Random thoughts on a 14 hours flight

 

3I have always liked turbulence on planes (writing this on the flight to SF may be jinxing it since the entire plane is shaking even harder now). It’s like you always get it when you fly over Japan. It has just the right dose of danger within comfortable range that in those few seconds, you suddenly realize that your life is only hanging by a thread. There is no guarantee that you’ll live through the next millisecond.

4Despite knowing all the statistics about how unlikely the odds are, there is still that tiny sense of uncertainty, a hint of doubt no matter how many times I fly. Just WHAT IF my plane is the one that crashes? (at least I’d have higher chances of surviving since I’m poor I get to “avoid” the most dangerous front rows of the plane) What if this is the plane where co-pilots have high power distance? (No worries, even Korean Air has fixed this for a while now, I took it just 6 months ago) What if this is the unfortunate flight where someone absentmindedly brought along a Samsung Note 7? Or the one where mechanical teams made just a bit too many little mistakes that adds up fatal? If you are reading this now, by all means, I survived J and it wouldn’t even be surprising because you know and expect flights to land safely. Yes, we all take that for granted. A gigantic machine with WINGS that carry hundreds of people, fly over tens of thousands of kilometers over the ocean, the snowy mountains and the continental plates at 40 thousands feet altitude somehow made it to the destination! HELLO? How amazingly wonderful is that? Instead of complaining about the cold bread, the lack of wifi or bad taste in flight entertainment; shall we just be grateful that we reached our destination SAFELY? This not so simple act is almost a miracle in itself! And just because something incredible happens often doesn’t make it any less magical. Don’t wait until your plane flips over and land on the Hudson River to realize that.

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So perhaps just this thought of how fragile life is, just how easy we could vanish from this world, makes me treasure every single touch down and appreciates my presence in the world (however light weighted) to a greater extent. As I picture my not so perfectly shaped heart pumping just the right amount of blood that circulates my entire body with every pulse; I feel that much more alive.

Written on the 5th flight in 2017.

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What is a better city than New York to be lonely in? (Begin Again)

What is a better city than New York to be lonely in? (Begin Again)

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Although it had been a year or so since I was last in New York, Begin Again brought back so many electrifying images in my head. There is a strange sense of familiarity when I was watching the movie. Brooklyn, Washington Square, Central Park, China Town, EMPIRE STATE BUILDING AND TIME SQUARE!

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I know I know, it makes me sound like a pathetic small town girl being overwhelmed by the flickering lights of Time Square, but the truth is, tall modern buildings and urban skylines are not foreign to me. Being born and raised in an international city (Hong Kong.), I’m not new to fast-paced urban lives. But to me, having been to New York twice for a substantial time, it has occupied a special place in my heart, as the one and only metropolitan.

 

There is something about it that you can’t find elsewhere, Tokyo, Paris, Seoul, Manila, HONG KONG… no, New York is special. It is lined with gold and glittering light bulbs. It is rough and delicate. It is rugged and posh. It is violent yet elegant. It is imperfect but complete. It smells awful but the air is intoxicating. It is the home of hobos and jobless people; but the land of promises, of dreams coming true. As if New York itself is a rusted paradox.

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I loved every bits of its uncivilised subway, even the human poop (don’t ask why I knew it wasn’t dog shit) in it. I loved walking on the streets of Manhattan all by myself, slightly frozen yet still striding forward. And that all I had was just me and my music and my solitude. I miss that feeling of having a free heart and open mind; fearless and hopeful.

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To anyone who has ever been lonely in a city

a) some things are meant to be kept between yourself; things that only you would understand and appreciate. Things that you should never stop doing.

b) being with someone doesn’t mean you won’t feel lonely anymore and that’s perfectly fine.

c) everyone needs their own purpose in life.

d) in case of depression, just keep walking.

Because a city as big is capable of containing your insignificant sorrows. Let the darkness absorb all your troubles and surrender to the chaos of urban lives.

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And back to the movie, I enjoyed the soothing music, Kiera’s fashion style and the fact that the male and female leads had pure friendship. The movie was about second chances, something that I am learning in the hardest way possible. Of course it was about Adam Levine’s singing too 😉

Simply put, watching this movie alone in a row all to myself at 9:30 am before work, is one of the best decisions I have made lately.

p.s. I wonder if new yorkers ACTUALLY realised how lucky they are to be living in such a gorgeous city.

THE ultimate trip of U.S. Exchange – Cliché New York Part 2

THE ultimate trip of U.S. Exchange – Cliché New York Part 2

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To continue, let’s begin with random photography. It is amazing how a tiny camera can produce art so easily. Although I cannot draw nor paint, I would say writing and photography are the closet art form I can do 🙂

Wall Street – errr…checked. Of course, we had to visit the famous Wall Street. Yea, it was just… a street. And the bull. Way too many people… wasn’t a nice experience at all, BUT the cup of Christmas Starbucks Coffee afterwards to warm our hands and stomach was great 🙂 I mean I’m not really  into the whole Starbucks culture, it’s fat and expensive and I have had much better coffee at random cafes in Europe at cheaper prices. With that being said, however, I must say I’m just an ordinary consumer who simply cannot resist their Christmas Marketing packaging around coffee! ❤

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911 Memorial – Essentially, there were two giant fountains where, unlike traditional fountains that shoots water upwards, the water is pouring downwards. As if there were some sort of suction deep down that drains away the water, which I think is really sad. As if there is a black hole deep down in every victim’s friends and family where they throw in their memories and happiness, that is forever gone along with their deceased loved ones. As the sun set, a thin layer of the last ray of light casted over the buildings in a sad and ominous red. When I first noticed it, I could not help but saw it as a symbol of blood. (Perhaps a result of taking World Lit classes this semester.) I remember this taxi driver from NJ told me that his best friend, a fireman, died in 911 and he never quite got over it even after that many years. This also reminded me of a movie I watched alone, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. I cried so much it was definitely a good decision to have went alone.

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Staten Island Ferry – checked exhaustedly. Since the 911 memorial was delayed, we got to the Staten Island ferry really late. It was so windy and freezing cold walking towards the pier, we were bending lower n lower and almost crawling on our hands in the end; while New Yorkers strolled by us casually like we were freaks.

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The ferry probably meant more to us as a resting stop. Someone then fell asleep looking like a dog. Speaking of which, my hat resembles a cat and hers a dog, can you tell? 😛 In general though, New York was glistening with lights because it’s almost Christmas. My absolute favorite festival of the year, presents, feasts, fireworks, friends and family. Home. Nothing gets better than Christmas ❤

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Night View of Manhattan (Top of the Rock) – done that. I can’t say the view was spectacularly gorgeous because honestly, coming from Hong Kong, I have seen one of the prettiest skylines at night when I was just a kid. Somehow the “New York” Magic did not work so much on me. I mean the view was decent, but nothing unexpected. New York was in many ways nice, like Time Square and the neon ads but other things made me appreciate Hong Kong so much more. The new and efficient metro system, safe and clean streets etc. When there was constantly no signal underground, I couldn’t help but exclaim, AND THIS is NEW YORK!?

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Bryant Park / Christmas! – OUTDOOR ICE SKATING RINK 🙂 Now this, this is different because I don’t see them a lot. One thing, out of the not too many things, I love about New York are their parks. We can definitely use more of these in Hong Kong, a system that cleanses the air and soul. Since it is Christmas, they had an outdoor ice skating rink set up with pink lights shining upon it. It was so magical and warm. I felt like I could just stare at it forever watching people glide by loop after loop. I took like a million photos there.

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And this concluded the NYC trip. I have been to NY several times now and in my humble opinion, it looks prettier on screen. To end on a special note, we were walking along this street and  saw some cities written on the building: Milan, Stockholm, Rome. And I shouted to my travel buddy “OMG THESE ARE ALL THE CITIES WE HAVE BEEN TO!” Yes, perhaps we have just been to too many major cities, or may be it was destiny. But these names that marked Barclays’ global presence are somehow like a prophecy of our friendship 🙂 It was just a pleasant surprise from life.

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Eventually, we concluded that Miami is our next destination after Singapore 😉

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But before THAT, the next stop would be LA! And to my GREATEST surprise, there is a modern city stinkier than PARIS! I just couldn’t believe it at first.

THE ultimate trip of U.S. Exchange – Cliché New York Part 1

After this 10 days trip (that included an unfortunate tiny accident at the end as usual), it took me an ENTIRE week to catch my breath and catch up on schoolwork. Now that school is FINALLY coming to an end (2 more SNOWY DAYS ONLY), I better start getting back on my writing spree because there is so much to note down before they slip away from my memory…weeeee 🙂

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First part is New York and I think we did a pretty good job covering everything we wanted to see together, Chicago The Musical, MOMA, Time Square, Staten Island (Statue of Liberty), SOHO (which essentially just means GROM!) and NY at night.

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Like any other trip, of course the spotlight is straight on food. And this is just what heaven would look like if translated into cake…ok may be that doesn’t make sense, but the cakes at Cheesecake Factory are just so delicious (although really really overpriced too :P) the melted marshmallow clings closely to the chocolate cheesecake and it was so velvety and smooth and sweet and dreamy ahhhhh…IMG_3905

Right, now I shall tick off our checklist one by one:

Chicago – absolutely checked. It was just so exciting and glamours, the band were so professional and the choreography was excellent. It was humorous and very entertaining. However there technically wasn’t a set and don’t expect much from the costumes. The special effects were sparse but spot on. What makes it even better was the rush tickets we bought at 30 bucks. We sat right in the front row center seats on the balcony. SO worth it.

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MOMA – yea just.. checked. Yes the atmosphere and the space is really something. But both of us are not very artistic. And the art there, which I’m sure must be pretty darn good because of the famous names (Picasso, Matisse etc.), just made it even HARDER for us to appreciate compared to say Musee d’Orsay or The Louvre. At least those paintings look like SOMETHING (lotus, bridge, sky, woman etc.)

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But these? These were just SO abstract: RED painting = art, PINK Plank = art, White background scribbled with words = art, Phallic object chair = art…Anyway, it is probably us, and not you, so it’s okay…I guess we will just stick with food which we are so good at appreciating.

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Then of course there is me acting like I completely understood what the artist is trying to do there 😛 and attempting to look artistic..elegant even (everything I’m not XD)DSCN4570

And this, my friend, is art.

Time Square – checked! Of course, how can a girls trip be one without shopping? The giant Toys R Us, Disney store, chocolate stores and F21 etc. are must go. It was so much fun because who doesn’t like some sizzling heat in the chilly winds of New York? 😉

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And, no, we are not too old to be taking photos with giant MnM. (With glasses! 😀 although my favorite is probably the short Red one)

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Asking strangers to take our photo has proven to be one of the toughest challenge yet. After picking someone whom we think we can outrun (just in case they steal our cameras), we also need to make sure that they are adequate with technology…More often than not, the photo is not the angle we want it to be (I know…it’s a favor…I shouldn’t be too demanding but I just can’t help it :P). Eventually we are just happy that it’s not blurry, it’s a straight photo and at least it is ACTUALLY TAKEN. Sometimes we just stand there for 5 minutes and no photo was captured LOL. This below is actually an A+ capture (y)

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Washington Square Park / SOHO – ICE CREAM CRAVING checked. This is a pleasant surprise because the best gelato place we tried in Milan/ Venice actually has a branch right here in Greenwich Village. It was just as good :’) so happy that we thought we will never get to try it again yet ended up running into it so soon. DSCN4524

I guess this is life sometimes. When you think you lost something, look closer or hang on a little longer because the miracle might be just around the corner. It has happened to me a few times now and yes, the losing part will be devastating, but don’t lose hope because all of that is necessary to get to the rediscovery part. Not one tiny detail, however seemingly insignificant, can be skipped in order to arrive at the exact right place.

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If you follow the Humans of New York page, you probably will remember this scene 🙂 Another pleasant surprise of running into them in Washington Square Park!

Of course last but not least, this posture must look familiar ❤ yes how lucky and fated this is that this year we get to spend our respective birthdays TOGETHER :’) since she has given me the best meal experience ever (the gorgeous twinkling lights view and good food) I had a high benchmark to follow.IMG_3884

But Cramine’s has lived up to the standard. It has REALLY good food and generous portions for the price we paid. The cherry stones were very fresh, the riggatoni with sausage and broccoli in white sauce smelled so good and was so flavorful that we forgot to take a picture of it. Lastly, the Tiramisu was HUGE and I just loved the chocolate “skin” 😛 We finished it before our musical as dinner as well 😉 kind of.

To be continued…

Thank you, Thank you, and a million more thank yous :)

I know I have gotten much much lazier, and so far only updated 3 posts on my exchange in U.S.A, but people still come to my little space and nothing makes me happier than seeing the number of visitors go up (despite my laziness.) Anyway, this took a little longer than the original momentum suggested, but finally, the first milestone – 4000 views. Thank you for every one of you out there who stay tuned, has once read this little blog of mine, or simply mistakenly clicked into my posts. Mr./Ms 4000 view of my blog, you are one special person, who seem to come from either Russia or Korea 😉

I have probably mentioned before that unlike Europe, this exchange in U.S have been much more demanding and I am occupied on many levels, a lot is happening both emotionally and physically (yes, healthy lifestyle), I am so absorbed in certain aspects that have taken up more of my time than it should, but I know I can never cut down on my writing. The sound of typing on my keyboard must be the most soothing rhythm on earth. Along with a cup of hot coffee/tea/ Godiva CHOCOLATE! and snuggling up in my room is the best remedy to anything.

Although I have gotten lazier, I have managed to write a lot in my private little log and perhaps one day I will feel like sharing those as well 🙂

Either way, this blog, will always hold a special place in my heart because it was with me at a time that I was most alone. It filled my emptiness and decorated my inner space with stars and fireworks. So here’s to more luck, wanderlust and love in life for everyone! ❤

This is just me, being throughly warm, which has been quite awhile ago really…waking up to -1C is no fun at all.

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Stay tune for more posts to come on miscellaneous in U.S., New York with my bb (!!) and the journey to Cali ( SOON)!

Here is a sneak peak to my new bb, who have been with me for 6 weeks now! ❤

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Birthday Weekend @ Chicago

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It is this day of the week again, first class starts at 8:10 and the last class end at 21:40. Aaaaargh…at least finally all mid terms are done and I am half way into my second exchange. As leaves turn from green to yellow, then to red (yes, leaves here turn Scarlet Red!), and eventually fall off and touch the ground, winter is surely approaching. Sigh my favorite season is so short lived this year 😦

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Anyway, unlike my first exchange where I basically roll with my hand carry every other week, Chicago is the first time I flew. It was a tough time due to my poor management; a lot of avoidable problems complicated things. But after all I had a great great time for my last teenage birthday. I cannot complain about anything 🙂 Before and after the trip was hell though, trying to make sure I am up to date with classes…yes although I AM on exchange, student is my first occupation!

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So there I was, landed O’Hare at 7 am (Time difference and all) and caught a glimpse of the friendly first ray of sunshine in Chicago 🙂 The moment I stepped out of airport, I knew it will be a great weekend ahead. As I waited for my travel/ eating/ rooming/ gossiping / shopping / comforting/ buddy (I think the abbreviation is BFF) to arrive Union Station, I rested at *drumrolll* Starbucks (so clichè I know) and had their seasonal special, Pumpkin Spice Latte. ❤ It was not particularly good, in fact it was weird even but it is just a personal attachment I have…pumpkin. hm 🙂

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Before she arrived though, I went to the only place I know of Chicago before I came. As I walked towards my destination following my phone’s GPS, I cannot remember, not even imagine how I survived navigating my way back in Europe with just a good old paper map. One of the most fascinating part in life is to go through the toughest things without realizing how hard it really was. Until you look back and it is already over. Again, we are stronger than we think. Smarter, prettier? That I’m not sure, but definitely tougher. We often underestimate how strong we can be but it is these moments of flashbacks that remind you, there is nothing you can’t overcome.

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As I arrived Millennium Park, I was greeted by two tall, sleek buildings…no wait, they were fountains!

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Beautiful pools of water reflecting my favorite kind of sky. What a brilliant way to start off my wonderful weekend. I love how empty the park was at 9am. Then as I wandered, I caught a brief glance of what I am here for!

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THE INCREDIBLY CHUBBY AND CUTE CLOUD GATE! aww bean bean bean. I was so thrilled when I saw it because it was so much better than I thought it was. It is bigger, fatter, shinier, funnier. It was just so lovely. How can someone come up with such an art piece that integrates  nicely into its neighboring landscape, yet at the same time stand out so brilliantly?

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I walked around it for like 10 times, dragging my luggage along. Sat on the benches opposite the bean for no less than 30 minutes  just watching it. Like it will move or something. It looks different depending where I look at it from. And here below is my favorite angle of THE BEAN ❤

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Thank god I came early and it was a beautiful day. At one point, I was fascinated by this area of sunshine / shade. Is this the line that I am standing on, that as I graduate from university, I am out into the wild. As I step across this virtual line, I am no longer a teenager, I am not longer an adolescence. Whatever I decide or do will matter in the long run and I am no longer sheltered.

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It is a big wide world out there and as a twenty year old, there is a lot to think about. Where to go? How to get there? I am running out of time. But all worries aside, I believe I am stepping into a brighter future, a warm and welcoming zone. All I need is courage, determination and knowing that I am always backed up by my dearest family and friends.

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And finally, THERE SHE IS 🙂

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I don’t remember since when we got so close to a point that she bought me an iPad case that has the exact illustration as one of my favorite puzzle; how we picked out the same VS scent; dressed in complimentary colors; fascination of the Great Gatsby etc. etc. It might not seem like a natural pair at first when we were roommates, but time has proven that we belong together ❤ THANK YOU HKUST, for giving me such an awesome roommate. It is fate that we had such similar upbringing, interests (decadent interests) and ended up in the same place at the same time.

From that point on it was everything we do best:

1) EAT. CHICAGO DEEP DISH.

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We went to a famous restaurant, Giordano’s and ordered a Mushroom and Sausage deep dish pizza to go as it would take an hour to be seated!

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We were seated at some outdoor area and as we savored and indulged our pizza, we realized finishing it is impossible. Then we saw yet another homeless man…I must have seen more than 10 hobos on the streets in one day. It was striking to see how bad the economy in U.S. is. He was so thin and was searching for food in the trash.

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It somehow pulled a string in my heart and we offered our 2 slices of delicious pizza to him unanimously. To our surprise, he was so grateful and kept mumbling “you are great great people” “god bless you” and I just felt so bad because he took such a minimal gesture of ours as a big deal. I really wish him well.

2) SHOP. AURORA OUTLET, MICHIGAN AVE.

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3) BEING CRAZY. NON-STOP TALKING (we finished a packet of cough drops ha ha.)

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This beach is definitely another favorite spot of mine in Chicago. I mean how often will you see a beach in the middle of the bustling city? We got to the beach at the perfect timing, it was that mash of colors again, blue, white, yellow, pink and violet. Although it was the same color scheme, it was completely different from the beaches at Côte d’Azur.

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Somehow Europe sunsets are rosier and warmer. May be it is just me being sentimental and bias though. Nonetheless, both were stunning views and it reminded me of how badly I miss the beaches at my hometown. 😦DSCN4361

Then of course, the highlight of our trip: My Birthday Dinner :’)

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The food was great, awesome atmosphere, spectacular view and incredible companionship. There is nothing else I can ask for more on my last teenage birthday. So blessed that I got to spend it with someone significant in my life. What a beautiful coincident 🙂

On the last day, we tried to have a final chat at Starbucks…but somehow fate has placed the marathon route right between us and the closet Starbucks…so we could see it but could not reach it. Sigh. Why do we always run into big groups of people?

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On the first day, there was a protest AGAIN (like in Madrid, Copenhagen and Brussels etc.) Notice that the police is on SEGWAY 😀

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Then there is the happy me being a tourist roaming around Chicago.

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The first thing I thought of upon seeing this track was… BATMAN. So at the end of the day, I seem to like Chicago more than New York. (Not because Gotham City was somehow based here) Perhaps It has wider streets and more elegant buildings? Or perhaps it really is because I went with someone special? 🙂

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Final Thoughts:

I saw these balloons at Millennium Park and when I saw the word “RECESS”, I realized just how old I have gotten. It is just such a primary school word. Remember how we would tell people we are 8 and a half years old? Remember how we would refer to ourselves as our full names? The times we would write our names, class and number on EVERYTHING we own?

When was the last time you give yourself a recess?

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Yep, I’m still alive + Sunday @ Princeton

Thursday night, after 5 classes from 0800 to 2100 across 3 campuses, (well 3 classes today because I treated myself to a Mooncake Festival nap) I am usually exhausted and grumpy. But like a phoenix I am reborn after every Thursday. Long weekend ahead. Wooohoo 🙂 Now getting back to what I love to write about the most (may be second most) NEW PLACES! 😀

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I cannot believe it took me that long to finally (pick up a pen and) blog. Even the WEATHER has  changed from grizzly warm to crispy cold and I am only starting this piece now! Unbelievable… time to pick up my normal productivity.

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To start off, these four photos are what I usually called pleasant surprises. Taken within Princeton University, all I did was imported them  to my laptop, but something somehow went “wrong” (or right?) and these ordinary photos suddenly look artistic. It is kind of magical in a way. I have absolutely no clue what happened, but i just love how they look now. Sometimes things go wrong just so they can end up at the perfectly right place. 🙂

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We couldn’t have picked a better day for this cozy town! The sky was painted white and light blue with light breeze and hot sun. It was the kind of town I like, small and old houses here and there, extending lawn from both sides of the pavement, decorated with constantly moving squirrels. (obviously why I still haven’t got a good pic of them)

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In fact, perhaps it’s because Princeton is kind of old, it reminded me faintly of the castles I saw in Europe and all the vivid memory came swaying back to me in a sweet nostalgic wave.

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There was a certain tranquility in the air. People were just chilling on the lawn, having nothing else in their mind but the current moment right there. We had a small lunch picnic and went to the Art Museum in Princeton.

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Again, another decent surprise as I originally thought it was closed on Sundays, turned out they open only in the afternoon. We even caught up with their only guided tour for the day at 2pm :O Again, pure solid luck right there.

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The guided tour lady just got back from Russia and she was such a nice person. Once she found out I am from Hong Kong, she made extra effort to explain more about Washington and American History to me. And that was time I thought wow, being a tour guide in a museum is actually a very decent job.

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Picture this, meeting new people who are very likely less knowledgable than you are (duh, you’re the guide) and looking smart in front of them 😀 Let’s not forget you even get to always be in this perfect temperature and humidity. That environment is for the sole purpose of preserving the art, but you get the fringe benefit of having perfect hair the whole day!

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Then things were finally tied back into Princeton University. This room is full of authentic and fake artifacts! And it is the students’ job to pick one and spend the entire course on that object proving that the piece is in fact real!

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As if the day wasn’t interesting enough, we met a Princeton Grad student who majors in Math and can speak both French AND Chinese :O we then took a walk around the area and dropped by the highlight (yes, the highlight comes now) of the day – ICE CREAM!

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It was highly recommended by a friend and thanks to her, we all had some really good ice cream 🙂 It has been awhile so when the staff asked how many scoops I wanted, I said 3 without hesitation…and it was only 5 bucks :O

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And there you have it, an eventful day at Princeton. Of course life here is much more stable as in I do not take a flight every 2 weeks like I did last semester, but being here is definitely a different kind of joy.

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Last but not least, I must brag that my cooking skills have improved.

Evidence 1: I no longer have to time my pasta

Evidence 2: I can make perfect soft boiled egg! (first attempt)

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That’s all for now. And just when I thought things cannot get any better. Beloved dad is coming in a week ❤

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