May Wrap Up

Nine Lives

May was a busy month for me. I worked 4 days a week, had multiple assessments, projects and presentations scattered throughout the month but somehow managed to finish a couple of books as well! I’m actually super proud of myself 😛

Life:

I went back to Pandora as a Mother’s Day casual and worked between 20-30 hours a week for the first 2 weeks of May. I also had 2 presentations for MA 2, a debate for Economic Analysis (where we had to talk for 15 minutes as a group without ANY notes or slides – how is that even possible?!?! Even Presidents have a whole speech laid out in front of them when they speak to the nation!), a couple of quizzes and 2 major projects due on Friday of Week 13.

I’m so glad May is over, but now I’m preparing for exams which, in my opinion is so much worse. I would choose assignments/projects over exams any day 😦

Books:

I finished:

  • A Court of Mist and Fury (re-read in preparation for ACOWAR)
    • RHYSAND ♥♥
    • Definitely my favourite book in the series!!
    • 5/5
  • A Court of Wings and Ruins
    • I had a lot of issues with it, mainly because I hate Feyre’s sisters and don’t like how they were such important characters in the story
    • 3/5
  • The Secret History of Us
    • 4/5
    • Review will be up in July – closer to the release date
  • The Lucky One
    • 4.5/5
    • Really, really enjoyed it 🙂 Especially the ending…..I was like WTF?
  • Saint Anything (in preparation for Once and For All!)
    • 5/5
    • There’s a reason why Sarah Dessen is one of my favourite authors!!
  • Eliza and her Monsters
    • 5/5!!!!!! Legit one of my favourite 2017 books

Blog:

2016// Review [PART 3]

February // Went up to Grouse Mountain to ski and for the first time in my life I thought I was going to die. Celebrated CNY with friends from all over the world – yum cha for brunch and hot pot for dinner! During spring break, I set off to Mexico with a bunch of new friends and had a fantastic time! I was also the only person who didn’t get food poisoning after  eating street tacos. Came back to UBC only to be bombarded with 3 consecutive exams (all of which I passed – thank god!!) Went up to Cypress at the end of February.

March // My first frat party was rather….underwhelming. At least pre’s was fun 🙂 Had the time of my life at Blank Canvas though 😛  Also went on my first hiking adventure in Vancouver – one of my regrets is not going on enough hikes during my time there. Celebrated St. Patrick’s Day by getting woken up at 6am by drunken neighbours and then spending the rest of the day periodically drinking. Watched my first UBC Thunderbirds Basketball Game (too bad we lost!!) Went up to Cypress again and tried snowboarding for the first time. I failed badly, but at least it was fun!! Later in March, the crew and I went on a cruise hosted by the Exchange Society and then spent hours at a nearby casino.  Joined my curry mates for an arvo full of fun at Holi! During Easter Break, I went to Victoria with a bunch of other mates; it was honestly the most boring place ever and tbh, I never want to go back hahaha.

April // Started off April with a bonfire with the ENTIRE crew. Everyone was sad about our inevitable departure. Went skiing one last time at Whistler and had a blast! Celebrated the end of another semester by  attending this music festival-esque event hosted by UBC. Exchanged ended with fine dining and dress ups (men in suits, women in dresses and heels). Took one last group photo with the UBC sign. Went hiking at the Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge park. Wrapped up April with Jessie, Ben, Simona and Zacq by flying off to the States for our West Coast adventure!!

2016 // Reflecting on Life [PART 1]

2016 may have been an absolutely horrendous year for many people, but for me, it has been the most challenging, rewarding and unforgettable year of my life thus far.

2013

In high school and for most of my Uni life, I’d been hesitant to try new things. I was afraid of failure and embarrassing myself so I thought if I didn’t bother trying, then I couldn’t fail, right? In 2013 (first year of Uni) I sat back and relaxed while my peers applied the heck out of societies as subcom members. I thought ‘well, it’s ONLY my first year so there’s no need to be so worried about my career right?’ The truth was, I was too afraid of being rejected because I had no leadership/teamwork/time management skills whatsoever to talk about from high school. The only thing I was proud of doing in 2013 was going to BSOC’s ski camp, where I met a bunch of people who have since shaped my Uni social life.

2014

In 2014, I realized the severity of my lack of participation in Uni societies. My friends were applying for internships at renowned firms and at 18 years old, they received multiple offers to said firms. Meanwhile, I was still too chicken to admit I had issues that needed addressing. In my second semester, I applied to become a marketing subcommittee member of Project Hope, a not-for-profit organization that raised money to assist disadvantaged children in rural China. I’d heard that almost everyone who applied got in (don’t quote me, but truth is everyone from my interview did get in) so I thought the chances of me being accepted was extremely high. While I admit I was disappointed in the lack of actual work assigned to me as a subcom member (there were simply too many people in PH Marketing), the tasks I did complete helped me significantly in future interviews/online applications.

In late 2014, Amy and I decided to start the Real Estate Society. For Amy, Real Estate was her ‘career passion’, but for me, the society was a way for me to catch up to where the rest of my peers were at in terms of career progression since I felt I was lagging behind. I thought it would be an exciting venture for me as I’d never done anything like it before and it would force me to stop being so afraid of trying new things.

2015

In 2015, I stepped out of my comfort zone by applying for GAP and the intensive one week program gave me a peek into the life I’ve always wanted. [Did I mention as a clueless 3 year old, I wanted to be a teacher and/or business woman? A teacher because I liked having people listen to me while I gave instructions HAHA and a business woman because on TV they looked so polished, well spoken, respected by everyone and seemed like they were conducting important business all the time.] Obviously my reasons for wanting to enter the corporate world have changed and my passion for teaching has intensified for other reasons but it felt good to be able to fulfil those dreams of mine, ya know?

In 2015 I also applied for a few internships but unfortunately I was rejected from all of them. I was at a pretty low point in my life in early 2015; I had gone for a director interview for a society and completely bombed it. Now I think back, the questions were standard but I stuttered, rambled and had a mind blank after every question. I was ashamed of myself and too embarrassed to do anything about it. I was truly terrified of interviews from then on.

After submitting a bunch of online applications for various internship roles, I was invited to complete psychometric testing online. My self-esteem and confidence plummeted again after doing those. For weeks I felt stupid and incompetent. 90% of my penultimate year friends/acquaintances/people I’ve heard of/seen around received offers while I was struggling to progress to the next round. Deep down however, I was slightly relieved as well because I didn’t think I was ready to face more rounds of interviews.

Sometime in March/April I decided to do something with my life. Late 2014, I had the idea of applying for exchange but after reading the instructions online and realizing how much time I needed to dedicate to research/filling out forms, I dropped everything and forgot about it. I was lazy and wanted everything to be handed to me on a silver platter. In 2015 however, I decided to just go for it and booked an appointment with someone from the Exchange Office. Not going to lie, I thought about giving up again but the night before the deadline, I spent 3-4 hours researching different Universities in Canada and matched up courses. I didn’t tell a single soul I was applying for exchange for fear that I would get rejected.

Once I received my nomination email, I gradually opened up to my friends and family about exchange. I wasn’t 100% sure I’d get in as a nomination from UNSW didn’t guarantee an offer from UBC. My official offer from UBC a few months later was a wake up call for me. I was going to spend a semester abroad, in a country with no friends, no family and I only had myself to depend on.

Hopefully my life would change.

And I’m proud to announce my life did change.

 

5 tips to save money while overseas

When I travelled around USA, Canada (Toronto and Montreal), Mexico and Europe earlier this year, I kept a very strict record of all my expenses. I was travelling on a budget as I’d spent the majority of my savings in Canada (all those ski trips and parties emptied my bank account) so my budget at each leg of my trip was around $AUD1000-2000 (for a minimum of 2 weeks).

To be honest, it took a lot of self-control and sacrifice to ensure my expenses were kept within my budget range. Occasionally I wanted to splurge on a succulent meal or purchase a souvenir but in the end, I was glad I managed to suppress my impulsive buying habit.

These are some money saving tricks I adopted while travelling:

1.Be flexible about your accommodation

I know a lot of people are very inflexible or uncompromising with their accommodation; some of my friends need a nice and comfortable bed to sleep in at night, especially if they’re driving the very next day. And that is completely fine. But what saved me a lot of money was not being overly picky about where I slept. Whether it was in Canada, USA or Europe, I was content to sleep in the cheapest hostel and share a room with 5 strangers or if my plane landed at night, I would stay overnight in the airport. In the states, my friends and I camped out in the National Parks for several days and this allowed us to save up and splurge a little in Vegas.

2. Take public transport/Walk

So I know when I go back to China (or anywhere really) with my parents, we would always take a cab to get from A to B. Cabs are generally extremely expensive, and ubers aren’t that much cheaper either, especially when you want to go to the airport or train station. At every destination in Europe, my friend and I took public transport to the airport/main train station and i’m not going to lie, that was tiring as hell. I had two massive backpacks that weighed a tonne and it would’ve been so much more convenient for me to grab a cab but I sucked it up and took public transport (even if it meant I had to run for the train or change trains a billion times.) Also, when touring around the city, I preferred to walk. Even if I ended up walking more than 20km a day, it was definitely worth my time and effort!

3. Don’t impulse buy plane tickets

This my friends, is one of the most annoying things about travelling for me. If I’m planning to go somewhere, I would HOURS researching and comparing different flight prices then decide it was still too expensive and come back the next day. I remember spending a whole week monitoring flight fares from Prague to London and then finally buying the cheapest ticket that I found! Also, be sure to keep updated on sales, discounts (e.g when you download the site’s app, you may be eligible for up to 15% off).

4. Save on foooooooood!

I know we go to different countries to try their authentic cuisine but there are definitely ways to save on food! In the States, the 5 of us would go grocery shopping and cook or make sandwiches for lunch/dinner. Breakfast was either included at the hostel/motel we stayed at or we would find somewhere to grab a quick bite before setting off to our next destination. In Canada, my friend and I cooked very healthy meals for breakfast and dinner every day but would eat out at local cafes for lunch. We would grab brunch maybe once or twice a week but that was it. In Europe, my friend and I splurged once in every country at an authentic diner, but would spend significantly less for lunch and dinner on the other days. Breakfast was once again included in the AirBnB or hostel!

5. Always have cash & DON’T EXCHANGE MONEY AT THE AIRPORT.  

I wasted almost 30 Euros in Milan. I had around US$100 on me but no euros as I never got the chance to exchange any in the US/Canada. For some reason on that particular day, the credit card machines weren’t working and since I didn’t have any cash, I couldn’t purchase a train ticket to get to my hostel. I then exchanged money at the airport and had to sign a paper that indicated a significant portion of my exchanged amount would essentially be eaten up as commission. I was so annoyed but obviously couldn’t do anything about it. So moral of the story: ALWAYS HAVE CASH ON YOU.

Obviously there were other things I sacrificed in order to spend within my budget, but these were the main tricks I used!

Exchange Updates

It’s not Thursday but feel like posting #throwbackthursday posts hehehe

This was written sometime in March.

13/03/2016 – 20/03/2016

Another week has passed, and I’m dreading the last day of exchange. I can feel it creeping up slowly, but surely, and honestly, as cliched as it sounds, if I could do anything to stop time,  or to rewind time to January/February, I would. People are saying how we should go to as many parties as possible, spend as much time with friends as possible, but exams are looming and it’s almost impossible for everyone to be free at the same time to catch up and do things together. I for one, need to study my ass off to pass my courses because right now I’m terrified I’ll fail them.

Over the past month I’ve noticed that I can’t even remember what my Sydney life was like. Was it really so uneventful and unmemorable? All I remember is waking up every day to go to Uni, spending a few hours 3-4 days a week tutoring little kids and high school students and occasionally (how often is “occasional” though) going out to dinner with friends.

I do remember how every time my friends and I wanted to organise a dinner to catch up, at least one person would be busy because of work or some other commitment, and then this dinner would get cancelled and then everyone would forget to reorganise it. There were never any spontaneous dinners or drinks because everyone simply lived too far away. No one could be bothered to get out of the house at 9pm to go to the city for impromptu drinks. But in Vancouver? Since every lives on campus, it’s so convenient to walk 5 minutes to Mahoney’s or someone’s residence and have an impromtu party there.

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Love you guys ❤

I distinctly remember one Saturday when everyone was at home studying or just chilling, one friend messaged “Guys, drinks tonight” in the group chat and immediately, everyone replied with a thumbs up. It turns out one person was a little upset due to personal issues, and a few of us started messaging other friends to come join as well. Within an hour, everyone – and I repeat, everyone we messaged–  rocked up and I was quite literally floored at how supportive everyone was. A few came directly from grocery shopping (didn’t even go home to put everything away), and others turned up in sweatpants because they didn’t expect to go out that night. Thinking back to that night, I’m filled with love and gratitude to have met such an amazing bunch of people who would drop everything to come comfort a friend in need. It’s times like this that I really appreciate what exchange has shown me; back in Sydney, I don’t think it’s possible for someone to say “hey guys, this happened, come out for drinks tonight” and expect the entire gang to arrive. It’s just…not possible. But on exchange? I’ve witnessed it happening and it’s a scene that I’ll always remember.

UPDATE: I think I wrote this while I was extremely stressed and unfortunately it feels unfinished, but these were my naked thoughts at the time and finishing it off now will just smear the authenticity of it so I’ll simply leave it as it is.

UPDATE 2: OMG I MISS EXCHANGE 😦 😦