Sunday, September 2, 2018

Reflections on being a week and a half into college

After a long long period of purposeful deprioritization or a general display of apathy towards writing, I've decided to scribble up this quick reflection during the BART ride home for Labor Day weekend. The sweet sounds of screeching rails and the distinctive smell of communal commuter misery will be good companionship as I dig up the memories to this "once in a lifetime" start that is college. Who knows, this may be the beginning of the end of my education before joining the workforce, or, alternatively, only the first steps of a long path ahead in academia. A few other ideas that I attempted to write out previously have been added to this post, but the themes fit in well enough.

I spoke of introversion, and the difficulty of reaching out meaningfully. The first few days, and honestly even now, was a permutation of parroting "Hey my name is [ ], I'm majoring in [ ], and I'm from [40% Norcal, 30% Socal, 10% some place abroad, 10% a non-Californian state, 10% self-described 'desert in the middle of nowhere']".

But similar to methodically popping the bubbles on bubble wrap, or whacking the moles in an arcade game, I can see the necessity of making abundant introductions in hopes of stumbling across of group where conversation can be held in an excess of five minutes. Create a group chat, throw in an inside joke and dinner plans, and college feels like a slightly less lonely place.

I'm lucky in that a few high school friends are here with me, and that I can go home virtually anytime I wish. The transition for others has not been as nearly as convenient as it has been for me. The setting is still foreign, but I take comfort in the routine of making my bunk bed and vacuuming on Sundays. Ideally, a clean space would reflect a slightly less cluttered mind :^)

Not much has changed about me, despite turning eighteen. It was strange not spending my birthday with my family, but my friends (new and old) helped fill the gap wonderfully <3

Of course, college hasn't been just a blissful happy bubble. Sometimes the feeling of being lost wells up as I walk through a sea of unrecognizable faces. Hearing about peers taking twice as many classes and securing summer internships further cultivates a sense of being underqualified.

But I'm trying my best XD

It's fun to chat with random people I met at lecture to learn about their hobbies back home, or to hear how many miles they travelled to get here. It's reassuring to talk to upperclassmen and learn about the classes and organization they appreciate, and how they still don't know what they will do in life. I'd like to think I've been a generally amiable human being, even venturing out to an EECS social (which my friend pointed out as an oxymoron). I try to comfort people when they feel out of place or that they made a mistake. Life is too vast for me to generalize about, but I figure that it helps and hurts people at different times, so might as well help others through the process. Most of the people I've encountered are friendly and pretty cool to learn from, and if I run into some people who aren't, I suppose the campus is big enough for everyone :)

A Miyazaki essay I had read over the summer lamented how growing beyond childhood resulted in a loss of clarity. I thought at the age of eight that I would be a panda researcher when I grew up. Ten years later, I have less of a sense of where I would like to be, so I can see some validity in Miyazaki's statement. College advisers tell us to know ourselves, crafting a well-rehearsed elevator pitch that highlights key resume points. A child-like understanding of who I was and what I could be is perhaps being adorned (armored?) with LinkedIn updates.

Backtracking to the idea of identity, all I know is that my Hogwarts house flipped from Slytherin to Gryffindor at some point in the summer, and that I am not interested in consulting.

However, I rather enjoy going to class and even studying. College material feels more succinct and applicable, whether it is solving some systems of linear equations, or practicing 한글. PE is cool too, since it forces me for a set amount of time to not be hunched over a laptop or book. I think my favorite hobby so far is exploring the various libraries on campus, in search of the perfect patch of sunlight streaming through a window to settle in.

I've learned some non academic things as well, such as identifying whether a person has alcohol poisoning, and the best techniques for stashing food from the dining halls to save on meal swipes. I'm ready to struggle and hopefully come out with something worthwhile (besides an EECS degree and chronic sleep deprivation). This post is becoming long-winded now, so I'll wrap up as my stop is coming up.

To the person I was within the vicinity of during the CS lecture: I truly admire your passion and dedication to the subject, but please take care of yourself, especially in regards to hygiene, for the well-being of yourself and others around you :)

The memes do not necessarily need to be accurate.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

台灣 :D

Day 7 - Wednesday, June 13

Landed in Taiwan #1!!! So much food @.@ After walking a bit around Ximending, or the "Harajuku of Taipei," we ate some 牛肉麵 in a basement and called it a day, after -of course- stopping by a grocery store.

Taipei Main Station


Taiwan #1!!!



Day 8 - Thursday, June 14

Yup, these blogs are definitely getting shorter. In retrospect, I should've split up the posting of the Korea trip, but meh. Onwards!

Day 8 consisted of a lot of public-transiting. After a subway and bus ride, we landed at the National Palace Museum, where I learned that no royalty actually live there. Only in Taiwan would the most popular museum relic be a jade bok choy and some-sort-of-mineral hunk of pork.

no one lives here

boy choy!


Lunch - a Hong Kong style cafe, with reallyyyy good milk tea.

Some more trains and buses later, we arrived at the Beitou Hot Springs. The park had a lovely public foot spa and pleasant entertainment and gentle exercise for senior citizens or those wishing to be.

the water was REALLY hot

public karaoke


*inhales sulfur*

The Tamsui (淡水) District is similar to Fisherman's Wharf in SF, but 50% cheaper. My passion fruit green tea (freshly blended without any fruit syrup) was less than $2 T-T. Some spicy cats and dogs also lived among the food and accessory stalls, guarding the wares with sharp eyes and bushy tails.

that is NOT a statue

passion fruit green tea!


it's todoroki shoto >.>

Day 9 - Friday, June 15

Another train ride brought us to Hualien, a quiet vacation town with no discernable industry aside from moped racing and fruit selling. Biking along the streets, racing with taxis and mopeds carrying grandmothers, infants, and dogs without any stop signs at intersections was quite the adventure.

found a totoro!

After eating at the night market, we ate more food! Goose + boba. Gosh, there is so much boba in Taiwan T_T. Buying milk tea for twice the price will surely hurt when we return :P

Day 10 - Saturday, June 16

Happy to announce that I have officially adventured into a grim grotto (heh, get the reference?). We did some more bus riding to Taroko National Park, where the aboriginal Truku reside. Aside from scenic gorges and monkeys clinging to cliffs, the fluttering butterflies and comforting hum of the cicadas made me really want to fall asleep on the mountain.


Learning about the history of indigenous tribes in Taiwan before the influx of Han Chinese, made me curious about how their native people have similar customs and living practices as Native Americans, and how both groups (and probably indigenous groups all over the world) experienced the same invasion of their home. In that respect, what does "civilization" really mean, and who is to set the standard of mainstream living.

We also had dinner at this fancy Italian pasta/buffet place with Alice in Wonderland vibes (a weird mix in Hualien) which tasted good nonetheless!

Side note: I was watching the anime movie Summer Wars and it nicely restores faith in humanity and a prescient view of the future :D

Day 11 - Sunday, June 17

Took yet another train back to Taipei, and had more boba! Yay! (We really don't change our ways much, even when abroad). Then we finished up the day wandering around Ximending's market for more food O_O

"frog egg" milk tea (best boba ever)

doggo on a moped

pork bun

our mascot is waifu

is "milk ice cream" redundant?

Day 12 - Monday, June 18

The morning consisted of exploration around the Daan (大安) District for a breakfast of soymilk and youtiao (油條). After wandering around a forest-like park to avoid the rain, we took the subway to the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall to watch the changing of the guards. Just watching the performance made me sympathize for the guards, who had to stand for an hour in hot and humid weather without twitching a muscle.


it's raining in a park -someone trace my foot pls

Xiaolongbao are good for any meal, and we had three baskets for lunch :3
We finished the day with a lot of shopping in the underground station markets. There are so many cute things in Taiwan >-<

Day 13 - Tuesday, June 19

For our last full day in Taiwan, we took the Maokong gondola ride over the hills and up to some tea plantations. A bumpy bus ride down brought us to the Taipei Zoo, where the rest of the afternoon was spent watching the animals roll around and sleep in the heat.


find the tea harvester

hello, panda

More food exploration in Daan rounded out the day, and with that, our trip to Taiwan wrapped up :)
we ate this-

-then this

Day 14 - Wednesday, June 20

Time to fly home! Ahhh I start work on Monday….