My roommate is finally back from the Grace Hopper Conference in Houston! Now that Jennifer is back, I finally stopped being a hermit and actually talk to people now :D Yay!
Anyway, this is going to be a super short post. So basically, within the past 24 hours, Jennifer and I impulsively planned a ridiculously last minute (Ok. A month is advance is impulsive for me, don't judge!) Thanksgiving break trip. We already booked our flights, will be booking lodging tonight, and already have an itinerary together on Google Docs; all completed within the past 24 hours. The destination of our trip will be........... Montreal, Canada!
Yup. You read that correctly. Jennifer and I will be spending four days in Montreal, hitting up all the museums (did you know that there's a Youth price category for ages 18-30 at museums?), good restaurants, and enjoy winter in Canada! We are flying out of the Twin Cities Tuesday night of Thanksgiving week and returning Saturday night. Since Montreal is located in Quebec (and they also use French in addition to English), Jennifer has already been trying to teach me some basic phrases in French besides my knowledge of "bonjour," "merci," and "au revoir."
This is so last-minute. I'm excited and hyped for the trip! Yay for another stamp on my passport!
Since the infamous "Sophomore Slump" has been hitting me hard, I think I have been more introspective lately and being more mindful regarding balancing my life. Of course, this is only my second year in college; however, I do feel that this year is filled with more pressure. This year is my "big picture" year; I need to declare my majors, figure out when and where I want to study abroad (more on that later), find summer internships (already!), and rethink my priorities. When at Macalester, it's so often to get caught up in so many things, and it becomes so easy for me to compare my internal self to someone else's external image. I have to constantly remind and stop myself from comparing myself to others; the next person is probably struggling just as much as I am, just in a different part of their life that is not shared. No one is great at everything!
Since the study away application process is extremely long and time-consuming, I finally(!) decided on the program that I will be applying to for Fall 2017 (I'm hoping to study away in the fall instead of spring of junior year). Although I was debating between two very different programs for the longest time, I ultimately chose the ISEP Exchange Program with Ehwa Women's University in Seoul, South Korea. (Crossing my fingers that it will work out)
First, I decided against a program in Spain due to the high costs of living in Europe; even though the program itself wasn't expensive, everything else is. Second, I decided against the a multi-city program because of its heavy focus on International Development. While I am an International Development concentration, I can't imagine myself studying the same topic for the entire semester. Third, I have always wanted to learn Korean properly and being in Seoul for a semester will improve my language skills. Fourth, I decided against two other programs in Seoul at Yonsei University (one of the more prestigious co-ed universities) because I want to experience being in a women's college. Most people don't know this, but when I first applied to colleges in senior year of high school, I was actually debating between Macalester and a women's college on the west coast. Choosing to study abroad at a women's college is like my getting a cake and eating it too!
One of the biggest things that I constantly strive for in life is balance. I enjoy being a well-rounded individual and try not to focus too much on one thing. While it's great to study hard and stay up late to finish homework, I will not sleep less than 5 hours in order to get work done. (I currently average 7 hours of sleep per night)
This year, specifically, my goal is to be more emotionally vulnerable. I don't mean that I will be intentionally more sensitive to topics, but I'm trying to break down the image that I created for myself since when I was young. Although I did not grow up in a Chinese family with uber-traditional values, I do feel like emotions are something of a luxury; I was taught to study hard, work hard, and never do anything half-heartedly. Having dedication and hard work ethic was praised, showing compassion and being kind to others was often not (it was just not emphasized as much). Even my Chinese name has the character 毅 (ngai) that stands for dedication and commitment in it. As a child of immigrants and an immigrant myself, I was taught to be strong, not weak; showing my emotions is a form of weakness as a result.
While I am the friend that people turn to for consolation and advice, I rarely reciprocate and share my deepest personal emotions about my life. Currently, I am at the point in my life that I am realizing that bottling up my feelings (positive or negative) can be deteriorating for my physical and mental health. In the past month, I went through some rough patches when I have taking my friends' burdens to heart personally; I was carrying enough emotional baggage for three of four people, and my academics and self-motivation suffered consequently. I was glad when a professor offered to talk when I missed a class, and was grateful when several more adults was there for me when I was struggling with ways of dealing with a range of different emotions. Most of all, I'm grateful for some of my closest friends who allowed me to finally learn how to trust and share my emotions without judgment these past months.
Thanks for making it all the way down here on the post. I hope I didn't bore you to death. Sophomore year has been one hell of a journey and an emotional roller coaster so far, but I am certain that I will persevere through it all. Thankfully, Fall Break was timed nicely and I get Thanksgiving Break next month. Even though neither break is a week long, they are very helpful for me to catch up on sleep, homework, or my emotions. I can mentally recharge and also work on other non-academic things.
Thanks for reading my thoughts today. You're awesome.
Before I dive in, I think I should give some background information about my job...
Instead of doing my work-study job on campus as part of my financial aid package, I have the privilege of working off-campus at a local non-profit as a Bonner scholar. If you remember from a blog post in the spring, I wrote about applying to several jobs for the next three years. As a result, I've accepted a work-study position at the Science Museum of Minnesota in downtown Saint Paul as their Activate Program Intern.
The Activate program occurs every Saturday from noon to 4pm, where museum volunteers run activity tables (ranging from building circuits to drawing tiny drawings under a microscope to making stop-motion videos) on the exhibit floors inside the museum. The activity tables are aimed at the museum's younger visitors (about 12 and under) and to help them understand some science concepts. I work two days a week currently: Tuesday mornings and all day Saturdays. I'm still in the process of figuring out my job as I go since I've only started working a month ago; however, I do help oversee the museum volunteers and help set up activities on Saturdays. Past Tuesdays, I have been translating activity descriptions into Spanish and reorganizing activity shelves.
Today is the (kinda) first day of Fall Break (no classes tomorrow or Friday)! Since midterm papers and exams just ended, I thought this post was long overdue regarding the classes that I am actually taking this semester. In case you didn't know, I also declared a concentration earlier this month and made everything official. Now, I can finally tell everyone that I am a declared International Studies major with an International Development concentration. (Disclaimer: I can still change my major/minor/concentration before the end of the academic year, so there's a possibility this can change) Because my major is interdisciplinary in nature, I have to choose a disciplinary focus in one department, which I haven't decided yet. As for now, I'm leaning towards Geography.
Geography of World Urbanization
The Geography department at Macalester is well known for its ability to turn incoming new students into Geography majors/minors, regardless of their original academic intentions. From looking at the course catalog last spring, I noticed that many classes had an international focus, so I signed up for one and decided to find out the hype behind the department. While this class is slightly difficult for me to understand at first (it's not the Geography intro class), I found the professor very entertaining to listen to. One thing I love this semester are my professors, two out of four of them are Asian women; I'm really enjoying learning from professors who share a similar background as I do. Likewise, seeing Asian women as professors gives me the sense that I can potentially become a professor in academia if I were to pursue that goal.
Introduction to the Analysis of Hispanic Texts
After being scared out of the Hispanics department last spring when I sat in on the same class but with like 20 upperclassmen (I opted against registering the class last spring), I decided to register for this class for the fall; this time, only 15 people are in my class, and I have a friend from my previous Spanish class as one of my classmates. This semester really has me doubting my Spanish skills. After starting the semester with a poetry unit and reading works from Pablo Neruda and Jorge Luis Borges, I realized that much of my Spanish skills come from my limitations of thinking in English. On the bright side, I can now analyze Spanish poems better than English poems.
Introduction to International Human Rights
I might have briefly mentioned this before, but the professor in this class is actually the same professor who I have taken my Intro to International Studies class with. Since my professor is a lawyer, he approaches the class with a law perspective. I enjoy listening to his stories that relate to the class topics and find it very eye-opening to hear. While I am all for human rights, I don't actually see myself working at a non-profit or an activist group in the future. However, a recent guest speaker has changed the way that I think of a career. She opened her own consulting firm several years ago after working for a larger firm, and she specifically works with larger corporations to identify human rights issues within the company and its relations. I thought her job seems pretty amazing.
Honestly, I'm not sure if I'm regretting my choice in registering for this class. While I love the professor and her teaching style, the class is a lot more conceptual and abstract than I expected. Also, since this is an introduction class, the majority of the students are first-years (not that it really matters status-wise, but it does affect class discussions). I don't know what to make of this class in all honesty. Aside from my original interest, this class doesn't fulfill any requirement for me.
college student. junior. international studies major. over-the-top foodie. travel and lifestyle student blogger?
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