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If this were my PS…

If this were my PS, I would start it in this way.

I would have an attention grabbing sentence, one that captivates my reader;

Perhaps a scene from my life, or some shocking dialogue.

 

If this were my PS, I would use it to tell a story.

I would create it in a way that shows some larger theme, one that may not actually have been obvious when the event happened.

Yet, if this were my PS, the act of brainstorming, creating, and writing about that theme would actually teach me something new about myself.

 

If this were my PS, I am not sure what I would talk about.

But if this were, in fact, my PS, I know that I would eventually find something interesting to say (I hope).

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2 Months & Some: Stream of thoughts

Hello friends and fam,

It’s been a little over 2 months since I’ve left US and moved to Beijing. My hope to keep better logs of my time here has all gone down the drain. GoPro vids have been scarce and blogging has been nonexistent, but here I am.

It’s funny, I’ve been spending the last two months helping students figure out their futures, teaching them how to write, teaching them to think deeply about themselves.. yet I have done none of that myself. I still suck at writing, and I have no real revelations since my time in China.

Life In General

My life has been pretty simple, and maybe that’s the way it should be. I work, eat, sleep, drink (occasionally work out) and repeat. Tbh, I probably drinking more on a daily basis than I ever did during my senior year of college. This can be viewed one of two ways: either I was a super lame college senior, or drinking culture righnow is too cray. This reminds me, if I don’t start working out again, I’m gonna be majorly 胖.

Work

Work life is tough, but I am managing. Apparently it is going to get even tougher come October/November, so you may have to wait another 2+ months for updates. Haaalp. These past two days, I’ve stayed at the office past 9PM and I know this is only the start of it. You know its rill when you  have to be the one to turn off all the lights and A/C’s in the office. 我的生活很难。

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I haven’t had much of a chance to explore much of Beijing. Of the tourist sights, I have only gone to the Forbidden city. HOWEVER, I guess I have one piece of major news: I will be buying a motor scooter this weekend. Yes, Elaine will be hitting the streets of Beijing after this weekend, and 北京人 should be afraid.

My social life revolves around my coworkers. Thank goodness I like them. However, I’m still tryina insert myself into the rest of Beijing b/c you can only handle so much student talk inside and outside of the office, especially when your ass is working until 9PM and you go out to happy hour with the coworkers afterwards. I say this, but on those days that I miraculously leave the office at 6, I just wanna go home and burrow in my bed with chips and Masterchef. Sadly, that is usually what happens. Give me some credit though, I did join a co-ed flag football team as an attempt to broaden my social circle. Moment to brag: Over the course of one game I went from being that one girl no one knew, to that someone everyone in the league knew because I scored mad TD’s for my team. We lost both our games, but wadddupppp. Destroying gender stereotypes and one upping boys in sports since ’94.

Reflections

Beijing is where I should be right now. Today, I had a meeting with my student and his parents to discuss the progress of his college applications. After our conversation, his mom says to me that the past 2 months since her son started working with me, he has never been happier. He looks forward to coming to the office to meet with me and has had a great experience learning about himself and working on his application with me. She then said that her son really loves spending time with me and that she is extremely grateful for my help. This all happened right after my boss, the family, and I decided to take a selfie together to commemorate the ending of an awesome meeting. While I sometimes have extreme moments of frustration at work, times like this remind me that it is all worth it. I love my kids and I’m generally enjoying myself. Don’t get me wrong, I’m stressed as fuck about 90% of the time, but it’s good. I’m learning, growing, and having amazing experiences that staying in the US would not have provided me. This is where I should be and here’s a reminder of that to look back on in October, when major shit hits the fan. #fml #wishmeluck #bai #再见

 

Full Circle

Right before takeoff to New York, I logged onto Facebook to kill some time. At the top of my feed was one of there memory posts. You know what I’m talking about? Those posts that remind you of your old posts from that exact day, years ago. Today’s was crazy. As I sat on the plane excited but mostly having last minute doubts about my decision to spend the next year in Beijing, I saw the post. I saw the post from two years ago when I announced to all Facebook friends that I was just about to hop on a plane to spend the next 6 months in Asia.

Seeing that could not have come at a better time and I was suddenly overcome with a sense of calm. I began remembering how freaked out I was then, but how amazing of an experience I ended up having. I remembered how sad I felt when it was all over, and how months after my return to the US, I was still reliving my memories by continuously retelling the stories.

I had no idea what to expect when I studied abroad two years ago and today, I have absolutely no idea what to expect from my year working in Beijing. But seeing the parallels, I can’t help but be sure that this experience is going to be equally as special. I am now more excited than I am scared. I know it’s not going to be easy, especially in the beginning, but I know that it is ultimately going to be worth it. No matter what, no matter whether I become a complete loner because I can’t make friends 😂😂 or I end up not liking Beijing (which I highly doubt, but it could happen!) it’s still going to be a great time and a great learning experience because I am going to make it so.

Stay tuned for more updates (: for now, bye Cali. It’s gonna be awhile before I’m back for you. But for you East coast folks, I’ll actually be in NY / Boston for the next two weeks before Beijing, so please hit a girl up!

Promise to Myself

Recently, one of my best friends said something that stuck with me. She said that she had lost touch with her creative side and needed to find some sort of outlet to let her artistic side thrive. Her words made me realize that I, too, have lost touch with my own creative side.

I am a terrible with art. I can’t draw, I can’t do crafts. Heck, I still remember when my basketball teammates in high school made fun of me for sewing letters straight through my sweats during one of our team bonding activities where we were making personalized clothes. “You get straight A’s but you can’t sew “Poon” on some sweats?!” they said.

Despite all that, there was one type of art that somewhat made sense to me, and that art is photography.

I bought my DSLR back in high school, a very basic Canon Rebel XSI. In fact, that is the camera I still use. Well, when I say use, I mean own. That thing has been gathering dust in my room for awhile now. The last time I put that thing to use was when I studied abroad about 1.5 years ago.

I really miss photography and I have made a promise to myself that I will get back into it this year, especially since I’ll be traveling to Beijing soon. This post is so that I go through with it. I even created a Flickr account today to motivate myself (link at the bottom).

I’ll also be exploring film photography as well as videography with my GoPro so stay tuned for that as well!

https://www.flickr.com/photos/epoon

One for the Books

If there is one piece of advice I would give to everyone based on the experiences I have been having the past few days, it would be to talk to everyone and try to make friends. Last night, I had the craziest adventure with one of my CTY coworkers. We went out to LKF with the expectation that we would find a chill bar to have a few drinks and to socialize in and, well, whenever I expect ordinary nights, things get crazy.

Unintentionally, we hit it off with one of the floor managers of this awesome bar we were at and coincidentally, it was her birthday. Long story short, we had rounds of drinks with her at her bar, met her boyfriend and some of her friends, and ended up hanging out with them for the night. After filling us up with free drinks, they took us to another place with live acoustic music where she not only knew one of the workers there, but would keep running into friends on the streets near that bar. I swear she knew everyone. Within an hour, we were chilling with a few more people she knew, one of which worked in the wine business in Hong Kong and another of which was the manager of a famous steakhouse nearby. By the end of the night, these new friends had bought us more drinks and invited us to visit their steakhouse to play wine cork pong with them.

Topping off this night was a friend I made in Hong Kong last year who must have been psychic or something, because he randomly hit me up to see if I wanted to grab 3AM dimsum in Kennedy town. This was me and my coworker’s plan all along so it could not have been more perfect. Actually, I take it back. He ended up treating us too. What?!

The funny thing about this friend is that he had contributed to my most memorable night of Hong Kong last year when me and a few of my coworkers randomly met him and his girlfriend at a bar in Kennedy Town. It had been his girlfriend’s birthday that night so when we hit it off, he ended up taking us out and buying us rounds of drinks at every bar we went to to celebrate. We were out with them until 3AM. Sounds familiar right? This is the beauty of random friendships. I can’t wait until I have the means to return their generosity and to spread the love to new friends I make in the future.

Introverted

Just last night I was having a girls night out with one of my new CTY friends at a random craft beer bar. She is much more extroverted than me, so one of the first things she said when we sat down was, “Who should we try to talk to first”  I found it so interesting that that was one of her first thoughts because the thought of socializing with anyone around us never even crossed my mind. Eventually, opportunity came and we started talking to the group of old foreigners (lol) at the table next to us. It definitely was the highlight of the night, as we joked around with these complete strangers, learned about one of the guy’s life as a project manager for the MTR and how he had come to leave his home near London to live in Hong Kong for over 20 years, and even got a few recommendations for some of their favorite bars and hangout spots.

Today, I decided to have a little “Elaine time” so I adventured to Sheung Wan to do a bit of photography and exploring. The thing I love about this area is that there are so many hidden gems scattered about. You can find an old vintage antique shop sitting next to a modern cafe, or a fusion burger joint next to traditional Chinese butcher shop. It’s really remarkable. I’d like to think that this is Hong Kong’s natural progression towards the intermixing of different cultures instead of westernized ideals being imposed into this area… but that’s another conversation for another time. For now, as far as I know, these juxtapositions are a sort of beauty that is adds to the uniqueness and beauty of Hong Kong.

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Anyways, I walked into a fusion burrito / coffee shop named  Americanos (again, not so sure how I feel about enjoying that burrito / the name of the restaurant in general) hoping that it would be a quiet little coffee shop that I could eat lunch / read a book / write in my journal in. Turns out, this place was a full on hipster restaurant filled with expats and their friends. It was already too late, so I walked in, sat at the only available table in there (which happened to be this huge ass 4 person round table) and ordered my food. It wasn’t too bad though, since my table was so big, a random Australian girl who was waiting for her take out order sat down next to me and me, trying out this new thing where I try to talk to strangers, started initiated conversation with her. I found out she was a recent graduate who came to Hong Kong in the summer to work as an intern at a law firm, and how she had studied abroad in Beijing and thinks Hong Kong is an awesome place. Talking to her reminded me of the group of Australians I met while studying abroad. I miss them!

After lunch,  I walked around aimlessly through random back alleys and stumbled upon a cool antique shop. Both because I was interested in what the shop had inside as well as the fact that it was hot as fuck and I was dripping in sweat, I escaped into the store to enjoy some AC relief. Inside, I found an Asian American girl asking the store owner a bunch of questions about his shop, whether he designed all of his goods, whether they were by local artists, ect. I could tell that they were genuine questions filled with curiosity, and I admired that because I would have never done the same. Curious to her background, I thought about striking a conversation with her, but my introverted tendencies made me hesitate, and she left the shop before I could say anything. Just my luck though, she was taking a photo of the shop as I was exiting.

Long story short, in the span of 5 minutes, I found out that this girl not only was from California just like me, but is going to work in my home town, studied abroad in Shanghai like me, AND knew one of my closest guy friends at UCLA who she had met during her study abroad session last semester. WHAT A FUCKING COINCIDENCE RIGHT?! My mind was completely blown. The best part was that we clicked really easily and I spent the rest of the afternoon exploring with her.

Every shop we went into, my new friend continued her trend of asking the store owners interesting questions. By the end of the day, I had met two sisters who with zero knowledge of fashion, created their own line of women’s swimwear purely because of their love for water sports, a lady who continued her great grandfather’s work of creating beautiful furniture created from precious stones around the world valued at several hundred thousand US dollars, and a man who both sold his own designs as well as taught a class to teach others to create similar products. By talking to them, these store owners suddenly became so much more, I guess, human. Normally, you go into a store and do your shopping and your only interaction with the workers at the store are to to make small talk and pay for anything you decide to buy. However today, I was reminded that store owners, especially pop up shops where the owners tend to be the designers of the products themselves, have so much more to offer and that the products they sell are more than just items; in many cases, they are little pieces of their passions in life that they are sharing to the world and you can only make sense of their work if you talk to them about it.

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Moments like this made me think about all the possible “holy shit” moments and personal stories that I missed out on because I didn’t make that move to be a social being. It’s been a goal of mine to be more of the conversation initiator and every time I have acted on it, something cool / interesting / unforgettable has happened. Time and time again, I am reminded of this and the events of yesterday and today are definitely new additions to that ever growing list.

Oh, in case you haven’t already figured out, I’m back in Hong Kong and will be here until the end of the month. Then, I’ll be off to Japan and Korea for the first time in my life. Stay tuned for more updates!

Also, as promised, here’s your dedication Amy Jiang (;

Long Time No See.

I feel bad for my blog. It’s been neglected for too long. A lot has happened, but since most of this blog has consisted of my travels, I’ll stick to that for now. Having my car in college has been a game changer. I feel so much more free and I don’t feel as if I’m stuck in the UCLA bubble. These past few months, I finally got to explore more of bits and pieces of LA and SoCal.

San Diego FullSizeRender Orange County Ghetto GoPro picture2 I really enjoyed my time in these two areas. My impression of both of them is that they are extremely laid back and chill. They are definitely places you would want to settle down in with your future family. I foresee a life filled with brunches, beaches, and hiking in these places. One of my friends lives on a lake, and I will never forget my feelings of complete peace as we coasted on that water under a clear sky full of brightly lit stars.

Lake Arrowhead IMG_7060 I had forgotten how much I loved nature. Waking up and being able to walk outside to a beautiful blue sky with birds chirpin’ and trees as far as my eyes could see instantly put me in a state of relaxation. At night, I was able to see hundreds of stars, a rarity when I go to school in this smoggy place we call Los Angeles. Oh, I was also reminded of how much I love driving on windy roads. You have to stay so much more alert and find the perfect balance so that your turns aren’t too slow but aren’t so crazy that your passengers get car sick… I don’t know if I’m a weirdo, but that makes driving so much more entertaining for me.

New Orleans

This was definitely my most notable trip. I don’t even know where to begin because the trip definitely exceeded all expectations. I did not think one week would be so influential and unforgettable, and I am so glad I was blessed with the opportunity to go to such an awesome place. Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset What people say about New Orleans, that it is its own unique place different from the rest of the US is true. It has such a rich and lively culture and just being in that environment really brightens up your mood. I have never been anywhere else where people were more proud of their city. Every single person I met and talked to would always begin by telling me that they were either born and raised in New Orleans or had moved there and could not imagine life anywhere else. I especially love talking to locals about their food because you can actually see their eyes light up with pride. Highlights of the trip: 1) I went into the trip with 9 strangers from UCLA and came out of the trip with 9 new friends. It is actually really crazy how much we bonded and we will always have that bond from this NOLA trip that no one will quite understand. I felt comfortable telling them things about myself that few of my close friends even know. The bond we created is similar to the bond I feel for my Shanghai study abroad friends, but it’s crazy that I was able to develop that in a week. 2) The locals. After this trip, I realized that everyone has a story. If you are willing to put yourself out there and strike up a conversation with a stranger, you never know what you might learn. One of the girls on my trip really bonded with our site leader at one of our nonprofit sites and she ended up not only sharing extremely personal stories about her journey dealing with depression, but also ended up offering to cook a meal for all of us. That was probably one of my favorite nights of the trip. She came over straight from work, brought her son and husband, and cooked 5 hours straight for us, a group of girls that she had only met for less than 2 days. Boy was I grateful and boy, was that homemade Louisiana meal to die for. 3) I guess this is the perfect transition to this topic: food. While I don’t think I would be able to eat the New Orleans diet for a long time because the foods are so heavy, I can’t deny how fucking good it all is. I will never forget the doughy deliciousness we call beignets, the spicy and flavorful crawfish, the buttery fresh oysters, jambalaya, gumbo… the list goes on. Oh, and have you ever had tea spiked with alcohol? I hadn’t either before this trip. I love tea and I love alcohol, so that was some next level shit. Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset This summer, I’ll be going back to Hong Kong. I have also been thinking about possibly going to South Korea as my first trip on my own. I’ve always been curious as to see what traveling alone was like, and I feel that South Korea is a great place to start since it is very metropolitan and safe. Definitely will discuss with the parentals about this, but we shall see.