Norcal Bliss

With just a week before going back down to LA to start school, I wanted to spend the last few days here in NorCal doing some of my favorite things: walking along the beach and hiking. Last weekend, my mom took a day off from her work to go hiking with me at the Henry Cowell Redwood State Park in Santa Cruz. It was the best day yet of my entire summer vacation. Wished I had done this earlier.

Santa Cruz is only 50 miles away from where I live, so it was only about an hour long drive from my house to the park. We arrived there at around 10 o’clock in the morning and we found a free parking space (yay!!) along the side, and we started wandering through the park. Not long after we headed into the park, we heard a distant train whistle. Feeling adventurous and curious, we went deeper into the forest, wishing to catch a glimpse of the train. 

Although we didn’t get to see the actual train, we found its railroad. We walked along the railroad to avoid getting lost in the woods, since we didn’t have a visitor’s map. With a couple more whistles here and there and no sight of any train, we were brought to a what seemed like an old train station.

The station had been renovated and it is actually the only station still in operation out of the 80+ train stations in Santa Cruz. It has two different trains. The steam train goes to the Bear Mountain in a round trip lasting about 1.5 hrs,  and the beach train takes you on a 3-hr ride to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk along the San Lorenzo River. Walking around the station, I felt like I was transported to a mid-1800’s town. With the train station at the center, the little town also had multiple red barn-like buildings with over-sized boards inscribed “General Store” and “Chuckwagon Bar-B-Q,” and there were some lodging areas as well.

We eventually came out of the train station and went back into the woods again, where we found a stream with beautifully sparkling water. We laid ourselves down on the bridge that went across the stream and listened to the water, the occasional train whistles, and the singing birds. Warm sunlight peaking through the woods. Soft, cool breeze. Simply perfect.

Am I ready for school now?

Can I go home now…?

I had planned to go home to NorCal the day after my last final, and leave for Korea the morning after to spend my first two weeks of summer vacation there. I thought I could just take a few hours the night after my last final to pack my things in my dorm and take off in the morning. Well, it did not go as smoothly as I intended it to.

First of all, I could not find a place to store my dorm stuff. The person who was supposed to hold onto my things for the summer was not able to anymore and I had to search for another person less than 24 hours before my flight. I called multiple people in my address book to ask if they had anymore space left to store a few more boxes. Not to my surprise, they already had previous arrangements to store things for other people and they did not have any more space left. I totally understood that it was definitely too late to ask for this and I should have had a backup plan. I was mad at myself.

The packing process was quite a stress. I started packing the day before my flight and I had underestimated the time. I did not know where to even begin. The amount of clothes seemed to have doubled and tripled since the time I first moved into my dorm room, and I had no idea how to fit my closet into two suitcases (which definitely seemed to have shrunk since I last saw them). The time was 10PM. At this point, whether I could go home the next day was questionable.

I was frustrated. I was frustrated that I did not have anywhere to store my stuff for the summer. I was frustrated that I did not have a backup plan. I was frustrated that I had too many clothes. I  was frustrated that I could not fit all of my stuff in my suitcases. I was frustrated that my suitcases were over the weight limit to go through the airlines. I was frustrated at the time for keep ticking.

Luckily, I eventually found someone to hold onto my stuff for the summer, and I don’t know what I would have done if I hadn’t found that person. I was able to magically fit my clothes, shoes, and etc, in my suitcases, with some help from giving them away to friends and for donation. It was a stressful process, especially after a series of finals, but I did safely come home that next day.

If I learned anything from this experience, it is this:

Give yourself plenty of time, at least 2 days, to pack your stuff. Prearrange where you will store your things over the summer, and always double check BEFORE you have to leave for your flight.

I never knew anything could be so stressful.

Winter Break back in NorCal

Happy belated holidays and a happy new year everyone!

After finishing a successful first quarter here at UCLA, I was finally able to go up to NorCal to visit my family and friends. Although my parents visited me a couple of times, I never had the chance to go back home. I cannot describe to you how happy I was the moment I got home, went into my room, and saw my bed. It was like seeing a long-lost friend for the first time in years. It had been too long since I got a decent sleep and I slept so well while I was home for this winter break. It was good to be back in my true comfort zone with  mom’s home cooking, endless Christmas movies on TV, and my warm, fuzzy bed.

I spent my break going on morning walks to the beach with a cup of coffee in one hand and a croissant in the other. I went on a long hike in Carmel Valley. I took a trip to San Francisco Union Square for a shopping spree. And the best of all, I spent days as a couch potato watching Korean dramas and Christmas movies with a big mug of warm, hot chocolate in my hands.

And I am now back here at UCLA, re-energized and ready to start another quarter. I actually already had my first chemistry class this morning at 10AM. This quarter definitely will be a challenge, but I will carry on as I had in my first quarter. Whatever happens happens and life will go on. The only thing I can do is trying my best.

So to a new year and a new quarter,

GO BRUINS!

A Brief Road Trip to the North

This past weekend I traveled to San Francisco to attend my boyfriend’s cousin’s wedding.  Although it was a very hurried trip (we left on Friday and returned on Sunday), it still was a great experience.  This marked the first time I traveled to northern California by car since I moved to southern California.  Although I had gotten recommendations to take the scenic route along the coast, we were a little pressed for time so we took the straighter, flatter route on the I-5 through the Central Valley.

I finally got to see, firsthand, the long drive my roommate and friends take up to the Bay Area when they are on their way home for Thanksgiving or winter break.  It was relatively straight (except the mountainous section of the I-405 before it meets the I-5), and we made good time both heading there and back.  It gave me a chance to sit back from the daily bustle of my final quarter at UCLA (!) and take in the view of the Coastal Range as we coasted down the I-5.

One day, I hope to make the same trip again, this time on the coastal scenic drive, and this time all the way up to visit my mom and sister in Vancouver, Canada.  Although that trip will not cross any time zones, I will traverse three states and one province, and hopefully many cities (and some national parks) along the way.

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.

Fruit Trees

Continuing off my last blog, after making it to NorCal, I have been overwhelmed with the amount of fresh fruit. The Central Valley is certainly living up to its reputation. I don’t think I can even list all of the fruit that is growing in the backyard. Grapefruit, figs, white nectarines, yellow nectarines, peaches, a vine of grapes and more. The problem is I am one person, and there seems to be hundreds of fruit. I have packaged a lot for neighbors, but there still seems to be an endless amount falling onto the ground. I guess I should make jam, but I don’t know if I am that talented. I did make some really good peach cobbler.

I know I will be missing this endless supply of free fruit when fall rolls around, so I am definitely appreciating it now!

Go Bruins!

Eventful Drive

I had a rather eventful drive to NorCal. Just as I passed the junction between the 99 and the 5, the check oil level light flashed on in my car. With about fifty miles to Bakersfield, I got a little worried. Now, my dad had been bugging me since spring break to get my oil changed. But, I was busy and traveling. Then the car passed 100,000 miles and needed servicing anyway so I figured I would just do everything at once. Needless to say, I was starting to regret that.

Anyway, I pulled off at the next exit and hoped that the gas station would have a service shop attached. No such luck. Now, as someone who doesn’t like dealing with cars at all, I am proud to say that I was able to go into the store, buy some oil, pop the hood and pour it in. I don’t think that is the best way to go for the car, but it served until I reached my next destination. Needless to say, I have since got the tune up done.

My Indian-Themed Weekend!

My weekend definitely had an Indian theme going on. Last weekend I went home for my cousin’s wedding (he married an Indian woman, so the wedding had Indian dresses, henna and ❤ samosas <3). When I got back to school on Sunday, I went to Holi, the Hindu festival of colors, which was located at Sunset Rec (on the Hill).

The wedding was on a Friday, so I had to miss classes for that day, but how often do you get to see your cousin get married (or really get to go to weddings, geez (actually, I have a lot of cousins who are probably going to get married (so maybe often?)))? Besides having to wave goodbye to UCLA, the trip home was fantastic. The wedding was in San Francisco, a city that is always fun to visit. Bee-boppin’ around SF reminds me that cities have a ton of really cool places to go – I’m looking at you, LA!

The day of the wedding was lovely. There were lots of pretty colors and delicious foods and certainly a lot of family members I loved seeing. There was smiling, giggling, tears of joy, and a ton of pictures. After the reception (at which the largest amount of dancing I have ever seen took place, and I did Dance Marathon, ok?), the family minus the newlyweds went back home to hangout and continue the festivities. After milling about for a while, I started a big game of Black Magic. If you haven’t played before, GOOD, because the point of the game is to guess a hidden pattern. Only me and two other family members knew how the game was played, so we went through many rounds with the entire extended family before people got the hang of it. I actually learned Black Magic playing it with my fellow tour guides! It was one of the games we played in the lines at Disneyland.

After getting back to school, I was able to immerse myself in the Indian culture further with Holi, that afternoon. For those of you unfamiliar with Holi, it is a festival of colors, which sounds nice until you realize what a festival of colors entails. Basically, everyone throws color at each other. Like powder dye- super bright pigment in powder form. And everyone dresses up in white clothes and people go wild. I kind of decided that this year at Holi would be my last because I got dye allllll up in my eye (owwww), but besides the occasional eye-dyeing experience, Holi is pretty fun. I mean just imagine a lawn full of college students throwing handfuls of brightly colored powder at each other until everyone looks like a Na’vi.

So that was my weekend. Thanks for reading!

Here’s to brother Bruin, brother Bruin, brother Bruin

I know I have mentioned this one too many times, but it seems to be a topic of discussion that I can’t help but to gush about. BRUIN PRIDE! I have spent three full years here at UCLA and am about to be finishing up my fourth and final year in just a couple quarters. Throughout my time here, I have had my share of Bruintastic moments and memories, but I think that when I look back fondly upon my college experience and the Bruin spirit that bubbled inside of me, I will look back upon this past weekend.

Football season is always a wonderful season to get out and show off how much UCLA means to me. (Although, I must admit, it is proving a bit difficult to cheer for a team that is on such an impressive losing streak) But I thought to myself, nonetheless, what better way to show my loyalty as a fan, than to travel with our team? And so, we did.

If you have ever taken a long road trip with some of your friends, you know that squishing yourself into a car, with no means of escaping each other for the next 400 miles, is always a good idea that is full of giggles and candy. However, I ask you this. Have you ever considered squishing 45 of you? What? Sheer madness you say???? Yes, yes it was. Going to such a large school of well rounded and advantageously organized students means that road trips to Norcal are not only frequented, but always a memory worth having.

We charted a big ‘ol bus with our lovely driver Fernando, stuffed 45 of my favorite UCLA Bruins onto it, all of whom were decked out in face paint and costumes, and began the trek from point A to point B. The bus songs, pit stops, and ridiculous antics made the trip fly by.

Upon our return the next day (despite our loss to Stanford), it made me realize just how much I have loved the people I have met here, the memories I have made, and how hard it will be to leave this place that I now call a home. Unless of course……it’s for another road trip…….

A Rainy Day at UCLA

During my hour break between classes on Tuesday, I decided to study outside on the lawn by Janss Steps. I enjoyed the sunshine while going over my neuroanatomical flashcards (and maybe napped a little too). As always, I appreciated how much I love going to school under the wonderful Southern California sunshine!

However, on Wednesday, an extremely rare event happened at UCLA. Rainfall! Now, I am from NorCal, and used to drive to 6 am diving practice while my car thermostat read 33 degrees. I am not usually one to complain about rain, but it wasn’t just sprinkling! It was a downpour of rain from when I left my apartment at 7 am, until I walked to lab at 2 pm! I was extremely grateful for all my athletic training (thanks coaches!) during my magnificent leaps across puddles, in an attempt to try to keep my shoes a little more dry. Needless to say, it didn’t work.

By the time I left lab at 5, the rain was nowhere to be seen. Instead, the sunshine had returned and I took off my sweatshirt and put on my sunglasses for the walk home.

Go Bruins!!