Category Archives: Inspirations, Thoughts, and Ramblings
Wow, that was a creative title.
But yes, I spent Thanksgiving weekend out of town, and left my laptop charger behind. I’m absent-minded like that. Being without a laptop wasn’t bad at all because I don’t have anymore papers to write, but I’m glad to have it back. No more trying to pass time between classes by taking short naps on the library tables!
I had an amazing Thanksgiving. I really do have the best host family I can ever ask for. It makes me happier that we share the same love for food. This year, I was careful with my portions, but the food were definite huge temptations!
Exciting news! I hit the 8-mile circuit time in my daily workouts!
So I celebrated the only way I know how – by ordering a Domino’s small pizza and having it with mimosas. I rationalized the pizza by telling myself it’s small, and has chicken, pineapples, black olives, and spinach on it. Healthy, right?
This semester has seen me trying to be less hobo and more presentable. I didn’t think my employers would appreciate me working in sweatpants, which is what I’m more inclined to wear on a cold day. I love these boots! I got them for $20 from JCPenny on Black Friday. They’re comfy, in-style, and I didn’t have to wait in a long line for them! The scarf and cotton leggings were $5 each from Aeropostale, and the long-sleeve crew was $5 from JCPenny, all bought on Black Friday. Gotta love stylin’ on a budget!
The University of Oklahoma had a game last weekend. Parking was $25. The guy gave me 1-hour free parking because I’m a “pretty Asian girl.” I’ll take it. I’m quite sure he was at least 55 years old, which made it more hilarious.
But as a result of the free parking pass, I got to eat at the Crimson and Whipped Cream bakery in Norman. The coffee was ‘meh,’ but the food was drool-worthy. I ordered the Nutella crumble. Also tried my friend’s apple crumble, and it was equally yummy.
I love cooking. If I could be anything I want, I’d be a chef. If I could be anywhere I want, I’d be in culinary school.
I tried the Hello Fresh service for the first time this week. 1 week’s service costs $59. You get 3 meals for 2 people. I bought it off Groupon for $39, and used a $10 off coupon. Total OOP was $29 for 1 week’s service/6 meal servings… which is cheaper than eating out, but more expensive than cooking my regular meal prep stuff.
What I got in my box…
So far, I’ve cooked 2 meals.
The Brussels Sprouts were the best. I’m not a big fan of them, but after tossing them with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and baking them in the oven, they had just the right amount of crunch and flavor. The maple-balsamic glaze was also very good. I think the thyme did the trick. Sadly, I accidentally put too much salt in the mashed squash. 😦
This meal wasn’t a favorite. The slaw had too much onions in it, and the bread had a weird taste. The chicken was alright, but I would have preferred if it had called for baking, instead of frying. Thinking about all that oil made me cringe.
Gross. I know.
I’ve been doing 5-mile workouts everyday! In kilometer language, that’s 8km.
I love working out. It makes me feel better about my body. I feel healthier, less sluggish, more confident.
It also gives me a goal. And my ultimate goal is 10 miles everyday. I know it’s doable, but it’ll probably only happen next Spring. Baby steps, baby steps.
My favorite post-workout treat is using the foam rollers. There’s just something about massaging those aching muscles with the roller that is so relaxing.
I killed 4 miles last night in the gym after my work shift ended at 8pm, and here’s why.
I haven’t had Qdoba since the summer. And I caved yesterday. Because it was cold. I was hungry. I was tired.
I got my usual of taco salad with picante ranch, cilantro rice, brown rice, fajita veggies, grilled chicken, corn salsa, fiery habanero, spicy queso, guacamole, sour cream, cheese, and cilantro toppings. All for $8.03.
That also added another 10 points in my Qdoba Rewards card, which already has 1 free meal on it. You get 1 free meal for every 100 points, and Thursdays are double points day.
My stomach and body hated me with every step I pounded in the gym. But who cares? The food was goood! No regrets.
Last fall, I started a “eat healthy” streak. No more daily Chick-Fil-As, lots of salad, well-portioned meals… you get the idea. And I found out what a saving grace cheat meals are.
This semester, I’ve been meal prepping. I’d cook a large batch of a healthy, balanced meal on Saturday or Sunday, and then take it with me to campus everyday.
Weekends, however, are devoted to eating a variety of other foods. That usually means one cheat meal where I go out with my roommate to some food place on our “food bucket list.” It’s always worth it, and I have more time to workout in the gym on weekends anyway (at least that’s how I rationalize things).
All that to say… I had a cheat meal last week, and cheat meals are what keeps me sane during the week. Heck, if one cheat meal isn’t enough, I have 2! Or 3!
Okay, maybe not 3, unless I’m feeling extra adventurous about working off those unneeded calories… which never happens.
This year was one of my most eventful years ever. Here are some of my favorite memories, pictures, things I learned, etc. Enjoy a sneak peek into my life this year, and here’s to a New Year filled with new adventures, friends, and an unforgettable journey. 🙂
Being the 3rd wheel or 5th wheel almost everyday. This happens when 2 of your best friends get boyfriends.
Learning how to say goodbye because when most of your friends are internationals, they’re most likely not going to be in college all 4 years with you.
Traveling to places I never thought I would be able to go to.
Starting and teaching an ESL class over the summer.
Working 3 on-campus jobs to pay the bills. This meant learning how to be responsible, to manage my time and finances well.
Knowing that friends I can always rely on are invaluable.
Learning how to be open-minded, to think for myself, that it’s okay if my opinions differ from others’.
Making mistakes and learning from them.
Taking the time to Skype, FaceTime, WhatsApp, or Viber family and friends hundreds of miles away. It takes effort, but my favorite times are when I can talk to my best friends living halfway across the world.
Creating memories and living spontaneously because I don’t want to think, “What if…?”
Learning how to grade homework at a college level and finding out the key differences between students who try and those who don’t.
Sticking with a job even though I hate it because paying the bills is more important. Calling people and asking them to donate money to the University isn’t exactly a fun job, but the fun part is laughing over the bad calls after shedding a few frustrated tears, of course.
Discovering how much I love cooking and crocheting.
Finding out that hard work pays off, and no matter how much I talk about dropping out of college…especially right before Civ exams…, I’m in it for the long haul.
Getting the balance between eating healthily and working out. Both pays off, and isn’t difficult with the right motivation.
For the past 24 hours, I’ve been debating whether to write this post or not. Finally, I thought, “why not?” I’m already considered a ‘banana’ anyway.
Banana: Slang term used for Oriental Asians (mostly those in my generation) who are yellow on the outside, but white on the inside.
Before I go on, I want to list the ways why I think I can write this post with an honest, outsider’s view. After all, I may be Asian, but I’m also a proud ‘banana’.
1. My education – I was homeschooled using American curriculum. Since I was able to pick up Western culture more easily, this made me think differently and act differently from my peers. More about this later in a post I’m writing about my homeschooling journey.
2. My environment – I grew up among typical, conservative Asians. My family is conservative, and the church my dad pastors were approximately 90% elderly people right up to my high school years. Being constantly in the traditional, conservative Asian environment, taught me much about what Asians value the most.
Growing up with my education and environment in conflict with each other was difficult. Sometimes, I wondered if I was more Asian or Western. I’ve tried to reconcile both in my life, but I’ve given up on that. After all, I can’t change who I am, and my differing education and environment has given me the best of both worlds. Later, I’ll probably write about Western themes I think are wrong or could be better, but right now, I’m focusing on the Asian ones.
These are some points I’ve thought about many times before. Since this is the first time I’m trying to put my thoughts about them on paper, it’s probably not going to be so well-written or expressed as I want it to, but I’ll try my best.
1. Fear of losing – If there’s one Asian mentality that I dislike the most, it is this fear of losing. Admittedly, one of the reasons why I dislike it so much is because it is a trait that I can see in myself the most. For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been trying to teach myself that it’s okay to relax and have fun. Getting good grades is not the only goal in life. It has been hard to think otherwise because it is so ingrained in the culture and environment I grew up in, but I’m trying.
It’s no secret that Asians fear losing. In fact, it’s an ego and pride thing. Parents pressure their kids to get A’s in school, the nation seethes at an athlete who loses a game, and the list goes on. Although this is a trait that has made many Asians successful in life, it is unhealthy if taken overboard as in most cases.
For example, growing up, it was not uncommon to hear stories of my peers doing homework past midnight. After school, their parents would send them to extra classes. By the time they get home in the evening or night, they’ll have a mountain of homework to do. Stories of students committing suicide because of parental and societal pressure in school aren’t uncommon either.
This needs to stop. It’s not only unhealthy, but it’s also the wrong way to live life. The fear of losing is such a horrible cycle, and it can only be broken once people realize that life is meant to be lived and enjoyed. Life is not just a chase for money, successes, and wins.
2. Beating around the bush – I’ve always been blunt, and this is a characteristic that has become even more prominent since I’ve come to America. I don’t like the Asian way of circumnavigating around things. Asians are always afraid of offending other people.
I admit that I’m sometimes that way too, but if you’ve been reading this blog, you’d notice that the outspokenness in me wins in the end. Honestly, I don’t see a point in beating around the bush. It’s hypocrisy if you’re willing to think such things, but end up sugarcoating them instead of speaking your mind.
3. University/college degrees – I can’t emphasize enough how important they are for Asians. Asians like to be book smart, and most of them think that without a degree, you can’t go anywhere in the world. After graduating from high school, the common assumption is that the student will go on to college. I wish Asians would stop thinking so.
Throughout my high school years, I never really wanted to go to college. But I was told that I should go to college if I want to get a good job. Now, I’m being told that it’s going to be difficult for me to find a job as an ESL teacher (many Asian countries require that ESL teachers be Westerners) and that I should get a Master’s in TESOL after graduation. Frankly, studying and working like crazy (just so that I can study in college) makes me miserable, and hearing all this makes me even more discouraged. I’ve never entertained the thought of dropping out of college more than ever.
Going to college is not the only way to get a good job. I know many people my age who didn’t go to college, and yet they’re contented with their jobs. I think the main difference between Asians and Westerners is that while the former emphasize on book-smartness, the latter focuses on having good skills. Both are good to have, but really, if you graduate college with a 4.0 GPA and still not have good working skills and ethic (two characteristics most valued by employers), you’re never going to be 100% successful and fulfilled in whatever you do.
Also, Asians don’t seem to realize that billionaires like Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Roman Abramovich, Michael Dell, and many others were college dropouts. College can be a means to success, but it isn’t the only way. The pressure on young people to go to college needs to cease.
4. Close-mindedness – I dread this Asian mentality. Asians are so close-minded and quick to judge anyone who doesn’t fit the mold. I know that being too open-minded is dangerous, but Asians, especially the older generation, hold on to their traditions very tightly. Compared to their Western counterparts, older Asians aren’t as accepting if the younger generation do not comply with their values. They view the younger generation as kiddos who have been brainwashed by the Western world.
The times are a-changin’, people! We live in an era where we can wear shorts without being seen as loose women, marry at 18 years old and still be married 50 years later, listen to contemporary music and know that it isn’t from the devil. If we don’t conform to the mold of wearing long skirts, marrying after college, and listening to whatever it is that older Asians think is good music, we are seen as rebellious.
I know that there are some inherent values that shouldn’t be abandoned, and there are things I wouldn’t do because of my values and beliefs. However, some things can be changed and not all change is bad.
This post, which took me a couple of hours to write, is not written to intentionally disrespect or offend anyone. These are thoughts that has been borne out of my struggle to reconcile my Western education with my Asian environment. If I had kept a regular journal in my teenage years, these will be the thoughts written out in them. I’m also aware that ‘Asian’ is a very broad term. This post refers to the general populace and not to any particular individual.
However, I’ve learned to embrace the positives and negatives of straddling both worlds, and I know that my identity is not found in either of them. My identity is ultimately found in God, and I can be secure in that. Still, it has been a rocky journey and experience.
I’d love to hear from you. Let me know what you think! 🙂
Here’s the truth – I’ve been feeling restless and antsy. I’m jaded from school and work. Most days, as I trudge back to my apartment after a long day of classes, homework, and work, I think of the “what ifs”. What if I don’t have to work to pay the bills? What if all I need to do is focus on school? What if I have my friends with me instead of hundreds of miles across the oceans? What if I’m more outgoing? What if I transfer to a cheaper college? What if…? What if…?
As always, it’s not long before my conscience starts pricking me. I hear it telling me to be grateful, to appreciate the opportunities I have. In my mind, I know I should appreciate them. There are many girls my age who would never get a chance to go to college. But my heart is reluctant to be grateful. My wanderlust tugs on my focus, and I want to leave the monotony for greener pastures.
I spent yesterday working on my American Studies paper, and today was spent working on my Western Civilization History paper. After a day of sitting in front of my laptop, poring over books, and churning out pages, I was frazzled, restless, and tired.
I took a walk. The drivers, lone biker, and people who walked past me probably thought there was a deranged person on the loose in campus. My hair was wet from the shower I had just taken, and I was clad in a hoodie and blue-spotted pajama pants. To complete my odd outfit, I was wearing blue socks with my Birkenstock-like sandals. I could have easily won the Most Unfashionable Award. In my defense though, all I wanted to do was walk. It was 55 degrees Fahrenheit, and I couldn’t be bothered to dress up.
I walked to Stubblefield Chapel, just down the road from my apartment. As I sank down on the bench just outside the gazebo, I felt even more restless. I wished I was back in a city, where everything was loud, a hive of activity, and there was always something to do. I forced myself to put aside my cellphone, felt myself relaxing, and breathed in the cool air.
I felt calm, contented, at peace, and accomplished for the first time in a long while. As I sat and observed my quiet surroundings, I realized that contentment and gratitude was something I had to be purposeful about. Unless I wanted to continue walking around feeling as if I have the weight of the world on my shoulders and constantly worrying about grades and money, I had to surrender. I must refuse to allow the cares of this world to drag me down. 10 years from now, I don’t want to look back and regret my college years.
Casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7 
So the next few pictures is about me being grateful. And the next few days will be about me being contented.
Ironically, after I returned to my apartment, I saw a message my uncle posted in our family WhatsApp group. It was a picture with a quote by Max Lucado that was so apt as it echoed what I’m learning now.
When you are in the final days of your life, what will you want? Will you hug that college degree in the walnut frame? Will you ask to be carried to the garage so you can sit in your car? Will you find comfort in rereading your financial statement? Of course not. What will matter then will be people. If relationships will matter most then, shouldn’t they matter most now? — Max Lucado
P.S. In case you’re wondering, yes, I did bump into someone I know on my walk. To my embarrassment, as I was walking back, I saw a familiar figure. I was hoping he wouldn’t recognize me in the dim lighting, but unfortunately for me, he did and waved. Lesson learned – next time I take a late night walk, use sweat pants instead of pajama pants.
 English Standard Version
My family is conservative, and I was the black sheep of the family when it came to clothing choices. Even when I was in Malaysia, I would wear clothes that my sisters never dared to wear. Their wardrobes mostly consisted of baggy t-shirts and longer-than-knee-length pants. My wardrobe, as I grew older, mostly consisted of t-shirts that were my actual size and jeans that were an inch above my knees. This was a very marked difference between us.
However, ever since coming to the US, I’ve realized that modesty is such a subjective term. Modesty is defined differently by people in the US, Malaysia, Afghanistan, Italy, Kenya, etc. What people in the US thinks is modest is not what people in Malaysia thinks is modest. What people in Malaysia thinks is modest is not what people in Afghanistan thinks is modest. And so forth… You get the picture.
My friend, Marcus, shared this article on Facebook – Modesty: I Don’t Think it Means What You Think it Means by Rachel Held Evans – and I think the author hit it on the mark. If you have a few extra minutes, I’d encourage you to read the article. There are some things I would add to it, and I don’t agree with the part that we should dress for ourselves only, but overall, it’s a great, thought-provoking article.
Modesty: /ˈmädəstē/ (noun) behavior, manner, or appearance intended to avoid impropriety or indecency. 
With this definition of modesty in mind, this is what modesty in dressing means to me – it is about dressing comfortably, appropriately according to the event, and in a way that honors God. If it’s 110 degrees Fahrenheit outside, there’s no way I’m going to be wearing long jeans and a t-shirt, especially when I know that’s only going to make me sweaty (and in the end, stinky, unless I douse myself with perfume) as I rush from one class to another. If the weather is hot, I’m going to wear shorts and a tank top.
Modesty is not a tool for judging others. I cannot count the number of times I’ve heard conservative folks judge a girl based on the way she dresses and vice-versa. If you think you’re honoring God with the “appropriate” way that you dress, and yet condemn and look askance at someone else because of the way she dresses, do you really think your behavior is honoring and pleasing to God? We are called to love.
I know that modesty is a controversial topic. There are many things that can be said about it, and many angles from which the topic can be approached from. But this has struck me the most – so many times, a girl is judged based on what she wears or doesn’t wear. I confess, I’m guilty of that too. When I was younger, I would cringe when I see a bride walk down the aisle in a strapless gown (remember, strapless clothing in Malaysia a few years ago was still considered taboo by certain circles).
I vividly remember one minister telling us that he told his daughter that her wedding dress must be modest or else he would not walk her down the aisle. He also threatened to use paper to cover up his daughter-in-law’s body in her wedding photo because he didn’t think that her dress was modest enough. Looking back, I now realize how ridiculous that was, and that instead of laughing, I should have been appalled by his statements. The only thing accomplished is that more focus is placed on a woman’s body, and she is now viewed as a sex object. She isn’t seen as “the bride.” Instead, she is seen as “the bride with the immodest dress.” Her clothing, the gown that she will wear once in her lifetime, has defined who she is.
It’s high time that we stop placing so much focus on the way someone dresses and instead, focus on the character of the person. Everyone has different standards for modesty. It’s time that society recognizes and accepts that. The inner character of a person is what matters the most, not the way he or she dresses. The media is already placing enough focus on the way someone dresses. You and I don’t need to add to that.
Now, when I dress in the morning, there’s only three questions in my mind: Will I be comfortable in what I wear throughout the day – whether I’m in classes, at work, or hanging out with my friends? Am I dressing for myself, others, or God? Do my clothes reflect that I am a child of God, His princess?
Ladies (and gentleman), remember that your identity is found in God, not in your clothing.
To end, I want to share a quote by Evans from her article:
But our bodies are not something to be overcome; they are not dirty or shameful or inherently tempting. They are a beautiful part of what it means to be created in the image of God. These are the bodies that allow us to be the hands and feet of Jesus in the world, the bodies that feel sun on our skin and sand between our toes, the bodies that nurse babies and cry with friends, the bodies that emerge from the waters of baptism and feast on the bread of communion. They are beautiful, and they are good. — Rachel Held Evans
Tell me what modesty means to you!
 Oxford American College Dictionary
This weekend, I was a college leader for a D-Now at Rock Hill Baptist Church in Brownsboro, Texas. This weekend was also the most awkward weekend I’ve ever had since coming to the US. Remember what I wrote in my Dear Ol’ Quirky America blog post about loud and energetic Americans? I think God decided to test my patience with them.
There were 14 other OBU students with me. They were loud, they were crazy, they were super energetic. And most of them already had their cliques in the group. I spent most of the time awkwardly sitting by myself and watching them dance (think waving hands and arms wildly, jerking one’s body around, flopping on the floor, etc.). I had never felt more out of place.
Now, if you haven’t seen how Americans dance, you should. The first time I saw how people here danced, it was at homecoming dance. My Japanese friend and I were staring in disbelief. We like to have fun, and we sometimes dance crazily as well, but we definitely exhibit more self-control and don’t things too far.
After the first day, I started questioning myself more. What was I thinking when I signed up for this? Why am I here? When I heard that only a few of us was chosen out of a pool of applicants, I knew that God wanted me to be in Brownsboro over the weekend. Still, that didn’t help matters. I confess that sometimes I had to bite back the irritation that arose out of the sense of frustration and misery. All I wanted to do was leave the scene of uninhibited behavior and no self-control, and return to my comfort zone.
By Sunday morning, I was wishing I could be back in Malaysia where I actually fit or at least back at OBU with my calmer friends. Church service came around and we were singing “Your Grace Is Enough” by Chris Tomlin. As I sang the chorus, it was all I could do to keep the tears at bay. I have had a bad week at one of my jobs, I was exhausted both mentally and emotionally, I missed my friends, and I had enough of crazy Americans.
The sermon was about the Good Shepherd, and why Jesus is the Good Shepherd. It was just the thing I needed to hear. It taught me that even when I’m struggling the most, I have a Good Shepherd who is also the real example of love.
This didn’t mean that things became perfect right after that. I still felt like an outsider, horribly uncomfortable and painfully awkward, right until we left. When I got back, I never felt happier to be back in OBU and Shawnee, and to be with my calm and collected American roommates (I gave Sarah an extra, big hug that probably spoke volumes of my relief to be back).
But, I left with a sense of reassurance that when I step out of my comfort zone and take the plunge, God remains MY Good Shepherd. He will never leave me nor forsake me. Stepping out of my comfort zone this weekend was definitely worth it because I got to learn this lesson. I know that I might not ever be able to adjust to the culture here, but at least I have my Good Shepherd with me, and that alone is a comfort.