new zealand, not australia


In the final week of Spring semester of my Freshmen year at Michigan State University, I made a decision that would forever change my life. Trying to find a cure for my boredom during exam week, I logged on the study abroad website and started browsing around. On a whim, I signed up for a 3 week, 21 day, environmental science and geology course in New Zealand. I didn't place much emphasis on it because I figured I didn't have the qualifications for the program. Just did it as a joke. During the first couple of weeks of my Sophomore year, I received the acceptance letter for the program. I was completely blown away. After giving the proposition some thought, I signed up and this is the result of that fateful decision.

Part 1: Can't wait to get out of this hellhole...

Waking up at 5 AM was not my idea of starting a vacation. Somehow I was able to drag my sleepy, exhausted butt out of my warm and enticing bed and into crisp clothes. I dressed warmly to fend off the chilly weather. I located a few of the items that I forgot to pack and shoved them into my overfilling suitcase. Hopefully, I don't go over the weight limit for the bags. Packing has always been a tough thing for me. Trying to find space for all the things that I need to bring and cramming it into a 2 x 3 container just doesn't strike me as a good usage of my Friday night. I run through the list, double checking that I have everything I need. Toiletries, check. Towel, check. Clothes, check. Camera, check. Etc. The list is rather comprehensive, outlining the essentials and the practical. There are a few random items such as moleskin; what the flip is moleskin for? When am I ever going to need moleskin? I cannot recall a single instance in my past when someone has said to me, "If only I had moleskin..." Needless to say I didn't pack moleskin or other "useless" space consuming items like sunblock or bandages. My philosophy is don't bring something you don't need or something that someone else is bound to have.

It's still dark outside as I tossed my gear into the trunk of the car and took off for Metro Airport. The freeway was sparsely populated that morning and we made good time getting to the airport. I was nervous as I stepped out of the vehicle, and looked around the bustling terminal hoping to see a familiar face. Stood off to the side as I waited with my parents for the professor to arrive. The terminal was alive with passengers headed off to exotic and sunny locations, most likely to escape the city before the first major snow storm hits. This would be the first time I've spent Christmas away from home, not to mention being out of the country. Here I was waiting to catch a plane that would take me halfway across the globe and dump me with 20 other strangers in a foreign country. I could only imagine how that'll turn out.

I spotted some travelers sporting State sweatshirts and unconsciously gravitate toward them. I didn't quite join them in case I mistook them for fans instead of my classmates. It's way too early in the morning for me to recover smoothly from an embarrassing moment. I can just imagine it now... [In hushed tones while stealing furtive looks at my general direction] "Who is that guy? Do you guys know him? Why is he standing near us? He kind of looks Japanese. What if he's some sort of Asian terrorist? Someone should get rid of him" How can I recover from that? Graciously slip away pretending that my presence is a coincidence? It's hard to look smooth with bed hair and droopy eyes.

I nervously checked the time on my phone. It read a little past 7 AM. Finally it dawned on me that I might actually be in the wrong area. As the fruits of this horrid discovery started to sink in, I was saved at the last moment by a familiar face. Amidst the crowds, I spotted one of guys who lived on my floor Freshmen year. We had actually gone to high school together and coincidentally ended up living on the same floor along with two other guys from high school. I said goodbye to my parents. Short and sweet. We're not much on sappy goodbyes and affections. They told me to spend the money wisely and to not be stupid. That's love I guess. I met up with my friend Dave and both he and I are surprised to see that we both enrolled in the same program. "This is going to be a hell of a time." You have no idea, buddy.


I hate...

  • feeling like I wasted the whole day.
  • breaking promises.
  • when people routinely take advantage of others.
  • when I fall for a girl that I know I can't have.
  • the stupid things that I did when I was younger.
  • not living up to other people's expectations.
  • being left out.
  • my inability to back up what I say.
  • getting terrible grades.
  • doubting myself and my abilities.
  • the absurd amount of oil that exists on my face.
  • jealousy over people, objects and activities that I have no right to claim jealousy over.
  • doing laundry.
  • washing dishes in a restaurant.
  • feeling helpless.
  • talking about my spirituality with certain people.
  • watching old friends change into people that discourage me.
  • not knowing what I want to do with my life.
  • getting the chain grease on my bike all over my clean jeans.
  • the harsh realities of life that tend to slap you across the face with a brutal vengeance.
  • injustice.
  • feeling threatened by other guys who I feel are my "competition."
  • finding dirty dishes and utensils in the cafeteria.
  • people being loud in "quiet study areas."
  • pointless homework assignments.
  • ignorance.
  • bad timing.
  • noise when I desire silence.
  • failing.
  • being disorganized.
  • messing up while writing.
  • people who mistreat books.
  • people who mistreat others.
  • bad acting.
  • not standing up for what I believe in.
  • not taking chances when I ought to.
  • sticky movie theatre floors.
  • wet jeans
  • wet socks
  • knowing things that I feel shouldn't be shared.

I love...

  • the spectacular display of colors that come with every sunrise and sunset.
  • biting into a spoonful of carefully crafted tiramisu.
  • mind-numbing warmth that radiates throughout my body after I see a pretty girl flash a even prettier smile.
  • viewing a well taken photograph.
  • spine tingling massages that take me just short of orgasmic heights.
  • reading well crafted and witty blogs.
  • the refreshing feeling that comes after washing my face.
  • helping out others.
  • Indian food about as much as I love Korean food.
  • reminiscing about the past.
  • receiving compliments.
  • getting new clothes.
  • stretching.
  • thought-provoking movies.
  • making the grade.
  • people helping out those in need expecting nothing in return.
  • witty lines and sexual innuendos.
  • long, warm embraces that convey deep emotional affection.
  • the Chicago skyline.
  • learning something new that interests me.
  • pulling harmless pranks.
  • teasing others.
  • sharing music with others.
  • back massages.
  • staying up all night with friends.
  • deep, meaningful conversations that you never want to end.
  • nice, tone bodies.
  • sandy beaches.
  • sweet dreams and restful sleep.
  • jet skiing at adrenaline rushing speeds.
  • gliding through the water underneath the surface.
  • sense of accomplishment.
  • fruits.
  • vegetable party trays.
  • scalp massages.
  • challenges.
  • people who have their act together.
  • cold drinking fountains.
  • not having a care in the world.
  • people who go above and beyond.
  • people who are on fire and passionate about issues.

bucket list

  1. go skydiving.
  2. go bungee jumping.
  3. live in Chicago, Portland, and Seattle.
  4. listen to "Boston" while walking through Boston.
  5. run a marathon.
  6. save someone's life.
  7. totally trick a great girl into marrying a loser like me.
  8. give a speech in front of a thousand people.
  9. make it on the Dean's List. [May 2008]
  10. have one of my pictures published in a magazine.
  11. be a good father.
  12. travel throughout Europe.
  13. provide direct aid in Africa.
  14. trek through Antarctica.
  15. facilitate a peace treaty.
  16. run for an public position.
  17. carry on a serious conversation in a not so serious accent.
  18. perform in a play.
  19. write a song.
  20. play in a band.
  21. find a way to stop popping my joints.
  22. buy a homeless guy/gal dinner and learn about his/her life.
  23. max out a car on the Autobahn.
  24. participate in a poetry slam.
  25. win a talent contest.
  26. perform street magic.
  27. go fishing.
  28. learn how to sail a boat.
  29. make a video blog.
  30. paint a contemporary piece of art and sell it for a stick of gum and a back massage.
  31. ride the Millennium Force two times in a row within a span of 30 minutes.
  32. find the love of my life. (this comes before #7)
  33. go horseback riding.
  34. teach a class.
  35. learn how to take better photographs.
  36. fly a helicopter.
  37. write a book.
  38. learn how to ski/snowboard
  39. climb a mountain. [December 2007]
  40. swim with dolphins. [January 2008]
  41. break a world record.
  42. eat anything I want with no regard to my health for one day. [August 2008]
  43. direct and film a video. [April 2008]
  44. win the lottery.
  45. go streaking.
  46. expand the amount of readers of this blog from a meager few to a meager few plus one. [August 2008]
  47. read the major holy books cover to cover.
  48. draw a successful cartoon.
  49. invest in a risky venture and win big.
  50. learn how to play the guitar and piano.
  51. beat "Jordan" on expert.
  52. participate in 'Fight Club.'
  53. perform a hand puppet show for my kids.
  54. paint the school rock before I graduate.
  55. learn how to speak five other languages.
  56. learn how to sign language.
  57. jump off a cliff and into a pool of water.
  58. dance to "It had to be you" by Frank Sinatra with my wife in our darken living room.
  59. sing a song at a karaoke bar.
  60. live in New Zealand.
  61. learn Parkour.
  62. clean out the spare room.
  63. paint the house.
  64. visit Scotland.
  65. visit the wild West.
  66. feed one of the fat squirrels at school.
  67. stargaze in an open field whilst lying on a blanket, telescope near by.
  68. watch a play on Broadway.
  69. make a scrapbook.
  70. be in a movie.
  71. have someone ask me for my autograph.
  72. be a good older brother.
  73. be a good son.
  74. win a stuffed animal from a claw machine.
  75. learn how to harmonize.
  76. be a cop for a day; pull irresponsible drivers over.
  77. buy a store in front of a rude employee and fire him/her on the spot.
  78. speak at a press conference.
  79. visit Iceland.
  80. get crow's feet and wrinkles from laughing.
  81. confront my demons.

things you probably didn't know

  1. People say I look Korean, but I'm actually not.
  2. I learned how to ride a bike all by myself.
  3. I have been courting the city of Chicago for about a year now.
  4. Even though I live in Michigan, I have never seen a ski slope in my entire life.
  5. I have only had one nosebleed in my entire life.
  6. I am unsatisfied with my body.
  7. I always clean out My Recent Documents on my computer.
  8. I love reading memoirs, but will never write one.
  9. I am a sucker for gorgeous smiles.
  10. I don't like to smile for pictures because I think I have an ugly smile.
  11. I have one brother, but have always wanted a sister.
  12. I want to have two children; a boy first then a girl.
  13. My daughter will be my favorite child.
  14. I am a chronic liar, but I have toned down significantly.
  15. I have problems controlling what I spend my money on.
  16. I think 300 is overrated.
  17. I don't know how to talk to girls who I meet for the first time.
  18. I am a terrible dancer.
  19. I am an awkward person.
  20. I talk big, but if you call me out I tend to fold.
  21. I love the feeling that comes after finishing my CAPA assignments.
  22. I am so easily influenced.
  23. I have a pretty diverse taste in music, but emo/punk annoys the crap out of me.
  24. Sudokus frustrate me.
  25. I want to visit Portland eventually.
  26. I am afraid that I won't make it into grad school.
  27. Even though I say money is not a factor, it is.
  28. I think girls that are intellectual and good at video games are extremely attractive.
  29. I get jealous easily.
  30. I am not huge on labels.
  31. I get embarrassed easily.
  32. I love to travel.
  33. I have a competitive streak hidden within me.
  34. I wish I was a better writer.
  35. I am a slob that only cleans up every once in a while.
  36. My cockiness comes out after a few drinks.
  37. I have never been able to maintain a relationship.
  38. I love taking naps, but hate wasting my whole day.
  39. I skip class too often.
  40. My first relationship was a huge mistake.
  41. When it comes down to it, I am as materialistic as a consumer whore ought to be.
  42. I am pretty open minded when it comes to spirituality.
  43. I stand liberal on most political topics.
  44. I have never voted in a presidential election...or any election in general. 2008 historic election
  45. I am attracted to girls that I cannot have.
  46. I have a love obsession with photography.
  47. I have never had my own room.
  48. I wish I knew how to play the piano and guitar.
  49. I love watching foreign films.
  50. I enjoy using cliches.
  51. People who are able to manipulate the English language to form witty comments or observation are totally awesome in my book.
  52. I can be arrogant and stubborn.
  53. I'm not all that interested in sports.
  54. I am self-conscious about my body and features that are related to masculinity.
  55. I have a tendency to show off.
  56. I am not a big phone person.
  57. I hate my phone voice.
  58. I think I am tone deaf.
  59. During praise & worship, I refrain from clapping because I am afraid to be out of beat.
  60. I let people take advantage of me.
  61. I hate going to random parties and clubs scare me.
  62. My first kiss was in seventh grade.
  63. I am afraid of failing.
  64. Every new shirt that I buy is my new "favorite" shirt.
  65. I have watched a movie by myself. It sucked.
  66. I have a nerdy side. Ask me about it.
  67. My brain is capable of storing vast quantities of useless information.
  68. Recently I have been having difficulty retaining information.
  69. I have not vomited since grade school.
  70. I used to be on a cross country team, but I have never finished a 5K all the way through without stopping.
  71. I like Koreans words better than Chinese words.
  72. I am never satisfied with my haircut.
  73. I have a fear of heights.
  74. "Ya'll" should be a word in the dictionary.
  75. My hamster loves my mom more than me.
  76. I lack imagination and creativity.
  77. I have never been pulled over.
  78. I have never smoked a cigarette.
  79. Fresca + cranberry juice=delish.
  80. I usually pick my warm bed over getting up for my 8 am classes.
  81. I collect the Post Secret secrets every Sunday.
  82. I have never cried when reading the secrets, but I have laughed many times.
  83. I have bailed on paying for dinner once.
  84. I have been responsible for a car accident.
  85. I feel guilty every time I buy something expensive.
  86. I can't help but feel sorry for old people and disabled people.
  87. Every time I see a person eating alone, I think about inviting him/her to eat with me.
  88. I like the smell of cigarette smoke, but not on my clothes.
  89. I stay up late on a daily basis and have been known to pull multiple all nighters.
  90. I judge how dirty I am based on the condition of my hair.
  91. I think black looks good on me.
  92. I'm conceited enough to think that people are talking about me when they are ranting about something.
  93. I've become accustomed to drinking coffee black.
  94. I've been in the trunk of a car while it was being pulled over by the cops.
  95. I've snuggled with a dog.
  96. I'm afraid that I won't have a job when I graduate.
  97. I'm having doubts after switching my major from business.
  98. I love my calender and will miss it when school is over.
  99. I currently own a cactus but have no idea how to care for it.
  100. I will never buy another "Freakanomics" daily calender again; total waste of money.
  101. I tend to hold a grudge against guys that I feel are my competition.
  102. I hate filling out job applications and often lie on them.
  103. I think I'm witty when I use British colloquialism directed to people who are currently in England.
  104. I often walk into camera stores just to catch a glimpse of cameras I can never afford.
  105. I like to pretend that I know what I'm talking about.
  106. You could power nations based off the amount of oil on my face.
  107. I want to have crow's feet and wrinkles from laughing.
  108. I have met the Final Boss.
  109. I prefer sleeping closer to the ground.
  110. I don't mind wearing socks to bed.
  111. I tend to come up with the best ideas...in retrospect.