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Laundry On Sundaes

Every beginning is only a sequel, after all, and the book of events is always open halfway through.

Tag Archives: college

NOTE: Somehow found this reallllly old post from back when I was still a college senior, haha. There is still a lot of helpful information in here so I’m going to post this now. If you’re still in college, I hope you find this useful!

I was talking with a freshman who was in one of the campus organizations I was in last semester, and when asked what his plans were for the summer, he replied “oh I don’t know, I think I’ll just sit on my butt and watch TV”. I sincerely hoped that he was joking, but from his tone, it didn’t sound like it.

I know that when you were a kid, summers really were the time you didn’t do anything productive and probably watched TV all day, or ran around on the lawn, or had fun in camp, or maybe even had a summer job at the grocery store, or whatever. But once you’re in college it’s different. You actually have to do stuff in the summer. Useful stuff. Stuff you can put on your resume and can talk about during interviews for grad school or jobs. As tempting as it is to just relax and have fun all summer or go back to the Starbucks job you’ve had since high school, don’t. So what are you supposed to do? Here are some of the most popular options.

1. Take summer classes.

I’ve never done this myself, but lots of people do it and it certainly has many advantages. You can get ahead on the road to graduation, or maybe catch up on requirements you might have missed. Summer classes -often have smaller class sizes, therefore offering more faculty-student interaction. You are also probably better able to focus your studying on 1 or 2 summer classes, as opposed to 5 or 6 in a regular semester. So it’s a good option if you need or want the credits!

2. Do research.

If you’re a science major like me and want a career in healthcare or research, then doing research as an undergrad is a must. Summer is prime time to find a position as a research assistant in a lab, and this may come in many different forms. There are a ton of summer research programs out there, and many of them are paid (though often not much). If you can’t find or can’t get into one of these programs, you can always just contact professors directly. Most profs are open to getting more help in their lab, especially if you volunteer (see below).

3. Volunteer.

I know you might feel like making any money at all is better than doing free labour, but trust me, in the long run, your summer volunteer work will mean much more than a retail job at the mall. Volunteering can also come in many different forms. For example, I volunteered as a research assistant my summer after freshman year in a lab. Volunteer to work in an organization you’re interested in, and maybe it will eventually even turn into a paid job! Another way to volunteer is to join an international volunteer organization and go abroad. But these programs usually cost money, so not only will you have to pay, some companies or grad schools may even be wary of them because they might think you just paid for an experience. Still, volunteering is another great option for summer.

4. Do an internship.

No matter your major or intended career, doing internships is beneficial or even essential. Interning is a great opportunity to explore a potential career, build your skills in the workplace, and network. Plus, you will make some money! Start looking early – many internship programs start accepting applications in the fall. Look online by searching “summer internship in _____”, look in the career section of companies you’re interested in, and talk to a counselor at your school’s career center. Most summer internships are likely very competitive, so apply early and apply to many!

And if you want extra challenge and excitement – you can do any of the above abroad! Like I did with my research internship in Vienna. It was one of the most amazing yet challenging experience of my life (you can read more about that here)!


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Since my last post, I have made it through graduation alive and relatively sane. Although all the worries and doubts from before were still there, I tried my best to focus on graduation for what it was: a celebration of the achievements of me and my peers over the past 4 years. It was a hectic and frenzied 3 days, but sitting among the sea of light blue in my own matching cap and gown, I was happy and proud to be graduating from such an amazing university and share the occasion with my family and friends.

I don’t think the fact that I won’t be returning to Columbia in the fall has quite sunk in yet, but hints of nostalgia are already beginning to peak above the surface from time to time. But with so much change on the horizon I’m forced to look forward and not back. Right now I’m back home for a bit, before moving to San Francisco on June 9. So I’m busy looking for jobs and apartments and procrastinating on my dental school applications. I know I’ve said this for just about everything this past year, but I’m both scared yet excited about all this change. Look forward to more posts about starting this new chapter in my life soon! But not before a post about Yufei and my post-graduation vacation to the US Virgin Islands!

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It’s a little more than 2 weeks away from graduation, and I’ve been feeling like I’m at the lowest point in my life ever. Isn’t this supposed to be the best time of my life? Then why do I feel like I’m going to have a mental meltdown every other day? Am I the only one who’s feeling this way?

Let me back up a little. I have had an absolutely incredible time at Columbia, met some amazing people, and I’m truly excited about graduating. But I’m also more anxious and uncertain than I’ve ever been. Over the past few months, I have seen my peers get into fantastic graduate schools, get great awards and scholarships, accept jobs and fellowships, get engaged and married. They all seems to have it TOGETHER and have life FIGURED OUT.

And here I am, this close to walking across the stage, and I feel like everything around me is falling apart. In a few weeks, I will be thrown out of my dorm and I have nowhere to sleep for a few days in New York City. Then I have to move across the country to a city where I know no one and start living together with my boyfriend. And I will have a super expensive and hard earned degree but still no job (and trust me, it’s not because I haven’t tried). And now parents tell me that my dad might switch jobs in the next few months and they might have to move again. Everything is changing and shifting and the future has never been foggier.

While I’m happy for all the successes of my peers, they are a constant reminder of the things I don’t have. Why don’t I have those things? Don’t I deserve them too? Shouldn’t I have something to show for at the end of my 4 years at an Ivy League school? Why can’t my life be at the point where everyone else’s seems to be in? I wish I, too, had good and exciting news to share with my friends and family when they ask about my post-graduation plans, instead of just a forced smile and admitting that I’m “still trying to figure it out.” I just feel lost and stuck. Stuck at the edge of a great precipice, forced to move forward with no paths to follow. At this point, I don’t even feel the need to “have it all” anymore. I just want ONE THING to go right, to be certain, to hold on to.

I have no conclusion to this post. I wish I did, I really do. Just like I wish I had the answers to the next chapter in my life.

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Happy New Year’s Eve!! I guess I just can’t stay away from this blog after all, haha. 2011 sure went by fast, didn’t it? How did it go for everybody? It was a pretty big year year for me: I traveled to many new places, celebrated 3 years together with Yufei, turned old enough to feel old at Forever 21, and perhaps most importantly, finally worked out a rough post-gradation plan! But 2012 is going to be even more monumental, with graduation and all that stuff. I have lots of hopes and dreams as well as worries and concerns for 2012, but most of all I’m really EXCITED to be moving on to the next stage in my life. So, new year’s resolutions? Why yes of course, I’ve got quite a few:

1. To lose weight and stay healthy. Ha, probably the most cliched of all resolutions, but it has to be made. I was super busy and stressed out last semester, and as a result didn’t work out very much and didn’t eat very well, and so as a result I gained a few pounds. My favorite pair of jeans are feeling a little too tight! This is definitely a sign that I need to lose a few. So, in the new year, I will eat healthier and exercise more. I’m taking Pilates next semester, so hopefully that’ll help!

2. To take control of my finances. Well, what little finances I have anyways. The first step is to find a new part-time job, since my current job is ending next month. And a sub-point to this resolutions:

2.a. To spend less money shopping. This is going to be really hard for me, because I love shopping and clothes and shoes and makeup and… sigh. But it’s getting to the point where it’s becoming a problem. So I’m going to give myself only $30 a month on shopping, and if I want to buy something more expensive one month, I’m going to have to give up the next month. Hopefully this is going to make me think twice about impulse buys (so guilty of this). And I’m going to purge my closet again when I get back to NYC, as well as take some of my existing clothes and shoes to the tailor/cobbler, to get more life out of them. I think it’s going to be a fun challenge to get more creative with the clothes I already have!

3. To make an effort to dress up nicely everyday. I’m already moving towards that direction, so this won’t be too hard. But I still have my off-days; I felt so yucky when I wore my sweatpants out during finals last semester that it just threw off my whole day. I feel so much more confident and productive when I look nice, even when I’m not going anywhere.

4. To make the most out of my last semester in college. Finally for one semester, all my classes genuinely interest me, and my schedule’s not too tight that I can still have fun! I’m going to enjoy my last few months at Columbia (and NYC) as much as possible.

5. To keep a positive outlook, no matter where life takes me. There’s going to be a lot of big changes in 2012, and I know that I’m going to be stressed out and worried and upset over some of them, but I want to keep in mind that no matter what happens, everything is going to be okay, life is wonderful, and I’m so lucky to be alive and surrounded by amazing family and friends.

So there you go! My resolutions for 2012! What are yours? I’ve love to hearing them!

I leave you with this lovely song from two of the most adorable and perfect human beings ever, Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Here’s to a happy, healthy, wonderful new year!

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There’s finally a tiny little break for me! I still have a paper due on Sunday that I need to start, but at least midterms are over for now and I don’t have anything else major before fall break. Phew. I’ve been so burnt out over the last couple of weeks, and I got sick last weekend too so that didn’t help either (still recovering from a cough). But at least I feel like I have enough time to write a blog post, that must mean something, right?

Earlier this month, I went to a little reunion with some friends that I attended a summer program with in 2007 (wow that’s a long time ago). One of them goes to Cornell and another goes to BU, and the other 2 are in town doing co-op programs. Since everyone was in NYC that weekend, we decided to meet up! It was great catching up with them since I haven’t seen most of them since the program ended, which was 4 years ago!

Then later that week, Yufei and I celebrated our three year together by going to dinner at Cafe Boulud. The meal and the service were excellent, I especially loved the olive bread (I think olive is starting to grow on me!) and my dessert, the milk chocolate coffee parfait.

And the company was even better, of course! Thanks to Yufei for such a great evening, and I hope we will celebrate many more years to come!

The weekend after that, I went to Columbia’s homecoming game against U Penn. We didn’t win, but at least we were winning when we left the stadium. And that’s not the most important part anyway, because that title goes to free stuff! By being a senior, I got a free t-shirt and free beer, and by pretending to be an alum, I got a free scarf (for being an “engineering alum”) and a free stuffed lion. And a ton of free food, snacks and drinks! The weather was beautiful that day, and it was so lovely to spend the afternoon with friends bathed in the upsurge of school spirit that only happens about twice a year. Here are my friends Cindy, Ying, Jin, and me!

Photo credit goes to Yufei, with amazing post-processing by Jin.

Then last weekend, I had the chance to meet up with my fellow blogger friend Erin, who is attending NYU. It was so cool to meet someone that you’ve been talking with online for so long! Erin was so nice and awesome and I’m looking forward to seeing her again to do some cool NYC stuff together!

That’s about it for now! There will be lots happening over the next week or so, so if I find time I will definitely write about it here!

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Senior year has been pretty hectic so far. I’ve got a lot on my plate: 5 classes, a part-time job, extracurricular duties, studying for the DAT, preparing for dental school applications, trying to find a job for my gap year, and in the middle of it all, trying to enjoy my last year in college (and possibly in NYC).

I know some of this information is new, as in I haven’t shared them on this blog yet. Namely my decision to pursue a career in dentistry. I had wanted to write a larger post on this topic, but I simply don’t have the time right now. But yes, I’ve finally decided on a path for my future, and I’m very happy about that. It certainly wasn’t an easy or straightforward rout getting here, but this time I think I’m set on it. I’ve bought the prep books and signed up for the DAT (which I will be taking in January) and started preparing for applying to dental schools. Anyways, I’m very excited for this whole endeavor, even though I’m sure soon enough the pressure and stress will start to outweigh the excitement, ha.

And since I came to the decision to go to dental school rather late in my college years, I’m forced to take a gap year after graduation. And finding something to do during that year has become quite a stressful issue on its own. I want to move to San Francisco, but it’s so hard to find a job there, especially when I’m all the way across the continent and don’t know how to program. I’m trying to just focus on doing well on my DAT right now, but it’s still a looming problem in the near future.

So with all that, plus classes and the other stuff I mentioned, I haven’t been able to update this blog as much as I’d like to, and I probably won’t be updating it very much this semester. I will still be posting stuff once in a while, just not every other day like I would like. Hopefully I will ace my DAT and next semester will be a little more relaxed and I will have more time for this blog. But until then, I have to go back to my DAT study guide and Biochemistry notes!

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Alright, time for some concrete advice for this week’s Take it from a Senior. You’re in college, you go to your classes (at least for the the first few weeks), you sit there in your seat and listen (unless it’s a 9am lecture), and most likely you will be taking notes. But how should you do it? Each student has his/her own methods, but here are some general guidelines that might help you take better notes.

First things first, your note-taking strategies will depend on the type of class you’re in. Here are a few ways to take your notes and what kind of class they work best for.

1. The standard notebook. You know, the spiral-bound kind, probably with your school logo on the front. This works for pretty much anything, but if your class tend to have lots of hand-outs and such, consider #2.

2. The binder. This works great just like the notebook, but with the added bonus of organizing loose hand-outs, quizzes, old exams that are given back to you, etc. It’s an excellent way to keep all the materials for a class organized in one place.

3. The printed PowerPoint. If your prof lectures with PowerPoint presentations, I find it best to print out the slides and bring them to class with you, and take notes directly on each slide. To save paper, I suggest printing 4 slides per one side of each sheet of paper, landscape orientation (so that the slides are bigger), and print double-sided.

4. The laptop. This works great for those classes where the prof speaks faster than you can write. Or if you want to go on Facebook during class (just kidding, don’t do that). But the downside is that if the class involves complicated diagrams, formulas, or other drawings, it’s probably not the best.

5. The recorder. If your prof talks faster than you can write OR type, it might be worth it to invest in an small electronic recorder. That way, if you miss anything, you can always play it back and listen again. You can also be a true nerd and studying by listening to the lecture while riding the subway.

Alright! Now you’ve found the best way to take notes for each of your classes. Now 2 other little tips for effective note-taking:

1. Use a 4-colored pen! This might be a habit left over from my high school biology class where the teacher demanded we use only 4-colored pens, but it really does make your notes better. More colors make your diagrams clearer, your key words and important concepts stand out, and your notes prettier in general! Plus, it’s more fun.

2. Make up your own shorthand abbreviations and symbols. You won’t have time to write down every single word in class, so don’t. And don’t just stick to conventional shorthands, make up your own! Your notes are for you, after all. For instance, I use arrows a lot, for signifying one thing leading to another, one thing becoming another, or even increase/decrease with an up or down arrow.

And there you go! Now go take some awesome notes!

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