A Night of Pizza and Stars

The week started off nicely. I voluntarily attended Pollack’s lecture in the morning, did some reading, had lunch with Kimmy and then went to the gym in the afternoon. Kim and I took Creative Writing together last Fall and she’s just my favourite little freshman because of how sharp she is. I wish I was half as clever and confident as she is when I was a freshman. She swiped me into a dining hall and it felt surreal to have lunch at Commons and think about how I used to go there all the time. It made me reckon with how long its been since I first got here in 2013.

Freshman enthusiastic about dining hall ice cream.

Later that evening, Hui Jie and I trekked to DRL (this crappy math building on the edge of campus) because, as part of an Astronomy class we’re taking, we had to complete this activity about observing the moon and that’s where the telescopes are. It was pretty cool! I am quite sure that was my first time using a telescope and seeing the moon up close was just breathtaking.

After we did our moon observation, we went to Dock St for my favourite pizza place in West Philly. Hui Jie had never been there before and I was so excited for her to try the pear and brie pizza. We used to have a tradition of getting spinach + mushroom + ricotta pizza delivered, so I proposed going to Dock St for a little bit of an ~upgrade~ haha.

Hence, the title of this blog post, which she coined, by the way:

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How regrettable that there’s proof of me typing “uve”—how lazy must I be?!

Other than that, this week has been rather uneventful. Just the usuals: gym, class, read, eat, sleep. But still, here are 5 of my highlights from the week in unnecessarily rambly paragraphs.

First, I haven’t gotten sore from the gym in the past 2-3 weeks even though I’ve been consistently doing the same things. I literally thought this day would never come. I guess that means I should start doing a little bit more. Hmm. Honestly, that’s what I love most about working out. It really gives you an appreciation for how your mind quits before your body does. Anyone who knows me knows that I am 100% in support of ~listening to yourself~ because that’ll tell you what’s “too much”, but I also think there’s a value in being able to tell that inner voice to just. shut. up.

Obviously, that’s not without boundaries lah kan—I’m not going to be running on the treadmill for at top speed for 2 hours straight in my current state but still, I think it’s such a valuable skill to be able to responsibly set a reasonable target for yourself and then ignore the crap out of the whiny voice tempting you to quit. I was thinking about that yesterday at the gym. Like, when I’m struggling to follow the instructor in a class, I realise I kind of “switch modes” into a “my feelings don’t matter” mental state. It’s just really interesting though, because a) I’m always uncertain about whether or not I’m setting appropriate goals and b) you really have to be cautious/responsible, I think, about sliding in and out of that feeling-less state.

Second highlight is a short one: I told Jamie about some songs on my “at the mo” playlist, which is my condensed playlist of whatever songs I’m currently listening to (and it’s on the sidebar of this site) and she has been playing it non-stop and I love it!!! I love it when people actually like my recommendations.

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She has literally been listening to it the entire time I’ve been writing this post ❤

Third, I have found two new favourite blogs to read right now. One of them is my friend Nate’s, please read it here. Nate is a recent Penn graduate, and I know him because we were in the same Psychology class last Spring. (In fact, I’ve mentioned him on here before, in a post from that semester!) He’s currently a Fulbright scholar in Kampung Gajah, Perak of all places! I absolutely love reading about his day to day life in Malaysia, and getting glimpses of what it’s like to experience my home country as an outsider, particularly because he’s living in a more rural area—something I don’t really have experience with. In one post, he wrote about trying “Maryland chicken” because he’s from Maryland and was curious about it—it cracked me up so much. In another post, he wrote about this whole episode he had with a pothole in some jalan belakang, and his attempt to file a police report about it. I thought it was so funny how well I could relate to all the confusion and frustration he felt despite having never filed a police report myself. He has also repeatedly mentions “Malaysian hospitality” and that really intrigued me because I never really thought about that growing up in Malaysia and part of me wonders what he’s getting at and whether it’s just a product of him being enthralled by a foreign place/culture. Also, Nate is just a fantastic writer; his narration is consistently introspective and entertaining and I’m always looking forward to his next posts.

The other blog I really like is Amal’s. Read it here! I don’t know Amal personally and we’ve never even met—she’s a friend of my friend Nadia and to be honest, I’m not entirely sure how I came across her blog in the first place but I’m so glad I did. On my blog, I always get caught up writing about whatever I did during the week and whatnot, without ever really putting in the time and effort to focus on one specific thing I’m thinking about or doing and just expand on it, which is what I’d like to do more of. But Amal does that and she does it really well. Her most recent post was all about her nose bleeds and it sounds weird but it was actually really entertaining to read, for some reason. She’s also a lot more open and honest with her posts which makes them so meaningful to me, especially since she is studying in Canada (which has a similar education system to the US) and, based on her posts, is still kind of figuring out what to do with her future (like me) and is trying to navigate where she fits in between the two cultures (also like me). Anyway, here are some of my favourites from her blog: Potonglah Bawang Sikit, about the way us girls are socialised; Pride and Opinions, in which she uses her hatred for mermaid skirts (which I proudly share) to talk about strong opinions in general; and Displaced in Space, where she talks about fitting in, or rather, not fitting in anywhere.

Fourth, it snowed today so Astronomy got cancelled this morning!!! For some reason I haven’t been getting good sleep all week, but this morning, oh god, this morning was bliss. Hui Jie and I usually have lunch together (with Ken, of course!) after Astro but today we went to the Quad to take some pictures. We weren’t even there for very long and yet, she still managed to turn the trip into a snow fight. Granted, I threw the first snowball but I swear, it was only because I could see her putting on her coat, overtly eyeing the pile of snow, haha.

Fifth, I really loved the most recent episodes of The Truth podcast! Their whole thing is that they make “movies for your ears” and I promise you they live up to that lofty promise. The other day, I recommended “Dark End of the Mall”. Today, I’m imploring you to listen to Mirror Lake (it’s the second part of the episode) and to A Drop of the Ocean. I can’t say much without giving it away so just trust me, okay? Listen to it. They blew my mind.

So yeah, like I said, the week was kind of uneventful. 3/5 of my highlights are… on the internet LOL. Anyway, hopefully I’ll have more interesting things to write about next week. Until then, thanks for reading. ❤

Fall not-quite-Break

Hello! We’re at week 7 now!

I’ve just finished Fall Break which was Thurs-Sun, but if I’m honest, it really didn’t feel like a break at all. Three of the four days, I had a 9 a.m. start to my day. Friday, particularly was packed with gym class, career services appointment, office hours, working at the lab… it felt like just any other weekday. And because I had SO MUCH homework, the break felt even busier than some weekends.

Recently, I’ve been really enjoying working at the Psycholinguistics lab. First of all, it’s in the new Neurobehavioural Sciences building on campus so the facilities are like, top notch and it’s super clean and pretty. The lab I’m working in isn’t a lab you’d normally think of: no chemicals or frogs or rat or anything like that. I’m currently analysing speech and coding for certain dimensions of conversations. It’s funny to take something I do everyday (converse) and dissect it into snippets and label it etc. But yeah, the room the lab is in is really nice. It’s so nice that I’ve been spending a lot of time there because there’s a lot of privacy and a reclining chair (I was too cheap to spend an extra $20 on a reclining chair for my own room two years ago, sigh).

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I did manage to have some fun during break, though. On Saturday, I went to brunch with Lanee and Shahirah at Sabrina’s. I hadn’t been there since like the spring of my Sophomore year so I was very excited to go back. Lanee and I went half-half with a savoury dish and a sweet one and I was so thankful because I love love love eggs but really wanted some of the maple-syrup-coated stuffed french toast. Back home with my family, I’d usually get one of my sisters to split two things with me, but I try my best to refrain from asking anyone else to do that with me. However! That day, Lanee was the one who brought it up and that just made my day, haha.

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Oh! I have to say, my favourite part of fall break was binge-reading The Girl on the Train on Wednesday. I was really tired because on Wednesday night, I had just submitted my 2nd paper within one week (that’s about 4500 words combined, which is a feat for me; I hate academic writing) but I had been so excited to start reading the book that I just went for it anyway. It was so good. I’m not about to do a whole book review here, but Hawkins made it so easy to look at each character complexly and see the story through multiple lenses which is what I absolutely loved about it. I read the book in preparation for watching the movie on Saturday night and I almost maybe kinda wish I hadn’t? Because the movie version never compares to the book version. I left the theatre wishing I could see it fresh. But with that said, the movie was still good although definitely not for the faint-hearted. Clare and I watched it on Saturday night and we had a great time 🙂

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Anyway, in general, things are going ok. I know I haven’t really been writing about my regular weeks and what’s been going on, but that’s because I feel like nothing super interesting has happened? I haven’t gone out to do anything fun, I see the same 5 people always and on average I have like 200 pages of compulsory reading every week so I spend most of my time on my laptop doing that…

I guess there have been some fun things. Yuna came to campus for  a little forum slash discussion thing but I only took one picture with her and no one told me my shirt was super wrinkled so I’m not posting that LOL. Hubbub also hosted a little Gilmore Girls promo thing last Wednesday and I queued for an hour to get a cup of coffee in the Gilmore Girls promo cup with the Luke’s Diner sleeve hahaha.

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I’m actually at Hubbub again right now as I’m writing this, waiting for my meeting with my research advisor to start while tidying up my History notes because I have my first exam in that class next week! I have something major due/an exam every week starting from week 3 to week 13 before I get a one and a half week “break” and then it’s finals. So I guess it’s a good thing I didn’t get a break these past few days?? So that I don’t risk losing momentum?? Haha I don’t know. Pray I don’t burnout guys THANKS. Byeeeeee.

I kinda lose it a little this week. | Fall 2016

When I was maybe 7 or 8, I was outside of my primary school waiting for the bus. I remember counting coins to see whether or not I had enough money to buy an aiskrim pensel, which was my utmost favourite at the time. I didn’t. I thought that the ice cream man thought I was going to buy something, so when I realise I couldn’t, I just smiled awkwardly and walked away. He called me back and scooped me some ice cream onto a cone for free. I was so profoundly surprised and touched. Especially now, looking back, it really overwhelms me because I know he probably didn’t make much. He must’ve felt sorry for me. But whatever it was, I was really happy.

Then, one day, I saw a police van in front of the school and some police men talking to the ice cream man. I had no idea what was going on but the ice cream man seemed like he was pleading with the police about something and they weren’t budging. They carried his motorcycle into the van and must’ve asked him to come along with them because they all left together. I still have no idea what happened. I don’t even remember whether or not I saw him again after that. But until today, I wonder what happened to him and wish him well.

I’m just currently sitting at Hubbub trying to write a paper thinking about this memory and decided I couldn’t use it to write a full paper so I thought I’d tell you because I don’t think I’ve ever told anyone about that memory before.

So yeah, for my memoir writing class, I’m supposed to write a paper about myself in primary school which is why I’m here combing through my sekolah rendah memories when I just got caught on that particular one because I don’t seem to be making progress on my paper. I mean, I’m supposed to come up with a 1500-2000 word essay on something and I have no idea what memory is significant enough to expand into that length. Eventually, my frustration lead me here where I am seeking refuge in a space I feel like I can just ramble about whatever’s on my mind, haha.

You know, it’s just so annoying because I thought I was good-ish(?) or at least like, okay, at writing about myself and yet I’ve spent 2 days going back and forth between things to write about and feeling like my writing doesn’t sounds forced, like it doesn’t sound like me without inserting my “um” and “like” and “you know?” throughout the essay.. I don’t know how to make it work! And it just sucks feeling like you’re not good at doing something you want to do.

Which brings me to my other thing. Last week, I mentioned that I had to do case practice. If you don’t know what that is, basically, if you’re interviewing for consulting jobs, a huge part of the job interview is solving a business case. And I’ve been practicing for a couple of weeks and I feel like I still suck. Like really suck. An interesting  piece of feedback I got today from someone I didn’t know well was that I have “a great personality” but that I’m “not using it” and again, that’s so annoying (!!!!) because I hate feeling like I’m wasting my potential and I might ruin my chances at doing something I want to do.

I don’t know. I want to end this post on an optimistic note but right now I just feel like I need to be straight up honest about how the past few weeks have just been a rollercoaster of emotions. Super confident and excited one moment and then almost completely lost and hopeless the next.

And um, yeah. That’s… all I have for you this week I guess. I’m sorry this was a downer but that’s just where I’m at right now. Until next week. ❤️


(An update, 2.5 hours after initially publishing this)

Hi again. Um. I feel better now, hahaha.

See what I meant about the whole ups and downs thing? Anyway! There was actually a couple of things I wanted to blog about this week 🙂

First of all, I made sweet sour dory for the first time by myself and it was so good!!!! This is something we make a lot at home and I was just so excited to have a taste of something very familiar. It’s a little troublesome to make just because you have to fry the fish in batter and then make the sauce separately and I usually prefer to make one-pot meals. But it was totally worth it. I woke up extra early on Saturday just to cook this because I knew it was going to be a jam-packed day and I just wanted to make room for one hour where I get to just do something that makes me happy.

It annoys me that this isn’t a great picture at all, but I just took one picture to send to my mum and then forgot to take any more haha.

I also made sweet corn soup which is incredibly easy to make (a can of corn, some water, beat an egg in, toss in some crab sticks and add salt/pepper to taste!) and was also satisfying because it’s something I’ve loved since I was a kid. In fact, I’m finishing up the last of it as I type this and it’s still so good.

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Earlier in the week, I also made this like chicken salad mix thing my mum makes sometimes at home, except, I took it up one notch by adding celery, cranberries and roasted pecans. I swear to God you guys, it was amazing. The bits of cranberries really made all the difference. I was quite sad as I finished the last of it on Friday. That’s really saying a lot too, because I don’t really like chicken. But it’s also super low-maintenance in that all I had to do whenever I wanted to eat was just add a scoop of this chicken mix into a bowl of salad or spread it on a slice of bread. So yeah, very delicious and super easy.

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The only like, really ~fun~ thing I did this week was go to Manakeesh with Busra for desserts like baklava and knafeh—so good! It really helped me unwind because, as I explained earlier, this semester has just been a lot. We ended up hanging out for almost 3 hours and it was just really nice to put everything on pause for a bit.

So yeah, those are the highlights of my week. If you’re reading up to this point, I apologise for what a disjointed post this is. It truly truly truly is a representation of how piecemeal my life has been lately. Ok, now I’ll really leave you until next week! 🙂

Week 15: Superstars

I want to start by acknowledging that I do complain about Penn a lot. It is overwhelmingly competitive, stressful, tiring and annoying. It’s like trying to take a sip from a waterfall, sometimes. But of course, waterfalls can also be wonderful. This past week was pretty great, and I am writing while looking out my window, realizing for the first time this semester that the trees are green again.

Today, I had lunch with Professor Pollack who teaches my International Political Economy class. Anyone who knows me knows that I rave about his class constantly. I have to write 5 two-page papers for his class (and again, if you know me, I utterly despise writing papers for classes) but even while I’m writing my IPE papers I’m like “OMG I love this class!!!” First, Professor Pollack is exceptionally engaging in the classroom and he’s so good that, quite ashamedly, it’s the first semester I’ve had a perfect attendance record for a 9 a.m. class.

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Pollack explaining that he searched for “Asian Tigers” on Google images and thought this was too cute not to use.

The course content is also really interesting; it covers topics like economic history, financial and sovereign debt crises, trade and multilateral agreements, monetary policy, development etc using the framework of interests and institutions. So like, what are the interests of the different groups of society when it comes to trade, for example? What are the roles of domestic and international institutions? I think the framework is also really useful to learn because I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t know a lot about the world, but this class truly has helped me learn to become an informed member of society… if that makes sense.

Anyway, enough nerd talk. Lunch with Professor Pollack was so much fun. I understand professors are accomplished people with busy schedules so the fact that he willingly sat down with me and my friend Christina for two and a half hours just talking about what he’s learned from being in his field, from teaching, from parenting and from life in general really meant so much to us. He talks about the colleagues he admires and calls them “superstars” but oh my god, as far as Penn professors go, he’s definitely one of my superstars. I’ve said it before, but I think people who offer their time and their insights to others so kindly are so generous and I am thankful to know people like that.

And speaking of superstars, (wow, what a smooth transition!) apparently, Penn is full of them. In the past two weeks, I’ve gotten to see 2 shows put on by Penn students. The first was Memphis, put on by the African American Arts Alliance. It’s set in the 1950s and centers around a white DJ, Huey, who plays black music on the radio, and falls in love with an African-American singer, Felicia. I went to see it because my friend Habeeb was in the band, playing the drums, and I’m so glad I decided to go because I had so much fun!

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Me smiling super wide because I was SO proud of Habeeb!!!!

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I had just met Sylvia the week to prior to this but I was so thrilled to see that she was one of the dancers in the show.

This past weekend, I saw All Shook Up, put on by the Quadramics Theatre Co. It’s a whole musical built up of Elvis’ hits and it’s some kind of a love pentagon (?) kind of story which starts off with this “roustabout” coming to town and shaking things up. My god, I, love, musicals. LOVE THEM. Seriously, I had such a great time. And considering I went to see the show alone, I really had a great time.  Like the other show, I went because my friend Clare is involved with it. We had brunch a couple of weekends ago (at the place with the best hot sauce I’ve had in America) and she told me about how she’s assistant stage manager so I wanted to go support her and again, I’m infinitely glad I did. I’m so, so proud of her! Plus, I later found out that my classmate from cultural psychology, Nate, was also one of the cast members. I was also happy to see him perform and was just amazed by his (and the other cast members’) performance.

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Brunch with Clare at Renata’s Kitchen!!

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I wish I took better pictures of the show lol

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That’s Nate in the front/left 🙂

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With Clare after the show!

Not only were the two shows spectacular, but I also really love taking a step back to just be in awe of the amount of talent I am surrounded by here on campus. Because, I mean, on a day to day basis, it gets overwhelming. I sometimes feel like I’m the only one here who isn’t doing 50 things at once. But other times I get to realize how lucky I am to be around friends and other Penn kids who are just… remarkable.

Watching All Shook Up was just one part of a great fling weekend, though. So, if you’re not from Penn, Spring Fling is what some people refer to as a “weekend of debauchery” — there is a carnival in the Quad, a huge concert on Friday night (this year we had Chance the Rapper, last year was Kesha and the year before, we had David Guetta), and, from what I gather, many many many frat parties. As you can imagine, that’s not a lot of fun for me. I don’t love the crowd and I don’t wanna fork out the money to go see a performer I won’t enjoy, so I’ve never had the “conventional” fling experience. Instead, my friends and I do what’s fun for us. On Friday, I went to Fairmount Park with Hui Jie, Jamie and Selina. We saw the quaint little Shofuso Gardens and took lots of silly pictures. Later that night, Adel and Ahsen had a bunch of MSA people over at their place and we played Mafia and ate desserts and somewhat surprised Sanaa for her birthday at midnight 🙂 On Saturday, as is tradition now for the class of ’17 Malaysians, we have a fling weekend picnic! I think part of what I like about being a junior in college, is that I now know how to navigate parts of college I don’t enjoy by doing things I do enjoy and being with people whose company I value.

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L-R: Jamie, me, Selina and Hui Jie

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Haha Selina ❤

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The koi came to her because they thought she had food 😦

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Jamie, Hui Jie and I at the entrance of Shofuso gardens.

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The whole gang at Adel and Ahsen’s place!

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The birthday girl surprised with red velvet cake while eating hummus with a spoon!!

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LOVE these guys.

In fact the entire last week was pretty good. On Wednesday, I got to attend a talk by, or, well, I guess it was more of a conversation with Ben Bernanke. He was the chair of the Fed during the American financial crisis and given everything I had learned in class this semester, it was super interesting to me. He talked a little bit about how he got to where he is, defended the decisions he made during the crisis and talked about his book “The Courage To Act.” It was pretty cool to be, as Professor Pollack said, “in the same room with a historic world figure.”

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Sitting on the steps outside of Annenberg because the line to see Ben Bernanke was out the door over an hour before the event.

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Apparently Bernanke lost at the word “edelweiss.”

Summer break is fast approaching and as the semester is kind of winding down, people are trying to catch up with each other. It’s quite difficult to see all the people you care about consistently throughout the semester because we have a lot of papers to write, hundreds of pages to read, exams to take, meetings to run and etc… so I appreciate it when friends like Iman understand that and give me room but also let me know they’re there for me if I need them. Iman, exactly one year ago today actually, helped take care of me when I had my wisdom tooth extraction. Even though I don’t see her a lot, I know she’d still make time for me 🙂 we had the chance to grab dinner last week at Honest Tom’s (ahhh their sweet potato tacos!!!) and it’s really nice to end a long day with a good friend.

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The most generous serving of guacamole.

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Sweet potato tacos are so good.

Shahirah and I also got to catch up with Marcus, who’s a Malaysian graduating this year!! We always say he’s kinda like an uncle because of his mannerisms but we love him, he’s so nice. I also love that he’s the first guy I’ve met who is as scared of dogs as I am. He took us to Dock Street for pizza and it was one of the best pizzas I’ve ever had! Maybe the best but I’m refraining from making that statement because I know I have a tendency to overuse superlatives. The pizza I chose had brie and pear on it, which was a delightful combination. The one Shahirah chose had egg on it!!! I LOVE EGGS so yeah it was 10/10.

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Waiting for the trolley that never came.

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Next week is the last week of classes!!!! I am so excited because it’s Hey Day next week, which is when the juniors march down Locust Walk and are “declared” seniors. And also because I am tired and ready for a break. Anyway, so I think this post is long enough, and I’ll leave you for now. Byeeeeee.

Week 12: New York City

Several years ago, when my family along with my Mak Long’s family went to London together, they came back to KL with us and stayed at our house for a few days before going back to Kuching. There were probably like 12 of us staying together under one roof and my house isn’t like, huge. So people were kind of sprawled over the living room upstairs, and there were pillows and blankets all over. There was always someone at the dining table, in the kitchen, in the living room. It was always noisy and the house felt so full. I think we hosted the whole bunch of them several times and I remember that every time they leave, I feel like the house kind of expands and falls into a silence. Everything becomes bigger and quieter than I remember.

My sister left for London last night and suddenly the apartment feels so empty and quiet. It felt odd not to see a suitcase burst open in the middle of my living room, a bunch of her coats on my couch and another toothbrush in the bathroom. It’s weird, it’s almost like she was never here, but I know she was because I have all this trash to take out and leftover of food I bought for her and whatever. It’s just funny how that is, considering I’ve lived like this for the past year or so. It’s funny how people come and leave and alter how our everyday lives feel to us.

But it’s all good 🙂 we had so much fun this week and we’ll all be back home for summer soon! We went to NYC over the weekend and I think for me, every trip to New York just gets better.

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We stayed in the East Village, so we started the morning with a quick walk to Washington Square Park. This is one of my favourite places.

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Breakfast at Chalait—best green tea drinks and 5/5 sandwiches.

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West Village is full of pretty houses.

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The Whitney Museum (we didn’t go in… tbh, I was just looking for a restroom)

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The High Line

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Because it was such a nice day.

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With my sister!

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Isn’t this really cool? It’s a model of the city we saw on the High Line.

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We used the High Line to get to Chelsea Market for lunch.

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We also found Taylor Swift’s apartment building… hehe.

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In Williamsburg, we had the hugest serving of cereal milk soft serve I’ve ever seen.

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We went to Devoción in Williamsburg for coffee in the evening. Look at the interior!

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And there it is, the single best cup of coffee I’ve ever had. Their OJ also seemed really popular and I really want to go back there to try it.

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We spent most of the evening in Brooklyn, and we took lots of pictures of this iconic view of the Manhattan Bridge in Dumbo.

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On the Brooklyn Bridge because it was my first time in Brooklyn and I don’t know why I had never gone before.

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At the Brooklyn Bridge Park.

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At Main Street Park, under the Manhattan Bridge, waiting for the sunset.

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Oh hi, Manhattan.

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We couldn’t get over this beautiful view.

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We went back to Manhattan to by CHLOE., a vegan restaurant in the West Village for dinner. It was so good. Seriously never knew vegan food could be this amazing. 5/5.

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The restaurant was crazy packed, so we went back to Washington Square Park to eat.

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The next morning we went to Tompkins Square Park, which was near where we stayed. One of my favourite movies (The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby) has a scene that was filmed here. It was such a cold and sunny morning!

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Met Amanda for brunch at Mud, and they have this really cute seating space at the back of the restaurant.

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The East Village is amazing and I’m definitely hoping to come back here.

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Subway scenes.

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Times Square.

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Aida really wanted to see the Bethesda Terrace because she’s a Gossip Girl fan, haha.

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Halal Guys at Central Park (!!!)

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My first time at The Met. We didn’t go in because we didn’t have much time and we were carrying food hehe.

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And that’s pretty much everything we did in New York! Yesterday, I spent the entire day at home, barely even leaving my room because we walked 24,000 steps on average each day in the city. Plus, I also had to catch up on some work.

As you can imagine, I’m now suffering from insane Monday blues. Thankfully I’m not really behind on work despite taking like, 3 whole days off from doing anything. Good thing I spent my entire spring break slaving away haha. But super grateful for the opportunity to travel and see all these amazing things with my sister. Now, with just 4 weeks left of the semester (!!!!!!!) I have to refocus myself and get back into my rhythm.

Until next week, then! 🙂

Week 9: I Said I Would

Since I have the week off from school, I have more time to do things I usually want to do but don’t have time for. That is primarily cooking, but it also includes hanging out with some of my friends who are also on campus over break and exercising more frequently.

I made some amazing pancakes last weekend as my search for the fluffiest pancakes continued. I used this recipe and tweaked it a little (slightly less milk, more baking powder) and here’s what I  got! It was 8/10, I have to say.

   
I also made pasta with salmon, lemon, butter and herbs with a side of broccoli. This was like, only 5/10 though to be honest. But I’m all about trial and error when it comes to cooking and it was still worth it 🙂

I also made ginger-soy marinated cod (thanks, Trader Joes) to be eaten with rice with ghee and curry leaves as well as some steamed broccoli. It was the first time I used the steamer over the rice cooker and I was very excited about that! This is probably one of my favourite home-cooked meals because it tastes incredible and takes only 15 minutes to make. 9.5/10.


I don’t usually get cereal because I don’t love milk and I don’t usually buy it, but the other day I got milk because I wanted quick breakfasts. It was a busy week and I didn’t have time to be frying eggs and washing the pan etc. in the morning. I got this vanilla and almond clusters cereal (also thanks to Trader Joes!) and ate it with some fruit. Yum. 7/10.


My favourite breakfast though, incorporates 2 of my favourite things: salmon and eggs. I don’t really know how to keep my omelettes intact despite watching the Jamie Oliver video on omelettes like 20 times, but the taste is there for me and that’s good enough.

Apart from the food, I finally managed to jog my way down to the Schuylkill! I hate running outside because I feel super self-conscious about the way I look when I run, haha. But since it’s break, campus is relatively quiet. So, I thought there would be no better time to take the first step in getting over one of my irrational fears. It ended up being so rewarding because it was a gorgeous day, plus getting over a hurdle always makes me feel good.




Besides all of that, I also have been catching up on my backlogged work and trying to get ahead. I broke down everything I need to do in the next few weeks into little chunks, sprinkled across the 9 days of break and so far it’s going well. Something very exciting is happening in the next 2 weeks which is what I’m trying to clear my schedule for. I’m having such a good time with the quiet on campus and not having to be among so many people so often these past few days. Also, I’m really happy to be doing things I said I’d do if I had more time because I didn’t want “not having time” to be just an excuse; the only way for that was to make sure that when I 
do have time, I get things done.

Week 7: No-Milk Pancakes

There’s a very hectic two weeks ahead of me. Once again, I find myself baffled and amused because I don’t know how I will come out on the other side of all of this. Objectively, I know it means I have a lot going on for me, which is exciting! The summer job search is picking up again and since we’re just over a third of the way through the semester, classes are gearing up for the midterms, papers deadlines, etc.

So really, I’ve done nothing much but eat, sleep, study and lie on my couch thinking about possible future careers. Plus, I also don’t want to spend too much time writing this week since my to-do list is bursting at the seams. Given that, I just want to leave you with the best thing that happened to me last weekend.

I went to bed on Friday night thinking about how great it would be if I could have pancakes with chocolate and a side of fruit for breakfast. However! I did not have fruit nor did I have chocolate or even milk for the pancake batter. I rarely leave the house on Saturdays because I like not having to get dressed so going out just for groceries was not going to happen. In times like these, you go to our good friend, Google! (Or, as my mom calls it, Mr. G)

I found this great recipe for milkless pancakes and it was the BEST THING.

1 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking powder
1 TBSP. sugar

1 TBSP. oil or butter or margarine
1 egg
1 cup water

You basically mix all the dry ingredients in one bowl, all the wet ingredients in the other bowl and then combine them. Then, beat it until there are no lumps and get started making your pancakes!

When I made my first pancake, I didn’t realize I had only just put in 2/3 cups of water so the batter kinda didn’t flow well on the pan and didn’t look great. So I was like “ok fine, I’ll sacrifice this first one” and quickly added the remaining 1/3 cup of water and beat it while the first one was still on the pan. But after I finished cooking the first one, I tasted it and oh my god it was the fluffiest and softest thing ever. The remaining pancakes were easier to make and were still fluffy but not gonna lie, the first one topped the rest. I also think I accidentally added a little too much baking powder so that could’ve been part of the reason it was so fluffy? I don’t know. Clearly, I’m no chef. But I loved this recipe more than any other one I’ve tried and I’m never making pancakes with milk ever again.

As for the chocolate, I didn’t have nutella or anything like that so I just used milo powder + just a little bit of hot water to dissolve it and spread it on my pancake. Best home breakfast ever.

Yeah, it looks a little messy but it was glorious, I tell you. Look at that beautiful stack at the back. *heart-eyed emoji*

And no, I didn’t do anything to compensate for the fruit. Oops.

Week 4: GOODBYE, RAT.

I thought this week would be more eventful but that’s because I was excited to go see Adam Grant talk about his new book Originals, on Monday. Then I realised I have too much work to go! I love his first book Give and Take and his talks are always good so yeah it was quite a bummer. If you come across the book/one of his talks, go check it out 🙂

My friend Peter went to the talk though and he said it was good, except there was a longgg line and it was raining so I’m glad I dodged that because I really don’t want to get sick. We had dinner together after the talk at the halal dining hall! It’s always a nice time catching up with this busy guy 🙂

I’m typing this as I’m walking to a meeting because I just haven’t had the time to sit down and write these past few days. Clearly, school work has really hit me. I have a problem set (a phrase I had to learn when I came to Penn which I guess just means homework… which consist of problems…) due tomorrow and I’m meeting two people from my class tonight to “go over answers” and I’m using inverted commas because I don’t actually have any answers at the moment. So, this will be interesting.

I JUST HAVE SO MUCH READING TO DO THESE DAYS, YOU GUYS. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this but 3 of my 4 classes require regular response papers on the readings so I have to like really do them.

I started going to the Fisher Fine Arts library to study because it’s really pretty and I just wanted to work in a super quiet place (this library is really quiet). Julia was there too last week, and we had to sit on opposite sides of the table to prevent ourselves from talking, haha.

Also, last week I went to the Asian American Studies program’s discussion on the perception of Asian Americans towards the Vietnam War. A grad student in the English department lead the discussion because that’s what his research is about. It was pretty cool because going to Ho Chi Minh last December made me a little curious about it.

That same night, I managed to have dinner with Clare! I saw her in London over winter break, but it was the first time I saw her since the semester started. We went to my favourite chinese restaurant on campus and got dan dan noodles. We drank tea, talked and laughed for 3 hours until I felt like I was going to lose my voice and/or pee in my pants and it was great ❤

I literally didn’t leave the building the entire weekend, but Hui Jie and I did have our routine junk weekend! We ate pizza and had coke on her bed hehe.

Our favourite ricotta + spinach + mushroom combination!

I also ended up sleeping in her bed last weekend because the rat noises I was hearing last week persisted and drove me nuts!! If you know me, you know I strongly prefer not to share beds… but I was just that stressed out. Thankfully, the exterminator came by today and FOUND THE RAT. Hopefully, I’ll be getting better sleep from now on..

Week 3: I Think I Did Absolutely Nothing

Hi, friends. How was your week? 🙂

I’m not really sure what to talk about this week because I didn’t really… do anything… The Northeast had a pretty big winter storm last weekend so I kinda just stayed home watching movies (I saw Sisters and Miss Congeniality hehe) and doing my readings throughout.

Last week after Friday prayers, there was a reception at one of the college dorms to officiate the English House Dining Hall serving halal food starting the 25th of January. That was really exciting! I’m so grateful that we have this option now, it really makes the dining hall experience so much better for us Muslims. I just found out that Penn was, until last week, the only Ivy League that did not offer halal options. I hope now more people will know what halal means and stop saying they want to “get halal” when they mean they want to eat chicken over rice from the halal food trucks because it just doesn’t make sense grammatically, haha.

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From the Penn MSA Facebook page because I took no photos and just ate.

Last Saturday night as the storm had its fun, Hui Jie and I had popcorn and maggi and stayed up talking, that was nice. A lot of people went out to play but I just… dislike snow. After the storm passed, Shahirah, Hui Jie and I went to Trader Joes (best place ever next to Disneyland) to do groceries.

My classes have been okay. I’m starting to love this Psychology class I’m taking called Language and Thought—we’re learning about the pathway between thinking and speaking. Being bilingual helps to understand some of the concepts in this class and in fact, makes the content a lot more interesting and engaging for me and I like that.

I also love my International Political Economy class! Professor Pollack is so energetic that he makes 9 a.m. classes very exciting and it’s always a great start to the day and week. For now, we’ve gone over some brief economic history and we were assigned to watch this documentary called The Commanding Heights. It gave me the basics to start learning about many things I’ve heard about but never really understood like Keynesian economics and the Raegan-Thatcher years. The readings were kind of difficult though. I don’t have a strong background in economic history or history at all for that matter, so I took a very long time to go through them.

I’m also taking 4 classes again this semester instead of my usual 5 because the work load for these 4 classes seems pretty heavy–I think I’m going to be writing 1-2 papers every week this semester. Plus I want to do less but do better, so I feel good about that decision.

In other news, I was awoken this morning at about 4-ish a.m. because I thought I heard the sounds of a rat or something under my bed, but was too scared to check so I went to sleep on the couch (which, if you know my room layout, doesn’t make much sense because it’s like two steps away from my bed).

But yeah, that’s all for this week. Next week is looking more exciting so I’ll tell you about it soon 🙂

P.S. Last weekend, I also discovered Noah Ritter’s videos on Ellen. If you have never seen it, let this be my gift to you: go look it up!!