Friday, 16 May 2014

Days 126-127: New York with family

So our great US family road trip has gotten off to a rocky start. We've learned many lessons. Such as:

  • Be a traveller, not a tourist (i.e. don't buy a New York Pass, go on bus tours, or get around via the sightseeing bus). We ended up wasting a lot of time, and didn't make the most of our trip. Walking or subway is always faster!
  • Take the weather into account before going up the Empire State Building! Here was the view yesterday:
  • From the 86th floor. A patch through the fog...

    From the 102th floor. We bought the upgrade, not realising that it was zero visibility. Woops.
  • Shit happens! The weather was just not on our side today either, and my parents didn't even get to see the Statue of Liberty which they were really looking forward to since it was actually stormy. And then, when they tried going to another museum, they got there 2 minutes after it closed. So unfortunate. (I ditched them after the failed attempt at seeing the Statue, and went to the Museum of Sex instead - which was actually pretty legit!). But hopefully this means that the rest of our trip might go a bit more smoothly?
  • Try and see less, and see it better. I personally would prefer less photo-taking and more engagement.
  • I don't think I could live in New York. Just wayyy too many people (aka tourists like me :P). But I haven't seen enough of it aside from Times Square, which is not really representative, so I should reserve judgement!
  • US roads are so dark at night and pretty scary to drive on in the dark, especially with pouring rain. Even my dad, the expert driver, was finding it difficult to even stay in the lane!

But of course, there are always things that make me smile, like:
  1. The moment we drove into the parking lot at Princeton even though a sign said "Do Not Enter' (you were supposed to drive to the next entry) and my mum was just like, "Well, I guess we have to enter". LOL.
  2. Princeton is stunning.
  3. Chapel. Someone was playing the organ beautifully inside. A moment of peace.

    Dad and I under our Chinese zodiac animals.

    Awesome fountain. Photo does not do it justice.
  4. Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum!!!! So much awesomeness. I was literally confusing real people for wax models and wax models for real people.

  5. Getting a really helpful reply from an academic I reached out to regarding a book chapter he'd written. He generously sent it so I could read it since I won't have access to a university library till August.
  6. We had dinner at Hangawi, a Korean vegan restaurant!!! The food and the ambience made for an excellent and very satisfying experience. It was probably the highlight of my visit to New York this time. I will definitely come back next time I'm back in New York (I'm sure I'll have another opportunity to return). I recommend the stuffed shiitake mushroom appetiser especially.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Day 125: Goodbye, Philly!

What went well? 

  1. Managed to finish downloading journal articles for the literature review I'm part of, before my parents woke up in the morning.
  2. Took my parents on a tour of Penn. Then they helped me move out. Which went really smoothly. And we were able to waive the fee for the parking garage because we had move-out vouchers! Yusss.
  3. Bought a new bag and dress at Macy's. Wow. That place is HUGE.
  4. Had dinner at Mi Lah again. It was fabulous as usual. My non-vegan parents were impressed!

What did I learn? 

  • Macy's is huge. And the place to shop. Whereas The Gallery at Market East really isn't.

Day 124: GMH

What went well? 

  1. The postdoc I'm working with wrote me a really sweet thank you card. And we walked to the BioPond together.
  2. My professor is going to help me with the process of getting my term paper published - from revising it to teaching me how to write a submission letter. Just wow. I am so grateful that he believes in me (a lowly undergraduate!!) and is willing to give his own time to help me with it. He GMH. I'm so excited to move forward with this.
  3. My parents arrived in Philly! It was lovely to reunite.

What did I learn? 

  • My professor's mindset with judging the quality of work. Basically, we both know that my paper was unpolished (probably the least polished piece of writing I've ever turned in) - but he doesn't care!! He says that students at Penn are really good at polishing, when they should have spent that time actually researching. As he says, you can't polish nothing. So he looks for substance. I think that's a great mindset to have - vs. having marks taken off for an APA formatting error for e.g., in psychology.

Monday, 12 May 2014

Day 123: The "A" in my PERMA is particularly strong today!!!!

What went well? 
  1. Rocked up to my Buddhism professor's office to give him his thank you card. He didn't have time to chat today, but will see him tomorrow. But he did tell me that my grade was the only A+ he'd given in the course this semester!!!!! So that felt great, especially given all the grade inflation at Penn. It makes it feel like it was a grade that I'd really earned (and oh my god, I put a lot of effort into this course and that paper!!). He also said he reserves A+'s for work that goes beyond the course and is publishable...!! So we'll be talking about what I could do with my paper. It made my week. I am satisfied.
  2. Visited the BioPond again. Again, experienced the joys and peacefulness of being surrounded by and feeling connected to nature.
  3. Managed to hang out with a friend this evening. It was so lovely to share and catch up before we both leave Philly. Again, it's just, gahhhhh why do I have to leave now that I've established all these genuine relationships with awesome people!!?? At least the depth of our conversation made up for the short time...sigh.

What did I learn? 
  • It feels awesome to blow the curve.
  • More about my friend.

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Day 122: Turtles yawn?!?!

What went well? 

  1. Woke up to some cute pictures of my dog that my friend sent me :)
  2. Had another relaxing day. Went and checked out the Penn Museum again, then sat by the BioPond and read and watched the turtles.
  3. Finished writing a gratitude letter to my Buddhism prof.

What did I learn? 

  • Turtles yawn?!?! It was the craziest thing ever. And so so so cute. Also, what else was cute was watching them struggle to climb onto the ledge from the pond. So much effort involved!

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Day 121: Vedge

What went well? 

  1. Checked out the community fair down in Clark Park this afternoon. It was a really wonderful sight to see so many people in the community there and enjoying themselves. Also, thought this jewellery was MASTERFUL:
  2. It's made of REAL FRUIT!!!!! 
  3. Had the most special dining experience ever, at Vedge Restaurant. It's an upscale vegan restaurant, and I highly recommend it!!

  4. Went back to my friend's place where I finally watched Pitch Perfect!!! Great movie.
  5. My parents landed safely in San Francisco!

What did I learn? 

  • Vedge Restaurant is amazing!! Have a look at their pictures:

Friday, 9 May 2014

Day 120: The (Official) End

Wow that went fast. I will write a more reflective post later.

What went well? 

  1. Had my last exam today, and it went really well!
  2. Had a really productive lab meeting.
  3. Checked out the BioPond!!! Finally!!!!! I can't believe it took me this long to go - it's only 5 minutes from where I live. And it was so peaceful and recuperative.

  4. Turtles!!!

  5. Skyped my parents :)
  6. Had a wonderful, wonderful and profound conversation with a friend. So excited to continue to keep in touch and hopefully collaborate in the future!!

What did I learn? 

  • I've realised that I have recently developed a serious sugar addiction. And that I need to break it now.
  • The end of exams is more anticlimactic than OMG FREEDOM WOO! It was more of an "Oh, that's it."