Moving in

You know you’re in LA when you feel the surge of warm heat right when you open the car door. I finally arrived at UCLA last Saturday for move-in. It took nearly 6 hours from my hometown, Monterey, to get to Los Angeles by car. Before going to the campus my family stopped by Koreatown, where we had some incredibly refreshing shaved ice, so called potbingsoo, to fight off the heat . Going from a 60 degrees weather to an 80 degrees weather was a big jump for me, but I kind of liked the heat. Although it is pretty warm in LA, it’s never humid, always dry.

Moving in was very fast and easy. The system was set that every family had a space to park their car, so none of them had to wait under the scorching sun. Wheeled carts were provided for us to carry all the stuff to the dorm. My dorm was waiting for me with free ice cream, brownies, and other sweet treats.

The room was not as small as I had imagined. I was horrified at the thought of living with two other people in a tight humid room, but it actually isn’t that bad. Not bad at all! I am living in a triple at Hedrick Hall and there is enough space for all three people to store their stuff. And there is a huge window in every room, so the rooms never really get hot or stuffy. Also, my roommates were nice enough to let me use the bottom bunk, so I really can’t ask for a better place to live. I was nervous about meeting my roommates for the first time, especially since I hadn’t talked to them beforehand, but I found out that they were just normal people who were excited to move in to a new environment, just like me.

So here I am. At UCLA. Ready to start my first quarter in college. I will have many ups and downs, but I will never look back and endure through this challenge.


Last moments in Monterey

Wow, does time fly. It seems like it was just yesterday that I was complaining about how I still had a month before school starts, and I’m already moving in this Saturday!

Realizing how little time I have left, I’m beginning to cherish every moment spent with my family and friends. I’m going to miss spending my weekends here in Monterey doing the usual family routine – taking a morning walk to the town bakery for some wonderfully buttery and flaky croissant and a freshly brewed cup of coffee. I’ll miss going to church on Sundays with my family. I’m going to miss going to the beach and going shopping with my high school friends. I’m going to miss baking in the kitchen. And I’m definitely going to miss being able to sleep in!

So focused on how I was feeling about college, I wasn’t aware of how my parents were feeling until I saw my mom sobbing at church through the whole praise time. Surely I remember how she dealt with my brother leaving for college four years back. I remember her crying for hours after saying goodbye. But I thought she would be more experienced this time and not be so emotional. I didn’t know she would have such a hard time letting go of me.

Through the last four years living with just the two of us, my mom and I, we’ve grown much closer together. With my dad living in Korea and visiting us only a couple of times per year, we had to depend on each other for support, care, and understanding. We’ve appreciated the good sides of each other and have endured through the bad sides. We’ve borrowed each others’ shoulders to lean on. We’ve spent endless nights watching our favorite Korean drama, laughing and crying. And we’ve never forgotten to bake cake for each others’ birthdays and have a surprise party. It was never “just the two of us.” Having her was more than enough for me. She is indeed the best mom I could ever ask for.

Seeing my mom crying got me worried for the move-in day, but I just hope my parents understand that I will be back before they know it. Until then, I will cherish every moment with them and let them know how much I love them.

Packing Tips—Part 2

In the last post, I offered some general packing tips. Now in Part 2, I will give you some really basic, completely obvious tips on how to organize yourself for the packing process:

  • Drink some tea / eat dried fruit / listen to Beyonce. Do anything that will put you in an awesome mood for packing. It takes so much motivation to pack. Actually shoving clothes into bags is not hard at all, but there are always SO MANY clothes. So first thing’s first, take deep breaths, do some squats, or give yourself a pep talk—anything to get you prepped for packing your whole life away.
  • Make sure your packing area is clear. You can have a totally crazy,messy room, but if you are packing on your bedroom floor, that floor better have enough space for you to fold, sort, lay down if you are stressed, etc. Sorting things by laying them down on top of other things gets confusing, so just make sure everything in your immediate vicinity is nice and tidy.
  • Make a list of what you need to pack! In your mind, go through everything you do in the average week and think about all the stuff that you use.  Be sure to include every little thing. Remember that you trim your nails with a nail clipper. Recall that you you have a little dish to hold your iPod headphones. Everything you use goes on that packing list to ensure that your life at school will be just like your life at home (unless you are into playing MacGyver, in which case your packing list should include a toothpick and another toothpick).
  • Take your packed things to the car in the order that you want to unload them into the cart, which is the reverse order that you will be unloading them into your room (for the most part, exceptions to this would be your hanging things). Simpler version: you want your lamp first thing when you get into your room? Pack that first, so that it’s the last thing you place into your cart, so it’s on the top and the first thing you get in your room.
  • Last piece of advice, keep those bags! Just tuck them away somewhere in your room because before you know it you will need to repack everything and bags are the way to go.

Good luck packing. I know I will need it.

Packing Tips— Part 1

(In all honesty, this post is really for me to organize my thoughts and prepare for the grueling packing experience that awaits me (my room looks like a Goodwill collection center (don’t get any ideas, Mom…)))

Packing. It is incredibly important. Without packing, your clothes would just be in the trunk of your car, intermingling with your binders and towels, and intermingling of those items is not OK. You would have to put your stuff directly into the carts that the Housing office provides for you. There would be no plastic in between your jammies and the side of the cart! Ah!

Wait, maybe packing is not that important because who cares if your stuff touches your other stuff, and all of it touches the cart? Alright, let me rephrase. Packing makes things slightly more convenient for you and everyone does it and when are you trying to fit in more, than the first day of college? Yeah, you could just throw your crap into the trunk and it would be fine but using plastic bags to separate your t-shirts from your lamp is kind of fun, and who knows where the sides of the Housing office’s cart has been.

So, here are some of my excellent, super great, bomb boo-yeah packing tips:

  • Use bags. Seriously, boxes are not your friend. They do not fit into cars well and take up a ton of space. You can fit like five in your trunk, and the five you fit in there are usually only going to be like three-quarters full. Bags are great! They are comfy to carry and are like amorphous blobs. They mold to the shape of your trunk, your back seat, even to the back of your head (DIY travel pillow). Pack towels, blankets, pillows, spare body parts, even school supplies in bags. Be especially sure to pack all foldable clothes into bags.
  • This brings me to nonfoldable clothes. I am talking about nice jackets, dresses, your Lady Gaga Halloween costume, basically anything on a hanger. Good news, y’all… you do not need to take any of those things off their hangers! Just take your hanging items off of the rack in your closet and pile them on top of your already full back seat, hangers and all. If you are afraid they will get ruined or are seriously nervous about your things touching the Housing office carts, you can always put either a plastic covering you get from the dry cleaners over everything OR a big trash bag over everything. This is great because when you get to your room, you just whip all your hangables off the top of your carts and boom, they go right into the closet. I maybe even recommend hanging more clothes than usual, just because this is way easier than refolding everything before it goes into drawers.
Ok, now that we have established that you are to use nothing but bags to accomplish the actual act of packing, in Part 2 of this post, I will give you some tips for how to organize yourself for the packing process.
To Be Continued…. Part 2 coming soon!

A how to guide about saying goodbye to your parents and embracing independence

Disclaimer: This guide is really only for those of you going through a similar level of emotional distress as I went through. This level can be determined by several factors:

  • distance away from your parents (I live in the Bay Area; a 5ish hour drive or 1 hour plane flight)
  • emotional closeness with your parents (I am obsessed with my parents)
  • reliance on your parents for support (financially, emotionally, or whether or not they tuck you in at night. All apply to me)

So, in about a month and three quarters you may be moving into your NEW ROOM! Yay! Whatever, that’s exciting, but this also means that move-in might be the last time you see your parents for a while (at most until parents’ weekend). Of course, this sparks, or rather, ignites an array of emotions. These will include anxiousness, mild paranoia, a intense feeling of being overwhelmed, and panic. Don’t worry, only a little bit of each of these are present at any one time. You will never feel like quitting (maybe, but not for more than 30 seconds).

For example, the first night I spent in the dorms, I nearly drowned in my own tears. My parents had not even left UCLA yet, but the mania had set in. I imagined the workloads of my classes and knowing that my dad would not be in the next room to answer my question about wormholes. I imagined myself for the next ten weeks paralyzed with fear in my bed every night. Of course, this did not continue. The next night was much better; I cut my sweat output in half. My parents had left by then, but, miraculously, I was calmer.

The key to doing this is to take this simple two-pronged approach:

  1. Prong One – Maintain contact with your parents
    • Text them frequently
    • Call them even more frequently (I called my dad every day of the quarter, if only for a second or to leave a message of me mumbling as I ate my bagel)
    • Skype, if you’re into that. (Personally, I am more of a phone call fan. The whole seeing-a-pixelated-face thing doesn’t do it for me)
    • Make them send you packages with cookies and cute clothes
    • Email them your most interesting readings
    • Take their advice
  2. Prong Two – Relish your independence
    • Attend all events (Bruin Bash, apartment parties, beginning of the year sale, etc.)
    • Eat healthfully in the dining hall (Seriously, passing up pizza for the first five weeks made me feel like an adult/Iron Man)
    • Explore the campus alone
    • Decorate your room exactly how you want
    • Be your own freaking best friend

Obviously there is a lot more you can do to feel independent and happy about it. And there are probably other ways to keep in touch with Mom and Dad (or just Dad or Mom and Mommy or Uncle Ben or Veronica). Basically, just go balls-to-the-wall crazy for college while keeping yourself anchored at your parents’ feet. It’s mega hard but totally doable. I did, and I was a complete disaster for the first three days.

Good luck!