Adventure time! This definitely goes against my risk-averse, accountant persona, but this was so fun! Happy Birthday to my wonderful sister-in-law, Thuy! (at Go Ape! - Rock Creek Regional Park)
Happy Birthday to one of my best friends, Ms. Alvarado! Couldn’t have gotten through college without this one giving me advice, being weird roomies together, sharing laughs, good times and bad, bathroom adventures 😳, the list goes on. Thank you for being such a great friend. You are such a beautiful person inside and out <3. And I really mean it when I say I don’t think I’d be who I am today if I didn’t meet you along the way. Love you so much, mama! I’ll forever be your hija! 😘😘
Happy Birthday to my big brother, Phil! Been my role model since day one. My mentor, teacher, and best friend. I wouldn’t be the person I am without you! Love you and wishing you the best birthday yet! #old #geezer
Q-tip’s is pumped for the season to start! #redskins #HTTR
Mumbai Blog 1:
The city of Mumbai was where the movie Slumdog Millionaire took place. One of the first sights I saw next to the airport as we landed were large communities of slums. In my high school Geography class, I learned that in most urban cities that are thriving financially, there tends to be higher amounts of poverty surrounding and in the city. This is because people tend to flock to the thriving city for opportunities and jobs. Unfortunately, as more and more people come, chances to land a job are slim; which results in large slums. In my opinion, the city of Mumbai has more contrasts between the rich and poor and traditional and modern thank Delhi. With so many slum communities, right next door could be the most expensive piece of residential real estate in the world. High rises and city lights attract tourists and indicate that it is the country’s financial capital. However, the abundance of slums right next door to these high rises is astonishing.
Slumdog Millionaire told a story of a boy who grew up in the slums of Bombay who was taken as a child and raised by gangsters. Children were trained and often times made disabled to gain sympathy from people so that they can garner more sympathy when they beg for money. The saddest part is that these children who work so hard to earn this money may never reap any benefits. As tourist, it puts you in such a tough situation when a poor 4-year-old is begging you for money. In reality, a dollar or two doesn’t mean much to us anyway. We are all middle-class citizens with more opportunities and fortune than any of these kids. It is so difficult to look these kids in the eye and tell them no. It’s such an internal battle because if these kids work for any of the gangs, any money that we donate will only fuel the gangsters to continue recruiting children because their horrible schemes and tactics are working. It is an ongoing cycle that I hope I do not contribute to.
One specific instance that I recall was when a large group of us went out to dinner together one night. As we walked out of the restaurant and crossed the street to the nearby Baskin Robbins, a couple of young girls approached us. They were about 8 or 9 in age and requested for 100 rupees. One of my classmates gave one girl 100 rupees, and she went away. The other girl lingered around our group, making sure she taps everyone in our group to make a plea.
A few of us offer her our Baskin Robins ice cream, but she refuses. This indicates that she is not desperately starving since she will not accept food. After much persistence, my classmate, Jerry, finally agreed to give 20 rupees to the little girl. At first she was content but I noticed that her mother was observing nearby with a smile. As our group continued walking back to the hotel, the mother convened with the daughter and the next thing you know, the daughter comes running after us requesting more rupees claiming that she needs 100, and not 20 rupees. She continues to only target Jerry, but he responds by inquiring why she needs the 100 rupees. The girl doesn’t provide an answer and only responds that 20 rupees isn’t enough and wants 100. This leads us to conclude that she is only doing this under the direction of her mother. We all agree that we are so internally conflicted because we know they are in need, but we could be feeding into habits that should not be persisted.
Looking back, I do feel some regret that I did not contribute to a few of these children, especially to those were we physically impaired. I really hope that there is something I can do one day to help solve this ongoing problem. I wish these parents would encourage their children to go to school, instead of holding them back and putting them on the streets to beg. The population is large and young, there is so much talent and good that is wasted. Many of them may just be geniuses!
Mumbai Blog 2:
The Brain Drain: To work in India or America?
This is a question that many young educated Indians face as they enter the work force. The Brain Drain is a rising problem for many developing countries. Many students seek higher education abroad and end up staying abroad to develop their career instead of returning to their home country. This on-going process creates a downward spiral by depleting the pool of eligible and qualified workforce in the developing country. After visiting several companies, I noticed that the brain drain is certainly present in India and is becoming a major problem. Several of the companies that we have visited noted that it is difficult to staff their company or to keep up with their growing business due to the lack of qualified candidates. In a land of 1.6 billion people, a shortage of human capital doesn’t seem right.
The greatest advantage that the Indian work place has over the United States is the opportunity and potential to earn more money than one could ever earn in the United States. With corruption being present in the business and government worlds, having connections and networking abilities will get you very far. Even without corruption, having the right connections can land one in a great position for business deals and alliances, paving the way to wealth. This opportunity for wealth and to live like a king attracts some Indians back to their home country, but not all. Many still opt to stay abroad.
I question why people choose to stay abroad. I acknowledge that there are a million different reasons and to each their own, but I still think that there are common reasons that keep Indians away from home. I suppose I could devise some reasons that would keep my away after visiting some companies.
1. I noticed that offices and working environments are pretty different. Women aren’t as prevalent in the work place, and the word on the street is that in smaller companies, sexual harassment is very common in the work place. As a woman, I would like to be given the same opportunities and to be respected.
2. I love the service of the office helpers who bring tea and coffee, but their ability to climb up the ladder is very limited. In the States, it is normal to start from the bottom and work your way up, but I certainly wouldn’t like to serve coffee all day.
3. The hours here are LONG! 10+ hour days are very common. Work days are not always efficient and/or productive.
4. The commute to work. Although many people may have drivers, the driving conditions and traffic here are ridiculous. Although commuting in the states could take just as long, I would much rather prefer metro rides not being packed with 6 million people a day and having a highway where people stay in their lanes.
5. The fringe benefits. Health insurance is not common in India. Health and healthcare in India is whole topic in itself, but knowing how much healthcare costs and how unexpected life can be, I appreciate the health insurance plans in the United States.
These are only few of my reasons why I would choose to work in the States. They may not be representative of why Indians choose to stay abroad, but it could be a possibility that many reasons may overlap. All in all, the brain drain is a large problem in India that needs to be addressed. It is a land of opportunities, and if these opportunities could be capitalized by the millions of people who are on the streets, this country can develop so much faster. Better education and work places should be reforms that should perhaps be taken into consideration (easier said than done.)
Delhi Blog #1
Arriving to the land of contrasts: India!
The Delhi Airport was my first exposure to India, and I think it was a good representation of the different parts of India. One of the first memorable sights I saw in the airport was the large golden hand signs that were above all the reception desks. This decor made the airport look very elegant and high-class. As I moved through the airport, through customs, I noticed that the air in the airport was somewhat foggy and muggy. Once we made it out of the airport and headed to our van, even at 1AM, it was quite lively. Our journey to the hotel was halted by Delhi Police barricades as a result of the protests against the recent gang-rape scandal. I do feel quite safe at our hotel here in Delhi, as they stop every vehicle entering the premises and inspect it for any bombs and weapons.
Our long day of touring the city began within a short six hours after arriving to the country. Our jam-packed day of touring the city was quite a fun one, full of beautiful historic sites hidden among the not-so-glamorous, traffic and fog-filled streets of Delhi. We toured some sites in the walled city of Old Delhi, like the Red Fort, Chandni Chowk, and Jama Masjid. It was so fascinating to see and actually stand in such an old piece of history, and to know that once upon a time an emperor and his family once lived there.
Visiting the Jama Masjid was an interesting experience. It was my first time visiting a mosque. We had to first take off our shoes; it probably wasn’t the best day to wear shoes without socks since the city was a lot colder, windier and foggier than I had anticipated. Then, they gave all the women, who were not in traditional dress, cover ups to wear. After we went inside, we were given the opportunity to climb up into one of the towers with a small fee. The tower was a super tall and narrow spiral staircase made of stone. There was minimal lighting and each step was just wide enough to fit one person. (My climb up the tower was a reminder to hit the gym again.) The view at the top of the tower was quite nice, although it was difficult to see far because of the fog. The top of the tower was a small space and could barely fit more than six people comfortably. With no railings around the opening to the stairs, I feared that I would lose my footing and fall down the hole in the middle!
We also visited a couple monuments in New Delhi, such as Humayun’s Tomb and Qutub Minar. My favorite place was probably Qutub Minar. The columns surrounding the Qutub Tower were all beautifully carved and engraved. I was astonished by the amount of detail that was carved into each and every column and wall. It was truly a beautiful scene.
India is such a heterogeneous place. It is a mixing bowl of all kinds of religions, races and cultures. With strong presences of the Sikh, Hindu, Buddhist, and Christian religions, we visited quite a few houses of worship. The two most memorable places for me were the Sikh temple and the Lotus temple. The Sikh temple required the most rituals. First, all visitors had to have a head covering in order to enter the temple. Many of us were giving bandana-like head coverings, amd then we had to take off both our shoes and socks. We were required to wash our hands and feet before entering the temple. The environment was most definitely suitable for praying and worship since they had relaxing chants playing in the background. As we walked outside, there was a pool of water in the center and I noticed many men were taking naps and sleeping in the corridors surrounding the pool. As we exited, we were giving a serving of a sweet flour mixture. The other memorable site was the Lotus Temple, which was the house of worship for the Bahai faith. This was a religion that I have never heard of but it sounds interesting since it primarily promotes unity. The temple was shaped like a giant lotus flower, such great architecture.
Food in Delhi:
I arrived in India recovering from a case of food poisoning or a bug of some sort, so my stomach was the weakest it has ever been. I was very nervous about all the spices that I was going to consume in the next two weeks. I was very cautious the first couple of days, mainly eating carbs and plain foods. Luckily, after a couple of days, my stomach finally felt better and I was able to enjoy the Indian cuisine. First and foremost, the food at the Taj Mahal Hotel is quite wonderful. My favorite part is their selection of tropical fruits. They have the sweetest and juiciest papayas I’ve ever had. In our time in Delhi, we were able to try a few different cuisines. We tried both North and South Indian cuisine. North Indian cuisine is more tomato based and I think I prefer it over South Indian cuisine. I also tried some Chinese food, and I have to say the Indian-Chinese version is pretty tasty. And last but not least, we had some American food. We went to McDonald’s at Khan Market and Pizza Hut at Connaught Place. In India, these fast food chains are known to be a little higher-class and more of a sit down restaurant. People go to these restaurants to eat and socialize. Their menus are modified to cater to local taste. I was very impressed with the Pizza Hut menu; they were basically a full-out Italian restaurant with salads, pastas and desserts!
Shopping in Delhi: Markets, Malls and Expos
Shopping in Delhi is truly an interesting experience. We went to a couple markets and a handloom expo at the Dilli Haat. Bargaining is a must at these places. Knowing that we are foreigners, they up the prices pretty high for us. We were told to start really low and unreasonable and work our way to a middle point. The method that I find effective is the “walk-away” method. If you start walking away, they often agree to your lowest price. We attended a couple of malls, and I would say they are very similar to American malls. I did notice all the American brands were really expensive, since they have to pay tariffs for imports. I was fairly pleased with my shopping experience as I walked away with some beautiful scarves.
Adventures in Agra:
Our day trip to Agra to visit three world heritage sites will be one I will never forget. I am thankful for having such a knowledgeable tour guide (who was also a great photographer). We visited Agra’s Fort, the Taj Mahal and Fateh Pur Sikri. However, I fell in love with the story behind the Taj Mahal. The story goes that one of the Mogul emperors had three wives, with the third one being Muslim and able to bear sons. I viewed the story of the Taj Mahal as a beautiful love story. The emperor’s third wife was loved the most because she was finally able to give the king son’s. She gave birth to 14 children in 19 years. She knew she was going to die after the birth of her last child and gave the king three requests.
1) To not remarry
2) To love her kids
3) To build her a beautiful grave
The king fulfilled all three of her wishes. The Taj Mahal was built to fulfill her last wish. I think it is an expression of true love, as he put so much effort into building the masterpiece. He had seventeen different architects from all over Europe and Asia come with designs, choosing the best one. The design who won came from an architect from Turkey. The Taj Mahal took 22 years to build. All the different aspects of the Taj Mahal made my heart sink a little. First, the body was laid in the middle of the structure, with a fake tomb on top of the real one to prevent people from walking over it. Next, the four tours surrounding the building were built at 92 degrees outward so that if they should tumble, they will fall outwards. Lastly, the King and Queen’s muslim faith was also incorporated into the Taj Mahal. When one passes away, they are to be buried with their head towards the north and the feet towards the south, while facing west towards Mecca. When the King passed away, his tomb was placed to her right so that she can forever face the King.
Of the fourteen children, the Queen gave birth to only four sons and two daughters lived. The third son had a strong desire to be king, so he was cruel and killed off his two older brothers and imprisoned his younger brother who died from torture. Then, he put his father on house arrest in his own palace! The story goes that he cried for 8 years while looking at the Taj Mahal that he lost his far-sighted vision. Although, it sounds like such a sad tragedy of the rest of the King’s life, it shows his undying love for his Queen.
Sometime along our journey, I witnessed one of the most beautiful things in nature. I saw a family of monkeys. The baby money was quite possibly one of the cutest things I have ever seen. What made my heart melt was seeing a scared baby monkey being coddled by its mother because it was scared. Together with the delicate but sad love story of the Taj Mahal, and as corny as it may sound, history and wild nature demonstrates the presence of true love in life.
Overall, the streets of Delhi are full of hustle-bustle and never-ending honking. But heavy traffic isn’t the worst of it; the biggest culture shock I have faced is the scene of poverty. Although homeless people are not uncommon in the States, seeing hundreds and hundreds of hungry and poor children begging for money every day is one of the saddest scenes I have ever seen. One of the saddest instances in which I regret not giving any donations to was a child of about 6 or 7 years old who was partly disabled with a dysfunctional right leg. His right leg was significantly smaller than the left. As our bus took off, his friend came to his side and supported him as they walked away into the fields. Seeing these children is a constant reminder of how blessed I am to come from a comfortable, safe and loving home, with the wonderful opportunities of school and a career. My first week in India has been such an eye-opening experience that I was not prepared for.
· Walk on the left side
· Drink only bottled water
· Pack warmer clothes next time
· Traffic is horrible, and honking never ceases.
· The Taj Mahal is beautiful, but probably even more beautiful with clear skies
Delhi Blog #2
Business in Delhi!
As much as this trip seemed like it has been all fun and games, we did have business to do here! As a part of this trip, we were able to visit several companies headquartered in Delhi. Each company visit has been filled with interesting information and insight on how business is done in India. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of these visits is that these companies all have operations in the United States in which I am a consumer of the various goods and services. It is fascinating to see how the same type of operations can differ from country to country.
Tyson’s in India? A universal mall design:
Our first visit was Design Forum International, an architecture firm, who discussed the design elements of a premier shopping mall in Delhi. Being an avid shopper myself, I have always noticed the pros and cons of American shopping malls. However, learning about the strategic decisions of designing a mall was truly intriguing. There were so many facets of the mall design that I would have never thought of. What made this experience the most relatable was that Indian shopping malls were extremely similar to American malls. Therefore, all of the elements that were discussed were very applicable to the malls that I have been so familiar with all my life. A few interesting facts that I have learned were:
1. Clump similar stores together to give the consumer variety
2. Plant anchor stores strategically so that they will garner foot traffic to the stores in between them
3. Each mall level has a certain level of significance based on store specialty
4. Strategically placed mall entrances will yield high-valued retail space for vendors
After we discussed the interesting factors that went into the design of the mall, we took a trip and visited the mall itself. Although the actual mall was very similar to malls I have been to in the states in terms of layouts and even actual brand names like Nine West and Zara, the experience was quite interesting and different. First, I have noticed from my time here that almost every place with high traffic, there is a security check point at the entrance. Although its effectiveness is questionable, it does feel comforting to know that all vehicles entering the premises are stopped to be searched. Hoods are popped up, trunks are opened and cars are inspected all around to ensure that there are no bombs being brought into the mall.
Next, I learned an extremely valuable lesson. In India, cars and people drive and walk on the left side of the streets and walkways. This translates directly into walking habit at the mall. Even escalators have been flipped so that you are always on the left side. I would have never noticed this pattern until I naturally yield to the right when I have oncoming traffic and the other person yields the same way. I also naturally go to the right escalator, but I have to readjust and get into everyone’s way to get back to the proper side. These little but patterns at large are completely cultural. It has been so interesting to see something as common as a shopping mall be different in the littlest ways to accommodate for local culture and norms.
Munch is the new Crunch, didn’t you hear?
Within our first week, we also visited Adidas, the American Center, ESPN Star Sports and Nestle. Each company had fascinating perspectives to share, but having eating and exploring foods as a couple of my hobbies, I inevitably found Nestlé’s presentation to be the most relatable and appeasing to my taste in business.
This presentation brought many true facts about India to light. My favorite quote about India from this meeting was that “India is a land of contrasts.” When you think about India, this saying could not be truer. There is so much tradition, yet there are such a strong strives for change. With each generation, what seems like such a homogenous culture cannot seem more diverse. With so many prevalent religions, diets, preferences and tastes within one country, Nestle as a food producer must cater to the different tastes in their market. It was interesting to see how primary cuisines and tastes are different from north to south. Although, this is also true to the south, companies do not change their formula at large to cater to separate crowds. However, this is a successful tactic that Nestle employs for their consumers. Yet another contrast here is that even though the company caters and localizes products for consumers, the country as a whole will buy into the same marketing scheme. Bollywood and music here is universal. It is the ultimate appeal. Thus, Nestle will use jingles and Bollywood stars to appeal to all the different consumers that they have in India. All I have to say now, is that I want to try their Munch chocolate bar…because “loud is good.”
· Walk on the left side! …again.
I have not posted in a super long time. I created this blog in the fall semester of my first year in college. I remember hearing about this new blogging platform and decided that I wanted to document my new adventures in college.
It may sound funny, but when I was young, I never imagined going to college away from home. Both my parents never went to school, and my brother went to community college and then transferred to Mason. Going away for college was something that I wasn’t really brought up with in my family. Most of cousins stayed home and commuted for college. I never thought I would have the opportunity to be away from home at all. Even getting into UVA, I thought was such a miracle. I still remember how extremely happy I was after I found out I had gotten in. I had such low expectations for myself and very little confidence of what I can achieve.
As I started my first year in college, I was such a shy, timid, naive, quiet person…(typical asian girl). I honestly was never into the party scene, drinking (although I found out that it REALLY wasn’t for me), I was overwhelmed with all the newfound freedom…I was the girl who stayed in and played jenga the first week of school. I could not have been luckier though to have had my friend Kim from high school go to UVA with me. I was very lucky to have her, because I think without having her be my crutch, I would have been too scared to try new things and to branch out. I was also very lucky to have had Kyung, my good friend from high school. Because of him, I reconnected with Eric, who was my friend all the way from middle school! And more importantly, because of Kyung, I met Riz. Kim, Kyung, Riz and Eric were such a big part of my first year. I tried many many new things because of this people, and changed drastically in just one year. More willing to meet people, go out, and a gained little more confidence. I also can’t forget to mention that I met one of my best friends, Veronica. She was literally my only hall mate that I clicked with, and we became really close. She also greatly contributed to my tremendous growth all throughout college. I could go on and on about who I met first year that has played a part in my life, and that list would never end. But major highlights also include my first boyfriend, and everyone from VSA (especially the upper classmen) & OYFA.
Second year was quite a stressful year. It wasn’t so much a year about trying to meet new people or try as many new things as possible, it was learning to settle in, learning to set goals, and learning how to accomplish them in the best way possible. This year was a year for developing leadership skills, learning from a relationship, learning how to be a better student, and realizing that if I didn’t get my shit together, my future wouldn’t have been as smooth as it is now. I honestly can’t remember much of 2nd year, but I do remember that my health was such a big factor this year. My health took a turn for the worse this year. I know I naturally have a weaker body in terms of all my health conditions, but stress only makes everything worse. I believe I developed really bad TMJ this year and it got to a point where I couldn’t open my mouth wide enough to bite into a sandwich. Lock-jaw is such a scary thing to have. And of course, my migraine headaches definitely found their way to make my life worse. Oh, and I got really close to Jeson this year! :)
Third year was quite amazing. I think I grew the most my third year. I never thought I was capable of getting into Comm School. And having achieved that major goal, I couldn’t have been happier. Although 3rd year was quite consuming, I wanted to make sure I did everything I could to no screw it up. I was down to give up all extracurriculars to just focus on school. It was nice to have no other obligations that year. This year was also the year I realized I had such a great circle of friends. I had people around me that I could lean on when I needed to. I think the Comm School environment also boosted my self esteem/confidence…sometimes the arrogant, competitive, high-strung spirits just gets to ya! This year was also the year I became super close to Kenny. He was really one of the best friends I could have really asked for. He is such a great person, and as a friend, willing to go to any extent to help a person out. I only wanted to return the favor when he needed someone for support.
I cannot believe that fourth year has actually come to a close. Fourth year..was amazing. I realized what was important to me. I wanted to spend quality time with my amazing friends for one last year before everyone parted ways. I didn’t really care what I did, I wasn’t about getting ‘that experience’, I just wanted to have that experience with friend, because at the end of the day, I’ll have the memory of that experience because of the people I was with. I loved spending time with my roomies on the couch, just chillin’ on our laptops, checking email, having random conversations, or getting ready to go out together, helping each other pick out our outfits, and then finally going out. I loved going to Kroger and Trader Joe’s for midnight snack runs. Going to the Farmer’s Market and baking with Sophia. It really was such a great year with great friends and memories. I can’t forget to mention that my friendship with Kenny developed into such a strong and serious relationship throughout this year.
I honestly couldn’t have asked for a better four years at UVA. I am truly thankful for all of the people I have met, all of the friends I have made, and all of the memories that I have had with all of these people.
Now that this chapter has finally come to a close, I’m ready to take on the next chapter of my life with support of all of my family and friends.
Q-tip went into this box of stuffed animals by himself!
Yesterday’s date because he’s leaving for Richmond today :( and it was 17 months hehe
Q-tip’s a wahoo too! He may need a haircut soon… #guysinties #puppy
Maltese meets poodle.
Hello world, meet my new baby, Q-tip!