hurry up summer break!

posted on: Sunday, 23 April 2017

Hello everyone!
  Here's another monthly-ish update post! It's the end of my spring semester at Tech and I have nothing but finals left. It's been a great end. Spring has blossomed, so I've been hiking more often on the days when the pollen doesn't overwhelm me. We so often forget how beautiful our world is when we drive in our cars, go to work in beige cubicles or any sort of building, and then drive or walk back home. Taking "nature" breaks really keeps me grounded in reality. Let's enjoy what we have while we have it!
The top photo of the middle column is a photo taken at a Patient Panel hosted by AMSA Advocacy, the portion of the American Medical Student Association dedicated to advocacy events on and off campus. I wrapped up a great year working as a Committee Chair for Campus and Community Outreach. I planned and coordinated a Tourniquet Training Session with the Grady Memorial Hospital Emergency Department where these two really chill representatives taught our general members how to properly tie a tourniquet and how to respond on-the-scene before emergency trucks arrive. It was a smaller event to fill in the gaps we had because we were planning the Global Health Fair, which was an incredible success. Here are a few bonus photos:

We had around ten tables of campus organisations and clubs come to educate students about available resources and pressing health issues, like mental health and physical well being. If students visited 6 tables, they could come and pick up a free T-shirt. I commissioned the logo from a good friend of mine and the club's liked it so much, we're deciding on making it an official logo for GT AMSA! The first photo are my senior exec committee chairs, Tim (far left) and Austin (far right). In the middle is my fellow Campus and Community Outreach chair, Chris. I wanted the photo because coincidentally, a yoga club on campus started their routine right behind us and I thought it was fitting that it'd be right by the "health" fair. The photo on the right are other committee members from the other branch of Networking. The photo in the main collage is actually their last event, Patient Panel, where we had a cancer patient speak about the patient side of health care. Below that photo is me and Ayesha playing with a volunteer therapy dog, Dreamy. All the experience I gained from working in GT AMSA this past year allowed me be chosen to be part of GT Exec this upcoming year! I'm an exec for Membership Engagement, as I felt strongly that the general members were not as involved as they wanted to be. You'll be hearing more about it this summer as I'll be working a GT AMSA table at freshmen orientations.

I think I'm starting to feel the summer fever as I've been trying to get off campus more and more. My friend Vivian and I went to a reserve Starbucks in Midtown to study in the bottom photo of the middle column. We both ordered special reserve iced dark chocolate mochas but to be honest, it wasn't really special. If anything, it was just a bitter version of the normal mocha but more expensive. Vivian has been a lovely friend, supportive and selfless. I often go over to her place off campus to chill and hang out. She makes me this amazing Korean adlai tea and, when I attempted making miyeok, or Korean seaweed soup, on my own, she offered to make it for me. Her version was way more delicious because she has the Korean dry seasoning that I don't have~ Chilling with her off campus is a nice reprieve.

Didem comes back often nowadays, so when she does, we usually go to each other's houses for snacks and tea. I joke with my mom that I'm the old lady and my mom is the young teen that parties all the time. Chilling with Didem is comforting because even if we don't say much, it's not awkward. The silence of our company is soothing as it is. When I go over, she'll make me tea or coffee and offer me Turkish snacks or fruit. When she comes over, I'll make her tea and cut fruit. We enjoy the weather so we like to sit outside. That particular photo is when Didem's family was out of town and she was home alone, so I came over at night, brought her  a chick-fil-A dinner, then relaxed outside afterwards. It's sometimes the small, low-key hangouts that makes life enjoyable. People who think they need to "do" things all the time to have fun are missing out.

The last photo is me! I go to an inexpensive city gym since I have the option of using my school gym, so I have a back-up gym when I come home. The hours are shitty so one night, I wanted to go but found out it was closed, so I used a mortar as a free weight! My working out has been paying off, as my legs are toning up and my behind is becoming tighter. I actually have biceps and a toned stomach. It's difficult for girls to get abs, so I'm fine as long as it's as toned as possible. Working out is enjoyable, but lately in this past month especially, it's been difficult to find the motivation since I always have a lot to do in my academics. I'll admit I've been slacking but this summer is going to be Get Fit season.

I'll have to end here, as I have to work on all the homework and assignments I have for this upcoming week. Not to mention study for finals! Good luck everyone~

Difference in Eastern vs Western Culture: Part 2- Food and Other Habits

posted on: Saturday, 15 April 2017

Hello everyone!
 After reading Part 1, you're probably amazed that I have even more to talk about. Today's topic makes me excited already because its one of my favourite things in the world: food. Some people view food as their enemy, some view it as a guilty pleasure, and some view it as merely sustenance. I believe that without good food, life is meaningless.

In Eastern cultures, there's a huge focus on food and eating. A common greeting across all Asian cultures is "Did you eat?" We say it like "hello" but we answer it as a legit question. If my aunt calls, she'll say "Did you eat?" and I'll reply, "Yes, I had lunch just now. Mom cooked goat" and counter with the same question. I don't think there's an equivalent in the West that I can try to compare this with. Good food is what life is about in eastern cultures. Indian cuisine takes a very long time to cook because it's so packed with flavours and ingredients and it can only be made and eaten fresh. Asian cuisine has a lot of vegetables, most likely because vegetables and affordable. Meat is kind of a luxury in eastern countries. I know in Japan and Korea that meat is quite expensive, like $50 or more for a few cuts. However, the quality is amazing. My mom goes to an Pakistani butcher and watches him hack up a goat leg off the animal and buy it for $45.
I love how humble and normal Korean celebrities are. They get paid like everyone else, and so they're just as frugal and thrifty as we are. 

In Europe, food is also incredibly important. I think many European national identities are centred around food and its quality. In this sense, I'll distinguish Europe from America.

I think its in America where the quality of food is not really important. That's not to say that Americans don't enjoy good food, it's just that its not as central in culture. I mean, it's the country that invented fast-food. The grocery stores are filled with all sorts of imitation meats and an assortment of vegetables that are, frankly, over priced. I get green onions from the Indo-Pak grocery store for like 50 cents for a small bundle (about the same at Korean grocery stores) but at Whole Foods is like $2. My family gets our vegetables from the Indo-Pak store simply because their price reflects how frequently ingredients are used (and because they're fresh, of course). Growing up, I rarely ate frozen food (I still don't) so I've noticed I'm able to tell if food is frozen and microwaved.  There's a certain taste that's just ughh. Gordon Ramsay would be proud.

More about the culture differences:
In the West (mainly America, as I've pointed out the distinction with Europe earlier), eating food is seen almost as an inconvenience. School lunches are served because they're super cheap and affordable for public schools, despite the terrible quality. Many people eat on the go (fast-food), or to sustain themselves (frozen dinners, microwave meals, etc...), or to lose weight (vegan, gluten-free, fat-free, etc...). The one real good meal is supposed to be dinner.
In Japan, schools home-cook meals and children are taught not only how to cook, but how to cook nutritious and well-balanced food. They have a period designated with children going to the kitchen and helping the staff, bringing the food to the class room, setting up their tables, eating, brushing their teeth, cleaning up everything and taking them back to the kitchen. It's not like that in India, but many Indian children take "tiffin" or the American equivalent of "brown bag lunches" to school.

Eating: More is Good
There's also a focus on eating. It's seen as good and healthy if Asian children eat a lot of food. Eating well is cherished because it reflects a healthy appetite. I know this is something that's causing trouble in China and India now as obesity is on the rise due to lifestyle and socioeconomic changes (they're experiencing what America did several decades ago). The quality of food decreases, but the mindset that it's good to eat more prevails, leading to increased risk of metabolic diseases like diabetes. India has the highest percentage of people with diabetes because Indian food can be unhealthy if a person is sedentary. Indian people are generally active in their day-to-day life, walking everywhere, doing laundry by hand, and so on. So the high carb foods match activity well. However, as people become more sedentary and the food doesn't change, it's the perfect recipe for weight gain. Rice is a "side dish" that accompanies almost every dish (if not, it's naan or roti) and ghee is a favourite "topping" to add to food to make it buttery and delicious. My uncle is diabetic and one factor could be he eats an unproportionate  amount of rice to curry. In many Asian cultures, rice is a staple but its eaten not as a main dish, but as a side dish to complement the main meals. In Korea, rice is served on the side to balance really salty or really spicy foods like kimchi or nori. Its a similar case in Japan to have rice on the side to balance flavours.

Many Korean people will start a meal by saying "I'll eat well" which really reflects how you should eat food in Asian cultures. I'm not familiar with all the Japanese and Chinese eating customs, like never crossing chopsticks or placing them across the bowl and such. Indians mainly eat with our hands. There's an Indian joke that goes like this:

There's an Indian man in America eating at a restaurant. When the waiter serves the food, the Indian man gets up, washes his hands, and returns. He then begins to eat with his hands, much to the shock of the waiter and staff.
The waiter said "Sir, please use the utensils. Eating with your hands is barbaric"
The Indian man replied, "I will eat with my hands. It's much better than using your utensils"
The waiter asked "Why do you say that?"
The Indian man said (lol this is the punchline) "I don't know where your utensils come from or how they've been cleaned. I know I washed my hands and they are clean"

Eating with ones' hands is not savage or barbaric. Indian people enjoy the texture and warmth of food with their hands. Lately, I've gotten into Japanese and Korean cuisine so I've been using chopsticks a whole lot (simply because I want to eat the food as its meant to be eaten). I will, however, eat roti and naan with my hands. I remember going to an Indian restaurant in Atlanta with my family a while back and it was a hip and suave Midtown restaurant with a lot of American customers. The owners were Indian though. It was hilarious when we were served by an American waitress who tried to tell us the specials were "Naan, an Indian bread, and daal, which is type of Indian curry". Naan and daal are like the bread and butter of the West so we found it amusing. The portions were incredibly small compared to what the price suggested but we ordered anyway. When we got the naan, me and my parents begin to eat with our hands as usual and my brother was like "Don't be so obvious" because all the Americans around us were using their utensils.

I want to note that with all the Korean television I'm watching, I've noticed how central food is through variety shows. Often the prizes for winning games are like, beef sets or tteokbokki (rice cake) sets or even cooked food itself to be eaten on the show. In the most recent episode I've seen of a show called Knowing Brother, the prizes in a skit-segment were a box of two dozen eggs and a bag of rice. You can really feel the love Korean people have for food.

Vegetables in eastern cultures take on a variety of forms and flavours. There are so many dishes you can make, each with their own flavour. I've noticed that in the West, the vegetable dishes are unappetising and bland. If they are seasoned, it's limited to tossing on some salt, pepper, and other blends of oregano, tarragon, basil, thyme etc...  Asian cuisine is way more varied in type and taste. "Eat your vegetables" is not really something that needs to be said. In fact, I always wondered why I kept hearing it at school growing up. I realised why after school meals of bland boiled broccoli and tasteless steamed carrots. And even if they were "seasoned", it was with some dry seasoning sprinkled on. Obviously eating healthy would be harder if the options are limited to bland food. Of course, nowadays Americans are eating a lot of varied foods due to the multicultural nature of the country. I love this awareness that's been spread around about international cuisine, like when people tell me they like Indian food! Americans are experimenting more now with different type of food, so its a great improvement!

One thing I noticed that always got me curious was how Western people separate their food/ingredients on a plate. Take, for example, a stereotypical plate of American dinner: peas, mashed potatoes, and meat. The peas will have their own section on the plate, the mashed potatoes in the other half, and the meat separated as well. With Indian food, everything is mixed together. Same with Korean and Chinese food: all the ingredients and blended together in a dish that complements them. So if I were to eat the stereotypical American dinner, the peas and meat would be mixed with the mashed potatoes and eaten together, not separately. I was at a banquet with my AMSA (American Medical Student Association) and we were eating Moe's catering. All my Indian friends had mixed the rice, beans, and veggies together and one of them asked to the group "Do you all like mixing your food?" and I replied "Are you asking that because Chris isn't?" Our red-head friend Chris had everything separated and it spurred a conversation. The main reason we all mixed our food was taste. "If you separated food, you'd just be eating ingredients" one friend said. It's true, isn't it? Food is delicious when mixed with other flavours and ingredients.

Across many Asian cultures, dessert is often fruit. After a good spicy or savoury meal, eating a refreshing piece of fruit is the best. I myself prefer mangos when they're in season. Other Asian cultures will also cut up fruit after dinner. Having baked desserts like cakes, pies, or cookies is not done often except for special occasions.  There was a time where my family got obsessed with ice cream and we'd have that after dinner but it was a short-lived obsession. We returned to fruit shortly after. As evidence, I think we still have a tub of ice cream in the freezer that no one's eaten in like, a year. I think it's in there as a sort of memorial hahaha. I know in the West, dessert is associated with chocolate, baked goods, and sugar-sweetened treats. I love baking cakes and cookies but I don't do it often. When I do, I often have leftovers for weeks because no one will eat it, even if its tasty. It's just not as pleasurable to me as fresh, juicy fruits. I'll mention I loooove chocolate and I eat that all the time. After a meal, I'll cut mango, melon, pears (anything in season) and, if I have any, a few pieces of chocolate. I think this custom of having fruit for dessert is not only healthy, but way more enjoyable. Perhaps I've been obsessed more recently because its mango season and mango is may favourite. I've got two boxes downstairs and since they all ripen at around the same time, I can't wait for "Peak Week." It's a different sort of satisfaction.

Other Habits
It was in elementary school that I remember talking with a few friends about brushing our teeth. I mentioned that I did it in the morning and at night and one friend, Nathan Palmer, said to me "Isn't that pointless? You'll eat breakfast and your teeth will get dirty again." I noted that it was kind of true. Why did I brush my teeth first thing in the morning? Nonetheless, it was a habit that was hard to break. My parents said it was because the mouth is full of germs and stinky in the morning.  Back then, in the mornings I would come downstairs for breakfast and the first thing my parents would ask was "Did you brush your teeth?" I didn't realise this was a common thing across many Asian cultures like Korea and Japan (the ones I know for sure). It's a hygiene issue more than a food issue.

Digestion is also a focus on eating habits in Eastern cultures. My Dad always told me not to drink water during a meal, and if I had to, only take small sips. Only later on did I realise it was a Asian custom, not just something my Dad preferred. My whole family just doesn't drink anything with meals. If something is particularly spicy, I'll have to get up and fetch a glass of water. Yet it's so customary in America to serve water or cold drinks with every meal. I noticed at restaurants with friends, the servers will always be refilling their glasses but mine wouldn't be touched.
I think something else is also drinking water first thing in the morning and right before bed. I just got into the habit of doing it because I was always told to, but I looked it up and its also an "asian digestion" thing. Not really sure if it's true or works, but like I said, habits are hard to break.

Eastern Asians drink lots of green and white tea to improve digestions. Indians just drink chai as something to warm you up or invigorate oneself. It's had as an afternoon or evening snack and definitely for breakfast, but not really for the sake of good digestion. I think the American interpretation of tea is terribly misguided. Microwaving or electrically boiling hot water and then sticking a tea bag in it does not constitute tea. And the tea selection here is terrible! Bigelow tea tastes stale, like cardboard. And the tea they make at stores like Starbucks is equally disgraceful. I sampled every Teavana tea at Starbucks one day, from that white Youthberry tea to the Emperor's Mist tea. Nothing was good at all. Teavana tea likes to brand itself as a quality, exotic tea brand but you can buy relatively inexpensive tea in bulk at foreign stores that's 50 times better. Teavana just blends a ton of shit together and labels them, but for daily enjoyment, the staples are best.

Sitting/Sleeping on the Floor
This is considered normal/acceptable, though there's still the notion that if a couch is available, it's respectful for the more esteemed person to take it.
At large family gatherings, Indians take out all the blankets, comforters, and bed sheets and spread it on the ground. If there are beds available, the elderly, moms, and dads take those. Kids always sleep on the floor. In Japan and Korea, it's customary to sleep on futons and cushioned blankets spread on the floor as well. My mom considers it something to do on vacation and I myself really enjoy sleeping on the floor in the summer time. It's generally cooler and breezier on the floor you know~

Taking off Shoes
Many Americans don't wear shoes in their house. However, when guests arrive, Americans don't mind if they wear their shoes. At dinner parties, everyone has shoes on! Asians take off their shoes either outside the front door or in the front entry to the house. Large gatherings are especially interesting when people have to find their shoes again. It's a custom that I think makes the most sense: why bring dirty shoes all over the house? It's a matter of cleanliness. I think Indians in particular like the feeling of having bare feet. I don't remember wearing shoes all that often growing up. If I went to the park in front of my house, my front yard, or my back yard, I never wore shoes. Even if the tar street separating my house from the field of green was hot from the sun, i would just leap across with light steps. My whole family, I noticed, don't really use shoes unless absolutely necessary. When I went out with my cousins at family gatherings, our shoes were the last thing we'd think of. Once, my brother was driving us all back home from Ohio when he exclaimed "Shit, I forgot my shoes"
In other Asian cultures, I think the barefoot principle applies as well.

I hope you enjoyed this post! I'll update it whenever I think up something else!

Difference in Eastern vs Western Culture: Part 1- Love and Family

posted on: Friday, 24 March 2017

Hello everyone!
  I decided there were too many comparisons for one post, so I've decided to do a multi-part series. I am definitely not qualified professionally in any of these interpretations, which are based on my own life and that of my friends and the media I've consumed.

Part 1: Love and Family
I think growing up, the one thing I noticed that was entirely different with my life and that of my friends was the expression of love. Eastern culture is all about "silent love" or "mute love." I remember cringing when my mom first said "I love you" jokingly. She laughed too since it seemed so ridiculous. At the time, we were making fun of how Americans said "I love you" so often. She explained to me "Show love through actions, not words" which perfectly encompasses how Asians view love. Actions have more meaning to us than words. When I was angry at my mom, she would apologise not through words, but by cooking my favourite foods. Growing up, my family members and I never said "I love you." When I told this my best friend at the time, Rachel, she expressed shock. Americans believe that love must be expressed through words and gestures more so than actions. Here's an example of love felt through actions: It's a celebrity called Key who's calling his grandmother (who raised him) to get the recipe of his fav dish so that he and the hosts of this TV show can replicate it. He starts crying because he can feel her love through her offer to cook for him and send it over.

She doesn't directly tell him she loves him and misses him, but you can tell their true feelings. You'll note that I'm using Korean variety show clips as examples but it's because they're far easier to access than Indian films that are like, 5 hours long.  Also, not many Chinese or Japanese variety shows have as many English translations as Korean ones sooo that's that ;)

Now! So far, this has all been about familial love.
Romantic love in eastern culture may also be seen as kind of cold to westerners. Love is not just emotional feelings, but also realistic details like income and family background. Asians are more realistic when it comes to romance. It's a common saying "Romance after marriage" or "Love after marriage." In order for a relationship to work, one's partner must have similar values and a decent income to live comfortably. Once this is established, finding feelings for the other person will be easier. This could be why divorce rates are lower in Asian countries. It's just not something that's done. Recently, these things have become less strict. In India, you get to meet the groom-to-be on multiple "dates" or "courtships" for a longer period of time than before and you can now easily break it off if it isn't pleasing to you. 

I noticed that in the West, if your family doesn't like your boyfriend/lover/husband (or girlfriend/lover,wife), then it doesn't really matter. It may makes things difficult and there is the common "hatred of the in-laws" in so many films and movies, but this doesn't stop Westerners from being with the person they want to be with. It seems to them that the family isn't that important compared to the individuals' feelings. Asians will consider how the boyfriend/lover/husband will affect the family. Can the person get along with the family? How will the person act at family gatherings? Can this person perform customs and rituals? These are common concerns. 

Here's a graphic I learned about in my philosophy class:

Sense of Self: Eastern Cultures

Sense of Self: Western Cultures

The top is how the Asians perceive themselves. The bottom graphic is how Westerners perceive themselves. To Asians, it's a complex overlapping of "circles" or "entities" Asians are very considerate of how to behave with others, how to not insult others, how to respect others and so on. There's often a social hierarchy in Asian countries. In Korea, there's a whole separate set of words/language that you use for someone that is older than you, someone that's way older than you, and someone that's younger than you. It's similar to China. Language denotes respect to elders. In English, there is not such thing. Thus, youngsters and elders will use the same language with each other as they will to people their own age. In India, this isn't as prevalent language-wise, but in terms of action, you must respect your elders. I was taught to serve them with care, offer them water, snacks, or help in getting up and sitting down. Elders in Asian culture hold a special place in the social structure. They're wise and they've lived through life so it's important to respect and listen to any advice they give. In the West, there's a respect for wisdom but it isn't nearly as much as in the East.
This is why hospitality is central in Eastern cultures, as well as Middle-Eastern cultures (Turkey, Greece, Iran, Iraq etc...). Guests get the best service your household has to offer. The West is similar to this in that guests must be treated well, but many Asians will agree with how extreme we can get. In this same line, reciprocity is of utmost importance. If someone gives you something, you must return the favour with something of equal or greater value. This is done to avoid an unbalanced relationship and to make sure everyone is happy. You know when you do a lot for someone but they don't do the same? It's not a good feeling. Asian cultures recognise this and thus remedy it by always responding to favours. For instance, I bought Didem a Wendy's meal and even though she offered to Venmo me what she "owes", I didn't ask or want it because Didem's done a lot for me before. Something as small as a fast food burger is nothing and I would feel insulted if she tried to pay me for it. When I brought it over, she gave me a tonnnn of chocolate, tea, and fruit after we ate. She returned what I gave her with something of greater value. Therefore, neither of us are indebted greatly to the other. Westerners also have this belief of being self-sufficient in terms of meals and stuff, but Asians apply it to everything else, including inviting people and treating them.
One example, I once fought with Rachel in middle school because she kept inviting me over to her house to play and I kept accepting. Her family took care of me and I was enjoying myself, but I didn't invite Rachel over to my house with as frequently. So one night, Rachel invited me over again (although we'd hung out only a day or two before) and my parents said "no" when I asked. I inquired as to why, and my mom said "It doesn't look nice if she keeps inviting you over. You should invite her here next time. Anyway, you already saw her, why go back so soon?"
I understood the reasoning my parents had as a violation of reciprocity. I also respected their decision since I knew it didn't come from a place of spite or punishment, but of reason and respect. I told Rachel I couldn't go and she was getting upset for some reason. She kept wanting me to ask again and again and make arguments and support them etc... I didn't, at the time, understand why she couldn't get it.

 Households in the west are raised with the parents as the rulers and the children as the subject. There's all sorts of handbooks on discipline and punishment. If the child behaves badly, he goes to time-out. If the child does work, he gets paid an allowance. If the child is good, he's rewarded. If not, he's punished. The parents dictate what and how things happen. Like under any authoritarian rule, rebellions can happen.  In Asian households, the parents are at the top, but not just because they put themselves there. There's an understanding amongst the children that the parents are older and wiser. They're doing what they can to raise you and it's important to understand their sacrifices.  Of course, there are authoritarian conservative Asian families that spur rebellions from the children, but the values behind "parents" remains. I've noticed on the Korean variety show programs that celebrities will often cry when thinking of their families because I think Asian children love their families in a different way than Western children do. It's a love that's grateful. I noticed a lot of my friends growing up would complain about their parents like "My dad won't get me an Xbox" and stuff like that. My mom likes to fondly tell me that I would never complain or ask for unnecessary things. If my parents said "no" I would accept it. I think the few times I would persist, they would give me what I asked for because they knew then it was something important to me.

These are screenshots from my favourite variety show called "Knowing Brother". This was the part that made me cry. A lot of Western families always face the issue of what to do with ageing parents, as if its an inconvenience. Western culture glorifies youth whereas Asian cultures praise wisdom and age. It was never a question for me that when my parents get too old to work, that either my brother or I would take care of our parents. Asian children will live with their parents a lot longer than Western families and it's common to have grandparents live with the family instead of at nursing homes. I think the very thought of just tossing away your parents to a nursing home is in bad taste. Family bonds are a lot tighter in Asian cultures. Parents spend a great deal of their lives raising their kids, making sacrifices along the way, so it's understood that the kids should repay their parents by taking care of them in their old age. Again, you'll see this common theme of reciprocity.  There are customs that reflect this like, it's typical that when a child earns his or her first paycheck, he or she will give it to his/her parents. And, when the child starts making a stable income, he'll buy his parents a house or a car. My dad wants a sports car and my mom wants a nice home to retire in. I've seen many people, celebrities and family, doing this. There's a Pakistani youtuber called Zaid who bought his dad a brand new car and bought his parents a mansion-type house. A lot of Kpop celebrities buy their families houses or stores to help them fulfil their dreams in their old age.
The celebrity in the screenshots, Min Kyung Hoon, currently lives in a house with his parents even though he's 33. It's considered acceptable by society whereas in Western society, he would be looked down upon in a condescending manner like "Wow you still live with your parents?" Western children can't wait to be free of their parents but Asian children want to be with their parents for longer.
example: its expected that the first paycheck is spent/given to the parents in some form

When you misbehave, you're causing more trouble for the family and everyone else and this is not beneficial to all parties involved. 
Yes, we fight but it's always resolved quickly. For example, when my family attended family friend gatherings, we had to represent our family well. My brother and I were complimented on our good behaviour by others, who told our parents. So our parents were viewed as "good parents" are treated well by everyone. If I got upset or said something rude to either my mom or dad, by brother would pinch me or tell me off "Don't do stupid things" and such. If kids acted up or cried a lot, everyone would think negatively about the parents. The actions of the children affected the perception people had of the parents. Naturally, my brother and I didn't want that for our parents, so we always behaved well. This is why Asian families don't usually have huge difficulties with their kids. Of course, there are alwayssss going to be the tantrum throwing kids and so on, but in general, I think this is how it's like. Even if Asian parents are tiger moms or rude and cold to their kids, the kids will still love and respect their parents. In India, parents are considered "god" and so you must respect and obey them. In Asian cultures, obedience to family and elders is also of utmost importance. I noticed that in Western cultures, especially with religious fundamental ones, this is also important. However, with the religious fundamental groups, obedience is from a place of fear and necessity, whereas in Asian cultures, obedience is from a place of social order and balance.

I reached out to a friend out of concern for her health recently. I tried to appeal to her sense of family by telling her that she should take care of herself for the sake of her parents. Health in Asian cultures is the most important thing. Many phrases in languages indicate this. A common greeting is "Did you eat?", signifying the importance of food, and on New Years and holidays, wishes are always made for "Good health and prosperity." My mom once explained it well. "Health is the most important. If you have money but are in poor health, what is your life going to be like? You'll live a short life and you won't enjoy it properly"

In the West, the sense of self is so individual that a request like "Do it for your parents" doesn't have the same effect. She told me that she didn't want to do things that made her unhappy just for the sake of her parents. I totally understand that. I don't want to be a doctor or lawyer just because of my parents. All Asian kids have felt that before. But these wishes come from a place of love and concern. Our parents just want us to live comfortably and face no hardships in live. When it comes to health, Asian families are serious.

In Asian cultures, weight is often commented on and criticised openly within a family. Aunts will discuss how so-and-so gained weight and doesn't look good. I noticed this a lot with Korean and Chinese families too. This sort of criticism can be hurtful, but Asians hope that this will compel someone to change through diet and exercise. My mom will comment sometimes if my "legs are looser" and right away, I'll go to the gym and work on it. They don't say these things to hurt you, they say it to compel you. In Asian families, there is no pretense. You don't have to worry about speaking politely or with pretence. Honesty and openness is key. Parents will tell you the 100% truth. They'll tell you if you're fat, if you're not doing well in school, if you're life goals are ridiculous etc... Western parents try to be more gentle and caring. Eastern parents care more about honestly, although it may be brutal.

I think this was pretty comprehensive. If you have any contradictions or additions to make, please comment and let me know! I may have generalised too broadly in certain areas and I'm open to corrections~

Goodbye Winter, Hello Spring

posted on: Monday, 20 March 2017

Hellooo everyone!
  I still haven't made this blog private! I kind of need it to be active for my computer science homework/project. I need to make a personal webpage from scratch using HTML/CSS and part of the requirement is to link to other sites. So I've linked to here and Pages using the cute buttons on the sidebar (y'all should do the same ;) ) to make them relevant. I don't have Instagram or Facebook unlike everyone else; they're using their social media links.

 This winter was definitely a time of growth for me. As you've read in the previous post, I "discovered" Korean culture through television and musical groups, particularly Super Junior and SHINee. They're hardworking culture and emphasis on health and food really spoke to me and especially my own background, which is quite similar. I've noticed I haven't done anything of worth this past semester, except for one or two things. I really want to work hard, so I've looked up research from faculty at the school I attend and I've been emailing around to the professors whose research interests me. Obviously, I'm not going to find a cure for cancer, but I want to have some sort of impact somewhere.

Apart from that, I felt a sense of gratitude to all my friends around me. I never realised how lucky I was to have people that enjoyed spending time with me and vice versa. I've definitely learned to treat them better, if only through small gestures like getting them a refill or a Wendys meal hahaha. I think friendship is truly one of the best experiences one can ever have. To commemorate my newfound sense of self, I've made this collage of moments from this "spring" semester, which has honestly been more of a winter one so far.
Starting from the top left and moving down and to the right:
I FaceTime-d Eleni, who currently lives in Hawaii, and we had a great time catching up! If I ever vacation in Hawaii, I'm going to get the full experience: kava, traditional Hawaiian medicine, beaches, parties etc... Below is Chaewon: "Piazza is social media". Our school uses this site called Piazza where professors, TAs, and Students can all communicate. A student can post a question, which is open for everyone to answer. We were joking about how it was like social media because Chaewon would spend her free time answering questions for other people. We're such nerds lol.

Then there's a snap that Didem took of me when we were at this historic city square and I was probably sassing her. Beneath that is a Turkish dinner/gathering ("wine party") at Didem's house that actually look place a few nights ago. It was mainly her family, who'd all gathered outside in the patio with a table full of wine bottles and giant pans of food. I enjoyed this rice dish with tomato sauce and an amazing Mediterranean salad. What was really funny was that everyone was smoking through like, twenty packs of cigarettes and a whole shelf of wine at a liquor store. Not to mention Didem's cousin starts smoking raw tobacco from a pipe. She's also the one that cracked a wine glass from toasting too much. It was a great environment to be in! I've posted a song  below that played on the speakers they had--it's one of my favs now!

The top right is me with my friend Taylor <3. We went hiking up this mountain that's basically in my backyard. It was sooo warm and sunny, you can barely see my eyes since my transition lenses were full-on. I've recently picked up on my workout routine that I had last year. Once you start, it's quite hard to stop. I've actually put on a couple of pounds in the past few weeks! Beneath that is a snap Eleni sent me which perfectly describes me now. I'm so into cooking good food nowadays. My specialty is ramen. I can make anything into a ramen noodle soup dish. I've adopted a Korean side dish of cucumbers marinated in sesame oil, soy sauce, and sugar. It's almost on par with a Japanese dish called "gomae" which is lightly blanched spinach mixed with toasted sesame seeds, soy sauce, and (my version) white wine. I'd been posting so many of these on my story that people have nicknamed me Kirthi Ramsay (Taylor did, but it caught on). Right beneath that, and the final photo, is goat cheese from Turkey. Didem's grandmother made it herself and sent it over. Let me tell you that it was unlike anything I've had before. It had no smell but an amazing flavour. 

As promised, here's the song:

I think for a future post, I'd like to discuss the differences between Western and Eastern cultures. Lately, I've noticed how easily I get along with people from "my" part of the world: Iranians, Indians, Koreans, Chinese, Turkish etc... I started to become aware of this this past year because my school is quite diverse. Because of this awareness, and my avid interest in Korean television, I started realising that the things I was raised to do were not just my parents being weird, but cultural beliefs in the eastern part of the world. For example, I don't drink a lot of water during a meal. I either drink before or after. Apparently, this is to help digestion. I also drink a lot of water in the morning and before bed, and I learned recently this further improves digestion. Eating fruit for dessert is common in India, China and Korea for sure. My family will cut up whatever fruit is in season. Right now, it's mango. During the summer, it's melons. I always wanted fruit after eating dinner because the meals are always savoury and spicy, so I want something juicy and sweet to balance it. Anyway! All these little things are part of a broader cultural difference that I'd love to explore in a future post. Look out for it~~

Best of luck with the rest of the semester :)
Work harddd

New Year: 2017

posted on: Sunday, 8 January 2017

Hello everyone!
   This will be my last public post on this blog as it will soon be made private. I have 7 followers,  you guys, so I won't be missed here! I'll put more effort into my life and book blog, where I have a larger following, so support me at!

  My reflection for this past year is that it was quite bad. I've grown a lot and I've reflected on my actions quite a bit. I felt like I was a character in a bad film and that the real me was floating above, watching it all happen passively. I let myself down in that aspect. I didn't put true effort in many aspects of my life. After I got into a car accident in May, I was told I couldn't exercise vigorously as I'd been doing before. I lost my confidence and I wanted the world to just stop, and I wanted to live the same way in that moment for as long as I could. However, I think my entire family knew I needed some change. Thus, I transferred to Georgia Tech. It was way more challenging than my old institution and I wanted desperately to give it my best shot and do well. I took only a hand full of courses but instead of putting all my efforts into school, I tired myself out, convinced myself I needed rest and some sort of entertainment. I believed that hard work could be compromised and I knew the whole semester that I wasn't doing my best. Consequently, I performed poorly and knew 100% that the blame was on me. No matter how hard an ordeal is, it's important to never give up and give it your best. I lost sight of that in part due to a loss of confidence in myself. I was a transfer student, my body was tired from not exercising seriously since my accident, and more and more I felt my personality change so that I became isolated from people. I'm thankful to the couple of people that noticed and supported me. My study buddy Vivian tried her hardest to encourage me and I regret not being able to match her dedication to her classes. She did well thanks to her hard work and I hope to be just like that this next semester. I know my shortcomings this past year and I'll try my best to be a better person in general.

 These reflections are in part inspired by someone I discovered quite recently. His name is Kim Heechul, a singer from a Korean band called Super Junior which has been around for over a decade. I saw myself in him and connected to his story. He's introverted but works so incredibly hard. His band had been going through a lot of criticism, his company (the company that creates and basically rules the bands they contract) were incredibly tough on the band, thus it was like a battle scene. The bandmates didn't want to fail because it would bring down the whole band. When Heechul got into a really bad car accident amidst all this criticism, he did his best. His leg was shattered and he needed five metal bars inserted to remedy the damage. He still danced through the pain and even bended the metal bars because he was pushing himself. In order to not faint during the band's live performances, he bit his tongue so hard it split and needed stitches. He couldn't speak for a week. It was similar when he was drafted in the Korean army (every male Korean in South Korea must serve for 2 years). When he first arrived, he pushed himself too far to the point where he needed to go to the infirmary for pain medications. This has really inspired me because I think I haven't held myself accountable to others. It's okay if I disappoint myself because I just have to deal with my own emotions. But to let others down is devastating. Therefore, my resolution this year is to hold myself to a higher standard as if other people's lives depended on it. Heechul got a lot of criticism for the way he was, sassy, sarcastic, looked like he didn't care etc... and I really relate to this. I'm sassy and sarcastic and living in the south where politeness is key (much like South Korea), this can be a fault. Despite this, Heechul never stopped trucking through the dirt and his success is earned.

 I probably won't be placed in the same circumstances as Heechul ever, but I want to emulate his amazing personality and be someone respectable. I had another revelation this year: live your life. My best friend always said that and I thought it was just something funny he said when I asked him "Should I eat it because I'm really craving chocolate right now" or "I don't know if I should go bc I kind of want to but...." I wrote about this in a previous post and I thought this meant I could do whatever I wanted. Yet, this was making me unhappy. I was disappointed in myself for not doing what I should have done and instead giving into all the "guilty pleasures." I know now that I should be a balance of Heechul and myself. Working hard and succeeding will result in happiness because you'll know you've done your best, you'll have accomplishments, and because of this, you can enjoy yourself. I never realised how true it was until the end of 2016. This is why in 2017, I will not give up and I seriously will try my best at everything I do.

 I feel like as a leader in my club, I haven't done anything at all. I barely know the names of my members. My goal is to become close with club members and make the AMSA Global Health Fair the best it's been since it's inception like, literally last year.
 Another goal is to get straight As in my classes. I'll put 100% into my academics because doing poorly in school puts me back in confidence and life.
 My final goal is to make true friends. 2016 was really a year where my friendships were put into crisis because I was failing myself, thus failing others. I hope that I'll meet people along the way that will become friends for life.

Here's a cover that Heechul sang a looooong time ago that I absolutely love. Skip to :25 ;)

massive update post + thoughts

posted on: Monday, 26 December 2016

If there were an omniscient god who was present in the day-to-day lives of every single human being on the planet, a "perfect" God, I could only imagine that each person would have to have their own personal god. And if God favoured one person and answered that prayer, would he not act against the immediate "loser". So if I prayed for victory in a football match and God answers my prayers and delivers me victory, then isn't he acting against the opposing team? What if someone on the opposing team prayed for victory? Life is too intricate for there to be an all-powerful God. Even if there were a God, how would this being be "perfect". Perfection is objective, it's in the eye of the beholder. If humanity is imperfect and flawed, than what is the "perfect" version of ourselves? It does not exist in our reality, as all humans are flawed, so how can we think of a "perfect human"?

This is why religion doesn't do it for me. Dogma is subjective, it relies on what other people consider to be "perfect" or "moral." Do we really need the Bible to tell us not to kill other beings? If I'm not a Christian that believes in the Christian dogma, therefore the 10 Commandments, does that mean I am suddenly filled with the desire to murder? I do not need someone to tell me what is so obviously right and wrong. The values of a society change over time and it has nothing to do with religion, the dogma of which remains the same as it did thousands of years ago. Christians today look back at the Old Testament and say it's obsolete, that it's not what true Christians believe nowadays. They say this using a sense of morality that obviously doesn't come from their own dogma. In fact, the Bible has multiple editions and versions that have been edited over time to match the values of the society at the time. Therefore, the progress of society's morality is separate from dogma. If this is the case, then my morality does not come from religion, but from what is inherently my own and that of my society. I have never wanted to kill another person, not from the moment I was born. I draw upon John Locke's argument of "tabula rasa": we are not born sinners. In fact, sin itself is something I have a problem with, but that'd draw this conversation along way too far.

My point is, I choose my own happiness, my own path, without the influence of religion or what other people believe. I think each person creates his or her own reality. This reality is either similar to the reality of many others, or it is deluded and far-stretched from the mean. For instance, people born to extreme privilege, power, and wealth exist in a different reality than the poor homeless on the streets.

I've come to the realisation that you should do what you want to do in life. Let go of things that are holding you back and move on with your life. My problem is that I become attached. I'm empathetic sometimes to a fault. I'll put up with stuff from other people when they're 90% annoying and only 10% decent because I look at the 10%, not the 90%. It's still that way even now, except I've learned to recognise when to let go for my own sake. When you give too much of yourself to someone else, it becomes hard to distinguish your true desires from the desires of others. Mild detachment is not horrific. You'll learn to enjoy life more. It's liberating. Don't concern yourself with what others think is right and wrong because as I've said before, morality is objective.

I've been to a few holiday parties and without concerning myself with the issues of my personal life, or the issues of other people that affect me, I let loose and had quite a bit of fun! I was more social than usual, less cynical, and more aware of the good things around me. Below is proof of how happy I was:

Making new friends
With this message of positivity comes well wishes for the new year! I've started early on my resolutions: working out at the gym, eating right, and reading books. Your body will be with you for the rest of your life, it'll last as long as you do, so treat it right! My other resolution is way harder: finding a romantic interest. The one I had in middle school/high school is not doing it for me now. I'm getting caught in my usual trap: I'm the one inviting the dude out, texting first--everything. I think he likes me but I'm losing interest. I fall for shy people but I think an outgoing person is what I need most. Thoughts?

Bonus Photos: Korean Karaoke night with my Tech friends! Me and four other girls, all Korean, decided to drive to little Korea in Duluth to go to Korean Karaoke, the Super H-Mart (a Korean grocery store), and enjoy some authentic Korean food for dinner.

I apologise for this massive update post but allow me this selfishness. I'd like to think of this blog as an online journal, as I sure as hell wouldn't print out all these photos to paste in my actual journal. I'm considering making this blog just private because I have been treating it as an online journal instead of a professional publishing blog. Pages will always be professional, so if I do make this blog private, you can still find me on my book blog!

Thank you for reading! Hope you have a happy new year and comment with any thoughts ;)

finals week and the start of winter break

posted on: Friday, 16 December 2016

Hello everyone!
Finals week is finally over and though my grades this semester are definitely not stellar, I am convinced that my first semester at Georgia Tech has taught me a lot about how competitive schools teach and what they expect of students. I'm anticipating straight As from now on! 
My first Tech finals week was intense. The one building called  Clough Undergraduate Learning Commons is the main building for most students. The first floor has several large, accommodating lecture halls. The second floor features the tutoring and undergraduate offices as well as a highly profitable Starbucks. The third, fourth, and fifth floors contain classrooms as well as lab rooms and large study spaces. The fourth floor has the entrance to the library, which along with study spaces has a wide selection of recent DVDs and various in-demand resources. I've studied in this one building the entire semester and that wasn't going to change for finals. The Starbucks was packed, and finding a decent study table was a challenge. When my group found one, we claimed it for the rest of the day. From say, 11 in the morning to 11 in the night, it was our home. The large whiteboards served as sunblocks during the day and study tools during the night. 
While studying, my group has a rhythm going. When despair settled in and it became late (from around 7-9), we would take a Starbucks trip together for a sweet treat as well as an energy boost. Naturally, being with the same small group of people for 12 hours a day for several days caused our real selves to be revealed. My sarcasm and biting sass was let loose and met in equal by my Korean counterpart, Chaewon. The stressed one in the group was Vivian, who reminded us that we all needed to do well by constantly stating that she needed to do well. The others, Katie T. and Laura Y. provided a fresh change to the usual dynamic. In the end, these long nights and few hours of sleep ended. For some, it yielded great results. For others, not so much. The point is: we're done.  Here are a few snapshots of crazy hard studying.

As soon as my last finals day was over, I went home and slept in beautifully. The following day was a blissful day of sleep and food and laziness. Soon after was a fun day with my best friend, whom you all know, Didem. We met up at 3:45 and we parted ways at 11:45. It hardly seems like 8 hours have passed when you're having fun. The 8+ hours of studying per day during finals week definitely felt way longer. It's refreshing to experience the same stretch of hours in two different circumstances. Here are a few shots from today!

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