2015: Change is Good

2015 was a year of change. The year I would transition out of college kid who always had a plan and had a general idea of what she was doing to who let me be an adult when I have no idea what I’m doing? I spent the majority of the first half of the year trying to take advantage of being a student, exploring cities without having to take paid time off, and pulling the student card to learn from professionals who were incredibly smart and humble.

While a lot has happened in 2015, I didn’t bother to document the majority of them on this blog because for one, I wanted to experience the events rather than feeling like I had to document each and every event. I have an insane habit of documenting everything on social media – I need to stop and smell the flowers instead of finding the right filter that would make them look good in a photo.

The Epic Road Trip

One of my main focuses for 2015 was to travel as much as possible because this would be the last year that I didn’t have to worry about how much vacation time I had to take from work in order to do so. I kicked off the year by flying to Atlanta, GA to meet with my long-time friend and brother from another mother, Stephen. A little background: Stephen and I met in the summer of 2013 when we were both interns at National Instruments – I was a marketing intern and he was a software engineering intern. Stephen is the type of friend that will always introduce me as his sister. His family wanted someone to drive with him to Austin, TX for his last round of co-oping with National Instruments, and I happily volunteered.

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The road trip with Stephen gave met the opportunity to not only get to know his family – people I’m happy to consider family too, but also time to explore the beautiful landscapes of Georgia, North Carolina, and Tennessee. Unlike me (at the time), Stephen was outdoorsier and knew every mountain and hill that we needed to climb – I should’ve taken this into consideration because I definitely packed the worst shoes. Nevertheless, our epic road trip will go down in the books as one of my greatest adventures.

Ann Arbor Round II

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My next adventure involved returning to Ann Arbor, MI – where I saw 5 ft. of packed snow that had been shoveled to the side during my visit. As most of you already know, Andrew and I survived 9 months of long distance in our now 1.5-year relationship. This was the second trip I made to the tundra and I enjoyed every minute. Unlike the first trip, where we focused on how many places he could show me and how many friends of his I could meet (all of which are wonderful people), we focused on the normal habits that a couple who lived in the same city would do. We studied together in the library, he went to office hours while I did homework, and we met his family for dinner – normal couple activities.

Long Distance was Hard

To say that surviving 9 months of long distance was hard would be the understatement of the year. And even though we’re finally in the same city, we still have a lot of room to grow. Since our transition to being in the same city, a few friends have transitioned to being long distance with their significant others and asking for our advice. I basically always say the same thing:

  1. Long distance is really hard and if someone tries to tell you otherwise, they’re lying through their teeth – prepare yoursel
  2. Make sure long distance is only temporary and that both of you are on the same page – the light at the end of the tunnel of knowing we’d be in the same city in less than a year was the main thing that kept us going
  3. Over communicate – your significant other cannot read your mind and what you think is described perfectly in a text isn’t always as obvious as you think
  4. Texting should not be your only form of communication. Your phone has this lovely function called a phone call, click on his/her name and give them a call. If you have an iPhone, there’s also this lovely thing called FaceTime – schedule some FaceTime dates
  5. Monitor flights like nobody’s business – I used SkyScanner and Hopper a lot. The best feeling in the world is being able to say, “I’ll see you tomorrow.”
  6. Remember that even after you are finally back in the same city again, there will be new problems and you will have to worth through them
  7. Bonus: I learned how long letters and packages would take to mail from Austin to Ann Arbor – this helped a ton when I was mailing holiday gifts or letters

At the end of the day, I’m glad we survived those 9 long months. I think it was worth it for someone I can honestly say I love.

Graduation

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My parents didn’t have the opportunity to attend college, so as a first-generation college graduate this goes down as one of the most memorable days. I loved college not just because I learned a lot, but also because of the people I met. I don’t remember 90% of the grade I received on exams and papers, but what I do remember are the long nights spent on group projects bonding with my partners, the PRSSA trips where I met driven students from all over the country, the warm hugs and support from everyone in my Communication Council family, and the professors who took the time to care for me as a human being rather than just a letter grade in one of their files. I loved being a student at the Moody College of Communication.

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College allowed me to meet people who made it incredibly hard to say goodbye. I met friends who cared about me enough to listen to me rant about the ups and downs of my (when I was single) dating failures and successes, 4 a.m. phone calls crying, explore new restaurants and cool parts of Austin, and laugh over stupid inside jokes. I’ve had the privilege traveling down to Orange County to be reunited with my best friend, Minsu, and explore Disney together, the chance to go out in San Francisco with my long-time friend Essencejoy when she returned to SF for 3 weeks of training for her company, and Naman who was visiting the Bay Area for two weeks and joined me in SantaCon festivities. Three down, more to go – visit me, y’all.

The Mother Land

Two days after graduation I hopped on a plane for Vietnam. As many of you know, I was born in Vietnam and came to America in 1997. It was the first time I returned and I honestly didn’t know what to expect. I traveled to Sagion/Ho Chi Minh City, Da Lat, Vung Tau, Ba Ria, Hai Phong, Hanoi, Cat Ba, and Ha Long Bay. Each city taught me something different and opened my eyes to a different world. I didn’t realize how accustomed I had become to an American lifestyle until I left America.

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After returning from Vietnam, I realized that although I’m nowhere near wealthy, I had it pretty damn good compared to some of the scenes I saw while in Vietnam. It made me appreciate the little things like being able to drink tap water, the ability to flush toilet paper, and knowing that people won’t say “wow you’re really smart for a girl,” after graduating from college. Being in Vietnam taught me that even though there isn’t true equality stateside, at least the idea of a girl getting an education, working at an office job after college, and making a decent salary isn’t unfathomable.

Moving to San Francisco & Consulting Job

I loved San Francisco last summer. I loved it in a way where I thought it was worth the 1.5-hour commute each way to visit the city every weekend. When I first landed in SFO, the only thing I knew was 1) I didn’t have a permanent place yet 2) Christina was going to pick me up and house me for a week 3) Akshay would let me crash on his couch the following week 4) I owned zero furniture and needed to find a way to Ikea 5) I was still waiting for a permanent address, so my parents could send 5 boxes worth of stuff.

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If it weren’t for the selfless friends who helped me in the beginning, I think I would’ve had to figure everything out myself. My parents were occupied with making sure my brother was prepped for moving out of his summer apartment and getting ready for the new school year, so I didn’t want to ask them for help. My first 3 weeks of surviving in SF were only because of people like Christina, Akshay, Ethan, and various Accenture co-workers that became instant friends.

Speaking of Accenture, I started my first full-time job in a position I had never done before. I didn’t know if the skills I had could even be used in this new role, but my interviewers must have thought I had enough to get hired. Now, 5 months into my job, I can honestly say that I’m still learning. I’ve learned a lot, but I still have a long way to go. My Excel skills have improved significantly and PowerPoint has become my best friend and worst enemy. I don’t write as much as I used to, which is the main activity I miss most.

Just the Beginning

While 2015 is coming to an end, I can honestly say this is only the beginning of my adult life and more adventures are on the way. I’m lucky to have the supportive people in my life that keep me wanting to experience more each day. I might have not been in some long list of most influential people, finished writing that book yet, or attempted to start a startup again, but I think life is pretty good from where I stand.

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