watching a malaysian rainstorm

A nostalgic throwback to when I was in Malaysia only two months ago…


 

I am currently sitting on the 19th floor balcony of my grandma’s apartment in Subang Jaya, Malaysia, and it is absolutely bucketing down with rain. In the past five minutes, I have watched a huge grey raincloud rapidly consume the skyline as less and less light peeks through.

It looks as though my vision has turned entirely blurry, but no cause for worry yet, it is just the sheets and sheets of rain pouring down from the sky. The world is covered in grey mist and not a drop of earth is dry. If only this rain could be brought to my home of California.

The rain no longer falls in individual droplets, but in a billowing waterfall that visibly bends with the wind. A watercolor with no definite lines. The clouds have dropped so low that I can see the rain falling from them at eye level.

Cars continue along the roads below, with drivers behind windshield wipers going at full speed. Gradually, buildings and skylines that were once in sight are now erased by the mist of the cloud. This is the seventh straight day of heavy afternoon rains, but never before have I seen it like this.

The only thing dampening my experience of typing and gazing is the occasional waft of smoke from an undiscerned direction.

I think the cloud is coming closer and closer to me. I feel the mist of the cloud heading toward me with no holds barred. My line of sight has diminished by half and I can’t see farther than a block away. Only the headlights from distant cars are vaguely perceptible through the foggy grey sky.

The smoke continues. I grimace.

My dad walks out and admires the rain, only to comment that he can smell someone smoking cigarettes.

And yep, I am now being rained on. How refreshing. And those headlights I mentioned a couple lines back…no longer visible.

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first week. second year.

Almost a month has gone by since I’ve been back in Boston, and almost a week has gone by since the first day of classes. RA training brought me back in the beginning of August for a whirlwind of 13-hour-days, staff bonding, and incoming freshmen. This jumpstart to the year gave me an opportunity to slowly transition from summer to school. Unlike other upperclassmen, I was quickly settled in my cozy (albeit tiny) room, back in the rhythm of living on my own, and ready to start classes with excitement rather than anxiety.

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After the official end of summer and the official start of classes, my feelings are of gratitude and anticipation. My RA experience has, more than anything else, reminded me how fortunate I am to be where I am and who I am. I’m also resoundingly thankful to have wonderful friends and professors who I can turn to and rely on during my time at BC.

This semester, I planned on taking Political Behavior and Participation and Computer Science, but a stressful life-planning-spreadsheet moment towards the end of the summer led me to drop those classes and switch them for Social Movements and Macroeconomics (both of which count towards my International Studies major whereas the other two classes don’t). And so far, I am pleased with my updated schedule, which also features Online Communication and Global Society and Western Cultural Tradition (my Honors Program class).

My new plan for college consists of two main priorities. First, I was accepted into the International Studies major at the start of summer, so finishing the major (and the 12 classes I still have to take for it) has become my number one priority. My number two priority–and I’ve previously gone back-and-forth on this–is to study abroad in London for the entirety of my junior year (which essentially eliminates a year of International Studies classes).

A year is a long time. And being back in BC this second time around has been so amazing that I’m already sad about it potentially being my penultimate year here. I will miss so many people. And for my close friends who are currently juniors, I will miss their senior years!

But going abroad is my priority. Not because this is my only chance to travel, but because it’s a rare chance to immerse myself in an entirely different culture (across the Atlantic Ocean) without actually paying to live there as a full-time adult. I want to experience living in a variety of locations and countries while I am still relatively free of responsibility, and this will be my first way of doing that. Plus, I will be physically closer to family than I am right now.

My convictions may waver this year, as the date for applying to study abroad rapidly approaches and my time at BC ticks aways, but as long as I stay true to my core values, remain connected to those around me, and do what feels right in the moment, I am confident that my college experience will continue in a positive direction.

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paper flowers, tacky glue

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Cut, curl, glue, pinch, cut, curl, glue, pinch. This has been my life for several hours over the past two days. Unattractive, off-white bricks line the walls of my “cozy” (small) dorm room. Seeing as the brick doesn’t entirely go with my white, orange, and grey color scheme, the large blank space above my two-seater sofa simply couldn’t do. But these paper flowers do the trick.

Thank goodness for my countless subscriptions on YouTube. When the video below popped up on my feed, I instantly recognized the solution.

This eye-catching yet relatively simple method of creating large paper flowers out of card stock and glue was ideal for me: a college student who doesn’t want to spend money on something she can make herself.

Because Ann Le’s video wasn’t step-by-step, the less entertaining video below was more instructive.

Some things I found helpful were:

  1. Use tacky glue. It’s amazing!
  2. Don’t bother with an outline or a stencil. Petals don’t have to be perfect.
  3. Cut out six petals at a time by folding and sandwiching the paper.
  4. Vary the petal shape for each layer.
  5. Six petals are easier than five.
  6. Fluff out the middle part to cover any visible seams or glue inside.
  7. Petals come in all shapes and sizes, so have fun with it!

Now all that’s left is to cross my fingers and hope that my assortment of Command strips will hold these petals up for the rest of the year!

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fair trade. really?

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All throughout cafes, supermarkets, and even clothing stores, “Fair Trade” seems to be a catch-all term for: this product is ethically made. But what if that wasn’t the case?

This summer, I have had the privilege of interning for bonJOY, a subscription box startup that features fashion, beauty, and lifestyle goods that support survivors of human trafficking and empower women globally.

Part of my internship was to research topics within the realm of ethical shopping and human trafficking that particularly interested me. One of the questions I sought to answer aimed at discerning the true meaning and impact of Fair Trade, in the context of Fair Trade certification.

bonJOY recently posted my findings on their blog in this article I wrote. Essentially, what I found was that the Fair Trade label isn’t enough. Not only does it not guarantee that all workers along the supply chain of that product are fairly reimbursed (migrant laborers are particularly at risk), but also Fairtrade International is not the most transparent organization out there.

As consumers, we must be vigilant in discerning what is truly good from the marketing buzzwords and labels that make us feel like we are doing our part.

As a side note, I also loved that I could utilize my new watercolor calligraphy skills to make the graphic for the article!

 

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