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I had another study date with my classmate today for almost 5 hours – thank goodness for that. It’s really hard to get back into studying after having such a fun break from school. When I got home, I pretty much just caught up with Legend of Korra, lol. I gave it a chance because everyone keeps saying it’s a great show, and I’m glad I did.

I hope everyone had a happy Thanksgiving! I feel really thankful and I hope to bring these thoughts with me into the new year. January and beyond is supposed to be a really tough time for me, but hopefully I’ll be as ready as I can be!

This year for Black Friday, I didn’t end up doing any shopping. I might see if I like anything for Cyber Monday, but other than that I won’t be shopping. I find it sad that a lot of stores don’t really have much of a sale for Black Friday anymore. They’re pretty much deals you can find any time during the year. It’s more like a marketing strategy just get people to think they’re getting a Black Friday deal, when they’re really not. Anyway, instead, I ended up doing a video chat with a good friend of mine, Megan, who has been living in Japan and I haven’t really been able to talk to her in a long time. Later that night, I did a gaming session of Terraria with Mart and Ricky. 8-)

Thanksgiving food

Thanksgiving Day: This year, my mom and I cooked traditional Thanksgiving food again. Normally I prepare ingredients and most of the dishes the night before, but this entire week I’ve been having a ton of fun & keeping myself busy every day of the week so I was dead tired and went to bed instead. I ended up waking up early on Thanksgiving day to do the cooking. Since I woke up early to cook, my mom was there to help me with a lot of it. She’s really fast at dicing and chopping ingredients, and doing the dishes, so that cut the time down by a lot. I made mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, roasted caramelized butternut squash, gravy, and stuffing, while my mom prepared the turkey. It was a lot more fun cooking this year since my mom and I did the cooking together!

I was expecting my cousin and their family to join us, but unfortunately they were all sick, so my mom packed some of our food to drop off at their house instead. My mom wanted to go to Express at the mall after dinner to get their 50% off sale, but it turns out that even though Express stores are supposed to open at 6pm on Thanksgiving day, our mall wasn’t open until midnight, so even though we were able to get into Macy’s, the connecting entrance to go into the mall (where Express was) was closed off. We ended up just going home. It’s ok, since didn’t mind the extra walking with my mom after dinner. :p

My brother also left for Vietnam in the evening as well, so it was nice having a family meal together before he left. He’ll be back in two weeks.

Overall, my Thanksgiving break was a lot of fun and really relaxing since we got a full week off from school! I haven’t had a real break since the quarter started.

Last Saturday: Ricky, Mart, Julie, and I checked out the new Jollibee that just opened up in our area for dinner. I love Filipino food, so that was exciting. Later that night, we went clubbing! We played it safe and took an Uber ride to the club, so we were all able to drink with no worries. It was a ton of fun!

I love EDM, and the DJ frequents Marquee in Vegas, apparently, so I loved the music. We got to meet a lot of strangers who were really friendly and funny. The most memorable person was this gal who was in her late thirties. She was going through a bad divorce apparently, and was there to have fun. She was super sweet – she even bought Julie and me drinks. I actually have her phone number haha. Mart also randomly ran into a friend he met when he first moved to America over a decade ago – crazy coincidence! There was this one guy going around asking for kisses since he wanted 24 kisses for his 24th birthday – too funny. :p We ended up meeting a lot of fun people, which was great. Towards the end of the night, the club dropped confetti and glow sticks!

Afterwards we weren’t ready for the fun to stop, so we took our drunk selves to Denny’s haha, which totally hit the spot. I had country fried steak w/ homefries. Yums. Julie and Mart pretty much K.O.’ed in my room when we got back to my house. I was the only one who walked Ricky out before he left for home, lol.

Last Sunday: I spent some time with Julie and Mart in the morning since they slept over at my place. Later that evening, I hung out with my friend Helen. A lot of dramatic things went down regarding her personal life (she was in tears when I opened my door to greet her…), but we ended up having a really good time catching up with each other and enjoying each other’s company. We kept it local, and tried this Mexican place really close to my house that I never tried before, and then went to an ice cream parlor. I even got to practice an optometry technique on her eyes for school back at my house haha. It was great seeing her before she moved out of town the next day.

Hiking

Last Monday: On Monday, Mart and I were supposed to go on a train trip and go exploring. It failed miserably and I was super sad about that. At the very least, he tried to make it up to me and we went out to eat for both lunch and dinner! For lunch we had a Japanese fast food joint. At my request, we went hiking afterwards. We never found the hiking trail I wanted to go to, but ended up at a different one by accident instead. The scenery was pretty much all dry and dead, but the peacefulness and isolation of the location was very nice. For dinner, we went to a very fancy sushi restaurant. We had “omakase,” which is chef’s choice of nigiri (sushi). It was really expensive, but Mart didn’t want to tell me how much it cost him lol. I will say the sushi was so good we almost had tears in our eyes haha. Every bite was eaten in silence with internal reflection on how it tasted. There was no soy sauce or wasabi served. The sushi chef added a little bit of wasabi, soy sauce or salt or citrus to each piece himself, so we could enjoy the flavor of the fish properly. When we went home that night, we ended up watching the Jiro Dreams of Sushi movie LOL. It is a great movie for sushi enthusiasts.

Sushi

Last Tuesday: On Tuesday, I actually went to work. I normally only work on Saturdays since I have grad school all week, but since I had the week off and saw an opening on the schedule, I worked about 5 hours. It was great seeing my coworkers again – I normally only see a few coworkers who only work on Saturdays with me. I miss working with them. Laster that evening, I had dinner with Mart and Steven at a Japanese curry house. It was so good!!! I had chicken katsu with curry, salad, fried rice wrapped in egg, and a potato croquette. So good. We had a great time catching up with our good friend Steven. We even went out for dessert afterwards and spent even more time just chatting in his car when the dessert place closed. We ended up not getting home until past midnight so we were pretty beat, but it was a great talk.

Japanese Curry

Last Wednesday: At noon, I met up with my classmate, also named Helen, who lives somewhat near me. We hit the books together and studied at Starbucks for a few hours. It was a very welcome study date because neither of us cracked open any of our study materials over the Thanksgiving break. After our study date, I met up with my old friend Madonna. I hadn’t seen her in almost a year, so it was a great feeling to see her again. We were never too close in high school, but we were in choir together and were friends. After so many years, we still end up on each other’s minds, so now and then we reach other to one another to hang out and catch up. She’s one of those good friends you could always pick up right where you left off. We had a tasty dinner (sushi burritos!!!), went to karaoke (in a private booth) for almost 3 hours, and talked for hours at a restaurant afterwards. We were really shy at the karaoke place at first, but we warmed up quickly and had such a good time. ^_^

Sushi Burritos

I had a pretty amazing Thanksgiving break. It was a really welcome break from school. I’m really glad I planned out my break weeks in advance so that I could spend time with all of the people I consider very special and dear to me. I’m not ready for school to start again…but I can definitely say I had a good break. As you can see, I also ate a TON of food. I’m going to need to go on a diet when I go back to school this Monday haha.

Last time, I was in a very distressed state. Today, I begin a new quarter, the second quarter of optometry school. A new quarter, with new deadlines and new courses, so for now I will remain starry-eyed and hopeful. :p I am going to do my best to stay ahead of the game this time since it’s supposed to kick up a few notches and yet I already struggled insanely last quarter.

Evernote is working really well in helping me stay organized! It helps me stay synced with any of my devices – my Windows desktop, my Macbook laptop, even my Android phone, and any random computer in the library. If I forget something at home…it doesn’t really matter, I can still look at it on Evernote. Now there’s less stress about whether or not I’ve manually downloaded everything onto each device. There’s no excuse not to study during downtime such as waiting for class to start or while waiting in line.

It’s been a lot of trial and error finding methods that help me tackle grad school better. For my own reference, here are some things that seem to be working better for me:

  • Going to bed early and waking up early. I can’t stay up late like I used to in HS & college because the day (8am until evenings at school) is just too long for me to feel energized at night anymore. Go to bed, and when I wake up feeling fresh, instantly dive into studying.
  • Using downtime between classes for easier subjects.  Tackling difficult classes in a short period of time seems like time is wasted and my attention is more spread out in loud environments
  • I had a few study sessions with a classmate – we split the time up between homework/concepts/creating an equation sheet so that we spread our time out efficiently. This is something that I need to do at least weekly to keep myself on top of things. If a classmate has a schedule conflict and is skipping our meeting for the week, I need to force myself to find someone else. There’s always someone willing to study in my class, as I’ve discovered over the last few weeks. I just need to put in the effort to locate them and fight the temptation to just go home.
  • Studying in the library after class is over for a few hours until traffic dies down. Less time is wasted in traffic, and I get some good productive hours in there. Usually when I go home, I don’t get into studying right away – it’s more like instant unwinding time & dinner whether I plan to or not.
  • Taking breaks when I felt less sharp and productive. These breaks are like taking a nap or cleaning, doing laundry, etc. A few short breaks are like with YouTube and a snack (when snack is done – so is YouTube break!).
  • Doing an “out loud” study session with a friend where we worked through tough material together pushed my brain much harder, but made it much less tiring than doing it on my own.
  • Writing things out on a whiteboard – even if it’s to just have a nicer layout in color (and then taking a picture of it to study more later!) – made it a lot easier to remember.
  • Speeding up lecture recordings by 2x saves a lot of time when re-listening to them and also pushed me to keep my focus level high rather than getting bored and dozing off.
  • Create a Google document and be responsible for creating a portion of the study guide. Even if you’re not going to look at it later (you probably will though), it forces you to become an expert at one section at least.
  • Create mini-deadlines, and major deadlines – all due before the actual deadline. Mini-deadlines to make things more manageable. Major deadline to force myself to cram if I failed to complete the mini-deadlines (which is more than likely to happen). And yet, the major deadline will still be before the actual deadline so that I will have extra time available for review.

Like I said, I’ve been using the free version of Evernote, which gives you 60MB of space per month – plenty if you’re only dealing with text and images. Premium gives you 1GB a month. Once you start putting in large files (like the huge pdfs I have from my professor for lecture), it starts to eat up space really quickly, so it depends on what you need to do. Additionally, Premium has other really useful perks such as being able to annotate onto pdfs directly and being able to search within image files and pdfs.

I like Evernote a lot and I’m considering purchasing the Premium edition but I’m not quite sure yet. I figure I’d try it out first before purchasing, but unfortunately I already tried Premium apparently when I first joined in 2008…..6 years ago when I didn’t even really use Evernote much, lol. If you’d like to help me out and would also like to try Evernote, you can use my referral link! If you join using my link, download Evernote onto your device of choice, and then log in, I’ll earn some points that can be used for a temporary month of Premium! Also, by using my link, you will get a month of Premium as well.

Here is my referral link! Thank you to anyone who might decide to use my link ^_^

I’ll make a post later detailing some of the tips I have on how to use Evernote! For example, I’ve got a to-do list on there, notebooks for each class, textbooks, a record of all my coupons, restaurant menus, and even a table of contents linking together related notes. Stay tuned!

I completely forgot I didn’t publish my last blog post, even though I had written it last month. I just published it now. T_T

The pace has picked up and I’m getting super overwhelmed with grad school. The first few weeks were sooo laid back and easy; I couldn’t believe it. I made the mistake of getting too comfortable during those weeks and now that things are at full speed, I am sooooo overwhelmed!!!

My learning speed when it comes to difficult material is very slow. I have a hard time comprehending things unless I take the time out and go over it myself at my own speed. And lately now that I have re-entered school to go to optometry school, I have not been doing my job of spending all of that time outside of class to really understand everything. It’s not like undergrad anymore where I can cram a few days or the night before (complete with stress and lack of sleep). I’ve been doing that for the last two weeks, but I can tell it is just not possible as things get more difficult, and my classmates will quickly leave me in the dust if I don’t keep up.

Feeling super overwhelmed the last two weeks, I decided to look into maybe a new system for me, since my old system (which was successful in college) is not working out for me anymore in grad school. I’ve started using Google Calendar because with 7 classes a week with 4 clubs and an optometric frat, I can’t keep track of my schedule in my head anymore. Starting to make an agenda on paper with a weekly view now, so that I don’t get behind on assignments.

I used to record lectures and type notes during class, go home to relisten and fix my notes to make them verbatim to the recording, create electronic flash cards, and use the notes & cards to study. Aced all my exams. Now, it is not working as well especially since my classes are double the length of undergrad and to be honest, my professors expect us to comprehend much more than what they say in lecture.

So, my current plan is to continue reviewing the lecture recordings, notes, and flash cards, but I will need to set aside much more extra time to actually find outside sources to solidify my understanding. Additionally, a bunch of pdfs, Microsoft word files, powerpoints, and handwritten paper notes (in fact, I prefer all electronic but most of my classes are best using handwritten notes) is getting really overwhelming for me. I’m trying out Evernote, finally, despite having it ever since 2008. I never used it since it didn’t seem necessary to me. But now that I have so much going on and so many files, I think the Evernote interface will really help me keep things together and feel less overwhelming. You can type notes, include PDF files and PDF books, pictures, all in one place. Sadly, it does require an upgrade to premium for more space per month and features such as annotating directly onto pdfs, searching text in images or having Microsoft files directly embedded in there. I’m not sure that I’m ready to invest in $45/year for that yet, but if Evernote ends up really helping me with my studies, I’ll consider it.

What’s fantastic is that Evernote is compatible with all platforms (I have a Windows desktop AND a Mac laptop), as well as with mobile decvices! I love studying on the go and during downtime, so a multi-platform program is a big necessity for me. If you’ve ever used Evernote, I would love to hear about your tips and experiences!

Off to do some cleaning to de-stress, and then study mode for the night – I need it desperately. I really miss reading and commenting on blogs…maybe I will do that as a stress reliever during downtime in the future.

Before it even hit 8:00AM I already had my picture snapped for my ID badge. As a person who prefers to take multiple shots before deciding upon “the one” picture, I’m not happy with my photo, but I’m sure I’m just nitpicking. This picture is going to stay with me for 4 years and I guess my consolation is that it doesn’t look bad and it could’ve definitely looked way worse. :p

There was a point during the beginning of our university president’s opening speech where I felt really emotional, almost teary eyed. It was the realization that this was a turning point in my life, one which will lead me to a future that I can see myself in and be really happy with.

I’m not so good with names, so it’s going to be a bit of a struggle learning about 100 names from my class, but I imagine they’ll come to me pretty quickly over time. As we’ve been told many times during orientation, these are the people we may become lifelong friends with. I’m a little apprehensive about successfully forming some good bonds and I feel like a 5 year old again, worrying about whether or not I will make any friends on the first day of class.

In some aspects I’m a very social person, but depending on the situation I can be really shy. I find it easy to go up to someone and say hey & introduce myself to make some small talk, but continuing the conversation for an extended period of time is hard for me. I guess you could say I find it easy to talk, however, I don’t find it easy to talk non-stop. If I had to fill the silence the entire time, I would not be able to do it. I’m not sure if I should embrace finding people I can enjoy comfortable silence with, or if I should maybe challenge myself to fill in the gaps of silence. I should probably do both, honestly. It’s going to be tough, but I will try to make an effort to talk twice as much as I normally do. We’ll see how that goes. :p

I’ve surprisingly befriended a lot of commuters from my class already. I was extremely concerned that everyone was finding roommates and living close to campus, but I have met a handful of girls who are commuting from home as well. It’s really nice knowing we’ll have the same experience and we can help each other get through it.

Ironically, I haven’t really been able to talk to one of the two girls that I was acquaintances with before entering optometry school…which is a tad bit surprising but it makes sense that we are trying to expand the circle of people we know.

And yes, I get a few moments of doubt when I think, what if I just can’t understand something or perform something correctly? What if my classmates surpass me and I am left feeling inferior? But I try to reassure myself that I know myself and for all the times I’ve struggled in the past, a ton of repetition, practice and hard work were all I needed before I mastered something. And this entire experience will be many steps harder than my past struggles, but in being honest with myself, I realize I can definitely push myself even harder. I know I can challenge myself, and eventually make my past struggles look like nothing. It’s a scary thing to juggle in your mind, but I suppose grad school was meant to take you out of your comfort zone anyways.

I’m also just a tiny bit worried about my current relationship with my boyfriend. It’s going amazing and I am really happy with us, but I can’t help but wonder how hard will it be once the ball really gets rolling. I think it’s going to need a balance between really making an effort to see each other and be together as much as possible, and getting used to the fact that we’re going to be so busy that we will need to be apart sometimes. And no, we don’t need to worry about me “finding someone else” in opto school. There’s about 19 guys out of a class of 100 for crying out loud, LOL. The odds are good for the men but not so much the women, haha. It’s funny because the other girls I’ve met who are currently in relationships have expressed that their boyfriends have said the exact same worries as mine. :p I personally don’t think anyone in opto school should date around within the class. Our class size is just too small for it to be successful and not awkward.

Until next time! Whenever that may be…

Finally checking into this place again! Although kind of stressed lately, I’ve been having a good time for the most part!

The not-so-fun: It’s been quite the task to get all of my requirements taken care of before starting grad school for optometry. For quite a while, it was an endless task of going around to different places to get things done. I had to retrieve my old lab tests & documents proving my immunizations, get a physical & evaluation, draw blood to perform a chicken pox lab test to prove my immunity to it, get a form notarized, have a TB test done (which required coming back a second day to check the results), get my health insurance sorted out despite my application being in limbo since December, read documents and fill out all kinds of forms, complete a financial aid application and apply for loans, transcripts, blah blah & blah. It all would have been easier if I had health insurance & just one doctor to go to, but I didn’t and had to go around to so many places/clinics. Not to mention the stress of driving on freeways (I dread freeways).

I’m almost in the clear except for a few things though, so besides a few stressful days at work, I’ve been having lots of fun!

So far this summer, I’ve…

Gone to another yelp event that had free food, booze, and an awesome self-guided tour of the Iowa Battleship.

Yelp’s Patriotic Party at Battleship Iowa

Attended a strawberry festival (the fresh, sweet strawberries paired with soft-serve vanilla ice cream was so good) and went to a friend’s house party for her birthday afterwards. The party was a ton of fun with lots of drinking involved. The end of the night went terribly, however, so I’ll leave the rest of it unmentioned. And no, nobody got sick or puked.

Went to a little get-together at my friend’s lovely (and very large) house for a small jacuzzi party and a tasty dinner at Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles.

Roscoe’s Chicken

Celebrated July 4th by working a super short (4.5 hr) shift at work, having hotdogs/hamburgers at my house, a Filipino dinner at my boyfriend’s, and watching a really lovely firework show at the park.

July 4th

We went too late to fully enjoy it, but we were able to experience a little bit of the local art walk. It was fun seeing the street filled with people and looking at people’s artwork/galleries. We went to a restaurant afterwards to have some dessert (best bread pudding ever) and drinks.

Sad little shacks for cartoon action figures

Card House

Strange, human-looking, broken chair that gave me weird vibes

We also went to the arboretum and took a really relaxing walk around. My favorite was seeing all of the turtles!

Arboretum

The arboretum had different “biomes”

The pond was home to many ducks :)

Can you spot the turtle?

Turtle!! What a cute little guy

My boyfriend and I went shopping to prepare some outfits for our Vegas trip in August. This time I bought a pink dress and a red dress for bright, vibrant colors! In the past I’ve worn black and gray dresses so I thought I’d go for colorful this time :) I bought them for super cheap as well – I usually don’t splurge on dresses unless they’re on sale. I got them for $13 and $10 haha. We’re trying to get our entire group to have one matching night where we all wear red! That is going to be so cute :)

Preview of me wearing the pink dress

We went to the dollar theater and finally saw The Amazing Spider-Man 2. It’s kinda fun going to a 10pm showing after a long day of work, and then knocking out after going home. I enjoyed the movie – I actually like the dorky portrayal of Peter and the smart heroine, Gwen (*tear*).

And you bet, I’ve been doing lots of gaming with my boyfriend as well. :p Steam had a summer sale recently and I totally bought Terraria for $2. We’ve been playing it a lot together in multiplayer mode and it is ADDICTING. I love these types of games where you get to explore, build a house, discover/craft things, fight bosses. So, Tera has been on the backseat as of lately. I also bought a 2-pack of BattleBlock Theater to play with my boyfriend but we haven’t had a chance to try it yet.

Terraria – Oops, I didn’t mean to drop a bomb and blow up our house. LOL

 

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