Hi guys! These past few days have been pretty hectic. With moving into my university apartment and getting prepped for the coming academic year at UCLA, I’ve been left little to no time to write.
As usual, when I haven’t written or reflected in an extended period of time, my hunger to write is magnified. I don’t even know where to begin with tonight’s post!
It’s 9:41pm as I sit at my desk. My best friend and roommate, Chiana, is jammin’ to Marina and the Diamond’s famous hit, “Primadonna Girl”. The smell of vinegar permeates apartment 108, owing to one of our apartment-mate’s late night cooking shenanigans. I just finished my night routine, so I feel fresh, clean, relaxed and ready for bed. But first, I must write, lest I wish to stay awake with my screaming thoughts pounding to be let out.
University Apartment Life
This is my first year in the university apartments. I’ve got to say, since the minute I moved into this two-bedroom two-bathroom nook, I’ve LOVED every aspect of apartment life. The independence. The privacy. The large(r) space. The quiet. The locale.
Chiana and I share the apartment with two other girls, Linda and Van. They are the apartment-mates from HEAVEN. The four of us get along so well. Before meeting the girls, I wasn’t sure how well we’d get along. Of course, I knew Chiana and I would be fine, as we’re practically sisters. I’d never met the other two gals, though, so I was really hoping we’d jive well. Thankfully, Linda and Van are so kind, genial and cooperative. We’ve developed an effective grocery shopping methodology: we buy our products individually with our own money, and just share each others’ food/supplies (unless otherwise specified). I think this method works well for those who wish to evade conflict, as it removes the potential issue surrounding “fairness”– what if it was your turn to buy the groceries, but you barely used the products you’d bought with your own money, while your apartment-mates devoured them whole? That wouldn’t be fair to you, now would it?
Move-in was smooth, for the most part. Like last year, I brought a crapload of things to college. My brother Austin moved in before I did, on Wednesday of last week. He and my parents drove down and took my four boxes with them, which Austin then stored in his spacious dorm room until my arrival. My friend Shirley graciously took my large blue luggage with her when she drove down to LA last Saturday morning. After performing at a wedding on Sunday, I spent Monday finishing up my packing, and on Tuesday, I was out the door by 8:30am, one large luggage and one small luggage in hand. Yeah. I definitely pack lightly.
I arrived at my apartment at 1:00pm. After dropping off my things, I headed to the residential dining halls to eat lunch with my brother Austin and our good high school friend, Roy. After that, the three of us moved my four boxes and one big luggage (stored in Shirley’s room) from the residential halls to my apartment. It’s so funny how easy it was to write that out– the actual process of moving my things down a hill in two oversized carts was anything but easy. Let’s just say, I ended the trek damp with sweat and barefoot with my pink Calvin Klein shoes in hand (the rough fabric of my seemingly innocuous shoes had scuffed off the skin of my heels to reveal two angry, painful blisters).
I spent the rest of the day moving in, with minimal rest. I’m the kind of person who likes to unpack and organize and “homify” everything within 24 hours of moving into a new place (that’s one way I’m like my paternal grandmother). Miraculously, I finished most of my unpacking by evening-time. I then headed to John Wooden Center for an hour-and-a-half dance practice. After arriving back at the apartment at 10:00pm, I did some more room organizing, made a grocery-shopping list, called my mom, and went to bed.
Ok– why did I suddenly go into narrative mode, recounting the events of the past few days? That’s a post for another time. Back to apartment life.
I love everything about living off campus. We are conveniently situated in the heart of Westwood Village, with restaurants and movie theaters and beauty salons and outlets a short walking distance away. No longer must I live in the confined quarters of the residential halls, with the noise of rowdy neighbors doing God-knows-what blasting through the paper-thin walls and germs of disease crawling through the stained carpets to wreak havoc on its residents during flu season. Start-of-school festivities are magnified in the residence halls, which are occupied by predominantly underclassmen. As much as I enjoy a little joyous cheer, I feel that the back-to-school histrionics are a bit much for my taste. I loved it as a freshman. Now, as a sophomore, I’d rather just quickly and quietly move in and proceed onward with my mission at UCLA– earn my degree and grow immensely, whilst ardently pursuing my passions for writing and dancing– and now, as it turns out, musical theater! But I will get to that story in a little bit.
Only problem with apartment life is, I CAN’T COOK! I haven’t cooked a single meal in my life. Aside from a fried egg. Yeah. Kind of a big issue. On the bright side, at least this situation will force me to learn how to cook, seeing as I’ve had little to no motivation to do so in the past. Learning how to cook is one of the first steps towards becoming independent.
Speaking of independence… I think living in the apartments is a perfect segue into living in your own place as an adult. It’s a nice transition from dorm life– you have your own kitchen and bathroom to stock; you must do groceries on a weekly rotation; you must vacuum and keep the apartment tidy; you learn how to cook on a user-friendly stove/oven. The good thing is, the uni apartments come fully furnished, so you don’t have to concern yourself with the daunting task of buying furniture.
Goals for Upcoming Year
As usual, I’ve laid out a list of goals I’d like to tackle this coming academic year at UCLA.
- Take care of mental health. I NEED to make this a priority. No matter how busy I am, I must make time for self-care. Health before all else. How can I operate effectively if I am on the verge of a mental breakdown? Thankfully, I’ve already set up appointments with my psychiatrist down in LA, as well as with a new therapist. I discovered that there’s a Kaiser Permanente in Santa Monica, which is a LOT closer to campus than the one I went to in the past. Having survived the tumult of freshman year, I go into my second year at UCLA with greater confidence in my ability to juggle all my commitments, without mentally killing myself.
- Do well in school. Obviously, this is a must. Doing well in school is something that I value highly, and no doubt my type A personality and perfectionist character drives me to do the best I can in whatever I do.
- Continue my growth as a dancer. Many of you guys who follow my journey closely may be wondering, “What the hell is going on with you and your dancing?” Well, I did do a lot of dancing over the summer. I competed at a big competition and performed at a 200-person wedding. I went to New York for a week to scout for dance partners and buy a new Latin dress. I immersed myself in the dance business to see if such a world is for me. The verdict: at this point in time, I’d like to put my education as my first priority before dance. I have no aspirations of dropping out of college to pursue a dance career. As a fellow dance friend eloquently explained to me, “I do think developing your mind is extremely undervalued in the ballroom world. A lot of people never get an education or they feel like their time at university is like a punishment that is holding them back from developing in dance. I believe it’s completely the opposite. If you want to make waves in the dancing world it’s not only about your physical training but also the breadth and depth of your life experience and knowledge which allows you to connect to the people around you.” I couldn’t agree more with her. My education will undoubtedly add meaning and richness to my dancing. It’ll give me something to express– dancing, after all, is not merely a series of technical steps, but an art of creative expression. So, I have decided to major in psychology– a field of immense interest. It is also a much more manageable workload than pre-med, which will leave me a lot more time for dance training, competitions and performances. While the job prospects for a psychology degree are questionable, I trust that, in three years’ time, things will work themselves out. I needn’t know what I will do after college, at this very moment. As I always say, “Lean into the uncertainty.” Embrace it. Live it. Love it. Words much easier said than done, but we must try as best we can to embody them.
- Push myself out of my comfort zone. Forever and always. I used to hate the very idea of discomfort and uncertainty. It scared me, as it scares most. Humans, by nature, crave the comfort and safety of certainty. But where’s the growth and excitement in that? I have planned plenty of extracurricular activities designed to cut away at the safety net holding me back from growth. This coming quarter, I’ll be one of the choreographers for UCLA HOOLIGAN theater’s fall production of the musical “Cabaret”. I’m also auditioning for the very same musical– my audition is next Wednesday at 8:10pm, and I have to prepare one song and one monologue. Seeing as I’ve never sang or acted in public before, I figure the experience should be fun. I’m also going to audition for the easiest a cappella group on campus. Not because I actually want to join, but because I want to do something that absolutely terrifies me– singing in public (without instrumentals to drown out my untrained voice). Also, my best friend Chiana and I made a deal– if she auditioned for “Cabaret” with me, then I’d audition for an a cappella group with her. She’s WAY better at singing than I am, by the way. But no matter. Life is not about limiting yourself to the things you’re good at. Challenge yourself and don’t be afraid of imperfection!
I must go now, friends! Gotta get some shut-eye before classes begin tomorrow. I will keep you updated on the many exciting events that’ll ensue this coming year.