One Book One Northwestern Day in Chicago

As part of the One Book One Northwestern program, new students were invited to participate in a day out in the greater Chicagoland area. The book that we were asked to read this year explored the various neighborhoods of Chicago.

On a whim, I decided to take this chance — 7 hours away from my academics — to take a look at what there is to offer in Chicago. And I am so glad that I did. The group I was placed in went to Fuller Park, in the southern part of Chicago. The topic of our adventure today was Leadership and Community Development. In this, we visited a place called Eden Place, where it is an oasis within the city. Fuller Park is bordered by the highway and a newly built train wall.

Driving through the city, I noticed how rundown the place was. It is so different to be in a less fortunate community. The community is in need of further development and much help. This has been a truly humbling experience, to be able to see a less fortunate part of Chicago, to know that there is so much of a disparity even within Evanston and the greater Chicago area.

But more than that, today was a day of learning and self discovery. More than anything, it has been a chance to learn about the city that I am going to be calling my home for the next two years, or maybe even more.

I spent the day in a small community in Southern Chicago. I got to meet some amazing professors and a prominent leader in the Fuller Park community. Things can be rough, but sometimes the brightest diamonds are the ones found in the roughest of areas.

Here are some pictures to share from my day, though:

Animals raised at Eden Place:


 Houses along the main street in Fuller Park

 All kinds of tomatoes grown at Eden Place



I love this path that I have chosen but at times it is one of the most stressful aspects of my life. Sometimes I wish I didn’t choose to go down this path but at the end of the day, I am so glad I did.

All I hope is that everything works out. All this effort I am putting into finding a research lab to join, reaching out for help, and joining campus organizations might be taking away from my academics but I hope it is enhancing who I am as a student and individual.

I can only get out what I put in, so I must believe that these hours and hours of research and communication I worth it in the long run.

Working. Researching. Pursuing.

New Beginnings

Typically, before every quarter starts, I write about my goals and aspirations for the quarter at hand. However, this time, it is something different. A new adventure.

This morning, I met with the Biological Sciences program director to fill out paperwork to declare the major. After turning the forms in at the Weinberg college advising office, I felt a sigh of relief; I have an official major at my new university and have a set goal to work towards: a B.S. in Biological Sciences with a concentration in Genetics and Molecular Biology. Lengthy. But exciting.

Tomorrow classes start. Junior year. And with that, it is my chance to start over, with a new goal in mind, aspirations and dreams. It sounds general, it sounds boring, but in truth, it is how I feel.

I have the goal one day of becoming a doctor. Pediatrician, if that is possible. I know it is a long road ahead but I am ready for what lies ahead.

Hit the ground running, as I am told. Just get involved. Research, volunteering, clinical experience, shadowing, clubs, campus organizations. It is all so overwhelming. Yet I am looking forward to all that Evanston and the Windy City have to offer.

So for now, this is where I will leave it at. Classes start tomorrow. Here the adventure begins. Here’s to new adventures and the unknown path that lies ahead.

Trip to Chicago and more!

There are only a couple days before classes are set to begin. We attended President’s Convocation yesterday. The weather has been absolutely perfect these past couple of days. Taking some time away from campus, the transfers and their Peer Advisors spent the afternoon in Downtown Chicago.

Everything about this city has captivated my heart. How can you not fall in love with a city where there is a river that runs right through, where there is the shores of Lake Michigan right to the east of the city?

It isn’t your typical big city. Sure, there are a lot of people and a lot of traffic and tall buildings, but it is clean. It is welcoming. It is inviting. And it is absolutely gorgeous (at least the parts of town I have been to). There is nature embedded into the city, starting with the trees lining the streets to the river right through town to Millenium Park.

I won’t say more; pictures are worth a thousand words. Take a look for yourself. What do you think?


NU Arch


President’s Convocation




Lake Michigan



Chicago’s famous deep dish pizza @ Gino’s East



Downtown viewed from Michigan Street



The Bean @ Millenium Park

SCAPE: Day of Service

Volunteer Day. I heard about this my freshman year at UCLA. We were given light blue t-shirts and sent off to various sites around Los Angeles to help out. But I didn’t go that year, as I had to take a placement test. Last year I volunteered my time at a local elementary school, helping to paint their playground and speaking to the students. This year, I participated in SCAPE: Serving Communities And Providing Engagement.

This is Northwestern’s version of volunteer day. In its second year, the class of 2016 and transfer students (yes, I wanted to included transfer students specifically because we are almost always forgotten amongst all the 2016 kids!) spent the afternoon in the ChicagoLand area, volunteering their time and getting to know a little about the area. The group I was a part of spent the day at ManorCare, a health services place for people recovering from surgery, hospital stays, etc. in Wilmette. We, as volunteers, representing Northwestern, spent the afternoon getting to know the residents and their stories. I, for instance, watched the end of the Chicago Bears game and met a man who worked at the Foster-Walker dining hall some years back. It took me by surprise initially but then I came to realize that this is a small world; here I am volunteering and I meet somebody who worked in the place I now dine. 

Then, after the game ended, I went on to meet a lady of 93 years of age who came from Panama some years back. One thing she told me has left a profound impression on me and has gotten me wondering, what about religion can I explore and open my world up to? She told me, she is ready for heaven to take her. It is such a powerful statement. To come to terms with one’s life and to accept all that has transpired must take strength and faith in oneself. She amazed me by the way she has accepted how life has gone for her and what she has gained and left behind in this world. More than anything, though, is the way she stated this. There was so much power, so much conviction in her voice, something I have never heard before. 

The rest of the volunteering was filled with mingling and talking with the residents. Many were just so thrilled and elated to see a new face helping out; it was a change in their routine and though it may have seemed mundane to us students, to the residents, it brought them joy and happiness during a time where they may be struggling with their pain. 

As great as this day was, and as much as I took out of it, I am left wondering: is religion for me? 

Readers, what are your takes on this topic? 

Start of WildCat Welcome

Today marks the first day I became an offices WildCat! We marched under the arch, the gateway to campus on a gloomy yet peaceful morning. We stood as a class of 2016 and transfer class on Deering Meadow as President Morty and a couple other speakers addressed us as the rain started to fall.

After listening to the marching band play, we sang the fight song and learned how to do the “claw” in preparation for the Big 10 game tomorrow. And lastly we took a class photo (though I must admit, I felt a bit out of place representing the class of 2014).

It is a jammed pack week. There isn’t much down time. And I have to say, I am overwhelmed and exhausted by everything going on. Though, while I am on this high, I have to admit to myself that this is a fantastic experience and it still feels unreal that I am here.



Northwestern University Arch


Weinberg Convocation

Quick Update!

In Chicago! The city is absolutely gorgeous. I saw the skyline as we were descending into the Windy City. As windy it is. 20 to 25 mph winds, and landing equates to turbulence all the way down.

But so far, everybody has been extremely generous. I had to get a shuttle and from the help desk to the lady sitting next to me on the plane to the shuttle driver, everybody is very nice and willing to help.

Nothing much is different, yet. The gas is a bit more expensive and the plates are different but other than that, the streets are lined with trees and filled with cars. One thing I did notice is once we passed over the Rockie Mountains, the geography became flat! I guess that’s what happens when you live in the NorCal/west coast bubble.

For now, the is all. Greetings from Chicago!


Goodbye. Hello.

Two simple greetings. Marking the boundaries of a journey.

In 48 hours, I will be crawling into a dorm room bed yet again, XL long twin mattress covered with my purple blanket. In 48 hours, there will be no bed to fall asleep under, no little sister to kiss goodnight. Instead, it will be me in my own room, with the few belongings I am taking away from this place I call home.

Friday I parted with my elementary school teacher. 2001 was when I first met her. 11 years later, she still remembers me, vividly recounting memories of when I was a little girl. Tomorrow I say goodbye to my little sister, the kid that I used to hate but I have grown to love, the kid that brings out the kid in me, the kid that has the utmost faith and belief in me and my dreams.

Today I started my goodbyes at my old high school, my alma mater. I saw my old band teachers, Mr. Fey and Mr. Galli, wishing them well and just updating them on where I am headed in my life now. After 4 years of teaching me and 2 years post-graduation, nothing much has changed about F114. Then I saw my physio teacher, Mrs. McElwee by chance today, a lucky one too. I miss seeing her teach in B103, the candles enveloping the room as we students walked in for class. And then there is Mrs. Schussel. All I can say is I am grateful that our lives have crossed paths, that now I have her in my life as a mentor and friend, and that I know she will be somebody I can relate to, fall back on, and share stories with.

Goodbye. I told her. She wished me well. And she told me that I will have a great time. I can only hope so.

Tomorrow I will say my goodbyes with Ms Smith and Mr. H, two teachers whom I have never personally had but have grown to know over these past couple of years. And I will say goodbye with Mrs. Chow, my AP bio teacher that has seen me through my worst and my best. These will no doubt be the hardest yet. Tomorrow I wish will never come.

But it is the significance of this move to college more than any goodbye I may wish. I took a walk around my neighborhood tonight, thinking about leaving this time. Before, when I attended UCLA, my goodbyes didn’t seem to carry as much emotion as they do this time. Maybe it is because I have grown older. Maybe it is because I am growing into my future self. Whatever it may be, this move across 2/3 of the country is a big one.

My belongings fit into 2 boxes, 100 pounds total. They were shipped off Monday. The rest, whatever is left, fits into 2 suitcases, coming with me Thursday.

Goodbye. Hello. Two greetings. Yet they are so weighted in meaning and emotion. It is the end of this summer for me. I am starting anew.

I won’t have any tearful goodbyes tomorrow. One of my best friends is teaching in San Francisco. Another one of my best friends is down at UCLA working and moving into her apartment. And my other best friend, who has known me since middle school, is in a foreign country, chasing her dreams.

The others that know me well are spread across the country; Boston, Washington D.C., Houston, Berkeley, Los Angeles. I guess this is it. It is goodbye. Yet it is hello.

Something good will happen 🙂

You’re starting new and fresh.

🙂 you’ll be fine! New beginnings for you!

Remembering 9/11

I normally don’t openly say much about national holidays or significant events. But this morning, after my run, I opened the newspaper and the inevitable hit me: to today marks the 11th anniversary of that day. Leading up to this day, I hoped to not make note of it, to make it just like any other day, because by not remembering every vivid detail of that morning, I thought I could put it away in my memory banks.
But I can’t. And this day it seems the events of 11 years ago is more significant than ever.

I was in 4th grade that year. We had just started the new school year; I was a student in room 20. That morning, before I could wake up from my dreamy state of sleep, my dad shook me awake and called me to the tiny television set we had in the living room of our apartment. There were flames on the screen. I could see smoke but nothing more. I hid behind the flower-patterned couch. Then something made a loud boom and another ball of fire rose into the sky.

I didn’t really understand what had happened. I still don’t fully understand now. But I do remember walking into the classroom that morning, my teacher in complete shock, the television set turned on in the classroom. It wasn’t until after morning announcements that the television was turned off but the shock still lingered.

Maybe it still lingers for me. Today, 11 years later, I will be visiting room “20” again. Though in a different location, it will still invoke the memories of that morning.

It happened 11 years ago but it feels like it was just yesterday, I was cowering behind the couch, wondering what had happened.

That day happened to also be my friend’s dad’s birthday. It still is his birthday today. I hope you are doing alright, Chels. And I hope your family is too. Wish your dad happy birthday for me, please?

And to all those that lost theirs lives that day, your memory lives on. May we never forget that fateful day which changed the history of this country forever.