Friday, December 31, 2010

Going... going... gone! First semester is DONE.

Well, it's here. The end of the year and with that, reflections. I wish I had time to type out all my thoughts, but alas, tis the eve of my departure from home in Cayucos to home at MIT. But, as my mother pointed out, I've done a post for every month, so here's December's.

As the school year came to an end I was stressed and didn't know if I was going to pass the three classes I had. My self-confidence lowered (still working on that battle, but that's another blog for when I have time), I wasn't sure of anything. One semester at MIT can put you through many emotions, more than all my four years of high school. I see some people say "yeah, that was fine." and I think to myself, "heh, and where were you going to school?" In all honesty, I shouldn't have gotten behind in the beginning, but now I know to stay up on the reading and to sign up for those amazing seminar XL study groups. I finally was understanding chemistry, 3.091, and I finally was getting good grades in math (though I was convinced that I didn't know anything, still am not sure about that...). I came to finals week with this mindset: well, I got behind, got sick, dropped a class, and struggled to get caught up. I think I've done as good as anyone could ask of me to get back on track, so whatever happens, I'm prepared.

After studying and studying for math (my first final) I went to bed the night before the final at about 1am. I thought, "okay, I can get 7 solid hours of sleep, and then rock this exam!" Only, I started freaking out and had a stomach, shakes, and couldn't sleep the WHOLE night. Literally, NO SLEEP whatsoever. It was horrible. All throughout the night I was thinking, "it's just a test, it's not the end of the world. just relax, get some sleep," but no, it wouldn't work. I got out of bed when my alarm told me, and I got ready for an exam I had no idea how I was going to do well on. I am the type that needs sleep to function, but for some reason, my body does this right before big exams that I'm stressed about. It's like getting food poisoning, the shakes, nausea, no sleep... It happened right before my SATs, I think before some AP tests, and before my math final for the class I was taking at Cuesta last year. I think I need to get some professional help to work through that bad habit. Anyways, I got to the arena where there was a huge sea of desks, and I sat down. I prepared myself for those dredded parametric equations and cycloid problems (still baffle me). We got the exam. I calmed myself, hah, yeah right, to the best of my abilities at least. And we heard it, that famous word:

"Begin."

I swear you could hear the brains churning in the room. It's like holding a car just above the ground with its wheels spinning and then placing it on the ground to take off! Zoom! I flipped through the whole test to see what I had before me. Where is it? Where is that dredded parametric equation problem about a cycloid and some God awful piece of bubble gum we have to map it's path ....blah blah blah...where is it?! What? It's not here. It's...not...here?! AWESOME. I LOVE YOU PROFESSOR BUSH. So with that, I was stoked. I flipped through and the double integrals didn't look too bad, okay, two problems down, the matrices, hah, old stuff, got that...man, this test isn't too bad. Let's do this!

I was really pleased with the test. I left feeling like I had put down something for every problem, except one, problem 11...I'll remember you...*stares off into the distance* It was about the volume shaved off, I think, of an spherical orange cored with cylindrical tool. Anyways,  at the end of the exam, with about 7 minutes left, I started writing down some geometry stuff, and then handed it in. I felt like I hadn't just "put stuff down" but had understood like 80% of the test and put down ACCURATE stuff. :)

That was Tuesday morning, Wednesday afternoon I found out I got AN 84.5%!!!! :D I was TOTALLY STOKED (to be a Californian, since apparently people assume I"m from California when I use that phrase...). I had actually raised my grade from like an 85% to an 89.5%! :) I still don't know how I did it...hmm. Cool!

And then 3.091, chemistry, happened. I wasn't sure what to do. I studied a lot and was comforted, slightly, that all I needed was a 60 to pass. I took the final and was able to, again, put things down, but there was definitely things I didn't know. I wasn't sure if I was going to get that 60 that I needed. I emailed my TA asking him to let me know my grade if he could, and he said that he wasn't supposed to, but he'd see what he could do. A couple days later I got an email saying I got a 67 and had passed the class!! WOO HOO!! :) I'm totally stoked! :) As a Christmas present, I gave my review sheet to my mom, saying that (at the time I hadn't gotten the email) she could keep it but there is a chance that I may need it back for next semester...she laughed. However, now, its hers for the keeping! DONE!

After that, I was on cloud nine, I had gotten an A in math and passed my other two classes! I still have to finish math, but I feel much better knowing that I'm going into part 2 with a good grade. More importantly, that means that I know how to apply what I learned! (Hopefully I still remember!)

Well, it's getting late and I've got to finish packing. Gonna spend the last few hours with mom and the kitties. I hope everyone has a splendid New Year filled with much love, confidence, and excitement! Cheers!

--Chacha

Saturday, November 6, 2010

"I can guarantee you, Chacha..."

So I've been thinking lately (uh-oh, Chacha's been thinking again...) and I've decided this: I have no idea why I worry so much. I do worry excessively, it's a fact, but I been questioning "why?"  I have hard time telling the difference between "worrying excessively" and "caring." Like, I want to care about my grades, and I want to be motivated to do well, but I don't want to excessively stress or worry about them. I mean, to quote Matt 6:25, why worry, it won't add a single moment to my life and in fact, it'll make life so much less enjoyable. That is not to say that I should live life recklessly, so as to not think about the possible side effects of my actions, but rather, live life in such a way that I cherish it's moments of beauty.

That said, I've been thinking more and more about majors and what I should choose. When I applied to MIT I thought I'd be a business major. Not that I anticipate enjoying "business" so much as I thought it'd be rewarding to be a financial advisor for companies and wealthy individuals looking to invest their money in various charities. I figured if I had a specific dream, for instance, mine is eliminating thirst in Africa, I could shape what work I did in the future to achieve that goal. I like working with money, and I've always been good about budgeting and planning things pertaining to finance ever since I was a little girl, so I figured finance was the way to go. Also, I plan to work for the FBI (or maybe NSA?) after graduation, and I know that business is a common major among the applicants to the FBI. But now, after being here at MIT more, it seems like 6-2, EECS, or computer science and electrical engineering, seems like a possible major. I like what the people do. I don't really know ANYTHING about computers and I feel like I'm eons behind everyone else who is course 6, but I guess that's why I'm at MIT, right? to learn?

I don't know, I guess I'm just a little scared that I don't have what it takes to do well in that major. I also want to study Chinese, Italian, Spanish(maybe), and Music. I find those subjects to be very interesting. But with the coursework of 6 and the fact that it'd be a steep learning curve for me, makes me think that I wouldn't be able to pursue the previously stated subjects to the extent I'd like. Also, in general, course 6 is MUCH harder than course 15 (business) and I'm quite scared of all the math and legitly hard labs and classes involved. Not that I want it easy at MIT, but my confidence is quite shaken at the moment. I anticipate being like "bring it on MIT!!!" at some point, simply because that's my nature in life, but as for right now, it's late, I'm tired (probably not the best combination for writing this entry), I'm just getting back on the saddle with school, and yeah, I'm just not a sure of anything.

I am feeling better about classes in general. Dropping my physics (though not finalized, doing that this week) was a HUGE relief for this semester, but it's planted a seed of doubt of whether or not I can make it in the future. I know I won't have the adjustment period and I know now to stay on top of things, but still, that voice is there. It's hard to silence it. My study groups and tutor for my math and chemistry classes are amazing. I find them to be VERY helpful and I"m really starting to learn and understand the material in 3.091 (my chemistry class)! My math is progressing along. I'm starting to get confused, so I need to nip that in the bud, NOW. But I'd say it's doing well.

Oh yeah, I met with a dean of Undergraduate Academics the other day, to discuss how I was doing and what to do about my classes/what I had done about the problem classes. She was very impressed that I came so prepared, what with my schedule, and list of the things I had done (contacted TAs, got a tutor, signed up for a study seminar group, etc.), she even offered me water and I had my own bottle and she was like "you even come prepared with your own water!" After talking with her for an hour and going over the process of how things work at MIT, the most assuring words she said were:

"I can guarantee you, Chacha, you will NOT be kicked out of MIT."

I was really worried about coming up on academic review and what the board would rule if I end up not doing well (though I don't anticipate that, just saying, worst possible scenario...) and it was really, REALLY nice to hear  DEAN say that what I'm doing shows that I want to be here badly enough. To top it off, she was so impressed with everything that I got a JOB OFFER. A job offer?!?! Yeah, I got asked to be an advisor next year. She said that the way I've handled the situation and the way I've managed to look at the bright side but take things seriously has formed me into a better/more experienced person. She said that the lesson I've learned (i.e. the importance of staying on top of things from the beginning, and taking the initiative when I find myself having a problem) is something that is extremely valuable. She also said that the kids who are "smarties" this semester that are using knowledge from high school, will be in my shoes next semester when suddenly they need to learn the lesson of 'how to study.' Not that I want them to experience the stress that I went/am going through, but it is a comfort to know that everyone does experience this and it's nice to hear it from a dean. So yeah, went in expecting to chat about my stressful/getting-back-on-top life, and I came out with a job offer. Who would have thunk?

Well, it's late. I'm off to bed. I hope you all are doing well.

Peace and love to all!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

*cough* *cough* I think I have the black lung...

Man, whew, holy tamole. So a quick update, I basically stopped being a human and instead was a human-sized petri dish the last 5 days. I started feeling ill on Friday and really got sick later Saturday night and then got really bad Sunday -Tuesday. I went into to MIT medical on Monday morning, but I missed my doctor's appointment because when I was getting ready such a bad bloody nose started that I wasn't able to get it under control in time to get to my appointment. Once I finally got there, walking across campus with an ice pack and washcloth (pretty bloody) all bundled up because I knew I was sick, they cleaned me up and then wheelchaired me down to Urgent Care. The nurse who cleaned me up at my doctor's office was worried that I'd faint because I had lost a lot of blood and it had been bleeding for about 40 minutes without stopping at that point.

Once in Urgent Care, I was propped up in a nice bed with a warm blanket and left to see if my nose would stop on its own, but it didn't. So after another 20 or so minutes (a total of an hour without stopping) they had to cauterize my nose. Then I was left to rest a little to see if that had stopped all the bleeding. Luckily, it did.

Then they looked at me and saw that my sinuses were considerably swollen and that my right eye was pink and gunky and leaky. They then said that I had a sinus infection and pink eye. To top it off, they looked at my throat and saw white pustules. I was then told I had either strep or mono. Joy. At least now I had a reason why I felt like crap and wasn't able to sleep. I was given a prescription for azithromycin and something for my eye. I came back and rested for the rest of the day. Later in the evening I went to a chemistry review because there was an exam on Wednesday (I latter got an extention, so I'm taking said exam NEXT wednesday, since I was so sick that I couldn't study and my mind was out of it).

Tuesday afternoon I developed a cough and nervous that it'd develop into a respiratory infection (being on Humira for AS I'm more prone to respiratory infections and take much longer to heal in general). I contacted my doctor and he prescribed a cough syrup (with codeine, so now I sleep even MORE and am EVEN MORE out of it! :P) also, he was concerned that my pink eye wasn't actually pink eye but rather uveitis. I then had to go back to medical and get checked out by an eye specialist. He confirmed that I did just have pink eye, thank the Lord.

And so now it's Thursday afternoon. I'm working on some math. I'm moving VERY slowly, and I'm EXHAUSTED but at least my head doesn't throb and today is the first day that my throat isn't sore! I'm on the mend, I just need to be sure to get enough sleep.

As a result of being sick, I contacted Student Support Services, and talked with a dean. Luckily, I had already scheduled an appointment with a dean from there, so the woman I spoke with knew my situation. She was very concerned for my health and strongly recommended that I drop a class. She said that I put in the effort to get back on top, but clearly, me getting sick was my body's response to the high levels of stress and it came at a very unfortunate time. I may have been able tot get back on top with the three classes I was flagged in, but not now with being as ill as I am. That said, I have dropped my physics class which takes up the most time and I felt most overwhelmed about. The biggest thing now is not feeling like a slacker. I'm doing pretty well with that, but every now and then I think "gee, other kids can do it, why can't I?" In the end, I chose my health over my pride and I don't regret that. Everyone I've run into says I made the right decision, but you know, it's me who's got to FULLY believe that.

So yeah, I'm busy resting and eating soup and staying warm. For the first time today I enjoyed my math class a lot. I was working on a math problem by myself and am proud of how well it's going...not perfect, but better than before. I'm also really glad I transferred from 18.02 to 18.02A (basically I get a new start with my math class, but I have to finish it over winter break. no biggy, i was planning on being here anyway.)

I hope this finds everyone back home (and those who read this that are here at MIT/surrounding area) in good health. Be grateful of that, hah, most definitely. Take care.

Peace and love.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

the power of a smilie

In an effort to keep people up-to-date on what's going, I'll jot down the newest development in my life.

I got a fifth week flag.

To start: a fifth week flag is given out when  a student (that's me)  is in danger of failing a class (18.02, my multivariable calculus class).

I anticipated getting three, but thus far I've only gotten one: 18.02. It was very formal and it was from my TA, Steve. I'm the first name he knew in the class and I know that we have a special bond. He asked me to reply with some time that we could get together, and I asked for tomorrow morning. I also went on to elaborate how I was feeling and I how I know that I am behind. He responded with "I"m sorry Chacha for the formality, as it WAS  formal email. Tomorrow at 9:30 sounds fine. Also, you'll be fine :) so don't worry."

I was really trying to give it up to God and I just needed a little something to cheer me up. Steve's response, with the smilie, really helped calm my nerves. Don't get me wrong, I"ve had stress back pain for the past week or so, and I am NOT sure what to do/think about this Midterm I have in math this thursday, but his response helped. Kind of silly, but true.

In any case, I need to go read...A LOT. so this is all for the moment. but yeah, I'm meeting with him tomorrow at 9:30. I know I can do this! Man, it's just hard to truly believe those words at times...but I will, I will.

Peace and love to all......  :)

Friday, October 15, 2010

I didn't have time

Well, to make a quick post is to make a quick seven layered wedding cake....it just doesn't happen. But I'll try my best to get some things down on paper (?) and perhaps elaborate more later.

So I had my first meltdown last Sunday. It was pretty epic. I mean, and not. I don't know how to define 'epic'...in any case, I was feeling lonely and unaware of where to turn. I went to church because I just felt this craving to be in the silence of the chapel simply being with God. A little way through mass I started tearing up and did my best to hold it together to present the gifts and go to communion. Afterward, they just came. Tears are funny, the more you try to fight them, the more they are determined to come. I sat there in the fourth row of chairs and within like 7 minutes the chapel went silent. Head bowed, my nose ridiculously runny, I had no choice but to surrender myself to the silence, the presence of God. I felt lonely. I felt angry. I felt unloved. I felt overwhelmed. But I felt. So long I had gone through life trying not to feel. I had learned to live a numb life, I mean, it's safe right? You can't feel love, but at least you can't feel pain....you can't feel abandoned.

Well, over the course of the past two or so years I've learned to feel and embrace such emotions. Only now, I fear I feel to much! Heh. Nevertheless, I was sitting there and not sure what to do. I wanted to but held. I knew God was there, but to honest, I couldn't feel Him. In the past I've been able to imagine Him holding me, but that day I felt so lonely, so gut, all-consuming lonely, that no imagination could help me. However, there was a different sensation I felt that day. It was weird, like, in the center of me, the innermost being, could sense being with God. It wasn't anything overwhelming or awe-some. It was quiet and steady. I, I don't know how to phrase it, but He was there.

I did need that touch though, and so, I texted my friend Nell to respond to something she had asked me. I asked her to keep me in her prayers and told her I wasn't doing too well and was sitting in the chapel. She responded with "Aw honey, i'll be right there." She and I met over facebook about three months back and we both live at McCormick. She also is Catholic and has been a great source of wisdom and support, and especially after last Sunday, I am eternally grateful for her presence in my life. She came over with a huge stack of tissues and Reese's Puffs (our favorite cereal) and just held me. She said some words that I'm still mulling over. One thing that comes to mind is something she said to me when I was saying that I just felt so much and didn't know how I was supposed to go do my homework, she responded with "you take the time to feel it all, let it out, and then acknowledge that there is work to be done and get to it!"

The trick is to take the time. That was the biggest gift I had to give to God. I was overwhelmed with all I had to do and I didn't even think I had the time to go to mass. I knew then that I really needed to go to mass, words from Mom quoting a poem ran through my head:

I Didn't Have Time

"I got up early one morning

And rushed right into the day!

I had so much to accomplish

That I didn't have time to pray.

Problems just tumbled about me,

And heavier came each task.

"Why doesn't God help me?" I wondered.

He answered, "You didn't ask!"

I tried to come into God's presence;

I used all my keys at the lock.

God gently and lovingly chided,

"Why, child, you didn't knock!"

I wanted to see joy and beauty,

But the day toiled on, gray and bleak.

I wondered why God didn't show me.

He said, "But you didn't seek."

I woke up early this morning,

And paused before entering the day.

I had so much to accomplish

That I had to take time to pray!"

I felt so relieved just giving that time to Him though, not allowing myself to think of anything else. I thought I'd be more overwhelmed, but I really made an effort to focus only on Him and it turned out to be exactly what I needed.

Afterward, she made me eat some cereal, and said "if I don't hear from you within the next three days, i'm coming over!" We parted and I felt still stressed about school, but I no longer felt that frightening sense of loneliness.

It's quite humbling to let someone see me in such a state and more so to know that they just want to love and help me. If nothing else, I think that's one of the greatest lessons I've learned from that--to open up to someone is to fully trust them. Trusting someone is no easy task. It's dangerous. It's uncertain. But it's so worth it.

On a happier note, MIKE MIKE MIKE MIKE MIKE MIKE MIKE MIKEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!

:D IT'S MIT FAMILY WEEKEND!!!!

I'm so SUPER DEE DUPER blessed to have Mike out here. I never thought that any of the Solimans would be able to make it out here, but about four weeks back in a video chat they popped the news! I was to have a Mike Soliman come see me!!! So yeah, I'm about to leave and go to a movie with bro and Mike. They're already fooling around in Boston Common.

I didn't realize how much I missed seeing my family until I saw Mike. It still hasn't struck me that he is visiting me at my home. I still feel a little bit like this is a temporary thing, like, wow, MIT?! But it's slowly sinking in and his visit is helping with that. (I can't wait to see you, Myla, and the kids! Oooo, I want a Gaby kiss and an Isa drool-kiss so badly!!) It's super funny/fun to introduce Mike as my brother, which I've been doing. People look at us (Mike's Filipino) and are like "um...sooo.....how are you guys related??" I respond with "brothers from another mother..." hahaha.... I met up with Mike for lunch today and yesterday he went with me to 18.02 (math) and we're going to party it up this weekend! Haha, and by "party it up" I mean, we're going to fool around and be the dorks that we are. Man, I miss that SO much. I forgot how much fun Mike and I have together, it's not "like", it IS having another brother around. And in case you don't know, I have the best brother, Gabe, as a brother already, so it's AWESOME to have another one. :) :D Yeah, Mike is just the high I need. He knows that I have a math exam next thursday and a physics pset I have to get done, so we won't be spending every moment together but when we do spend time together it's EPIC. :)

I love how I can have a witty conversation with Mike and then the next moment have a nice heart to heart with him about that which weighs on my heart. Man, I am truly blessed to have you all in my life...I really am. <3

Well, Stephan is getting ready and then we're off to meet up with Mike and bro! Oh boy! Time for Stephan to meet "the Mike." To be honest, Mike will be way less worse than Myla, oh dear...I'm actually kind of nervous about that! Haha, Myla is one tough cookie, profoundly loyal and dear to my heart. (btw, thank you thank you thank you! for the earrings, the card, and the BACKPACK ((I got a sweet Mario Kart, preschool sized backpack...it's FREAKIN EPIC))!! they're AMAZING!) Haha, just wait till he has to meet Nancy, Keith, Cristina and the Blancos, Sophia or Al....basically everyone!

My love to all! I hope this finds you in good health and much love!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

To be.

So it's been wayyy too long since I made my last post, and I'm very sorry about that! I know that some of you have been faithful followers waiting for that last post and I have been anxious myself to get some of my experiences down on paper/the web/the crazy mess of tubes that I don't understand.

To start things off: I'm surviving, physically. Heh. That's about all I can claim at the moment, but hey, it's better than it could be. Mentally...that's a whole other story. I feel like everyday my mind is stretched beyond it's capabilities. My thoughts are not only challenged but, often a more difficult experience, forced to be formed. How many times did I encounter the very same phenomenon and never think about it? How many times do we go through our daily lives never really acknowledging the wonders that are around us? The simple, small, quiet things. Those are the things I have found I most enjoy. Recently, I found my favorite spot on campus. But first, let's back up.

4:03pm, Friday, Sept. 24

"Oh man...you guys ready for the quiz today?" 8.01 (my physics class) is, well, to be kind, not my best friend at the moment (nor is math, but we'll get to that in a minute, erm, a couple minutes). I went to that class knowing that I was going to fail the quiz and that was a HORRIBLE feeling. After struggling through the "table problems" (problems my physics group, Table 7, does as a whole) I knew that this quiz was not going to end well. But I had acknowledged it. After walking out of class at 5pm, I had a horrible feeling in my gut...I knew something had to change.

On my walk back to East Campus (I've been spending most of my time there, I'll explain why later) I just felt that I needed some time with God. I just...I ached for His silence. It was a slightly windy day and I was wearing a dress with leggings and a scarf (super comfortable). I had made this walk many times but this time I noticed there are three lovely, extra wide, "benches." But these benches are basically just giant slabs of pebbly concrete , probably 12x3 feet in dimensions. I decided to lay down on one and just watch the clouds float by in the sky. Oh yeah, that's my favorite thing to do, by the way. It's my most "luxurious" treat to myself. Simply spending time doing absolutely nothing but laying in the grass, or in this case, a super wonderful bench, and watch clouds move. I love to look for shapes and figures (every since I read Double Luck by Lu Chi Fa, I always look for dragons!). In any case, I was just laying here, watching the clouds and the leaves because its located right under a tree with legit leaves, the kind that fall off in fall (aka, non-Californian trees). It was super relaxing. I felt like I was indulging in something I didn't deserve! Hah. Needless to say, I just decided to simply "be" with God.I am so sick of asking Him for things, making promises and breaking them, chatting off His ear (mind you, I should be doing all of these things more, as in, I should have more of a continuous conversation with Him, but still...you get my point)...I just wanted to be silent. I just wanted...to be.

That's when I realized how much I was actually "craving" this silence. Who would have thunk? At MIT, the best college in the world (haha, bias you say? LIES!), surrounded by the best professors and students, and here I was, wanting silence. Then I got to thinking, but soon as I got thoughts in my mind I tried to scurry them away, so as to maintain the silence. Nevertheless, some thoughts stuck. I was thinking, what if I took the time everyday to realize how delicate life is? What if I realized that, like the tree whose leaves were falling in preparation for winter, my life too is changing, not necessarily for a seasonal reason, but in general. What if I realized this and seized the moment? Carpe Diem, right? I should clarify, I don't mean to live like there's no tomorrow. I don't think partying it up today in such a way that will damage tomorrow's opportunities is in any way a "good way" to live life. But if I lived with a purpose, how much more fruitful would my life be? If I lived, not by accident, not by habit, but on purpose, how much greater would my appreciation for every moment, every laugh, every cloud, be? Now the challenge is to find that purpose. I know God has a greater plan in mind for me, and I continually pray that one day it'll become more evident what His will for my life is, but in the meantime, I'll just try my best to live "on purpose."

That being said, my poor grade in phsyics, and then, this past Thursday I failed my math exam, are not accurate representations of my fullest potential. I don't expect %100 on my tests or in my classes.  I know I'm not some genius nor am I wanting to sacrifice other joys in life (like the play I'm part of , or the a cappella group, or the bible study or just the fun times of fooling around in China town!). I'm allowing myself to live more and be fine with just passing. But what I won't settle for, what I'm not okay with, is going into test without having learned and given it my all. My best is what should be put down on paper during a test, and more importantly, my best is what I expect of myself. I want to learn the material. Why else should I be here?

I won't lie, I'm totally intimidated. The kids here, they're crazy smart. For instance, my boyfriend, Stephan is SUPER brilliant! (I'll talk more about him in another blog, perhaps all by himself? haha, we'll see... oh yeah, he's one of the reasons I go to East Campus, a dorm, so much. I mean, I know a lot of people who live there, but I'm not going lie, he's the main reason.) He's a course 6, or computer science, major and he's ALWAYS thinking things up. That's what kids to do here! I swear! (Sometimes I don't know what I'm doing...) For instance, just a couple minutes ago, he interrupted my blogging to tell me his new idea: he wants to set up his fancy Canon EOS Rebel XXI camera to take a picture of things moving at high speeds, but he wants to set up a micro controller to function as a motion detector. And the kicker is, he's soldering right now at his desk creating it. He just rummaged through his drawer and found this chord that can plug into his camera, a little piece of magic, a motion detector, and his micro controller that will use the voltage from the motion detector to send a pulse to the chord/magic piece which will then tell the camera to take a picture. IT'S SOOOO COOL! I want to be like that, I want to be able to create random stuff. In any case, my tangent was to brag about Stephan, yes, but more importantly to give y'all a taste of what MIT students are like. Yup. I'm in over my head... Haha. How can I learn to be like them?! I want to be my own, and yet these kinds of things ARE FREAKIN AWESOME to me. I don't know who to ask to teach me such ways, as I feel everyone here who likes that kind of stuff is just naturally born with such talents of invention and soldering. Ah, who am I kidding? I'm sure I can win someone over with some batting of eyelashes or promises of brownies!

But don't get me wrong, there are many kids here that are in my shoes. Many people I've encountered feel overwhelmed with school as well. While I feel alone in the failing, I don't feel alone in the sensation of stress and constant work-to-be-done. So to solve this dilemma, I created a very detailed schedule of how I'm going to work, from here on out. Unfortunately, to that point, I have MUCH to reading/work to catch up on from the past three weeks. In any case, I know I can do it, I just have to be willing to put in the hours it will entail. I know it won't cure my feeling of being overwhelmed, but it will help enable me to do my best in what I want. I could go on, but...

So sorry, I'm seriously falling asleep. Got to go to bed! I'll write more about specifics of classes and life later! Love you all. Thanks for reading...

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

MIT

Wow, so this is what it's like- to achieve one's goal of 7 years. I'm here. I did it. More accurately, we did it. I know I put in the hours of work, but it was you, the supporter, Mom, Bro, Mike and Myla, Nancy and Keith, everyone- you all made it possible for me to feel loved when overwhelmed, safe when scared of failing, and at ease and constantly aware of God's glory.

So a quick update: I'm here at MIT, first of day of classes were today! Man, I'm pooped. I've got some math reading to do still! It's going well thus far, but it's been a long day, 10-5 with an hour for lunch. And while that may not seem like a lot for a normal job, I think being mentally aware is much harder to maintain for such a period of time. It still hasn't fully sunk in that I'm an MIT student....I'm an MIT student...me, Chacha, Jacqueline Nicole Durazo, an MIT student. That title has always seemed like such an elusive mystical one, one too exotic for a girl like me. Yet here I am. And what am I doing?! DIVING IN AND THEN LEARNING TO FLOAT! So, I came here early to do a "camp" for freshmen. I chose the Freshmen Arts Program, since I"m not that artsy, I thought the group of kids would be interesting! I did music, and I LOVED IT! I felt so motivated I tried out for 5 a cappella groups! AND GUESS WHAT?! I got into the Christian group called MIT Cross Products! I was so proud of myself for trying out. Man, that first solo, having to sing by myself, it was intense. I was nervous. And regardless of getting into an a cappella group, I was SO proud of myself! :) Auditioning is serious business and I've never sung by myself infront of anyone...I guess I did practice in front of Tommy (a group leader for FAP, my camp) but other than that, nothing! In any case, when I heard I got in, I was out front of Target, and I literally screamed and jumped up and down. It was a fantastic day! We have a group retreat the weekend of the 17th (mom's birthday!!)! I anticipate many good times with these people!

So here I am, pondering what am I to do here!? I barely started school, am already involved in an a cappella group, an MIT documentary of student life, and a full courseload! I'm not even taking any intensely advanced classes! Oh yeah, the documentary, so starting with my year, there is a film and production crew that will be filming and following eight freshmen over the course of our four years, in an effort to personally understand what MIT life is like! They gave me a little video recorder, and I"m supposed to record things as I see fit! It's quite an honor in my book, I'm one of eight! In any case, I've already met with them and had a 45 minute interview, filmed with the stage makeup and all! Haha...and now they'll just poke into my life every 4-6 weeks to see how things are going. Meanwhile I'm recording away! They'll eventually have a website where they post these things. As soon as I know, I'll pass it along!

Man, it's getting late, I should go to bed, but I still have reading to do! Ahh...I don't know. Maybe read a little and then get up early? Hmm...class at 11am. Then at 1. Hmm...Oh yeah, mom is leaving tomorrow. Not going to be fun times. Nevertheless, I'm really busy, in a good way, and I've got lots of good people (LIKE MY BRO!!) to surround myself with, so the homesickness, though it'll be strong, will be conquerable. Furthermore, anytime any of y'all want to send me a card, email, phone call, feel free! If you want my address, just let me know, I'll get it to you! Love you all very much. Thanks for the love, support, and prayers! Keep it coming, okay?!

Sorry if this is just a bunch of jumble...I'm just getting down what I can. Nighters!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

I'm home...

So I'm really sorry that I haven't been as diligent as I probably should have been, but nevertheless, I tried! On my way back from Italy my flight from JFK to SFO got canceled (NEVER FLY DELTA!!) and then I got transferred to fly an American flight to LAX and then United to San Luis Obispo. Well, of course, my checked bag got lost and took 8 DAYS to get back to me....grumble grumble...the wound is still fresh. Anywho, I had my ice box for my meds, my shoulder bag, and my carry-on. Well, after staying up all night (my flight was supposed to leave at 8pm, and I didn't leave the terminal to go to another terminal to catch my flight until 4:00am) I went over to American and went through security. I got pulled over because my small bottle of aceto balsamico was thought to be a small bottle of wine. TSA is ridiculous, they pulled me aside, (mind you, at this point, I have gone through 3 OTHER CHECKPOINTS and this hasn't been a problem) and told me that they had to look at my bottle. My bag just about exploded when she opened it. I was freaking out, on the inside, because I was not about to leave a bottle of balsamic vinegar that cost me 25 euros (got it for 20 cuz I befriended the owner) and has been aged for 15 years!! Luckily, by the grace of God truly, it was JUST the right size. 100ml. I've never been so happy to see a measurement whose quantity I don't  fully understand!!! So after sleeping some on the floor of the terminal at the gate I was supposed to be at, I then started to board the plane. Oh yeah, just prior to that I went up and asked the woman if I would have an issue with my three bags (I had gotten clearance to travel with my meds in an icebox and that my bag would not be checked or get counted as three, because it was a medical reason) and the woman said that I had to consolidate. So I did. And when I came back, she said I had to check my carry on, because it was too large. I told her that it was smaller before, and that I didn't have any problems with it flying from Pisa to JFK, but since she made me combine them, I had to move things from my shoulder bag and put them in my carry on. She then insisted on making me check my bag. At this point, I was beyond exhaustion, I had been up for like 30 hours of constant travel and hadn't eaten something legit for that long, and I just started balling. I thought to myself, "yeah, you can feel bad for me ma'am. Deal with it!" So in any case, I had some fragile things that I took out of my bag and then checked my bag. On the plane, I fell asleep and then woke up with the nightmare that I wasn't on the right flight. I turned aroudn the man sitting behind me, he was the husband of a young couple that was supposed to be on my other JFK to SFO flight, and asked "where is this plane going?" He smiled and answered "LAX." I latered realized how weird I must have seemed and then explained myself. He laughed and completely understood. We later chatted in the LAX terminal, which in itself was an ordeal, and I learned that there were, kind of, celebrating their 1 year anniversary, and that they are expecting their first child! A very neat couple that reminded me of some friends, Mike and Myla, back home. At that point, I just wanted to get home. I boarded the plane, and was extremely impatient. I managed to fall asleep some so the time passed more quickly.

Once at the SLO airport, mom greeted me with a big hug and a kiss. I waited for my bags to arrive, but alas, they were lost. Luckily, the one that I checked taht was a carry on, was delivered later that day. But the other one took 8 days to get to me. Ridiculous. Never fly Delta. Ever.

Well, it's late and I'm super tired. I'm going to go to bed. I hope this kind of got me caught up. As for rightnow, I'm just fooling around finding cool things to do at MIT (not hard at all, the hardest part is figuring how I'm going to do all the cool things, like scuba diving and Israeli folk danc, say what??). Oh yeah, I'm staying at McCormick, an all girls dorm, and sadly, not East Campus. That was a major disappointment, but I think God works in wonderfully mysterious ways. It turns out that I'm in a "coffin" single....that has the dimensions of 9x12!!! :D I'm super happy. Furthermore, I am right next to the kitchens. Some people have already started asking me about cooking and baking lessons! I feel like this is going to be a very good place for me. I still love EC, always will, but McCormick is growing fonder in my eyes every day. Just goes to show, all we got to do for the best life possible is truly "let go, and let God." I do believe this ends my Italia trip, and now begins my MIT life! Ta ta to all! Ciao ciao.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Famiglia!

So, just a very very quick post to tell you a bit about my famiglia here.

I am currently staying with some family of mine who live in Mercallo and Sesta Calende, two small towns near Lago Maggiore. The two main cousins that I have been spending a lot of time with are Federico and Nicola. They both are EXTREMELY fun, nice, and hospitable. Though I miss Bristin (not the heat of Bologna though) and Alicia, I am greatly enjoying my time with my family. It is very silly, but I really do feel at home with them as if I've known them all my life. I'm currently staying at Nicola's 'bachelor pad-like' house, which is the renovated wine cellar/basefloor of his family's home. It is nice and cool and there is plenty of room. Yesterday Fede and Nic picked me up at Milano Centrale (my train broke mid traveling, so I had to switch trains in the middle of no where and ended up getting to Milano Centrale an hour late, another story for another time...I anticipate updating this once I get home, since I don't have as much time as I would like to update you all now, or rather, I don't want to spend so much time in front of a computer when I could be doing other things...) and then we headed home to Nic's family place. I dropped my stuff off and then we went to the lake and played some calcio there. Dopo, we went to get some pizza and apparently I ordered something ridiculous, salame picante, prosciutto crudo, funghi, calciofi (spelling?), e olive, becuase they kept mocking me about that, haha...it was ridiculously good though. In any case, today we went to lunch with Fernanda, my nonna's cousin's daughter, or Nicola and Fede's grandmother (that's how we're related...haha.) and then we went for a caffe and gelato. Then fede and nic and I came home and rested while watching Il Padrino I, in Italian with English subtitles, much to my demand. Fede left for a family gathering in the mountains, but is returning a day earlier than the rest of his family to spend time with me!, so we'll see him tomorrow evening. I just ate dinner with Nic's family and it was delicious. We had some bruscetta, veil tunnato, zucchini stuffed, e gelato per il dulce. Mom, I learned how to make that viel and tuna sauce dish, so I can make it for us! I learned from Cristina (nic's mamma)! Now we are going to watch Padrino II. Tomorrow <nic and I are going to the beach and then sudnay I'm making dinner for EVERYONE! best news is that I'm going to learn to drive a shift stick! Nicola and Federico are taking it upon themselves to teach me! What a memory! okay, gtg! love to all. ciao !

Monday, July 12, 2010

More pictures and some stories to tell!

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Bah, I'm too tired to type at the moment. I'm slightly homesick and more so actually sick...mah. Haha, but everything is fine. Beside Bologna launching a full-out attach on my allergies which then caused a sore throat, two bloody noses in two days, and a slightly runny nose (good Lord, I'm falling apart!) I am actually having a lot of fun. Last night Bristin and I did our nails, and I think there is a picture somewhere in the photos I just uploaded of my hands. I decided to paint them multi-colored. It looks like a paintball war happened on my fingernails. Also, quick note, I started my cooking class today. It is AWESOME. I am the only person in the class! So I have completely one on one attention and my sensei is super cool. Anyway, we're about to eat some dinner, gonna elaborate more on this post later. Love to all.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Pictures!

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I have uploaded all the pictures I haven't yet posted. I hope you enjoy! :)

Saturday, July 10, 2010

To catch up...

So, I realize that I left some things out, or rather, my computer died and I didn't get a chance to finish my birthday "day" experience.

After the hair cut, Alicia and I rested for a little bit in our nice, cold, air-conditioned room, thank you Lord. At the appropriate hour, around 8 pm, we went down to dinner. Mom had called ahead of time, sneaky her, and through much confusion, I'm sure, communicated that it was my birthday and she was curious if there could be a cake for me. So I should first say this, at dinner, there are tables with room placards and you are to eat where your room is seated. So every night we have eaten with the same family: Francesca, the mother, Ghera (12) and his sister Flaminia (14). I also befreinded another family in the hotel, Elena and Giovanni, and their kids Simone (1) and Erica (7) and their neice Alicia (9). After becoming friends with all the staff, I was especially taken care of by the main man, Umberto (previously known as "Michelangelo"). We had a lovely meal, and afterward I was surprised with a really really good cake that had filo dough like layers with creme and chocolate. I just realized that we still had like half a cake left, and man was it good, and I didn't get a chance to finish it! ah man...okay, back to the story. So, after dinner we had the really good cake, which i shared with Elena and her family, Alicia, and some people of the staff. But before that Umberto brought out some "Auguri" which is a type of champagne or something, and we had a glass of that with Francesca and her family, as well as Umberto himself, of course. :) After all of that, Alicia and I went out that night in search of a bar to order a fancy drink, for the sake of a picture, haha. We found one with a cute waiter, which is a hilarious story in and of itself, when I have time I'll write about the embarrassing encounter we had the next day. I ordered a "Caprioska" which has strawberries by nature in it and it was very pretty! I got my picture, and as soon as I figure this dilemma out, I'll post some more pictures! Apparently Casey says that alcoholic drinks are "good drinks with something gone wrong" or something along those lines, and I agree. I liked the flavor in that I like the lime and strawberry and sugar, but the vodka just gave it a weird twist. In any case, Alicia also drank some of it with me and she was shocked by how strong it tasted. After seeing her reaction to the fact that I didn't really taste alcohol at all, we pondered the subject. Apparently those with alcoholics as family members are genetically more likely to become alcoholics themselves. So, my thinking was this, (as I have an alcoholic, or many, in my family) was the fact that I couldn't taste the alcohol an indicator of why I would be more likely to become an alcoholic? My physical response after one drink was evident. I wasn't, by any means drunk, but I could tell that there was a slightly different feeling about me. So though I didn't taste it, I still could have, if I had more, have the physical responses of others. In any case, I didn't like it, so no worries to everyone out there. You won't find me in the gutters anytime soon. Just interesting food for thought. After wondering around for like an hour and then getting a drink, we went back to the hotel to sleep.

The next day entailed a day of freedom!! :) The scuola went to Venezia and neither Alicia nor I wanted to go. Instead we went to the local market (a new addiction is to buy sundresses) and searched around for a good buy. We also went to this Ross-like store where I found some more cute clothes! However, my favorite part came when we happened upon a specialty store. Though they aren't that unusual over here, they are the ideal store for Italian dried/canned goods and it is SIMPLY AMAZING to wonder around in them to me. Definitely the highlight of shopping for me. In any case, I met a nice man, the owner of the shop and found out that a certain chutney went really well with a cheese that he had on display, and which I sampled. So naturally, I bought some chutney. Of course, as I was meandering around the store I found some pasta made from pepers, bow-tie pasta with the colors of an Italian flag, saffron, and funghi. But for a lunch that day,I got some good olives, mystery cured something rather (tasted delicious, though i had no idea if i was eating a fish or a vegetable, could have been both), and cheese. Not to forget that I bought, the best drink ever, this EstaThe Pesca, or a peach iced tea that is simply amazing. Of course, what I needed for this lovely meal was some fresh bread and a great pomodoro (tomato). After this store, we meandered down the road to a farmers' market where I bought a pomodoro, ceziege (I think? cherries, in any case), and a peach. In fact, it was from the same vendors as where we earlier had gone. On our way back to the hotel, as it was approaching shut down hours (13:00-16:30ish), we stopped at a little hole in the wall market because we saw watermelon, or anguria. Of course, you can't just buy a little piece of anguria, you have to buy a whole big chunk. We ended up buying a fourth, but cut long ways, of an anguria (about 5 or so lbs.) and they cut it up into pieces for us to eat! It was SO MUCH watermelon, but it was SO GOOD. The couple that owned and operated the store were very friendly and we got to talking, in Italian. We took a picture with them and they gave us their email address, wanting a copy of that picture. Note to self, find pic and email address. After that we bought some bread, or it might have been before, but in any case, we got some fresh baked focaccia with olives in it. Mmm...soooo good. Once we got back to the hotel, we had a LOVELY lunch of our fresh fruits, tomato, and goodies. A lovely nap followed and life was thought of fondly.

I'm actually quite tired, so I will finish catching up later. I promise, I will have consistent access to do so for the next week as I am now in Bologna with Bristin!

Sneak peaks!:

-My club experience at Bussola

-The embarrassing waiter

-My train ride/people/sciopero experience

Hope you all enjoy! I promise to also figure out the picture situation. As for now, I think we are off to go eat somewhere. Tonight I am celebrating my birthday with Bristin! :D Man, I am sooooo tired. Ciao ciao!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

It's my birthday!

Wow! Today is my birthday and I'm turning 18 while in Italy! HOW COOL?! So to start things off:

I was pleasantly woken (actually, I was kind of awake and just lying in bed) by Rainer who called to wish me Happy Birthday. Yes Rainer, I know you are reading this, let it be known that he was the first to say "Happy Birthday" (happy now?).  I then got up and got ready when I was called by my mother, and to my lovely surprise, Nancy and Keith! :) They sung a wonderful rendition of the American song "happy birthday."  After getting ready and putting on the new make up that I bought yesterday (to be explained later) I went down to breakfast. Alicia and I have brioches and nutella, as usual, and were off to our lovely/humid/hot class at Scuola Jenco, where I was gretted with many "buon compleanno"s and "happy birthday"s . Mid-way through my class my teacher found out I was turning 18 and the whole class sang to me in Italian. :) IT WAS AWESOME! I recorded it on my camera, so hopefully I will be able to post it up here as well.
As I was walking home from school, my lovely brother, best brother in ALLLLL the world, called and very on key, and pleasantly, sang "Happy Birthday" to me. We had a lovely chat and he was very surpised/pleased when I paid for some gum and the whole exchange happened in Italian, while he was on the phone. Thanks bro for the call! (Anyone is welcome to call me, it's free for me to recieve calls, just remember that I'm 9 hours ahead of PCT and 6 ET. I won't give out my number on here, but you can email me or ask mamma and get it that way.) I then came back to the hotel and rested for a little bit while checking my email and what not. Thank you to everyone for all the facebook wishes, I love them all. After resting, Alicia and I went out. I went to the salon where I got my sun hat and hair products (don't know if I mentioned that, it's a salon qui vicino alla Bella Riviera) to see a specific stylist. Not only does he have a cool name (I think it was Giancarlo) but the guy knew about MIT! After much talking about where is a good place to live in Italy and my hair type, we started talking about school. I hadn't mentioned where I was going, but just said I was interested in Business and either Mechanical Engineering or Mathemtics. He then mmentioned something and said "is it pronounced "mit", like a glove, or "M-I-T""? I was super excited that he knew about it, and was like "MIT! I'm going there!" Of course he was then very surprised and impressed  that a "California girl" with a "Californian smile" was going to MIT. Haha. In any case, he said that he reads Wired often and like all the technology.

Oh, my computer is saying it is low on battery. Gtg. But I'll be back later!

At 21:30 I'm going for a gelato and then getting a fancy drink (don't worry mom, more for pictures than anything else) at a recommended bar. :) Love you all. Ciao!  A dopo.

NEW INFO!:

I included some of the new information about my brother above and it was italicized so as to be sure and let you know what is new.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Sorry for the lack of posts!

The story is posted as a coment!Okay, so the computer I'm on works sometimes and then other times not so much. I posted something from my iPod, which was EXTREMEY TEDIOUS TO TYPE, so I'd GREATLY  appreiate it if you read this post especially, haha. Anywho, my iPod wouldn't let me make a "post" so I had to include the message as a comment. I hope you enjoy! Ciao!

P.S. The man I named "Michelangelo" is actually named "Umberto." I just asked. Ciao!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Okay, allora...

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Oggi e' il secondo giorno a Viareggio. Mi piace molte questa cita'!! Tutti i genitori sono molte simpatici. I really don't know if that is grammatically correct, Dr. Maceri, mi dispiace, but it is so fun to try. I am eager to go off and explore the city more (we found a great little place a couple blocks away with GREAT foccacia e caffe'!) so this post might be sort of short. I will do my best to keep you guys updated, but this one right now is primarily to get an outline down (like cliff hangers and what not to make you want to find out more and continue reading!) so I don't forget. I will also post some pictures!

Let's start with this morning:

I had my first day of class sta giorno. The first teacher I had was REALLY great, she didn't speak in English at all, but unfortunately it was primarily all review. I got placed in the second lowest class because of the test we took yesterday. I could probably move up if I wanted to, but I'm thinking, with the pace we were moving with the first teacher, that this class will become more complex with time. I also met, in the hall after class, the main guy in charge of it all. I don't know if it was Luca Gamba himself, but he was very helpful. In any case, the school looks promising. The kids, on the other hand, seem to be primarily interested in drinking and the likes. While they are plenty nice, they simply aren't the type I'd be likely to hang out with, for the majority, that is. There are some sweet people, like my other room mate, don't get me wrong, just the students are a surprise.

Earlier this morning we came back from a dance party on the beach. I called mom, (oh! I got my Italian phone number, another story) at like 2am my time and she was like "what are you doing up?!" Haha, it's so surprising, things just don't end at night until like 2am. I saw, for the first time, this sunglass store open, and it was midnight. Yes. I'm not sure if it is normal to buy sunglasses at night in Italy, but in any case, it's definitely close for the majority of daylight hours. Furthermore, things really shut down from 13:00 to about 16:30. They open about 09:00 and close officially about 21:00 ( 24:00 for non-"office" like buildings. for instance, I was in a bookstore last night and got kicked out because they were closing, at 24:00). After walking inland in search of karaoke, we explored the desolate inland city and found the city was really only "alive and kicking" along the boardwalk, or lungomare. After getting a gelato for the second time that day, we headed over to the music we heard playing and started dancing. There was a bouncer, and people just hanging out in front of the "Bango" (which apparently means like a mini-hotel-like thing right on the beach, where people rent rooms for changing and hanging out on the beach for the day), but Bristin just quietly walked right on by. Haha, it was really funny because like though the guy was huge, he was actually a really sweet guy. We took a picture with him as we were leaving and he was SUPER honored. We named him Fabio.

Yesterday:

We took a test at the school to determine what class we would get placed in. After getting lost several times, Alicia and I managed to get to the school without being late for the test. :) Then we just hung out for a little bit in our room, in the heat of the day, AC is WONDERFUL, and then went exploring. We found a market with TONS o fopen air clothes and stuff. Oh, and we saw this old man argue with an older woman about vegetables, totally made my day.

okay, so I'm going to go into more detail at some point, but that is the gist of the day so I don't forget. I really need to get going, so I'm going to upload some pictures. Enjoy! Thanks for all the comments and reading! :) Ci amo molte! Ciao di la bella Italia!

Okay, so it's not letting me upload pictures becasue of some stupid reason. I'm going to find out a different way to upload them...curse non-mac users...grumble. I think the heat is getting to me. haha...and i'm off!

Update: I found out what was wrong and will now try to upload them again. I hope this works! And it's cooler and I'm feeling happier, haha. :)

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Buon pomeriggio! (even though they don't say that...)

So here's another quick post (perhaps not so quick, I've got some time). (I'm trying to jot down things while I can, I anticipate not having this much time tomorrow and in the days to come until I reach Bologna.)

Alicia and I took a walk on the beach and it was LOVELY. The water was perfect temperature, mayhaps a TAD too warm for the HOT afternoon that we had, but it was amazing. Okay, so seriously, I'm not going to Italy to rate guys (eh hem, thank you very much for reminding me about them mother...and Nancy...and every female I know as well as a couple male friends) but I just have to mention this guy. Seriously, he was the most beautiful man I have ever seen. (I know we all have our actor crushes, but this was just a "normal" man.) He was tall, dark, blue eyed, and handsome. I was tempted to take a picture of the "background" while he happened to walk through the frame, but that would have required me to whip out my camera as he nochalauntly walked by...real inconspicuous, I know. In any case, I just walked on. The beach though, is sooo cool. There are thousands of parasols and chairs with people sparadically using them. There are tons of life guards as well. Like, every 30 yards there are two guys wearing red, just hanging out and being stud muffins. There certainly isn't any surf, so I don't know why they're there. Also, the water doesn't drop off, it appears (haven't fully gone in it...YET!) for a good 40 maybe 50 yards. I recall it being different at home. Furthermore, I saw tons of old, white woman in bikinis and various bathing suits, I like it. I was like "alright, finally, people aren't held up to the same standard as American 'worthy of bathing suits bodies'."

Let me back up a little. So we took a taxi here and got situated. Right after leaving the hotel we went for a walk down the main street that borders the ocean. I was hungry so we stopped at this little shack-like restuarant that had you sit under a covered auning (there is no spell check on this computer, so I'm messing up left and right, sorry, I have no idea how to spell that word) that was right on the beach. Only, because there are rows and rows of parasols and bench chairs, sitting at the restaurant I was still 60 or so yards away from the shorline. I ordered an insalata calibrese and I gotta say, I like mamma's better. Nevertheless, it was good and I had fun ordering in Italian. I'm finding, I am understanding a lot more than I expected when people speak to me in Italian. Like, the waitress, a pleasant faced older woman, quietly asked me if I wanted the check and I responded with yes. I realized that I didn't translate anything into English, it just happened. Finally! Haha, I'm really excited to see what the future brings on this trip.

Oh yeah! OF course...I had GELATO!  I toasted to you mamma when I got caffe e cioccolatementa. It was really good. I still have to figure out what is the proper way of ordering, or rather, what is a typical "conversation." I feel like my intro was awkward. In any case, tis a language learning experience! I'm really really pleasantly surprised with how gracious everyone is. I knew Italians were welcoming folk, but everywhere I've spoken Italian, I've thoroughly enjoyed it! :) Furthermore, the taxi driver told me that I DID no how to speak Italian and that I should teach my traveling companion. While I said I only spoke a little, he was pretty certain I know more than I think I know...haha. I sure hope so! :) Until next time! Arrivederci!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

I'm HERE!! :)

Okay, so this is just a quick post. I'm here, checked in, and I've dropped off all my stuff in my room. I now am showered (YAY!) and ready to go check out all the molto bella Viareggio has to offer! Before I leave, a quick anecdote, as they make the world go round.

We got to the airport, an hour and a half early, yay Italian timeliness, and then took a taxi from the airport to the hotel. Of course, the taxi driver only spoke a little English. I greeted him in Italian and he was very happy. I was really nervous to speak Italian to a real Italian, for some reason, but after a good 10 or 15 minutes of silence in the car, I was like "what the heck! It's practice!" So, I asked him what his named was, in Italian, but he didn't hear me, so then I doubted myself and my Italian skills. It was quite hilarious. Anywho, I repeated and then said it in English and he smiled and said "David." I introduced myself and Alicia. After that he started speaking in Italian, at first, baby stuff, but then he got to talking about working and asked us what we were doing here. I LOVED hearing him talked. Omgosh, it was lovely. I am totally ready to be surrounded by the culture and language!And on that note, my room mate/travel buddy is down from our room (i'm using the free wifi in the lobby) and we are off to explore! :) Ciao! E grazie mille per leggere questo post!

P.S. Hilariously, we sat next to a  VERY good looking guy our age from SF to NY. Haha....the good looking men has begun and it was still in America! :) I love life.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Oh boy...

So I have some things still to do, but I just thought I'd write a quick post documenting my extreme sense of excitement/nervousness! AHHHHH....!!! :)

I leave in a couple hours to go up to SF to spend the night. I will then leave tomorrow  morning at 8:30am. I am SO stoked! This is going to be SUCH a fun adventure. I hope to keep you updated as much as possible. Talk to you later!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

My trip to Italy!

It is here that I will document (with journal-like entries, witty comments, and many pictures) my travels in Italy. It is currently Saturday evening and I am VERY excited! I leave Tuesday morning and arrive in Pisa on Wednesday at 11:40 am Italy time. I will then take a taxi (paid for by the Sons of Italy, thanks guys!) to Viareggio where I will be staying for two days. On Friday I will then leave for Rome with a dear friend of mine, Bristin. (You rock my socks Bristin!) We will be having adventures all over Rome until July 6th, when we will return to Bologna. From there, we will do day trips. I plan to take a Bolognese 5-day cooking course starting July 12th.

The biggest dream I have right now, it's kind of silly, is seeing the sunflower fields. I would love, beyond words, to see them in person and maybe take a picture in the midst of SUNFLOWERS! To me, the sunflower represents faith and loyalty. It has no control over whether the Sun will rise or not, and yet, it looks to it every day and follows the Sun's path faithfully. (There can be a great analogy made about one's own faith in God and a sunflower, somewhere in there.)

In any case, I also hope to see some family while I am there, but I do not know if that will happen. I would also love to meet a friend who will be attending MIT next year, who has the same birthday, and is from Milan. But really, most things are up in the air! I'm so grateful to have a safe, fun, smart travel buddy with me! This is going to be a great summer of experiences! Ciao!

P.S. Thanks for reading this! I really appreciate it. :) I hope you enjoy and comment much! I'll do my best to include the details. Love to you all! A dopo.

Why have a blog?

So I realized that the best way to keep people informed about my life at MIT (though this blog starts with my trip to Italy) is through communication. After this revelation, I then looked into the field of carrier pigeons. I mean, if someone sent me a message via carrier pigeon, I'd most certainly read what they had to say! But, sadly, they told me that it would not be possible to train 168* carrier  pigeons to fly across country from Boston to various places in California. Not to mention all the bird poop I'd have to clean up when those 168 pigeons return to East Campus (my dream dorm to live in). So then I moved onto the idea of writing letters. Well, you see, the problem with that is the approximate time it would take me to write each letter would be 15 minutes, at least, so we're talking 2520 minutes of writing, and the cost of postage, and the doctor visits because of severe hand cramps, et cetera, would not make that a plausible other option, nor a pleasant one. Email? A good idea, except, if you're like someone I know who will remain anonymous (Oh yeah, mom, thanks for doing my laundry again, I promise, I'll do it one of these days!) who keeps all her emails in her inbox and NEVER archives anything (God forbid you can't find a 5 year-old email, about an Amazon item you ended up returning, in the archive folder), well, then, an email can easily get lost. Alas, the idea of a blog was born. I can say my random thoughts and you can choose to read it or not. Whatever I write will always be here. Unless, of course, I move to North Korea in which case, assuming they let me in, my blog would probably be censored and might possibly turn into some sort of regime website. But, until that happens, and until you start seeing Korean writing, fear not! It is I, Kim  J, Chacha writing this. And this is what I have to say! Off, off, and AWAY!!!

*168 is the approximate number of friends I have at home...give or take 167.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010