Back to Pre-Med

Hey guys! Hope y’all are doing well. I apologize for not having written in so long— life’s been pretty hectic. When is it not, though?

Anyway, I have some big news for y’all. I’ve decided to hop back on the pre-medical track (for like the sixth time!).

For some, this major life decision may not come as much of a surprise. In fact, many of you must be face-palming so hard right now, thinking to yourselves, “Really Belicia? AGAIN?!”

I’ll tell you guys why I’ve decided to make medical school my goal once more. At the most basic level, I’ve always been one to aim high. It is simply in my nature. Being a pre-med student at UCLA is probably one of the most ambitious paths to take. I am ambition, and ambition is me. Simple as that.

Let’s go back to spring quarter of my freshman year of college, when I first renounced pre-med. What propelled me to make such a drastic switch in career paths? I had taken a couple quarters of chemistry and biology. During those two quarters, I practically lived and breathed studying. I was not dancing nearly as much as I wanted to. As is often the case with me, my life was completely out of balance, with academics consuming a disproportionate amount of energy in comparison to other important life pillars. I came into UCLA a crazy pre-med gunner, so utterly determined to get into medical school. My long-term goal blind-sighted me, and I lost myself in the tunnel-visioned pursuit. I gave up my passions and threw my mental and physical health under the bus. Two quarters into my pre-med journey, I had already burnt out.

So, I decided to take a break from the pre-medical track to explore other career options. My first instinct was to turn to dance, if not medicine. Dance was the next-most familiar thing in my life, and, as one who does not sit well with uncertainty, I figured that to have an idea of what I wanted to do was better than having no clue at all. So, after renouncing pre-med, I set my eyes on a professional ballroom dance career.

At one point in time, I truly thought that a dance career was what I wanted. I went so far as to almost leave UCLA after my first year to pursue my artistic dream. There is no doubt in my mind that I love dance. This art has done so so much for me, and I wish to spread my passion to as many people as possible. But to make dance my livelihood, my means of survival? That is a whole different story.

The summer between my freshman and sophomore years of college, I took to immersing myself in the world of competitive ballroom, learning anything and everything I could about the life of a professional dancer. I was quickly disillusioned— behind the glamour and glitz of the ballroom, the dance world is an ugly one, ridden with politics, drama, corruption. I decided to return to UCLA that fall.

Come sophomore year, I still wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. Despite seeing the true colors of the dance world, I still couldn’t let go of the possibility of becoming a dancer. I didn’t want to live my life regretting not going for my dreams, while I was still young and capable. I knew that there was no such thing as the perfect profession. Everywhere you turn, be it medicine, performance arts, academia, there will be politics and there will be stressors. Such is the way of life. I couldn’t let that stop me from pursuing dance, now could I?

By then, though, my burning passion for dance had fizzled out, lending way to doubt and hesitation and the sobering recognition of reality. It wasn’t so much a question of could I become a successful dancer, so much as, did I even want to?

Fall quarter of sophomore year, I switched my major from psychobiology to psychology, so I wouldn’t have to take any more science classes. So negative my experience as a premed student was the year earlier, I was convinced that I hated science. Upon further reflection, though, I’ve come to realize that maybe I don’t hate science— maybe I just went too hardcore during my freshman year with studying science, causing me to burn out. Maybe, if I gave chemistry, biology, and physics one more shot, making sure to go slow and steady this time around, I’d actually find enjoyment in learning about the workings of the natural world.

I am now seven weeks away from finishing my sophomore year. This past year, I’ve taken mostly upper division psychology classes, further corroborating my interest in human behavior. What I’ve learned, though, is this— I miss the structure and straightforwardness of my STEM classes. You learn the concepts in lecture and solidify class material through problem sets. With enough drilling, you will do well. With reading-heavy psychology classes, however, there is not as much structure with regards to studying. Humanities classes have their own set of challenges, indeed. Try reading a thirty-page research article, eyes squinted and glazed, unable to comprehend the long text of scientific jargon glaring back at you. Or a fifty-page essay written by some old white dude from the 19th century. After this year, I realized that my ideal course load would be one with a nice balance between humanities and STEM classes. The idea of switching my major back to psychobiology is starting to grow on me.

More than that, though, I miss feeling the pressure that comes with being a premed student. As I mentioned earlier, I have never been one to shy away from challenges. Gymnastics taught me that. As a psychology major, I just didn’t feel challenged enough. Don’t get me wrong— when I first gave up pre-med and psychobiology, I was absolutely thrilled to fill my course load with so-called “easy-A”, non-science classes. Life was so much easier! There was no more pressure to get into medical school. More time to party, more time for fun.

Eventually, the initial euphoria of my newfound freedom wore off. Even worse, I began to lose my drive and motivation to study. I felt lost without the direction of medical school guiding me. I had too much time on my hands— time I squandered on maladaptive behaviors. I didn’t feel like my old ambitious, competitive, driven self anymore. I didn’t know what to look forward to when I woke up each morning. What was my goal? I had no idea what I wanted to do after college. All I knew was, I was so done with school. So done. I didn’t see the point of studying. I was past the point of bitterness. I grew ambivalent towards school, towards UCLA. I wanted out.

This Belicia I’ve just described— she is light-years away from the young, bright-eyed girl who first entered UCLA, two years ago. She has strayed far from her path, and is only beginning to find herself once more. And who is this girl, anyway? WHO AM I?

I am Belicia Tang. I am a fighter, a dreamer, a brave soul who does not cower from adversity, but tackles it with resolve. I am immensely goal-oriented, and work best when I have goals to keep me on track. Whatever I do, I want to do it to the best of my ability.

This reckless party animal and hater of school… this is not me. I know it isn’t.

Two days ago, I made the decision to get back on the premed track. Since then, I’ve found a part of myself once more. I feel… freshly motivated. Eager to study, eager to learn. I know the path to becoming a doctor is incredibly long and difficult. But I also know that such a path is one most suited for a person like me.

I can’t say that I will necessarily go to medical school. Perhaps my path will change again (and knowing my past history, it very likely will). So long as I have medical school as my goal, however, I will be forced to work hard in school, to fill my time with conducive extracurriculars, to develop leadership skills, to be on my A-game. At the core, what’s happened to me is a mindset shift. There’s a lot to be said about the self-fulfilling prophecy. I envision myself as a future doctor, and thus aim to live up to the label. The ideal of becoming a doctor… it is what drives me to approach my studies with a more positive outlook; to abstain from non-wholesome, self-harming behaviors; to wake up each morning with a sense of purpose.

I want to become a doctor because such a profession entails helping others in the most profound and direct way.

And dance… dance will always be a part of my life. It will surely keep me sane as I grind my way through medical school, residency and fellowship. I’d even argue that dancing will make me a better doctor.

And so, my narrative continues. I think getting back on the pre-med track this time around has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I can feel it, in my gut. This is right. At the very least, it has gotten me out of the rut I’ve been mired in, for the past two quarters. Time to get up, Belicia. It’s time to move forward in my pursuit of greatness.

Life Update: 4/16/18

Hi friends! Long time no talk! How’ve you all been?

It’s currently 1:43am on this Monday morning as I begin this post. I had planned on sleeping early and waking up at 5am, and sleep early I did! But I ended up waking up at around midnight, and was unable to go back to sleep since. So naturally, I decided to update you all on how my life has been going!

So, spring quarter has sprung. And it’s been, in all honesty, quite stressful thus far. This quarter, I am taking the notorious psychology “weeder” class, Psych 100B. It is a research methods course that teaches students how to write a proper research paper. While writing is indeed my strong suit, I much prefer creative over scientific writing. Past students have described the course as a “living hell”. Having heard all these negative remarks, I went in to the course immensely stressed and nervous, as I really want to do well.

In addition to Psych 100B, I am taking a course on adolescent development (also notorious for being a tricky class), as well as Philosophy in Literature, a very ready-intensive course. All of my classes involve a LOT of reading, more so than I’ve done in my life. It doesn’t help that I am naturally a slow reader. So, academically, this quarter is challenging, despite the fact that I’m only taking three classes.

The academic stress has taken a toll on my mental health. I find myself constantly irritable and on edge. Thankfully, dance has proven to be an effective outlet for my angst. As for extracurriculars, this quarter, I joined a beginner/intermediate hip hop team, Foundations Choreography. We have practice every Monday/Wednesday from 7pm-11pm, and are expected to practice on our own as well. During the first two weeks of the quarter, I used dance as a means of procrastinating from studying, which of course was a terrible idea, as I ended up falling behind in my classes. That is why I spent this entire weekend cooped up in my room, catching up in my studies.

I know I should be grateful to be at UCLA… but sometimes, I grow bitter at the very thought of studying. I wish I enjoyed learning more… I really do. But I’ve never identified as an academic or intellect. For most my life, I’ve had to suppress my inherently artistic nature, as my family and surrounding community conditioned me to believe that life as an artist was wholly unrealistic and unsustainable, and should never be one to strive for. Since moving to Los Angeles for college, away from the suffocating influence of my parents and upper-middle-class community, I’ve finally gained the courage to dig deep within my soul and be true to myself. Here’s what I’ve uncovered: despite being a skilled test-taker, I cannot call myself a lover of learning. I’ve always studied hard, but not because I genuinely enjoyed what I was learning, but rather, to get those A’s, because that’s just what I needed to do. I wonder how I can change my attitude in such a way that I can grow to love intellectual stimulation and classroom learning… but sometimes, I feel completely out of place in my college campus, surrounded by academics. It’s so hard to be an artist whilst in school… but, I recognize the importance of earning a college degree, as education is and always will be my ultimate safety net, in case my artistic career does not work out.

I am graduating one year early. Then I’m taking a break from school altogether, so I can focus wholeheartedly on my dancing. I’ll live at home to save money, and continue growing myself under the tutelage of my dance teachers in the Bay Area. Once I am ready, I will move to New York City to further my dance career, and hopefully find a dance partner there.

If dance doesn’t work out after a couple years, I will go back to school and study to become a sports psychologist. I am fascinated by competitive athletes’ ability to perform under tremendous pressure, and would like to study this phenomenon further. Such an endearing skill extends far beyond the world of athletics; in applies to everything, be it performance arts, medicine, business, law, and even everyday life. I sometimes think of life as a sort of performance… how does one deliver, under the face of pressure? Having experienced a career-ending knee injury that took me out of gymnastics, I also wish to help injured athletes cope with the psychological stress of injury– a phenomenon overlooked and misunderstood by many. In short, there are many reasons why I am drawn to sports psychology. With my expertise in the field, I can also help many professional dancers mentally prepare for high-stakes competitions and performances.

So, that’s a rough sketch of what lies ahead for me, in the immediate future. Of course, the only certainty in life is uncertainty, which means my trajectory is bound to alter its course. And that is okay! It helps me, however, to have a sense of direction to guide me and keep me focused on achieving my goals.

It is week 3 of the quarter, which means midterm season is fast approaching. In this coming week, I hope to be more positive in my outlook towards school, and not stress unnecessarily.

It was great catching up with you all, and I hope to talk to you guys soon!







Spring Break 2018!!!

Hey friends! I’m writing to you as I sit inside the San Francisco Caltrain station, awaiting the bus to Los Angeles. The bus was supposed to arrive at 8:00pm, but annoyingly got delayed to 9:00pm. So here I am, passing time by writing this post!

This spring break was definitely one for the books. My friends and I accomplished most of the things on our bucket list:

  • Karaoke
  • KBBQ
  • Beach day!
  • Hike to the Hollywood sign
  • Road trip

It’s funny, because originally, I was not planning on coming back to the Bay Area for break. One random night, in a flash of inspiration, my best friend Chiana and I spontaneously decided to take a bus back to my home. I notified my mother, who frantically prepared the house for our arrival.

After missing our 7am bus on Wednesday morning, we took the next bus at 10am, and arrived in San Jose at around 5pm. That first night, my parents, Chiana and I ate dinner at a Thai restaurant. The Pad Thai there was not quite as good as the one at Mr. Noodle in Westwood; nonetheless, we shared good conversation over a generally delicious meal.

On our second day in SF, my parents kindly chauffeured us around the city. We took pictures at the Palace of Fine Arts, the Golden Gate Bridge, and Fisherman’s Wharf. After sightseeing, my parents dropped us off at Union Square, where Chiana and I walked around and made fun of all the expensive, high-end stores lining the streets. We window-shopped at Jimmy Choo, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Burberry, and Neiman Marcus. I think it was inside the Jimmy Choo store, where one of the sales associates flirted with me! Apparently my jacket tag was sticking out. He pointed it out, then proceeded to reach his hand down my neck to fix it for me. I kindly thanked him, to which he replied, “Bye sweetie.” Don’t get me wrong— this guy was hot— but I didn’t appreciate being treated in such an objectifying manner, and most definitely was not flattered by his actions. Similarly, when Chiana and I were walking along the streets, three men from a white truck wolf-whistled at the two of us. At first, I didn’t think they were referring to us; it was only when they continued staring at us through a rolled down window did I realize what had transpired. Ugh. Men. What can you do? At 4:30pm, Chiana and I headed to the top floor of Neiman Marcus, where we had afternoon tea at the Rotunda. We felt like royals, sipping on our exotic teas with milk and sugar, while munching on the finger-food delights arranged meticulously on a three-tiered fine carousal. All was well, until we got the check— $45 per person! I thought the experience of high tea was worth it, though.

Friday morning began bright and early at 5:30am! My friend Jung, who also goes to UCLA, made the spontaneous decision to join me and Chiana in SF! At 6am, she came knocking on the front door, and I welcomed her inside, groggy-eyed and all. I then went back to sleep on the couch, while Jung took a much-needed nap on my bed after her 8-hour red-eye bus ride from LA to SF. After we all received sufficient beauty sleep, my mother drove the three of us to the SF zoo! There, we took many pictures and saw many exotic animals, including:  lemurs, monkeys, giraffes, penguins, black bears, Grizzly bears, tigers, hippos, rhinos, foxes, panthers, pigs, goats, sheep, and several insect species. The zoo closed at 4pm, so we saw as much as we could in the 3.5 hours we were there. After the zoo, we made a quick walk down to Ocean beach, where we dipped our toes in the cold Pacific Ocean water and collected seashells. Afterwards, we took an Uber to my favorite Pho noodle place. We enjoyed a great meal of hot chicken noodle soup. Aside from the grumpy demeanor of the waiter, we were very happy with the meal, and left with our bellies full and warm. After dinner, we made the 30-minute walk back to the beach, just in time to catch the 7:30pm sunset. The trek through the biting cold wind was definitely worth it— the sunset was a sight I will never forget. After taking our pictures, we took an Uber to the Bart station, where we took the train back home. We concluded the day with beautiful, heartfelt, vulnerable conversations and disclosures. Twas’ a memorable night, indeed.

Saturday (aka today) began around 8am. We spent the morning at Bay Club, the local health and fitness center I grew up in. I didn’t realize how blessed I was to have been a member of the Bay Club until I saw my friends’ reactions to the place— awe and wonder at the center’s bourgeois nature. I guess I kind of just took the Club for granted, having been a member since the age of four. At around 3pm, we headed to the Caltrain station, armed with all our luggage, and bade farewell to my mother, who, surprisingly, shed a few tears upon our departure. I later asked her why she got so emotional; she said that she knew how difficult college was for all of us, and seeing us walk back into the lion’s den of another quarter pained her But, the pain and suffering is all for a good cause… we are getting an education and opening doors to a brighter future!

At the station, we met up with one of Jung’s friends, Eddie, and headed to the city. There, we took an Uber to Ghirardelli Square (there’s an extra “r” in that word that I didn’t know existed), and bought a bunch of chocolate goodies for friends back at UCLA. It was definitely a hassle to lug around our heavy bags while maneuvering the crowded streets of SF, and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t frustrated at the situation. After Ghirardelli, we came across a modern art museum, and proceeded to culture our young and hungry minds. The curator gave us a detailed history overview of some of the artwork, and the whole experience was very informative!

We made it back to the SF Caltrain station at 7:30pm, where the Megabus would depart. The original departure time was 8pm, but, due to a series of extenuating circumstances, the bus was delayed until 9:15pm! I was quite irked at this change of plans, but hey, what can you do? We sat inside the train station, where it was a little less chilly, and waited until 9pm to line up in the bus line.

The bus ride back was pretty uneventful, aside from the one unexpected stop we had to make, due to mechanical malfunctions. I slept most of the way back to LA. We arrived at LA Union Station around 5am. Upon getting off the bus, I had the good fortune of running into a friend from UCLA, Clifford, with whom we split an Uber back to Westwood.

And so concluded our very fun and adventurous spring break! I definitely have no regrets, only beautiful memories to cherish forever.