Design a site like this with
Get started

Week Nine in Quarantine

After I landed in LA, I quarantined myself in an airbnb for two weeks. It was strange being back home without being able to see my friends, going out to my favorite eateries or roaming around freely. Even though I was back from Edinburgh, I was still enrolled in my study abroad classes so I spent a majority of my time working on my assignments. One of my assignments required that I make a presentation of my research so I ended up connecting my laptop to the TV through an HDMI cable, set up a mini table on the bed and propped up my phone on the table to record myself giving the presentation. There were a lot of takes. But I finally managed to do it! Yay for online classes…

I also spent a good amount of my time catching up on reading! I ordered a massive pile of books on Thriftbooks, a site that sells a bunch of used books for very affordable prices. I would definitely recommend it especially during this time of self isolation.
Some books I ordered included:
Becoming by Michelle Obama
The Color Purple by Alice Walker
The Defining Decade by Meg Jay
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
I haven’t been able to read all the books yet but so far, I would definitely recommend The Defining Decade to any twenty-something year olds as it really challenged me to change my perspective on this decade of life and motivated me to continue striving towards my goals.

I found that going on runs around the neighborhood really improves my mood by giving me a surge of endorphins, something I definitely need. During one of my runs, I came across this MASSIVE cactus. It was pretty amazing.
To the right is a picture of the Trader Joes line I waited in. It took about 40 minutes or so. Thus is the reality of life now but I appreciate the social distancing measures they’re taking to prevent overcrowding in their stores. I also appreciate all the grocery store and field workers who are continuing to work in this pandemic, ensuring that we’re getting the food we need. While this virus ended up changing so many of my plans, I need to remind myself that there’s still a lot to be thankful for.

Thanks again for reading! :’)


Week Eight of Scottish Leavin’

You may be wondering if I mistakenly put “leavin” in the title rather than “livin” like I did for many of my previous posts. Unfortunately, it’s not a mistake. Due to the increasing spread of the Coronavirus and the travel ban declared by Trump, my internship program was suspended and I had to go back home to LA. While I originally planned on staying in Edinburgh until the end of May, as a result of the State Department urging U.S. Citizens to come home as soon as possible and commercial flights being cancelled left and right, I made the prompt decision to book a flight for Wednesday, March 25th. I started packing my stuff, went and bought a few (not enough) souvenirs, and emotionally and mentally prepared myself as I panicked about the high potentiality of catching the virus in the airport. I thought that would be the worst of it. I was wrong…

On Thursday, March 19
My friend from my program who had already returned to LA frantically texted me that an immigration officer informed her that citizens abroad who didn’t return to the U.S. by the weekend would have to stay in place indefinitely. In other words, if I didn’t fly back the next day, I would be trapped in Edinburgh.
So then I checked my flight’s status for Wednesday.
While my flight from Edinburgh to Paris was still scheduled, the one from Paris to LA was not. Anxiety and panic took over me as I sent out a rash email to my travel insurance company to book me the next flight possible. Thankfully, they were very prompt and scheduled that I fly home on Saturday morning.
During this whole ordeal, I was bombarding my parents with messages, Skyping my sister and updating my friends about this crazy situation. They were all very integral in calming me down and reassuring me that somehow, everything would work out.
And of course, I can’t forget about my flatmates. While I was spiraling out of control at the uncertainty of everything, their encouragement and their attentiveness as I processed out all my thoughts meant so much to me.
On my last night, we all hiked up Calton Hill and saw the lit up landscape of Edinburgh together. And as cliche as this sounds, I really did hit the jackpot with these flatmates. Even though my time in Edinburgh was cut short by two months, the three months that I did spend with them were nothing short of great! From sprawling out in the living room together and discussing everything from Love is Blind to the meaning of religion to American/British/Northern Irish stereotypes, having caring individuals to come back home to and spend time with was a real blessing.
Anyways, I’ll reflect more on my overall experience in Scotland in the next post as this was already a lot.
See ya! :’)


Week Seven in the Royal City

Before the craziness of the Corona Virus hit, my friends and I headed to London for a school trip. This was my first time in London, like it was many of the other cities I visited this year, and I was pleasantly surprised. It was a lot more modern than I expected with a wide array of stores, diverse eateries and lively nightlife venues yet it was still very traditional in aesthetic and culture. We received a tour of the Palace of Westminster, where the government in the UK meets, and it was clear that some of the rooms were extremely ancient, holding many relics of the past. We noticed that Westminster Hall, where many of the debates between Members of Parliament take place, is so cramped that it doesn’t even have enough space for all the MPs to sit. So much for representation! And no, I did not see Boris Johnson.
And then there was Buckingham Palace where we witnessed the Changing of the Guard, the ceremony in which the Queen’s soldiers hand over the responsibility for protecting Buckingham Palace and St. James’s Palace to the next soldiers. The reverence and admiration people still held for the royal family was very apparent, or maybe it was just all the tourists (including me) that were fascinated by all these British traditions.

We also visited the Churchill War Rooms, a museum that portrays Winston Churchill’s life and displays replicas of Cabinet War Rooms in which the planning for World War II took place. Even if you’re only a tad bit interested in the history behind WWII, I would definitely recommend paying a visit to the CWR! The following quote is one of my favorite quotes by him:

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal, it is the courage to continue that counts.”

-Winston Churchill

This quote has always resonated with me and has always encouraged me to keep going. Inching forward and making some type of progress is better than sitting in fear or gloating in success and remaining stagnant. I hope to continue to remember that even as we go through the despair that is this pandemic.

No trip to London is complete without a visit to Abbey Road. I think my friends and I did a pretty good job of accurately depicting the Beatles – my friend (you can call her Paul McCartney) even has her shoes off!
Also, one of my favorite things about London were the parks. They were all so vast and beautiful, I mean look at those swans :’) They currently inhabit the lake in the Kensington Palace Gardens (unless they migrated elsewhere).

Another one of my favorite parts about London was the food. There was an abundance of food courts and markets with so many diverse cuisines to choose from. The one featured above is the Borough Market, located right by the London Bridge. I definitely recommend visiting because there’s everything from seafood paella, to homemade pasta, to Indonesian dishes to almost any kind of food you can dream of! For lunch, I had a traditional Scotch egg which consisted of a hard-boiled egg wrapped in sausage meat and coated in bread crumbs. It was pretty interesting and while I’m glad I tried it, I probably won’t buy that again haha. And for dessert, we devoured the infamous Bread Ahead donuts which aren’t just your average donuts. These ones are filled with various types of cream flavors such as vanilla (original), chocolate, hazelnut, salted caramel and more!

I had no idea prior to visiting but London is huge and consists of so many different pockets to explore. On the left-hand side, is Shoreditch, an incredibly hipster area with vintage thrift, cool street art and food markets like Boxpark. On the right-hand side is one of the coolest and prettiest Chinatowns I’ve ever been to with so many dim sum options.

St. James Park is like straight outta a Pixar movie :’)

And then right back to being modern again.
There’s so much to London that I’ll definitely have to visit again. Cheerio!


Week Six in Isle of Skye

It’s finally March so I decided that it was a good time for me to escape Edinburgh and visit the countryside. My friend and I signed up for an Isle of Skye tour through an International Student Tours company in high anticipation that we were going to meet students from all over the world. Ironically however, a majority of the students were American. And some were even from the University of California system, the system that my university is under. Insane. Throughout the tour, there were times when I would forget which country I was in simply because I was surrounded by so many American accents. Despite that, it was nice to meet new people and hear about their experiences in Scotland.

The tour consisted of two days, most of which was spent getting on and off the bus, into the pouring rain and violent wind. This was my first time doing a bus tour and while I enjoyed being able to see an abundance of sights, everything felt incredibly rushed as we only had an allocated amount of time at each destination. Sometimes, we only had 15 minutes to stop, admire the views, take a few pictures and then get on the road again. I realized that I would much rather go at my own pace to spend more time admiring each location which led me to consider renting a car for a future trip. Who knows how I’m going to manage driving on the left side of the road and who would be crazy enough to join me though…

On the first day, we stopped at or drove through the following places: the Eilean Donan Castle, the 5 Sisters of Kintail, the 3 Sisters of Glencoe (a major location for many movies like Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Skyfall and Braveheart), Fort William, Skye Bridge, Glen Garry, Great Glen, Loch Tulla and Loch Lomond. My favorite part of the day was seeing the many waterfalls that were flowing so abundantly – nothing like I’m used to in dry California.
On the second day, we hiked the Old Man of Storr, as seen in the left picture above. You may recognize it from Harry Styles’ Sign of the Times, Ridley Scott’s Prometheus or interestingly enough, Transformers 2. Apparently, even Kanye West has filmed an MV in this location. We also stopped at Lealt Gorge and Falls, Kilt Rock and Mealt Falls, Sligachan Bridge and ended the trip with a visit to the charming town of Portree.
Overall, there was so much beauty to be seen!! If you enjoy being in nature, seeing astonishing views (like sheep) and can brave the wind and rain, I would highly recommend a trip to Isle of Skye! Maybe with me in my rental car? Haha cheers!


Week Five of Scottish Survivin’

Back from my travels and back to reality. I titled this post “Week Five of Scottish Survivin’” instead of the usual “Scottish Livin'” because last week, I hit a point where I was incredibly homesick. I’m not usually one to miss home or feel attachment to a particular location so I guess last week was the first time I felt like I was barely making it through. As dramatic as this sounds, I missed California (my people, the food, sunny weather) so much. The storm here probably didn’t help much either.
While I think it’s okay for me to process these types of feelings because in return, my appreciation for both LA and San Diego increases greatly, I knew I had to alter my perspective that was clouded with misery to one of gratitude.
I had to remind myself that I worked so hard to get here – every application, every recommendation, every scholarship essay submitted has contributed to this experience. Having the opportunity to live abroad and travel for five months doesn’t happen to everyone so I quickly tried to pull myself out of this deep longing to go home.
For those of you who are living abroad, these feelings may be inevitable. In the case that they hit you too, these are some methods I took to process my thoughts and rearrange my perspective.

  • Find a community. Join an organization, find a group of people with similar interests to you, push yourself to attend events even if you don’t know anyone. It’s always easier said than done and may take multiple attempts but making friends is definitely one of the easiest ways to adjust to a new location. Thankfully I already had built-in communities through my internship program and through my flatmates but I still had to go out of my way to meet other students at church. I also plan on joining a student organization to further build relationships as well.
  • Explore the area. Staying home is probably the worst thing you can probably do for yourself. While I think it’s important to sit with your thoughts and emotions, too much of it can be counterproductive. Going outside, even for a short walk, always deepens my awe and appreciation for Edinburgh. There are always new things to see and experience and a select amount of activities may be free too!
  • Challenge yourself to meet new goals. Even in the midst of anguish, accomplishing something new may lift your mood. Through my internship this week, I wrote my first newspaper column on disability rights and how accessibility needs to increase through a reformed system. At home, I tried making kimchi cucumbers for the first time and while I’m still waiting for them to ferment, I’m still pretty proud of the result 🙂
  • Facetime your family and friends. This one is a bit contradictory because calling people back home may increase your homesickness BUT if done in healthy amounts, it may make you feel better as well! While I haven’t gotten to talk to every single one of my friends, catching up with the ones I’ve been able to along with my family has been really nice for me.

Obviously these pointers may be more personal to me and may not work for everyone. But hopefully you can still get something out of this post! If not, that’s okay too because it definitely helped me process. Cheers!!


Quatrième semaine en France

Strasbourg, France

Thanks to the week long parliamentary recess, my friends and I decided to hop across the Atlantic to Switzerland and France. We spent a couple of chaotic days in Geneva which included being fined by the police for an innocent tourist mistake, enjoying a pot of hearty fondue (arguably the best thing about Switzerland), touring the UN for a short 15 minutes due to a two and half hour entrance delay which later resulted in us sprinting across a train station with our suitcases to catch our train that was leaving in three minutes. Crazy.

Our train took us to Basel, a quaint little town in Northern Switzerland. Before you ask how it was, I unfortunately have no idea because by the time we got there, it was dark and we had another train to catch at 8 AM the next morning. Traveling mishap.
Throughout our time in Switzerland, I constantly regretted how little I planned prior to our trip. While I’m typically okay with wandering around and deciding things to do spontaneously, traveling through Switzerland isn’t cheap whatsoever. Booking things ahead of time, specifically for transportation, is crucial as last minute train tickets can definitely add up.

Thankfully, our train tickets to Strasbourg weren’t too expensive and we actually created an itinerary for the day. Having a schedule was so foreign to us that we almost missed our boat tour! We then explored the area of Petite France and participated in an informative walking tour to end the day. We learned that throughout history, annexation over Strasbourg switched back and forth between France and Germany and that was evident through its varying blend of architecture.

After nearly a nine hour bus ride, we made it to Paris! This was my first time so I really didn’t know what to expect. Here are some of the things I learned:

> Paris is huge. You basically have to take public transportation to get around anywhere. In order to save money and really get to know the city though (more to save $ honestly), we walked approximately 8 miles a day and by the end of the trip, our legs were pretty much jello.
> Escargot is delicious. The garlic, the butter, everything. If I had the financial means to eat snails every day, I totally would.
> People openly stare. Despite Paris being an international hub, my friends and I were constantly stared at wherever we went. Whether it was because we were POC or because we were American or both even, it was still pretty unsettling to be honest. This forced me to reflect on many things such as my cultural identity and expanded my gratitude for the openness that I grew up surrounded by in Los Angeles.

Aside from that however, France was so cool! Each area had its own uniqueness to offer, from eating crepes at the farmers market in Bastille, to firsthand witnessing where Marie Antoinette escaped in the Palace of Versailles, to watching the Eiffel Tower glimmer in the night, to exploring through the underground catacombs, everything was so different from what I’d experience back in Scotland or in the States. And as cliche as it sounds, learning about the history and culture of another place is truly the best part of traveling.
Au revoir!


Week Three of Scottish Livin’

University of Glasgow

January 25th is a big deal in the U.K. because of Burns Night, a birthday celebration for Robert Burns, the well renowned poet. I honestly had no idea how significant this day was (sorry Robert) but it became very clear to me when my friends and I tried to make reservations for a “Burns Dinner” at various pubs but couldn’t because every place was essentially booked. I know, very American of us.
Thankfully however, the Scottish Parliament was hosting its own Burns Dinner so we attended that instead. This dinner consisted of an ode to the Haggis (a man in a kilt recited a poem honoring the Haggis), a bagpipe performance, a main course of Haggis served alongside Neeps and Tatties, a group recitation of the poem Tam o’ Shanter (which is already hard to understand but even more so when you throw in various accents) and very strong Whiskey that I could smell a mile away. It was definitely an event like none other but I was grateful to partake in this cultural experience.

If you saw in the header picture, I visited Hogwarts! Or the University of Glasgow, whichever name you prefer. While none of the films were actually shot on the campus, it was pretty obvious where the movie got its inspiration from. Other than the beautiful campus, Glasgow has many other attractive sites such as the botanic garden (yes, I did visit another botanic garden) and its glasshouses.

Because Glasgow is only about an hour and ten minutes away from Edinburgh, I decided to hop on a bus to explore the city. While exploring usually comes very easily to me due to Google Maps and its guidance, I had NO service on my phone. No service = no data = lost Airin. I tried going to McDonalds for WiFi (and potentially other reasons) but they required that I put in my phone number to get a code to access the WiFi so other than satisfying my chicken nugget craving, it was no help whatsoever.

THANKFULLY though, because I had saved the region of Glasgow on Google Maps (traveling pro tip btw), the streets and various locations still appeared on my screen and as long as my blue dot was going the right way, I knew I was somewhat fine. In light of these circumstances, I realized how much I rely on the internet to help me get around and how maybe I can learn to use other tools (asking locals for assistance, looking at maps beforehand etc.) to become less dependent on this rectangular piece of plastic.

Back to Edinburgh

On Sundays after church, I usually frolic around Old Town in Edinburgh with my camera so please enjoy these practice shots! Cheers 🙂


Week Two of Scottish Livin’

Sometimes the timing of everything is just so impeccable. On Monday, I impulsively decided to visit the world renowned Royal Botanic Garden. I roamed around the gardens and took too many pictures, all while wondering if it was worth £6 to enter the glasshouses.
It was definitely worth it.
Once I stepped inside, it was like entering another dimension, filled with so much greenery and the most diverse plant life. The climate of the greenhouses transitioned from arid to temperate to a variety of tropics – all green but unique in their own way.

I initially mentioned impeccable timing because while my visit to the garden was on a whim, I was assigned to write a speech on the same exact garden at work the next day, in honor of its 350th anniversary.
350 years.
350 years of discovering new species, conserving plant life and educating the public. With environmental change occurring so rapidly, institutes like this one are needed more than ever before so my speech encompassed my gratitude for their work and a plea to parliament to continue supporting institutes that are committed to protecting the environment.

Survival Mode:

While I do enjoy the culture of “tea and crumpets” (I would die for scones), the lack of access to diverse cuisines has been very challenging. In both San Diego and LA, I’m spoiled by the unlimited options I have of Asian, Mexican and Middle Eastern foods to name a few and I definitely miss going on taco and boba runs.
However, to the shock of my family and friends, this “challenge” has prompted me to start cooking. I finally learned how to cook chicken somewhat properly (a big deal for me btw) and even ventured to make dishes like Thai Yellow Curry! The vegetables may have been a bit soggy but the important thing is that I’m in the kitchen cooking instead of on my phone ordering Grubhub.
Needless to say, I have been trying various Scottish foods! Haggis, the national dish of Scotland, is a “pudding composed of various sheep parts, minced with beef suet and oatmeal and seasoned with onion, cayenne pepper and other spices”. To be honest, it’s not my favorite food in the world BUT I’m open to giving it another chance and think everyone should definitely try it. On the other hand, I really like all the potato dishes, like Neeps and Tatties (turnips and potatoes) and desserts like Sticky Toffee Pudding.
Anyways, thanks again for reading! Cheers 🙂

Things to Pack for Scotland’s Winters

As someone who grew up embraced by the warm California sun, I was incredibly nervous about living in Scotland. Every time the word “Scotland” slipped out of my mouth, the typical responses I got were, “Oooh, heard it’s beautiful!! But cold…” And it was. It was very cold. And windy. And rainy. Thankfully though, I had extensively researched what kinds of clothes to bring and an alumna of the program advised me well. Here are some of things I found to be very essential during my time in Edinburgh:

  1. A Waterproof Rain Jacket
    I cannot emphasize the “waterproof” enough. Because it rains so often and because walking is unavoidable, you need a reliable rain jacket that will keep you dry. You may say, “Well what about an umbrella? That should be enough right?” Nope, sorry Rihanna. The first week I was there, the wind flipped my favorite umbrella inside out and everyone around me inherently knew that I wasn’t a local especially because most people there don’t even use umbrellas in the first place. So unless you wanna stand out and get drenched like I did, get the jacket. If anything, just get a waterproof shell (I got the Patagonia Torrentshell jacket) and although it was pricey, it was a worthwhile investment because your girl stayed dry 24/7 while still being able to layer underneath.
  2. Sturdy + Waterproof Rain Boots
    Not only is there rain, there are cobblestones everywhere you look. And while they give off that aesthetic, historical vibe, they’re definitely not easy to walk on especially when they’re wet. So beware. Additionally, there are a bunch of cool hikes all over Scotland, Arthur’s Seat being one of them and while these hikes are beautiful, trust me when I say they are SLIP n SLIDES. The grass may look dry but in reality, it’s not! So ditch those white converse and get some shoes with grip please. Oh and make sure they’re waterproof too. This cheap pair of Asgard Chelsea Boots served me well, both in Edinburgh and in the Highlands.
  3. Anything WOOL or HEATTECH
    Trust me when I say cotton won’t keep ya warm. Layering will be your best friend and the material of your clothing makes a huge difference. On the daily, I wore wool socks, wool scarves and a wool hat which were essential as your feet, neck and head definitely feel the chill! I also always wore heattech turtle necks from Uniqlo and lemme tell ya, they were a lifesaver. If you didn’t know what heattech is, business insider says it best, “HEATTECH is made of a special blend of materials that wick moisture from your body and turn its kinetic energy into heat”. Not only is the material life changing, the products are incredibly affordable as well!
  4. A Well Made Suitcase
    Like I mentioned earlier, the cobblestones really get ya. What’s even worse is rolling your suitcase over them…not only is it LOUD, if you have a cheaply made one like mine was, a wheel may or may not fall off… traveling mishaps amirite? A well made suitcase is essential for any season btw, not just the winter!
  5. A Jailbroken Phone
    If you have an international data and phone plan, a jailbroken phone isn’t really necessary! Unfortunately, I had neither and AT&T’s international data by usage plan added up real quick. Thankfully I had brung my old iPhone that was no longer under a contract so I was able to insert a cheap sim card from Vodafone in Scotland. The reason why I mentioned the phone being “jailbroken” or “no longer under a contract” is because if you’re still paying off the phone to a provider such as AT&T (as I was with my current phone), the sim card will not work. I found that a lot of the WiFi around Edinburgh wasn’t really reliable so it’s important that you have some sort of data!

That’s it for now! If you have any questions, please leave them below. Happy traveling!