Back at college


qq why snow qq go away

I guess since the last time I updated, I went to Fiji, hung out with my friends and family in NZ, and that's pretty much it before I came back here. Nothing of particular note took place, it was a lot of eating out and barbeques, snorkeling and sea kayaking and sunbathing in Fiji (the fish are so cute! And the water is super clear so after kayaking out we could see the coral underneath the water and the weather was gorgeous that day except obviously I didn't take my camera kayaking so I didn't take any pictures).

One of my most enjoyable last days was getting stranded in Mt Roskill with Yujie because her car broke down while we were driving on the way to brunch. Lol ok maybe not that exact moment (though it was somewhat humourous in retrospect), but I enjoyed the day overall and seeing the cute bunnys dogs ands peacocks at the pukeko cafe :3 And spending time with her ofc! +1 totally should visit me

Trying to sort out my classes currently. No idea what to do. Taking CS124 (data structures and algorithms), Math 21a (multivariable calc) and 2 others .. but all the classes I want to take are lotteried lol. US 35 seemed interesting (class about education policies in the US), and I guess I'll hold out for Thursday's VES 19 class to see what that's like. I also woke up early today to go to a product design class (ES 22) which was pretty cool too, but 9am seems early hahaha.

I have been trying to declutter my life recently. I made a new years resolution to not buy any clothes for the entire year. Also, I need to throw old clothes out, esp my old jeans that don't fit well / have holes in them from overwear. :/ Maybe it is a result of that, but I feel like I need to have a cleaner blog layout now too lol. I haven't changed this layout since like 2011 or 2010 if I recall #lazy. Not sure if I will ever get around to it either haha.

Uhhh... I wish I had more substantial things to write about. I noticed a lot of things I wrote about in high school were actually about nothing / enjoying life / chilling out / not serious topics. I also feel like I am currently not qualified enough to talk about any serious topics / other people talking about them have already said serious things and I don't know what I can add to the discussion. I can also share my thoughts about things (any requests?) but I feel like this may be slightly narcissistic. But if you want me to share my thoughts and opinions about a particular topic, please let me know so I can be inspired haha. I have been thinking of doing a post about religion for a while since it seems my thoughts about it are somewhat uncommon (in my experience anyway), but I wanna hear what ppl are interested in first :)

OH ALSO!! My friend Serena got together with a few friends and made an intellectual online magazine targeted toward young girls and women -- please support her and visit at -- you can even submit content (credited or anonymous), and it already has some great content on there and it only just launched last week. So proud to know her hehe.

And lastly here is a shameless plug: Alex and I started the 365 a photo a day thing on tumblr -- we're alternating days so it's slightly easier to keep on it (I'm on evens, he's on odds), so please support us :) We've only been doing it for 9 days so far (tomorrow's the 10th), though some people have already thought we failed because they thought we started on Jan 1. Unfortunately we missed that memo but hopefully we still finish sometime after the new years in 2015 haha.


Today's phoot of the day by alexpong


Requested: FBU Essay 2013


Disclaimer: This is my essay from FBU's application last year. I don't know how they chose the group of freshmen, so it could very well be that this essay is not actually a good essay (nor do I claim that it is a good essay in any way haha). But, since I was asked for it, I just put it here so anyone who wants it can have it so it's fair.


Prompt: In one page, please describe how you think mobile technology can help the world become more open & connected?

A study by Netguide NZ this past week showed that 84% of smartphone owners say they use their device daily, and 45% of say they use their device more often than in the last year. Similarly, 44% of laptop owners say they use their laptop more often, but PC owners predominantly reported using their PCs less (26%) or the same amount (53%). I am currently sitting on a bus from Boston to New York City, and in my very limited field of vision I can spot 3 laptops and 4 smartphones out and being used, all while the vehicle is in motion. Mobile technology is clearly everywhere, its ubiquity waiting to be taken advantage of.

By its very definition, mobile technology is designed to be carried around – it follows every one of us in our daily lives and if it were a person, would probably know more about us than our closest friends or family members. Through a combination of this fluid mobility and communication technology, it becomes possible to reach anyone, anywhere and at any time as long as they are carrying a mobile device. Personal information transfer in particular becomes almost instant; I can ask a favor of a friend in New Zealand for my roommate in Massachusetts, put them in touch with a high school classmate in Paris -- all while sitting on this bus – and boom, three people who would otherwise never have met are in contact with each other.

Mobile communication gives people a reason to connect with each other. It may seem strange for many to speak up to a stranger in real life, but because mobile communication and especially social networking sites like Facebook make it much easier for someone to show who they are at a glance online, it becomes easy to filter those who we would like to get to know better – I find out that she likes the same bands that I do so I know we have at least one point of common interest to talk about. Though this increased transparency of society is a double-edged sword in terms of privacy issues, as this balance is fine-tuned it is clear that the potential to make the world a more open forum for any discussion at all is rooted in this technology. The free internet is by definition open: an open space for anyone to express themselves, to share their experiences.

Furthermore, these waterholes of open experiences are for anyone to drink from. The way mobile communication keeps the world connected is obvious, but the full extent to which it does may be underestimated. The internet itself is unequivocally a gold mine of experiences to learn from: websites like Reddit or Quora allow people to learn about things they may never come across in their own lives, an opportunity to live the life of someone else for a short paragraph or thread. However, when this potential for knowledge growth is coupled with mobility, its effects are multiplied. In a world where people are more active, doing more things outside of their homes, moving around not only within their own cities but between them as well as abroad, mobile technology becomes indispensable in the sharing of experience.

As an international student, I can’t imagine losing contact with my friends back home, as I learn from their experiences just as I tell them about mine. We live different lives, but for a few seconds with the use of a messenger app on my iPhone, maybe on the short walk to class, we connect and our experiences collude. Mobile technology has the ability to exponentially grow human knowledge and experience and make everyone richer for it, with minimal effort and no strings attached (literally. Thank God for cordless phones!).

The social impacts of mobile technology are enormous. For the first time in history, it is possible to ask a stranger online how to prepare for a technical interview on Quora while sitting in the waiting room, to learn the ins and outs of the safe industry on Reddit in a matter of minutes and to find out more about someone than you would be able to in the timespan of a first meeting simply by seeing their Facebook profile. While whether this is positive or negative is widely debated, one thing is clear: the impact is there and it is acting every day. If we can harness its effects, mobile technology could very well be change the ways in which humans communicate with and learn from each other.

2014 it's lovely to make your acquaintance...


... but did you really have to come down in a fit of rain?

Wow what do I even say? 2013 felt so new and then it was old again. A lot happened and I learned a whole heap of stuff? Uh...

In the ways of recent things, I've been home for a week and quite a few people have said that my accent has become Americanized. HOWEVER -- yesterday I was in Sylvia Park and the cashier lady at Life Pharmacy asked if I'd like to sign up for their membership, and when I said I don't live in the country she was confused because I had an NZ accent :P so there.

So since I came back, I went shopping a few times, baked a few cakes, watched some movies (The wolf on wall street, rush, the bling ring, the winnie the pooh movie, frozen -- can I just gush about how great Frozen was? I went in with pretty high expectations since everyone I know who's seen it had such great things to say about it, and I still left with those magical disney feels.), and hung out with people I haven't seen in a while.

Oki now I suppose I'll reflect on last year's resolutions:

1) The Usual Academic Resolution 
Lol my GPA dropped from last year to this year. It's okay. I think this semester I got stressed out at times because of the workload, and I was made to think that I was a workaholic. I'm still somewhat dubious about the extent to which this is true, but there's no denying that my grades are important to me; I like to know I'm doing well and they're an indication of whether I'm on the right track in grasping ideas. Learning is important to me.

2) The Usual Exercise-Related Resolution 
Oh god. I had a pretty good streak going through the summer when I ran every day for 15 minutes, but after college started again that kind of died. Tried to do an assisted pullup this semester with ~100lb assist and still died. Why so weak? Idk... I also went to a hapkido session (a -- yes singular). I learned how to do some basic grabs and how to fall, and my body was surprisingly sore the next day. Badminton seems to be full of graduate students so I don't go very often at all :/ Now I'm a blob again. Alexpong let's exercise properly next semester for real though.

3) The Usual Social Resolution -- New and Old Friends 
I met so many new people this year! Probably because of a new year at college, and also traveling in the summer. Different people are so intriguing, and I also really enjoyed getting to know people I didn't really spend that much time with before even though we both knew of each other's existence, like George over the summer! It's of course harder to do that in NZ since I'm not here most of the time, but I'm trying to catch up with people when I come back and keep positive relationships :)

4) Create a more comfortable self. Don't slip back into fickleness. 
Looking back, I'm somewhat convinced that I had some kind of social anxiety issue when I was younger. I'm still sometimes like this but I'm definitely more open and confident about certain events. Eg. before, every time before I had to meet anyone new or talk to shopkeepers even, I'd get a little bit panicky (my heartrate would rise) and I'd have to run through what I was going to say in my head before I said it. Actually in class whenever I had to speak my ears used to get really red because I didn't like public speaking that much. College has helped somehow, I'm not entirely sure how it happened -- I do have a theory that because it forces you to reflect on yourself and make your own decisions often, I am less able to be simply an observer on the wall and actually have to proactively do things day to day, so I'm less involved in other's lives and more in my own (this has had an odd side effect in that I'm not as good as remembering people as I used to be, and I also stalk people's lives less since I don't have the time).

5) Be more patient with others, less self-absorbed, think of others' needs. 
I'm trying very hard to be more selfless, especially in my relationship and with my friends. I think I do have a tendency to be impatient at times (more so when I am disgruntled to begin with), but I'm trying to control it better. I think outwardly facing most people I don't know very well can't really tell, but I'm still trying to get rid of the inner conflict of putting myself before others and thinking of my own interests first. I do sometimes worry about being taken advantage of, but I believe (logically at least) that the overall thing I'm trying to achieve will have more positive net impact than negative.

6) Gain experience in the field. Try get an internship, see if CS is the right path for you 
I declared CS! :) I'm officially a CS major eee how exciting. With a minor in Studio Arts :) Anyway, 2 summers at Facebook should be enough to see if I like the software engineering path. I did have some reservations after agreeing to come back for the summer, and everything else suddenly looked so much more appealing (psychology of seeing things you can't have anymore I suppose). I've decided that next year I will try to get something in the film industry or do some research. Gotta get out of the SE bubble and try something new. I am leaning toward grad school after college currently but still mostly unsure about what I want to do with the rest of my life.

7) Read more 
Books I read for pleasure this year:
Lolita, Vladimir Nobakov
Inferno, Dan Brown
Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell
Never Let Me Go, Kazuo Ishiguro
Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg
Golden Bones, Sichan Siv
Orange is the New Black, Piper Kerman

Eep that's around 1 per 2 months. I could do better.

8) As always, Have more reasons to smile than frown.
Haha of course. I still think I'm the luckiest person in the world. :)

Some resolutions for 2014?
1) Be a hard worker and don't get lazy
2) Learn more about the world eg. take a few history classes!
3) This belly flab has got to go }:(
4) Learn how to web one way or another
5) Take more time to do art
6) Watch your spending and exercise self control. A few good things is better than a lot of crap...
7) Commit to bettering the communities you're a part of. Don't take on too much so you can focus on concentrated impact.
8) :) > :( have a great year!