Winter Break 2017

Hello all!

It was nice to be home for Christmas, to be able to spend time with family and reconnect with some friends from high school. One of the things that made this week especially fun was that one of my classmates from NYU Shanghai was able to come home with me and stay with my family during the break. It was her first time in the U.S., which gave us the excuse to do a lot of touristy things that we probably wouldn't have done otherwise. 

On Christmas Eve, we visited some neighborhoods around my hometown to look at Christmas lights. 

We also baked an apple pie- doesn't get more American than that!

We had a pretty typical Christmas celebration full of gifts, music, and family togetherness. On Christmas day, we took a beautiful hike through the American River canyon area. After finishing the hike, we drove to Forest Hill Bridge, the tallest bridge in California, and walked up and down it, then visited the Lake Clementine dam.  When I'm walking through this forest, sometimes I dream about cancelling all my commitments and taking a backpacking trip through California. Not that that will happen anytime soon, but I love these trails and the peace/clarity of mind that comes from being outdoors. 

During the week, we also took a day trip to San Francisco. We visited the Museum of Modern Art, Chinatown, Pier 39, and the Embarcadero area, and did lots of walking around the city. 

In my hometown, we went ice skating with a group of friends from my high school, got dinner at In 'n' Out, and then played card games afterward.

We were also able to visit one of my favorite places in the world- Yosemite National Park. I was worried that there would be too much snow to be able to hike, but luckily some of the trails were still open, including access to Vernal and Nevada Falls.

After spending the night in Yosemite Valley, we stopped by the giant sequoias at Calaveras Big Trees State Park on the way back. I had been to these once before, but they were just as awe-inspiring the second time around. In the U.S., we don't have very many historical sites or architecture more than a few hundred years old, other than the relatively little that has been preserved of the Native American civilizations, so it's interesting to be in this place where the trees are up to 3000 years old, and to imagine everything that these trees have withstood over the years. Many of them have deep, dark scars etched in their bark, from lightning or brush fires, but they repair themselves and carry on. To merely call the forest "beautiful" doesn't do justice to the depth of the history there.

Now, I'm in the process of traveling to my January term class-- 2 1/2 weeks in Accra, Ghana-- and I'm looking forward to the experiences and learning opportunities that await me there. Again, I feel like the luckiest person in the world. Hoping for the best.

As it's the beginning of a new year and time for setting goals, I have a few specific objectives and improvements in mind for the year. Most of my goals are specific to education and my engineering major, but there's one more general theme that I'd like to record here so that I can look back and reflect on it a year from now. My central focus for 2018 is on developing resilience. I'd like to focus on bouncing back more quickly from stress, disappointment, and frustration. I often tend to take conflicts personally and worry too much about little details that don't matter in the grand scheme of things. With the theme of resilience in mind, I'm hoping to come out of this year as a stronger person by reminding myself that other people's opinions don't need to ruin my day (my job is not to make everyone happy), that small setbacks/failures don't necessarily indicate overall ability or potential, and that I should not let feelings of stress interfere with my ability to focus and be productive. While these are things that I understand logically, I'm hoping to internalize them as I go into this January term and spring semester.

Anyway, I'm thankful for my friends/family and for the support I've felt from people lately.

Sending love to all,


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