2017 | Get Out There & Be Children Again

Happy Old Year and Happy New Year beautiful souls,

With friends going back to school/work, family getting on my case about my love life, acquaintances saying “thankful for 2016 because I found him/her”, and free time away from classes, I started this new year feeling a bit lonely. I am not proud of this, but I think it’s important to acknowledge all emotions, for we are complex beings.

What I do know is that I have a lot be grateful for, both in the past year and in the future.

Thank you 2016 for: the opportunity to interview at two more medical schools, consecutive snow days at my work at the school, meaningful hygiene/puberty presentation with 4th graders, beautiful cherry blossoms in Athens, group photos with all the 2nd graders I taught in AmeriCorps, first music festival, first osteopathic medicine conference, acceptance into another medical school, finishing my AmeriCorps service term with wonderful supervisors and coworkers, making a real impact in the Athens community in regards to health and wellness, prematriculation, scenic running/biking trails in Athens, getting to know a beautiful soul at my elementary school with whom I had authentic and vulnerable mentoring conversations, road trip to Cincinnati with my best friend, a sweet roommate, moving back to my hometown, first day of medical school, white coat ceremony, love, knowledge, wisdom, learning, good health, PR’s in 5k and half marathon, keeping up with fitness while in school, spontaneity, the most authentic talks with my childhood girlfriends during our night out, and reconnecting with people from the past.

Goals for 2017:

  1. Act out of love and kindness. One of my all-time favorite quotes is: “kill em with kindness.” I recently read an article about how to deal with negative emotions and that is to pray and wish happiness and well-being for that person that has caused the emotions. Remaining angry and resentful only hurts your inner peace.
  2. Embrace spontaneity.
  3. Just do it. This was the same goal I had last year, but I decided to bring it back because it’s a work in progress. I realize I might be one of those people that likes to work under pressure, but procrastinating and thinking too much causes unnecessary stress.
  4. Step outside your comfort zone in terms of putting yourself out there in leadership roles.
  5. Run the Columbus (full) Marathon.
  6. Travel this summer.
  7. Gain new medical knowledge, skills, and experiences this summer.
  8. Be an initiator. Some things don’t happen unless you make them happen. Watch this excellent TEDTalk – What I Learned from 100 Days of Rejection. I’m inspired: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-vZXgApsPCQ
  9. Do more of what makes me feel alive – at least one thing every day.
  10. Live in vulnerability and authenticity, always. I found that it’s freeing for the human spirit to be as open and honest as we can with people close to us. Just discovered this TEDTalk and she speaks words from my soul: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fcm-mAwPkxg
    • “Uncover your soul and look for that soul-spark in everyone else”
    • “Step off your hamster wheel into deep time”
    • “Getting emotionally naked with another human being, putting aside pride and defensiveness, lifting the layers, and sharing with each other our vulnerable souls”
    • “You don’t have to wait for a life-or-death situation to clean up the relationships that matter to you, to offer the marrow of your soul and to seek it in another”

Do this exercise with me:

  • Grab a plain white sheet of paper.
  • Write in big letters:

    “What makes you feel alive?”

  • Write in smaller print around the question, what activities or feelings make you feel most alive in life. Don’t filter it and write everything that comes to mind.
  • Hang it up somewhere you look at everyday. Resolve to do more of these things that makes you feel alive.
  • It’s a working document, so feel free to add to it when inspiration strikes.

I updated mine recently and I’ll share it:


This exercise helped wave away the feeling of loneliness I had. I feel more connected to myself and to the world around me. Amidst our crazy, busy, and hectic lives often working for other people, I think it’s imperative to do something everyday that genuinely makes us happy. The feeling I get when I do something that makes me come alive is analogous to a child playing and exploring the outdoors with friends in the summertime – excited, care-free, youthful, and rejuvenated. So get out there and be children again 🙂

Update 1/15/17: Happy early Chinese New Year. This year, it’s celebrated on January 28, 2017 – year of the rooster. An ancient Chinese superstition that I was surprised to learn about in last year’s post was that one is supposed to have bad luck during your birth year sign. I guess the bad luck caught up to me in the remaining month of the monkey year… misspoken words, confused feelings, and disgraceful pride. However, I believe this is how things are supposed to be because everything happens for a reason – it’s up to you what you take from it.

A recent epiphany I had regarding the practice of medicine is that the role of doctors is not only to diagnose and treat diseases or even pay attention to social determinants of health, it is to help our patients find meaning in their lives. This struck me while listening to Paul Kalanithi (http://stanmed.stanford.edu/2015spring/before-i-go.html) and re-inspired my purpose for choosing a career in medicine. Along with our medical knowledge, lab tests, and prescribed medications, we should seek to explore how the diagnosis of a disease affects the meaning of life for a patient.

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” -Howard Thurman

Here’s to the journey of life and meaning ❤


Leap into Love + a Message for the Brokenhearted & Lonely

An excuse to write on leap day or do I actually have something meaningful to say? A little bit of both 😛 It’s been one year since I saved this to my drafts, and I’m sure many of you have read about the story/study already. But if not, it’s a worthwhile read: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/11/fashion/modern-love-to-fall-in-love-with-anyone-do-this.html?_r=0

Here are some profound quotes that left a lasting impression on me:

“Ours was the kind of accelerated intimacy I remembered from summer camp, staying up all night with a new friend, exchanging the details of our short lives. At 13, away from home for the first time, it felt natural to get to know someone quickly. But rarely does adult life present us with such circumstances.”

  • This is very true after leaving the college world. In professional settings, you rarely get to know your colleagues on an intimate level because no one tries or we are all so absorbed in our own personal lives.

“It’s astounding, really, to hear what someone admires in you. I don’t know why we don’t go around thoughtfully complimenting one another all the time.”

  • I like this idea – telling others what we appreciate about them.

“Most of us think about love as something that happens to us. We fall. We get crushed. […] But what I like about this study is how it assumes that love is an action. It assumes that what matters to my partner matters to me because we have at least three things in common, because we have close relationships with our mothers, and because he let me look at him.”

  • We refer to how relationships start as the colloquial saying “falling in love” when we should instead say, choosing to love. From this study, love is a choice we make and an action we do. Maybe that’s why relationships and marriages fail – because we make the conscious or unconscious choice to not act anymore.

“But I see now that the story isn’t about us; it’s about what it means to bother to know someone, which is really a story about what it means to be known.”

  • This hit deep. Being innately human, sometimes all we need is to be heard, to be known, to connect emotionally with another human being.

“It’s true you can’t choose who loves you, although I’ve spent years hoping otherwise, and you can’t create romantic feelings based on convenience alone. Science tells us biology matters; our pheromones and hormones do a lot of work behind the scenes.”

  • Although love is a choice and an action that anyone can perform towards others, we can only meet people as far as they are willing to go. I’m not only talking about romantic love, it’s friendships and other relationships too. You might have good intentions to want a deeper relationship with someone, but the other person must be comfortable enough to meet you in this circle of vulnerability and authenticity before this can happen.

“Love didn’t happen to us. We’re in love because we each made the choice to be.”

A part of being human means to crave attention from other humans, and I think love is the key to this equation. I like to think of ourselves as one big human family on this blue revolving sphere called Earth, circling around somewhere in the vast universe. There is no need for hate because we are what we have, and our world would be a better place if we loved and cared for one another more.

I would like to try this questionnaire one day. Even though I need to constantly remind myself, one of my goals in life is to be more vulnerable and caring, spreading love and kindness everywhere I go in order to create meaningful relationships with others. I enjoy exploring people’s internal thoughts and just being there for them in the most humanly way.

Here’s to living a life of vulnerability, authenticity, and love ❤

Update 3/19/16: I was heartbroken today. I was really upset for a good hour – water works, sad thoughts, the whole show. But after that hour, almost like the sun creeping out of ominous clouds on a stormy day, my mind shifted. The cliche quote “love is when the other person’s happiness is more important than your own” popped into my head. I don’t 100% agree with this quote as I think you should always practice self-care and self-love first, but I like the message behind it. If you truly loved and cared for this person, you would respect their decisions and wish them the very best in life. So that is what I did.

I guess I am sharing this personal story because I realized how powerful positive thinking and mindfulness is. When I shifted towards this positive attitude, I started thinking of bountiful possibilities. It made me reflect on this blog post. I was pleasantly surprised that three old friends liked my tweet today which said “Love can hurt, but I still want it to be the guiding principle to the way I go about life and think about life #sacrifices #notetoself”.

This is a message for the brokenhearted or lonely:

Love really is a beautiful thing… I’m a firm believer of leading with love in all interactions, whether it be with family, friends, in the work place or with strangers because it’s a universal feeling that we, as human beings have in common. We all want to be loved, to be cared about, to have someone who is interested in what we do every hour of the day. Most of us want a companion to share all of life’s moments with. A lot of single people my age are thinking about how to find this person – resorting to apps and online sites. I have nothing against these platforms as I have never tried, but I think the most exciting part about finding this person is to be openopen to meeting new people in daily life, open to strangers becoming friends, open to getting to know people on a deeper level, open to friends becoming lovers, open to revisiting people from the past, open to authenticity, open to vulnerability. I think these are the key ingredients to finding your forever person. There are 7.4 billion people – some that have already found their person, some that are in the process, many that are still searching. Someone out there is meant for you and will bring you happiness like you’ve never felt. It’s worth the wait.

Update 1/14/17: I experienced ultimate heartbreak yesterday – one that spans the majority of my adult life. This time, it did not go away after an hour. One of my friends shared this ironic quote with me: “If you really wanted to hurt someone, love them deeper.” I started a personal positivity note titled “Why Heartbreak is Good” on my phone to restructure my thinking and wanted to share some musings:

  • Future relationships will be healthier and more genuine due to lessons learned.
  • You want what you can’t have – that’s a paradoxical truth. You can’t change other people’s feelings. You want someone to act because they want to inherently, not because you’re asking them to. If they don’t feel the same or want the same thing, move on.
  • Life could always be worse: terminal disease, divorce, death of someone you know, inadequate basic necessities, no network of support, barriers to goal achievement. Think about how lucky you are: to be breathing, to hear your heart beating, to see another sunrise, to choose how you will spend your 24 hours.
  • There is someone out there for you. Whether you’ve already met or he’s in your distant future, you’ll love again and this time it’ll be the real deal without secrecy and lies. Remember to look up, look around, be open, and proactive. The world is your playground.
  • You’re 24, still young. Yes, many are in serious relationships, engaged, married, or on dating apps but this is YOUR journey. It’s time to focus on you and start building a steady foundation for a good enjoyable life later on. Unfortunately, being female and in medicine brings many challenges both in professional and personal life. This is the career path you chose. You worked your butt off for six years to get to this point. Cherish it.
  • Embrace the clean break. Embrace your own company. Work on yourself while keeping your eyes open. These are exciting times ahead. Keep building your knowledge. This year is about you. When you do find your person, you’ll know. You’ll always know. In the meantime, be the best person you can be so that when you’re both ready, you can build a life together with the best versions of yourselves for a whole that’s greater than the sum of its parts.
  • (My spirituality) God knows what’s in our hearts, God listens. Everything happens for a reason. Trust Him and the process.
  • If you’ve never been in a relationship with anyone else, you’re always going to have doubts and wonder what it’d be like to be with someone else. I think this makes both parties more prone to cheat. It’s the right time to explore these feelings and know with more certainty what we’re looking for in a significant other. Heartache is 1000x better now than divorce later down the road.
  • We’re just people, humans. We should never be afraid of each other. Don’t be afraid to tell people how you feel. If they don’t feel the same way, at least you released the energy out in the universe. Move on and release more good energy elsewhere.
  • Your partner should make you feel good and challenge you to be a better person every day. They open your mind to things you’ve never thought of. They understand, listen, love, are patient, and trustworthy. If any of these qualities are absent, this is not love and you should move on or have a talk.


I have no regrets, but I would do it over again

You may be thinking “Ellen, that doesn’t make sense. You have regrets if you would do it over again”, but let me explain.

I’m now a proud graduate of The Ohio State University with a BS in Neuroscience. As a first-generation student, I could have never imagined in my wildest dreams all of the unique experiences I’ve had these past four years. For that, I am forever grateful for all the people I have met and all the opportunities that were afforded to me.

DSCN5087But I’ve hit a serious roadblock to my vocational dream that developed the summer after my junior year of high school – to use medicine, science, leadership, and education to positively impact the future of healthcare and better the well-being of humankind.

At this point, I do not have sufficient credentials to attend medical school and I wish I could tell my freshman self what I know now. But I realize this is life. You live and you learn. It’s all a part of the journey.

If granted a wish, I would re-do my college experience over again to make sure I adequately show medical schools that I would make a great physician and achieve success the first time around. The medical school process is an arduous one, but I know this is my purpose if I still have the drive to find out what went wrong from professionals involved in admissions and to improve myself to re-apply again. Even if I say I would re-do my experience, I have no regrets. A lot of failures are blessings in disguise. I’m learning a lot about myself in this time of despair, feeling lost, but also of introspection. This failure has forced me to re-evaluate the question “why medicine?” and I feel that once I am at the moment where I can confidently say “I made it”, I will be more grateful for this unique life opportunity than if I had effortlessly gained admission the first time.

I’m currently applying for jobs to gain more experience working in a clinical setting and planning to re-take the MCAT. I am excited to continue on the journey, embracing the roadblocks and detours.

Stay tuned for some blog topics I would like to share in the coming months! 🙂

Sneak Peek
– What I learned about life while in college
– Medical School application tips I wish I knew
– Love & Vulnerability
– Book reviews
– Revisit of a blog post I previously wrote concerning social media

If you feel some of my post-grad sentiments, I’ll leave you with inspiration from Nicki Minaj’s new song (who knew Nicki could write some lyrics that would become my life anthem and also match the theme of my blog so well??)

“So make sure the stars is what you aim for.
Make mistakes though.

I never worry, life is a journey.
I just wanna enjoy the ride.
What is the hurry? It’s pretty early.
It’s okay, we’ll take our time.

The night is still young.
How dare we sit quietly.
And watch the world pass us by.”

And this quote:
CC_o_pWVEAAVotO.jpg large


Day 21 (Friday, May 23): “It’s Not How Much We Give But How Much Love We Put into Giving” -Mother Teresa

Woke up around 7:45am. Wore the green white-flowered sleeveless Kurti. Breakfast around 8:35am: round bread, veggie curry, omelet, and tea. Received some compliments on my Kurti. Rachel was interested in getting her pants fitted after someone mentioned that the store where I purchased the Kurti provides free tailoring.

We took traveling vans to Manasa Jyothi. Our Mysore minivan crew got excited to see Chand again, but sadly he wasn’t driving. Adam was my seat buddy! He complimented that my Kurti makes me look more oriental. I was like “I know.” I’ll embrace my Asianness. Haha. Dr. Raj rode in our van also. It was a 45-minute drive. Adam and I talked about dreams, X-Men, and my lizard story. Manasa Jyothi has been my favorite field trip so far. The woman from the Netherlands has really done something spectacular, and she’s only 37 years old. Truly inspiring. I hope to pursue a passion like that.

IMG_5619As we passed through the white stone-walled threshold of Manasa Jyothi, I felt an indescribable feeling of happiness and comfort. A trampoline and playground emerged with numerous joyous children swinging, riding bikes and running around. At first glance, one would not suspect that these children have suffered more than we could imagine. The story of how Maartje van den Brand and Shobha Madhyastha founded and manage the school inspires my future endeavors in life.

IMG_1240Manasa Jyothi is a residential school for mentally and physically handicapped children. They recently moved to their current resident in Kundapur. It’s a modest-sized school that has grown gradually over the last ten years (started in 2000). They have around 18 children between 5-18 years old. The infrastructure can hold up to 35 children. Services include individualized programming based on each child’s needs, free medication and medical care, good hygiene and health practices, daily teaching, exercise, yoga and free medical equipment (i.e. wheelchairs, helmets, back braces). They are challenged to be independent by making their bed, washing their hands and brushing their teeth. The primary goal is to keep the children healthy and clean according to western standards. The secondary goal is to provide a safe and educational home. Tertiary goal: inclusion of disabled children into normal schools. When the Government passed the Right to Education Act in the parliament, disabled children were not included in this article. It is one of ADAPT’s greatest achievements that after much lobbying an amendment of the Right to Education Act was made. This means that more than 30 million disabled children will now have a right to education in India as well. Inclusion in education of children who are differently abled in India still has a long way to go. Two of the students will attend a normal school next term.

IMG_1245A range of staff is available and needed, such as teachers, volunteers, a psychologist, physiotherapist, speech therapist, and occupational therapist to provide unique care for each child. The philosophy is that the children learn best when they are safe, happy, and valued. Every child has this right. They aim to build the children’s self-esteem by teaching them to value themselves and develop other positive qualities (e.g. independence, honesty, integrity, respect for others). They have a non-violence principle and focus on verbal and visual (sign language) communication. The school is funded privately by a trust and does not request money from the parents. This is important for children who do not have loving parents to take care of them properly at home. Manasa Jyothi serves as their home, education and transition into society. In India, the stigmatized status of disabled children renders an unhealthy and sometimes dangerous lifestyle. The children end up on streets, beg for money to survive or are abused. The vision of Manasa Jyothi is to change the stigma by showing the interaction between handicapped children and care-takers.

IMG_1388I enjoyed seeing and hearing Maartje talk about her humble beginnings with Manasa Jyothi. Maartje is a physiotherapist from the Netherlands. Her father has been an inspiring force in her life as he has dedicated the last 15 years of his life working for UNICEF and the UN to improve human rights of people in prison. After graduating and volunteering for an NGO for a year in the slums of Indonesia serving mentally and physically disabled children, she felt a calling to do something good for the world in 2007. She gave up her physiotherapy practice and left family and friends to move to India. She found her way to Manasa Jyothi and was only planning to volunteer for three months in order to improve the health care and education. As time passed, she learned of the horrid things that were happening to the children, such as molestation and abuse. She was so disturbed that she went to the police, which is uncommon to do. People told her to “look the other way”. After three years, she decided to leave and started a foundation in 2009 with help from family and friends in the Netherlands. She mentioned that in our countries (US and Europe), people would be willing to help, but here no one wanted to get involved. “Foreign people come here and think ‘oh this place is too nice. Why do you need more funding?’” It’s a struggle retaining workers at the school because of the stigma behind disabled children. Frequently, workers leave before getting married because “what will the neighbors think if she works with handicapped children?” The woman’s status decreases if she works with handicapped children rendering her less desirable for marriage. Maartje learned the local language, Kannada because she believes communication is pivotal when helping people of a different background. She always says it’s her last year, but looks at the children and can’t leave.

IMG_5610It was shocking and eye-opening to hear the children’s stories. Vino’s parents came to get him fully drunk one day and Maartje now refuses to let him go home. One parent was quoted to say “let God decide if she lives or not”. One girl was locked in a hut for seven years. Another girl had her uterus removed by her parents. Several have cases of cerebral palsy, which developed during birth. Seeing the children at Manasa Jyothi now is a complete turnaround. Vino is awaiting admission to a normal school. The children are clean, smiling, and laughing as they are riding their bikes, chasing after each other or swinging on the playground. I had the opportunity to watch Maartje interact with a girl through sign language, and I could sense the love and connection. The girl looked at Maartje as if she were her mom. I admire that Maartje experienced first-hand a (public health) issue and was courageous enough to pursue a solution to the problem when all odds were against her. A quote on their website http://manasajyothi.jimdo.com/ encompasses my thoughts and feelings about this school: “it’s not how much we give, but how much love we put into giving.” –Mother Teresa. I hope that one day I can live life giving back to a cause I am passionate about with love.

IMG_5608Afterwards, we headed to the beach in Kundapur, which was surprisingly pretty clean and serene. Stopped by a restaurant for lunch. Dr. Raj ordered us a 5-course meal with samosa, naan, three types of curry, gulab jamun, yogurt, rice with raisins, veggie noodles, fried tortilla chip, white rice, more curry and ice cream with fruit. There was a lot of food.


Dr. Raj’s family joined us for lunch also, and we got introduced to them at the end. We met his brother-in-law, sister, brother and two nieces, one of which is attending Manipal for medical school. His sister is an OBGYN and brother-in-law is a pediatrician.

IMG_5631Adam casually used me as a shoulder rest while we were waiting for the van, which coincidentally happens to me a lot when I’m around tall people. He questioned if I get dark easily since I’m part Malaysian. He asked what the other half is. I said Vietnamese and we concluded that the people get pretty dark.

We went to the Hanging Bridge next. I slept a little on the way there. The bridge was beautiful. I got on it, but decided not to cross because it was precariously waving back and forth. I was imagining what it would be like to fall into the water below, and that scared me because I don’t know how to swim thus causing my fear of large bodies of water. Alvian shared my sentiments, so that was nice someone else understood. Kelsey R and Taniqua didn’t go either. The others just went to the other side and came back. Got some good pictures though!

IMG_1405Then, we went to another beach. Everyone took off their shoes and got in the water except me because I don’t like the feeling of wet sand and shoes. Adam thought of the idea to do a shadow O-H-I-O picture, which turned out awesome!

IMG_1423I took some scenic pictures of a canoe, an elusive clear-colored crab and waves crashing on rocks, while everyone else enjoyed the water. I was cooling myself off with my airplane tickets, which serve as good emergency fans by the way when Adam asked if I save them. Me- “Yes.” Adam- “Me too. I keep my movie tickets also.” Me- “Wait. Me too!” Adam- “Did you save the ones from last night?” Me- “Yes (checks purse).” I’ve been collecting movie tickets since Home Alone was in the theaters. Haha.

IMG_1434We had the option of going shopping afterwards. Half of the people hopped off the van and half of us went with Dr. Raj. The department store had saris, kurtis, cotton scarves, and children’s clothes. Nothing really caught my eye, but several people got some quality stuff for a cheap price.

Returned to campus for tea time: fried tofu-like balls. Back to room. Uploaded pictures to computer and dilly dallied until dinner at 7:30pm. I changed my profile picture to one of me and the little boy I fell in love with at Manasa Jyothi. I went to their website, read, and wrote down information because I am genuinely interested and wanted to remember as much as possible. I posted the website under the profile picture.


Dinner was good: barley rice, roti, Gobi Manchurian, squash curry, and another curry. Had yogurt also. It’s weird – I hated the yogurt in the beginning, but now I really like it as a palate cleanser at the end of the meal. Serves as a pseudo-dessert too. Sat with Kelsey F, Alexa, Adam, and Lindsey. I asked how Sahanna was feeling. She said “better.” Someone said Adam should do a Mohawk. And he turned it on me and said I should do a Mohawk. Lindsey said “that’s gonna take a lot of maintenance.” Adam continued with “buy a leather jacket and wear some brass knuckles.” Me- “I think of Grand Theft Auto when I hear brass knuckles.” Adam- “That’s what I was basing it off of! Get out of my head.” I nod my head a lot when I listen to other people talk. Adam started imitating me and I burst out laughing. Alexa and Kelsey F were like “What’s going on? Did we miss something?” Adam was just being super silly. I haven’t laughed that hard in a while.

Walked back to hostel with Lindsey and ran into half of the girls standing in a circle at the top of the 5th floor stairs. Xhonela, Kelsey R, Lauren, Ashley, and Nikki were there. We talked about experiences in India and bugs. I shared my lizard story. Some shared their excitement for heading back to the states. I find it more worthwhile to make the most of every moment, good or bad. It’s inevitable that we’re leaving, so why pine for that day when you can be happy right now? I constantly remind myself that we won’t ever be in this moment in our lives again. Back at the room, I washed clothes, showered, skyped Arif and mom, tried catching up in the word doc journal in bed, but fell asleep. Sesen posted a comment on my FB expressing her surprise that I worked at Hollister and teased me about having a lot of past lives. It made me think about authenticity and the implications of being a “mysterious” person. I don’t really talk about myself very often – preferring to listen to others first, but one of my goals in life is to be more vulnerable. So I found myself pondering if having different facets of your personality show at different times a good thing or bad thing. I tried figuring this out on Skype with Arif. I want to be an authentic person and thought the way to do this is to be one person across life’s many different activities. He brought up that it’s not really possible to be the same person because we have to act differently in different settings (I remember learning about the term “impression management” in sociology). I guess he’s right. We both concluded that the most important way to be authentic is to make sure your core values stay the same.

Manasa Jyothi Handicapped Residential SchoolMy favorite group photo on the trip.

Another quote from the Manasa Jyothi website: “Consideration like ‘he is mine or he is another’s’ occur only to narrow-minded people. To broad-minded people the whole world is their family.”

Day 4 (Tuesday, May 6): Mingling with the Locals

IMG_5254Breakfast was really good. Tasted like Asian cuisine with what I would call mei fun (the noodles pictured above in Cantonese). There were also curried potatoes, omelets, toast and jam. I also tried the coffee for the first time. It’s similar to the milk chai tea so it was tasty.

We received a lot of cultural and societal stories from Dr. Raj in class today:

1. If a pedestrian is hit in traffic, the person who hit them most likely runs away, especially if they’re not from the same town. A witness would help you and call the ambulance. If the person in the vehicle stays, other people will hit them.

2. From Dubai to India, you see a lot of boxes serving as suitcases. A lot of people make money from the middle east and are penny-pinchers so they will use boxes. If you are with this crowd, you will experience a lot of questions at customs.

3. Traditionally, babies are not named upon birth. They are named within 6 months. Most names are religious or relate to nature.

4.The template for a name is town born in, family name, and first name. To use our resident director as an example, his name is H.N. Nagaraja. The H (Haikady) is the town. N is the first letter of the family name. Nagaraja is his first name, which means king cobra.

5. Growing up in an extended family (uncles, aunts, cousins, grandparents) is very normal. This parallels to Asian culture because we place emphasis on the family unit and taking care of your elders.

After class, I walked with Sesen to the wifi tree. Wifi really does work there!

Lunch: yellow rice, barley rice, spicy chick pea curry, another curry that was less dense and delicious, beans and a dish of tomato and onion in white sauce – this one didn’t settle for my taste buds. I went back and tried a coconut milk-like jelly dessert. It was served warm and reminded me of a dessert we have in Vietnamese culture. In fact, they taste almost identical so I enjoyed that. Food is such a fascinating topic to look at from culture to culture.

IMG_5256I also had a chance to talk to a student at lunch! His name is Raushen. He knew that we were OSU public health students studying abroad. He said he befriended some people from last year’s trip and knew we had a group that consistently visits. He asked me if I knew 2 students by name and I didn’t. I told him that there are 60,000 students at OSU so it’s difficult to know everyone. Later, I was sitting with Sesen in the rock garden using the wifi and she was looking at a graduation picture of the girl he mentioned. She graduate with a degree in public health so she does exist. Another crazy world connection. He is a 3rd year pharmacy student from the north and said it’s a different environment down here. I told him how people have said all cities in India are very different from one another. I didn’t know that Manipal U is like the ivy leagues of the US. Manipal U is a private college and costs a substantial amount for the common Indian student, but the education from this place is so sought after because of the brand/name. He asked how many students were with us. He told me that the long table our group normally sits at is called the fresher table because they reserve it for freshmen students during August/September. He asked if Sahanna was Indian and where her parents are from. I only knew her dad was from Gujarati. He said she looks like one and that every trip has one Indian. I said yeah it’s nice because she can tell us more about the food we eat and other cultural information. He questioned “it’s spicy huh?” I said “yep”. He asked what field trips we go on. I only knew Mysore. He told me about a beautiful place south of here that was influenced by the French. I admitted I didn’t know much of where we’re going, but he said enjoy it. He talked about beaches and I said we just went to one a couple days ago. I then commented that it’s interesting this university is very international and attracts a lot of students from different countries. He mentioned it started out as a medical college, so that’s why there’s so many med students on campus. They have a superior medical program. I mentioned Dr. Raj pointing out a Malaysian medical school here. I asked why that’s so. He said he didn’t really understand it either and maybe it’s cheaper here than in Malaysia and it might have started out as a 2 year in Malaysia and 2 year in India program but he was like why not just do it all here. Extremely friendly guy.

We walked over to the Manipal library to sit in the rock garden on the first floor. The wifi works beautifully there also. I was able to check emails, fix blog posts, facebook and instagram an O-H-I-O picture with a caption telling people to follow my journey in India. It feels kind of scary showing people your personal blog and letting them read into your thoughts, “aha” moments and other sentimental musings about life, but in the end I hope to positively impact others from the information I write about. And it may serve as a way for people to get to know me better because of my reserved nature.

I also vlogged with Sesen & other people in the rock garden! Yee I’m so excited to compile these videos. It was a good one because I got to capture other people on the trip. Sesen helped narrate. Kelsey, Sahanna and Rachel said hi.

2pm society and culture class with Dr. Bhat: he talked about castes a lot.

Quick fact: Doctors are not allowed to tell the gender of the child before the child is born due to the bias against females.

IMG_5258Tea time: lentil samosas and milk chai tea.

Our plan was to go shopping at 5pm but the sky let down a steady downpour of rain for 10 minutes. We watched from the cafeteria porch and eventually, the rain slowed down. Typically, rain is not seen until June, which is monsoon season but because of global warming or another reason, the pre-monsoon season is starting sooner which could have adverse effects on farmers and crops because the rain is not coming at the right time.

We walked to the outskirts of Manipal and caught a citibus for 8 rupees per person. We arrived in Udupi 10 minutes later. We walked through a town full of small shops, which reminded me of Chinatown. We went to a Krishna temple. Each Hindu temple has a bath where people wash themselves. We saw an elephant, which we weren’t allowed to take pictures of. Then, we went to a department store to buy kurtis or tunics. Finding the perfect one was so difficult because they laid out piles for everyone according to size, but then it all got messed up. It was hard because every piece of clothing was unique in the store not like in the US where they have multiple of each item stacked. The clearance section in the back had really good prices though. I found 5 to try in the dressing room and bought 2. I bought a silky blue-green swirl designed short sleeved kurti and a red long sleeve with a flower body design. The blue one is a bit large in the shoulder/arm region but I am planning to use it as PJ’s back in the states because the silky material is very cool feeling on the skin. The red one fits perfectly, and I am excited to wear it. In total it cost 1260 rupees ($21). The store was on the fancier side so I would like to find more casual modern wear clothing, such as lightweight quarter-sleeved Indian style blouses. We then went back to the temple to watch a ceremony. They put a holy statue at the top of the chariot, live music was played and the elephant led the parade down the street. A line of people pulled the chariot, people lit a path with small sections of fire and they burned a white cloth. They also launched sparklers from the ground. Later, we find out that this ceremony serves as an offering to the God.


Then we walked to a restaurant near the bus station where we would eat dinner. Near the restaurant, we also got to see a mosque. The restaurant was separated into a meat and vegetarian side. We all decided to choose vegetarian and stick together. I sat at a table with Lindsey, Kelsey F. and Dr. Raj. I wasn’t feeling hungry, so I asked for advice about what to get for a small non-fried meal (not a big fan of fried foods). I ended up getting the Dal Kitche. It was long rice cooked in a non-spicy sort of sweet curry. It had the consistency of a porridge, and I really liked it. It came with a large black pepper chip with yogurt but the pepper was very spicy so I let Kelsey eat it (also not a big fan of too spicy food). For dessert, Kelsey got mango ice cream with a fruit salad (apples, candy cherry, grapes) and Lindsey got a green pista (pistachio) slab of ice cream. My meal cost 75 rupees. In India, 5% tip is pretty generous. At the front of the restaurant, a man stood there greeting people and he asked if we wanted a group picture in front of the restaurant, and we said sure. Sahanna gave him her phone. The picture turned out really nicely despite it being a upward looking angle (normally makes people fat), but the lighting seemed like we were in a greenhouse so it was a good composition. Sesen and Sahanna were comparing hand sizes and Sahanna’s looked baby compared to Sesen and I’m like “hold up, let’s compare Sahanna”. Our hands were exactly the same size. I haven’t many people with the same hand size haha. So we decided we needed to name ourselves. Small hand twins was the first option, and then I said shawties. And Sahanna added Asian to it so now we’re known as Asian shawties. Bahaha. We then boarded the bus back to Manipal U.

10169342_10202837736917972_1235140705099697861_nIt was around 10pm when we got back and most of us felt very exhausted. Went back to the hostel, showered and hand washed my clothes. It was hard work. I have some heavy material such as t shirts and jean-like so that was harder to wash than light clothes, socks and undergarments. It took me about an hour. I might use the linen service next time because I was creating puddles of water in the room by hanging the clothes everywhere. The fan really helps in drying, but I get so cold during the night. I need to buy a warmer blanket… I wear a sweater, t-shirt, pants, scarf and socks to bed. I have a theory that bugs are attracted to humid weather so I am trying to keep my room as cold as possible. So far I’ve only seen several small bugs.

I Live For Failures

Assignment 2 158“Ellen please move your pin from green to red. You will go to detention at recess today.” I cried when my 5th grade teacher told me this because I left my spelling contract in my cubby overnight and failed to get it signed by a parent.

I felt ashamed and loathed my 4th grade teacher for a couple hours because she reprimanded me to be quiet when a classmate had asked me a question in the middle of class.

I angrily drew all over and ripped my 6th grade math test that I got a B on and didn’t talk to my friends at lunch that day.

I nearly quit my first job in high school because my boss sat me aside to tell me that I needed to be more outgoing with the customers.

I would like to share how I changed my mindset about failing.

Remember: Everyone fails at something at some point in their lives. We are all human. Do not be ashamed. Keep on keepin on. Always keep this in mind.

I grew up learning that I always had to do everything right in order to catch up to everyone else because I was economically, socially, and linguistically disadvantaged when I started school. This afforded me a vulnerable mindset as witnessed by the examples above. I was so afraid of failing, of being ridiculed, and being called out.

You never know until you try.
First year of college was when I learned a great deal about failure and what to do about it. I applied for three different positions and organizations to be a part of for the following year, but I ended up being declined for all of them. I remember in one of those interviews, the interviewer prompted “tell me about a time you’ve failed.” I let a minute-long moment of silence pass, and the best answer I came up with was getting straight B’s in Gen Chem. Now, I hope for that question in every interview because I am so passionate about the topic.

I recently conjured up this quote for a study abroad scholarship essay: “Failure should never be the last stop in one’s journey, just a pit stop to re-energize and reflect.” I have learned there is value in all failures and mistakes as they are learning experiences for future endeavors. It’s such a valuable gift to yourself.

Today, I learned from a past homecoming court member/fellow Stater that I was not selected to serve on the 2014-2015 homecoming court. She graciously made sure that I was okay and didn’t want to cry or need some alone time, and I was taken aback by such condolences. This is not how I choose to react to failures. If you take too much time dwelling about the past and sulking, you’ll miss the beautiful moments of life that are unraveling in front of your eyes. Several hours later, I am still smiling and still blessed to be a Buckeye. It’s not because I didn’t care for homecoming court or knew that I blew the interview. I thought the whole process went very well actually – going into how I knew about homecoming court even before the first day of classes as a freshman because of a role model whom I had in high school and then seeing her on court when I came to college (I still have a to-do list I made during freshman year welcome week detailing all the things I should do and get involved in for the next four years if I were to apply for homecoming court), my gratitude for this university and nearly endless opportunities given to me as a first-generation college student, and how I wish to pay it forward and give back to the community and future students. I was really looking forward to being in a position to inspire future students to make the Buckeye education their own by getting involved, being open to new experiences, and really cherishing every day spent here.

I never want to lose the overwhelming enthusiasm I felt that day. It was an absolute pleasure looking back on the three years I have had at OSU as I was preparing for the interview. I had such a great time with the interviewers, and it’ll be a memory that I will keep with me forever. I still very much look forward to coming back as an alumni. I have so much love for this place that has given me so many opportunities – a life that I could not even imagine in my wildest dreams.

Reflecting, the only thing I regretted not doing was to ask the interviewers how they are affiliated with OSU. I was genuinely curious to hear a little bit about them, but wanted to be respectful for the next interviewee as we only had 20 total minutes. Other than that, I don’t really know what the main problem with my performance was… I guess the lesson here is: there will always be people better than you. But do not fret. Compete with the person you were yesterday instead of others around you. Be the best person you can be.

This experience made me more appreciative of the things I am already involved with – Ohio Staters Inc, Buckeye Leadership Fellows, a research opportunity this summer, Helping Hands Free Clinic, and getting ready to start a new chapter in life as I am preparing to apply for medical school. My goal for next year is to put in more time and effort into these activities rather than trying to look for more. Quality over quantity. These are some amazing opportunities right in front of my face, and I feel that I have been taking them for granted this whole year.

A question I prompted to myself while preparing for the homecoming interview is “what is the most important thing you’ve learned at OSU?” This is my response:

A leadership title or degree should not stand in the way of who you want to be, what you want to do or what visions you have for the world.

I used to think I NEEDED to become the president of something in order to be a good leader. This is far from the truth. Anyone, regardless of rank, position or credentials can be a leader with the right vision, mindset, and attitude. Just this morning on the radio, 104.9 shared a story about how a 13-year-old girl started her own business with a facebook page saving stray dogs, paying to get them cleaned up, and finding each one a home. This is such a powerful message. If you are really passionate about something, never let that fire burn out and pursue it until it becomes a reality. You cannot be afraid of failure(s).

Relating this to medicine, I made an earlier post about how you don’t need an MD degree to care more about humanity. Simply be there for people around you and listen. I am trying to live this every single day.

This was a hodge-podge of thoughts I have about failure, but I hope something resonated with you to keep a healthier mindset about failing and life.

“Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm”
(one of my all-time favorite quotes and life mantra).

Arnold Sports Festival & World Jump Rope

I serendipitously (fun fact: serendipity is my favorite word) stumbled upon the World Jump Rope team and performance today at the Arnold Sports Fest. I was instantly mesmerized at their talent, both individually and as a team. This is the first time I’ve been to the Arnold and I remember questioning why they had jump-roping on the itinerary. Was that even a sport? … Boy was I wrong to judge. I think many of us think back to grade school recess when talking about jumping rope. Competitive jump-roping combines dance, gymnastics, and jumping. What a combination. I feel like this is a sport I have been looking for all my life. With my short stature, it’s difficult to find a sport that caters to your height. I was in gymnastics for about a year in middle school and occasionally wonder how I would have progressed if I continued. My mother decided to pull me out of it due to injury prevention. Recently, I’ve been into dance – of all types. I took 3 semesters of social dance/ballroom dancing at OSU and absolutely loved it. This semester, I am taking recreational folk and square dance. We learn a lot of country line dances. Jump-roping also requires whole body fitness. Did you know? It is estimated that 10 minutes of jumping rope has the same benefit as jogging for 30 minutes.

The World Jump Rope team announced that they were holding a practice in about 20 minutes in a room upstairs. My friend was leaning towards leaving the convention, but something inside me really wanted to visit the practice. I was genuinely curious about their group and how it functioned. I approached a young man from Idaho and asked if he could give me more information. He told me that the group World Jump Rope is comprised of people from all over the world; there was a young man from Japan there! They go around the world serving as ambassadors for jump-roping hoping to increase knowledge and popularity of the sport. He then told me about Tori Boggs, who recently started an OSU Jump Rope Club and that I should definitely get in touch with her if I’m interested.





I introduced myself as a fellow OSU student and told her I am interested in joining her jump rope club. She excitedly gave me her business card and told me when the weekly meetings are. Her charismatic personality and passion definitely showed. I am so excited to get involved and meet the other passionate people on the team.

I had heard of Tori when the university spotlighted her talent as an outreach tool and then she had the opportunity to appear on The Ellen Show, which I have linked above. Her story pulls at my deepest heart strings; life should be about living in your passions.

I haven’t stopped thinking about jump-roping. I’ve always had a particular interest for jump-roping as well as hula-hooping. I feel so inspired. I even took out my jump rope I got from participating in Jump Rope for Heart back in elementary school! I took a video of myself jump-roping to see what I look like. I was going to post it here, but I don’t know how to input two videos in one post … so I screenshot a picture (can’t promise I was successful after this move… haha). A pervading life theme of mine is to be a little vulnerable, which I believe builds stronger relationships with others.


Here’s to following your passions and being a little vulnerable!

3/13/2014: Just read this article on Buzzfeed. Great introduction to the world of competitive jump-roping 🙂