Official Concluding Thoughts

I sort of assumed that after 6+ months of no new posts, people would have forgotten about this blog in the wave of OTHER STUFF ON THE INTERNET, but my mom believes in proper conclusions, so here we go:



I am finally here.

I am going to study abroad.

For my last three semesters of undergrad.

I’ve been preparing for so long, anticipating it, daydreaming about it, planning it, re-planning it, re-planning the re-plan, and now it’s almost over, I’m almost there, and it feels surreal.  Departure is tantalizingly close and yet, somehow, I can’t allow myself to believe it’s almost here.  I guess I’m afraid of being so close and then thwarted.  I know I have a little more admin work (aaaakkkkhhhhh)  and one summer break before I really get into my final leg of undergrad academics.

(for the record, I am actually writing from Korea, but I want to express these thoughts in the perspective of before I got here)


Reflections on my last semester at Long Beach:

I don’t need to tell you that it was a crazy semester.  I’m sure you’ve figured out by the lack of even a sporadic blog post that I was pretty busy.  I was the president of International Student Fellowship, conversation partner for American Language Institute, enrolled in 16 units, participating in a global missionary training, doing administrative reconnaissance for study abroad, and working out four days per week. By far the most demanding, frustrating, exhausting, and challenging semester I’ve ever had, it was also the most intellectually and personally rewarding. I finally got to take Introduction to International Business, a subject whose knowledge I’ve coveted from before the time I entered university.  The rest of my classes were okay, By far the hardest thing was being president of ISF, and secondly was tutoring ESL. Even now that I have the benefit of looking at everything from hindsight’s perspective, my mind feels numb just to think of all that. In other words, I can’t even…

P.S. for this thought, I had a not-entirely-terrible-but-not-particularly-great dream about doing paperwork once.  The fact that I was dreaming about paperwork did bother me, but I’m alive, so I guess that’s good enough. 😉


Reflections on this season of life in general:

Picking up the thread from my last concluding thoughts post, I think there isn’t a single particular book that describes my time at Long Beach best.  Since I read this book lately though, I think it would be good to compare.  In Arabian Nights, by Tahir Shah, is a story about storytelling. One of the main themes of the book is finding the story hidden within one’s heart, which should tell you your raison d’etre and how you should fulfill it. Finding your story involves interpreting dreams, going out of your way to go to significant places, and absorbing the influence of other people and their stories and fiction books. I identify with the author in that he is passionate about stories, personal growth, and figuring out what he should do with the rest of his life. But as a Christian, I think the purpose of existence is already established (chief end of man and the great commission) and the story in your heart is how you go about doing it. I’m quite pleased to say that I think my time at Long Beach helped to illuminate a couple parts of this story, and I expect that this next season abroad will further clarify it.


Specific reflections on language and Long Beach:

I also recently read In Other Words by Jhumpa Laheri.  She’s my new writing and linguist hero.  (I don’t have an old one.) It’s a memoir of her journey to learn Italian–written in Italian–and translated by a professional.  I felt like this book was almost exactly the story of my life.  Almost.  Because while Laheri wants to understand and express ideas that pertain to human nature and are of a literary nature, I am not entirely sure what ideas I want to understand and express.  Laheri is able to read and revel in great Italian masterpiece novels. Not only do I not have the capability to read such works in Chinese or Korean, I don’t have the desire to do so. While in Long Beach, I was finally able to hang out with people who were also foreign language majors, who also understood the process and reward of acquisition, and I was really happy at first to be around like-minded people, but then I noticed a trend–that these people were interested in learning languages for the sake of learning languages, or sometimes in the case of the Japanese majors, playing videogames.  And that’s fine, but I’ve realized that I want to do more than network and “make friends” and watch TV shows in foreign languages.  I need to move on and study some other things. Being at Long Beach allowed me to discover this.


“In literature and in life, we ultimately pursue, not conclusions, but beginnings”–Sam Tanenhaus, Literature Unbound




My last day of childhood?

So, even though WordPress is going to mark this post as published on the 16th, from where I sit, it’s still the 15th.

My birthday is tomorrow, my 21st birthday, and I am quietly reveling in that fact.  For the record, I have not touched alcohol in the United States, because I wanted my 21st to be significant. (I also have healthy respect for the law.  I drank in Taiwan.  You’re legal for everything when you’re 18.)

I’m also very excited because this is a distinctly American custom.  True, I spend most of my time hanging around exchange students, and since I do plan to live in Asia, my dad thought that it wouldn’t be a big deal to me, but I like to think that it is.  Having your twenty-first birthday be an event is a custom for us, like having a big family gathering and a big turkey dinner at Christmas.  Social norms create customs, customs create culture, and culture is what makes a society unique.  “It’s definitely American”, is what Ulises would probably say. So, I felt the need to have some sort of ritual to mark the “21st birthday eve”.  Hence, this blog post.


And, every year you get older, you feel more and more thankful to be alive and reflect for longer and longer about how you’ve gotten to where you are, and more deeply savor each memory.  And I’m totally all in for reliving great memories and reflecting on who I’ve become, but not late at night.  So, to wrap up this post, I’ve shared my all-time favorite song from Sodagreen, which is designed to bring out those nostalgic feelings.  Meanwhile, I will enjoy my last 30 minutes or so of “childhood” by watching Hutos Mini Mini.

And so the ritual concludes.

The deified customer

There’s this mindset in Japan that “the customer is god”. Retail workers and shop keepers bend over backward to make sure the customer is happy. I think this is a good model to follow, so I keep it in mind.

But it’s hard to remember that the customer is god when the customer asks stupid questions. And, if the customer is god, why are they asking us for supernatural acts to grant specific wishes?

We just remodeled and got rid of a lot of equipment, as well as re-arrange a lot of old equipment.  One guy asked me where the bicep curl machine was, and after doing a walk through with him and not seeing it, I suggested he might use a free weight.  He then looked at me like I was crazy.  Someone else asked me for a squat machine.  I didn’t even know those existed…

And then there was the lady who thought we might offer a discount on the monthly payment since we were closed for three days.  Out of a 30 day month, three days.  Think of it as paying for February.  (But I didn’t say that out loud.)

Things that happen at work

I found a part-time summer job as a child attendant/front desk attendant at a gym. Let the hilarity flow.

  1.  There was an elderly gentleman who once complained about the type of music.  “Can’t you change the CD? I’ve been coming here for (x) years, and it’s always the same woman at the same time, and I’m SICK OF IT!”  Then I asked if he had something in mind he would like us to play, and he said no, that he didn’t want to impose his music tastes on everyone else, but he did think it would be beneficial to the whole gym to get a new soundtrack.
  2. There was the day when I was doing the “collection calls”–you know what I mean–and one guy who picked up started ranting at me when I finished speaking and I got him to shut up by saying that I had been working there for only three days and this was something I was assigned to do.
  3. There’s this one baby that really hates me–she’s 6 months old, and pretty cute, and so she’s got almost every other babysitter wrapped around her fingers, so to speak.  Well, I’m not so easily impressed.  The first time I had her, she was fussing and since it was more important to ensure the other kids were not going to hurt themselves or damage the toys in that moment, I ignored her. After grating on the ears of everyone in the room and spitting up a couple times on her blanket, she finally stopped.  The second time I had her, I refused to hold her and I sat in front of her and made her attempt to crawl toward me.  She couldn’t figure out how to move her legs, and started bawling, but I wasn’t giving in.  But then, another person heard her screaming her bloody lungs out and came and picked her up.  Which calmed her down.  I have to admit, I was a little disappointed.  I wanted to see if she would figure out how to use her legs. And then, the third time I had her, both her mom and dad brought her in in a car seat, and she was sleeping, and since I didn’t have any other kids, I was like, “Yes! I can sit in here and do Korean homework!”  And then, her parents woke her up, because they wanted her to go to sleep later that night. (imagine my disappointment).
  4. And then, today, TWO brand-new hires came in ON THE SAME DAY, so the front desk was full for training them. And we were organizing the janitor’s closet, so there were some flat, new boxes.  I looked for tape in the supply closet, didn’t see any, was told by someone else to check the janitor closet, didn’t find any, then asked the manager, who just walked in from taking a phone call.  The manager turned to the person standing by the supply closet and asked her to look for tape there.  About ten minutes later, the brand new hire went to the janitor closet to look for tape because the manager told him to look there.  What, does he think we’re idiots? We are only asking him because we have exhausted all the glaringly obvious possibilities and we need higher-level guidance.

I’m sure there will be more, but that’s all for now.

It’s over!!! It’s Over!!! IT’S OVER!!! YEAHHHHHH!!!

Semester in pictures:

The best part about this class was when it ended.

unbelievably boring.

unbelievably boring.

I made it through this class.  It was the only one I didn't hate.
I made it through this class. It was the only one I didn’t hate.

On a more positive note:

San Diego
Me and my roommate at OC beach
Sleepover night! Spring break



So ends what has easily been the most terrifyingly tedious, unbelievably uninteresting, magnificently monotonous, horribly humdrum, BORING semesters of my college career.

Next chapter please.
Let’s move on!!!Next chapter please.

Chivalry–a lost art?

Real Guy!

I was in Yosemite with my International Student Fellowship club, and one of our friends, Morgane (France), was hiking, but she was having a problem with her shoulders or something, so Ulises (Spain) carried her backpack for her.  Ulises is not dating Morgane, he just understands the art of chivalry.

Ulises is really amazing.  He accompanies his girlfriend to wait in the train station when she goes out of town. He knows how to cook, coming early sometimes to help with meal prep on Friday nights.  He talks to his parents and his girlfriend every day.  He took note of his girlfriend’s favorite dessert, made it, cut it in squares, then tied it in a napkin and dropped one piece on her windowsill every day for the week before her birthday, or a long trip, (or something important).  He’s a mechanical engineering major with a 3.8 GPA. He speaks Spanish, English, and French.

And while Ulises is currently ranked #1 in my ranking of other people’s boyfriends, I’ve seen and heard some other eye-opening stories.  Like one of my previous roommate’s boyfriends walking my roommate home in the rain, while his dorm was a good forty minutes away by walking and by subway and on top of at least 300 stairs. Another friend of mine got sick and her boyfriend brought soup to her in the dorm, along with some other care package stuff. And you remember my very first roommate ever, right? I asked her what she liked about him and she answered that he knew how to respect women and treat them well.

To me, these ideas of chivalry seem like something I would only read in a book. I meet people like Ulises and I marvel that this kind of person exists ex libris.

Probably my mom and dad will also be amazed, but less shocked than me.  After all, this is how all men should behave, right?

This is Ulises.
This is Ulises.

I am not in a dating relationship, and quite honestly, I don’t see that happening anytime soon.  (I go where I want and eat what I please whenever I desire.  Life is good.) But I think if I ever do want a boyfriend, I’ll have to be more feminine.  Not yawn with my mouth open so wide.  Eat more slowly.  Try to be more finesse with movements.  And not whack things with my insanely full backpack. Or go on super-long, impassioned rants about certain pet peeves.

Because, after all,

Chivalry not dead

What’s got me up

Idea credit to my good friend and building neighbor, Derek Jeter.  He often posts mini-essays on facebook discussing some arcane fact of life that we often take for granted and considering the question “What if it weren’t that way?”

So, I decided to write one of these too.  The topic today is…(drumroll please):

Bad restaurant lighting! Argh! I really hate this and I seriously wonder why restaurant managers don’t JUST TURN ON THE STUPID LIGHTS!!!

I’ve been to a couple places in the not-too-distant past, and the lighting was absolutely terrible. Red Lobster in La Jolla, San Diego, deserves only one star, because the lights above our table were so dim, we might as well have been eating in a power outage.  In a sushi place, the lighting was somewhat better, but still very dim.

Seriously, restaurant clientele may include the elderly, and they will have trouble seeing in the dark.  And then, there is a big group of computer professionals with money to spend in restaurants and since they spend their whole day in front of a screen, their eyes are already going to become bad, so why hasten the process by having dark restaurants.  And furthermore! People who already ruined their eyes by reading in the dark when they were little kids also have problems eating in the dark.

That’s all for now!