Live.Laugh.Love.Dream.

Ask away.   The 4 essentials of life - That's all we need.
Typical and very cliche, yet we all know life is too short.  Just sharing the little snippets of happiness I find each day and hopefully, the things that I find joyful in life may make you smile and remind you that the little snapshots of happiness found everyday are the things that make life worthwhile.    

Life has taken me in a completely different direction just this last week as I hopped on a plane to fly 2000+ miles away from home to the big state of Texas.  Nervous?  Yes.  Scared?  Yes.  Crazy out of my mind?  Absolutely.  And yet, I can’t help but feel like this journey will be one of my most exciting and memorable chapter yet.
I’ve been given the amazing opportunity to pursue a Master degree in Public Health at the University of Texas- Health and Science Center Houston.  Being in the top 15 schools of MPH in the nation, I had to take the offer!  Many people have asked me, “Why Houston?  Why Texas?  It’s flat there.  Not to mention It’s so hot and humid over there.  You’re not going to be able to leave the house.  You’re going to be so far from home.  Aren’t you going to miss it?  You’re just going to die!”  
Lets shed some light on a little background info- I have been a Pacific NW girl my entire life.  Starting in Vancouver, BC and then traveling down to Portland, OR, I haven’t as much stepped foot past Arizona, which is the furthest east I have ever gone.  I’m the type of girl who can’t sit still for long.  I need to venture out and explore so if there is a chance for me to go, I’ll go.  If an opportunity is offered, my heart is nudging me to seize it.  The world is too big my friends, to sit there and just dream to see new things.  So when the acceptance letter came in the mail, it only made sense to go ahead and click the “accept” button.
But then again, I’m all talk at times.  I like to make myself seem tougher than I actually am when in actuality, I’m terrified inside.  Sure I love to travel and yes I like being away from home, but that doesn’t mean it’s exactly easy.  It’s difficult, frustrating, and sad at times….but it’s such a rewarding experience and worth all the hardships.  You learn things about yourself you never knew and you continue to work on building yourself and finding out who you are.  
Being far away makes me continually realize how blessed I am.  I have received endless amount of love and support from family and friends back home and it means the world to me to know that I am loved by many.  From the Skype sessions to the check in phone-calls/texts, from the snail mail letters and the constant snapchats, thank you for it all.  I wouldn’t be who I am, wouldn’t be where I am, and definitely wouldn’t be able to even feasibly attempt to make this step in the new direction without them.  They push me to be my very best and inspire me to work hard to make them proud.  
These next two years will already fly by.  I can just feel it…but I’m ready to wake up next Monday and walk out the door to this new beginning; to get active, to pursue my studies, to face the challenges, to meet new friends and colleagues, to grow, and to make all the memories that will come along with it.
Thus, life’s given happiness #48: New beginnings + Grad school.

Life has taken me in a completely different direction just this last week as I hopped on a plane to fly 2000+ miles away from home to the big state of Texas.  Nervous?  Yes.  Scared?  Yes.  Crazy out of my mind?  Absolutely.  And yet, I can’t help but feel like this journey will be one of my most exciting and memorable chapter yet.

I’ve been given the amazing opportunity to pursue a Master degree in Public Health at the University of Texas- Health and Science Center Houston.  Being in the top 15 schools of MPH in the nation, I had to take the offer!  Many people have asked me, “Why Houston?  Why Texas?  It’s flat there.  Not to mention It’s so hot and humid over there.  You’re not going to be able to leave the house.  You’re going to be so far from home.  Aren’t you going to miss it?  You’re just going to die!”  

Lets shed some light on a little background info- I have been a Pacific NW girl my entire life.  Starting in Vancouver, BC and then traveling down to Portland, OR, I haven’t as much stepped foot past Arizona, which is the furthest east I have ever gone.  I’m the type of girl who can’t sit still for long.  I need to venture out and explore so if there is a chance for me to go, I’ll go.  If an opportunity is offered, my heart is nudging me to seize it.  The world is too big my friends, to sit there and just dream to see new things.  So when the acceptance letter came in the mail, it only made sense to go ahead and click the “accept” button.

But then again, I’m all talk at times.  I like to make myself seem tougher than I actually am when in actuality, I’m terrified inside.  Sure I love to travel and yes I like being away from home, but that doesn’t mean it’s exactly easy.  It’s difficult, frustrating, and sad at times….but it’s such a rewarding experience and worth all the hardships.  You learn things about yourself you never knew and you continue to work on building yourself and finding out who you are.  

Being far away makes me continually realize how blessed I am.  I have received endless amount of love and support from family and friends back home and it means the world to me to know that I am loved by many.  From the Skype sessions to the check in phone-calls/texts, from the snail mail letters and the constant snapchats, thank you for it all.  I wouldn’t be who I am, wouldn’t be where I am, and definitely wouldn’t be able to even feasibly attempt to make this step in the new direction without them.  They push me to be my very best and inspire me to work hard to make them proud.  

These next two years will already fly by.  I can just feel it…but I’m ready to wake up next Monday and walk out the door to this new beginning; to get active, to pursue my studies, to face the challenges, to meet new friends and colleagues, to grow, and to make all the memories that will come along with it.

Thus, life’s given happiness #48: New beginnings + Grad school.

— 1 week ago with 4 notes
Once upon a time, there was a girl named Jessica who loved to plan.  She liked to plan things such as Thanksgiving meals and annual summer get-togethers.  However, she especially loved to plan surprise birthday parties.  For many years, she tried to surprise her older brother every year his birthday came around.  But for every year, she somehow managed to fail.  Yes, the birthday boy would get a cake and be able to blow out the candles and hang out with his friends on his special night but for whatever the reason, he was never surprised.  Whether it was the subtle hints dropped by his friends or by obvious distractions to delay his way home on his day, he would always figure it out.  Although Jessica’s brother told her to stop doing the surprises because it never worked and he had caught on to her feeble attempts by now, she would still try to plan it each year because secretly, deep now inside, she has always wanted a surprise birthday for herself but knew that no one would throw her one because she’d always been the planner.
So you could only imagine her surprise when she was surprised with a birthday cake on her early birthday (yes, “special” was used twice in the same sentence)!  What had supposed to be a regular dinner night turned into a group effort to give Jessica one of the best birthdays she has ever had in years.  Birthdays have begun to not matter as much to Jessica as it is just another day, another year.  But this year was special because she was leaving for graduate school the next couple of days so not only was it a early birthday, but a farewell day too.  How lucky she was to have all the love she had that night: to have two of her closest friends drive 4 hours just to spend 2 hours with her that night.  To have her best friend come after a very long and exhausting day outdoors.  To have her brothers come despite having work the early next morning.  To have her fairly new but very dear friends plan this night for her.
And so Jessica would like to raise her glass up and say cheers to a night full of her family and friends in a room filled with yummy homemade tacos, birthday cake, taboo, laughter, yelling, and of course, lots and lots of love.
Thus, life’s given happiness #49: Surprise birthdays.               

Once upon a time, there was a girl named Jessica who loved to plan.  She liked to plan things such as Thanksgiving meals and annual summer get-togethers.  However, she especially loved to plan surprise birthday parties.  For many years, she tried to surprise her older brother every year his birthday came around.  But for every year, she somehow managed to fail.  Yes, the birthday boy would get a cake and be able to blow out the candles and hang out with his friends on his special night but for whatever the reason, he was never surprised.  Whether it was the subtle hints dropped by his friends or by obvious distractions to delay his way home on his day, he would always figure it out.  Although Jessica’s brother told her to stop doing the surprises because it never worked and he had caught on to her feeble attempts by now, she would still try to plan it each year because secretly, deep now inside, she has always wanted a surprise birthday for herself but knew that no one would throw her one because she’d always been the planner.

So you could only imagine her surprise when she was surprised with a birthday cake on her early birthday (yes, “special” was used twice in the same sentence)!  What had supposed to be a regular dinner night turned into a group effort to give Jessica one of the best birthdays she has ever had in years.  Birthdays have begun to not matter as much to Jessica as it is just another day, another year.  But this year was special because she was leaving for graduate school the next couple of days so not only was it a early birthday, but a farewell day too.  How lucky she was to have all the love she had that night: to have two of her closest friends drive 4 hours just to spend 2 hours with her that night.  To have her best friend come after a very long and exhausting day outdoors.  To have her brothers come despite having work the early next morning.  To have her fairly new but very dear friends plan this night for her.

And so Jessica would like to raise her glass up and say cheers to a night full of her family and friends in a room filled with yummy homemade tacos, birthday cake, taboo, laughter, yelling, and of course, lots and lots of love.

Thus, life’s given happiness #49: Surprise birthdays.               

— 1 week ago with 4 notes

Hello Tumbling world!  I have taken quite the hiatus from Tumblr these past few months and I would like to apologize since it is partly due to another blog…however, I guess you can say that that one is more…professional?…whereas this one is more for my thoughts and reflections.  And there are quite a few things I would like to reflect on so I hope you’ll enjoy this little walk with me! 

I have recently taken a trip to Taiwan where the plan was to stay for 4 months to partake in an exchange program.  However, long story short, my trip was cut and I’m back in the North of America after having been there for only a month.  I’m not going to delve into the complications of what happened because that is not what is important; what’s more important, however, are the experiences I gained, the friendships I built, the things I learned about myself,  and the memories I will now forever cherish.

Let me start off by saying that I went to Taiwan on my own.  No one else from school applied for the program and I embarked on this journey with me, myself, and I.  Was I nervous?  Yes.  Was I scared?  Of course!  Did I have any idea what I was doing?  Not a clue.  And yet there is something so appealing to me about traveling alone- perhaps because it is in the way that it challenges us.  We live in a day and age today where I feel like the thought of being alone terrifies people.  Go to the washroom alone?  Wouldn’t dare.  Eat by yourself?  How horrible.  And goodness heavens forbid if you go to the movies alone!  So who could possibly imagine travelling by yourself?  Don’t get me wrong because yes, I hate doing all of these things alone as well but I feel like we need to learn to do things by ourselves.  People get busy- not everyone can be with you 24.7.  The way I see it, I feel like learning how to spend time alone is a skill.  And I got the chance to work on it when in Taiwan.  J  On my first few days there, when I was still exploring and trying to meet people, I ventured off to see things by myself.  It’s quite simple actually: just hop on the transit and get off at a stop.  Walk, explore, enjoy.  Ask people for directions when needed.  Stop by a street vendor for food when hungry.  Take pictures.  Etc.  Surprisingly, it was such a revelation to do these things alone.  I was very nervous and uncomfortable at first but once I did them, it felt like such an accomplishment and it is something I’m proud to say now that I can do.  I’m not saying that I’m 100% okay to go off and do things alone for the rest of my life  because a lot of memories is shared with the company you’re with; but I’m rather saying that the thought of it does not scare/bother me as much anymore.

On the flip side, I found some pretty amazing company to spend time with in Taiwan during my month there.  I’m not the type to get close and open up with people within such a short amount of time but I managed to grow so close to these people that it kind of scares me.  Two small groups of people whom I think will stay with me in my heart forever.  First, I met two wonderful friends from Thailand: Muk and Manno.  I had the opportunity to meet them on orientation day when we were placed in the same group- they are perhaps the sweetest and most genuine people I have met.  Muk is a lovely girl who is quiet and shy, but has the warmest heart.  She is whole-heartedly kind, gentle, patient, and sweet.  The type of person you could never imagine possibly getting mad.  And then there is Manno.  The quirky, bubbly, kid-carefree spirit who loves to eat, explore, and talk.  We get along like little kids who run around, excited to eat all the time and talk about make belief and what’s to come.  Quite the two opposite characters but they are good friends and I’m very lucky to have found them.  I remember thinking to myself that it was going to be hard to find some Asian friends since shockingly, there was such an abundance of European international students.  Most Asian students were from Mainland China and settled in quite nicely, already knowing many others.  Manno and Muk were a breath of fresh air for me because I found that I could connect to them.  Two close cultures (Thailand and Vietnam are right next to each other!) where we could ask and learn about each other.  They were my go to whenever I wanted to relax, walk around the markets, and of course, eat eat eat.  Manno found this noodle stand close to our dorms where we always go for late night dinners when everything else had closed or we don’t know where else to eat.  The cook was able to speak Thai and that’s how Manno became a regular there.  He took me once and from that day on, we always went back.  It’s fun to be a regular because the lady knows what you would like.  Muk gave me a handkerchief on my last day and she and Manno waited for me while I was out and about, getting a hold of my taxi when the time came (since I came back late) and were my rocks who took care of me.  I am so grateful for them and was terribly sad to leave them.  They were like my brother and sister in Taiwan whom I could ask for help when needed, were an open ear to talk to when I was sad/frustrated/happy…they were my family.  Although I am sad, for some odd reason I know that I will be seeing them again.  Maybe it’s the way how Manno loves the US and wants to move here, or the fact how Thailand is so close to Vietnam that I am planning to make a pit stop next time I visit the motherland, that I hold a hope in my heart that we will meet again in the future.

Onto the next group…where to even begin.  This group unexpectedly came out of nowhere and I found myself falling in love with each and every one of them.  I was going to Taiwan, a little island in Asia.  And yet somehow, I found myself being the only Asian in an all European bunch of mostly Belgium kids.  I first met Claudio in orientation.  He lived in my dorm and was from Switzerland; he and I were the only non-speaking Chinese in our group during our orientation so we bonded instantly as we were whisked away to find ourselves an English speaking group.  And that was where it all started.  Everyone was in the College of Management and I was the little Public Health outcast.  Claudio had found himself a group of Belgiums to hang out with and he invited me to join.  At first, I was intimidated and said no thanks.  Funnily enough, I never had the intention of  meeting everyone.  During the first few weeks there, I had grown very close to a Swedish girl, Nadia.  She had an old spirit like me where we like to go out for the day and turn into bed early.  Not like Claudio who stayed out until 5am the first week he was there partying.  :P  So Nadia and I clicked and we did everything together.  When I found out that she had to go back to Sweden early due to family issues, I was distraught.  Who was I going to hang out with now??  Claudio was awesome and all but who will I go to when I don’t want to go out and party or stay out late at the bars?  During her last few days, I fretted to Nadia but we made the most of her remaining days going to the zoo, the waterfront at Tamsui…and on one of the days, we planned to go to Maokong Gondola to hike in which we invited Claudio.  Turned out, Claudio invited Olivier and Axel, who in turned invited Timothy, Martin, Aline, and Marie-Sib.  Oh the horror Nadia and I experienced when we saw how big the group had become!  :O  But to our pleasant surprise, we had a wonderful time sweating and dying from the stairs and heat for the breathtaking views and temples.  After I saw Nadia leave, I felt like I lost my best friend in Taiwan.  But then, I got an invite from Martin on a group message in FB to go hiking at Yangminshan.  And from that moment on, I found myself a group of friends who have made my entire trip in Taiwan the best it has been. 

I have been so blessed that they opened up to me and included me in their group, especially since they all know each other from home, can relate to each other from Europe, speak in French, etc.  To have them include me, to ask me to join them on their trips, outings, adventures…I don’t even know how to explain.  I’m a very emotional…how to word it right…when I see others in pain, I cry.  When I see others happy, I can’t help but smile.  I just…feel a lot.  And my heart was pretty much swollen from the thoughtfulness my friends showed me on my last night in Taiwan.  We went to eat at Sababa, a pita restaurant.  I was a little skeptical at first but the girls rave about it all the time and they had the perfect reason to because it was SO nommy!  Anyhow, onto the more important part.  They told the waiter that it was my birthday so Marie-Sib sneakily went to the counter after dinner “asking for the bill” when in fact, the waiter then brought a baklava and a candle for me and everyone sang me happy birthday.  No no no, that is not all my dear Tumblrs- afterwards, Aline took out a bag full of presents.  Inside was a lace dress for me (they had wanted to get me an NTU sweater but it was out of stock), cookies for the flight back, nail polish, and pictures they printed of our time spent together.  I honestly had NO idea that they had all this planned and I was soooo unbelievably touched by their kindness.  Tears sprung up, my hands started shaking, I couldn’t stop thinking about how loved I am, and I couldn’t think of any words to say except think to myself how much I adore these people.  How did I manage to bond so closely with them?  Each and every one of them contributed to my experience; each with their own individuality; each with their own unique story to tell and I hope that these brief descriptions is able to paint a picture of how amazing they are.

·       Aline: Oh how this girl I was not quite so sure if she liked me in the beginning.  She seemed so tough girl, didn’t speak much to me and only to the other Belgium folks.  But slowly, we talked more and more and on my last night, she stayed with me until the very end, going out to Revolver after dinner for a drink when most had to go home and study, then stayed out in the dorms until midnight.  I went out with her once and told her, “Goodness, Belgium girls go hard!  How do you do it?  I could never keep up with you!”  Surprisingly, she taught me something that night- she told me, “No, we are just young!” and smiled real big and I thought to myself how right she was…and I let loose and had an unforgettable night with her.  J 

·       Marie-Sib:  Haha this girl…became so quickly a close girlfriend.  One who you can just joke and talk about nonsense with.  Someone who makes you feel included.  Will shout your name in the crowded MRT when I was standing by myself to make sure I was there.  To me, she was like the popular girl in high school who made everyone feel welcomed.  I am so grateful for her.  She introduced me to the word “sloshed” and would always ask me about how they do/say it in America.  She made me feel so smart.  ^_^  On my last day, she skipped Chinese class to get dinner one last time, drove me back to the dorms on her bike, and gave me the biggest hug.  <3 

·       Claudio:  My first friend in Taiwan.  Thank you for being so easy to talk to, so open to trying new things, helping me deal with my painful mosquito friends, for showing me around Taiwan my first few days and telling me about places to go/eat, for being my Guoqing buddy when everyone else was from Prince Dorms and looking out for me. 

·       Timothy:  My almost other Asian friend in an all-white group!  His mom was adopted from South Korea as a baby so he is a halfie.  I didn’t meet Timothy until later in the trip and he was yet another one who I wasn’t sure if he liked me.  Talked to mostly the other Belgium kids, I approached him first to try to get to know him and surprisingly, we became good friends really quickly and naturally.  Just someone easy to talk to and joke around with.  He was nice enough to skip class on my last day to come over and help me pack (although he skips class all the time so it wasn’t that big of a deal :P). 

·       Martin:  Martin is probably the quirkiest, nerdiest/geekiest, most sweetest, and cutest boy ever.  Curious about everything and loves to talk and explore the world, Martin is an all-around nice boy who genuinely loves getting to know everyone around him.  He was the first Belgium friend I met that one night we went to Shida Night Market and right away, you knew he was a nice guy.  Good morals, bright mind, always trying to learn more, Martin could always make me smile.    

·       Olivier: “YEAAAAAP.”  “NAAAOOPPE.”  Probably the only 2 words that Olivier knows how to say to me.  He’s the cool, sly kid always in the back but is pure joy with his constant talk of turning around for a picture so he can take it on his phone.  With his colourful cartoon hats, middle school hair cut that you flip to the side every now and then, his bachelor pad dorm with the movie projector, Olivier makes me smile every time he smiles. 

·       Axel:  To my one other friend who didn’t know how to speak French either :P  Axel has family from the U.S. so he’s been there a few times, making it easy to make conversation when first met.  Such a wonderful person to talk with and kind spirited, he was my boyfriend whenever the time was needed.  ^_^  

·       Julien:  Shortly met but is so easy going and easily became a familiar smile.  Julien is from France and has been in the exchange for already a semester.  He knew of where all the hip and cool places to go and suggested them all to us.  We initially met at the Yangmingshan hike and would pop in every now and then.  Although he wasn’t with us at every single trip, he was a familiar face that shaped my experience.               

 

Although this excursion was short lived, it has been one heck of a journey.  I’m happy that I got to stay at least one month in Taiwan and to have been able to embark on such wondrous adventures with amazing people.  Life is beautiful.               

Thus, life’s given happiness #48: Unexpected travels and friends.

— 5 months ago
You know that feeling where you have everything you need but still feel like something is missing?  Like how you have enough food to keep yourself satisfied and functioning, you have a job that pays you so you can go out every now and then and treat your family to brunch, you have a wardrobe that you can mix and match to create never before worn outfits, and a roof over your head but yet&#8230;there is that one thing lacking and you just can&#8217;t seem to put a hold on it?  And then you find what you&#8217;re looking for and it surprises you how simple it is but yet so powerful as it fills up your heart with warmth and joy.  How the comfort you find in them is so amazing that even in silence, an entire conversation is being exchanged.  How their mere presence somehow just makes everything better as they lift the heavy cloud that has been invisibly holding you down.  How their happiness makes you happy as well.
I&#8217;m not quite talking about a significant other right now, but rather, the few close friendships we build across the years.  I&#8217;ve been very lucky to have found a small group of people that I can trust and share my happiness with and I&#8217;ve come to appreciate them even more as we grow up and start taking steps in different paths.  Nights like tonight, I will cherish always as stories, laughter, and memories were echoed across noodles, soup, cake, ice-cream, birthday songs, obnoxious snores, studies, arts and crafts, and simply basking in each other&#8217;s silence.     
"Here&#8217;s to the nights that turned into mornings with the friends that turned into family."
Therefore, life&#8217;s given happiness #47: Companionship.

You know that feeling where you have everything you need but still feel like something is missing?  Like how you have enough food to keep yourself satisfied and functioning, you have a job that pays you so you can go out every now and then and treat your family to brunch, you have a wardrobe that you can mix and match to create never before worn outfits, and a roof over your head but yet…there is that one thing lacking and you just can’t seem to put a hold on it? 

And then you find what you’re looking for and it surprises you how simple it is but yet so powerful as it fills up your heart with warmth and joy.  How the comfort you find in them is so amazing that even in silence, an entire conversation is being exchanged.  How their mere presence somehow just makes everything better as they lift the heavy cloud that has been invisibly holding you down.  How their happiness makes you happy as well.

I’m not quite talking about a significant other right now, but rather, the few close friendships we build across the years.  I’ve been very lucky to have found a small group of people that I can trust and share my happiness with and I’ve come to appreciate them even more as we grow up and start taking steps in different paths.  Nights like tonight, I will cherish always as stories, laughter, and memories were echoed across noodles, soup, cake, ice-cream, birthday songs, obnoxious snores, studies, arts and crafts, and simply basking in each other’s silence.     

"Here’s to the nights that turned into mornings with the friends that turned into family."

Therefore, life’s given happiness #47: Companionship.

— 7 months ago with 3 notes
http://imgur.com/gallery/BHWia1P
[Comic provides context]
"The way you see things&#8230;as in, if people were to see in black and white, you&#8217;ll see the colour.
Meaning that people see things now as ordinary, but you&#8217;ll see the same thing in a different light, putting a magical and colorful spin on what they saw or didn&#8217;t see.&#8221;Thus, life&#8217;s given happiness #46: Colour

http://imgur.com/gallery/BHWia1P

[Comic provides context]

"The way you see thingsas in, if people were to see in black and white, you’ll see the colour.

Meaning that people see things now as ordinary, but you’ll see the same thing in a different light, putting a magical and colorful spin on what they saw or didn’t see.”

Thus, life’s given happiness #46: Colour

— 9 months ago with 2 notes