Wonderings and wanderings from yours truly

"Don't adventures ever have an end? I suppose not. someone else always has to carry on the story."


For the last two nights, I’ve stayed up past 1am with two friends I know only through having once shared other mutual friends. Now, I consider them close, even though one of them I’ve never hugged, and the other doesn’t remember anything specific or significant about the summer we met. Ah, sakit…

(My roommatesand I are so perfect for each other. One comes into the room only ten minutes after me, and I can hear her not being asleep below me even now. Good thing she’s not a sensitive sleeper, or I’d be in serious trouble by now.)

Things to blog about tomorrow:


Romantic interest and what that says about a person

“You could do better”

Exploring town

Being tipsy versus being drunk 

Examples of gentlemanly things that all guts can and should do but don’t necessarily do

Reflections on why I am so obnoxious and unkind around my friends, and what that says about both me and my friends 

Soon to come!


When a Guy Calls You “Dude”

Or “man,” or “bro,” or “sir,” or any variation thereof. 

That’s called being friend-zoned, sweetheart. Fair and square. You tried, and it was worth a shot. It’s not a mistake to put your best self out there and see if it works or not. Thats what stepping out of your comfort zone promises – you learn more about yourself and maybe more about the other person, something to make you value them as you should. In this case, it didn’t work out like you wished it would, especially those afternoons and evenings when you really wanted someone to take a walk or play a game or watch a movie or just talk for hours on end, and you really wanted it to be him.

But the positive part of that is that he trusts you as a friend now, and he sees you as a worthwhile friend to have. You have a sense of humor that vies with his, and you can make him smile like a good friend does. That’s good. That’s great.

After all, he owes you nothing, not even his friendship. He doesn’t owe you a relationship or requited feelings. You don’t owe him either, either. 

You’ve reached a point at which you bring him happiness by existing. Maybe you make him laugh once in a while. Maybe he acts like an idiot around you and makes you laugh, too. 

It doesn’t seem like that will be enough. You still have a hole you thought he could fill. You still see an empty square-shaped space where his puzzle piece was supposed to fit yours. But time and maturity, forgiveness and acceptance, dull all pain and everybody is bound to have some scars, purposefully-inflicted or no.

God has blessed you with the gift of a good friend, a friend you can count on and laugh at like you would at your brother. Why ask for more? Good friends are hard to find, and harder to keep when all you want to do is push the friendship to another level, a romantic level. Be content. Be satisfied with the blessing of someone you can smile with.

Dr. Seuss once said, “Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.”

Someday, you can continue hoping that the right one will come along. If God means for it to be, then there will come a moment when your paths cross and your lives intertwine, and you’ll know well enough by then that the pattern goes like this:

1 God loves me

2 I love Him in return

3 And myself, in respect to Him for judging me worth loving by virtue of His only begotten Son dying for me

4 And others as myself

Only once you’ve come to put Him as the center of your life and your real purpose – only then, if ever, will someone else come into your life who makes you a better person, and who you inspire and encourage to be a better individual in return. 

I’m closing one chapter of my life with this post, Reader. But he’ll be in other chapters, playing a different part than that of unrequited crush, almost-something-more, missing puzzle piece, etc. He’ll be playing someone else – as he said himself only a few hours ago, he is and will be “just him.” 

You don’t think I’d tell you his name? Why? It shouldn’t matter to you. You’re  probably reading this because it seems relatable, and in order to read yourself into the story, with your own characters and your own convoluted plotline. Then do so, with my blessing, but not with my character names. 

The important thing for me, I think, is that it – whatever I thought it was – mattered and matters to me, and I’ll definitely remember reading back on that chapter and the moment that God penned him into my life. I look back now, not with regret, but with wonder and gratitude about how much I grew in that time. How much I learned about myself, about interacting and communicating with others, about honesty and quality and priorities. About thinking to the future while living in the present. About being a godly, Christian individual, and about the influence that identity exerts on people. About my pet peeves, and deal-breakers, and my own flaws and faults to improve on.

I’ve grown up a lot in and through all of it. I have more growing up to do, of course. Maybe the next time I see this, it’ll be when my husband or a relative or a good friend shares it on my Facebook wall in twenty years – or on whatever social media we’ll be using by then. He or she will laugh at me, and I’ll laugh at me, and I’ll thank God again for doing whatever it was He did to keep me walking on the path towards Him and towards that laughing future me. 

Sometimes, you walk with others – family, friends, mentors, guides. Even archenemies. And sometimes, you feel like you walk alone. 

I’ve felt that. I’ve called for help or emotional support, for a sign or a message of some kind to tell me to keep going in the dark. And I’ve lacked for a clear answer, or for what I thought was any answer at all. 

But even in the midst of all those trials and doubts, even in my own personal “valley of the shadow of death,” I’ve never walked alone. Not really, even when I thought I did.

Even after all this time?

“My precious child,” God answered, “when your life had pain, I knew./The single set of footprints were the times I carried you.


Fourth of July

Sometimes, it’s okay to be antisocial, to stay inside and not bother watching the fireworks while you reflect on a good day. Sometimes, it’s okay to just respond to Snapchats while you can hear the boon and hiss of the fireworks exploding in colorful displays outside. Sometimes, staying inside and choosing roommates, face masks, and temporary tattoos instead of celebrating the holiday is the right choice to make. 

Tip for future me: Asian food feasts and spending some quality time doing dishes with friends is ALWAYS the right choice. 

An Audience, and (Almost) More questions than I’ve ever asked in one sitting

What is an audience for?

Why do we desire an audience for anything and everything that we do? Why do we feel uplifted by Facebook likes and affirming nods?

If it’s not for a sense of validation (I like to believe that I have enough validation in knowing that I am loved by One greater than I, and in recognizing that I have a purpose)…

if it’s not a desire for attention (I’ve never liked being the center of the story)…

if it’s not for some greater purpose, like changing the world or inspiring lives (this blog is more like extended Facebook statuses than anything life-changing)…

If we cringe when someone looks at our work, but then share a secret smile with our subconscious and feel that little sense of satisfaction that comes from being noticed, what is an audience meant to be?

Is it a learning experience, to get better at creating and telling stories? (But I never read these posts out loud…)

Is it a desire to use talents and gifts to one’s full potential? (But I don’t use this enough for it to serve as a sole outlet for my writing, and it’s not the first thing that I think of when I think of writing something – Facebook usually is, which makes Facebook my creative outlet…)

It’s not a diary, because it’s not so personal that it’s cringe-worthy when I look back on the moments that inspired posts.

What is the purpose of this blog in particular?

Thinking about it, I don’t know, really.

(Thinking out loud can be much more boring than Virginia Woolf or Ed Sheeran would make you believe. Am I writing to you, Reader, now that I know you exist? Are you my audience now, or is it still some kind of purposeless shout into the void?)

Speaking Lab: A Challenge, A Blessing, and A Learning Experience

BlankMap-WorldLast semester and for the next semester of my college career, I’m essentially “directing,” leading, and/or supervising (I actually have no idea what my official title ends up being, I’m just there to encourage and direct conversation) for a group of English L2 learners, exclusively international students, and nearly always Korean exchange students. This directive is known by the secret title of “Speaking lab.”



While Korea is indeed a small country compared to the continent of Asia and to the entirety of the landmass that we call our world, it’s a country of culture, diversity, history, and some fascination for me. At the beginning of my freshman year, I couldn’t even have told you the difference between North and South Korea. I couldn’t have pointed it out on a map. I couldn’t have picked out a Korean or even the Korean language in a crowd of languages and people groups.

But now?

I’ve learned so much, and there’s still so much more to be discovered.

I can read Hangul – slowly, and imperfectly, but potentially. I can speak more than one phrase with a halting American accent (I’ve never been able to catch the rhythm and the smooth transition from word-to-word in the language). I can tell you the names of cities and restaurants and foods, and why North Korea is different than South Korea, and why North Korea and South Korea are considered separate entities now even though some refer to it all as one Korea.

I’ve learned much from friends, roommates, and Facebook. I’ve learned from K-pop songs, and phrases shouted across the Dining Hall, and asking for any “vocab word of the day” time and again.

But I’ve also learned a lot from Speaking lab sessions. I’ve learned how to say “hungry” and “delicious” and “Jeju.” I’ve learned about the general Korean culture’s view of dating, eating, drinking, home life, beauty, etc.

My students helped me, and I only hope that I helped them, too. This semester, I’ll be more prepared, with a better plan and with actual expectations.

My purpose in Speaking lab is to direct conversation. Thus, in the rest of this post you’ll find 40 TOEFL Practice Questions for the English language learner, aka the vast majority of the conversation topics that we’ll be focusing on for Speaking lab next semester. Some -better than others. Some – golden opportunities. I guess we’ll just have to experiment to find out which one’s which…

TOEFL (Request lots of description. Lots and lots of description!)

1. Who is your best friend? Describe this person and say why he/she is your best friend.

2. What is your favorite place to visit on weekends? Describe it and explain why it is your favorite place to go.

3. What is your happiest childhood memory? Describe it and give reasons to explain why it is your happiest memory.

4. What is your most important possession? Describe it and say why it is so important.

5. Talk about a person in your life who has inspired you. Describe the person and explain why you found him/her inspirational.

6. Where do most like to go to eat out? Describe this place and say why you like it most.

7. Talk about an important national holiday in your home country. Describe it and explain why it is important.

8. What is your favorite book or movie? Describe it and say why it is your favorite.

9. Who do you feel close to in your family (or extended family)? Describe this person and say why you feel close to him/her.

10. Where is a good place to have fun in your city or town? Describe this place and explain why it is fun.

11. Talk about an experience in your life that made you feel embarrassed. Describe it and say why it was embarrassing.

12. What was your favorite subject at school? Describe it and explain why this subject was your favorite one.

13. Who is an important person in your country? Describe this person and explain why he/she is important.

14. Talk about an interesting tourist attraction you have been to. Describe it and say why it was interesting.

15. Talk about a time when you experienced success. Describe the experience and say why it was a success for you.

16. What is your favorite style of clothing? Describe it and explain why it is your favorite.

17. Name a person whom you truly admire. Describe the person and say why you admire him/her.

18. Think of a place that makes you feel relaxed and peaceful. Describe it and explain why it is relaxing and peaceful for you.

19. Talk about a difficulty you have overcome in your life. Describe the experience and say why it was difficult to overcome.

20. What is your most useful study aid? Describe it and explain why it is useful in helping you to study.

21. Talk about a teacher who had a positive influence on you. Describe this person and explain why he/she was so influential to you.

22. Where is your favorite place to study? Describe this place and say why it is a good place for you to study.

23. Talk about a positive experience with learning or using English. Describe the experience and say why it was a positive one.

24. What is your favorite kind of food? Describe it and explain why it is your favorite.

25. Name a famous or influential figure who has inspired you. Describe this person and say why he/she has been inspirational to you.

26. Which place has fond memories for you? Describe this place and explain why it is memorable to you.

27. When have you been happily surprised by something? Describe the experience and say why the surprise was a happy one for you.

28. Describe a resource that helped you to do something better than before. Describe it and explain why it was helpful to you.

29. Describe a person from your country’s history. Why do you think this person was important?

30. Where would you like to go to spend a vacation? Describe this place and say why you would like to holiday there.

31. Talk about something you and your family enjoy doing together. Describe it and explain why you all enjoy it.

32. What is your favorite recreational activity?  Describe it and say why you enjoy doing it.

33. Who is the most intelligent person you know? Describe the person and say why you think he/she is intelligent.

34. Where would you most like to live? Describe this place and explain why you would like to live there.

35. What is your favorite season of the year? Describe the season and explain why you like it so much.

36. What custom from your home country are you most fond of? Describe the custom and explain why you are fond of it.

37. Which person are you most likely to go to with a personal problem? Describe this person and say why you would go to him/her in particular.

38. Name a place in your country you would recommend others to visit. Describe this place and explain why you would recommend it.

39. Talk about an event from the past that you would like to relive. Describe the original event and say why you would like to relive it.

40. What is your favorite way of getting around? Describe it and explain why it is your favorite means of transportation.

Well, that was fun…

So, you’re in my Speaking lab this semester? Best of luck to you and yours. I hope you like talking, and if you don’t like talking, then I hope you like listening – to me, and to your peers.

Late night wonderings and wanderings: Coincidence, Wanderlust, and “Life Advice Wanted, Inquire Within”

Why I’ve got the travel bug on the mind:

  1. Daily Goodreads “quote of the day” email for Saturday, June 25.

    Travel changes you. As you move through this life and this world you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life—and travel—leaves marks on you. Anthony Bourdain. (I swear that these things don’t just happen coincidentally. Co-in-kee-dinks don’t exist.)

  2. Reading friends’ blogs about traveling and college life and how the two conflict and intertwine in the best and worst ways.
  3. Thinking about the future and where I want to be in two years. Do I want to be here? Or there? Or everywhere? I need to summon a council of advisers, mentors, and life coaches for this one…hello, English pod.
  4. Because the statement “Adventure is out there” is 1 of 3 mottos that I’ve chosen for myself, and one never forgets one’s life mottos.
  5. Because I’m still awake, and I tend to think both broadly and deeply when I’m awake after midnight. The girth of my thought process is immeasurable. Alright, fine, so I really just wanted to fit the word “girth” into a sentence here.
  6. Finding Dory is all about traveling and making a journey for the sake of family. What about for the sake of self-discovery? Self-betterment? Curiosity? What are valid excuses for travel, and what are not?
  7. When I think about where the freshman-me saw the senior-me heading after college, I get twisted and turned around in my mind. That mattered to me then, but does it matter to me now? Why or why not? How have I changed? Is that change for the better?
  8. Watching Youtube videos about a Korean adopted into an American (Illinoisan) family as a child, who then chose to return to Korea to live for a time as a 20-something-year-old. What pieces of my own heritage and history could I discover by traveling?
  9. Saying goodbye to a good friend as she moves on from having graduated to pursue further studies as a grad student in Cali. Goodbyes are always, to me, “see you later.” I do plan to see you later, even if that involves me driving across the country or flying from one continent to another. The only issue in that is the money…
  10. Missing home, but not for the sake of the place. For the sake of the people. Does that mean, then, that I could feel at home no matter where I end up going?

And however many more reasons my mind dreams up for me as I create this list. I just really like typing on the keyboard of this laptop. The keys are smooth, they click in a satisfying way with every letter, and I can watch the words and sentences originating in my mind unfold across the screen even as I hunt-and-peck type with two fingers.

As a good friend would say,


Do people remember me?

Memory is a funny and a faulty thing.

Am I memorable? 

How many people have I passed and instantly forgotten on the street, in the store, on the road, or at the beach?

How many times have I looked up, offered and received a quick smile, then vanished from the mind of some cashier, salesperson, attendant, or nurse?

If I was to answer those questions with a realistic estimate, the numbers would undoubtedly be beyond my ability to comprehend at 11:45pm. Certainly, I can take on a quick Google search (a sacrifice of 5 or 6 seconds to the internet). I can read and research those educated guesses, assumptions, and suggested statistics that sing to the tune of 80,000-100,000+ individual human beings.

That would mean that I’ve been forgotten more than 75,o00 times.


I could ask the same kind of question, but from a radically different perspective. I could ask how many people I’ve encountered in my 20 years on this Earth who have come away happier because of my existence. I could ask how many separate, distinct paths have crossed and even intertwined with mine. I could try to measure the depth of the impact I’ve had on those others. I could test the level of importance I’ve had as a tool in the lives and memories of others.

Of course, I would fail at such a test, because who can measure the impact of him- or herself on the life of another? Who can say, “I changed your life for the better just by being in it, and you’re a different person than you would have been without me”? 

Then you get into the concept of alternate timelines and parallel universes and all that jazz. And while I do enjoy a good and unproductive philosophical chat about the unanswerable questions every once in a while, it’s true that my mind is elsewhere at such a moment. 

Instead, I’m imagining how great is our God, who orders the world and the heavens and time itself, bending and shaping the minutes and the hours and the centuries and millennia as little more than another tool in his arsenal. 

A tool for what purpose, you ask? You don’t ask? Well, fine, but pretend that you asked. I need a smooth segue.

A tool for what purpose? 

For the purpose of you. For the goal of bringing you, in all your shining amniotic-fluid-coated glory, into the world. 

You are a puzzle piece in something so much bigger than yourself. Each of those 80,000-100,000 people serves also as a puzzle piece on that giant puzzle board that you can’t even begin to see.

Some pieces don’t fit together. Some pieces don’t have edges, and the connecting line between the two is a slippery, uncertain movement. Some pieces don’t look like they go together, but then you place one near the other and the color suddenly matches up perfectly in an ombre shading of light to dark to darker. Some pieces are placed together early, some late. But no matter what, we’re all puzzle pieces set to create the most beautiful tapestry of God’s plan. 

Yes, I’ve been forgotten.

But I’ve also been remembered. Many times. I’ve made and been a part of many memories which I would count more precious than a thousand thousand passing smiles and nods at strangers, valuable though those may be. I hope to remember and be remembered for many years and decades to come. 

When Saturdays are Magnificent and Philosophical

Sometimes, days go by too slowly, like the last day of a semester or an entire day spent driving. But sometimes, days disappear in a blink. Mornings and afternoons and evenings like this day, this Saturday, spent with friends as dear as to be considered family – Magdala, Licht, Prinses, Matahari – and friends newly made – Dutch painter number one, and Dutch painter number two. What magnificent human beings do exist on this Earth. What magnificent days God gives and gifts to His beloved.

I am certainly not alone in asserting that few know me as I know my own mind.

For example, perhaps five people on Earth know that my second most important love language, as I understand it from various internet quizzes and real-life situations, is quality time.

What does that mean? It doesn’t mean staring dead-eyed at a television screen while in the same room. It doesn’t mean sitting in a lecture hall and taking the same notes with similar writing utensils, nor does it even mean the simple act of sharing food or time with someone.

Quality time, to me at this moment and under the influence of only two decades of understanding, is time offered and time taken with intent. Quality time is more than time spent in the presence of another. It is time that deserves the adjective of “quality.” It is time that is truly spent together, willingly and joyfully, with a human being from whose existence one derives an enthusiastic delight. Quality time is meaningful and deliberate.

(On another note, as I write this while watching more Reign, I wish I could say things like “You will meet with my extreme displeasure” and not be stared at quizzically.)

I realize that time is valuable, and that any time spent with or for the sake of another is a gift of immeasurable value. But some moments are worth more than others.

Do you remember every second of every hour of every day of every year you’ve walked this planet? Probably not, which I take as proof for my statement.

In turn, some moments and some memories mean more to me than others.

The memory of a sixteenth birthday kidnapping and surprise party, one of the first times that I felt the real and sincere love of many friends surrounding me, and a moment that I cried my eyes out with happy tears.

The memory of crossing the finish line at my very last cross country meet, hearing the presence of tears in my coach’s voice when he told me he was proud of the three years I had spent under his guidance.

The memory of my confession of faith, surrounded once again by people who loved me and who were appreciated in turn, more than they knew or understood.

All of my favorite memories involve people, and quality time spent with those people.

I may not be the easiest person to read. I may often be a rock of little or no emotion. I may be more than difficult to understand at the best of times, and especially at the worst of times.

But I love and am loved. Both by the God that I trust and serve, and by those that He providentially places in my life.

“Life is summed up in how well we have loved.” Matthew Sleeth.

Almost-Solo Friday Evenings: “Netflix and Chill” with Mary Queen of Scots


I’ve decided to address some of these blog posts to you, in moments when I really feel like talking to someone but I really don’t want to seek you or anyone else out. Why not, for after all, maybe one day I’ll master the art of talking to one’s self. You know who you are, I assume, as you probably look in the mirror and think thoughts every day. I wonder how long it’s been since I have gone a day without looking in a mirror somewhere somehow. I’d not call myself vain, but it’s interesting how many mirrors and glass and metals exist in my day-to-day. Think about it…think about a lot of things…

Tonight, as I watch Netflix and sit on this couch which I have deemed the perfect perching spot in this room, I wonder what to do with the rest of my mind and my idle hands. The show, by the way, is called Rain – pardon me, it’s apparently called Reign actually, who knew – a historical fiction narrative about the coming-of-age of Mary Queen of Scots and her battle to survive the politics and drama of the French court. Well, I’ve decided to react for you, lovely reader out there.

First, background on why I’m watching this show to begin with. Two of my roommates this summer – one that we will call Prinses, and another that we will call Magdala (my other roommates will henceforth and forever be Licht and Gelhaas, respectively) – began the downward spiral that will be my summer, watching more television than I’ve seen in months. The two, bless their hearts, were more than a little excited to learn off-hand that I enjoy historical dramas and historical fiction, which contributed to their enthusiasm when they discovered that I also hadn’t heard of this Reign.

The colors in this show, the yellows and greens and browns and reds. The costumes in this show, the glitter and silk and dazzling ballgowns with lace. The accents in this show, French and English and Portuguese. The hairstyles in this show, braids and curls and waves. The historical accuracy of this show – maybe, perhaps, who knows or cares? Certainly not I. The insults in this show even have alliteration. For example, “the powerless princeling.”

And the musicccc. They already used “Pompeii” by Bastille, and Mumford and Sons, and even some subtle orchestral pieces that hint at recognition in a corner of my mind. I’ve already argued with Prinses and Magdala about the choice between Francis or Sebastian – I’ve always loved the name Sebastian, but Francis has whatever piece of my heart can be given to a fictional character in a fictional world that mirrors a fictional reality. Regardless, this show is brilliant so far. I tire with the all-too-common “let’s-be-so-dramatic-and-historically-realistic-that-every-new-show-is-practically-NC17” (cough Games of Thrones cough), so I appreciate a new Netflix show to binge-watch that doesn’t make me want to erase my memories and raise my future children under a rock.

Why do I watch anything with romance? Why do I fill my head with fancies? Why do I feel the need to express myself in prose-like rhetorical questions? Why is a posh, rich-looking blonde girl – a noblewoman, perhaps, or a lady of some kind – running through the forest under tense blue lighting, with ominous music playing ominously behind her?

I’ll find out. If I ever manage to learn the secret of telling a good story, or even of telling a passable story in the midst of a sparkling conversation without killing aforementioned conversation, then perhaps I’ll talk to you about it.


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