May 1st – National College Decision Day

For many high school seniors, May 1st is a big decision day. They must finalize their decision on which college to attend! This is a very exciting time as this is a huge step that plans out your next 2 – 4 years (but of course things can change in the future). There are many factors that go into deciding on a college: location, majors, finance, etc. Personally, I’ve known my decision since my junior year, the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities.

I’ve had siblings who’ve gone to this college, it’s close to home, my financial aid is great, and I am familiar with the university. Personally, the last reason was the biggest one. I’ve come to understand that I need something familiar for me to survive. For example, I would much rather go to a park that I’ve gone to many times than going to a new one. I understand that there many many limitations with this, but it is how I am. But with that, I do try to step out of my comfort zone from time to time.

I’ve been on campus many times, I know great organizations there that I want to join, I know many people who currently attend there and will attend next year, but I know that by going into this university, it will take me to new places as well. I want to study abroad and I believe college is the best time to do this. College is also a place for opportunities, especially jobs and internships. The U of M has many connections that I can take advantage of that will allow me to find a job after graduation. I also know that there are still many things I don’t know about the university that I want to explore.

Overall, it has a great balance and I truly can see myself there. Something that I had always heard while looking at colleges was finding the right fit. I didn’t understand this until I had to decide on a college.  I had applied to 8 colleges, but I could truly see myself at 2 of them and I made my decision from that. Visiting and staying on campus was a great way to see myself attending the college as well. Overnight visits are a great way to see if that college is the place for you.

Another factor was my mom’s opinion. My parents are divorced and I live with my mom and step-dad so I am much closer to my mom and she means everything to me. Not only am I familiar with the U of M, but so is my mom which makes everything else a smooth transition. I’m a momma’s girl and I know that I couldn’t go out of state although I was accepted into 2 great places. I need my support which comes from my family.

When deciding on a college, I would suggest looking at your core values and deciding based on that. I value my family out of everything in the world and I know that I couldn’t survive without them. Something else I also value is exploring, which sounds rather counterintuitive with the whole speech about familiarity above, but I understand the importance of exploring and stepping out of my comfort zone which is way I am going to live on campus and plan to study abroad. These are both major changes, but I know I will learn a lot from it.

With whatever decision you make, congratulation! You have made it through high school and may you succeed in college as well.

– I.S.

Introversion

Honestly, it’s rather odd that I haven’t talked about this topic. This has been something I’ve truly loved to talk about since I found out what it even was. I don’t remember the exact moment, but the Myer-Briggs Personality Test was my first exposure. I love learning about this topic from TED talks with Susan Cain to taking the 16 personality test (which I highly recommend you take). I myself am an introvert more than an extrovert, but both of these traits are amazing.

So what is introversion and extraversion?

Marti Olsen Laney, who wrote The introvert advantage: How to thrive in an extrovert world, said that “Introverts draw energy from their internal world of ideas, emotions, and impressions.” So I like to live in my inner world and get energy from it. Extraverts on the other hand, get their energy from the external world of things and people and that’s where they focus their attention. Something I’d like to add is that introversion and extraversion is a spectrum, not two polar opposites.

There are “pros” and “cons” for both of these traits, but overall they are both great traits to have; they simply have their own strengths. For example, as an introvert I am able generate my best ideas alone rather than working in a group. For an extravert, it’s easier to be… an extravert. We live in an extravert world and it sometimes feels odd for simply being an introvert. When my friends want to go to an extravagant event, such as the Hmong soccer tournament in July that’s hosted in St. Paul, I would much rather stay at home.

There are a lot of resources out there to learn more about this topic (TED talks, books, blogs, tests, etc.) and I believe it’s beneficial to know if you’re an introvert or an extravert (or maybe an ambivert). I’ve learned more about myself since discovering that I am an introvert and I take pride in it. Introverts are usually stereotyped as being quiet and shy, but they’re just focusing on their inner world according to Laney.

“Counter to our stereotypes of introverts, they are not necessarily quiet…. but their focus is inside their heads,”

Of course everyone is different so you will have different types of introverts and extraverts. I do have to say that I am an introvert AND I am quiet. Most of the time I don’t talk in discussions. And here’s why. 1) I’m insecure and think that what I have to say doesn’t matter or sound “smart” 2) I don’t like interrupting others and making them feel like they can’t share their thoughts. 3) I’ve been ingrained with this mindset that as a Hmong woman I have to let others speak and stay in the shadows so this became my norm that I am still trying to change.

Overall I like being an introvert. I love my inner world of thoughts, but I definitely need time to socialize (yes, introverts socialize too). I also love being around extraverts.

Here’s something to leave you with: search up extrovert vs extravert. This was something I had to search up myself.

– I.S.

IOS Apps to try

Recently I’ve started trying out different apps on my iPhone 7. With only 2 classes this semester I’ve had a lot of free time, most of it spent on my phone.

For college students who just can’t seem to get away from your phones, this app is for you. Power Points is an app that you can use in class. Once you start class you enter into the app and it’ll lock your phone for as long as you want. Every 20 minutes you spend in class, off your phone, you can earn one point. You can use these points in stores like Starbucks, Office Depot, ZUZU, and much more.

I’ve just starting using the app and I truly think it’s a brilliant idea. But I have encountered a problem. My two classes are on the bottom floor of a residential hall so when I’m in class the app thinks otherwise. The app tracks your location and knows whether your on campus or not. Now since it doesn’t work when I’m actually in class, I have used it out of class… I spend most of my time in a student lounge between my classes and my the app works when I’m there. So in a way you can manipulate it.

The next app is the Amazon app. I love buying things on Amazon since it’s super easy and everything I’ve bought has been real, not knockoffs. I also have Amazon Prime which is super convenient. Just pay once and you can have your packages delivered within 2 or even 1 day for a whole year. This is especially useful during Christmas time. Living in a state that has one of the worst winters, it’s perfect when I don’t want to go outside to buy Christmas presents. The app is really easy to navigate and I can use it whenever I want to.

Since early last year I’ve starting a gratitude log in my bullet journal, but towards the beginning of 2017 I’ve stopped using my bullet journal for a couple reasons that I won’t get in to. When I stopped writing in my gratitude log I noticed I was more stressed and easily annoyed. Now of course there were other factors involved, but my gratitude log really made my analyze myself and just be thankful for what I have in life so I wanted to continue it.

Since I wasn’t writing in my bullet journal and I still wanted a gratitude log, I went onto my app store and started looking. After trying a few different apps, I settled with an app called Grateful. It is very easy to use and gets to the point of it all: writing down what I’m grateful for. There are a few different prompts that you can choose from and you can write as much as you want. A few bullet points or a paragraph, there’s no limit. I’ve been really enjoying using this app and you can set reminders. I tend to forgot to do certain tasks unless I have it written down or have a reminder so this was perfect for me.

These are just a few apps that I have been loving so far. Like everyone else, I have many apps on my phone. Your phone is stuck with you 24/7 so might as well put it to use.

– I.S.

What this election means to me

It has been three days since the election ended. We have seen Hilary and Trump’s speech. We have seen the protests across the nation. We may have even seen family and friends cry over this change.  I turned 18 right before the day of the election and it was an honor to vote. We will never forget this year, it has made an ever lastly mark on our history books.

Donald Trump’s victory has shown me a lot of things about America. I see now more than ever that racism has been here since England colonized the Americas and it has stuck with America ever since. Racism has shown its ugly head that it is still strongly present and engraved into the system. This means that many many families will be separated, people will be sent back to their country of birth, and that’s it’s okay to mistreat people you don’t like. None of this is okay. This election still feels surreal to me. It amazes me that so many people have the same beliefs as Trump.

Do we not care for humanity anymore? Do we not care for others who are living in hell where their country is at war, a place where you don’t know if you will live? Do we not care for each other anymore?  I know this isn’t so because I know many amazing people who believe in the good of humanity, but with Trump’s victory my faith has plummeted.

But there is hope for the future. Theresa Caney twitted a photo on November 9th of the how the millennials voted and only 5 states were red. This means a lot for the future. We always say that the next generation is the future and it’s true. Now we can see that millennials believe in a diverse and loving country. That is what Hillary Clinton stood for, at least for me.

Clinton meant feminism, empowerment, racial justice, hope, and much more. This was not about some contest we call the presidential election; this was about what each candidate stood for. Trump, in my eyes, stood for a never changing America where white men would have power over everyone else.

I understand that there are three branches to the government to keep each other in check and the president has limited power but we must look at what our past presidents has accomplished, a lot has been done. I have heard people say that Trump won’t be able to do much as the president, but take a look at the beginning of his campaign. We all thought he was kidding and it was ridiculous, but now he will be America’s new president. Don’t take him so lightly, he has accomplished a lot and he still wants to do more.

I think it is also important to congratulate the other amazing accomplishments for women of color with this election. Kamala Harris, Tammy Duckworth, Catherine Cortez Masto, Pramila Jayapal, and Ilhan Omar. Six women of color who are breaking glass ceilings in this election.

Yes we are a deeply divided nation, but we are still ONE nation. We are all a part of America. We may have our differences, but we all live in this country. No matter who or what you stand for, please remember that we are all humans. We all want to live and be happy. May everyone stay safe.

– I.S.

TED Talk – Brene Brown: The Power of Vulnerability

TED talk with Brene Brown – The Power of Vulnerability.

Brown is a qualitative researcher and in her research about connection between people, she found that shame was linked to it. After going further into the research about shame for six years, Brown was still missing something. The people she interviewed could be divided into two categories, those who had a sense of worthiness and those who didn’t. What separated them was that they believed they were worthy. They simply believed. This was the missing piece to Brown’s understanding of shame.

Brown took her data further to another research called the whole-hearted. “The courage to be imperfect, compassion to be kind to themselves first then to others, and connections as a result of authenticity. They fully embraced vulnerability.” These are the similarities she found in between the people who had a sense of worthiness.

Brown became conflicted because through researching she found that the way to live was to “stop controlling and predicting” which is the definition of research. After her “streetfight”  against vulnerability for a year, she went back into the data. Spent the next years researching and she learned that people numb vulnerability. When numbing one emotion, that results in numbing everything. Numbing leads to misery that becomes a cycle. We make everything uncertain certain. “I’m right, you’re wrong, shut up.” We perfect, but that doesn’t work. We pretend our actions don’t affect others. This cycle is the cause of numbing.

Instead, what Brown suggests we do is “let ourselves be seen, deeply seen, vulnerably seen. To love with our whole heart even though there’s no guarantee. Practice gratitude and joy in those moments of terror. To believe that we’re enough… Vulnerability is the core of shame and fear and our struggle of worthiness but it appears that it is also the birthplace of joy, of creativity, of belonging, of love.” The entire video concluded that vulnerability is key to happiness even though to get there we will feel fear, shame, and discomfort.

I hear that to become who you are meant to be you must let go of who you think you should be and be vulnerable. I do believe this but I am terrified of being vulnerable. I loved her topic and how she presented it. I just loved the video. I am someone who hates to be vulnerable and this video opened the door, just a little bit. If you want to watch the video the link is below.

https://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_on_vulnerability?utm_source=facebook.com&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=tedspread

– I.S.

9 YouTube Channels to Check Out

With summer vacation I’ve had  a lot of free time before school starts and YouTube has been my best friend. I’ve discovered quite a few YouTube channels this past two weeks or so. There is a variety of channels from lifestyle to cooking. I’ll just jump right into it.

1. Lavendaire

The first channel that I have been obsessed with is Lavendaire. In her channel description it says:

Hello! I’m Aileen, a lifestyle blogger from LA. Lavendaire is a blog about personal growth + lifestyle design, where I share knowledge and inspiration about creating your dream life. Lavendaire is for the passionate, the fearless, and the dreamers who believe. For those who are smart, curious, and conscious, with an open mind, a love for learning, and a deep desire to live a brilliant and vibrant life. In short, Lavendaire is for the artist of life. // Life is an art. Make it your masterpiece. //

I really love her tag line and in a way it is very true. I absolutely love her videos. She talks about wisdom from the books she reads, different methods of living that she has tried, and she is really positive. I feel that this is what I want in life. Everyone who knows me knows that I am excited for college and that’s because I know it will challenge me in ways that I’ve never been challenged before and I will learn new things that I never knew existed. For me, Lavedaire is similar to that. It is what I have envisioned in my mind for my life but I never really knew what I would call it. Aileen is very inspirational and she is so wise. I started from her newest video and watched at least a year into her channel. I definitely recommend her channel to everyone.

2. studyign

Moving on, studyign has been my go-to channel if I want to get some tips about school. I personally have never actually studied and I don’t know how to so Sareena’s videos are really helpful. Even though we are the same age she knows a lot that I should learn from. People say that college is gonna be much harder than high school and I do agree since I do PSEO. I am trying to learn more about how I study and what works for me before I go into college. She also has some bullet journal videos that I am interested in since I want to get better at it. I will talk about the bullet journal system later with a different channel though.

3. Vivian V

I first discovered Vivian through her Tips and Tricks: How to Get Volume in Your Hair video. I just want to say her hair is gorgeous, absolutely stunning. I have thin, straight, Asian hair and I envy her. But back on topic I enjoy her hair and outfit videos. I am always trying to do something with my hair and it’s nice to give it a new style. Her fashion sense is really stylish and I am still trying to figure out what works for me so trying new outfits are fun.

4. VAGABOND YOUTH

Amy does fashion, beauty, and DIY but I really enjoy her college videos. College is my next big step so I have been constantly watching videos on college to prepare and her videos are very handy. This is the main reason I am subscribed to her but her beauty and fashion videos are also enjoyable. Her style is hard for me to pull off but I adore her. Her personality is really chill and I like watching her GRWM and Q&A videos.

5. Ashley Nicole

One of her videos popped up on my Home page and I decided to watch it. I love her personality. She is witty and fun to watch. I also enjoy her school videos since I am in school myself. She is more new to me so I am still going through her videos.

6. Caitlin’s Corner

Caitlin does a lot of videos on various topics but I watch her bullet journal videos. Bullet journal is a system of journaling. On the official bullet journal website it states: The Bullet Journal is a customizable and forgiving organization system. It can be your to-do list, sketchbook, notebook, and diary, but most likely, it will be all of the above. It will teach you to do more with less. So that is what it is and Caitlin does more simple videos on it which I really like since I’m still trying to figure out the system and make it work for me even though I started 7 months ago.

7. Angel Wong’s Kitchen

I have been trying to do more cooking since I am terrible at it and I like to follow recipes because I am bad at proportioning. I enjoy Angel’s videos because she does Asian food. Some of her videos are more advanced for my skills but I do hope one day I can make one of her recipes. She also has videos on tips and tricks for the kitchen and cooking so I enjoy those videos as well. Also her ice cream and boba tea videos are definitely on my try list.

8. JaaackJack

Jackie is very positive and bubbly which I adore. Her videos are about beauty, fashion, and healthy living all things that apply to my life. I am trying (although it hasn’t been much progress) to live healthier whether that’s food, exercising my body or mind. I watch her hair videos and school videos but Jackie’s channel is still quite new to me.

9. Jessica // Pretty Prints & Paper

Last but definitely not least this is another bullet journal channel. Jessica I would say is more involve in the bullet journal community and all her videos are on this topic. I enjoy watching her videos whenever I need to make a new spread, try a different handwriting style, or need some tips on my bullet journal. I do know more channels on the bullet journal system but I thought I would put Jessica’s channel in this post. I love her pens, spreads, and journals. I hope I could one day master her handwriting because it is beautiful. Her spreads are really useful, fun to make, and it’s also really pretty to look at.

So those are the YouTube channels that I have been constantly watching this past few weeks but I’m sure everyone is subscribed to at least 50 or more channels. We all have our own taste and personal style but I wanted to share these amazing channels.

– I.S

College Applications

I will be a senior this coming up school year and college applications is the number one thing on my mind. It is the gateway to college and college is very important to me. Yes as everyone says (or so it seems) a college degree will lead to a high pay check and a better job. But I believe that your experience at college is also very important. You are transitioning from a teenager to being an adult and adulthood is not easy from what I’ve seen. Finding who you are and how you are going to impact the world is something you can find out through college. There are so many lessons to learn from during college and they’re not just from your classes. Those are a few reasons why I think college is important although I know that college may not be for everyone, some may not like college at all. To start the college life, you must first be accepted.

The college essay has been a struggle for me. I have 4 drafts in my Google documents and I don’t like a single one of them. I want to talk about so much but then I find myself stuck with nothing to talk about. It’s this never ending cycle of deleting and rewriting. I have plenty of help around me but I am stubborn. I like to believe that I am independent and that I can do this on my own, although I know I should ask for help. I have read other college essays from previous students and they are amazing but when I go to write, nothing comes to mind. Maybe comparing my essay with theirs is a wrong method and I do believe that. I should be comparing myself to myself. The college essay is a hard process. It takes time, a lot of writing, and revision.

Another struggle is finding my parents information. My parents are divorced and both remarried. My dad also lives in another state. My mom, on the other hand, has all her paperwork everywhere and it is so hard to find. I’ve seen my siblings struggle with this same problem. I dread filling out the FAFSA form although it is such an important part. Thinking about all of this is already stressful. Apparently something new this year is filling out the FAFSA at the same time as doing college applications. Before, the FAFSA is filled out during/after January or so I believe. I’m not 100 percent sure about that but it was after college applications. Doing both of these at the same time will be a struggle for the graduating class of 2017.

Finding my fit has been hard as well. I understand that college is what you make of it no matter where you go but I believe that you should at least like the school. I am very indecisive and I will change my opinion many times which makes it hard to find what I want in a school. Big or small? Far or close to home? City or suburban? Whenever I need to fill these things out on a college site, like College Greenlight, I tend to select all because I don’t actually know what I want. This I believe can be solved or at least improved by college visits. I have been on many visits and I intend to go on more to specific colleges and universities that I am interested in. With an understanding of how that specific school is like, this will help with deciding if that school makes it to the list. I do still have troubles with deciding my fit with a school but it has improved.

Lastly, I want to congratulate all of the high school seniors. We have made it this far and there is 1 more year left so make the most out of it. You may never see these people ever again. High school has helped me grow so much and there are so many people that I am thankful for.

– I.S.