WARNING: Super long post ahead!
Also, all pictures are unedited so forgive me if they look really bad..
I've been meaning to blog more since I got back to the States but life's been so busy that every time I get some time to myself, I'd spend it either lazing around or just sleeping. I have tried to be more consistent in trying to blog but I'd usually go as far as writing half a post down, getting distracted by something else and then forgetting about it. I do want to at least write some brief things about my memories here however.
So many things have changed ever since I came back. I honestly wasn't looking forward to coming back to San Jose but at the same time, I was excited for a fresh start after my not-so-great summer break. After boarding that flight back to San Jose though, I got just what I wanted - a fresh start. The past few months have been a rollercoaster and I'm so glad for this journey that I get to experience. I've built closer relationships with the people around me and I genuinely have found people whom I can call family. I've also grown so much as a person and I've made big life-changing decisions that I know will cause me to grow even more!
I wanted to write down some of my memories of the past few months, just so I can reflect on what happened and see just how much I've been blessed since I came back.
IV FALL KICK-OFF BONFIRE
Had our first bonfire for the semester a few days after we landed. We drove up to a beach in Santa Cruz and ate a bunch of hot dogs while we chilled around a fire pit. The bonfire was meant to be a way for us to get to know some new people who were interested in InterVarsity. It was also an opportunity to catch up and spend time with old faces again after not having seen them over the summer.
BERSIH 4.0 SF
Decided to head up to SF for the Bersih gathering with a bunch of friends. In true Malaysian fashion, the event started late. It was pretty hot and stuffy but one thing's for sure, I have never felt so patriotic as I did then. It was such an overwhelmingly great feeling to see hundreds of Malaysians gather together because of their love for their home country. Despite being so far away from home, these people still cared deeply and wanted their voices to be heard. After all the speeches were done, we Malaysians did what we did best - we ate till our hearts were content! There were tables filled with delicious Malaysian dishes. I was so glad to be able to eat authentic Malaysian food once again! It truly did feel like I was back home in Malaysia.
SJ BACON FEST
Yup, we went to a bacon festival to satisfy Cassie's bacon-needs. It was crazy, there was a whole lot of bacon on everything! There were food trucks selling bacon cupcakes, bacon garlic fries, bacon and cheese chicken wings and even bacon ice cream and bacon chocolate chip cookies. It was all pretty innovative and we left with a very happy Cassie!
RE:MAKE FEST // SF TRIP
This festival was really cool! There were shops selling independently-made items and different kinds of food. There were also booths where you could make your own souvenirs from the festival for free! It really stimulates your creative side and it's really inspiring too. Khanh, Cassie and I made magnets, necklaces and even our own tote bag. Safe to say that we spent a few hours in there just going through every stall/booth. After we were done, we met up with Ivan for dim sum (yum!) and we then did some touristy things after.
We went to Twin Peaks and Bakers Beach after lunch. I love going to beaches and Bakers Beach was really pretty in my opinion. It had a view of the Golden Gate Bridge in the background and there were huge rocks to climb on. Also, we were lucky enough to spot dolphins swimming around in the ocean! The wind was absolutely crazy though.
SACRAMENTO // REDDING
Khanh, Cassie, Elle and myself stayed a night in Sacramento before driving up to Redding. David's family was kind enough to host us. He took us around to some spots in Sacramento with a couple of his friends. We went to Tower Bridge, Old Soul cafe, the mural and the state capitol. It was really nice getting to see these places but really, the best part was getting to meet David's family and friends. It really showed me that the people you surround yourself with shapes you into the person you are. David's parents were nothing but kind and loving to us throughout our short stay with them. His mom greeted each of us with a hug within the first minute of us stepping into his house and it was so comforting. It made me miss Mommy Yap so much! David's mom made bibimbap for dinner and it was the best bibimbap I've had. Meeting his parents was definitely a highlight for my trip. We left early the next morning to continue on our drive up to Redding.
Our main purpose for this trip was to visit the Bethel church in Redding. After the long drive there, we finally reached just in time for the 8am service to start. It felt pretty surreal just being there. It was quite an experience for sure. After the service was over, we left for breakfast and decided to visit the Sundial Bridge. The bridge was really pretty and the nature surrounding it was pretty spectacular too! We walked around and took plenty of pictures there before leaving for Sacramento again.
We went to Gunther's, which was a famous ice cream shop. I didn't take any pictures with my camera but I have to say, the ice cream was pretty good! After we were done, we headed to Old Sacramento. There were plenty of shops to look at in Old Sac and we took our time going into interesting stores. I liked how Old Sac was full of secluded corners that made for great photo opportunities. I definitely took advantage of that, haha. After the sun went down, we had our dinner and headed back to San Jose.
21ST BIRTHDAY SURPRISE // ASILOMAR BEACH
Those close to me would know that I love the beach, especially during sunsets. And those super close to me would know that my favourite ice cream flavour is rum and raisin. For my 21st, my friends decided to plan a surprise celebration up on a beach in Monterey while the sun was setting. Not only that, I got homemade rum and raisin flavoured cupcakes! It was definitely the best surprise I've ever gotten. It was really touching to know that people were willing to drive up for more than an hour just to celebrate my 21st with me. Despite not being around family on that day, I was really happy just being around those close to me. In fact, a few of them actually spent my whole birthday weekend with me. It was crazy and we didn't get much sleep but I felt so loved and I knew that I was incredibly blessed to have these people in my life. It also made me super happy that Mommy Yap remembered my 21st. She actually mailed me a necklace that she'd been keeping for me for the day I turned 21. I thought my 21st birthday was going to be sucky but man, these people went all out. Can't wait to see how they're going to top that, (;
FALL CON 2015
Spent my Halloween weekend in the woods with a bunch of IV students from different campuses all over the Bay Area. It was my first time at Fall Con and I had a pretty good experience. Over the course of the weekend, we spent time just worshipping God and getting to know Him more. It was definitely nice to see new and old faces from previous conferences. It was also nice to get to know and spend time with people from the same campus too! There was a Halloween party the first night and Cassie and I went dressed as sushi! That was my first time legit dressing up for Halloween, haha. My highlight from Fall Con would definitely be the decision I made during one of the sessions. God was definitely present and I'm glad that He impressed upon my heart certain visions and challenges. I'm super excited and can't wait for the things that He has in store for me in the future!
ISM SF OUTING
Our International Student Ministry small group decided to take a trip up to SF for Veterans Day. We visited a few tourist spots like Pier 39, the Golden Gate Bridge and Union Square before having dinner at a Chinese restaurant. It was a day well spent exploring SF and getting closer to one another as a small group. Unfortunately for me though, I fell sick towards the end of the night. But despite that, it was a good trip altogether. I was also blessed enough to have people care for me while I recuperated the next day. (:
I'm currently typing this from Sacramento, where I'm spending my Thanksgiving weekend with David's family who once again, was kind enough to invite us over. As I try to document all these events that happened over the past few months, I realised how incredibly blessed I am to be able to experience all these things. I know that I wouldn't have been able to have all these opportunities if it weren't for God. He first opened the door for me to come here at the right time and He's been so faithful ever since. I'm also blessed to have really supportive parents who worked hard to give me this opportunity to study abroad as well. Lastly, I'm so happy to be surrounded by people who have shown me genuine love and care these past few months. They've been a huge blessing to me with their endless support and friendship. It's crazy to think that all of this happened within a span of about 3-4 months, and this isn't even everything!
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.