Here's to a happy new year.
2013 is coming to a close and it is time for the final post of the year. Looking back, it has been quite a year. I finished my first year of college. Spent almost 3 months abroad. Got my first paycheck. Made new friends and reunited with old ones. 2013 was filled with happiness and sadness, excitement and fear. There were times when all I wanted to do was escape to a different time. Times when I felt dejected and disillusioned. In the end, I learned to appreciate the little things, live a little more and laugh whenever possible. 2014 has so much in store, but first, here's to the BEST OF 2013.
JAN 9 | Starstruck on campus: American Idol visits UCLA
JAN 17 | Living the tradition: First UCLA Basketball Game
JAN 18 | Feeling like gold: Days of camping out and lines culminate in a free Macklemore concert
MAR 2 | Mom I'm on TV...kinda: ESPN Game Day means waking up at 4 am
-APRIL- The World, My Oyster is born
MAY 2 | All up in flames: Camarillo Springs Fire hits a little too close to home
MAY 18 | Sausagefest tunes: First big concert at KROQ Weenie Roast
JUN 3 | This is the End: Emma Watson graces Westwood with her presence.
JUN 10 | New issue, new chapter: First issue as an editor
-JUNE- Purchase a Nikon J3 camera, just in time to travel 6800 miles back to the homeland
JUN 25 | The Grand Tour: Making the most of our island tour with 5 am temple exploration
JUL 1 | Med School: Jk, just the first day of a 7 week internship abroad in Taipei
AUG 18 | The view from above: Watching the sun set over our city
AUG 26 | Homecoming: After over two months, finally back on the sunny side of the Pacific...
...meaning two things: in n out & beach
SEPT 2 | A Long Commute: Editor training means the 405 twice a day
SEPT 22 | Back at it: Tyga and E-40 concert kick off a new school year
SEPT 28 | Life in the desert: Fall retreat takes us to Joshua Tree, but not before soup dumplings!
OCT 7 | A new era: Bruin Plate opens, love for kale begins (yes this is a highlight of my year..)
NOV 18 | Sitting in silence: Twenty One Pilots come to Ventura
NOV 30 | All fired up: UCLA beats USC once more 35-14
DEC 10 | (Lowlight) First time studying in Powell. First time having 2 finals on one day. Bad idea.
DEC 13 | 22 Check: Fall quarter 2013 is over. Best day of my life.
With January 2013 feeling like a lifetime ago and January 2014 a few hours away, it's time to bid 2013 goodbye and start on a new journey that is 2014. Happy New Year!
Here's to a happy new year.
So the other day, I was sitting in my film class listening to a lecture about the beginnings of Hollywood and the birth of the deluxe movie palaces. My professor mentioned studio lots and offices on the dusty ole Sunset Boulevard, and the first theaters in West Hollywood. Maybe I was just being overly emotional, but I got the chills. Because right at that moment, listening to this lecture in our film building, we were a two minute walk away from Sunset Boulevard. And about a ten minute walk away from the closest movie palace, the old Fox theater in Westwood Village. Upon listening to my professor describe the distinct characteristics of theaters around LA, I found myself entranced by this 20th century dream, fascinated by the skeletons left behind. And at that moment I decided that I would try to visit as many of these leftover glories of yesterday's culture as I can while living in the entertainment capital of the world.
It's been quite a while since my last post, and what can I say, college has gotten the best of me. Why did I think it was a good idea to take 22 units this quarter? I will never know. For a while I considered laying this blog to rest until my next travel adventure. After all, I originally made this blog to record my travels, but now I have been inspired to do something with it while I am here at school. I guess this year so far has just taught me to appreciate LA even more, and made me realize how lucky I am to live in such an amazing place. This year has also just inspired and motivated me in general to be more aware of the world and be more reflective.
I had always hated LA. From the moment I found out that we were moving to California, I hated everything that had to do with California. Whether it be the palm trees or endless sunshine, everything that attracted people to California, I loathed. I didn't believe LA was a city at all. Rather, it is a clusterf*** of disjointed neighborhood spread across the expanse of the county. But as the years went on, I warmed up to the idea of living where other people vacation. I learned to embrace the sunshine, the drives up and down PCH, the most authentic Chinese food in the US, the fact that concerts will always make a stop nearby and the fact that I live near numerous celebrities and billionaires. I learned to foster a thrill in living on the edge of glory.
I have always had my head in the clouds. Ever since I was a young child, I was always more interested in the fluffier elements of things, the pretty aspects, the happy endings. But growing up, I learned about the more serious issues in the world and my part in the broader scope of the global community. Through high school role models and now in a college environment, I feel more than I ever have before a sense of urgency to be more literate, which I hope to channel through this blog.
So what is this blog going to be? Most likely more deeply reflective posts littered among feature-like vignettes of the quirks of Los Angeles. I want to be able to apply my liberal arts education to life and the world around me and I hope that you will follow me through this "hometown" journey in anticipation for the next journey abroad.
After all, Life off Sunset Boulevard can't be boring.
That's right! My beloved ilha formosa is turning the big 1-0-2 today!!
Mini History Lesson:
My point is that today is a day of celebration for all the s*** that happened with some parts more glorified than others that led us to today. Having researched and written several papers on the history and development of culture in Taiwanese society, I could spill plenty of blah on how certain historical events and trends fostered a society that stands on a fine balance between tradition and modernization..but let's just skip to the fun stuff and celebrate my favorite island with the
10 reasons i'm proud to be taiwanese
Yes, Buzzfeed, I know. But my obsession with lists, photos and news, it should come at no surprise that I'm all about that listicle craze.
1. Taiwan has the highest per capita number of convenience stores in the world.
Seriously. This puny island that can be well covered by the eraser on your pencil put to a world map. It has the highest per capita number of convenience stores in the world. As of March 2012, there were 4830 7-Elevens alone. With a population of about 23 million, that's one store for ever 4700 people. To give perspective, the US has over 8000 7-elevens, but is also 267.62 times larger than Taiwan geographically..and has a population of 313.9 million.
Also, 7-elevens can do way more stuff in Taiwan than here. I mean, in addition to more food and groceries than you would ever want or need in a convenience store, they also offer printing services, you can have things shipped there for pick up, you can pay your bills, call a taxi...hell, I even saw a blood pressure machine at the closest 7-Eleven to my apartment over the summer. Hashtag winning? I think yes.
2. ktv culture
So everyone knows what karaoke is. But few people take it to such extremes as the residents of Taipei. There are entire buildings devoted to the beloved pass time. Like from birthday parties to waiting out the crowds after new years to chilling with coworkers at the end of the week to gathering during typhoons, it's the go-to place. Like on par with movie going. Except this kills even more time (you rent out a room for hours at a time). And has a much better selection of food than the usual popcorn and candy we do here. I'm not talking expanding to burgers. I'm talking full buffets, room service, even dim sum at some places. Honestly, what else do you need in life? Just eat and sing your life away! Also, WHY ISN'T THIS A THING IN AMERICA.
3. night market capital of the world.
They're like unicorns. Things that you hear about but have never seen the glory of. Something that you have always wanted to experience. That is imitated often in America (or maybe just LA) but never even close to the level of the real thing. Something that people obsess about. And what's not to obsess over? Cheap food, cheap clothes, cheap random stuff, Taiwanese culture attacking your five senses at all times. Something to do between the hours of 5 pm and 2 am that doesn't involve a hangover the next day. It is as popular with visitors as it is with the locals, though locals tend to flock elsewhere to avoid the shipments of tourists in Shilin. From the street vendors frying objects in their bucket of hot oil on wheels, to (illegal) vendors laying out their goods on a blanket in the middle of the street, effectively creating a two lane road, you have to be sensitive: where is bargaining still allowed (hint: if there is air conditioning you can't)? which street vendor will not give me food poisoning (hint: if you have not strengthened your digestive system in Asian yet, follow the lines, do anything indoors, and stay away from sketchily cheap food)? Also not recent improvements of having public-accessible bathrooms and trashcans. Though I would still recommend staying away. Anyways, 626 Night Market, you will never even match up to the puniest Taitung night market, but you're cute for trying. The real thing lies 6800 miles away. Worth it.
4. the second tallest building is beautiful, regal, has dtf, and has 394857394857 fireworks coming out of it on new years
Sorry, Times Square, but New Years in Taipei is one step ahead of you on my bucket list. Don't get me wrong here, nothing will ever replace welcoming the new year in New York City, but it's interesting how a society that celebrates two new years can invest so much in both. The New Year's celebration has the biggest even in the most modern part of the city, Taipei City Hall. There, they throw a 6 hour concert. Yes, non stop concert with the biggest names in the country for the public to come. At one place. Yes, that means no multiple stages that you can only see on TV. Of course, there are concerts of the like throughout Taiwan and the big stars have to strategically schedule their performances so they can hit up multiple. And then after screaming and singing and eating street vendor food for a whole lot of hours, they basically set Taipei 101 on fire. Asians take their fireworks really seriously, believe me. And after a few more acts, its time for the rush back on the 24 hour public transportation system in place for the night, but what better way to escape the crowds than to book a KTV room from the wee hours of 2 to 6?
Fast forward a month and a half and Chinese New Year festivities take over the country in the most traditional sense from traditional markets selling seasonal goods to events at temples. The best of all worlds.
If you don't know what soup dumplings are (xiao long tang bao) you need to find out immediately and go to the nearest location that serves it (even mediocre dumplings will do the job). Basically it is meat wrapped in a thin flour-based skin pinched closed at the top. The special part of the tang (soup) baos are that they are made so that once steamed (in a bamboo steaming thing..), the pouch is filled with rich soup that makes life blissful for the brief moment that it is in your mouth. Unless you burn yourself, in which case..ouch. DTF, or Din Tai Fung is the world-famous Taiwanese restaurant that serves this delicacy along with other overpriced stuff. Of course, in Taiwan you can find plenty of cheaper options that taste just as good, but it's pretty cool to have a restaurant so famous that it's well known in America as well. And just cause its initials are DTF.
6. mrt, youbikes, transportation in general
Going from living in Taipei to living in LA sans car is a painful transition. From having at least 3 ways of getting from Point A to Point B in a timely (and affordable) manner to not even being able to get anywhere in the first place, everything sucks. Plus added bonus there are charging stations at most MRT stations, wifi at every station, wifi on buses, and one way of paying for everything: THE EASY CARD. It should probably get it's own section. Basically you can pay for subways, buses, taxis, trains, convenience store purchases, parking, bakeries and more using a beep-able debit card that can be reloaded at any station. With the advent of public bikes, Taipei was able to implement a SUCCESSFUL rentable bike system because of the easycard system. Meanwhile in LA, the 405 pains us every day with its existence.
7. food court in taipei main
Every food court should aspire to be this one. Or actually any Taiwanese food court. They take this shit seriously. I mean like even their rest stops have freaking good food courts, not to mention department stores, book stores, and of course, bus and train stations. Every cuisine you desire. Restaurants, fast food places, food court style servers and drink places. Themed mini food courts within a giant food court. This is the right way to do it.
Also, side note, underground mall food courts are pretty awesome too. Mostly because they are part of underground malls (which should probably also get it's own shout out..).
Fact: Taiwan taxis are faster than ambulances.
Taxis are awesome. So awesome that they made it on to this list of mostly broad things. They are air conditioned havens. I'm still impressed by how well they know and can navigate the tight alleys. They are equipped with TVs. And when you tell them you are running late they will do scary semi illegal things to get you there. With time to spare. I heart them so much because they are always there when you need them. Yeah, you can call for one. But you can also stand somewhat near the edge of the side walk and do nothing more than sneeze before a taxi slows down for you. Plus taxi drivers are just awesome people. Curious about life. Knowledgeable about random stuff. And inherently good people. During the 2009 typhoon, taxi drivers contributed to the cause by driving supplies down from Taipei to the sites.
9. perks of a small country: you are just a short ride away from luscious mountains, beautiful beaches, traditional temples and modern department stores.
Northern Taiwan metropolitan life. Middle Taiwan preserved traditions. Southern Taiwan natural beauty. Except every region has all of the above. Oh em gee. So much awesomeness packed into one concentrated island. Perfection. I'm obsessed.
What can I say, I'm Asian. I like tea. It's like a rule. Except by default we are also kind of tea snobs. We don't do that milk and sugar thing when it's serious. The entire culture is built around tea. While there are more modern tea shops that sell boba and flavored tea, which is awesome (Cha for Tea, Ten Ren, 50lan, Comebuy, Coco, etc), and even 7-eleven, when it comes down to it, there is actually a hierarchical tea culture. It's crazy. Like I actually have sat through multiple lectures. Except I didn't retain anything because sleep. Whoops. Nevertheless, tea is important kids. Know your tea. Or at the very least know what fruits flavors go with green tea, black tea, floral teas, barley tea...oolong tea...etc etc. TAIWAN HAS AWESOME AND CHEAP TEA FROM EVERYWHERE AND YOU CAN'T GET AWAY FROM IT SO EMBRACE IT. Yay tea. Omfg.
11. this view is a 30 min hike away from the city hall
But let's be real, there is so much more to love in Taiwan.
The lantern festival. One of the world's best healthcare systems. The fact that there is a rapper named MC Hot Dog. The fact that some vendors specialize in frying foods. Or grilling. Or braising. And how NICE everyone is. Whether a global event or just giving directions, people often go out of their way to help you out, especially in southern Taiwan. Taiwan was one of the first responders to Haiti. And despite all the shitty history that should result in animosity toward their northern Japanese neighbor, they did everything they could to help out during the earthquake a couple years ago. Taiwan is awesome and underrated.
Happy birthday, beautiful island.
Classes have barely started and I'm already counting down the days to summer. Hell, I'll even settle for Thanksgiving break. And I'd do anything to be back on the other side of the world.
Week zero is an interesting phenomenon.
Basically, for all you non college students/people that go to colleges that don't have this, it's basically welcome week, where you are all moved in, but classes don't start until Thursday so you're free to do whatever, including the various activities put on by the school.
Last year, I spent zero week making friends up in Hedrick and hanging out with them before actually getting to know the people I lived near. I was lucky though, I had an amazing RA who enthusiastically put on several events that eventually made our floor inseparable. In fact, I spent a good portion of this zero week with my former floormates. After walking from Veteran to Kerckhoff on a daily basis before school started, the apartments no longer seemed so far. So right from the beginning, it was reunion after reunion.
There's nothing that says "Welcome back, Bruins" than waiting in line for 4+ hours for Bruin Bash tickets. But with old friends and new friends and a ridiculously large issue of the paper, it was more than tolerable. And even with the difficulties that arose throughout the event, it was worth it.
I think my favorite part of the day was going to Costco though. Because shopping at Costco in full college student mode is simply hilarious/slightly concerning.
Zero week usually also means a butt ton of free stuff. Unfortunately that didn't really happen this year, as Seventeen Magazine and Benefit Cosmetics didn't make an appearance. Oh well, college life is always full of random free stuff, so maybe another time? Victoria's secret truck appearance? Random American Idol judge Q&A? Free Macklemore concert? Come on, UCLA, I know you got something waiting for us this year.
my rant on dorm food
I've never actually had any non UCLA dorm food. But rumor has it we are 2nd best in the nation? Well I don't know how bad it is at other schools, but food was not what I was looking forward when coming back from school. I mean, kind of. I was excited for the new Sproul dining hall to open..but that didn't happen yet. So we are stuck with the usual not-so-fantastic four with De Neve and Covel serving virtually the same thing every day, Feast serving tiny portions of either pretty good or pretty bad food, Hedrick being too far to even consider, Bcaf putting too much mayo on sandwiches and offering death by bagels & coffee, and 1919 and Rende being tantalizingly unhealthy options. UGH.
And the worst part? The extremely easy access to delicacies of every cuisine right off campus. And the whole poor college student situation. Not that it's ever stopped me. Let's just say, I think I went to a dining hall once during the whole week..? Westwood+SM+Sawtelle will be the death of me.
For some reason, I have convinced myself that all I need to do with my life is to fill it up so much that I can't breathe/think/have a life, and I'll be happy. Which has kind of proven true. Exhaustion is rewarding when I feel accomplished. So I racked up 20 units of class and about 15 hours of work a week...then I started hunting for internships.
Where do I look for internships? The world wide web, guys. It holds everything you'll ever need. Application after application, redesigning my resume, writing cover letter after cover letter until it became mechanical, and setting up interviews. I don't even know why I went through the motions of it all when I knew all along, deep down inside, that I would not be able to do an internship this quarter. But hey, practice right? And now I have contacts for next quarter! Fingers crossed that I'm actually getting better at these cover letter things and at interviews... note to self: purchase more business clothes so you don't wear the same thing every day.
looking ahead: sophomore year preview
It's YEAR 2. We are no longer the babies of campus. It actually makes me kind of sad. But now that I (kind of) know what I'm doing at least I don't have to think! I actually get to walk around campus with purpose and like, actually run in to people. Crazy right? I mean, it's pretty impressive that I run into like 5 people a day in a campus of this many people. This year is going to be busy and hectic and crazy but hopefully rewarding and inspiring and motivating as well. So much is up in the air, anything could happen, but here are some things that I already know will happen/things to be excited for.
i heart santa monica:
3rd street is like UCLA's local mall. Not very many colleges can say that their local mall is where tourists flock, is a five minute walk away from the beach, has a famous pier, amazing food, street performers, dinosaur sculptures, and is just a 50 cent bus ride away from campus. It's a easy escape from the stress of being on campus, useful for retail therapy, and brings back the memories of summer 2012. I think I'll be here quite often this year, regardless of whether I end up interning here.
death by deadlines.
Pretty morbid, I know, but they are called DEADlines for a reason. They make you want to die. But in all honesty, the energy of a newsroom, the fast-paced, deadline driven environment, the ever-persistent stress combined with the monotonous adjusting of textboxes is invigorating and therapeutic. It's a good kind of stress. And there's just that special bonding time you get when you're delirious in a windowless room with several other wonky people, hard at work on the first Thursday (insert winky face here) of the year. You make new friends with fellow sufferers..I mean, with people that understand. Meanwhile the rest of the world somehow still bothers to ask where you are...
Perks of working for the school newspaper: you always know what's going on. yes, even if you are not a reporter. knowledge by osmosis. it happens.
another effective way of bonding: 5 hour car rides, DTF detours, life or death situations and isolation in a small house in a desert. it's the start of something good.
an easy escape
Dear dorm food gods,
THANK YOU FOR SENDING US A HAVEN IN THE HEART OF CAMPUS. That's right. Wolfgang Puck is officially open in our very own Ackerman Union. It's all the hype being the first place on campus allowed to sell alcohol, but let's be real for a moment here, it's all bout that FOOD. Fast take out for late shifts? A lunch date on campus that feels like it's not on campus? (well, until you step out and smell Panda Express and want to cry). It's been two weeks and I've gone twice. Inevitable. And I'll be broke soon.
Well. The freshman 15 exists for a reason! And the dining halls can only do so much for ya. I'll let the picture do the talking... hashtag bring on the sophomore 20?
I'll just leave it off here. Though I'm already looking forward to this year being over, (Or at the very least this quarter), I am already more motivated, driven, inspired, and accomplished than before. Ready to conquer the world, which is a bad state to be in since I take on way more than I can handle. This may as well be an obituary to life. I'll be in class/working/studying/hopefully occasionally sleeping from now on. Eventually I'll have human interaction outside of the academic or work setting. Someday.
And now I'm ready to pass out from stress/stairs/work/studying/lack of sleep.
#abruinbred over and out
Dear Class of 2012, It's been over a year since we said our goodbyes and graduated from the "warm haven" that was high school in a small town. When we said our farewells, it was with high hope that we would all part to pursue our dreams, but stay in touch, a network of acquaintances, caring for each other's successes and cheering each other on through hardships. One year later, where do you stand? I know I'm still lost. I hope you are all at least one tiny step closer to your dreams.
I suppose the time has once again come for one of those reflective posts. Summer 2013 has wound to an end and somehow it's September again, I'm packing again, the Halloween stores are open again and Costco has Christmas trees out. Whilst packing in the wee hours last night, I somehow found myself listening to Adele, reading my senior year yearbook and crying. Filled with empty promises, hopeful lies, goodbyes.
It's amazing how much can change in a year. How people who used to be friends can feel like strangers. How people change, move, disperse into the world. Sometimes I feel like it might be better in the pre-social media age where when someone disappears from your life, they're gone. Nowadays they linger. You have a general idea of what's going on through tweets and facebook photos but if you really meet in person, what would you say? Where would you start? It makes me sad that the only social interactions with those same people you promised to keep in touch with to have skype dates with, to reunite with, has been reduced to liking each other's instagram pictures. It's a sad reality that even when friends put mutual effort into trying to meet up, life just gets in the way. Everyone has a different schedule now, and could be anywhere in the world at any given time. It's even sadder when you start to feel like the effort to stay in touch is only on one side. How many months does it take before you feel weird spontaneously calling them? How many years will it be before you lose track of where they are? How long will it take before you look at a photo of an old friend and realize that they may as well be a stranger with a familiar face?
Maybe it's just me. Trapped in the purgatory that is wanting to be home and be with old friends but realizing that everything has changed and it's far too late to go back, and wanting to escape that by submerging myself in college, yet feeling lost and still so new at school, yearning for the easy familiarity that is home.
I think I finally know why people decide to delete their facebook accounts, change phone numbers and start over. It's easier than holding on.
I guess there's something about transitions that are sentimental, even if it is a transition that doesn't include any surprises or unknowns. Last year on my last night home I was a nervous wreck. I was terrified. Excited. I couldn't sleep in anticipation of all that was to come, all the opportunities, everything that could happen. Of course now it's all passed by in a blur and after commuting to school for a while I'm just happy I don't need to waste half my day on the road.
Tomorrow is a new beginning. But it sure doesn't feel like it. It feels like I've already fallen into the rhythm of school and work. That I didn't really get a break. As bored as I get at home, I know I'll miss the luxury of being bored. Of having a room bigger than my triple dorm all to myself. Of having a big bed, and access to a kitchen and piano. It's the little things in life, I guess.
The thing that is making me uneasy is the lack of emotion. The attitude that it's just another day, it's just going back to school after a (very) long weekend. Things will be basically the same, just another quarter after a short break. Nothing to be excited about or scared about. But it won't be the same. Even the people of my first year at college may be hard to hold on to now that we are spread out. New experiences are sure to come. But the terrifying part is that I don't seem to care. Every day just seems mechanic. I go through the motions of school, but I already feel like I'm wasting time, ready to move on, itching to do something. Something bigger. Something real.
Now that I realize, my Taiwan yearnings have come early. REALLY early. Usually I start wishing myself to Taipei in about March. Usually the few months after I get back to the States I only have mild withdrawals for the first couple weeks and I get over it and get swept up in, well, life. Maybe it's all this free time. Maybe it's because I don't feel like I have anything to look forward to. Except, perhaps, winter break.
Even summer seems like a bit of a blur. It dragged on for long enough that I don't really remember what school was like. But then I was so busy and out and about over the summer after a year away from home that being at home feels slightly foreign. For a while, I felt like I barely had a summer. I had a few days home to see friends (which seems like a lifetime ago) before transporting myself and half my closet to Taiwan, where I worked full time and took an online class for 7 weeks before having a few days off to travel there and coming home with barely enough time to conquer jet lag before entering the world of internship cover letters and interviews and commuting to school for work for three weeks...the third week being the last week of summer. So when I wasn't working, I was packing.
my rant on packing
Just about ready to blow my brains out. Good night.
I hate school already?
Uh oh. Two weeks til zero week and I'm already kind of sick of adorable Westwood and tired of the bricks of north campus. Don't even get me started on the pointy tips of Kerckhoff or the smell of Panda Express that wafts through Ackerman. Welcome home, I guess.
Okay, maybe I'm being a little dramatic, but I do wish that my last few weeks of summer could be spent at home or anywhere else away from campus. I can't believe people have been doing summer school for so long. Granted, I was also working full time and taking an online course, but at least I had a change of setting!
In short, the commuter life is not for me so after one final day of spending 20 minutes finding parking and 20 minutes parallel parking and still walking into the newsroom sweaty and late, I was so done. So on Tuesday after sad Chinese food for lunch (I mean, seriously, I just got back from Chinese food heaven...), I packed up to spend the next few days down in LA.
As much as training dragged on, it was nice to just be back in town and spend time with people I haven't seen since June. I think my new hobby is going on boba dates with non Asians. And ordering in Chinese. 'Cause I'm all bout dat 半糖少冰.
I'm a little conflicted regarding Westwood. You see, I get so bored at home sometimes, because literally nothing is open past 9. And then I think, wait Westwood is like heaven, where I can walk around at 11 and people will still be around and stores will still be open! Magic! Maybe it was because school isn't in session yet, but it just seemed so...not alive walking around at 11. I guess I'm just used to having access to all of Taipei just a short MRT ride away. And knowing where to go to be surrounded by people no matter what the hour. And just having stuff to do! Options that don't involve getting Fat Sal's. Or whatever there is to do to kill time. It's difficult to find things to do in Westwood with a group of people when you're all full and it's 11 pm. We ended up renting a movie, but man do I miss Taipei.
Also, even after spending two months is a much more densely populated city, LA is still loud. Sirens. So many sirens. Stereotypical Los Angeles, I guess, but it is concerning the number of times you hear sirens each day. Also, college kids. Like in Taipei it was just loud with every day (and night) life. But you know you're back on/near a college campus when you wake up to people belting "Blurred Lines" at 3 am.
Since I only had training at 4 and a meeting at noon, I got to wander campus a little bit and reorient myself. And by wander, I mean walk alllll the way from the apartments to Murphy Hall at the other end of campus, which was like a half hour walk. Yay UCLA. But I did get to get some "errands" done and realize how disoriented I was when I found myself at the inverted fountain when I meant to go on bruinwalk to Ackerman.
I had a break from 2-4 and decided to kill time by wandering Westwood by myself. And I do actually know Westwood better than I know campus. On a hunt for a birthday gift, I found myself in front of CityTarget. The Target that I know by heart. That I wrote a 10 page essay on my first quarter. That I went to 6 times in 5 days last zero week. Thank goodness it exists!
Alas, CityTarget has failed me. But no fear! I racked my brains for more options Westwood has to offer. And all I could think of was Urban Outfitters. Which, basically is all you need anyways. Thank you Urban for stepping up your game.
3:30, just enough time to stop by Chipotle to grab a snack before heading back for training. Yup, when I feed myself, I end up having pomegranate pick me up for breakfast at 11, chips and guac for lunch at 3:30, and sushi for a dinner reunion at 8:30. Spending $15 at Ami's makes me miss Sushi Express so much more:( WHY DOES BERKELEY GET A SUSHI EXPRESS?! Guess I picked the wrong school...
Nevertheless, I got my sushi and caught up with friends before retiring to a neglected project for the night.
Nothing like a strong fresh latte for a morning kick
The next day started off the right way, with the first of many brunch bunch adventures.
With the liberty of having a car on hand, it was off through Sunset and then Beverly Glen to hit up an old favorite, Urth Caffe, at the adorable Beverly Hills location. after studying their breakfast menu for a good 20 minutes and deciding we wanted everything and would have to come back anyways, I decided on a berry tart and a strong Spanish latte and picked a table outside.
After wandering through Holmby Hills and failing to find the Playboy Mansion due to , what do you know, construction.. we ended up back on Sawtelle to scavenge through Michaels before returning to campus for more last minute work in the newsroom before training.
And then it was out (early?!) my first time inside a Chick-fil-A (what?) and then of course, Starbucks called my name with a $2 off espresso drink before heading home.
Something about city life is just so entrancing. I think I just can't help but get caught up in the rhythm of every day life. Even in a laid back not-so-city like LA, there is still something about the atmosphere, which of course varies from one neighborhood to the next. But in Westwood, there is the unique mingling of business people and college students seeking refuge in the quaint streets of the village for lunch or dinner. Or perhaps the smell of excitement in the air on the night of a premiere, or even just students running errands and getting groceries. Beverly Hills has designer shops with chic cafes to match along wide greenery adorned streets. Along the sidewalks are model families pushing strollers, young entrepreneurs discussing work plans and of course wide eyed tourists exploring the sunny goodness of Los Angeles. Hollywood is full of eclectic entertainers, bustling tourists, and fast paced industry people filling the streets in the day against the flashy backgrounds of the iconic buildings before shifting to a different atmosphere as the sun sets and the night life takes over.
So basically, that last blog post happened because I got a little off track. As you could possibly tell from its title, I started off in a less than ideal mood thanks to the hours spent sitting through traffic. But where did that come from?
Being home. And the end of summer.
Yes, even us "UC" kids do need to go back to school some time and that time starts a little early for me as I commute to school each day for editor training. Hence the hatred towards the freeways of LA, as traffic consumes most of my day. Nevertheless, with most people back at school, it's nice to have something to do, and to somewhat mentally prepare myself for the year to come.
While the summer of travels comes to a close, I hope to further explore the world of blogging and use it to encourage me to go out and get to know "my other city" a little better.
so after recovering from jet lag...
Actually, good thing I'm pretty good at defeating jet lag (a mixture of staying up and sleeping in usually does it. and no naps!), I was up and about the day after I got back to start on the California bucket list aka eat in n out, chipotle, go to the beach, etc. Despite the fact that the dry weather meant less stickiness, it looks like we brought the heat back with us from Taiwan, as it has been in the high 80s and low 90s since I've been back. Which is crazy for this part of California and generally translates to high 90s low 100s in Los Angeles.
So yeah, that was fun. What was also fun was driving for the first time in a reallllly long time. Like I spent the last two months only ever being in a car when it was a crazy taxi. All is good and beautiful when driving through the wide empty streets of suburbia. LA is another story. Can LA drivers just be a little more patient? Like it doesn't help anyone when you're impatient, honking when someone just slows down (as opposed to when someone is backing into you or something that lets the other driver know to prevent an accident), or yelling at another driver like really? THAT DOESN'T HELP ANYONE. If you're having a bad day, just focus on driving safe. If other people aren't driving safe, just steer clear and thank god you didn't die because guess what people are dying all around us. Okay I'm done.
I hate driving in LA.
Then before I knew it, it was back to the 626 and more mediocre Asian food. But we chose wisely, because Dim Sum is arguably better in the States than in Taiwan. Authenticity and lack of localization of flavors. Though it's good in Taiwan too.
This is one without the pushy carts, called Lunasia in Alhambra.
The boba places break my heart. As do the existence of subpar 7-Elevens. Like I'd rather they just not exist than remind me of disappointment and heartache. So anyways, finally I have an excuse to get frappuccinos (buy one get one free, and they are comparable in price to boba).
labor day goodness
Speaking of childhood memories, one of my favorite treats that my mom would make in the summer were these puff pastries sandwiching cool whip coated fruit. The picture doesn't do it justice. It's such an easy yet fresh and delicious dessert. Just bake frozen puff pastries and let cool. Then mix up some cool whip, fruit of choice (I used diced strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries), and a little powdered sugar to counter the tartness of the fruit. Cut pastries in half, add filling, and eat. To make it even better, spread nutella on pastries before adding filling!
But soon, labor day goodness ended, and I returned to campus for the first time in a long time (and more under construction than ever..). Drove there by myself for the first time. That was not fun. Not at all. Because those unprotected lefts. And those drivers that honk excessively in ambiguous situations. And people with road rage. And just pedestrians. And just people in general. And free parking? That didn't happen that first day. More like drive 5 circles, give up, pay the $8, and angrily run up to training late. And sweaty. And hello good people that I haven't seen since June.
Note to self: puppy therapy might be better AFTER driving in LA rather than before.
looks like the theme of the day is random...so, food review time!
Anyways, things got a little better in terms of the commute. Kind of. With the old school way of burning CDs, I had 18 songs to blast and keep me sane through traffic. But it was almost as if every day I had to leave earlier. Managed to find street parking both days! Which was awesome because that saved me $8. But wasn't so awesome when I slid down Strathmore and stumbled into the second day of training with a bloody knee. Shout out to the UCLA Blood and Platelet Center for not just providing a first aid kit, but actually having a nurse clean up the wound and wrap it up for me! The best thing about going to a university with one of the best medical schools in the world is that you know that if something happens, you'll be treated by people who know their stuff. Anyways, regardless, it's pretty embarrassing falling down frat row. During the day. Sober, but late. But yeah the rest of the week just seemed long, draining, filled with medical related things, a whole lot of heat. A whole lot of driving/time spent on freeways. And a couple more embarrassing things that I regret happened. And entering the newsroom for the first time since O-issue back in June! Also, orientations are annoying.
and finally, a weekend getaway
The thing about living in a place where the only things to do are go to the mall or hike (and I mean, after the fire, hikes are just depressing), is that weekends tend to mean more hours in the house, maybe a meal out. And probably some shopping. And random errands with the family. After a morning of errands, shopping (yay benefit make up!), and random pho (like since when is asian food available here?), I needed to get out of the house. And after some careful research, (read: fun and free), we somehow ended up on art museum hopping. But an afternoon/evening well spent.
and so it begins.
another year of this love/hate relationship with los angeles
good night, LA.
I mean, you have to admit. The love/hate relationship we humans of LA have with our freeways is simply endearing. And by love/hate I really mean just hate. Because WHO WOULDN'T HATE BEING STUCK ON THE 405 FOR YEARS. (the woes of being a student of a school located on the lovely 405) #endrant
on a (somewhat) brighter note...
Well that ended up going in a lot different a direction as I had thought. Maybe being surrounded by journalists every day has had an effect on me.
Lately I've been feeling a little uncertain about my own path and my own dreams. I feel lost, uninspired, left behind. I feel like I could have achieved so much by now and yet here I am sitting...in limbo. As weird as it may be, sometimes I find it necessary to go back in time to figure out where I want to be in the future. Today, visiting my high school, I had the opportunity to give my two cents on college to advise the new senior class. Sitting in the room that was my history classroom for two years, I reflected on who I was then, who I wanted to be by now.
I remember that as a senior in high school, I had no idea what I wanted to pursue in college. All I knew was that there was no way I was going into anything science or math related. Little did I know I would come to seriously question that upon starting college (and still do occasionally). But anyways, I remember writing all of those college applications and telling colleges that I had no idea what I wanted to do. That I was waiting to be inspired. Waiting for college to spark a fire and give me a passion to work for. All I could say was this: I don't know where I want to go after college, but I do know that no matter where I end up, I want it to be international and I want service to be a part of my life, whether as a part of my career or just in my private life. I wanted to give back to the community and know that I was able to touch the lives of other individuals in an enlightening way. I wanted to inspire. And be inspired.
I guess to tie it back up, I hope that in this next year, I can get out and let Los Angeles be my inspiration. Fuel a passion. And I hope that I can once again integrate service into my life and better the community in some way that I can.
Wow. It seems like this post has just been me barfing up my thoughts in a long stream of consciousness. Regardless I hope that I'll be able to sort out these thoughts and find a clearer path to pursue and then put in all my energy in doing what I'm supposed to do in the City of Angels: CHASE MY DREAMS.
I've never made a video before, but inspired by the beautiful Taiwan that can't seem to be captured in only still images (and because I had the time and freedom to do so, thanks to quarter system starting later), I thought I'd make something as a tribute to my favorite city, and as a compilation of my summer memories living there, to let me relive the simple parts, to let me be in the streets once again and to share with the world the intricate mix of traditional culture and modern society that is Taipei and Taiwan.
Thank you, Taipei for being my home for this past summer. I'll be back.
Over two months after I first set foot on Taiwan, exactly one month after moving into the apartment, we checked out of the apartment and packed our bags one final time.
After checking out, it was the last shopping spree, but due to the added warmth of airplane clothes, we kept it indoors, and what location would be more fitting and more fulfilling than Taipei Main Station? I hit up underground malls Z and K and walked over through and up to Breeze (passing by the lovely Gakuden, Sushi Express, Share tea..etc) for lunch.
And then there was the stress of the last meal. And it had to be done. Beef noodle soup and ramen are some of my favorite foods. Why not both? Lan Zhou La Mian. And then of course afterwards it was the last orange green tea from Ten Ren (sorry, ComeBuy, but you don't have what my heart desires) and blueberry mochi for the (plane) ride.
Then, after waiting out the last hour at Mister Donut in the Taipei City Hall Bus Station and going on one last 7-Eleven run, we grabbed the luggages and taxied off to Taoyuan.
One thing about the taxi ride. We took this one highway that went through Taipei and had an amazing view of everything. We started off heading towards Neihu and then turned, seeing Miramar on one side, Taipei 101 on the other and then later Shin Kong (Taipei Main) and Yuanshan hotel was right there. With all of the water and the buildings it was breathtaking. The traditional architecture mingling with modern buildings and old houses and streets.
taoyuan int'l Airport
These were the last photos taken in Taiwan.
1. Leave it up to Taiwan to have a Hello Kitty themed plane
2. Weird sculptures on ceiling, check
3. Friendlier staff than LAX, check
4. Prettier than LAX, check
5. Less crowded than LAX, check
6. Nicer bathrooms than LAX, check
7. Better food upstairs, check
8. FOOD COURT DOWNSTAIRS WITH NO ELEVATED PRICES, CHECK
>>> mini rant: okay, but really, a yummy food court downstairs? With a fully stocked 7-Eleven at normal 7-eleven prices? and a Chun Shui Tang (aka the place from Taichung that invented boba milk tea as we know it) it their normal (expensive, but worth it) prices? LAST BOBA TIME. And then a Tokyo Curry, Du Xiao Yue, a lot of places for Taiwan Xiao Chi. Like people can actually have normal meals here. I wouldn't even mind getting to the airport early with stuff like this available and affordable and delicious! Way to go, Taiwan, you sell your deliciousness to the international traffic. Show them what we got.
Of course once you go inside the international terminal at LAX there's nothing to do. Not in Taipei! Whether it's galleries, specialty stores, Duty Free stores, etc, there's plenty of things to occupy your time while waiting to board. And good wifi, lots of plugs. And if you're feeling it, loungy chairs to nap in. Again, thank you, Taiwan.
taipei >>> Los Angeles
And then it was off from the wonderful TPE to the horrible LAX. No sleep happened besides the first half hour after take off. The food was terrible as ever. We ate mochi which was probably the highlight of the trip. And I watched Love, Actually. Which apparently I also watched on a bus to or from Taichung...years ago. Deja Vu. Made full circle. Weird. Somehow we made it and were shuffled off the plane to get on a bus. Yay bus. Good thing my balance skills are at their prime. Smoothest ride ever!
And then there was the nightmare of customs and baggage claim.
And then there was the nightmare of the 405.