My experience in Brooklyn

I slept a good eleven hours that day and my friend and I visited Brooklyn. We took the subway there and coming out of it was such a huge contrast to Manhattan. My first impression of Brooklyn is that it seemed to be such an average city. The buildings didn’t tower over us and there were tons of graffiti found on street walls. It felt average and I enjoyed it because it was average.  My friend attested to that by saying students dream of living in Brooklyn because it’s the perfect escape from the hasty city life.

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The first mural I see

We stayed at a coffee shop called Devacion. Devacion is a Colombian based coffee shop and my first time waling in had such a relaxing and chill ambience. It was here that I’ve tried the best-tasting coffee I’ve ever tasted. It simply was rich in the coffee flavour and bitterless. My friend stayed at Devacion to study while I explored the rest of Brooklyn. I was warned by my friend to not make eye contact with people on the street because people in Brooklyn are protective of their culture. Looking at them was like an invasion of privacy. I’ve also confirmed this norm with other friends in Manhattan. My goal was to reach DUMBO (Down Under Manhattan Bridge Overpass) and back. I walked down along the Williamsburg bridge and to my surprise, walked through an Orthodox Jewish neighborhood. It was like walking back in time seeing men dressed in long black coats and black top hats and donning their distinguished bushy beards and curly side hair. I observed many of the men were walking fast and had a cellphone next to their ear and most women were walking with their baby strollers.

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A cool house I passed by

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I always thought this was a stereotype of Brooklyn

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In the Orthodox Jewish neighborhood

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In the Orthodox Jewish Neighborhood

I reached DUMBO after an hour of walking and it wasn’t too much at all of what I thought it was. It was simply a small area beneath Manhattan Bridge. Downtown Brooklyn was nearby and I explored that. I found an awesome Halal cart and sat down on a bench and listened to the sounds that the city had to offer. I proceeded to take a different route back. I ended up in a residential area where I was in awe over the similarity of the buildings to the images I had in my head. I then stumbled upon a park. It was distinct because there was a huge stairway in the middle of it. As I walked up the steps, There was a huge pillar protruding up the park. It was a memorial.

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Downtown Brooklyn

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DUMBO

I enjoyed my time in Brooklyn. I’ve always dreamed of visiting Brooklyn because of shows like NCIS: New York and Blue Bloods. Small things like chain-linked-fenced-in basketball courts and tall apartment structures just please me because I’ve just never seen them in person before. I loved seeing the murals and graffiti on the walls because it simply screams Brooklyn.

First Day in New York City

It was my first time travelling alone. I knew two friends in New York City, one of which I met whilst I was abroad in London and the other I knew growing and was staying with. I stayed at my friend’s apartment in the Chelsea area of New York. It was right in the middle of Manhattan and close to a subway stop. When I first arrived, it was 15 degrees, the coldest I’ve been so far in my twenty years of life. Never had I put on 5 layers of clothing to keep myself insulated in such frigid temperatures. I didn’t own gloves and my hands became so ashy, they started bleeding.

I began my exploration of New York City by taking a walk on the high line, an abandoned railway now turned into a garden. I came at the absolute worst time because all the plants shrivelled and withered. After such a disappointed walk, I made my way down to Battery Park, which is on the southernmost tip of Manhattan, because I wanted to see the Statue of Liberty. I walked along the Hudson River and eventually reached the park. Battery Park was the closest I can come to the Statue of Liberty without paying for the ferry to Ellis Island. I then made my way north to visit all the sites that I missed by taking the Hudson River route.

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Battery Park

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The view as I walked to Battery Park

I first wound up at Wall Street. I saw the infamous Charging Bull statue (Unfortunately I wasn’t in New York the day that there was a statue of a little girl facing the bull). It was here that I tried Halal food for the first time and my goodness, it was one of the best tasting dishes I’ve had in my life. I visited a local church and sat down in a bench and ate it. While eating it, I overheard a woman walking out saying “I couldn’t buy a ticket to see his show, so I ended up seeing his grave.” My mind instantly went ‘oh shoot! Alexander Hamilton is buried here!’ And I got to see his grave!

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His grave

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Halal Food!

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Charging Bull Statue

I explored the rest of Wall Street and enjoyed what it had to offer. Because of what happens inside the banks make Wall Street exciting, I just took a picture of George Washington and left. My next destination was Ground Zero. Along the way, I got distracted by the random sculptures found around each corner and stopped and took pictures. Ground Zero was interesting. The atmosphere felt solemn. Its waterfall memorial is breathtaking. After that, I made my way toward the Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan Bridge. It was a long walk from Ground Zero, but the view was amazing. I hit what I wanted to hit that day and tried to make my back to Chelsea. I wound up in Chinatown and explored bits and pieces of it. Throughout my walk, it was interesting to see many small things that I’ve seen in movies and TV shows like chain-linked fenced basketball courts.

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Random Street Art

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Ground Zero

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Arc De Triomphe Maybe?

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The Flatiron Building

Thanks for reading through this blog post. I’ll post my second day in New York in a few days!

A Break in New York City

Spring break is almost here. The month of February has been intense for me during university because I’ve been overwhelmed with endless amounts of work before the first half of the semester ends. Fortunately, I’ve survived what appeared to be myriad of exams, presentations, and papers. Coincidentally, the storm of work arrived the same time as the crazy Californian storm known as Lucifer. The end of February marks my insane ride through a literal and figurative storm. Looking ahead for next week, I will be spending my spring break in the East Coast of the US.

I’m ecstatic. I’ve never visited a state outside of California before. The first time I’ve ever been outside of California was when I studied abroad in London last fall. For the first half of my break, I’ll be staying in my friend’s apartment in Manhattan and plan to see all the big tourist things. Central Park, Time Square, Ground Zero, Wall Street and the Brooklyn Bridge are all on my bucket list.

I’m debating whether I should visit the Empire State Building because I’ve been atop of tall buildings before and they just don’t excite me as much and the cost to enter is $34. The Liverpool Cathedral,  the tallest Anglican church in England, was 10 pounds to enter, and I came out severely disappointed. My disdain for climbing tall buildings is that I compare them to previous hikes that I’ve done where the skyline becomes the reward for all the effort I’ve done to reach the top. Hiking Arthur’s Seat to see the city of Edinburgh was so much more fun and rewarding than taking an elevator to see the city of Liverpool.

This will be my first time exploring a huge city by myself and I’m beyond excited. I plan on vlogging my experiences to keep myself entertained as I explore the city. Stay tuned on this blog for updates and vlogs about my adventures!

First Week Finished

Today marks the end of my first week of university back in America. This week left me utterly exhausted. Fortunately, two of my morning classes got canceled and I got the chance to sleep in. That rest was necessary. I have class from 8 – 2:30 with some breaks in between. Some of the classes that I’m taking this year include philosophy, optimal health, and some communication courses. I’ve only met with my philosophy professor once this week even though we have Monday, Wednesday, Friday classes. The class seems interesting because when we first started, he posed the question of how do we know whether something is a dream or reality. That was a tough topic to deal with and he said he’d continue it later. Optimal health seems pretty cool because it’s a nutrition and a fitness class. My professor wants us to have a fitness log and exercise a total of 2 hours per week. I consider myself a pretty fit person because I try to run about 20-40 minutes three to four times a week and avoid junk food. My management communication professor might take a medical leave in the semester because she’s pregnant.

Student life here has been interesting. It definitely is a good feeling to see old friends and hear them yell “YOU’RE BACK!?!?!” It’s also weird because I’m also rebuilding relationships with some friends. And then I have the chance to become friends with people that I’ve only seen around campus last year. The hall I live on is kinda cool. There are times where it smells like weed and the other guys act loud and rambunctious, but there are times where everything is quiet and the guys want to just chill. I’m not around my main dorm too often because I’d rather spend time on the main campus interacting with old friends and meeting new people. Tonight, I plan on webcamming with some friends from London.

In terms of recording music, I finally got my midi keyboard synced to my laptop. There are times where it doesn’t want to cooperate though. I learned how to make trap beats and planning to have some recorded this coming weekend. For my coding skills, I found a cool website called Freecodecamp that breaks down Javascript projects. I’m pretty excited to invest my time on this. We also have a 3 day weekend because of MLK so I’m going to use that time to work hard on school so I can work on music and coding.

What to Expect from this Blog in the Future

With the beginning of the new year comes with the beginning of new resolutions. I don’t have resolutions in mind but rather I have goals that I want to accomplish for my next semester. Some of which include: working on this blog, working on computer science side projects, recording music, and balancing school work. It’s going to be tough. But it’s something I want to work on in order to be successful. I am planning to document my adventures working on computer science projects here. I switched my career path to the side of technology because I wanted to contribute to the growth of technology. I know almost nothing the topic of computer science. My current level of computer science includes basic syntax of popular languages such as Python, C++, Java, Javascript, HTML, and CSS. I have almost no application experience in programming. My friends and I back home wanted to work on building a chatbot for Discord, but we don’t have time to meet up and discuss. The topic was interesting to me because I wanted to experience in machine learning. My next option was to find a Computer Science club on campus. I’ve talked to my close friends that are Computer Science majors and there doesn’t appear to be one on campus. Instead, I’m going to be setting out on my own personal projects. I’ll get these projects double checked by my friends of course, but it’s going to be a long and arduous journey to learn this. Nothing is set in stone yet, The first project that I plan to work on is going to be focused on Javascript and its frameworks.

I’m also going to document my adventures of recording music here. My friends and I want to record a hip hop album soon and release it for the summer of 2017. We don’t have too much experience in producing and writing, but here’s where we’ll start. My journey starts with getting familiar with Ableton’s layout, understanding how to mix and master music, and learning how my midi keyboard works. I have a lot of work to do this semester, but I hope you’ll follow me with my journey to success.

Blessings

The past four months have been the craziest time of my life. Traveling to London  was one of the biggest risks I’ve ever taken because it was my first time being outside California. Going outside of California taught me a lot, it showed me the world didn’t have sunshine every single day, or palm trees around every single corner. One of the biggest qualities of the people of London is their diversity. The people of London bring so much culture and history into the ethnic melting pot that is London. I’ve had the opportunity to meet people from all over the world in London, some of which include the Czech Republic, Nigeria, Ecuador, Indonesia, and South Korea. Meeting all these people helped me understand the world and its people. I’ve learned how history and culture influences a person’s beliefs. Studying in London was also one of the most stressful times of my life because I had to learn how to balance homework, a social life, and traveling. I’ve done so many things that people can only dream of within the span of four months. I’ve explored most of the United Kingdom, visited France, Italy, and Germany and have seen countless live plays. Unfortunately, my time in London was short. Our program ended so that we could come back in time for Thanksgiving and to spend time with friends and family. Because it’s Thanksgiving, I want to write this post to recount the blessings that I’ve had throughout my trip to London.

I’m thankful for the opportunity to learn how to travel. Never would I have imagined me and a few friends going on a weekend trip to Germany. Our trip to Germany was the first trip that I’ve taken to a country that speaks a foreign language. Thankfully again, most Germans knew English fluently so getting around wasn’t too challenging. I’m also thankful that my friend waited until 2am for us and squeezed four people into his tiny apartment in the center of Berlin. Going to Berlin also helped us prepare for the rest of Europe. We made sure to pack rain gear because we experienced a torrential downpour in Berlin. We also made sure to convert out US dollars to Euros before entering the country because most shops don’t take American credit cards.I’m thankful that we suffered these tribulations because it made our trip to Italy much more worthwhile. Going to Italy was one of the highlights of my trip. It was amazing to see the beauty of nature combined with the handiwork of man. We were prepared to take on the rain. We actually took on a monsoon instead and lived. We also prepared ourselves with Euros and indulged in gelato. Our professors then took us to Paris toward the end of our semester. I’m thankful for having such awesome professors even though they drive me crazy sometimes. I was quite fearful of coming into Paris at first  because one of my friends described it as a place where “you should wear your backpack in the front.” The pretense I built up led to an image of Paris being filled with pickpockets and thugs. Fortunately, all of this disappeared once I was there. I soon fell in love with the city and its people. Most of the events we did in Paris we ended up doing for free. Because we were students studying in the EU, we were able to visit the Palace of Versailles, climb atop the Cathedral of Notre Dame, and enter the Louvre for free. Paris turned out to be our cheapest trip yet. Traveling in foreign countries has helped me learn how to be independent and how to act when I feel lost. I’m thankful to God that I had the opportunity to travel so that I can learn more about myself and about people.

The next thing that I’m thankful for is the communities I’ve found in London. I’m thankful for the community that we have in our London study abroad group because we’re all so supportive of each other. It was great to be in London with this group of people because we were going through the same challenges academically and we can support each other through it. It also helps that we come from the same university because it gives us a sense of familiarity with each other when we feel lost. I’m also thankful for a wonderful community that I’ve found in the city of London. I got introduced to Hillsong London’s connect group, which is a group where young adults from the church can hang out and connect, and quickly bonded with them. I’ve only spent time with them for two months, and in those two months, they’ve quickly become a family to me. They’re an awesome bunch of people who are supportive and make me smile. They’re what made London into a second home for me. We’ve gone on awesome adventures such as paintballing, going to a ping pong bar, and random trips to Nandos. I’m also thankful for the community that I have back home in San Jose. I’m thankful for a supportive, loving family that funds my education and allowed me to make this big step in my life. I’m also thankful for an awesome group of friends that I can talk to about my career and future.

If you made it here, I want to say thank you for reading my list of blessings.

My Time in Italy

The past two weeks, I have been messing around with different types of content to post on my blog. I’m still learning as I find my voice in my writing and learn the reason as to why I write. But, I think it’s time to stick to my tried and true travel logs that I’ve started off with and hopefully branch off into more personal posts. When I write my travel logs, I post my pictures first and create a story based off those pictures. For this post, I’ll be writing from my head and complimenting these words with my photosFrom the week of Oct 14 to Oct 17, five of us from our group decided to take a vacation in Cinque Terre.

So, what is Cinque Terre and why would I go there instead of Rome, Florence, Venice or Milan? Cinque Terre literally translates to “five towns” in English. Cinque Terre( or Chin-kwa Tare-ray)  is a strip of five towns along the northwestern coast of Italy. There are a bunch of terraces built along the coastal ridges. Why did I choose to go here instead of the other beautiful cities? Because I wanted peace. There was one word that I would describe my trip and that would be peace. Cinque Terre was isolated from the rest of city life and we wanted to get away from the hectic life of London. Florence was on the top of my list for cities to visit because, the video game, Assassin’s Creed II made such an accurate replication of the city and inspired me to visit. But, I needed rest.

I’m going to compare this trip to my trip to Berlin because those are our two independent trips that we took in our semester abroad. I had a great time in Berlin. I saw my friend that I met from church and I saw many historical sites from World War II. But, there were so many things going wrong with our trip to Berlin. Our flight was supposed to leave at 8:00pm and it takes about two hours to fly to Berlin. Once we boarded the plane, we found out that there was a thunderstorm that delayed our flight by two hours. We were originally planned to arrive in Berlin at 11:00pm( because going east adds an hour) but we landed at 1:00am. Our group traveled in two separate groups because we bought tickets at separate times and we found out that the other group( that flew in the same airline as us) only ended up being delayed 20 minutes. We didn’t have a chance to change our currency to Euros when we landed and we learned the hard way that stores in Berlin do not take American credit cards. We also weren’t prepared for the weather that was going to come. What we thought was going to be a light shower turned out to be a torrential downpour. We took the train to see the Topography of Terror( Gestapo HQ turned museum) but the train skipped our stop because of intense rain. So, we had to walk in the mud and flooded streets to find the Topography of Terror. As we were flying back to London, the trains at Stansted Airport were canceled because someone decided to sit in front of the train tracks. We were forced to take the bus back home. We eventually arrived at our place at 3:00am.

 

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Our time in Berlin!

In contrast, our flight to Italy was smooth and on-time. Because of our stumbles in Germany, we prepared ourselves for the weather and exchanged our money beforehand. That first night, we arrived at our Air B&B in Corniglia (pronounced Cornelia) and rested for the night. The next day was expected to rain and that meant the coastal hiking trails were closed due to the risk of landslide. We visited Monterosso, which was the northernmost town of Cinque Terre. Monterosso is a beautiful resort town. We visited its beach and hiked toward the top of the mountain. We met an awesome American couple exploring Italy for their 10th anniversary. After spending an hour of hiking, we tried to look for some spaghetti, because apparently, the world’s best spaghetti is located in Monterosso. We found out that the restaurant that we were looking for was closed, so we found another restaurant to go into. This was where the weather turned into a complete 180. As we entered the door, a sudden downpour started showering outside. Our waiter told us that we had to evacuate to the train station after we were done eating because the weather had achieved a level of red alert. The food here was amazing. I ordered gnocchi for the first time and that was amazing. Gnocchi is little balls of potato mixed with tomato or pesto sauce. But, my favorite thing from the restaurant was the water. The water was amazing. It was a gift from God. It was fresh mountain spring water. The taste of the water was PURE, untouched by metal. Anyway, after that, we were trying to catch the train back to Corniglia, but as were trying to walk there, the winds picked up to 40mph. Dust was flying into our eyes, trash cans were rolling in the streets and waves were slamming the beach. The weather was crazy. It felt like being in a hurricane. This was our first day of exploring Cinque Terre. When night time rolled around, the skies cleared up. We went to our rooftop terrace that overlooks the town and set up dinner. It was romantic. Not the lovey-dovey romantic, but the idealized romantic. We had a candle-lit dinner on our rooftop terrace, next to the town and the Meditterean Sea, and underneath the stars.

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Monterosso! Unfortunately we went on a cloudy day.

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The view of Monterosso from the mountains.

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Top of the mountains in Monterosso!

Our second day, it was a lot better. There were blue skies when we woke up and that meant that we were going to hike. We started our morning off with a little breakfast and then hiked in the mountains from Corniglia to Manarola. The hike was about two hours long. The hike upward was a bit challenging and it rained a little. But, once we were in the mountains, the view was amazing. The rain stopped and we saw a double rainbow. We saw the beautiful Corniglia from afar and the Azure Mediterranean Sea. As we were hiking, we traversed through two towns high in the mountains. It was interesting to see the rural side of Italy because these towns were so secluded from the rest of society. We also walked through these people’s vineyards, which was an amazing experience. We got to see how they picked their grapes and how they crushed their grapes into wine. Once we got to Manarola, we found a restaurant. This restaurant offered a lot of seafood because it was next to the coast. There was something so amazing on the menu that caught my eye, so I HAD to order it. It was Spaghetti with Octopus in Spicy Tomato sauce. It was heavenly. The spaghetti and the sauce was freshly made and the octopus was grilled to perfection. We then went to the cove and dipped our feet in the water. The Mediterrean Sea was so blue. After that, we went to Rio Maggero( which was the southern most town) and visited the beach. This beach reminded me of the Sunset Cliffs of Point Loma because the water was temperate and the sun ruled the sky. We then went to the last town, Vernazza, and ate Gelato and watch the sun set over the Sea. I had an amazing day exploring the rest of Cinque Terre.

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The view from our window in Corniglia!

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Our hike in the mountainside.

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View of Corniglia at the top of the mountain!

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We encountered cool trails.

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We hiked among the vineyards.

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Saw some tornados forming over the Mediterranean Sea.

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Towns isolated in the mountains.

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The town of Manarola!

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Spaghetti with Octopus and Spicy Tomato Sauce

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We dipped our feet in the Mediterranean Sea!

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The Beautiful Rio Maggero!

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Rio Maggero!

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Vernazza at golden hour!

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Everyone’s gotta take a dive at sunset!

Our last day in Italy was spent exploring the city of Pisa because the nearest airport to Cinque Terre( and Florence!) is Pisa. We tried to find the Leaning Tower. It took us a while, but we managed to find it. I can confirm that the tower is indeed leaning. We saw a bunch of people trying to push the tower back into place. There was also an absurd amount of gnats flying around. We managed to eat at an outdoor restaurant with the Leaning Tower of Pisa in the background. We ordered a lot of pizza and gelato before we left. Our flight back into London was smooth. We arrived at an appropriate time of 9pm and had a goodnight’s rest before class started.

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Our Time at the Leaning Tower of Pisa!

I hope you guys enjoyed my experience of both Berlin and Cinque Terre. I’m hoping that I can find my writing style soon because I enjoy sharing my experiences.