Hey there.

Today marks the beginning of the sixth week since I started my full time. As I settle into the new chapter of life, I’m often reminded by these lyrics in the song Home from the musical Beauty and the Beast:

“I was told,
Every day in my childhood
Even when we grow old
Home should be where the heart is
Never were words so true”

Through the numerous moves between dorms and apartments in the past few years, I’ve curated a mental list of things that are essential for me to turn a space into a home. My two favorite things are the inspiration wall and accessory corner. You would find some version of both if you were to visit all the places I’ve lived at. Like me, both of these are always changing. Each time I move, some bits get left behind while some pieces becomes part of the family.

One of the first things I do when I move into a new space is to put up my inspiration wall. I’ve always had the habit of collecting tickets and pamphlets with nice graphics. I also take photos everywhere I go. The main purpose of the inspiration wall is actually to provide a space to exhibit the physical reminders of places I’ve been or experiences I’ve had. It’s a lot like the world map wall decal but in a collage form (and the best part is that it’s free). Not everyone will have a large space available for this, another ideas of achieving the same goal is use a digital photo frame, like the ones from AURA. Another idea is to put the collage on spaces you’re already using. For example, DIY photo magnets (putting magnetic tape onto photos from Polaroids or regular prints) and arrange them on fridge doors or other magnetic surfaces.

The accessory corner is a space filled with things that brings me joy and use daily. It brightens up my day every morning when I reach for my perfume or a pair of earrings. Currently, this is located on top of my dresser but at the previous apartment, it was a shelf in the bookcase. Having a space filled with things you love can really help make place feel like home.

Like the lyrics say, “home should be where the heart is.” If you fill up a space with things close to your heart, no matter where you are, it will always be home. What are some tips you have for making a place home? Let me know down in the comment section!

Cheers,

Jenn

P.S. Would you like me to potentially link products I show in photos? I can’t promise I will always be able to find the products since some of them I bought overseas (i.e. I carried the MUJI organizer all the way from Tokyo even though the MUJI by my office sells it as well).

Hey there,

How you doing? This month is a productive one, especially for the blog. I have one more post scheduled to come live this month, that’s three posts in a month! I haven’t been this prolific since I started my last year of college.

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Although last week was filled with cloudy and raining days, the upcoming week looks a bit more promising with the sun. A look I’ve been loving this summer is the blue-and-white striped blouse like this one from H&M and this one from F21. Pairing it with a basic bottom, like a pair of white jeans or a black circle skirt, and you will be all set for a day in the sun. Sadly, I have yet to find one that fits well and could be incorporated into my work wardrobe (now I have to ask “can I wear this to work” to every piece of clothing I buy thanks to being an office worker). Instead, I substituted the blouse with a basic white tank and paired it with a sequined body con skirt for a summer date outfit. I’ve also included some of my current favorites in this flat lay: Narciso Rodriguez’s Fleur Musc (which I got in Europe), Clio’s pore priming sun block and Avene’s thermal spring water spray.

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Being someone without 20/20 vision, frames are a constant accessory for my outfits (especially on those lazy days when I don’t want to put on contacts). Thus, I added my current favorite vision glasses to help you imagine the whole outfit. This particular pair is from eyebuydirect.

Warby Parker‘s newest collection, the Sculpted Series, would be a cute accessory to outfits like this one. They come as both sunglasses and vision glasses. The four frames in the collection are based on stone-inspired hues, which I love, from Onyx Tortoise to Rose Clay. Being the summer and my girly ways, my favorite pair out of the collection is the black, almost cat-eye frames with rosy tones peaking through. The black matches most of my closet while the rose brings out a bit of personality. And for my face shape, large, cat-eye/trapezoidal shaped frames usually look the best.

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I’m going back of my usual style of keeping the things short and sweet. Last week’s super long post is a bit of an exception, but it’s honestly impossible to condense my first Europe trip to be any shorter. Anyway hope your summer has been going well so far and there’s lots of sun and fun in store. Let me know in the comments below where are your favorite pair of frames from or where else I should look for the blue-and-white-striped blouse!

Cheers,

Jenn

P.S. Don’t forget to wear sunscreen no matter the weather outside to prevent skin damage from wrinkles to skin cancer!

June 21st was the official start of summer and it’s been more than a couple of weeks since then. It has been quite hectic for the past month. Now that I’ve pretty much settled into the new chapter of my life, I’m taking some time to look back and give you guys an update.

As my last post suggest, I have recently graduated from college. Less than 48 hours after I walked across the stage to receive my diploma, I was on an international flight to Lisbon, Portugal. This was my first time travelling to Europe and I was beyond excited. Although due to time constraints, I was only able to budget a little over two weeks on the continent with a focus on Italy (Milan, Venice, Florence and Rome) with a 19-hour layover at Lisbon and a couple days in Brussels, Belgium.

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Honestly this trip was reaching the definition of spontaneity. Putting it plainly, we had nothing planned after my friend and I booked the tickets to Brussels at 2AM on a Tuesday morning. We waited till a week before the flight to finish booking all of our Airbnbs (I strongly do not advise this, especially for Venice which became really expensive). We decided on the attractions as we explored. Planning as you go can definitely stress out some, but I really enjoyed having the possibility of the unknown. Just naming a few, we stumbled upon a handful of free galleries in Venice, a symphonic concert in Florence and a really cute postcard boutique in Brussels.

If I were to recount every memory I had of the trip, this post will go well beyond a proper length. Hopefully through the photos, you guys can experience vicariously for a brief moment.

 

There were so much history everywhere we went. With the pace we were traveling at and historical background we had,we really could not absorb everything the six cities had to offer. However, one regret I have is that we were not able to go see the Uffizi Gallery in Florence due to the line. The famous painting by Sandro Botticelli, The Birth of Venus is housed there, and it’s one of my all time favorite paintings. I did end up getting a post card of the painting in Florence to make up for the missed opportunity.

Although it would be impossible to pick my favorite city of the without any preconceptions, Venice will have a special place in my heart. The city on water is somewhere I’ve wanted to visit for as long as I can remember. Being obsessed with anything water related, whether it’s mermaids or Neptune or aquariums, I love them all. Not to mention, I basically have a college degree in water. Venice is just as beautiful as I thought it would be, surrounded by canals and roads paved by cobblestone. The only thing was I didn’t except the amount of tourist that would be there.

As for food, I had nothing but pasta in Italy with the exception of two meals. And of course, I took full advantage of the great wines in the region. Chianti will forever be my favorite red wine, not even the fancy Bordeaux wines in France can beat it. Since we are on the topic of food, one unexpected problem we faced was water. I’m not sure about you, but my friend and I really despise fizzy/sparkling water, especially after this trip. We has so much trouble distinguish between fizzy and still water, especially in the supermarkets. We even developed this shaking method, but it was not very reliant. We still accidentally purchased fizzy water multiple times. It was so tragic whenever we opened a new bottle of water and a gush of CO2 comes out. For those of you who don’t like fizzy water, you might want to keep this in mind.

There are still so many places in the world I hope to see one day. This trip was just the start of my Europe journey. Even though it is currently on hold, but it won’t be long before I go visit again. Till then. Ciao.

 

Dear 17-year old me,

We both know that this isn’t the first time a letter to the future or the past has been written. How are you?

I know you are not as excited about college as you could be and you’re skeptical about it being the best years of your life, but you really will have some of the most memorable experiences in the next four years. From the people you’ll get the chance to meet and connect with to the opportunities that presents themselves, every little detail helps built your values and beliefs. I wouldn’t say I changed drastically through college, but the values I hold most important has become clearer. Anyway, let’s cut to the chase and I will highlight what has happened in the past four years.

a brief summary of my college career

The first year was tough. It was tough not solely due to academics, trying to find a friend group was stressful to say the least. Coming from a rigorous high school that was more like a college than high school, it was relatively easy to adapt my previous studying habits to suit the new environment. Not to mention there are tons of aid online and offline giving out studying tips and guides. However, there’s no such guide for making friends. Although there were a decent amount of peers from high school who were going to the same college, I distinctly wanted to separate myself from them and find new people. I know many people did not face the same problems, many rather have the group of people they already knew, but I didn’t want to constraint myself in this high school bubble. We all know the college is expensive, and you may think not having a meal plan will affect anything important, suck it up and get the meal plan! I can’t count how many many opportunities to meet people were missed because I didn’t have a meal plan like a regular freshman. Even though the food can get tiring after a while, think about the potential relationship you are investing in.

Don’t feel pressured to stay in your major. Sure engineering is interesting, but you also find many other things interesting. Join that fashion magazine or try out for that dance group, don’t be embarrassed to go to something just because you don’t know anyone there and will be awkward. Use these opportunities to horn your interpersonal skills and find out what you like, or rather what you don’t like. If I had just done all the things that interested me freshman year, rather than dragging it out and regretting never went by senior year, I would have been able to find out more about what I really want to do or use the opportunity and switch into a more design focused major.

Another thing is to go with what you believe and feel like you can handle. Sure academic advisers could be insightful at times, but you don’t have to listen to her all the time. Taking 18 credits and joining a project team as a first semester freshman could sound daunting to someone who was having a hard time adjusting, but you could have tried it first before saying you can’t do it. Till this day, I still regret not joining the team that first semester.

Now let’s talk about the more ‘adult’ stuff, money and job. Financial aid application is something no one enjoy but is essential. Do do your research and know the difference between federal subsidized and unsubsidized loans, so you know which ones to pay off first to minimize the amount of interest accrued. Refinancing the loans, making them more affordable, is also an option, and accessible resources like Earnest can help simply the process. All in all, just make sure you understand all your options before making a choice! 

I’m sure you’ve heard about the myth that freshman don’t get internships. Although that is not necessary untrue, there are opportunities available, it just depends on how much you search. Go to the career office earlier, establish a relationship and know what resources are available. Even though you did eventually acquaint yourself with the staff through the coop program and ended up working in the office for two years, sooner is always better than later when initiating a relationship.

The last thing I want to bring up is about the party scene. What is college without college parties right? Don’t go crazy with the alcohol (those are some meaningless calories there) but don’t also be scared of them. Like with the meal plan, these are the situations where you meet new people, staying in all semester may be comfortable but you might miss meeting some really interesting people. Parties are not always about drinking (although knowing your limits would be good), there are house parties and frat parties. Go out and try. Don’t shut something out just because they are foreign and you’re scared.

If I were to tell you about all the details and warnings for the next four year it would take forever. Besides, that takes the “fun” out of life. Go out there and have fun. There will be ups and downs but everything happen for a reason.

Sincerely,

21-year old me

Hello there. Have you been well?

It’s been well over a year since we’ve parted. I think it’s time for me come to a closure, so I dedicate this post to you and for all the things I wish I told you.

Guardian of the Galaxy Volume 2 came out a couple of weeks ago and I watched it with some friends recently. It’s been three years since the first movie came out. The first movie we watched together, the one with Korean subtitle and comfy theater chairs. Sometimes I think back to how we came together, it could have been a movie. The sweet gestures, the turmoils, it seems just like yesterday when they happened.

When I think of you, I should be angry but instead I am sad. I’m sad about not telling you how much I appreciated you and how happy you made me. But modern dating frowns upon this, saying that showing too much, feeling too much, loving too much is a weakness. It gives the other person the upper hand and too much power over us. We always want to the have an upper hand in love.

One of my favorite Chinese songs has a line in it that perfectly describes my feelings.

遗憾是会呼吸的痛

流在血液中来回滚动

后悔不贴心会痛

恨不懂你会痛

想见不能见最痛

The oversimplified translation is that regret is a pain that’s alive. We always brood over what could have been, should have been. So I decided to stop hiding my heart. Sure, I might get hurt, but regret about the things I didn’t do is even worse.

Whenever I think about you I have to actively remind myself the fucked up things you did. Your shortcomings. The parts of you that showed our incompatibility. The aspects that you pointed out I should work on. My mom told me that relationships make people mature. They make us understand ourselves better and gain a bit of perspective of another individual. Even with their caveat, they are beautiful things.

Thank you for the many firsts, for being such a big part of my life at a point, for giving me so much happiness and excitement. But for now, it’s time to move on and I will stow you away in an box deep inside. My host father told me that you never really forget anything you learned, it’s just lost and you have to find it again. I will hold on to the bittersweet memories, and one day when I find the box again, I will smile.

With love,

J.

“What makes you happy?”
What’s the first thing that comes to your mind? Mine was nice people and food. A friend of mine asked me this on our drive back from spring break. Maybe because I have a crush on him, this question has been in my mind since then.

Advertisement, social media, popular crowds on campus, there always seem to be things telling you “if you have this you’ll be happy,” but what really makes you fulfilled and happy? What is happiness? Will buying that beautiful highlighter or that super cute dress really make me happy for more than a couple hours?

Having the question on my mind, I noticed so many things that made me smile. Running into a friend I hadn’t seen for a couple of years. Listening a new song by a current favorite artist. Talking to friends for hours about nothing and everything till 1 am. Appreciating all the talented people I’ve come to know, even if I haven’t actually talked to some of them. Having this blog as a space to express myself.

Happiness seems to be everywhere, but I can’t help but wonder is it really free? Or is it built upon the materialistic gains we have previously acquired? What is happiness? Is it a form of fulfillment, a connection, or is it a secondary emotion that comes together with a physical product? Just what makes you happy?

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Hey there. It’s me again. I am writing this instead of finish packing for my flight tomorrow morning. For the first time in all of my college career I am actually going somewhere other than home for spring break! I’m super excited to go somewhere warm and full of tropical fruits (mangoes and pineapples here I come), but before I go I thought I would update the third part of my winter Asia trip, Kyoto.

I spent about three days in total in Kyoto, arriving early afternoon and leaving late morning. Friends have told me about all the amazing places to visit beforehand. But being the lazy planner I am, I didn’t realize how far apart all the attractions were from each other. Thank goodness, I booked an Airbnb place near one of the most famous attractions, the Inari Shrine. However, everything else I wanted to see were scattered all over the city. Since Kyoto is much smaller than Tokyo, with more historical sights and a lot less people, the trains were not as convenient as the buses. After doing some quick research, I decided to purchase a daily bus pass for the two full days I was there.

Out of all the amazing places I saw, my favorite is still the Inari Shrine. Despite being the first place I went to, there was something magical and magnificent about the thousands of torri that climbed through the mountain. Running close behind, the Heian-jingu Shrine is my second favorite location in Kyoto. To be honest, I think it is mainly because I visited during 成人の日, which is the Coming of Age Day for those who turned 20 that year. Sadly I went a year too late, but I loved seeing all these girls dolled up in their furisode (the most elaborate kimono for an unmarried lady) and taking pictures all around the shrine. It made me feel like I’ve became part of the culture for brief moment. 

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Looking back through my photos as I was preparing for this post, I was honestly surprised by the number of sights I visited in 72 hours (considering I also went to an ryokan for a night). I was very ambitious and determined to see everything, but sadly there were a couple that I just couldn’t get the chance to. On the bright side, this means another Kyoto trip in the future! But for now, I will get back to packing for Cancun.

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