grad school + how i’ve been

Long time, no see! It has been a hot minute since I’ve been on here – my familiar but also distant corner on the internet. To be honest, over the last couple of weeks I’ve been trying to carve out time to sit down and blog, but I haven’t been able to muster up the courage to write again. But today, it’s sunny and freezing in Seattle (my favorite kind of weather!), and I suddenly had the inspiration to write. I’m tucked away in a coffeeshop in between classes and it’s so pleasant.

Since my last post, I started grad school! I’m part of my school’s tax accounting program, so it’s a little more specific than your classic MBA program. It’s been odd transitioning and starting my fifth year of school with all of my friends starting their full-time jobs. Now that I’ve completed two months of grad school, I’ve had time to really think and reflect about how I’m feeling/doing.

I moved into my new apartment with my friend who’s also in the program with me – so far, it’s been a fantastic living situation. I’m grateful thus far in my life to have had great roommates; my roommate and I have been good about keeping each other in check, mental health-wise. I had so much fun decorating my room and making it my humble abode for the next year. Does anyone else love building furniture? Lol I had the time of my life constructing and putting together all my furniture pieces from Ikea 😂

We had orientation for our program shortly after I moved in and honestly after that, I was terrified. It sounded like everyone’s stress level would be at an all-time high 100% of the time; people’s mental health would plummet to rock-bottom; we would get no sleep. I was really bracing myself after that, and luckily, I was able to find a really solid study group quickly. I’ve been spending multiple hours every week with my study group and I have to say I’m so grateful I have them to get through the program with!! We’ve had good laughs, inside jokes, and upcoming Friendsgiving plans already ☺️

Otherwise, I’ve been balancing my time outside of classes studying on my own (CPA studying starts in 2020 – wish me luck!), relaxing, and most importantly, making sure I sleep enough! It’s been difficult being unable to grab drinks or see a movie with friends during the week because I’ve had to prep for classes I have the following day; basically, telling them no when you really want to has been hard for me. On the flipside, I’ve been managing my time even more efficiently because weekends are when I can hangout with my working friends. I feel that I do have more free time once I get all my schoolwork done. It’s been a high priority of mine to ensure that when I’m relaxing, I’m really relaxing.

I’m thrilled that I’ve managed to make time to read as well – it’s still 100% my favorite pastime (I even passed my goal for this year to read 30 books!). Giving myself time to do what I love is so important to me because I feel that that’s what gives me life!! This priority has also made me question everything I’m doing to work toward my career in tax – but more on that later.

Also – sleep! Sleep is still the most important thing for me and it makes me sad when my peers aren’t prioritizing it. Grad school has surprised me because I feel like I’ve never slept this much in my schooling years before. I typically go to bed between 10pm and 10:30pm on school nights, and wake up at 7am. That’s more than 8 hours of sleep! I’ve been well-rested, in a good mood, and motivated everyday and I swear sleep is the reason why.

Midterms came and went and they went pretty much how I expected. In the beginning of the year, they emphasized that grades shouldn’t matter at this point because most of us have full-time jobs lined up after graduation. I’ve been taking this to heart and overall just trying to learn as much as I can without putting the stress on myself to get the highest grade in the class, etc.

I’m sure someone other than myself in the program is questioning whether they’ll be in tax for the long haul, and honestly I’ve been thinking about this every week. Recent opportunities have presented themselves (like working in London? Maybe?), and I’ve just been wondering what it would be like to try new things. I’m reaching that prime age for a quarter-life crisis which is why I’m questioning everything now, haha. Like what about my dream job of working in the publishing industry? And literature? One of my classes this quarter is in tax research, which involves more writing than the other classes and it’s funny because I seem to be one of the only students thoroughly enjoying it. Since I’m still young, do I start with my dream, or do I end my career with it? One of my friends from undergrad recently got hired to work at The Wing in NYC – like how cool would that be?! There are so many possibilities and things I’m excited about, and I wonder if I latched onto a career in accounting and tax too… fast? I remember being a sophomore, a junior, and senior in college, and feeling so sure about the direction of my career while mostly everyone else around me was floundering. Ha, funny how things work out.

I think it’s times like these where it’s not only crucial to talk with close friends & family, but also mentors. I’m dedicated to making the time to discuss these questions in the coming months. I definitely still want to work on getting my CPA (I really don’t think it’ll be that bad of a process), but I also want to continue exploring my options.

How have you been doing?

taiwan diaries

Hi hi!

Is everyone enjoying the transition into fall? It’s already quite rainy in Seattle but I honestly kind of missed it – I love fall so much. I have yet to have my first PSL of the year but I did just buy Trader Joe’s PSL coffee grounds. I’m PUMPED to brew some every morning until December. 🤩

Things have been hectic this past week because I moved into my new apartment! My roommate helped me move in (she’s actually the best!!) and I ended up building seven pieces of furniture from Ikea for a full 12 hours the day after. My hands and fingers were raw and sore the next day from twisting the screwdrivers so much, but I was totally feeling like an independent woman. 💪🏻

But before all that, I was in Taiwan for two and a half weeks with my mom. I hadn’t been back for over 15 years so I felt it was due time to go back. Primarily, my grandpa isn’t doing well so that created more urgency to the situation. I’m going to be honest: after coming back to the States and having my friends ask me how my trip was, I’ve been telling them that it was a sad trip. Not sad-disappointing, but sad-my-heart-hurts-sad. I kept a running diary for this trip because I had so many thoughts and reflected a lot, especially the first couple of days. While my photos from the trip are all fun and dandy – because I did have time to do some sightseeing and touristy things with my mom – they don’t capture the moments where I was sad for my grandpa.

I’ve included some snippets of my Taiwan diary in this post (excluding some things for personal reasons), and included my fun photos at the end. Hope y’all enjoy!

August 24, 2019 (Day 1)

It’s been an interesting 48 hours to say the least. The flight to Taiwan goes by quickly at first when I was watching movies (On the Basis of Sex and The Inventor), but drags on when I try to fall asleep again. When we arrive and wait for the bus into the city, I’m blasted with humid, hot air as I step out of the airport. The wind is strong and cools us down after awhile, but I’m grumpy. My eyelids droop heavy and my glasses keep slipping down my nose. I just want to lay down.

I fall asleep on the mattress in the guest room quickly after I shower. A few hours later, I hear my mom settle down on the mattress next to me, probably after catching up with my aunt for little bit. I sleep fitfully after, like I’m battling a high fever. Dreams weave in and out. I can hear Grandpa’s groans of pain and discomfort puncture the silence of the apartment every couple of hours, my heart cracking a little more every time.

I wake up at 5:30am (today, now) the sun already slowly brightening the room. My mom is also awake, so we decide to make it an early morning. The rest of the day goes by slowly, us hunting around the restaurants near our apartment as we hide from the impending typhoon. I read a little and chat with friends on social media.

In the afternoon, Grandpa is awake and talking. My mom and I both take the opportunity to see if we can jog his memory since he hasn’t been able to remember either of us yet. He mumbles something unintelligible, but he raises his right hand. I maneuver to the right side of the bed and take his hand.

My mom tells him, “Hold hands! You guys are best friends!”. I grip his hand gently, afraid that I could crush his fragile bones. Seconds later though, he shakes his arm back and forth, swinging our hands together as best friends do. Tears well up in my eyes and I choke down a sob. He resumes the shaking, and I never want to let go.

I do though, because my aunt and mom need to adjust his position on the bed, so I leave the room before they see my tears.

Even after a day of being here, I feel so fortunate to have seen Grandpa, even though he doesn’t remember me. Catching up with my aunt has been wonderful as well, like no time has passed.

AUGUST 25, 2019

I go talk to Grandpa again and he is quite awake and cognizant this time. My mom is next to me again watching me interact with him, and he mumbles something about coming to America to see me and my twin. Mom says she will buy plane tickets for him, and I start tearing up again. Why is she making these empty promises? I suppose whatever will make Grandpa happy in that moment, but it crushes me. Tears actually rolled down my face this time.

I don’t know if I’ll be able to stop crying every time I hold Grandpa’s hand during this trip, but today makes think about the time I have left with my parents, my relatives. They’re hitting the age where diseases start coming out of nowhere. I’d like to take care of my parents when they’re at that point rather than leave them in a nursing home, but how would I take care of them in the future when I’m working? It’s a different era now, especially in America, where sons and daughters don’t normally just become caregivers. In the next five years, will my mom be in need of care? Will my dad?

September 7, 2019

It’s my second-to-last day here in Taiwan and I’m reeling at the thought of going back to the States. I miss being in Seattle with friends in the same time zone, but mostly, I’ve realized that I miss my independence. Being here in Taiwan, I am 90% dependent on my mom and family members. It’s interesting because I think that if I were here by myself, I would be self-sufficient because I have no one else to depend on. But because I’m with my mom who is evidently more confident in this culture, it’s easy to just let her do all the work and figure out where to go, where to eat, what mode of transportation to take, etc. Here, I’m on everyone else’s schedule – I’m not making my own plans. 

And I miss that liberty & agency I have when I’m in Seattle. For days now, I’ve been planning what I’ll be doing once I’m back in Seattle; that’s when I know I miss it. A lot of what I miss seems shallow and very first-world, but it’s true. That doesn’t mean there won’t be things in Taiwan I won’t miss. Walking around today with my mom, I noticed things about Taiwan that I want to remember: 

  • the way the signs of the stores crowd the street buildings, vying for the attention of customers
  • the teenagers at the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall who were dancing among the pillars, trying to express themselves in whatever space is available in the city
  • the cracked, grimy pavement that smells like rotten eggs; the crisp, bright 7 Eleven stores
  • the chaotic, comforting feeling of Carrefour stores
  • the condensation on carton of Earl Grey Milk Tea

I think 2.5 weeks in Taiwan was just right; it’s time for me to return to the States. Throughout my time here, Grandpa hasn’t remembered who I am, and I’ve grown to be okay with that. I’m just glad I was able to see him after 15 years, and possibly for the last time. This trip has made me think a lot about death – sad, I know, but it seems like we’re all just waiting around for Grandpa to pass, like a string pulled taut and ready to snap at any second. We’re all trying to stay positive by joking and laughing at the things Grandpa says and does, but underlying, it’s deeply sad. Life seems unbelievably short now after hearing about how Grandpa was fine just a few months ago. It makes me think about a famous quote from Mary Oliver:

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?

I hope y’all enjoyed this post! It’s darker than all my posts I’ve written in the past, but I think it’s important to be open about these things every once in awhile, to remind you that we’re all still human.

Talk soon,

Jen

dream trip: nantucket!

Hi y’all!

Every time I come onto the blog now (usually after a few weeks), I get so excited because it feels so good to write, reflect, and share! So much has happened since we last chatted around the 4th of July: I went to Texas for internship training, successfully completed my internship and got a full-time offer (!!), had a lyme disease scare (all good, it was a false alarm), and went to Nantucket with my best friend last week, which is what I’m sharing with y’all today!

Currently, I’m back at my parents’ house and pretty sunburned (more on that later). At the start of 2019, I put on my bucket list “go to Nantucket”. If you’re not familiar, Nantucket is an island off the coast of Massachusetts, along Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard (which I went to four years ago and loved!). It’s a pretty remote vacation destination especially if you’re not on the east coast and don’t already have a house there, but Nantucket looked so beautiful and I mostly wanted to visit because of famous bloggers’ trips like Carly, Mackenzie, and Julia. (Although one thing that most of them failed to mention are the ticks in beach grass! Bring mosquito/tick spray, people!)

My best friend Hannah and I left from Seattle early Monday morning and flew to Newark, and promptly took a layover to Nantucket. Prior to departing on this trip, we had heard that the flights to Nantucket are infamous for getting delayed but we had no issues with weather, luckily! We arrived in Nantucket in the late afternoon, took a shuttle to the town center, and checked into the Roberts Collection.

We booked the Roberts Collection on Booking.com and I highly recommend it! The concierge were kind and the room was so cozy. It’s located right in the town center, which was so convenient for the entirety of the trip. We were pretty hungry so we stopped by Brotherhood of Thieves and beat the dinner rush. After, we strolled around town and everything was seriously so darling: the flower bushes, the gray-shingled houses, the little boutique shops, all of it. We decided to stop by Children’s Beach and relax for the rest of the evening after a long day of traveling.

The next day was projected to rain in the afternoon, and, knowing that east coast rains get pretty unpredictable and intense, we brought an umbrella with us from the get-go. In the morning, we ate the continental breakfast (not the best, we didn’t go back again after) and set foot to explore some of the shops around town. I love Vineyard Vines, Lilly Pulitzer, and Black Dog, so we definitely hit those. We grabbed Handlebar Coffee (which turned out to be our favorite, we went everyday!). After, we headed to Naushop, a neighborhood that had a floral arch we saw on Instagram and wanted to find. Sadly, we didn’t find it but did enjoy strolling through the neighborhood and reading the puns on each house.

For lunch, we headed back in town and had Or, the Whale. We both got lobster rolls (they were amazing!), which is also when the rain started coming down. We continued to duck into the boutique shops, now on the lookout for the perfect Nantucket sweatshirt.

For dinner, we trekked to the west side of the island to get Millie’s. I got the tuna tacos and they were truly divine. Every item on the menu is so thoughtfully put together! Millie’s is very casual and overall had good vibes. We bussed back into town after and grabbed ice cream in the pouring rain at The Juice Bar. There’s always a long line for this ice cream place, but for good reason!

The next day, we headed to Black Eyed Susans, which we could see from our room’s window! Y’all, this place is poppin’: there’s usually a line out the door by 7:45am, so get there early. This place is cash-only (frankly, a lot of places are on this island), but so so worth it. I got the vegetable scramble and haven’t looked back! I feel like a changed woman because of this scramble and couldn’t stop thinking about it all day 😂

We finally went to go buy our Nantucket sweatshirts after breakfast. I ended up getting both of my sweatshirts from University of Nantucket and Hannah got hers at Annie and the Tees as well as Three Girls and a Dog. After, we stopped by The Corner Table to grab coffee. It’s good, but not as good as Handlebar. Then we headed to Siasconset (Sconset)! We took the bus there as well (honestly, no need to Uber, the bus is great). The town itself is extremely small. It’s right on the beach and Hannah and I decided to start off with lunch at Claudette’s, which serves sandwiches! I got the roast beef one and it felt really healthy, which is always good. Then we headed off to the Sconset Bluff Walk. It was a long walk, and so so gorgeous. We headed up to the Sankaty Lighthouse on the way (which! Doesn’t have a restroom!) and walked back to town. The sun really came out after that, and then we headed back to the town center to grab more ice cream at The Juice Bar.

We ended up both taking a nap back in our room and then heading back to Millie’s for a later dinner. I got their lobster roll this time (the rice that comes with it is FIRE), and we each got our own frosé and y’all, I have never tasted such strong frosé. It was a fun night after, to say the least.

The next morning, we decided to try Lemon Press for breakfast. I ordered the Shakshuka which was delicious but ended up being very strong and rich, I couldn’t finish it ☹️ We headed back to Sconset Beach for the remainder of the morning since it was so much sunnier and grabbed Claudette’s again for lunch. We had the most relaxing time reading and tanning on the beach! Pure bliss. Even though it was somewhat cloudy, we both got really sunburned at UV index 4. Don’t be fooled, people!

We headed back to town mid-afternoon to Cru since we had a reservation! It’s a beautiful boat-themed restaurant on the water, and I got fish tacos that were delicious. We wrapped up any other stores we wanted to explore and went back to Or, the Whale for dinner.

Our last day on Friday was breakfast at Black Eyed Susans where I could order my last veggie scramble. We did some reading at Handlebar Coffee for a few hours before leaving for our flight in the afternoon. We didn’t get as lucky with our flights this time around: both flights to Newark and Seattle were delayed so we didn’t get back to Seattle until midnight. We were exhausted by then, to say the least!

Overall, I’m so so happy that I made it to Nantucket this year with Hannah! It was humid, relaxing, very low-key, and also very expensive. All completely worth it – I’m already looking forward to the next time I can visit this lovely island! I would love to go sailing next time and rent a bike to ride around the island.

That’s it for now, whew! A five-day recap makes it a long one but hopefully y’all enjoyed my travel diary of Nantucket. Talk soon!

Jen

last trip to portland (for awhile)

Hi y’all! I hope everyone had a safe and relaxing 4th, it feels good to be back on the blog! Luckily, my internship gave us the 4th and 5th off, giving me plenty of time to fly back and forth to see my family. Going home always means tons of down time. Down time means blog time!

Two weeks ago, I went to Portland for a day. I had a wisdom-teeth appointment so I basically did a staycation and did all the touristy things. Please enjoy this food diary!

I got to Portland at around 11am, so I stopped by Tasty & Alder. It’s a classic Portland brunch spot. Since I was alone, I got seated so fast – perks of solo dates! 😉

I was pretty full after brunch, but since Blue Star is right next door, I decided to commit and go in. Could I really leave Portland and still call myself a Portlandian without having been to Blue Star?

I got the Chocolate Buttermilk Old-Fashioned and the Loganberry (seasonal) flavors. I ended up eating both in one sitting and I was SO FULL but they were SO GOOD. In hindsight, I really only had the appetite for one donut, but they were both so aesthetically pleasing!! The verdict? Blue Star is 10 times better than Voodoo, if you ask me.

Whenever I’m in Portland I love stopping by the city Powell’s Books and exploring for hours. I finished the book I was reading and then headed out to dinner at Boxer Ramen. Growing up in Portland, I had never heard of this ramen place until a few months ago from a fellow Portlandian!

The ramen is definitely different from the ramen shops in Seattle, but I still really enjoyed it.

And that’s that on this Portland trip! I probably won’t be going back for awhile, unless friends want to take a weekend trip from Seattle. For the rest of the summer, I’ll be focusing on my internship and then headed off to the east coast (!!) for a fun little trip.

What are you up to this summer?

Jen

thanks, senior year

Back again!

It’s been nice, not worrying or stressing about what to put on the blog next. These past few weeks have been pretty slow and steady: no period of extreme stress of extreme excitement.

A few weeks ago, I got my senior photos done, and with my friends gearing up for final exams, graduation is just around the corner. I thought I’d write a little catch-up/senior year reflection today. It’s crazy how fast things have been moving! Throughout this reflection, I’ll be sprinkling in photos from the past couple of weeks in my life.

Since I graduated a quarter early (faster than 4 full years of undergraduate), it’s been interesting doing the 40-hour work-week while my friends are still in school. All throughout college, I was used to saying “no” to a lot plans and outings because I needed to study. This spring quarter has been so different because I’ve been the one saying “yes” to everything.

I thought I enjoyed routine and schedule, but it’s different when you’re doing the full-time work thing. I don’t know why I have this weird fear of the monotony of the 9-5, but I do: waking up at the crack of dawn, making my cup of coffee, getting on the train, working all through the day, going to the gym, making dinner at home, getting to bed by 10pm and repeat x5. It’s surprising how quickly I turned into a low-energy grandma. If I know I have plans to go out that night, I usually wake up with a feeling of dread, knowing I’ll be even more exhausted the next day.

But with that fear of monotony comes the craving to spice up my life and schedule, and I find myself doing so by making plans with everyone. I’ve been getting better at not planning my life out down to the minute like I used to, but it’s still satisfying for me to see a full schedule. I’m happy that I’m putting forth effort into my relationships that I want to maintain, because it really is different when you don’t see friends everyday at school anymore. It’s been making me cherish friendships with people who I definitely still want in my life but maybe aren’t as close with.

With all that being said… other things have fallen to the wayside, like hobbies. I’ve definitely been prioritizing pretty well for myself I think: sleep, health, fitness, relationships… but what about things I, as an individual, love to spend time doing? Like blogging, or exploring the city? Dancing? I was talking to one of my close friends the other day who will be entering the workforce at the same time as me, and she said, “When people ask me if I have hobbies, I usually don’t know what to say. People like us don’t have time for hobbies anymore.”

That shook me – is that true? Again, that fear of monotony, and even complacency, might be a better word for it, is really getting to me. I refuse to believe it. I like to think this is just a transition period that’s rocking the boat a little for now.

I did start meditating everyday again using the Headspace app. I got into it two summers ago while I was studying abroad, but once my free trial ended, I stopped using it. Nowadays, I’ve been reusing the free sessions and just meditating for 3 minutes a day. So far, it’s been soothing and nice to sit still for a few minutes everyday, and I like to think it’ll payoff the next time I’m in an extremely stressful period.

Either way, I’ve been really satisfied and grateful with how my senior year played out. Sure, it was a little out of the ordinary compared to my peers’, but I’m happy that I continued to try new things for myself. Over the past few months, I’ve gained clarity on who is actually a positive influence in my life and who might continue to hype me up for my future. It’s reassuring to be able to reflect on how much I’ve actually learned about adulting in general, because I’m honestly excited to keep moving forward. My professional skills have improved even after a quarter of being at the office everyday, and I’m confident to bring those skills into my summer internship (eep! Counting down the days!).

Even though college was probably some of the best years of my life so far, I don’t feel tied down. That’s not to say I don’t regret anything from the last 4 years. I definitely feel like freshman year was a bit of a longer transition period: I didn’t come out of my shell for the first six months (y’all, I was really playing it safe with making new friends and whatnot), but little did I know that freshman year would be the basis for my strongest friendships today. I’m looking forward to moving upward and onward to exciting opportunities, moments, and people.

That’s it for now – I didn’t want to get too sappy 😂 I’m getting my wisdom teeth out soon right before my graduation ceremony, so wish me luck! June will be hectic with moving out of my current place and into a new apartment, and of course, starting my internship! I hope to pop in again on the blog soon, but until then!

Jen