absolutely contagious. Whenever I’m around Charlie, I can’t help but smile and forget about all of my worries and stress for the moment. I just enjoy my time with one of the biggest sources of pure happiness I know. Playing with Charlie and other dogs always makes me believe that things like animal-assisted therapy are so effective because of this — because people are able to grow from the special kind of positivity that only animals can provide.

In other news, in Chicago, all is going well so far with classes, research, and apartment life. I’m enjoying the sense of freedom again that comes with living the city. Being productive is a good feeling! Classes are going super fast since everything is sped up during the 8-week summer session. I’m really glad I read ahead because it makes staying on top of things a lot easier. It’s also much less stressful to balance schoolwork with working in the lab for about four hours every day. So far everything I have done has been very interesting! In my lab, the researchers are working on developing drugs for Alzheimer’s disease. It’s fascinating to me because it feels like for the first time I can finally see all the concepts I spent so long learning in organic chemistry put into real work in a medicinal chemistry lab. My supervisor is a graduate student named Emily who is so smart and patient — I’m learning a lot from her! As I’m slowly picking up the new techniques, I’m looking forward to getting some more independent lab work in the weeks to come. Between lab and school, lots of new challenges are coming, and I’m excited to meet them. It’s only been a couple weeks, but I’m also looking forward to going home for my mom’s birthday and 4th of July next week!

And of course, I know that I will have one big, happy friend waiting for me too. ☺

But since I came here, felt the joy and the fear / Finding myself making every possible mistake ♪♫♪

(New Soul – Yael Naim)

I’m getting too old for this…

I think everybody has different expectations of friendships, and even more so, they probably have different expectations for each friendship they have. It’s important that both parts of the friendship have equal expectations, though. Otherwise you’re not on the same page, which never seems to lead to anything good.

I don’t really know if there are categories or types of friendships, but if there are, I would definitely say that most of my friendships are very simple and “low-maintenance.” What I mean by that is that we simply enjoy one another’s company and spend time together. There isn’t drama, fighting, or whatever else is often associated with some friendships.

Of course, I want each of my friends to know that I am there for them whenever they need me. I feel like this is a given with friendships. By classifying my relationships as simple, I don’t mean to suggest that there is any lack of the things that should happen in a solid relationship.

It’s just that life is exhausting, and having friends helps to keep you sane. There’s no reason to complicate it or make anyone upset.

Am I crazy to just want to be able to spend time with my friends and laugh? To understand one another’s busy schedules and not take it personally? To not have to find any hidden meanings or determine the meaning of a “k”?

It’s times like these that I’m even more appreciate of dog best friends. There’s no drama with Bear. I come home, am loudly greeted and offered a plethora of toys, and when it’s time for bed, we’re cuddling up with a book and a rawhide. No muss, no fuss. I’d say it’s the ideal friendship.

I guess I just want to know why things can’t be simple. Friendship shouldn’t be yet another stressful part of life. Can’t we all just try saying what we mean and meaning what we say? It would make life a lot easier. Really.

So Daenerys, Goku, and two Elsas walk into a room…

Some nights, courage running thin / Head down, all adrenaline…

Whenever convention time rolls around, I am always a little dumbfounded at first to see such an eclectic mix of characters appear before me. Not that I attend many entertainment conventions usually, but I was excited to be able to go to ACEN last weekend with my brother for the second time! Anime Central, better known as ACEN to all the hundreds of thousands of fans who flock to Rosemont, Illinois, one weekend in May dressed up in the mad mix of cosplays and costumes. This year was my second time attending (I went last year as well) and it is always a fascinating experience to see all of these people congregated to celebrate their love for anime and entertainment. It’s no wonder that it’s the largest anime convention in the midwest, especially when they invite big names in the industry to be at the panels.

To be honest, however, I have found that I have mostly outgrown anime and manga in the past few years. I remember staying up late Friday and Saturday nights in middle school to watch all the new anime on TV (what a strange time before I knew of Netflix and streaming!) and then read all of the corresponding manga as well. Maybe I grew older and just found other interests, but I haven’t been as captivated by anime in the past couple years. Most likely I just became much busier and occupied with school!

In any case, ACEN is truly worthwhile to attend at least once for any fan of entertainment. I love fictional characters, and it’s thrilling to see the crossover mingling of characters that vary from Game of Thrones and Breaking Bad to Disney and Attack on Titan–a wildly popular anime that I think I will find time to watch this summer…I couldn’t look anywhere in the  convention without seeing about five cosplays from it! However, I think what was really most popular was all the Frozen cosplays. It was funny seeing a line of Elsas who all look so similar but also a little bit different crowded together for a picture! It’s really a testament to how friendships are formed over common interests to see complete strangers from all around the country bonding over an episode of Madoka Magica or taking mass photos together because their cosplayed characters match. On the inside of ACEN was a vendor section, where merchandise of all varieties were being sold. Unfortunately, as the ever frugal and broke college student, I can rarely afford anything I want to buy here! But awesome items I saw (and really wanted!) were a Chewbacca bath robe, an awesome Rurouni Kenshin samurai sword replica, Gundam model kits, and of course tons of adorable Pokemon plushies that I always want! (Luckily I do have some semblance of self-control now that I’m older.)

My nerd is showing! But what’s wonderful is that’s what helped me meet so many friendly and colorful people this weekend. Check out just a couple pictures I took of some of my favorite cosplays!










Tonight you’re electrical / Unchained like an animal / And I want you to know / That you’re glitter and gold

(Glitter and Gold – Little Daylight)

Let it be…

“You will survive without your high school boyfriend please see what else is out there.”

A short statement. Not even grammatically correct, but a statement nonetheless. And just one of many…

I see and hear things like this on an almost daily basis, whether it be through social media, in passing around campus, or on other blogs. Lately I saw it on yet another blog post so many of my Facebook friends felt the need to share and assure others that the blog was so insightful. It touched on some random amount of things every “college girl” should remember. As if “college girls” are an actual thing; what does that even mean? Yes, I, too, am a girl in college, but why is this female blog writer labeling me and so many other females as such? I don’t feel the need to classify myself as a college girl. I am a human being, and I am a junior in college.

At any rate, the reason I am so fed up with statements like this is because I can’t understand why someone would feel the need to encourage people to break up with their long-term significant others. Even more generally, I don’t understand why people try to tell other people so matter-of-factly that what they are doing with their ‘love life’ is wrong. How is it ever your place to validate or discredit someone else’s relationship?

Quite obviously, I took this personally because I have been dating my boyfriend for a month shy of 7 years. When people find this out, they are usually shocked. In fact, I can’t remember the last time someone discovered this and wasn’t completely surprised. It isn’t crazy to me- I have no idea where the time has gone. I can’t believe 7 years have passed, but in no way am I amazed that we are still together and never broke up.

When some people find this fact out, they will be incredibly bold and go so far as to ask if I feel like I’ve missed out on life or tell me that I know nothing about relationships because I have only been in one. Little do these people know that I feel like I’ve done the exact opposite of missing out on life; I feel as though my life has been so dramatically enhanced because of our relationship. I also feel like I know a lot about relationships, both from my experiences with ours in the past and present as well as from observing others as an outside party.

I do get asked many other questions along the same lines or am stuck conversing with someone who tries to tell me that things could never work out forever. The blog quote I mentioned above seems to be echoing the ignorant statements of these people.

To them, I normally keep quiet and listen to whatever dumb statements they want to make about my relationship or about long-term relationships in general. Because just as I feel they shouldn’t be challenging or doubting my relationship, I feel like I don’t need to tell them I disagree with their opinions.

Just because we have been dating for 7 years doesn’t make us weird, or too lazy to date other people, or whatever other descriptors people come up with. It means that I know that I’ve found the person I’m meant to spend the rest of my life with. I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have found this during my early teenage years.

So for those out there in long-term relationships or for anyone else in general, please stop listening to people who think they know everything about dating. Think for yourself- about what makes you happy, and leave the fear of judgements behind. Whatever brings you joy is what you should do, no matter what other people (or blogs) are saying. As for the girl writing the blog to all the “college girls”, it isn’t a matter of being able to survive without my high school (actually middle school) boyfriend- it’s a matter of choosing not to be without him. Because it works great, it makes us both happy, and it just fits. And that’s the way it is. I appreciate your input, but I think I’ll think for myself. Thanks :)

Trading Cultures in Chicago

♪♫♪ I was close to a fault line / Heaven knows, you showed up in time / Was it real?

Last Saturday I had the chance to volunteer with the Trade Winds group at UIC at the Illinois Medical District guest house! Trade Winds is a semester program that is run by UIC OIS (Office of International Services) in which domestic students are paired with international students in order to spend time together throughout the semester to learn about each other’s cultures. The program is unique in that it’s mutually beneficial for all participants. International students are able to learn about things to do in Chicago, UIC, and American cultures and traditions. As a domestic student who has grown in the Chicagoland area my whole life, I am able to learn about cultures, traditions, and values from around the world while making friends and connections that really last. This program offers one of the most welcoming and accepting environments I’ve experienced, and any Trade Winds hosted event is always fun and meaningful. Another great thing about Trade Winds is that the partners decide what they want to do based on their similarities. I participated in Trade Winds during the fall semester as well, and my partner and I had a great time bonding over some delicious food in Chicago! It was a great way to try some new restaurants while getting to know someone from another country. I definitely recommend Trade Winds to all of my friends as a way to experience a different culture within the city of Chicago.

Last week I was able to attend the Trade Winds service event for this semester, which involved making care packages for the people who stay at the Illinois Medical District guest house. I initially looked up the address and traveled there by blue line, but to my utter surprise I found myself right in front of Polk Street Residence (PSR)! Despite having visited PSR many times before, I had no idea that there was actually a guest house connected to the residence halls on west campus. It’s a little bit of a maze inside of there because all of the building are connected one way or another, but after we walked through SSR, eventually we found ourselves in the community room of the guest house.

The IMD guest house, for those who are unaware (like I was) is a safe place that provides accommodations for patients and family or friends of patients at Stroger Hospital or Rush University Health Center at an affordable price. This provides people a safe and warm place to stay while they or their loved ones are receiving health care nearby. I had no idea that there was such a wonderful resource available nearby our school! I was excited to volunteer my time to support the people there and hope to do so again in the near future.

There was a great turnout from our Trade Winds group as we all assembled on Saturday to make dozens of care packages for the people who are staying there. While we worked through a makeshift assembly line to fill bags with all kinds of snacks, we talked and laughed over stories and got to know each other. A few of us, including me, helped out by writing several greeting cards to the package recipients that had positive messages to uplift their spirits. In the end, we had dozens of care packages that each had a greeting card, juice, and several bags of snacks inside. It was very fulfilling to know that just a few hours of our time might make somebody’s day in the future a lot brighter just when they need it. Afterward, since we finished much quickly and efficiently than we expected, our group had a great time just relaxing and getting to know one another! Through games of Jenga and UNO, I made some wonderful new friends that I now see around campus all the time.

Thanks to Trade Winds for such a terrific volunteer experience! I can’t wait for our next event!

Is it dark where you are? / Can you count the stars where you are? ♪♫♪

Longest Night - Howie Day

The Phantom Returns!

Masquerade, paper faces on parade / Masquerade, hide your face so the world will never find you

On Valentine’s Day weekend, I got the chance to go see my favorite musical of all time The Phantom of the Opera again! My family can vouch for how insane I am about this musical – I once dragged them all to New York City with me to see it on Broadway! Since middle school, my mom and I have gone to see it each time it has come to Chicago as well. To be honest, I think I have lost track of the number of times I have seen it…I believe that this time was my fourth or my fifth! When I was small and saw the film (with Emmy Rossum and Gerard Butler), I simply fell in love with the music. I know the film is heavily criticized for its lackluster singing performances, but I personally thought it was beautiful and a lovely rendition. It’s of course a little different from the musical…it’s a movie after all. And it is what first introduced me to the musical and my love of all things Broadway in the first place!

Because my mom was still in Taiwan, I doubted that I would go see it this time – but then my best friend Brandon surprised me with tickets! I was so elated that I would get to see it again. We went the Saturday after Valentine’s Day, so it was a full house! And I was pleasantly surprised because I heard from Brandon that this rendition was especially differently directed than before. I noticed that quickly after the performance began. There were small changes to the way that the music was sung – crescendos at different places with climaxes on different notes while other words that I was used to hear being belted out by the singer were less emphasized. While the dialogue remained the same, I noticed the delivery was markedly different. It really seemed to be a testament to how actors and actresses play such a huge role in the performance. The way a note is sung or a line is spoken can completely change the connotation behind the scene.

I had an amazing time, and because of the little nuanced differences, it was like I was watching the musical for the first time again! And of course, now I’m going to be singing Angel of Music for the next week and a half again…

Masquerade, every face a different shade / Look around, there’s another mask behind you

Enter the 20s…

♪♫♪ Do you know where the wild things go? / They go along to take your honey, la la la…

Apparently a lot of big things happened on 11/12/13. The number order must have seemed auspicious to a lot of people, because I saw the news report on dozens of couples that decided to get married on that day (many of them on a whim!). Also there was a report on a baby that was born at 14:15, and another baby that was born whose parents married on 9/10/11…

Haha well personally I celebrated 11/12/13 because it was my 20th birthday! It feels weird because many of my friends are a year younger or more than me, and I kept hearing, “You’re not a teenager anymore!” or “Wow, you’re sooo old!” I certainly don’t feel much older…it actually only really hit me yesterday during my Russian class when we were practicing speaking, and I had to say “Мне 20 лет” for the first time. I was browsing Buzzfeed (because who can resist clicking more links on the sidebar?) and I read an article that actually described age 20 as the “purgatory year” because you’re not a teenager but not quite yet an adult yet either…

Well, regardless of what should/could/will come in the next 10 years, I was just happy to relax a bit and celebrate my birthday with my loved ones. I still had classes and lots of work to get done, but my friends surprised me with some awesome presents that I am so thankful for. I got a beautiful soft scarf that’s perfect for this frigid weather, a fruit arrangement, and lots of cupcakes. In the evening, my wonderful parents also visited and surprised me with an ice cream cake from Baskin Robbins! I definitely ate waaay too many sweets that whole week…on the weekend my friends and I went out to Flattop Grill too!

During that same week, I was also pretty proud of my Tea Tasting program! All of the RAs and PMs of Campus Housing host programs that can be academic or just for fun. I love tea and frequently binge-drink it when I’m up late doing homework, so I decided to do a tea tasting — the only problem was that I didn’t really have it in my personal budget to buy a great variety of loose leaf teas. So, I had to rely solely on my program budget that’s designated for Jewel. I managed to get a a pretty good variety though, because I already had my personal stash of tea to pick from. In the end, I had green, peppermint, ginger, white, black, and chai spice. Overall, I was very pleased with my program as it had the best turnout I’ve had so far! The people who came said they enjoyed the tea, with the most popular being the pomegranate white. An old friend of mine also surprised me and brought his own loose leaf tea. I tried some loose leaf Golden Monkey tea for the first time, and it was wonderful.

In other news, I’m so excited to say that the third issue of The Ampersand will be out soon! For those of you who don’t know, The Ampersand is the newsletter for the UIC Honors College. We cover all kinds of Honors College related news, events, programs, and student life. If you like reading I Am UIC blog posts, you’ll probably enjoy The Ampersand as well! You can pick up your copy in the Honors College at Burnham Hall right before finals week. We are also on Facebook – like our page to get the most updates!

By chance I stumbled into writing for The Ampersand last year as a freshman because I just wanted to get involved in publications to write more, and it has definitely been one of my best decisions at UIC. I’m currently an editor and writer and I love it! It’s been a good way for me to stay writing in my free time, and also stay involved in the Honors College.

Tired? Stressed? Drained? (I know those feelings…) I recommend brewing a hot cup of tea — lately I have found it is one thing sure to make me feel a little bit better, no matter what.

Please don’t go, please don’t go / I love you so, I love you so / Please break my heart ♪♫♪

(Breezeblocks – ∆)

Less talking, more doing

After the first week of class, my cranium has been worked out like an old train engine! Holy smokes. I’m surprised I’m still alive, haha! I’m glad I’m taking it well so far, but I know the closer exam time comes around, the higher the stress I’ll feel (and I’m already feeling it to the max right now). I’m being influenced by others in my classes, especially anatomy and physiology. I’m just taking it as an elective, but typically most students who take this course are pre-pharmacy, pre-nursing, pre-dental, kinesiology and nutrition majors, and/or crazy like me! xD

UIC Target Night on Racine

TARGET NIGHT! It was at a different location than the last three years that I've gone. You had to play games to get free stuff, but at the end they had a nice packaged to-go tote bag filled with free things to compensate. I bought bananas, fruit cups and a package of GoGoSqueeze! I'm trying my best to eat more fruit!

These students are usually sophomores and juniors; let me tell you, sophomore year sucked! My GPA was totally dead that year and even though junior year was so much better, it was a heck of a lot of work. My senior year, so far, seems to be the most insane because of my obligations and commitments, not exactly because of my classes. Everything together in this huge bundle is a lot to handle, but if I’m still alive, then I’m happy! I’ve already got my great study habits into gear, but all of this memorization to study every single bone in the body and the names of the different parts of the bones is kind of making me anxious for the exams that will be coming around by the end of September. I need a lot more practice so I’ll be visiting ASAP more frequently. It’s right next to MRH so I can just swing on by and rent a bag of bones!

I can’t even fathom what will be going on these next few weeks. I’d list them and such, but pictures say more than words (although I’m more of a word person the more I learn about myself and the way I like to study!).

Sushi at Hana

I ate with my cousin Spencer at Hana on Taylor Street when Festa Italiana was going on. It filled me up surprisingly! (:

Gyros at Greektown

I tried out a new restaurant in Greektown! It was Subway/Chipotle style, where you choose what you want on your gyro! It was yummy and surprisingly wasn't oily or greasy like some other gyros I've had. It actually felt healthy, haha!

Burger at 25 Degrees

My brother took my cousin and me to a place called 25 Degrees. They're known for their burgers so I went ahead and ordered one and WOW it was soooooo GOOD! I want to go back again just to have another one, but I'm a broke college student so I need to first pay of my tuition! Don't forget it is due September 28! Bank account, please prepare to be diminished.

Involvement Fair on West Side

I was representing the UIC Green Labs at the Involvement Fair on the west side of campus last week. We had great weather! My table was next to UIC Radio so it was kind of hard trying to talk to others. I felt like I had to shout at people when I talked to them, lol. I'm not good at this outreach stuff, or maybe I am because I did get a lot of people to sign up to get information on our next meeting. I saw a lot of my friends who were in medical school or pharmacy school or dental school and they were all saying how tough it was (but they kept encouraging me to keep trying, so yay!). Overall, I had a fun time!

Happy Birthday Roommate

My roommate's boyfriend bought her two large balloons and a vanilla ice cream chocolate cake! He was so sweet and made fried rice for dinner and then cleaned the dishes. You are the man! :D

I hope things are going well for you and your classes, UIC students! See you at the Involvement Fair on the east side of campus today! I’ll be flying to Texas in the early morning Thursday for my Scribe training, then flying back Monday night. I hope I can juggle the assignments/courses for the training and then the stuff I have to do at school! Luckily it’s only the second week, but man it’ll be done before you can say pie!

Let it go and be renewed

Probably one of the most beautiful things that I have discovered as a student at UIC is that the people we meet can always be in our lives. Maybe at first we meet someone and they may not be who we thought they were, and later we see that and appreciate it (or dread it). Maybe we knew someone before coming to UIC and later did not keep contact with them (either on purpose or not). Regardless, we see and meet people every day who are kind, who are frivolous, and who are just doing their thing (being amazing, being laid-back, being what they feel comfortable being).

It’s awesome, and I feel that as the years go by we as a community are getting closer and closer. Of course, I still have my share of attending more seminars and lectures around campus and “fun” events I have not privileged myself to take advantage of. There are still lots of experiences to be had here and I hope to make my senior year (starts in the fall!) a great one.

No matter what you are feeling today or right now in this moment (most likely stress of finals studying), just realize that you have a reason to be here. And if you don’t, then figure out that reason and pursue it. I hope that all of us at UIC may be able to find something that moves us and drives us to be at our best and contribute as much as we can to our communities.

Let us be an institution that others will follow suit, the role model for other colleges and universities. I know sometimes we may say “I can’t wait to get out of here.” But I think there will be moments you will remember that changed you and made you who you are today (even if they are bad ones). Take those experiences an embrace them as lessons learned and to be reviewed daily.

All right, I’ll stop being philosophical. I’ve got three finals and then I’m done with my junior year! My summer will be quite intensive:

  1. MOST Summer Program – Going to be continuing research and moving onto human stuff!
  2. MCAT Studying – I’ve moved my date like two times, but I know for a fact this is the last one and I’m going to do my best.
  3. Applying to Medical School – I heard it’s quite stressful so let’s see how things go. I won’t be able to turn in my MCAT score right away but I can at least do what I can and hope for the best! There’s always next year if anything.
  4. Working at UIC Campus Housing – I can’t wait to return to my graphic design and coding job! I miss coding so much.
  5. Applying for a Fulbright Scholarship to ETA in Taiwan – I had such a wonderful experience this past summer but it was only for two weeks! Doing it for a full year and getting to know the students longer would be amazing. It would also be a great way for me to understand the culture better and improve my Mandarin!
  6. Attending my cousin’s wedding in Mexico – We originally weren’t going to go, but with some freelancing jobs we now have the money for the plane tickets! I better take a crash-course in Spanish…

There’s probably more but that’s all I think of now. I hope everyone has some fun plans for the summer! You deserve the break.

Remembering family

In my ASAM 105 Seminar, we finished reading a graphic novel called “Level Up” and it was such a great read. In summary, it’s basically about a son who was told by his father that he had to become a doctor and not waste time on video games, etc. He drops out of college and even upon entering medical school drops out to live his dream of becoming a professional video gamer (sorry for all of the spoilers). It’s so good and it really got me thinking about how I have been influenced to go the path that I have chosen (or, could this path had been consciously laid out already?). I even made my cousin, a doctor himself, and my brother read it! My brother wasn’t as enlightened as I was, but he couldn’t put the book down upon picking it up so I think that was a sign he found it interesting. At the end of the book (close your eyes if you don’t want to know!), he ends up still going back to medical school.

We weren’t able to have a class discussion that day, but I’m curious as to how UIC students have chosen their majors (or have not chosen yet) and what is really influencing them (or not influencing them if they are making their “own damn choices” as the character Kat from the book says we do). The general consensus from the mini-discussion I had seemed to be that it’s mixed, but my brother is all for Kat’s perspective. As for me, I still ponder a little here and there (especially since I have been brainstorming for awhile on what to write for my personal statement).

I had a weird feeling when I was home two weekends ago. We had gone to visit my grandpa since it has been a whole year.

Wow. So I went to revisit the post I had written last year about it and tears just raced out of my eyes. I still can’t believe I can react like that…it’s been so long and I forgot what he looked like when he had cancer. It was such a difficult time for me and my family…ugh I hate how emotional I can be sometimes. I always feel like I’m weak because of it. My mom tells me all the time that I have to be stronger and stop crying over things, especially with my skin. When inflammation hits, the eczema gets so bad that I can’t stop scratching my face and I just bleed and cry and complain: “I hate my skin. I just want to die than put up with this.”

Visiting Ye Ye

It wasn't the whole family, but it was enough. My cousin works for Target and had gotten my grandma one of those Target dog plushes (I think his name is Spot?) for Christmas and she wanted to get one for our grandpa, too. She was scared the wind would blow it away or a naive kid would take it and run (that'd be so terrible) so she and her boyfriend got a cute gazebo-type apparatus and painted it red, housing the pup and also nailing it down so it won't move. My grandma is here on the right of the photo. I wonder what she feels inside when she thinks about my grandpa. I can't fathom losing a person you've known and endured with for 70 years! I already can't fathom with the 19 years I had knowing and being with him. It was very cold...

How many times have we all said that line? You know, “I just want to die.” I hate when I use that phrase. It’s never the answer. But sometimes emotions just take us down and we can only say what no one wants to hear. How do we bounce back? And when we do bounce back, how can we actually “overcome” the hardship?

I don’t think you really do. Even when things are resolved, per se, it still has existence in your emotional pool. You might not be outright bawling, but you might flinch or blink a little less because you’re caught in a moment in the past. With relationships, it’s the worst! Remember all of those friends we used to be close to and you guys either drifted, or one person just decided it was “over” because of a conflict? Regrets are regrets, but to think about it for more than five minutes is super unhealthy and changes your thinking in seconds. I’m always hit with this whenever I go home. I have a little box dedicated to special memories with people I used to be friends with, but now that I’m older I think it may just be better to have it as a memory in my head and to burn the evidence because it will only hurt me on the inside when I see it again.

Okay, this post is getting really off-topic and tangential. The weather has been crazy cold outside and I am not (nor my eczema) digging it, especially when I get out of my Kaplan class at 9 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays! I mainly just wanted to commemorate my grandfather and encourage everyone to keep in touch with their loved ones or be aware of your emotions and how they affect you so that the next time something “hits” you, you can be rational and strong for yourself and your family/peers.

Also, Happy February! Valentine’s day is around the corner…<3

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