day 300

Wow, I can’t believe it’s already been 300 days! Today was definitely exciting, as I got to visit LA, specifically USC and its campus.

I didn’t sleep the best, possibly because I ate too much last night, or because of all the tea I drank. Haha. Anyways, I woke up at 6AM, and began the meticulous process of suiting up =) Then, Pastor Jack and I left around 7:15 to get breakfast, and we stopped by a Chinese bakery to pick up some pork buns, red bean pastries, and hot soy milk, delicious! =D the only bummer was that I forgot to take a fork, so when I ate with my hands, I managed to get some of the oil on my suit :/ but, I managed to get most of it off once I got to bathroom at the USC dental school. While it did bother me at the beginning of the interview because there were slight white splotches on my suit, I stopped caring once everything began, and I managed to hide it behind my folder when I carried it :P

Anyways, the ride to the campus took about an hour because of traffic, so it was a good thing we left the bakery at 7:45, and we arrived just on time! As soon as I found the meeting place for all the interviewees, I recognized a couple people from previous interviews. I met Ensang at my UPitt Interview, and he’s from Wisconsin, and it was great to talk to him because in a “sea” of random people, we had a connection, haha. And, it was great to hear this was both our 5th interview, though he’s interviewed more around the MidWest. Also, I recognized Ray from my UPenn interview, and again, it was great talking to him, though it slipped my mind where I had met him even though my interview at UPenn was less than a week ago. :P oh, and he’s from USF, so I guess this was much closer for him. 

The day began pretty laid back, as the associate dean said it should be a low stress, low anxiety day. We just talked about where we came from, our major, and an interesting fact about ourselves before he began talking about USC. It was pretty interesting, especially the huge alumni network and the history of USC and its dental school. Oh, and there’s a rivalry between USC and UCLA, and they seemed to pick on UCLA a bit :P

Then, we began our actual interview, but this was different than anything else I had done because this was a “group interview,” except it involved working on a case study and identifying a situation and offering solutions. We started with icebreakers, but they were actually interview questions, and it was very interesting to see how a person answered a question because I had only heard my own response… I’m so glad I was last to go because while we all received different questions, I definitely had time to recall certain experiences and share them on the spot. I decided to talk about Kairos and my dad as a mentor =) So, it was finally time for the case study, and they wanted to see how we worked together because the faculty had already read our applications and everything. And, in one sense, it was fine because I had anticipated this, and I spoke my part, participated, and did some note taking for the group. But, it was frustrating because there were definitely some people who were dominant and overly talkative, preventing other people from sharing, and sometimes, the note taker didn’t have enough time to write everything down. And, this kind of format was called PBL, problem-based learning, and this is unique for USC because this replaces the usual lectures & book studying, but I’m not sure how I like that. I think I’d prefer listening to lectures and having the option of working individually or in groups. I am always afraid that I won’t mesh with the group dynamics, and this would negatively affect my learning. Well, it’s a good thing I came to USC to check this out because while I had my initial reservations, I couldn’t confirm them until I actually experienced PBL. 

We had a quick writing sample about what we would do about winning the lottery, and I said that I’d give it all away because “friends” would always ask you for money, and it would possibly distort what wealth is. I’d rather earn my wealth than just have it given, because in the process, it builds character, especially patience. But, I don’t think they actually cared about what I wrote because they only wanted to make sure I knew how to write… but it was fun, at least! 

Then, we had lunch with some students, and honestly, they didn’t seem as excited about the school as I hoped they would be. I asked them about pros and cons about the school, and they were very broad/vague… as if, they were trying to go around the question. Whatever. At least I got to know some new people, and I got to talk with Bryant Lee, who is a senior at UC Irvine. We just talked about our experiences for interviews and such, and he’s someone I felt like we could be friends if we happen to go to the same dental school =).  Oh, but there were a couple annoying people though…or in particular, the girl next to me was annoyingly talkative. She would ask a question, and then interject while the dental student was responding to her question. She would repeatedly do this, and try to finish the sentences of the dental students unnecessarily. She’s from Yale undergrad… and if those are the people they accept, haha wow I’m glad I don’t know many people from there. And, we have another interview together at Tufts. GG. 

We had our financial aid session, and it was nothing different from other schools, except costs are estimated to be about $100k a year. Wowwwww.  Actually, that just sounds a lot even though most other schools are $90k. And, I’m not sure if I’m allowed to complain if I’m supposed to make it all back in the end…but I’m pretty sure that doesn’t happen till like 25 years after I graduate or something. Anyways, it was kind of boring just because I heard the same stuff 4 times already. We ended the day with a Q&A session about how USC does their final selections, and they collected a couple supplement forms from us. Honestly, the best impression about the school came from the associate dean. He seemed to actually be enthusiastic about the program, and he knew his stuff! He could answer all the questions directed toward him, and I guess that’s expected… we also took a tour of the facilities after, but I think since it was at the end of the day, everyone was just tired and did not feel like asking questions.

At the end of the day, I decided to explore the USC campus because it’s HUGE on the map! And, I met up with another interviewee, Bruce, and he showed me around the place because he had been here before. As we talked, we realized that we were both Taiwanese! He’s from Vancouver, BC, and it was interesting to hear how cold it was getting there compared to the sunny weather at USC. Haha, we were both just soaking in the beautiful weather, and we took a quick tour before I had to head back to the dental school so my ride could find me. I think Bruce hopes to stay in Vancouver because it’s much cheaper there for dental school, but he’s also looking into BU! He’s a pretty chill guy too, and it’d be pretty cool if we were classmates =).

I got picked up by Pastor Jack, and we went through more traffic as we returned. He took me through Pasadena to see some of the stores and sights around the area, and it was pretty cool although I was exhausted and had to seriously fight off the yawns and constantly nodding off. I took a nap when we got back, then I felt refreshed and started on work and catching up on emails. Then, we headed off to dinner, where we met with Annie, and coincidentally Diana again! Haha, that definitely wasn’t planned, but I guess in one day a lot can change, because she and her friend had just gotten into a minor car accident =/. And while nobody got seriously injured, I think there was some pain in the abruptness of the collision? That was definitely a bummer to hear… anyways, we met at another Taiwanese place, and this was actually owned by the same person who ran the hot pot place we went to yesterday… haha. I decided to get some spicy beef noodle soup, and it was delicious! Slightly different though, because the spicy was numbing instead of actually being spicy… so that confused me for a bit before I realized what was happening. I just thought my tongue was acting up, but I guess the milk tea helped counter it despite it not feeling actually spicy. 

oh and, i should probably mention, throughout the day, when pastor jack had to send me off to USC/pick me up, we talked a lot about what to do for the youth conference that’s coming up in two weeks. he was really encouraging about what to do, and at the same time, i noticed things i definitely need to improve upon in leadership, specifically, setting a vision for the group and raising up new leaders! i’m really glad for the talks we had, though i wish i wrote down some of the stuff he said! at least he’s coming in two weeks, so he can remind me in case i forgot anything :P oh and i love the way he’s able to communicate with his wife… i think the openness is something i’m really looking for in a relationship because nothing can replace good communication. and, it’s interesting, even though they’re older than me, i feel like we’re on the same wavelength in conversations… probably because they work with youth & college students, so in a sense, i felt like i was just talking with good friends :)

After a filling dinner, Pastor Jack and Annie sent me to the airport, and thankfully, everything went smoothly! Coincidentally, I saw Ensang again at the airport as he headed back to Wisconsin! :P Gosh, the red eye flight definitely is more stressful with everyone’s mood a little on the edge since it’s so late… and thankfully, I was one of the last people able to get my suitcases into the storage above before they had to be checked in =) And, then I pretty much slept my way through the night…

Yeah, I’m at Logan now… waiting for my dad to pick me up, and surprisingly, I feel awake =) It’s been a great but too short of a visit to LA, so I hope to visit soon again!

day 299

what a great day… but i need to sleep soon!

woke up late (typical!… i guess :/) for my 9am class, but i headed over because i figured i should probably go to a lecture after missing the last three due to interviews and oversleeping, haha. i mean, i have a midterm next tuesday… yeah. it was interesting though because we finally talked about christianity, though i didn’t have time to read the chapter. strangely enough, the book seems to give an inaccurate account for christianity, or at least kreeft made it seem like that… i guess i’ll give it a read myself although i agreed with most of the points he made in class when i read that same passage… oh well. i got notes from stephen for all the lectures i missed, then i showered and ate lunch before heading off to psych. 

psych was INCREDIBLY boring. i realized it’s not even worth taking notes because he spends like 20 minutes on a slide without being relevant to the topic itself. awesome. i would’ve read the book during class but i was exhausted so i pretty much napped through class because he never got to the iclicker questions… ok i promise this is a good day. haha. actually, the most exciting part of the class was when randomly, a girl got up, screamed, I’m done with this!, and left in a whirlwind. wow, that totally woke me up, and the class as well… everyone was confused for a bit… before returning to a daze and complaining about the professor again… if only the professor actually changed his boring lecture ways :/

went to the library to get some work done, mailed a couple thank you letters, and headed back to pack and leave for the airport. on the way there, i met pete, so we took the T into government center because he was going to the celtics v heat game! and i’m SO happy that the celtics won. i thought i was being too naive to think that the heat trio would be dysfunctional… but i guess that was true! :P

got to the airport an hour before my flight left, everything went smoothly… i had a turkey burger for dinner :) it was pretty good, and a decent price, especially at the airport. on the flight to LAX, i basically knocked out for some time, and then proceeded to do work. gosh, i felt SO efficient! no tumblr… or facebook… or youtube to distract me :P and so i caught up on a lot of my reading for my philosophy midterm, and i managed to get some math homework done too! yeah i have a midterm this friday… boo. and those 6 hours went by QUICK! haha i wish i had more time because i could’ve got even more stuff done :)

after the flight, i met up with pastor jack, as he would be hosting me and sending me to USC tomorrow! man, it was great talking to him because it was encouraging to hear what was going on at his church, and i got to share with him about how the youth group and church was doing. plus, he’s coming to boston in a couple weeks for our welcome night, so i got to talk about a couple of needs that i think the youth are lacking in terms of being more missional and loving. and we also discussed this over hotpot! and then his wife annie, and a friend diana, came to join us, and it was just amazing to hear stories about how god has been working in their lives and church. SO encouraging! man, i wish i had more time to spend in LA because already i seem to love the people there :P maybe next time… now i gotta get some sleep because of my interview tomorrow! aaaaaand, i heard traffic is HORRIBLE… so it takes about an hour to get to USC from where i’m staying. oh well, it’s time to suit up!

day 294

i did not sleep too well the night before… but when 630 came around, i was up! i took a long shower, and got myself psyched up for the day. actually, it was more like reflection and rehearsing answers to interview questions. when i got out of the shower, my breakfast came! except, it was weird because i had to accept it with just a towel since i had JUST come out of the shower… good thing it was a guy? uh. i had bacon, eggs, & potatoes with apple juice :) totally hit the spot. and despite feeling a cough coming on and lots of congestion, i felt like i could make it through the day. i got ready by 7:30, so i relaxed, looked over a couple more questions, and listened to brooke fraser to calm the nerves. i LOVE her new album! i’ve had to have played “Who Are We Fooling?” at least 50 times this past week… it’s so chillingly beautiful. but i think it’s about breaking up… doh. anyways, i posted the song recently, so i would definitely take a listen if you haven’t already… and buy her ALBUM! =)

i left the hotel at 8 and had plenty of time to spare when i arrived at the upenn dental school. i think in the meeting room, there was in total 14 interviewees including myself, and as always, the beginning was intimidating because everyone’s in suits (well the guys are… i’m not sure if suits are correct for girls… but the equivalent.) and i guess i have the habit of “sizing” people up. you know, to make myself feel more confident. a lot of people were from california and florida. two of notre dame… and one girl from northeastern! so, definitely an interesting mix. we went through introductions and info sessions in the morning, and one point made by the director admissions really struck me: “we care about people, not statistics.” i feel like that’s hard for upenn to say when their fact sheets show high mean gpas/dat scores, etc… but after looking over their information and talking with the students, i really believed it. and, it really resonated with me, because i’m hoping that i will continue to develop as a person in dental school!

we then took a tour around upenn, and the facilities were nice for the most part… the lecture rooms don’t have windows though… strange. and finally, it was time for my interviews! my first one was at 11, and this was with the assistant dean of admissions. it felt intimidating at first, but she was really nice, and i felt like i could just open up. i talked a lot about kairos, and developing as a person, and at the end of our short conversation, i felt that i had an opportunity to share parts of myself that weren’t on the application :) as soon as i got out of that interview, i was met with another faculty member, and we went to her office for the second interview! i kinda went over the same things because she had specific questions, but since it was more like an interview, i made sure to highlight examples that would answer the questions… and not just bs or something :P like, she wanted to know about my best and worst experience at bc, and i said kairos was my best experience, while the worst experience had to be the drinking culture because there doesn’t seem to be a compelling alternative. and, i also shared about my core group of friends in shaw, and how that’s allowed me to branch out and meet new people, especially people who i hope to stay friends after graduation :) and i think we ended with sharing about an example of feeling overwhelmed, so i told her about junior year and balancing everything, like physics, school work, studying, extracurriculars, relationships, church, sleep, etc. and i was able to maintain this by destressing through like guitar, journaling, and having conversations with people. so again, i felt very happy at the end of the interviews because i could share my story! =)

after the interviews, i really unwound…. we had lunch with a couple students, who were very helpful in describing the ups and downs of upenn, and i’m really impressed about how one guy came to upenn knowing that he wanted to be the best clinician possible. i think that’s my goal too… i’m pretty sure research isn’t for me. and he’s a family guy, and i think that’s something i resonate with too! after that, i took a self-guided tour of upenn, and the campus is BEAUTIFUL. i’d still say BC is more beautiful, but it’s under construction… :/ anyways, it’s a different kind of beauty because it’s so interesting how insulated it feels while being situated in the middle of a bustling city! that was pretty cool. and for the longest time, i thought this row of buildings belonged to a museum, but i figured out that they were housing! craaaaazy. 

seriously though, that does NOT look like housing… but another view of it actually reminds me of the new stokes hall that’s being built at BC… hmm.

upenn quad

vs.

bc stokes hall

haha maybe not.. i duno. after the tour, i went to go visit the bookstore, and it’s HUGE. i guess because it’s sponsored by barnes & noble, but it basically was a B&N store… with two floors and i was overwhelmed by everything they sold! bc bookstore could not compare. but, i realized that it was just as expensive :P so i just bought some thank you cards that i would use later, a card for my gajok daughter, rachel’s birthday, and a gift for my sister because i found some cool pencils! i didn’t want to buy a tshirt or something that said upenn… because what if i don’t get in? that’d be gg… haha.

anyways, being done with visiting upenn, i met up with nick & stella, and we hung out at their place, playing halo reach :P then we headed to koreana, and it had some amazing korean food! i couldn’t believe it: kalbi for $9! i think hmart costs $15… and it was pretty good :) that, and they paid for my dinner :D so i was very grateful. and full afterward, even though we ate a very early dinner at 4. the reason was because i had to catch the train back to the airport at 5… so they accommodated my schedule. we said our goodbyes as i took the bus to the train station, and i made it there a couple minutes late for the train at 5, but thankfully, i could catch the one at 5:30 and still make it an hour early before my plane left at 7:15. 

checking in and security was very quick, and there was like no line for security compared to the ones in logan! i waited at the terminal, and did some homework/reviewing. knocked out on the plane even though i planned on doing work :P after arriving at boston, i got on the silver line bus, went to south station, took it to park street, then took the B line to the star market at babcock… just to buy a birthday cake for rachel! i hope you realize that my gajok family is going to be the best ever!! anyways, i knew that the T would take forever getting back to campus, and i was already running late for a group meeting at 10… so i took a cab, and i was just $15 to get back to BC, including tip. i managed to get to BC around 10:30, changed/unpacked, and got ready to meet people at lower. thankfully, the project was mostly done, and i could just edit the rest later… so i headed off for rachel’s birthday. we met up at upper, and i’m so impressed that our entire family made it! it was kind of a fail at the beginning because we actually went into her room BEFORE 12… some freshmen were too antsy. haha. but, we sang happy birthday to her, justin oh used a lighter as a candle (so ghetto!), and then justin also caked her… haha. i guess since she’s now a ksa fresh rep, he gets to do that… that and he’s the grandpa of all gajoks. fine fine, i guess i must respect my elders :P oh the only bummer was that we never got to eat the cake! rachel is wayyyyy too popular, and there were so many of her friends there once we said happy birthday, so we just left and let her share the cake with her friends… bummer :/

a good night though, as the rest of us headed back down to lower. and now it’s time to study… i’m glad i did put some time into this exam already… but i hope i don’t stay up too late! i am also glad that i’m writing this entry now so i won’t leave it for the last minute and sleep even later! i think i’m gonna have to study more tomorrow and skip my 12pm class just to be safe. whew, i didn’t think i’d be THIS busy as soon as i got onto campus… but what an exciting day!

day 293

ok so i can’t journal too long because i need to sleep soon!

classes went well today… turned in my homework early for math because i wouldn’t be able to on thursday… because of my interview! thankfully, she’s really understanding and she’ll help me catch up on the stuff i miss because i’ll also miss two more lectures the next week :/ physio and dev were fine too, we got to play jeopardy!…except it wasn’t as interesting as i thought it’d be. oh well

packing for the trip went smoothly, i had enough time so i didn’t rush, but throughout the packing and trip to philly, i felt like i didn’t pack something… but so far, i haven’t lost anything! oh and i updated my splash class for pokemon :P see X58… it’s gonna be legendary :)

the trip and flight to philly went by really smoothly. stopped by mcdonalds to get monopoly stuff finally :O… i won medium fries… meh. i knocked out on the plane, and then the ride from the airport to the hotel took an hour! so frustrating… but at least it was only $10. actually, waiting for the bus was kinda weird. i called the place, and they told me to go to the transportation front desk and ask for 27. what?! so when i got there, i was told to sign my name, and i was given a ticket. then i was given a phone to dial 27… and it was the woman from the bus place again. whoa. and because i had a ticket, now she could give the driver directions to pick me up… yeah i think i’m gonna take the train back to the airport…

after getting situated at the hotel, which is FREAKING nice. i didn’t even turn on the tv though… but i shouldn’t get distracted! i love the soap and lotion they provide… i’m gonna bring it back :P i looked at the map they gave me and realized that drexel was next to upenn! SERIOUSLY? because stella and nick, who are from my youth group, go there! and so i called them up, and hung out with them. they showed me their place, and then we went out and visited the grocery store to pick up a late night snack… sushi! mmmmmm. i’m glad they showed me around because i was afraid the city might be dangerous… and even better, we basically went to the dental school, so now i know how far it is! oh, but the only bad thing is that i almost saw two girls get run over… because they crossed the street when they weren’t supposed to… i guess drivers dont stop O_O. oh boy. meanwhile, it was really great catching up with them because i haven’t talked to them often, especially since they didn’t come back in the summer due to coop. i only talked to nick in the summer because of starcraft 2 :P anyways, it was really cool because they visited me in my freshmen year, and now i had the opportunity to see them :) it was definitely a fun time, and i hope that they get coop jobs back in mass! oh, and i’m looking forward to eating dinner with them before heading back to the airport tomorrow :D

i spent the rest of the night preparing for the interview tomorrow… and i think i’m falling in love with upenn! so much of the school resonates with me, and while i was nervous for most of the day about this interview, now i’m really excited! i really hope i’m able to speak my mind and leave the interview confident about how i shared my thoughts…. the only bummer is that i can feel a cough beginning to happen :/ i think i stayed out too much the past few nights in the cold talking to people. oh well… being in the room and eating sushi and reading on upenn was a very unstressful night… kinda reminds me of kairos :P oh and i ironed my clothes… that was fun too!

oh, and after mako’s talk yesterday about being thankful, i’ve made a conscious decision to be thankful about the big and small things, like being able to interview at upenn, and also for the whole trip so far to go so smoothly. i’m sure i’ve been thankful before about stuff like this, but i’m hoping that by making enough conscious decisions, it’ll become a good habit, and develop into a way of life :)

ok well, i gotta get ready to suit up tomorrow and do well in my interview :)

day 277

woke up at 630 to a ridiculously loud alarm! but that definitely woke me up, and i got ready for the day. got breakfast, and then waited for the bus. and waited more… because a couple vans were shuttling people to another conference as well. thankfully, i still got there on time with other people from the hotel who were also being interviewed.

wow there were so many more people than i expected! i think there was like 30-40 people there, and i felt a bit out of place… many of the people seemed much older, like some already held other jobs, and were married… we began with a couple lectures about the program. the professors/dentists were interesting… but it got boring :/ then we had a brunch with some students, and that went pretty well. the student that was at my table was 31, had a wife and 2 kids, and was a sophomore at the dental school… wow! it definitely took some time to get used to the fact that people were married and had a family… well, after the brunch, i got to take a tour of upitt, and it was pretty interesting to see all the different branches of dentistry in the building. the funniest part was when we went down the pediatric wing because the woman there greeted us with “welcome to pedo land!” LOL. it’s very hard for me to not smile when i hear people wanting to go into pedo… gosh that needs to be changed.

after the tour, i had my interview! i was told throughout the day that students who go to pitt enjoyed their interviews because they were really laid back. so, that’s what i was expecting! and… what a fail. the interviewer started grilling me, and while he was trying to encourage me and help me improve my interviewing skills, all i could think was whether i really wanted to go into dentistry. i think the thing that stuck out was his question about whether i wanted to go to upitt… and i couldn’t think of an answer! like i honestly couldn’t think of a reason why i would want to go… i just applied there because i thought it’d be a good idea, and that i could learn more about it if i got in. haha i kinda did that for BC and it worked out :P

well, the interview was quick… he was looking at his watch a couple times during the interview because there was another interviewee after me, and i just couldn’t shake the feeling that something didn’t feel right.. and it was more than just the gloomy weather :/. things were a lot more relaxed coming back to the common room, where some people were still waiting to be interviewed while others were done as well. it was fun talking to people from all over the place who had come to this session. i guess i should be really thankful because only about 300+ people are interviewed out of 16000, and admissions only looks to fill 80 seats. gosh what a low percentage… well, some other people were really hoping to get into pitt. abbey went to pitt for undergrad, and she hopes to get into here for dental school. i really hope she does! though personally, i don’t think i could go to the same place for all 8 years…

after the interview and financial aid session, it was finally time to go. i headed back to the hotel, picked up my stuff, caught the bus to the airport, and everything went pretty smoothly. i got to my gate pretty early, so i got some mcdonalds :) but as i waited, i realized that my flight was delayed for half an hour… not too bad. so we boarded at 6:30 instead of 7. but little did i know… we were gonna be delayed for another 2 hours! seriously?! i’d rather be at the gate with internet access than in my seat waiting for another hour or two. so, we didn’t take off until 830 because i guess the boston winds and rain were horrible until then. and i didn’t get to boston till 10.

i managed to get out of the airport smoothly, found my way to the silver line and got on that for the first time! transferred to the blue line (have i ever been on this line before…?), then to the green line, and finally, made my way back to BC campus… at 11. whew. what a long day. i saw the end of the pats game, and then wished dave a happy birthday! and then studied BU’s dental program before going to bed. gosh…. i didn’t expect to be this stressed and crammed for time with this flight delay and such… i guess planning two interviews back to back wasn’t the smartest idea. :/

day 201

wow the entire flight back to boston went so smoothly! praise god :D

the morning was probably the most hectic, and rightfully so, because we had to make sure we got to the airport early enough, avoiding possible traffic, and having enough time to get through check-in and what not. on top of that, we didn’t sleep much (or at all :P) so it’s much easier to get irritated at one another, but, i’m so glad that things didn’t go that way!

we managed to get all of our 8 bags & suitcases down to the first floor in just two trips, and the van we booked was there on time! and he helped us put on all those luggages we packed… i think half of them were at least 40 lbs. the trip to the airport went without a hitch as we didn’t meet any traffic, and surprisingly, there was no line for check-in! this was absurd because for the past two years, we’ve had to wait, though usually not too long, but no line?! awesome =) and none of our luggages exceeded the 50lb limit. whew… security check went by without any problems but up to that moment, i had a sudden freakout because i realized i had left my string cutter in my guitar case, which could possibly be mistaken as a “weapon” since it does have a sharp edge… but, through all the security checks, i was never asked to open the case so i never had to throw it out :)

we got to our gate pretty early because there were no delays so we rested. the morning stress was taking a toll on us, and on the trip to tokyo, we just slept. well except for lunch! that was delicious because it was japan air :P. at tokyo, there was a short line through security, which was a relief because every time i go through there, i’m reminded of last year’s misery: being stuck in that place for 2-3 hours waiting in two different lines… but this time it was quick :) we waited at the gate again, and it was interesting hearing chinese, korean, and japanese all being spoken there. i think two korean boys were watching me play DS, haha. the flight to chicago went by surprisingly fast too. it was an 11 hour trip, and i slept a good 8-9 hours of it. i woke up only for the meals, and each time i got apple juice because it was japanese and it tastes SO MUCH BETTER than what we have in the US. it’s so addicting :). oh and i stayed up to watch How To Train A Dragon, which was great. I thought planes had horrible movies but I knew this one was rated really good so I just HAD to watch it. I want a pet dragon now… :/ 

after landing in chicago, it was time for the international checking process and the customs check. the line went by fast, and even with 8 luggages, there really was no check on them… i think last time, we were so frustrated with customs because the line was ridiculously long and almost missed our connecting flight to boston, but this time, everything seemed orderly… i was waiting for a dog to come around to sniff our stuff as they usually do, but i didn’t get to see one =/ customs was so lax this year. interesting… there was a slight delay on our flight to boston, but somehow, we managed to get back at 830PM on time! they said they made up the time during the flight, so that was good to hear. additionally, it’s a good thing i got on early for the plane because at the end, people ran out of space (check-in luggages for domestic flights cost money on AA :/) and they had to check-in their carry ons. anyways, i was able to put my guitar in an overhead… whew, my guitar is getting home safely!

when we got back to boston finally, we saw my dad waiting at the baggage claim, we gave him hugs, and then picked up our 8 luggages. we drove home, with my mom updating him on some of the interesting things that happened during our trip to taiwan, and it’s just been a very calm day, thankfully!

though, there is some bittersweetness on my mind: my sister didn’t get into shaw, which is troubling because i’m supposed to have a role in choosing the new 20 (and the list came out today!), but i kind of forfeited that opportunity by going to taiwan… but, perhaps this is for the better! i’m very appreciative of what i’ve gained from the program, but i’ve slowly come to realize that perhaps my year was more of an oddity in its cohesiveness though now even that’s changed (which it should!). plus, even though one door has closed, it’s opened up many others… at least, from my own experience, it allows her to try a lot more things because those 7pm monday meetings did limit what i could participate in… and the shaw house was a bit exclusive in its friendships. so, maybe i’m envious of her, haha! and well, if she gets newton, that might not be too bad (she said so herself… though only time will tell), and if i get a car, well i could just send her back :P.

i guess, after my freshman year, i did wonder what my experience at BC would’ve been like if i hadn’t been at shaw: would i have met more people? would i have been involved in different things? would i have stayed at BC?

if anything, i keep coming to the same conclusion that it has been the relationships that have sustained and motivated me. and i’m sure my sister will find that with our without a leadership program. 

so now, i have other things to think about: paying for my dental application fees (round 2!), ew. and filling out supplements. and visiting people! and VBS! and going away parties… =( and 7th grade initiation ;) and taiwan pictures :D. 

day 183

         I guess I’m only celebrating half of my birthday because the day is already over in Taiwan… =/. Anyways, the flight to Tokyo went by surprisingly fast, I didn’t even watch any movies, not that there were any good ones. And I managed to finish reading Sex God by Rob Bell. It was SO good, the insights were great, and I hope to apply them or apply them better…

sex god

         There was a 3-hour layover at Tokyo. My bag got completely searched, probably because of all the electronics I was carrying. The wait definitely took its toll, as almost everyone passed out, and by the time we got on our flight, we were feeling horrible. But the attendants were nice… and Asian, haha. They just seemed nicer but they kind of all looked the same… I tried my best in staying awake for the food, but my mom had to wake me. This was probably the best in flight meal of the trip because Japan Air was in charge! So, the food was delicious: sliced pork, rice, salad, pear jello for dessert, cold noodles. The green tea was very dark green, kinda surprised me. This was definitely the hardest stretch of the trip, but it was a joy to find that the person next to me was listening to Don’t Stop Believing =). As soon as those 3 hours were over, we got off and could feel the humidity. Thankfully, the customs check and baggage claim was quick, and we were on our way! We met up with the coworkers from the Kaohsiung Bread of Life Church, and saw Mrs. Weng’s brother because the Chens had brought a gift for him (of all things… an antenna?).

         We managed to fit all the luggage in 2 vans, and the person who drove us was Charlie, who was 29. He shared a little about how he grew up as a Christian but left at 17 and returned at 27. Now, he feels like he’s making up for lost time, and he encouraged us by saying how it’s great that such a young group is going out to do missions =). Oh, and his English was not too shabby.. The place we’re staying at is nice, and I’m just exhausted! Worship is tomorrow, and I need the energy! Oh, and we finally celebrated my birthday, and I got Mario gummies and Ken & Barbie dolls from Toy Story 3… all prepared by my sisters. Haha. I’m not sure what to do with the dolls though… 

day 182

Got to Dallas pretty quickly, I wanted to journal but I was too exhausted. Got some emails done but there was no wifi, so I could only save them as drafts. I saw Popeyes’ at the food court! But I wasn’t hungry, just tired. Boarded the plane after an hour and a half and the attendants were nice enough to store my guitar in a closet. I was afraid that it would be difficult to store my guitar in the overhead compartment for an international flight. Anyways, in trying to adjust to the 12 hour difference, I slept for the first half of the trip because it was 1AM in Taiwan. I did wake up though when they gave out snacks and the first meal. I’m not sure if it was lunch or dinner but it was beef! I went back to sleep immediately after, but was awoken once again by a sharp pain because I had my left leg in the same position the whole time. Funny, I had read something on that in the airplane magazine in hopes of finding good movies playing on the flight (there weren’t any…), and I thought it wouldn’t affect me because I can play computer/study for hours without moving much… haha that owned me. Just touching my left knee sent pain down to my foot. That eventually subsided as I elevated my foot and slept until they handed out a sandwich snack. It wasn’t too bad, a turkey sandwich. It also included a brown snack thing and a mint.  The brown thing was actually biscotti, which I thought was that healthy brown bread at restaurants, and I didn’t want something dry like that. But, as I took the first bite, I was so surprised! This was what my taste buds needed: something crunchy, chocolatey, and nutty! YUM.

         From that, I was awake and it was 8:25AM in Taiwan, perfect! So I decided to start journaling but I got distracted by getting everywhere to play tetris on the DS (ok so maybe I distracted everyone…). We had a 5-way game and it was pretty fun! And the best part was that we managed to kill 2 hours and it was just 3 more hours to Tokyo! Wow, I didn’t even have to watch a movie… or go to the bathroom (uh oh…). My goodness, I’ve written so much for the last two days, but a lot’s been on my mind. It’s got me thinking about what the past 21 years have been like, and how the next decade of life will turn out. I think I’ll reflect in another entry, as my hand has cramped. I can’t figure out if it’s my birthday yet… this time difference is so confusing, but yay!? I guess… haha. (ok, it’s been confirmed now. I was playing Tetris when I turned 21…)

 

Oh, and music I’ve been listening to:

Hillsong Live – Beautiful Exchange

Bart de Krijer – Peace 1 & 2

Tim Be Told – Getting By

days 177 & 178

couldn’t blog last night because i was on a red-eye flight back to boston, and it felt like just one long day because it was so difficult to sleep on the plane. 

so saturday morning… it was a bit hard to wake up because i found myself sore from playing basketball.. we also had to pack and get our stuff out because we were flying out at 8pm and had to checkout by noon. so, we ate breakfast, checked out, and stored our bags for later.

this morning’s worship was led by rolcc’s own band! sadly… musically-wise they were the least skilled. :/ though still talented! it was just that they began with “the time has come” and the intro (which is pretty difficult) got pretty confusing and kinda lost everyone… people started clapping when it began but then stopped because we had no idea what was going on… and i felt bad for the guitarist who sang at the wrong tempo for stronger… i make that mistake all the time, but it just sucks to be in that situation. all in all, it was good especially near the end with burning ones and how he loves.

i loved the morning message. probably because i love james wang! he is the youth pastor for rolcc, and he’s hilarious! partly because he’s fobby, but sometimes, he’s just funny without trying. like, he was sharing about a story and accidentally, he calls his wife his sister, which he tried to play off as “sister in christ” haha! same difference… but the story he shared was quite moving because before the retreat, he felt a burden to pray for a girl that would feel lonely from a midwest area because of her circumstance, but that was all he knew. so he prayed, and thought of a gift to get her to show her that he and his wife cared for her… but he didn’t know who she was! and even till that morning, he was thinking of “filtering” people, (haha!) to find her, but then he found out, as he was told the news that a girl from colorado just had her mom pass away the night before. and in that moment, i was so surprised at how that story played out… because to begin praying for an anonymous girl for half a year… wow and to see it unfold like that. it was heartbreaking to hear that the mother had passed away, but i was also gladdened to know that she wouldn’t have to go through it alone.

so, all this was before the actual message. but surprisingly, he spoke quick despite having a translator because he spoke in chinese and pastor angela translated. that was so funny to see :) he basically shared from psalms 133, and how it talks about unity and anointing oil. he shared that anointing oil served 3 purposes: protection, fragrance, and glory and that this anointing came from unity. pastor james shared how his purpose for this conference was to unite the different river of life churches, and to let them know that aren’t isolated. and by seeking unity, there would be destined blessings. anyways, he shared about his own idea of destiny, and he tried youtubing it, but that wasn’t too helpful… unless you want destiny’s child … or this! (i will find you… in my dreams! LOL. techno and violin… what a combo. oh and pastor james acted this out. priceless!) but he realized that people are looking to understand their own destinies. anyways, he gave examples for the anointing oil and its purposes, and since i can’t really depict the humor in words, i’ll just leave it with the fact that you have to see him in person! such a clown :D. lastly, he left us with the application that while our personal destinies are unique, they should be conformed to the commandment: “go and make disciples of all nations.” if it’s not, then there will be a lot of frustration as god’s purposes and our own desires will conflict. sort of like… how if you put meat into a shaved ice machine… (that was his analogy…errr)

lunch was alright. vietnamese subs. went to go play basketball, and i guess my toe kept rubbing against my shoes everytime i jumped because when i checked my socks after, there was a bloody spot :/. worship time with the hendricksons was good, and then it was time for workshops! 

for the first one, i went to emily lim’s “being culturally relevant,” and she shared about how christians tend to either isolate themselves from the culture or comprise with the culture. but to engage the culture while being serious about one’s faith requires a balance between the two extremes. for myself, i’d say i’m pretty good at isolating myself. whether it’s hanging out with just asian christians at BC, or not hanging around during the weekends. i’m not too good at being in the BC culture because i don’t like mingling with people at parties… haha anyways, she gave a funny analogy of how christians are like manure. because when they’re all together, it smells like crap! but when they’re spread out, they fertilize, and bring growth. and life. :) another strange analogy, but they got my attention :P she shared about her own experiences at her church, where she’s mindful of the culture. it’s more than just bashing everything potentially evil (omg twilight. omg harry potter), and she says how it’s funny that she can make herself more approachable just by the way she dresses. i guess her youth would say like, our pastor dresses cool! or something. i guess you wouldn’t take her for a pastor. she is kind of intimidating though… she looks angry all the time :/ but she’s nice! i really liked what she said about her ministry. she doesn’t care about people who come from other churches to visit because she’s concerned about the lost, the last, and the least. she would rather find those who are unchurched, or hate the church because of previous bad experiences than those who are church hopping. and i really needed that reminder.

and so, to give examples about being culturally relevant without compromising or isolating one self, she talked about successful companies, namely: mcdonalds, apple, and disney world. mcdonalds is successful because it understands its demographic. she talked about how even the menu in canada is different than the one in the us, even though she only lives 20 minutes from the border. in india, they have the mccurry burger! and in japan, udon. in singapore, chili sauce for you fries, and rice in taiwan! :P for apple, it was about price point and sleek packaging. while a cheap price would allow more people to buy the product, it would be a trend that quickly dies out because everyone would have it and thus nobody would want it. and on the flip side, if it’s too expensive, only an exclusive group would own it. so, both the pricing and the sleek packaging/colors make it desirable and attainable. and for christianity, i think we do have the problem of cheapening it. she talked about how we would “beg” people to come to our group (i’ll do your homework!) and yet nobody would turn up because who would want to go to a group out of pity? it sure doesn’t make the product sound good and it’s scary to think how that reflects how we see god. and lastly, (well more like she ran out of time), disney world is known for its customer service, and all its employees are focused on that. i think i do forget that. i’m “busy” with church stuff that i don’t have time to spend it with people, especially newcomers. and in all, while i thought i knew this stuff, i realized that i hadn’t applied it at all…

the second workshop was worship with the hendricksons. i was hoping to learn some instrumentation/teachings or chord voicings/progressions, but instead, i heard about how the drummer john met his wife in hawaii through playing at her church. and they’ve been married for just two months! anyways, the workshop was about spontaneous worship… and it just felt awkward because i didn’t want to sing over a progression. so i just sat there…oh well.

dinner was kinda bland. american chinese food :/ oh i got to meet and talk with the suns more (nate and dave), and it was hilarious playing rock band with them. listening to nate tyring to sing along to chop suey. those lyrics are SO fast. haha. i spent the rest of the time just walking around because i don’t really like mingling… and the west coast people already were hanging out with one another… and everyone around me seems to be in middle or high school… blah. but i eventually met up with a friend, daniel zhang, that i met a couple years ago, and we just talked about why i hadn’t come to cali for the past few years and how school/life was going. so that was great, and we talked until i had to leave for the airport. 

pastor quoc, the youth pastor for rolcc, sent us back to the hotel for the shuttle to the airport, and the pastor’s wife of the bread of life church in taipei was coming with us because she was going to speak this sunday. so it was a smooth trip through the airport security and check-in, but the flight itself was brutal. well, worse than i expected. i first played piccross (shoot i’m addicted! and so are my sisters… haha) until my brain was tired. and throughout the playing, there was this really loud baby scream. and at least i wasn’t trying to sleep yet, but it was nerve-wracking. high pitched and constant… but i couldn’t really blame the baby because it must’ve been hard for it… the airplane is not the most comfortable place to sleep. eventually it quieted down, and i just listened to dave barnes. i’m not sure i really slept because i felt like i kept waking up and that my eyes were just closed…. but soon enough we landed, and as i tried opening my eyes, it hurt so much! i felt so groggy. and it was 6am EST. oh boy.

luggage claim and pick up by my dad (gosh, he came at like 530 in the morning!) went smoothly, and we all just slept on the ride back. at home, i took a nap from 7 to 9 and got up to get ready for church. the shower helped so much in waking me up, and i felt like i could face the day. things felt a bit surreal, but as service started, i felt my energy coming back as i led worship. strange! it’s usually the opposite…. i get worn out because of singing and playing. so praise god :) and so for the morning, i just shared what i learned from the conference during the testimony time, mainly concerning pastor james’ talk. and for sunday school, karen and tiffany shared their thoughts, and we talked about being culturally relevant (emily lim), and i encouraged them to be more creative and courageous in their expectations of god :). so we brainstormed about how we can “go and make disciples of all nations” and i pray that we can be united under such a vision for this next school year.

lunch was great! there was kimchi too :P. didn’t really do much though… just hung out with the youth and played with the kids. or more like, there were two buzz lightyears trying to laser me. then, we began deconstructing the stage because we had to bring over the drums, mics, and piano to the new church for the dedication service. it was a lot of work taking it all apart, and we loaded up like 2 minivans and a couple cars with gear. at the end of it, it was kind of surprising because i felt like this was a foreshadowing of what is going to happen when we actually move out and go to the new church…it was kind of sad to see the stage so empty…

then came the somewhat fun task of putting it all back together! i thought that the drums would be packed and squeezed for space, but in the end, when we laid it out, it was more spacious than the original set up back at the old church! but, the stage itself was definitely much smaller. it’s gonna be a bit difficult fitting all the vocalists, the guitarist (me) and the bassist. but, at least this is just temporary. we just need to plan to see where the best place for the sanctuary could be. i should post up floor plans!

anyways, an audio guy lent us his PA system, and it’s MAD nice! Bose speakers?! wowwwww. so we set that all up, and we practiced through the set for tuesday, but that was so tiring. because of my lack of sleep and the lack of air circulation in the room despite air conditioning. when that was all done, we just moved some more stuff, and i headed back home with my dad. had a quiet dinner, but it was so good because it was good chinese food :) and spent the rest of the time just “resting” on my laptop, i.e. checking tumblr posts or blogs or email. now i just gotta organize my stuff, pack for taiwan, get some shaw stuff done, and send out my dental apps… oh boy!