Category

Life

Category

summer days in college

It’s a strange feeling, starting college in the summer. When everyone’s leaving school, and you’re just starting. But this is also what makes it all the more special. Waking up everyday to the sun shining and going to bed not too long after the sun sets. This made the days seem longer than they were, and it helped me seize the day after classes.

Students were from all over the place. Most of them were incoming freshmen or transfer students, but a lot were from other places too. Some were international students – they were just here for the summer. Others were from community college, and there were even high school students taking the same classes as we were. The thing I loved most about this was the diversity that was naturally created. The diversity in class, personal background and experience, even if many of the students came from similar ethnic and racial backgrounds. But it was a bummer, meeting great people only to learn later that they were just there for the summer.

After a few weeks of moving in, I grew comfortable with my being in this new setting. I woke up and went to bed at regular times, ate my (healthy) meals everyday, and exercised by trying out all the martial arts clubs and taking all kinds of group exercise classes offered at my university’s gym. As for academics, I gradually became more comfortable as I learned to handle the workload based on the difficulty of the class. Fortunately, none of the courses I took were excruciatingly difficult, unlike other (STEM) classes I heard about. I spent the first few weeks of school studying and working in the comforts of my dorm room. My (lovely) roommate was an extrovert who spent most of her time in the floor lounge, so I often had the room to myself. I could work on my desk or on my bed with comfy clothes on, nap whenever I needed (or wanted) to, eat food I took (*stole*) from the dining hall, and stare longingly out my window.

But then I started hunting for other study spots. I am in a triple room for the academic year, so holing myself up in my room is not always a viable option. I have found some great libraries on campus and outdoor spots to work peacefully, but I don’t know how that’s gonna work out once the influx of freshmen come in.

Though I decided to start college in the summer to get a head start with my courses right away (after a long gap year), my days in summer were not defined by my classes; rather, it was working out my new life and seeing how my classes fit into them.

As summer was nearing its end, however, my ‘disciplined’ life was completely thwarted. I stopped sleeping 8-9 hours a day, but I often found myself more awake than I had been when I did hit those hours. I stopped exercising regularly, and instead tried to make the adventures that we did into some form of exhilarating activity. I stopped eating with a healthy conscience, and instead enjoyed each meal that we tried together. As a pretty uptight girl, I would have been pretty concerned with this sudden change of self.

But it all happened from one day to the next, and it happened all so naturally. Though I will continue to see most of the people that I’ve met in the summer, I will rarely (if ever) see some of them again. So I tried to make the most of it with them, and it made this summer an incredible one. Some of our days were filled with sunrise yoga, feeding squirrels all over campus, and a (long and tedious) hike to see the night sky, while others consisted of taking (adventurous) walks, watching films and having late night (sleepy) talks. It was exciting and heartwarming exploring my new home with people I had just met, yet become so close with. They taught me that it wasn’t really about what or how much we did in the time we had, but rather about how we did them, together.

As summer has ended, I look back at it with a pang of nostalgia that I’ve become familiar with. But this time, though I’ll continue to live here for the rest of my college years, nothing will be the same as it was this past summer. The faces I used to see everyday – even if I rarely interacted with them – will now be faces I see amidst a crowd, rarely. The people I used to have class with, some I might not even see at all. Those I used to dine and play ping pong with, will no longer be there. As much as I wanted to deny it, I had become more attached than I had intended.

But that’s ok. It’s the fleetingness in our life that allows us to treasure our times together and make the most of it.

Love, Michelle

things i did in my gap year

One of the hardest things about my gap year was keeping track of my progress by myself. With no teachers grading me and no classes to attend to, with what means do I even measure my progress?

For me, it was a matter of trial and error before I found out what worked best for me. I started my gap year with a list of things I believed I wanted to accomplish, and every month I would review and tweak parts of it. You can see how my goals changed from 2016 to 2017 on this page. Below, I will comment on each of the 5 categories that I worked on in the past year. I hope you enjoy!

work

This involves college applications, classes I took online, and anything academics-related.

2016: A lot of my focus inevitably went towards my college applications – retaking a few standardized tests, researching for colleges, drafting dozens of essays, and all that stuff. The only part that I truly cherish from this arduous process are the essays. I could see how much my thoughts, mentality and writing style had changed since the previous year. As someone who writes, blogs and journals frequently, it was really uplifting to tangibly see my progress.

Additionally, I took some classes that I was interested in academically. This included psychology (one of my intended majors), coding, and a little of web design. I took these courses on Coursera and Codecademy, and though I didn’t love taking classes, they gave me the general insight I needed to become familiar with these fields.

2017: This year was very different. I focused a lot of my education in other ways (that you’ll see later in this post), and mainly brainstormed and planned long-term goals for college. I realized that I am very much interested in psychology and cognitive science in college, looked into other possible minors, researched the clubs and organizations available at my college (once I knew where I would be attending), looked into the ‘different’ types of classes and opportunities available, and mapped out a general 4-year plan for college. So, very college-focused, but also very concentrated on my interests.

health

This includes activities directly related to my emotional, mental and physical wellbeing.

2016: I tried out so many activities and classes this year: meditation, yoga, Pilates, Systema (a Russian self-defense martial arts), ballet, and strength-trained jogged, biked and roller skated on my own. I did not stick with all of these, but they allowed me to understand and take care of my body much better.

2017: I continued taking classes on ballet and Systema – both which I absolutely loved. I learned about beauty and poise in ballet, and the myriad of bio-mechanic skills that Systema taught me opened my understanding about the human body. I also started jogging more, and experienced runner’s high in my first 10k (6.2 miles) race for the first time! I continued to meditate when I needed to (though not as religiously as before), and strength-trained when I deemed it fit. This year was a continuation and consolidation of the activities that I believe helped me most.

personal

All about things that I deeply love and cherish: books, mistyprose (blogging), writing and creativity-related activities

2016 and ’17: I read 100+ books and started a new challenge of reading the world. I got more into photography and learned more about my ‘aesthetic’. I joined the bullet journal community, explored different styles of journaling – morning pages, 5-minute morning journal, gratitude journal, among others. I loved all these activities.

But my proudest personal achievement was creating mistyprose. It started out as The Sapphire, a blog about books, but as my passions started to shift during my gap year, so did the focus of my blog. Earlier this year, I ‘re-branded’ my blog as mistyprose, and realized that my content was varied, but also with a touch of my own style. I promote my blog through Instagram and Tumblr, platforms where I could share my photography too. A few months ago, after getting my (first) camera, I decided to try making videos. As more of a blogger person, this became a new but exciting field to me that I’ve yet to explore further.

wanderlust

This is about traveling, learning new languages, socializing, and volunteering.

2016: Fresh out of high school, I was so eager to travel during my gap year. I thought that backpacking around the world would make me into an independent adult, and I couldn’t wait to get started. However, my (tiger) mom thankfully prevented me from making such rash decisions, as I am a young and naive girl, fresh out of high school. So I started learning languages. I got into German, but couldn’t find my connection with it so I dropped it. I took up American Sign Language (ASL), having learnt Peruvian Sign Language already. I then also started learning Italian, and I loved it.  I also became the translation coordinator for this huge and admirable NGO, something that makes me proud to say.

2017: This year, I realized that I don’t need to physically travel to satisfy my wanderlust soul. I travel when I read books. I travel when I walk to the park and see the sky and the trees with a renewed sense of wonder. I can travel whenever and however. Traveling can be fun, and it’s always an amazing experience to have. But the fallacy in only wanting to travel is not seeing the value of the things that are surrounding you already.

Additionally, I continued learning Italian and ASL, by taking online lessons and/or reading about them. The most important step, however, was my decision to start learning Chinese again. Mandarin Chinese is my first language, but I barely know how to read or write in it. It was after visiting my family in Taiwan in early 2017 that I realized that I needed to learn to communicate properly in Chinese.

music

Instruments and music-related endeavors.

2016 and ’17: Music has been an integral part of my life ever since I was young. I still remember seeing a cello for the first time back in 3rd grade, and watching my cello teacher play the instrument with such expertise and ease. Thus, I learned the cello for several years at school, and then got into the national music conservatory. A year later I joined the national youth symphony orchestra, and then went back to taking private lessons again.

Though I am far from being able to call myself a true cellist, my journey with my cello has been a wholesome one. I learned what ‘passion’ means from other musicians; I saw the hardworking class of the music industry in Peru; and I learned a valuable skill that I will try to cherish for the rest of my life. My gap year allowed me to understand why music is important to me. I went out of my comfort zone and taught violin at a public school; violin’s not my specialty, but I know the theory well enough to teach beginner students.

Something new that I started doing in 2017 was teach myself the piano. My brother used to play the piano a lot, so we have a keyboard at home. I purchased a few beginner books and easy pieces on the Kindle, and that got me started. I love the sound of the piano, but whether I will continue this during college is another matter that I’ll have to decide later on.


So. I read, learned and discovered many things in my gap year, but I did not do so without endless nights of pondering about my personal interests and periods of self-doubt and distress. However, as I look back into this year with sweet reminiscence, I cannot help but be grateful for all that I’ve gained since then. My ‘hardships’ cannot compare to what many have to endure in their lives, but it has allowed me to see past my insecurities with greater faith. As Viktor Frankl once said,

If there is meaning in life at all, then there must be meaning in suffering.

-Michelle

FOMO in college

Now that i’m in college, it’s easier to think back and reminisce about the things I liked the most about school: the consistent routine, the predictability of my school environment, and going back to my precious home at the end of the day.

As an introvert, I rejoiced in the alone time I had at home. Away from the buzz of school activities, I could work without major external distractions. Over the weekends, I gradually learned to say ‘no’ to outings with friends/acquaintances when I didn’t feel like going, in favor of more time to work on my passion projects.

During my gap year, while everyone else was progressively moving on with their lives at college, I learned to be okay with doing my own things. Long periods of self-reflection and pondering about my future allowed me to bring more meaning into my life. But getting comfortable with being alone by myself has always been a challenging phase at every step of my life.

College has not been an exception. The first 2 weeks of living on campus have made me realize that I can rarely be alone without feeling like I’m missing out on something. The nights that I spend working in my room, I can hear laughter erupting every few minutes in the lounge room a few walls away from my seat. Weekend (party) nights start on Thursday here, which means that these nights I go to sleep with loud music soothing me to sleep.

On top of being an introvert, I can also be shy and awkward in unfamiliar situations. My introversion makes me want to be alone most of the time. My awkwardness makes me recoil whenever I act or say something awkwardly. My shyness prevents me from approaching a group of people in the middle of whatever it is that they’re doing or talking about. The struggle is real.

Of course, there are moments in which I put myself out there. Moments in which I just shove my introversion aside, or go forth despite my awkwardness and shyness. But, oftentimes, I can no longer retrieve into my room without feeling guilty for not being or doing more of something. Should I be hanging out more with my floor mates? Should I be making more ‘social’ plans over the weekend? Am I doing enough?

FOMO and such feelings are not new to me, and I’m sure that all of you have experienced this at some point in your lives. Even as an shy and awkward introvert, having a well-balanced social life is crucial for my happiness and emotional wellbeing. It can influence my self-esteem, ability to focus on my work, and emotional stability. But FOMO in college is a new scene for me, and the novelty of everything makes this task extra-daunting.

But it’s now 3 weeks since I moved into campus, and these lingering feelings of FOMO and self-doubt are slowly being overcast by understanding what my priorities are. Though I can be vulnerable and tempted to my social surroundings, keeping grounded to who I am and what I want have been helpful in allowing me to make peace with the things that I miss out on. At the end of the day, I’m happier having control of my own actions, rather than just responding to my external stimuli.

-Michelle

the place where I now call home

on life…

It’s been 10 days since I’ve moved here. By ‘here’ I mean a college dorm at a city in California, my new home for the next 4 years. The change of moving from Peru to the US and living independent of my parents has not been as drastic as I thought it would be. My new surrounding is quite accommodating – despite the relatively unsafe neighborhoods surrounding my dorm and college – so overall I settled down well and fairly quickly. My parents came with me to the US and helped me move in; a few days later, they left. And life continued.

The past week and a half have been hectic though, to say the least. Moving to a new country, attending my brother’s college graduation prior to moving in to my dorm, attending welcoming events and such, attending classes, exploring the new environment, meeting people, ensuring that I have all I need in my new home, and so on. It’s been crazy, but most of this has gone by smoother than I thought.

on college…

I am starting college this summer (weird time to start college), as I have already had my long gap year break. I’ll be taking 2 courses during this time; my first class started last week, and my other class starts 2 weeks later (so, the following week). Though this means that workload will be a little more fast-paced beginning from next week, I’m glad that I have these 2 weeks to just settle in.

In many ways, starting college in the summer has been good for me. I am able to settle in to the college workload earlier, giving me a slight head start to those who will be moving in after the summer. I can start taking classes that go towards my major and/or fields of interest now, as my gap year has allowed me to truly know what it is that fascinates me. Most importantly, I can use this time to really settle into my new home, set new goals, habits and routines that will prepare me for my first year of college.

If you’re a prospective college freshman, I wouldn’t recommend starting college right after finishing school. I’m only taking summer classes because I’ve had my loong break already, and I highly value the time spent away from school and the academic system. It’s important to pull ourselves away from any system for some time, so that we can figure out what we want to do for ourselves when there’s no one telling us to do so. Your summers should be spent exploring, adventuring, learning and being you. There is no need to rush college; it will come when the time comes.

on mistyprose…

This blog, and everything I else I did around ‘mistyprose’ has been my proudest personal achievement in the past year, as I can really see how my mentality and ways of expression have developed since I started this blog. It has allowed me to pursue the things that intrigue and excite me the most, with no fear of judgment from those around me. Even though I hide my real identity here, doing so has allowed me to direct the focus of my blog on the work that I produce, and not on myself.

I wish I knew where mistyprose is heading, but the future seems so uncertain at the moment. Hopefully I’ll figure it out soon.

-Michelle

current faves | june 2017

Hello! This is a post detailing some of the things that I’m loving, doing and enjoying as of now. Some of these are things that I’ve recently picked up; others are things that I’ve been enjoying for a while. In order to prevent this post from going on endlessly, I will name only 5 things per category. Please, enjoy!

youtubers

As a lifestyle blogger, I read and watch a lot of online content creators too. Below are some of the ones I watch most consistently (though it was hard to choose just 5):

  • krist & yu: Krist creates lifestyle & travel videos, and her personality is very bubbly and relatable in all of them. This is actually her second channel (her main is called krist soup); both are different in their content, but personally I enjoy the more personal and motivational content of this one.
  • Anna Akana: Anna’s this badass comedian who also creates (very pro) advice & lifestyle videos. I love how each one of her videos leaves me with an open-ended question, usually based on things that we may encounter in our day-to-day lives. Her videos are scripted, filmed and edited with the help of other people, but unlike some channels, I feel that her content stays true to her personality.
  • Conan Gray: Conan creates artsy, creative and lifestyle videos, and his aesthetic is very retro and cute af. I love how his content can appeal to an audience of any gender,
  • Jordan Clark: Jordan’s my fave new youtuber so far. Her DIY’s, lifestyle and travel videos are just so soothing and aesthetically pleasing to watch. Her DIY’s are really good, creative and not too hard to recreate, which makes them all the more appealing.
  • Thomas Frank: Thomas’ videos are very study and motivation-related, and his content is always very helpful and enjoyable to watch. His videos are also backed up by a detailed blog post, with steps on how to follow his advice.

things

These are some of the things that I’ve been using this year. I’ve had all of these items for at least a few months now, so I’ve had plenty of time to ‘get to know’ these items in detail:

  • Hobonichi Cousin Planner: I love how this planner has monthly, weekly AND daily planning. The layout is very visual, which allows me to plan neatly ahead of time. I also use it daily as a journal, and for anything I fancy, as it has enough space to allow me to explore my journalistic desires.
  • Kindle Voyage (& marble cover): this is my bible. I use it everyday, and I treasure it very much. It’s the size of my hand, and it’s very lightweight and convenient to carry around!!
  • Game of Thrones Leather-Cloth Boxed Set: yes, I only bought this set because it’s beautiful. I’ve read the first 2 books on my kindle, because the words here are TINY. I propped this set up on my bookshelf as soon as I got it, and I look at it everyday. It’s beautiful.
  • Olympus PEN E-PL7: this is the (only) camera that I have to film and take pictures. I use a pastel-ish filter for all my photos as well as most of my videos. It’s not the best camera out there, but it’s small, very pretty, easy to handle, and it does the job for me. It’s also pretty much a fashion accessory itself.
  • Fuzzy slippers that mop the floor: these slippers allow me to be lazy and clean at the same time. I wear these when it’s cold (so, during winter), and allows me to (kind of) clean my floor when I walk from place to place.

ios apps

I don’t have many apps on my phone due to limited storage (though I’m getting a new phone soon), but this has allowed me to use my apps efficiently. These are the ones that I mainly use to maintain my productivity, and the great thing is that all of them are free:

  • Reminders: This helps me keep track of my daily tasks and events. I create different lists, including “morning”, “afternoon”, “night” and “bored?” to remind myself what to do or what I could  be doing during the designated time. I personally think that it’s a great way to take advantage of this free app.
  • Notes: This is for anything I want to remember and keep on my phone, ranging from book quotes, things I aspire to be, blog post ideas, and packing lists. It’s the Microsoft Word of my phone.
  • Goodreads: THIS. Is where I keep my very own virtual bookshelf. I can track books I’m currently reading, want to read, and have read. I can also create bookshelves to separate books by genres and types, and basically keep an orderly record of all my books.
  • Quizlet: I hate studying vocab, but Quizlet makes it much more fun and bearable. Besides being able to create online flashcards, you can also play games and take tests to review your memory.
  • Clue: this is a life SAVIOR for all you girls and women out there. You can keep track of your period AND other details such as emotions, discomforts, feelings, etc. The more detail you give to this app, the more information it will give to you regarding your body. I think it’s amazing to get all this for free.

books & quotes

Books are the best tool for self-education that you’ll ever have. During my gap year, books were my source of comfort, solace, entertainment, and learning. I read fiction when I felt the need to escape to a different world; I read self-help when I was losing touch with whom I was; I read psychology to deepen my intrinsic interest for this field; I read any other book to deepen my understanding in such field. The following are 5 books that I’ve just read or am currently reading, and a quote to give you some insight into each book:

“You care too much about what other people think. But you know what? Because you are so desperate to win the approval of others, you’ll never get rid of their criticisms, no matter how hard you try.”

“knowing we have access to wonderful things undermines our happiness by reducing our tendency to appreciate life’s small joys.”

“Morality, it could be argued, represents the way that people would like the world to work, wheareas economics represents how it actually does work.”

“You can be male and domestic. You can have a career and be domestic. You can enjoy keeping house. No one is too superior or intelligent to care for hearth and home.”

“One of the main benefits of reading stories is that you gain exposure to large amounts of natural Italian. This kind of reading for pleasure is commonly known as extensive reading. This is very different from how you might read Italian in a textbook. Your textbook contains short dialogues, which you read in detail with the aim of understanding every word. This is known as intensive reading.”

songs

My favorite songs change so fast that by the time I publish this post, the top 5 songs that I’m listening to would have already changed. That’s why I make monthly playlists on Spotify to keep track of my favorite songs per month. The following are songs that I was listening to nonstop at some point in the near past, and I hope you like them too!


What are some of your current faves?

-Michelle

moving away for the first time

It feels weird, when I say it, “I’m moving 7,200+ miles away from home“. I always knew this was going to happen when I went away for college, and even though I’ve had an extra year out of school to prepare for this moment, it still feels weird.

The people that I’m leaving behind are my parents and a few close friends. These goodbyes will be hard, because they’re the people that I’ve grown used to spending most of my time with; to depart from them and only be able to talk to them virtually is something that will be hard to get used to. I’m also saying goodbye to several amazing teachers from school and elsewhere. Though I’m already used to seeing them less frequently – some more than others – they have each left an impression on me that I’ll carry with me wherever I go, whatever I do.

And then, there’s home.

I’m saying goodbye to the country that raised me. To the roads that I’ve roamed countless of times, the places and parks that I’ve visited for years, the vibe that I’ve gotten used to. I haven’t always been very fond of my country, but I have grown very comfortable and used to this lifestyle. Leaving this place and the comforts of my cozy home, and starting the next stage of my life somewhere anew will be nothing short of daunting. Even having spent most of my gap year on my own and working on myself, I’m hit with a pang of nostalgia whenever I think about all that I’m leaving behind. I don’t even know how I’ll say goodbye to my room, knowing that I’ll probably never sleep on my bed for more than a few weeks a year from now on.

Missing home and fearing the future; longing for the past and holding back the future. I have always been like this. A sentimental girl, always finding things to long and feel sad about. A cautious girl, never really crossing the line in fear of what the other side may hold in store.

But coupled with this fear also comes the knowledge that I am indeed ready for this change. I know now that I can and will adapt to any situation that I’m presented with. The change may be anything but comfortable initially, but I trust that my choices and decisions will take me down the path that I’m destined for. I will welcome any change with open arms, and accept whatever form of discomfort or struggle that I will most certainly meet. No matter how rocky the journey, it will all work out at the end.

Try not to resist the changes that come your way. Instead let life live through you. And do not worry that your life is turning upside down. How do you know that the side you are used to is better than the one to come?

(Quote by Elif Shafak, from ‘The Forty Rules of Love‘)

-Michelle

I ran 10k for the first time and I liked it

I am not a runner, and have never run 10 kilometers consecutively before signing up for this 10k race. My body had always given in after 5, 6 or at most around 8 kilometers. But then something interesting happened on the day of this event.

If you’ve ever run a few kilometers/miles long, you would know that the first part of the run can oftentimes be the hardest. Your body is just warming up, your feet are getting used to the speed, and your heart is still adjusting to the new pace. For me, those first few hundred steps are always unfamiliar and uncomfortable.

On the day of the race, I was not feeling my best self. My legs were a little sore from the previous day’s workout, and my stomach was jittery with nerves. Unsurprisingly, the first half of the race was gruesome; I was counting the kilometers as I passed each marker and thinking to myself, “I won’t be able to make it” over and over again. Having my dad run alongside me – motivating me each step of the way – was very helpful as always, but it couldn’t ease the discomfort that had already taken over my body.

My iPod decided to go dead nearly halfway through the race – something that has never happened before. I gave up trying to revive it after a while, and this surprisingly made my run more… bearable. I had prepared a pumping music playlist specially for this day, but I realized that I was actually better off without it.

Running is usually such a lonesome activity, and I usually rely on music as my companion. But having thousands of people running behind, beside and in front of me was the best companion of that day. Yes, I could hear people’s steps akin to the sound of fat raindrops – incessant, notorious and all around me. Occasionally, we would pass by someone gasping heavily for air, and at several points we were in par with a guy whose keys jingled exasperatingly in his pocket.

But that didn’t matter. We were, after all, in this together. The people in front of me were the ones showing me the way; those beside me kept me company and urged me along; the ones behind showed me how far I had come, pushing me to keep on going. This was enough motivation to keep me going, regardless of how slow my pace was.

But something curious then happened after hitting the 5k mark: I started gaining momentum. It was as if my body had rejuvenated itself, and I found myself running more vigorously than before. My breathing came under control, my steps became wider, and I felt stronger. Like I said before – I am not a regular runner, so I don’t know what exactly happened at that moment. Basic research on the internet tells me that I might have experienced what is called a runner’s high – a rush of endorphin. It was a great feeling that spread all over my body physically and emotionally, enabling me to get a glimpse of why long-distance runners do what they do.

The feeling of power and control over your own body. The sense of accomplishment even before you finish the task. The genuine pleasure that comes from inside you while you’re still running, your mind free from any burden. You hardly get these feelings of triumph while doing other (healthy) activities.

I have never experienced this in any cardio exercise before, because I have never challenged myself to such extent. I am curious to see whether my runner’s high will continue to kick in the next time that I run the same distance, or how it will change as I (hopefully) run longer distances. As for other sports, it’ll be interesting to see if this ‘high’ happens too!

-Michelle

is sign language really a language?

For the purpose of this post, I’ll be using the American Sign Language as the topic of discussion.

ASL, PSE, and SEE.

Do you know what these stand for? Most of us are acquainted with ASL, which stands for American Sign Language. If you’re from the UK, you have the British Sign Language (BSL); I’m from Peru, so I learned the Peruvian Sign Language. Sign language does not depend on the spoken language of the country (hence they’re completely different in USA and the UK), so signed and spoken languages are not the same. That’s the first misconception that many have when assuming things about sign language.

The second thing is that sign language has its own variations, thanks to us hearing people. PSE stands for Pidgin Signed English, and it’s basically ASL vocabulary, but using the English (spoken language) word order. In other words, if PSE were a language e.g. French, you would speak French words with the English structure. While this may sound ‘correct’ to English-speaking people trying to learn the new language, the French natives would obviously find it wrong. Hence, while many hearing people may find it easier to learn PSE instead of ASL, PSE is not a correct representation of the language that the Deaf community uses.

SEE stands for Signed Exact English, which uses ASL to give the exact representation of the English language. SEE is not as common as the other 2 sign languages, as it’s much more complicated and redundant to use SEE.

The Deaf community uses ASL – the proper and correct form of signed language. However, hearing people oftentimes end up learning PSE, as it’s easier to learn the signs without having to learn the proper syntax and language structure. What’s wrong with this? Let me tell you.

ASL, just like every sign language that has been founded by the Deaf community in every country, is an independent and unique language on its own. It is signed and expressed in a different way to English – thus, it is called ASL and not Signed English. ASL is a representation of the underrepresented culture of the Deaf community.

So what happens when we, the hearing people, change it so that it’s “easier” for us to learn the language? We insult the Deaf community, and we diminish the validity of their own language. It would be absolutely wrong if you do this in any other foreign language, so why do we do this with sign language?

The simple answer? Because it’s “easy”. I have done this myself, thinking that it wasn’t that big of a deal, but when I dug into this topic, I realized how wrong I was. If you have ever learned a foreign language, you would know that the syntax and grammar are what make a language its own. You don’t just learn the vocabulary and use the structure of your native language; that’s preposterous.

I don’t yet fully comprehend the moralities of learning ASL and PSE, as a lot of people and even in TV shows (like Switched at Birth) use PSE so hearing people can use simcom (simultaneous communication). This made me believe that the Deaf community is pretty flexible with our use of sign language – which is great. PSE is definitely a great stepping stone to those learning ASL, but whether we should favor it over ASL is something to consider.


All in all, if you want to learn a new language, please try to learn it well. Sign language can be daunting and different, but it’s also beautiful and (so) aesthetic in its own unique way, and it’s the first step to bridging the gap between the hearing and deaf worlds.

-Michelle

how to procrastinate less

We are all masters at procrastination, this resistant force that prevents us from finishing our most impending tasks.

It’s frustrating, oftentimes uncontrollable and evil, but it’s not an invincible force. This is your 101 guide to battling procrastination:

start your mornings right. (productive morning routine video)

A key to reducing procrastination during the day is by starting the day right. Small things, like waking up feeling refreshed (given that you have had enough sleep), drinking water, making your bed after getting up, and changing into comfy clothes will create the productive momentum that you need to propel yourself towards a productive and successful day.

Make sure that your first morning tasks aren’t too mentally exhausting, and are rather mere healthy habits that you have cultivated over time. You want to save that mental energy for the big, important tasks later in the day!

set monthly goals, and review them whenever you feel demotivated (april goals video)

I already have a list of goals that I want to accomplish for this year, but I review them every month depending on what tasks I want to focus on. I normally keep my goals on a Word document so I can modify them whenever I want to, and for April I decided to fancy things up and made a spread on my bullet journal (which you can see on my April goals video!). It’s very helpful to have this list, as whenever I’m making my daily to-do lists, I can remind myself of what I’m working towards, and not lose sight of the big picture.

amp up your work environment

It’s your space: change it or clean it however you want to. Your work environment is usually your desk or the place(s) where you spend most time working. I love keeping my space clean and aesthetically pleasing as it allows me to get straight to work, instead of fussing over a mess that I should’ve cleaned up before.

This is such an obvious fact, but when you have a clean desk and space, your mind will most likely be clear and set to work too.

or find aesthetic inspiration elsewhere

Who doesn’t love going to a beautiful library, bookstore or coffee shop? In my video, I feature El Ateneo Grand Splendid, which I got to visit on my recent trip to Argentina. It. Was. Amazing. Of course, there are probably no breathtaking places like such everywhere, but a cozy coffee shop or bookstore is always a nice place to step into and get your head in the game.

Personally, I love visiting bookstores and libraries because it allows me to go on an adventure in a place filled with knowledge. Whatever I get distracted with, it’ll be with books. No technology, no phones – just me and the books.

make a to-do list, and break it down into mini tasks

I always write down my to-do list every morning in my planner, and note my tasks down on the Reminders app of my phone. That way, I never lose sight of my important tasks of the day.

When it comes to complicated tasks that require more planning and dissecting, I break the steps down on my planner so I have an idea of what I’ll have to do later on. This also ensures that I don’t forget some sub-tasks or details. Keep in mind that you don’t need to have a fancy planner or fixed place to jot down your tasks, especially if you’re not a heavy planner. But it’s important that you plan somewhere to get your ideas and tasks down.

schedule (and limit) your playtime

Without a proper schedule to follow during the day, you’re more prone to getting distracted with your guilty pleasures. What I do to combat this is to schedule my playtime. For instance, I give myself 30-60 minutes of watching YouTube videos after I’ve accomplished my morning routine and tasks and eaten lunch. This motivates me to get on with my morning tasks, and it has become such a great part of my schedule that I rarely fall prey of YouTube videos or distracting stuff in the mornings.

The key of scheduling your playtime is so that you schedule enough of it during the day, and don’t try to squeeze in extra playtimes when you’re supposed to be working. And, gradually, your body will understand that playtime only happens at certain times of the day.

tell others about your impending task

There are many ways you can use your friends to help you get your work done. For instance, you can put yourself in the debt of a friend (by owing them a Starbucks coffee, or boba) until you finish your most important task of the day. It’s fun, and I bet your friend will be thrilled to help you. Or, you can simply ask a friend for a study session or help with a homework. Having someone else account for your progress is always helpful – as long as you don’t rely on them to do your work. Only you can be responsible for your work and yourself.

or make a public declaration

If you’re like me, and would rather not get your friends involved, I suggest going on Twitter or some other form of social media, and make a public declaration about what you’re supposed to do during the day. Personally, I pretty much use Twitter to promote my stuff and rant about whatever I’m feeling that day. I’m not a fan of Twitter and I rarely post ‘good stuff’ on there, so it’s the perfect platform for me to just post anything.

By making a public declaration on Twitter, I get a false sense that I’m being accounted for, which in turn makes me more prone to completing my task. You should give it a try 😉

remove distractions from your field of vision

Put. It. All. Away. I guess it’s safe to assume that our biggest source of distraction for many, if not most, of us is our phones. What I do is pretty simple: put it on Airplane mode, throw it on my bed with the screen facing down, and forget about it. I usually don’t need my phone to work, except for checking off my tasks.

If you find it hard to get away from your phone, put in on Airplane mode and hide it somewhere hard to reach. Just do it, and forget about it. Check it during your playtime, or the few minutes that you switch into your next task, but not when you’re working. The more you practice this, the easier it will become to remove yourself from your distraction.

do productive procrastination

Is all procrastination bad? Not really. I particularly remember watching a TED talk by Adam Grant, who talks about procrastination as a source of creativity. I agree. When we procrastinate, we physically put off a task, but we subconsciously work on it. And when we do eventually get down to work on the task, we are most likely gonna have more and better ideas and solutions that task.

But it’s crucial to not spend too much time procrastinating, as time is fleeting and precious. What I recommend doing (if you’re feeling like procrastinating) is to procrastinate on creative things: painting mandalas, organizing your desk, practicing calligraphy, or doing any hobby of your choice. Get creative, and get excited! By gradually getting yourself more productive, you’ll eventually find it easier to get ahead with your actual task.

forgive yourself if the day doesn’t go as planned

You’re human, and you make mistakes. The sooner you embrace this idea, the easier it will be to relieve yourself of any mistake  you make along the way. I think it’s important to reflect upon what you could have done better, but not to dwell on the actual decision.

Acknowledge, let go, and move on.

-Michelle

on traveling more

A part of us should always be in constant travel, whether physically or mentally.

To me, traveling means leaving my comfort zone, the place where I call home. It means not knowing what to expect with the people I interact with and with the places I visit. It means throwing my expectations off the table and experiencing each step of the way with youthful and pure curiosity. To me, traveling means independence, freedom, learning, and adventure.

Beyond just checking off bucket list destinations, traveling allows me to immerse myself in a world completely different to my own. A world in which the values, priorities and languages may be radically different, making me question whether I’m living with the values and morals that I wish to implement in my life.

on physical travel…

Traveling to a different country is always such an adventurous and exciting experience. It literally pulls you away from the mundane life that you’re accustomed to, and thrusts you in an environment that leaves you in awe. The places that you’ll stay, the destinations that you’ll visit, the food that you’ll eat and the people that you’ll meet – the combination of these experiences is unlike any other. Even if you forget most of these events, you’ll leave the place with a renewed sense of understanding about the world that surrounds you. More importantly, it might even reveal a thing or two about the kind of person that you are.

Whenever I travel, I try to invest myself in the planning of the trip as much as possible. This means reading other travel bloggers’ reviews, researching about the most convenient flight schedules and prices, considering more than one place to stay at, familiarizing myself with the city before I’m even there – basically, be my own travel agent, along with whoever I’m going with. Taking these steps are crucial in my understanding of how the ‘traveling world’ works. I’ll learn from all the research, discoveries and mistakes that I make along the way, because that’s what matters to me. I don’t want to be just another blind tourist being guided to the most beautiful and popular places of a country; I want the real deal.

on mental travel…

Traveling through the eyes of others and the experiences of those that lived before us is… amazing, to say the least. The only way that we can observe life from a perspective different to our own is if we put ourselves in the shoes of someone else. The best and easiest way to do this? Read. Read lots. Fiction, business, non-fiction, biographies, fantasy. All genres, authors of all ages, dead or alive. Even the ‘badly written’ books will teach you a thing or two (for instance, how to not write a badly written book).

Physical traveling allows you to experience the novelty through your flesh and blood, while mental traveling allows you to detach from yourself and understand why others see things the way they do. I feel that they both complement each other wonderfully. They’re different kinds of travel, but each is very valuable on its own.

on traveling more

I am in constant travel. Either through the varied books that I’m currently reading, or through exciting trips that I’m lucky to go on every once in a while. But I don’t crave physical travel as much as I did before. I still value and dream about it as much as before, but I’ve realized that we shouldn’t feel like we need to travel to satisfy our adventurous self.

We can travel whenever we want to, wherever we are. We can travel in the hometown that we’ve lived in for more than a decade, within the home that saw us grow into young adults – anywhere. Because traveling is not necessarily about doing, having and going to the places that you haven’t yet been to; it’s about exploring the things that surround you in different ways.

-Michelle