New Decade, New Life

Vrijthof Square in the winter

Vrijthof Square in the winter

It’s been quite some time since I’ve written, and I miss the therapeutic, creative aspect of putting thoughts down on (digital) paper. A lot has happened in the past year—the good, the bad, and the ugly. Life as we know it.

Besides entering a new decade in life, there have been a few momentous changes in life like moving to the Netherlands (where people still assume I’m 21 for better or for worse). Born into a traditional, conservative Chinese family while maturing in a progressive and increasingly hipster, Californian culture was always a huge tug-of-war identity struggle. And ever since studying abroad in Spain and semi-falling in love with European culture, I always knew I wanted to come back.

To be honest, the thirst was quenched while focusing on my career but revitalized during my sabbatical around the world, where I was inspired by young, yet surprisingly mature 18-year old Europeans on their gap years. However, getting to Europe was not so easy. From a failed opportunity in London to an uncertain and hesitant one in Helsinki, finding the right opportunity was harder than expected. But if I truly wanted to go to Europe—I would find a way into Europe. In the mean time, I accepted a job at AnswerLab, a growing user experience research company that helped companies like Apple and Amazon conduct digital product research. Besides the unique experience of having convinced myself of my small yet influential role on influencing the lives of billions around the world, I also enjoyed the progressive culture as well as the remote, work-from-home flexibility of the job—purpose and flexibility have become a few of my non-negotiables in addition to…adventure. And adventure brought up Europe once again…

The failed London opportunity brought about another opportunity that I never thought about—what about graduate school? I remembered the hiring manager for that failed London opportunity was originally from California but completed a Masters degree in Maastricht, the Netherlands. And so I went about researching Masters programs with English-language programs, which amounted to two viable options (given the late, spontaneous decision to apply)—the UK and the Netherlands. The UK wasn’t as appealing given the high cost of tuition, so I focused mainly on the Netherlands. Maastricht University seemed quite appealing with its international student population, renowned reputation for being a top-ranked “young” university, and its small-town charm. With the help of YouTube and Google, I quickly got to work on my application and motivation letter…and within 2 months and a happy acceptance letter…I decided to embark on the next journey of life…the Netherlands.

The Perfect Morning

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The gentle breeze of the ocean air fused with the gentle calm of the waves signals it's time to wake up. There is no alarm clock—it just feels natural to wake up to chase the light of day. Excitement starts to brew to another day of adventure—another day of living. 

And as I go deeper into a meditative state of the mind, I'm just so appreciative of this "perfect day" that is to come. A conflated mind layered with traffic jams of ideas begins to converge into a narrow road...leading to pure silence. It's time to wake up, smell the coffee, and go out for my morning run. 

Daylight is creeping up with the ocean to my left and the mountains to my right. No music is necessary as the orchestra is playing in the background surrounding me—children laughing and peddling their bicycles towards school, the ocean waves beating against the battered rocks in unison, and the angelic sound of nature.

ZzzzzZzz! A cold shower! It's been a tradition, and it's my perfect way to start the day off. And even after years of cold showers, you can never get old of that instant rush of chilling frost over your warm body. Goosebumps. That feeling when you know you're alive and human. Goosebumps turn into smiles, and you realize your day has started. It's time to live. 

By 2050, 80% of marriages will come from online dating

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Did I scare you?

Well, I just made up a catchy title, but it could very well be the truth in 30 years. Today, 1/3rd of all marriages come from online dating...who's to say it won't be 80% by 2050?

If you haven't read Aziz Ansari's Modern Romance, I suggest you don't. It may very well scare you find that we are all turning into robots programmed to swipe left and right. But it does provide some interesting insights into modern day dating told by a comedian and backed up with research from a real sociologist. 

Why do millennials never answer their phones?

"Phones calls suck and they give me anxiety."

And sadly, that has become truer and truer over the years. Weakass millennials.

And the biggest problem of all may be analysis paralysis. Back in the day, you most likely married your neighbor even she wasn't a perfect 10. You simply had no choice. But now? Too many goddamn millennials think they're God and have the hope to conjure up the next goddess with a swipe of their thumb. And then you end up texting with ten people and sadly end up with 0. 

Modern day dating =)

On eating healthy...

Feeeeeeed Meeeeee

Feeeeeeed Meeeeee

Trying to eat healthy...oh I'd rather try Mt. Everest.

Speaking of New Year resolutions and breakthroughs, I am still waiting for that one pill where we can swallow to be able to snack on endless In-N-Out animal fries while still maintaining that 8-pack. I guess science hasn't caught up with technology yet.

But looking back to the times when I ate healthily, slept dreamily, and exercised vigorously...I' felt like Superman.

Current state:

Exercising vigorously? Check

Sleeping dreamily? Half-check

Eating healthily? 1/3rds-check

2018 is off to a fantastic start!