Week 6: Donating Blood, Going to Johor Bahru and Wonton Noodle Soup

Hi friends!

I just finished midterms so now I’m playing catch-up with all my blogs! After coming back from Phuket, I was not ready to go back to school haha. Like honestly what even is school work? But this week was kind of rocky emotionally and there were days where I felt lonely but I think it might just be the middle of the semester that’s getting to me hehe. But without further ado, let’s get started 🙂


2/07/16 Going to Varsity Christian Fellowship

The Tuesday I got back from Phuket, I went to class and then at night I went to VCF. That night we talked about the history of the church and how it went from Roman Catholicism to Protestantism and to all the other sects that we have today. It was interesting because although we have churches today that preach the gospel in its entirety, there’s also a lot of churches who are too charismatic to the point where they preach a gospel of prosperity. And along with it a slew of non-Christian values. I’m still confused on how we can still have so many sects today and still call each one (well for the most part) Christian. But I guess as long as it has the main pillars of Christianity–the Trinity, the life, death and resurrection of Jesus and salvation through grace–then it should be sound. But afterwards I just headed home!

Also side note, this  Singaporean snack is so good. I have no idea what it is but it’s so tasty. IMG_20170207_202448.jpg


2/08/16 Taking a Shower in the Rain 

When I got out of my Chinese class, it was raining like no other. And although I told myself to start carrying my umbrella with me, I didn’t that day. And when it rained, it poured. After taking the bus back to Utown, I was pretty much drenched from head to toe. At one point, I just accepted the fact that I couldn’t stay dry and just walked through the rain lol. The thing about Singapore weather is that it’s pretty unpredictable. It has like a 98% of thunder storming every time I check the weather app. And although it’s not accurate, we do get random thunder and rain like every couple of hours on some days. I wish I had a picture but I do have a video so I’ll put it in my vlog!


2/09/16 Eating Strawberry Prata with Austin! 

I just went to class today and learned about Markov Chains. lol it’s so boring and I feel like half the time I’m not going to use anything I learn in my classes. But maybe that’s just me complaining about school 😛

That night at like 11:30 though, I got food with my friend Austin! He lives one floor above me and he’s also on exchange through Georgia Tech. He was feeling the midnight munchies so we walked to a  street with 24-hour food shops close to campus. When we got there, there were still so many students in the restaurants. In Singapore, supper is such a big deal and everyone goes out to eat after class. I feel like their students don’t sleep until 2 or 3 lol. We decided to get Indian food and I tried a strawberry prata for the first time. Prata is basically a fried flat bread and it’s usually served with mutton (sheep) curry or chicken curry. It tasted exactly like an artificial strawberry with bread haha. And then I also had a winter melon drink with it that was suuper sweet. But the late night food was pretty solid 🙂


2/10/16 Donating Blood and Beloved Play 

Donating blood is something that’s really important! A lot of people (myself included) don’t realize how the platelets and blood you donate go to people who need heart surgeries, organ implants and who are undergoing treatment for leukemia as well as a plethora of other needs. But yeah, it’s something that I feel I can freely give and I haven’t been able to since I got back from China 2 summers ago. So my roommate Kanaha and I decided to do it in Singapore! And sadly only 1.87% of Singapore’s population donates 😩 But yeah during the donation, they gave us mats to sit on and a little stress ball to squeeze as the blood was pumping. The only sad part was that I hate needles and I get really light headed when I see them. So I almost fainted afterwards lol. But I just lied down and the nurse gave me some water and I ate some crackers afterwards so twas all good.

Moral of the story, give blood if you can! It doesn’t cost you anything but it can save someone’s life 🙂

That night, VCF put on a skit in light of valentine’s day that talked about what love was. The whole skit centered around how a mom left her daughter and husband because she didn’t feel the love anymore. And I think it was a great reminder to me that love is not just a feeling but rather an action. That initial attraction might definitely be a feeling but in order to truly love someone, you have to choose to care for them over your inconveniences and differences. And love is something that should be given unconditionally and not as an exchange for someone else’s love.

That night, Helen, Yurie and I went home and then we had a deep talk about what love was and how to express love in different ways. From what I’ve observed, I think Helen shows love without using words. And Kanaha by showing concern. And Yurie by asking “are you okay?” And Helen said sometimes words aren’t necessary to show love because you can feel it. I said that yes although people feel love differently and there might not be a need for a verbal affirmation, I think words have power so why not use their power to convey love to other people? I think at least for me, when you tell me something explicitly I understand it so much better because there’s no second guessing. And then I couldn’t help but think about all the instances when the person I loved and the person who loved me knew we loved each other. Or is love not something that you need to define? Haha this is getting sappy but idk food for thought I guess.

Haha all in all, I love our deep talks. I think it’s gotten to a point where if we’re all in the living room sitting on the couch, you know some deep stuff is gonna go down ❀ (lol if you’re reading this Helen).


2/11/16 Eating Korean Barbecue in Johor Bahru, Malaysia and Feeling Down 

Today we took a yellow bus to the border of Singapore, went through customs and then crossed over to Malaysia. It took about 2 hours to get there and once we got there, we got food at a Korean Barbecue place and it was pretty good. Unlike traditional KBBQ, the waiter cut all the meat for us and came back 6-7 times to cook it for us. I felt so bad because it was so hot and he only had so much leg room to stand over the hot heat and make our meal for us. But that food was good and then we got free ice cream afterwards!

Later, we went to a mall and just shopped around. I bought some tiger balm (the asian equivalent of all ointment creams) You have an itch? Tiger balm. Stuffy nose? Tiger balm. Joint pain? Tiger bam. Seriously it works for everything. After the mall, we waited for the bus to come pick us up but it was so unsettling because there was no bus stop so we just found people who looked like they were gathering for something and then joined them, hoping a yellow bus would take us back to Singapore. It was funny because on our way through immigration, Helen and Yurie got separated from Kanaha and I. They ended up taking a bus back to Singapore and thought we had gotten on right after them. But sadly that was not the case. So when Kanaha and I came out, we were like wow they left us. Haha but it turned out to be a misunderstanding and it was just funny.

However, this morning I woke up and I was just not feeling it. I didn’t really talk throughout the whole day and my roommates were worried because they didn’t know what was wrong with me haha. I think the conversation about love from last night reminded me of instances when I didn’t feel loved. Especially when I was going through depression, thoughts of me being worthless were so constant that it became a reality. And when I saw my roommates getting along fine without me, I was like oh I’m not important and I guess they don’t really need me to have fun. And it just sucked because I was trapped in this deep hole of self-pity and I couldn’t get out by myself. But I ended up talking to Helen about it and she said that my roommates were worried about me because I was dead the whole day. And that it’d be sad if we lost each other as friends.

And I guess it made me realize that love is not like a gauge-it does not run empty once it is “used” on a certain number of people. And although human love can be exhausted at a certain point, I think God’s love can replenish us again and again without ever running out.

So yeah, I love my roommates ❀


2/12/16 Eng’s Noodles House 

After church on Sunday, I went to the East side of Singapore (where all the good food is supposedly) to meet up with Shi Juen for lunch. She took me to this Noodles House that was apparently really famous and was started back in the 1970’s. I think it was alright and it wasn’t like the best wonton noodle soup that I’ve had. But the wontons were so crunchy and awesome so I have to give them that. Then afterwards, we went inside the mall and got shaved ice with some random toppings! I was like a Taiwanese shaved ice but without the flavored ice…and different toppings haha.


But that’s my week! Definitely a lot quieter than when I went to Phuket but nonetheless still filled with lots of hanging outs and food 🙂 lol also guys, sometimes I feel like I’m writing in my journal and some of these thoughts just come out. So if it’s too much, please let me know.

Prayer Requests:

  1. Pray against negative thoughts because they’re not coming from God!

What I’m Thankful For:

  1. People who continue to love me even though I might not see it at first 🙂

All of me,

Jamie


Humans of NUS: Austin Windsor 

So Austin is someone who I met in my ST3247 Simulations class and I’m so glad that I did. He’s originally from the Georgia Institute of Technology and he also studies ISE and is in his 3rd year of college. I have so much to be thankful to him for because without him, who knows how much more lost I’d be in that class. He always takes time to explain difficult concepts and goes out of his way to make sure those around him understand what’s going on. I think I’ve asked him to explain things so many times now that I can clearly hear his “you see?” in my head every now and then when I’m trying to understand something. And I appreciate him so much because back at USC, it’s hard to find people who are helpful like that. People who care about the understanding of others, despite not having more time to study for themselves. At USC, engineering students can be helpful but they always put their understanding in front of other people’s (myself included). So I was actually pretty shocked when Austin was explaining things in class for me. But more importantly, through him I’ve learned about taking care of other people even if that person can’t give you anything back. It’s a very selfless quality that he has and it’s an amazing trait to emulate 🙂

He wants to be an RA for Georgia Tech next semester and I can totally see him doing that because he likes taking care of people. And I hope that he becomes one so others can see how much of a big brother he is!

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Week 5: Going to Phuket Thailand

Hi friends!

It’s me again! haha so this week was pretty jam packed. My roommate Helen invited me to go with her and a couple of her friends from Waterloo on a spontaneous trip to an island called Phuket in Thailand. It’s about a 2 hour plane ride so relatively close. And it was probably one of the best decisions I’ve made here.

When I was at USC last semester, I realized that I planned every single thing to the dot and I had certain expectations for where I needed to be and what I wanted to do. But in the midst of doing that, I got caught up in needing to control everything. And when things didn’t meet my expectations, I was angry and confused at why I didn’t get everything I wanted. In the end I realized I can’t control life haha. And that the greatest disappointments come from not reaching what is planned. So when I let go of that mentality I saw everything that happened as a blessing–an unplanned moment that was beautiful on its own.

And that’s why this trip hit me hard. It was the first time where I didn’t plan on going somewhere from the get-go and I just let life take its course. And it turned out to be one of the best moments so far. Haha sorry for rambling but let’s get to my week!


1/31/17 I Don’t Remember 

hahah I really have no recollection of what happened this day. Except that I had some pretty good noodles dipped in oyster(?) sauce 😛


2/01/17 Getting Lost While Fixing My Phone

So today I went to Clementi Mall to fix my phone’s sim card. I planned to go there for an hour but then I got lost and I couldn’t find the bus stop back to NUS so I was just walking around for a good bit inside the mall until I found the MRT station. lolz but I had the best green tea and cheese roll in the mall….

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I couldn’t resist taking a bite before the photo hehe

2/02/17 Getting Lunch with Shi Juen and Dinosaur Hands 

At this point, my mind was pretty checked out for school because I was leaving for Phuket the next day so it was pretty chill. I ate lunch with Shi Juen, a local NUS student who’s in my Christian fellowship. Ahh she’s so cute and she’s like a very caring mom. Waiting until I got food first before we started eating and offering me tissues whenever I had food on my face LOL. It’s the little things ❀

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Later that night, I just did laundry and tried working on homework. But I got distracted when all my roommates came home. I really really love these moments when we’re all together and sitting/chatting in the living room about anything and everything. We weren’t forcing any conversations and everything just came naturally. It was such a simple setting but we were all just together and able to be happy in each other’s presence (if that makes sense haha) And one thing led to another but at the end, Helen started making dinosaur hands and then everyone followed suit.

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I love you guys ❀

2/03/17 Arriving in Phuket and Walking Around Patong Beach 

Alright now finally to Phuket! So we got to the hostel in Phuket around 7:30 pm and met up with the rest of Helen’s friends from NTU (Nanyang Technological University also in Singapore) The hostel was such a cute place. There wasn’t a door to the entrance and everything was just open. There was a pool table on the first floor and the atmosphere was very chill. Since we had 8 people, we got a 8 dorm room to ourselves. That night, the owners made salsa and chips for us and we had a mini dance party around the pool table. So fun. And then while the guys were doing their thing, the girls and I walked along the beach since our hostel was only a couple of minutes away. And man there were small souvenir shops, restaurants and tourists everywhere.

That night, we decided to go out to a place called Bangla Road which is a street that’s filled with neon lights, loud music and cheap alcohol. There were outdoor bars, restaurants and clubs that flanked either side of the street and the whole place was honestly just lit. The music from all the different bars mixed with each other and it seemed like the street never closed at night (I’m pretty sure it didn’t) The girls and I and Thomas went to a bar and we got a couple of drinks and then we started dancing to the live band that was there. I don’t know how to dance but it was so fun.


2/04/17 Ridding in Tuk Tuks, Big Bhudda Phuket and Promthep Cape 

The next day, our whole group went to Big Bhudda and since it was on top of a mountain, our ride up was very very curvy. We took a tuk tuk, which is basically the Thailand equivalent of a taxi, except there are no doors and there were two benches for us to all sit on. But I really enjoyed the ride, despite its bumpiness, because we had a music box and everyone was just grooving along the whole way. It was a half an hour of worry free thoughts 🙂

When we got to Big Bhudda, it was so hot. My face was burning but the views were worth it. We could see the entirety of the coast from the top and the waters were a spectacular green blue. Big Bhudda was pretty big and it’s definitely a site worth seeing if you guys ever go to Phuket! Then around 4 we decided to go to Promthep Cape, which is the Southernmost point of Phuket, to see the sunset. It was one of the most beautiful sunsets I’ve seen. We sat on a ledge eating pad thai as the sun set directly in front of us. There was ocean on our left and right and the sky was a golden yellow as it set behind the ocean. It was so peaceful and it was the perfect way to end the day.


2/05/17 Phi Phi Island, Old Phuket Town and Chilling at the beach 

Man today was filled with so many things. We got up at 8 in the morning and took the 1.5 hour long ferry to a nearby island called Phi Phi Island. This place is a really big tourist attraction because of its pristine waters and clear beaches. However I assume it’s gotten a lot dirtier over the years because of all the tourists. But the water was the clearest water I’ve ever seen. There was a part where I was walking on the beach and 100 meters in I could still see my feet. It was also a really hot day and the water felt so refreshing when we went in! Later on, we decided to rent a kayak and kayak around the corner to a place called Monkey Bay. I was so surprised because there were actually monkeys there! And the water was deeper too so we could actually swim and snorkel. I saw these clear fish with blue gills on the side and it was so cool. The water was an amazing sea green blue yet it was clear at the same time and I don’t know how else to describe it but to show you pictures! And it was just chilling and swimming around the bay for a good hour.

After we took the ferry back to Phuket, we went to a place called Old Phuket Town which is a more historical part of the city. However we soon found out that they had this one street that was filled with cheap food, live musicians, souvenir stalls and a lot of bustle. We made our way down and I saw every kind of local food possible, ranging from sticky rice wrapped in bamboo leaves, glutinous rice cakes to fish in noodle soups. I had this one giant coconut ice cream that Thailand’s known for and it was the bomb.com. Then we just sat and ate to our heart’s content.

For our last night, the girls and I got a couple of beers and just sat by Patong Beach, talking about life and whatever else that came to mind. One thing that I learned though was that I have the smallest bladder ever. I peed 4 times in the setting of an hour D: Honestly I should probably get that checked out. But all in all, it was an amazing day and an amazing way to end my time in Phuket.


2/06/17 Waiting for Gong Yoo

So call me crazy but I’ve been watching this Korean drama called Goblin starring Gong Yoo. And coincidentally enough, I found out online that the cast was going to Phuket the same day that I was leaving. So I booked my ticket to leave a day after my group left. I knew it was a slim slim chance but I wanted to do it anyways because I had nothing to lose haha.

So after the rest of the group left, I spent most of the morning chilling back at the hostel because I think traveling alone is so boring plus I didn’t really have any money to spare haha. I ate pineapple fried rice in the morning with one of the guys who was solo backpacking in our group and after he left, I played pool with the owners of the hostel until I left for the airport around 6. As I waited at the airport for Gong Yoo, I found out online that he actually cancelled his trip and he wasn’t gonna be there haha so basically I waited at the airport for nothing. But you know what? No regrets because there was no way I could’ve known and spending an extra day in Phuket is not something I can complain about 🙂


Honestly looking back, this was probably the best trip that I’ve been on. Everything was just perfect–the people, the places, the food. And I’m so so lucky that everything happened the way it did and that I got to meet so many cool people on this trip. Helen, Kanaha and I got to hang out a lot because it was us 3 girls and then 5 other guys but it was so chill and my roommates and I got to talk whenever the guys went out and did their own thing. I’ve also realized though that traveling with guys is actually pretty fun. There’s no drama/talking behind people’s backs and they just talk about the randomest (idk if this is a word but it is now) things. And there’s no wishy washiness–if they wanna do something they just do it. I appreciate this (to an extent anyways) because I for one am a very indecisive person so it’s nice to just do things and not have to think too much about it.

Prayer Requests:

  1. I’m traveling a lot on the weekends but that also means that I’m skipping church and I’m not really thanking God for giving me all these wonderful opportunities. So pray that I’d remember who’s giving me all these blessings and thank God for them!

What I’m Thankful For:

  1. Meeting people who are so chill and just being able to relax and enjoy my time here in Singapore/Thailand

Fun Fact: When I came back, I was actually so tan. When I went to get food back at NUS, the lady asked me if there was something wrong with my skin because my tan line game was so strong. lol

All of me,

Jamie


Humans of NUS: Shi Juen Ong

Shi Juen is a girl from my Varsity Christian Fellowship small group and we (along with another guy named Benjamin) get lunch every Thursday just to catch up on our week! Like I said before, she gives off a very sisterly kind of feel and I see that she likes taking care of other people. I think she’s a very honest person about her spiritual beliefs and stands firm on her faith. She invited me over to her place on the east side of Singapore and took me around to a famous wonton noodle shop and bought me lunch :3 She’s very inviting and easy to get along with. I don’t think I know her super well but I hope that we can get closer over time 🙂

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Week 4: Botanical Gardens, All You Can Eat KBBQ, Celebrating Chinese New Year and Hiking in the Rain

Hi friends!

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged and I’m sorry I’ve been so behind! But I’m gonna crank out 3 more weeks of content in the next two days so get ready to be spammed 😛 Before I write about my week, I always think that I didn’t do that much. But as I’m looking through my photos, I actually did a lot haha. I guess what I’m trying to say is that everyday is filled with blessings and wonder but sometimes I just need to stop, reflect and realize them. But without further ado, let’s get to it 🙂

 


1/23/17 Returning from Malaysia and Meeting Patryck From Germany! 

So this was actually the day we got back from Malaysia and right when we got back, I had to rush to my class at 4pm. We were all pretty tired from the weekend but it was such a nice getaway. Afterwards, my roommate Kanaha actually had her friend Patryk from Germany visit Singapore for 3 days. That night, we had Korean food at Utown and we got Sundubujjigae, which is Korean spicy soft tofu stew. Patryk with a y didn’t like it very much though lol. I think it might have been the sardines that got to him….

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Sundubujjigae

1/24/17 Singapore Botanic Gardens and Varsity Christian Fellowship 

Around lunch time, Kanaha, Patryk and I went to the really, really delicious egg tart place and even though I had it last week, the butter and oil was just as extravagant as I remembered it and I loved it. I wonder by the end of the trip how much oil I will have consumed…

Afterwards, Kanaha had class and I didn’t want to do homework so I accompanied Patryk around Singapore’s Botanic Gardens for a bit. We saw so many turtles and catfish when we were there! And I’m pretty sure I saw a baby Komodo Dragon!

That night, I went to Varsity Christian Fellowship and we read about Acts 10 which is the story about Peter, one of Jesus’ disciples having to overcome cultural barriers and prejudice in order to preach the gospel to non-Jews. And it was a good reminder because if we translate that story to our present day, it becomes a calling for Christians to break down cultural and social barriers in our own universities and workplaces in order to spread the Gospel. Haha you don’t realize it at first, but there are so many parallels between everything that happened 2000 years ago and everything that’s happening now.

But afterwards, we went to McDonalds and I got my daily dose of ice cream 😛

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1/25/17 Gardens by the Bay 

At night, Helen and I took Patryk to this place called Gardens by the Bay which is a nature park in central Singapore and it’s right next to Marina Bay Sands so you get this spectacular view of the city at night. Inside the park, there are light shows in which the trees light up in sync with a song. To see the light show is free but there are also exhibits like the Cloud Forest that cost money. We ended up not having enough time to get to the exhibits inside but the light show was pretty cool and we got some cool shots of the Marina Bay Sands hotel.


1/26/17 Lo Hei (Prosperity Toss)

There was a Chinese New Year event put on by the International Relations Peer Advising group and there were different tables where we could make Chinese Lanterns out of red envelopes, guess how many melon seeds were in a small container and eat different Singaporean snacks. At the end, we participated in an event called Lo Hei, which is a Cantonese-Style Raw Fish salad. So basically we have a giant empty dish and then there are different strips of raw fish, shredded vegetables and different sauces put into little bowls surrounding the dish. Then everyone takes turn pouring each ingredient onto the dish. When it’s all done, people stand around in a circle and use their chopsticks to lift up the salad into the air. And the higher you lift it, the more luck you’ll get in the new year. All in all, it was very messy haha. It’s interesting though because even though I’m Cantonese, we’ve never done this in my household in the states or in my aunties’ place in China. The taste itself was kinda ehh though because there were just so many flavors going on. But it was still fun!


1/27/17 All You Can Eat KBBQ 

All my roommates and I have been wanting to go to this KBBQ place for 3 weeks now and we finally had our first meal together as an apartment. It was also an all you can eat buffet so on top of the KBBQ, we also had spicy Korean rice cakes, chicken wings (which were bomb btw) and unlimited seaweed soup haha. Singapore’s portion sizes are small compared to the US so I felt like eating at this place was the first time where I was super, super full after a meal.

Afterwards, we went to get Binsu which is Korean Shaved Ice. We got a red bean and Injeolmi Binsu which is a kind of dense, chewy rice cake that is covered in a yellow bean powder and almond slices. We poured condensed milk on both of the bowls and it was such a refreshing dessert after our KBBQ. We also ended playing Heads Up from my phone and it was a good roommate bonding experience 🙂

Last but not least, we went to Bugis Street which is known for their budget shopping. There were a lot of street vendors and you can buy watches, souvenirs, bags, accessories and anything you can think of there. It was also teeming with  people because of the Chinese New Year. But they had red lanterns all strung up on the entire street. That day was just so chill and relaxing because my roommates and I got to bond and eat and be together. I’m honestly so lucky to know these 3 girls. We get along well and everyone’s so sweet! Hopefully we’ll continue to have more roommate outings 🙂

**I also have so much footage from this day and I really need to stop being lazy and just put it all together.


1/28/17 River Hong Bao

Happy Chinese New Year!!! At night, Kanaha, Helena and Chris went to River Hong Bao which is a celebration of all things Chinese. They had huge lanterns displays and street food along the whole street. Everything is so decorated with red and gold and rooster signs. There were also musical performances and dances on the center stage. We had really good street food like wrapped peking duck, fried chicken, skewered squid and some salty almond wraps. As we ate, we watched fireworks that were so close to us and it was all reflected on the water because the event was at Marina Bay Sands. It was a great way to welcome in the new year 🙂


1/29/17 Making Dumplings 

In the morning I went to church and I brought one of my friends from Korea with me! Her name is Jung In and she’s a super sweet girl. One of the church small group guys invited us over to his place to make dumplings for lunch! So we minced fish and pork and garlic flowers together and put them in little dumpling skins. I hadn’t made dumplings in a while so the dumplings took no apparent shape or form but at least they tasted like dumplings!! Afterwards, I got a green apple flavored McDonald’s cone haha.

 


1/30/17 No School and Hiking at Bukit Timah Nature Reserve

Here in Singapore, Chinese New Year is a pretty big deal so we didn’t have school Monday and my class on Friday got cancelled so it was like a 4 day weekend for me. But our apartment decided to go hiking to a summit called Bukit Timah. I expected it to be a lot higher but it was only 163m above sea level which is close to Seattle’s Space needle at 184m. I also expected there to be more scenery as we were hiking (maybe it’s because that’s what I’m used to in the PNW) but when we got there, it was a rock that had the name and a little hut for us to stand under. After the summit, we were walking to the Dairy Farm in the same park when it started pouring rain. We only had 1 umbrella so we tried waiting under some trees for the rain to subside but man it did not let at all. Helen had her boom box so we were all just crammed under one umbrella listening to Ed Sheeran’s Thinking Out Loud. It was pretty romantic 😛 After a while, we just made a run for the nearest hut though. I felt like I just took a shower. Then we got Indian food afterwards! And of course we ended the day by going to McDonalds and getting an ice cream cone 🙂


 

And that’s the end of my week! We celebrated Chinese New Year in a lot of different ways starting with Lo Hei and ending it by going to the River Hong Bao. But I was surrounded by friends and I couldn’t have asked for anything more.

And as always, prayer requests and thankful notes!

Prayer Requests:

  1. I haven’t been able to sleep for more than 5 or 6 hours lately and I’m not sure why so pray for restful nights!

What I’m Thankful For:

  1. My roommates and how easily we get along
  2. Ability to travel and relax
  3. No eating or stomach problems (yet!)

Fun Facts: 1. Singapore has these mini pineapple tarts and they’re really really good. But apparently one tart has the same amount of calories as that of a half bowl of rice….I had 5 the first time I saw them lol 2. I’ve had 5 McDonald’s ice cream cones on 5 different days this week hahahtarts

All of me,

Jamie


Humans of NUS

Chris (Kyung Moo Kim) studies Economics and is from the University of Hawaii and he’s a very interesting person. I think he’s the type of person that’s rare to come by (or at least I haven’t met anyone like him yet) because he asks a lot of good questions. I’ve realized that through talking to many different people, there are definitely people who have more substance than others. Whether that’s because they’ve been through more in life or they’re just innately like that, they think a lot and they have a lot to share. I appreciate the fact that when he asks me a question and I answer, he replies with another question. I can tell that he’s a smart cookie because he reads and he understands lot of different topics. For example one of the questions he asked me was do you think learning calculus makes a person smarter. I responded with no because it’s not useful in my real life and if I were smart, I’d be smart enough to seek out answers to things that matter in life (like how to do taxes, take out loans, buy cars). And he said that might be true but learning calculus teaches you the work ethic that you need to do other things in life like diligence in your work place. And that took me by surprise. But yeah, he’s a cool person to talk to. And he asks really good questions. We need more people like him in this world haha.

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I don’t know where this is from but it was the most recent profile pic haha

Week 3: Going to Malaysia, Engineering Day and Getting Pranked

Hi friends!

Welcome to week 3! Wow I feel like I count this every week but I’ve been here for 21 days already…and next week will be 28! haha 🙂 The beginning of this was pretty chill and it was filled with good company. But I think the biggest thing I did was going to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia! I decided to go on this trip only a week before so in my book, it was a very spontaneous trip! I’m not a very spontaneous person so it makes me excited when I do do spontaneous things hehe. But without further ado, let’s get to it!


1/16/17 Getting Dinner with Brittany and Eating Egg Tarts 

My friend Brittany and I were going to get dinner  The moment I put that egg tart in my mouth, it melted and I could taste all the butter that was in the crust. it. was. so. GOOD. The place is so popular that customers are only limited to buying 4 boxes of egg tarts, so 16 egg tarts in general. Man if you guys ever come to Singapore, you have to come here. The ludicrous amount of oil and butter is worth it.

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1/17/17 Varsity Christian Fellowship Meetup

We went to the NUS’ Law Campus (which I didn’t know existed) and had large group. There were over 100 people from different majors there and it was packed. We had a speaker come and talk to us about being a missional Christian and knowing that it doesn’t always mean being a missionary in some 3rd world country. We can be missionaries for Christ in working with famine relief, teaching a Sunday school class, taking care of the earth or even helping in administration. It doesn’t have to only mean sending people out as missionaries. It was interesting! But tbh, I fell asleep after he said that because it was so cold in the lecture hall and the event was 3 ish hours long. Lol don’t be like me because the message would’ve been a lot better had I listened to all of it….


1/18/17 Eating Bulgogi and Chillin’ Like a Villain 

There’s this one Korean restaurant in Utown and my roommates Kanaha, Helena and I went to check it out and it was really tasty. I ordered Bulgogi which is…meat and. Afterwards, Helen jokingly said let’s go to the Helix Bridge which is a literal bridge where people just drink and chill. And I was like “SOLD let’s go” On our bus ride there, we talked about some deep stuff. Things like how I became a Christian as well as her testimony. It was my first time drinking a cooler and it was really good because it tasted like strawberries haha. It was so spontaneous and it was just a chill night you know? Not having to worry about class in the morning and just enjoying company in front of Marina Bay Sands. That night was one for the books.

 


1/19/17 Green Tea Ice Cream and Sesame Ball

I had this green sesame ball for breakfast in the morning and for the whole day, I felt really gross because of all the oil. But at night, Helen bought me Green Tea Ice Cream and it made me feel a lot better 😛


1/20/17 Getting Scammed and Arriving in Malaysia

Life Tip: Never trust everyone you meet, even if they say your money goes towards a good cause. When I went to the MRT to get a snack before the Malaysia trip, this lady came up to me and asked if I wanted to donate to help underprivileged children and I was really hesitant at first because it was in the middle of the MRT station. She kept repeating it was a one time payment and she just needed my name and that was super suspicious. But despite what my common sense was telling me, I just decided to give her 10 SGD. Then she gave me a paper lantern as a thank-you gift. As I saw her walk away, it dawned on me that I didn’t even ask her how the money was going to be distributed and why she was walking away and not asking others to donate. I wanted to chase after her and make her give my money back but I don’t know why I didn’t. 10 minutes later, I really regretted that decision. lol but I guess I learned a valuable lesson not to be dumb.

The bus ride to Kuala Lumpur took 6 hours. But the time we got to our hostel, it was already 11:30 pm and we were so hungry. We ended up going to this pizza place and I had the best Hawaiian Pizza and Fried Shrimp. Or maybe it was just because I was so hungry. After that, we went back to the hostel and this was my first time being in one. We were put in a 12 bedroom and when we walked in, it was filled with random people on bunk beds spread across the room. It was really uncomfortable for me actually because I hate being dirty. I know I am spoiled for saying that but I just couldn’t shake the thought of who has been on this bed and if they’ve showered or not lol.


1/21/17 Giant Centipedes and Petronas Twin Towers 

We went to this place called Batu Caves in Malaysia where it had a series of caves and the world’s largest golden statue of a Hindu deity called Lord Murugan, which is the deity of war and victory. It stood at 140 ft! Supposedly we had to climb 1000 steps to get inside the actual main cave itself but it wasn’t that bad at all. Also, it’s interesting because the ladies had to wear shawls to cover their lower bodies because it’s considered disrespectful to show too much skin. Outside the caves, there were so many monkeys. They were just climbing up and down the stairs and eating food wherever they found it. The cutest monkeys were the baby monkeys who held onto their mom’s bellies 🙂

When we were in the caves, we took a tour inside where there were 120,000 bats, spiders, giant centipedes and stalactites! It was cool because it was pretty dark within the cave and we could hear the bats but couldn’t see them. Honestly felt like Bruce Wayne when he fell down into that bat cave haha. But I think the best part was when we were told to turn off our flashlights and everything was pitch black. I’ve only experienced this once in my life but I could not even see my hands in front of my face which is a very awe-inspiring moment actually.

Afterwards, we got dinner at a famous è‚‰æĄ‚èŒ¶ restaurant.è‚‰æĄ‚èŒ¶ is a tea rich in flavor and many Chinese people use its oolong flavor to marinate pork. I actually didn’t think it was super good…but maybe that’s because we found a fly in the soup haha.

Then that night we went to see the Petronas Twin Towers!! It’s so pretty in person. But because it’s the icon of Kuala Lumpur, it gives a stark comparison to the rest of the city. Malaysia is rapidly urbanizing but because of that, there are still a lot of old buildings and not-so-safe places. Afterwards we went to Jalan Alor which is a food street filled with every type of food you can imagine. There were lamb, chicken, octopus skewers, fried durian, frog and so much more. I wish the U.S. had streets like this because it was midnight and everything was still bustling with life!


1/22/17 Riding Cable Cars and Getting Pranked 

On our last day, we rode cable cars to Genting Highlands which is supposed to have an outside and inside theme park/resort. It was a 2 hour commute from Kuala Lumpur but when we got there, it was really raining and the outside theme park was under construction so we couldn’t really do anything haha. We also wanted to go to the Chin Swee Temple but it was too cloudy to see anything so we decided against it. But overall, it was just a chill day and the cable car ride up was fun considering we were so high up!

That night, we were back in the airbnb and three of the guys decided to go down to the pool which was under construction. Then one of the guys came back up and told us, management found out they were in the pool and held them in the office. They threatened to fine them $1000 Ringlets if we didn’t give them all our money as a bribe. So after we scavenged for all our money, the management said bribing is illegal and they’re going to need us to hand over our ID cards. So in my mind, I was like “no way am I giving you my ID. I didn’t do anything wrong” and I was thinking of ways to persuade the management people to let us off the hook and was so ready to go out the door to “rescue” the other guys. As soon I as walk out the door, I see the other two guys come around the corner and start laughing. And then I realized it was all a prank. Sad part was that Helen (my other roommate) was part of it and tricked Kanaha and me. I’m starting to think that I trust people too easily haha. But I mean, all in all their acting was pretty good so I have to give them props for that.

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The view from our airbnb! 

And that’s a wrap! A lot went on this weekend and it was so fun. Haha I can’t believe I casually just woke up and was in Malaysia. My itinerary for Monday was come back to Singapore around 1 and then go to class at 4. Isn’t that crazy? Like traveling is so accessible and I can’t even wrap my head around how easily I can travel between the school and tourist world. I’m just so lucky to be here and thank you for being here to support me, no matter how big or small 🙂 And as always, prayer requests and thankful notes!

Prayer Requests:

  1. I legit don’t understand anything in both my stats and coding classes. And it’s hard to schedule an appointment with the teacher because there’s so many students. So pray that I’ll be able to find study buddies/resources to help me pass the class
  2. Even though I’m surrounded by people most of the time, there are times when I feel really lonely haha so pray for peace when I’m alone 🙂

What I’m Thankful For:

  1. My heart finally stopped skipping beats. haha maybe it was the humidity that caused it but I’m just glad that it’s back to normal.
  2. It’s so easy to get around in Singapore
  3. We got back to Malaysia in time for my class at 4 haha 🙂

Fun Fact: 1. Monkeys in Malaysia are really fierce and they will fight you if you have something they want

All of me,

Jamie


P.S. I’m starting something new this week and it’s going to be people spotlights haha. I’m hoping to feature one person that I’ve met here on this trip and what I’ve learned from them. They don’t know I’m writing this (in fact, I just thought of it right now) but hopefully one day when they see it, it’ll be a cool little surprise. The first spotlight is going to be on a girl from Toronto, Canada named Brittany. lol I downloaded this photo off of her Facebook so hopefully she doesn’t mind…

Brittany is 21 years old and she hopes to work with consumer packaged goods. When I first met her, she was so bubbly and accepting! I think we bonded over the fact that we both spoke cantonese. She seems very protective of her friends and made sure guys didn’t push us over when we were in the club. Also, I love her raspy voice because it’s so cute!! Through her, I’ve learned that it’s okay to be open on an emotional level. Often times, people keep things to themselves. And I realized that the more you’re willing to share about the rough patches in life, the more you can connect with people on a deeper level. I think it’s easier to connect over struggles because that’s what makes us human. Sure talking about successes is nice–but it’s a very individualistic thing. Successes are felt the most strongly by the person who accomplished it but struggles can be felt universally. Haha I don’t know if that made sense but here’s a picture of Brittany!

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Week 2: Starting School, Going Clubbing and Infinity Pools

Dear friends,

Welcome back! Wow it’s already been 12 days since I first arrived in Singapore. I feel like so much has happened within the first week of being here. But since I started school this past Monday (the 9th), things have been slowing down and I’m slowly gathering my thoughts/trying to figure out what I want to get involved with. But here’s a breakdown of what happened this week! Also, here’s my vlog from week 1 in case you were interested!


1/09/17 First Day of School and Exchanger’s Welcome Party

School started this morning with a Human Centered Design class (ergonomics) and it was pretty chill. Someone told me that Singaporeans aren’t that nice and tend to be quite closed off due to the competitive nature of classes here so I was expecting not to make any friends haha. But the girl I sat next to was super sweet and wasn’t rude when I asked her how to access my class lectures online. And honestly all the locals that I’ve met here have been pretty nice! Or maybe it’s just the people that I’ve met haha but either way I’m glad the environment isn’t as hostile as I’d thought it’d be.

On our first day, the International Student Affairs threw a party for all the exchange students and there were around 500 of us, which is a lot. I wasn’t expecting this but a lot of exchange students are actually from Canada and Europe; there’s not too many from the U.S. And it’s interesting because you don’t see a lot of mingling between the different races. Like Asians stick with Asians and Europeans with Europeans. It’s kind of sad because I feel like we’re on exchange to get to know people from different cultures and countries but people just tend to be more comfortable with people who look similar to them. Hopefully, they’ll be more mingling between the different races and cultures throughout the semester!


1/10/17 Botanical Gardens 

I met a girl named Bonnie from the Exchanger’s Party and she is pretty cool. So free spirited and open. We went to Singapore’s Botanical Gardens at night after dinner with a couple of her other friends and it was so spontaneous! haha I’m not a very spontaneous person so it was nice to just get up and go. I was talking to one of her friends from Germany and something interesting that I found was that people in Germany don’t ask others for their race. It’s seen as offensive given what happened during WWII. So government forms will never ask you to check an Asian, White or Black box. Instead, people are asked for their origin.

But the Botanical Gardens was really cool. I think I’ll come back during the day so I can actually see the surroundings haha. The picture below is a stage for concerts and it’s in the middle of a pond! dsc03474


1/11/17 Got the club goin’ up, on a Tuesday

yeah tbh I still don’t really get that song. Also we didn’t go on a Tuesday. But it was my first ever clubbing event! It was basically the same as any other college party but people were dressed fancier and there were more lights. Also, in Singapore we have Ladies Nights on Wednesdays so we get free drinks at the clubs. It was fun in the beginning but then as more people came, the place got really crowded and drinks were spilled everywhere and everyone was pushing everyone. lol it was not a pretty sight.

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Me, Jenny and Jenny! The girl on the very right did my makeup and it looked really good!

1/12/17 Strawberry Shortcake McFlurry

I didn’t do much today except for go to class and get lost on my way to the engineering building. But my roommate Helen and I took the shuttle to the McDonald’s on campus at 9:30 pm and it was probably the best decision I’ve made that day. And you know how McDonald’s have different regional flavors? Well I wanted to get a durian ice cream or something but sadly they didn’t have any 😩 Instead I got a Strawberry Shortcake McFlurry and it was still delicious. ALSO, we saw a gecko on our way there! Low key wanted to take it home with me. img_20170112_204920


1/13/17 Volleyball Tryouts and Infinity Pools

I loved volleyball when I was in middle school. But I never got the chance to play it all 4 years in high school because of a heavy school workload so when I got to NUS, I wanted to join a team! Since the team here was recreational, they accepted all exchange students and the tryouts were pretty laid back. We just had simple passing, setting and spiking drills and the Singaporean locals were really nice when they explained how to do each skill. However the commitment is every Friday from 6-10pm so I haven’t quite decided whether I want to put in that time since that’s when most exchangers will be traveling.

Afterwards, my roommates and I went to Utown’s infinity pool! I’m so grateful that I got put in this residence because everything is so close. It was our first ever roommate bonding event too so I was pretty excited 🙂

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From the left: Me, Helen, Kanaha and Yurie!

1/14/17 Watching Korean Dramas 

You see a lot of pictures of me doing stuff and going out on weekends and week days but when it comes down to it, I spend most of my free time watching Korean Dramas hahah. Gong Yoo from Goblin is just a fine specimen of a man so I don’t mind watching an hour or two of Korean dramas and just letting my mind do nothing. I haven’t done this since high school but I don’t really have anything else planned after class so I usually just head back home. And also making friends and talking to people takes so much energy. And it seems a lot harder to make friends past the first week because people have already found their group or at least it seems like it. It’s not likely that you’ll randomly befriend someone in the elevator unless you have a lot of classes with them/see them around often.

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Current Korean actor obsession. Will probably last for another week 😛

1/15/17 Church, Henderson Waves and Lychee Ice Cream 

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Amen x 1000

I think it’s so amazing that God placed so many Christians around me even though I’m halfway around the world from my home. He introduced me to the Zion-Bishan Bible Presbyterian Church here through a friend at USC and coincidentally my roommate Helen is Christian too so it’s a good reminder that I’m never far from Him 🙂

That night, my roommates and her friends who are also on exchange from Japan went to this park called Henderson Waves. At first, I thought we were going to take the MRT to the park and enjoy a brief little walk inside the park. But we ended up waking from the MRT station all the way through the park and it took us around 2 hours to get there. By the time we got there around 10 pm, I was pretty tired and sweaty–but mostly sweaty. It was super dark too so I got some mosquito bites which is bad because I’m really allergic to them. But tbh, I was a little disappointed when I got there because it didn’t look like the pictures online. I mean, the architecture was still really cool though because it looked like a huge wave going through the boardwalk.

But afterwards, we got Lychee ice cream from McDonald’s so it was all good!!!

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Lychee Ice Cream!

Plus, I’ve eaten so much food here in the past 2 weeks. So here are a bunch of photos of everything I’ve eaten so far haha.


And again, here are some prayer requests if you want to pray for me along with some things I’m grateful for 🙂

Prayer Requests:

  1. My wisdom teeth is getting a lot better but food gets stuck in the hole a lot and the doctor never gave me an irrigator so I just hope it won’t get infected haha
  2. Getting involved on campus! I’m having a hard time finding clubs on campus because they don’t have an involvement fair so I’m not really sure what’s to join.
  3. I’m getting sick 😩

Things I’m grateful for:

  1. .70 SGD vanilla ice cream cones from McDonalds
  2. I haven’t had diarrhea yet and I’m so grateful. I know this is gross but seriously so grateful
  3. My dehumidifier is working!

Thanks for reading everyone! I will keep you updated on what happens next week.

All of me,

Jamie

P.S. Fun facts: 1.)In my ergonomics class, the teacher asked what kind of people have larger widths and would need more space to move around and the student next to me laughed and said “gui lou” in Cantonese which means white people. lol I just looked at him and he looked away. 2.)Singaporeans call McDonald’s “MACs”!

Week 1: Exploring China Town and Getting my Wisdom Teeth Extracted

Hi friends!!

I hope you are doing well. I’m sitting on the airplane as I write this. I can’t believe I’ll be in Singapore in less than 12 hours. Honestly this doesn’t even feel real because I’d never thought I’d be in Singapore. When I first applied for study abroad, I had applied to Cape Town, South Africa but after hearing about the riots and possibly not finishing my semester on time, I thought I’d give Singapore a try. So here I am, flying on my own and taking engineering classes in a brand new university.

A part of me is really excited but for the most part, I’m actually really scared haha. After my first semester of junior year, I finally felt like I had a support system back at USC and I had friends who I could rely on and trust. That first semester was definitely a time of reflection for me; I thought about things ranging from what I really wanted to do in college (still kind of not sure), discovering and dealing with my depression and learning that not everything has to happen in an instant. And so for me to uproot myself and take what I’ve learned to a different country will be a challenge. I hope that my friends back at USC won’t forget about me. And that hopefully this blog will be my way of communicating to you guys. Feel free to send me messages or emails. I’d love to read them 🙂

When I first told people about studying abroad in Singapore, they were so happy for me and said that I’m going to have so much fun. And I’m sure that this experience will be full of adventure and fun but I also don’t want to pump myself up and be disappointed at unmet expectations. I think you guys have heard of FOMO (fear of missing out) and I think I caught a pretty bad case of it my freshmen and sophomore year of college. I always kept thinking of “I wish I was at this other event with other people because they seem to be having more fun” And I kept going down the rabbit hole of “what if’s”. I also expected that 3 months into college, I’d be chilling with some of my closest friends on a grassy area. Sorry to disappoint but that didn’t happen haha. And so I’ve learned that yes I can be excited for new beginnings but it’s important to set realistic expectations and know that I can’t really play the “what if” game. I can’t plan to be best friends with so and so because I don’t know the future nor can I control it. For my time in Singapore, I’m going to go in with realistic expectations and know that this might not necessarily be “the best time of my life” because that’s also what they said about college and I definitely have stories that counteract that statement.


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So I just got to school and the view from my room is beautiful! I’m on the 18th floor and I face a part of NUS called UTown which is the newest part of campus and it has a lot of apartments and student centers dedicated to new and exchange students. We have a small infinity pool next to the gym which you can see on the right. I’m really lucky that I live in such a convenient place and that my roommates are really nice! (You’ll be able to see them during my vlog!)


1/05/17 Chinatown

When we got to Chinatown, the food was delicious. Singapore has these open-air complex food centers called Hawker Centres where you can get lots of food from different stalls. Food here ranges from 2-4 SGD which is unheard of in the States. I had this really famous Hainanese Chicken Rice for 3.5 SGD ($2.5 USD)!  I also had the best banana milk smoothie for 1.8 SGD! The only thing was that I pretty much had to eat baby slices of food because my mouth couldn’t open wide past 2cm. We did a lot of walking afterwards though because we got lost and didn’t get home until midnight.


1/06/17 Wisdom Teeth

The biggest thing that happened this week was probably me getting my wisdom teeth pulled out. I started experiencing pain when I was on the airplane and then when I got to Singapore, it was hard for me to talk and eat so on the first day, I called my insurance and thankfully they were able to make an appointment at a nearby hospital for me. It was kinda funny but not really because the conversation at the appointment went something like this:

“so you’ll be feeling two small pinches…”

“Wait we’re doing it today??”

“Yeah you should heal by Monday!”

I was definitely not planning on taking it out here in Singapore but I just couldn’t handle the pain anymore. I was also awake during the whole time haha but thank God everything went smoothly! Afterwards, I walked around the hospital and I came across this Mosque in Arab Street, which apparently is filled with lots of good and cheap Muslim food!

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1/07/17 Marina Bay Sands 

If any of you have seen pictures of Singapore, you might have seen the famous Lion spouting out water from its mouth. Tonight, we went to the famous Marina Bay Sands and saw a water show! It was so so beautiful. The bay was right in front of a lot of high rise buildings so you could see all the lights reflected on the water. The water show was super innovative because it basically played a movie on the background of water. I was just sitting there in front of the show and I couldn’t help but think how lucky I am to be here. Last year was really rough and I didn’t think things would get better but here I am sitting in front of this amazing scenery.


1/08/17 Laksa 

Today was the last day before school started so we went out to Holland Place, which is a few MRT stops from NUS. We saw another Hawker Centre and it’s known for its affordable alcohol. We went to this restaurant called 328 Katong Laksa and they served really good seafood Laksa, which is a spicy noodle soup of Chinese and Malay cuisine. It was so spicy but the pain was 100% worth haha. 15966724_1389360954407789_1394934024_o

But anyways, that was how my week went!It was filled with lots of food but hopefully all the walking burned it off. But, on the first day arriving in Singapore, a scary thought hit me: I literally don’t know anyone here and I have to admit, I was so scared I wouldn’t make friends and that I’d end up watching K dramas by myself in my room most of the time. I’m happy to say that my roommates and I clicked pretty well and we’ve been slowly getting to know each other! School starts for me tomorrow so hopefully the teachers are nice and students are friendly! But for now, that’s pretty much it. I have some prayer requests and things I’m grateful for down below. If you can pray for me, I would so appreciate it!

Prayer Requests:

  1. Quick healing of my wisdom tooth (and for the other one not to get infected)
  2. Finding a God centered fellowship
  3. General health because for some reason it feels like my heart sometimes skips a beat 😩

Things I’m grateful for:

  1. I got to Singapore safely!
  2. My insurance covered most of the wisdom teeth extraction
  3. I attended a Presbyterian Church here and everyone seems super nice. I’m excited to go back next week

Thanks for reading everyone! I will keep you updated on what happens next week.

All of me,

Jamie

P.S. Fun fact of the day: My feet and legs are swollen because of the heat and I barely fit into my sandals hehe

Having Depression

Dear friends,

Depression is an ugly thing. And more than that, it’s a crippling disease. For the longest time, I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me because I felt so indifferent to things that normally brought me joy. It wasn’t until recently that I realized I had high-functioning depression.

On the outside I seemed great because I was doing well academically, involved with clubs and knew so many people on campus. But on the inside I was exhausted, reluctant to trust in people and frustrated with my stagnation in life. I wrestled with thoughts of “I don’t have the energy to do this but what will other people think of me?” or “I’m just going through a rough patch, I can’t let it get me down or else I’m not going to get a good job and I can’t take care of my mom” These thoughts led me into a dangerous cycle where I was apathetic towards life but then felt guilty for not meeting my own expectations of where I should be. And it came to a point where I just forced myself to go through the motions without any hope in anything.

Growing up as a first generation college student with a single working mom, independence and responsibility were my backbone. I realized at a very young age that I had to figure out things on my own because my mom couldn’t help me. With that being said, learning how to deal with my emotions were basically short of just suppressing them, accepting how I was feeling and moving on. Talking about emotions didn’t exist because who was I to feel sad, lonely and angry when I had everything I needed physically and financially? How was I to tell my mom who slaved day and night at her 3 jobs so I could have everything, that I couldn’t do college anymore? That I didn’t like engineering so I’m going to pursue something different? I don’t. I thought to myself if she is able to endure all the pressure and physical gruel she was going through for me for 10 plus years, then I can suck it up and get an engineering degree and a job. But I didn’t realize how unhealthy that was, putting all this pressure on myself as if I had to take on the whole world.

Coming into college, I also didn’t think I needed a strong support system because I had my church and my own habit of dealing with things on my own. But as a freshmen, I was struggling with my Christian faith. Suddenly all my world views were upside down and it was like the rug was swept under me. I had grown up most of my life thinking that God had a plan for me and that the purpose was to live for Him. But when I started doubting that, I started doubting my reason for living. And for me to have such a big part of my identity lost, I didn’t know who I was apart from being a Christian.

In hindsight, I was having bouts of depression in my senior year of high school to freshmen year of college but it wasn’t until my sophomore year of college that I hit a new low. Everything that had been building up came crashing down on me and I found myself not wanting to do anything. There were so so many times where I wrote about how tired and unmotivated I was in my journal. From walking to class, to saying hi to my friends, to making conversations with other people, to doing homework–everything required so much effort. Sometimes, I just didn’t respond because I didn’t have the energy to. There were days where I couldn’t concentrate because my mind was all over the place and I couldn’t focus on doing one thing for the entire day. All I wanted to do was go to bed because I knew I wouldn’t have to feel anything if I was asleep. At one point, I wanted to drop out of college because I didn’t realize what the purpose of college was. Or really life in general. But I was pushed back by the thought that I had to take care of my mom or else all she did for me was for nothing. But I couldn’t bring myself to tell her that I didn’t want to do it anymore.

So I started playing around with thoughts of suicide because I could’t handle the hopelessness of the future. I never told anyone because I hated burdening people and thoughts of me being worthless plagued my mind for so long that I accepted the lie that nobody cared for me. And even as I’m writing, I’m still reluctant to say that I have depression because suicide seems so far fetched that there’s no way I can be experiencing symptoms of depression. But it sucked feeling trapped in this cycle of hopelessness, self pity and lack of self-worth.

What ended up happening was that God placed people in my life who made me feel loved. My random roommates Ocean, Alex and Sabrina prayed for me and showed me that there were reasons to live for. (And if you girls are reading this, you have no idea how thankful I am for you. Who knows where I’d be without you.) So through their prayers and encouragement, I did a lot of self-reflection during the summer of my sophomore year. I realized that my lack of energy to even talk to people was not normal. I saw that I was wasting time not doing things that I was lucky enough to do–move my body, exercise, listen to music, pray. So I made a promise to myself that I would get better.

And it’s only recently that I accepted I was depressed. And yes some of you are reading this and it might come as a surprise because I never said anything. But believe me, I wish it weren’t true. My problem with depression was that it poisoned my mind and made me think 1. I don’t have depression and 2. I shouldn’t fix a problem that’s not there. But depression is dangerous because it’s often times the things that are unseen that can hurt you the most. Mental illness is an illness. It affects your physical and mental health. Just as if you have a cold and you feel tired and lethargic all the time, depression can do the same thing.

Friends, I’m sharing a piece of me that I didn’t know existed until very recently. I am getting counseling and I am okay. Not great and still far from where I want to be. But I’m okay. Please don’t treat me any different, as if you can’t talk to Jamie. But be more compassionate, towards me and everyone around you because you don’t know what they’re feeling and what they’re thinking. Just listen. Don’t talk about how you feel. Ask them how they feel and why they’re feeling that way. So many times people are so involved with themselves that they automatically turn any conversation into something that revolves around their own experiences. But please, the best thing you can do for me and for all your friends is to genuinely ask how they’re doing and then wait for a response. And yes, part of this blog is for me to vent and collect all my thoughts in one place. But I wanted to write this blog mostly because I wanted my friends and my family to know what has been kept hidden for so long. And for them to keep me accountable. I hope that on the days where I don’t want to open up and talk about it, that you keep asking me until I say something. I might not have the strength to tell you in person, but I hope my voice here is strong enough to carry me through.

And for those of you who are in a similar situation, know that you are not alone. So many people experience depression but don’t talk about it because it’s not a “real disease”. Many people at USC hide their lack of mental well-being behind a mask of success that’s been deemed as the status quo. But know that it is not and it should not be. If the stresses of school are wearing you down and you need time to take care of yourself, do it. Do not let the standards of what it means to be “successful” drag you down. And if you are struggling with depression, the fact that you acknowledge it is already a step in the right direction. Please don’t give up because you are not your depression and it does not define you.

I used to look into the future and see nothing good would come out of it because nothing brought me joy. And I’m still wondering when I will get better but I’m taking it day by day and it’s helped so much. So if you’re struggling with depression or even thinking about suicide, talk to someone who’s willing to listen, talk to me, talk to a counselor. Don’t keep it in because what you feel and think right now is not permanent and you owe it to yourself to be strong. Don’t think other people don’t care because they do. It’s just that they don’t know what you’re going through. You will get better if you open up and talk about it. You were created on this earth for a purpose and you have to believe in that promise, knowing it was, is and will always be true. Hold on to the days when everything was worth it because it still is.

All of me,

Jamie