Notes from Stanford: Looking back on my freshman fall quarter

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Well, I did it. I managed to survive my very first quarter as a college student at Stanford—and I really do mean survive. I always knew freshman fall was going to be a struggle because I’d be trying to adjust to living on my own, meeting new people and making new friends, taking my first college-level classes, and generally trying to make the most of my Stanford experience. But I really didn’t expect the sheer amount of “struggles” I ended up facing over these ten weeks!

In a nutshell, the whole quarter can be summed up in one sentence: this quarter, I learned a lot about myself. Yes, I learned a lot in my classes, and I learned a lot from the many new people I met, but at the end of the day, the most valuable thing I took from this quarter was all that I learned about me.

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Outside the Caltrain station in San Francisco

Coming into my own skin

I walked into my first day at Stanford pretty sure of who I was, what my values are, and what I wanted from my college experience. But it was only a matter of days before all of that broke down, and I found myself spending much of the quarter just trying to pick up the pieces and rebuild.

It’s actually a little shocking to look back and see how much I’ve changed since high school, but at the end of the day the thing I wanted the most from my Stanford experience was personal growth, so in another sense it’s comforting to see how much I’ve grown in just the past quarter.

In high school, I considered myself a pretty strong introvert. I was definitely able to speak to people and to make friends, but I wasn’t particularly social—if anything, the thought of long periods of social interaction just sounded completely and utterly draining, which sometimes comes as a shock to people who know me (because I really do love to talk). But just this past summer while I was doing an internship at a Dallas children’s hospital, my boss (who’s known me for the past six years) said that I’d probably stop considering myself an introvert once I went to college. I didn’t believe her, but she ended up being completely right.

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Dorm trip to San Francisco

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Goodbye, 2015: A Year in Photos

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I’m just gonna come right out and say it: 2015 pretty much sucked. Very little went the way I hoped it would, and I definitely got thrown some major and awful curveballs. Luckily, 2015 is almost over and a new year is around the corner, and with a new year comes new opportunities and new chances.

However, I don’t want to end the year on a negative note, so I thought I’d look back through the better times of 2015… through pictures.

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My brother and I climbed 53 flights of stairs as part of the Big D Climb to raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Continue reading

I’m Ready for You, 2014

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Whoa, can you believe 2013 is already gone? The new year came pretty quickly, but it didn’t take me by surprise.

Yesterday, my family and I spent hours cleaning the house, vacuuming, and getting our home ready for the new year to arrive so that luck could come in. I made sure my wallet was filled with money, because an empty wallet means no wealth or prosperity. After going to a friend’s house that night, we rushed home ten minutes before midnight because it’s bad luck to be outside the house when the clock strikes twelve—or so I’ve been told by my mom and grandma.

Within those last ten minutes, we turned on all the lights in the house so that 2014 will be a bright year. I scattered coins outside the door and around the house—on tables, on the ground, on the counters… all so that wealth would be attracted to my home. We turned on the TV and the radios and made a lot of noise to scare away evil spirits.

As the clock struck midnight, I jumped twelve times so that I would grow taller, and we all ate twelve grapes, one for every month of the year—a Spanish tradition that melted into Filipino culture that’s said to bring about prosperity and good fortune. I left the door to my room open, so that the good luck would flow into my room and fill me with good fortune, too.

As quickly as you may have come, 2014, I’m ready for you. Continue reading

Here’s to 2013: My 10 New Year’s Resolutions

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The clocks have turned and the calendars have changed as everyone around the world celebrates the arrival of January 1, 2013. A new year signals many things: a new chapter, a new story, a new adventure, a new self.

Like many people, I have my list of New Year’s resolutions prepared:

  1. Eat vegetarian… most of the time.
  2. Write every day.
  3. Read more often.
  4. Spend less, save more.
  5. Be confident.
  6. Get enough sleep and go to bed by 10 pm. Continue reading

Weekly Photo Challenge: My 2012 in Pictures

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This week’s photo challenge from the Daily Post was to pick the best photos to tell the story of your year. Looking back, I actually had a pretty eventful year, starting with the birth of Kuya’s Notebook in January (Chinese New Year) and ending with a white Christmas with lots in between!

The photos below are a quick glance at what my 2012 was like. What was your year like? Continue reading