An Update on My Life

Here I am lying in my own bed in my own house on a block that overlooks downtown San Diego thinking about how God has blessed me with so many amazing materials, friends, family, and opportunity. It’s definitely crazy to think that I have my own house now that I share with 5 other guys and a car to take me around. I finally feel like an adult and I love it. I feel free because of the responsibilities I have. I love that I get to balance my education, work, and social life. I love that I’m so involved in campus and I’ve made a lot of sacrifices to make sure that these four qualities are balanced. I love the fact I sleep about 7 hours per night because I prioritize my work early on that I get that amount of sleep.  I lead a homeless ministry that takes a group of volunteers to downtown San Diego and make friends with our homeless neighbors. I’ve also taken upon the extra responsibility this semester to help one of my friends with his ministry. His ministry is visiting medically-fragile children at the Rady’s Children Hospital.

I’ve also found a job I absolutely love. I do AV (Audio/Video) stuff and IT work at my school. I get paid to go to events that I work AV at and I find it rewarding helping people doing IT work at school. I get to meet new people whenever they walk in and meet new people at events.

As you are aware, I’ve taken a hiatus from this blog the past four months and have come back to create more content. There’s something about being back in my parent’s house that makes me an absolute slop and refuse to work. A quick summary on my summer of 2017 is that I traveled around California on the weekends, worked with my church, bowled and ate out at trendy food places a lot.

As for what I’m planning on this new season, it’s going to be a lot of balancing and juggling between school, work, and friends. I want to learn more piano this year and to learn more about mixing and mastering music. The first song I taught myself was “City of Stars” from La La Land. I also want to remain physically active so I’ve picked up basketball and tried working on my handles.

I’m pretty excited for this season because of everything that’s been happening to me. This is where I am now and I hope you’ll continue to follow me on my journey through life.

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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!

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.