Scotland Trip 2016

Hello there lassies! I’ve just come back from a trip to Edinburgh, Scotland. I have to say it was an eye opening trip. Without the surroundings of my friends and family, I could really be me. Sure, I came to Cardiff alone and made some friends here, but I got to experience something truly alone. It was glorious.

First day:

I arrived in Edinburgh around 8:30 am. Took the Tram to the City Center. I had gotten off at the wrong stop since I looked at the map wrong. So I had to walk about forty minutes to my hotel. It wasn’t that bad of a walk. It gave me some perspective on what I wanted to check out later on in my trip. Edinburgh was more hilly than Cardiff. Not San Francisco steep, but close. The place I got off at was a bit quiet. I didn’t see that many people around. But when I got closer to the City Center, I saw more people.

The City Center was lovely to behold when I got there. There’s two parts of town. There is the Old Town, which is the architecture that was there when it was just starting as a city. And then there was the New Town. Basically a different style of architecture that came around later in the city’s history. In between

the two towns is a park. There was a Ferris wheel, two museums and even a cemetery. The New Town was where I ventured out mostly for the first two days. The hotel I stayed at was only five minutes away from the City Center. There were plenty of places to eat around it and the Tram station was RIGHT THERE! I didn’t need to walk all that way. But you live and learn.

The hotel was super close to Nando’s!  Seriously, if you’ve never been to Nando’s, you should. Or if it’s not in your country, try to imagine amazing chicken wraps and burgers. They specialise in chicken.

I couldn’t check in till two, so I got to roam around more. I hadn’t gotten any sleep the night before so I was exhausted. I got lunch and looked through part of the museum. When I finally checked into the hotel, I fell asleep for five hours. When I woke up I went to Nando’s for dinner and looked around some more.

Second Day:

I woke up late and missed my chance to go to Doune Castle, which is the location they shot Winterfell at and also Castle Leoch in Outlander. I ended up just walking down the street from my hotel and explored. I forgot my umbrella so when it started to rain halfway through my walk, I got drenched. I caught one Pokemon and then I turned off that app. I walked a good four miles and then I went to take a nap. After my nap I went to get some cheesecake and did some more window shopping. It wasn’t the most productive day of my trip, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.

They say that you need to do things when you’re visiting a foreign country. But my favorite things to do when I travel is examining how the down time of the city is.

Third Day:

This was the day I was looking forward to the entire trip! After I finished reading “A Dragonfly in Amber” by Diana Gabaldon, I got the idea to visit the Highlands. So this trip was leading up to this. I bought a ticket to this tour around the Highlands. I saw the Loch Ness, Glen Coe, the famous Whiskey distillery, a double rainbow, and some Highland “coos.”

The view was breathtaking! All the amazing scenery I saw in “Outlander” was what brought me to Scotland. I definitely was impressed with all of the nature. Most people who know me think I’m more of a couch based person, but I do love the outdoors. I just really like complaining about being outdoors.

The tour guide was hilarious and if given the chance, I would love to go on another one of his tours. The company is called “Rabbies,” which is not the disease, but the name of a famous Scottish poet. If you’re ever wondering what to do in Scotland and have never seen it, I would recommend this tour.

Fourth Day:

This day I went to Edinburgh Castle. I only went for two and a half hours, then I took a nap. Yeah, I took a bunch of naps during this trip. I loved just seeing the people around the castle and the amazing architecture. It felt like the castle was on a cloud. Also, the food was amazing! I had Haggis for the first time… really good! Just don’t look up what it is.

Fifth Day:

This was my last full day in Edinburgh. I went to the palace, the World’s End pub, and the Elephant House (where JK Rowling wrote Harry Potter). It was a nice day, but then I got a headache and had to lay down.

***

I know that some of that was a little short, but I do have photos. I had such a great time in Scotland and I am glad to have gotten the opportunity to do this. If I could go back, I would. Next time I go, I would like to take someone else with me.

Advertisements

Cheers from Across the Pond!

Cheers from across the pond! It’s been a while since I posted about my adventures here in the UK. I am having a blast over here. Seriously, it’s the best thing that has happened to me so far. Well, besides meeting Billie Joe Armstrong! Every day I’m reminded of how amazing it is to travel the world and to see new places. So far, I’ve only been to London outside of Cardiff, but I’m still happy to be here. And to have this experience. Halloween was such a crazy weekend. I have to say that it started out on Thursday for me, since I attended a friend’s party that night in costume.

12105927_10153058310600755_6145667880102292610_n 12188984_10153058309200755_2273433551576606648_n

I’ve been to London twice so far. I wrote about my last London trip, so here goes my epic story of the second. It’s not that epic, but it’s awesome regardless. We left at 4:25 in the morning on Saturday. We had actually been partying really hard the night before, for my flat mate Harsha’s birthday. It was so fun getting to share in that moment with everyone. I had lots of fun at the party. I’m not really that big of a party person, but I’m sure no one even noticed.

IMG_3501 IMG_3495 IMG_3496 IMG_3500

When we had gotten to London, we were all tired. But we couldn’t check into the hostel till two pm, so we walked around. We went to the London Bridge area and walked around. We even got to go on the top of the bridge and look down from the glass. It was so cool.

1611018_1060001104045220_9162898453439381738_n12190014_10206378742760858_514756446138690753_n12193832_10206376072934114_4590668397810461497_n

When we finally got to the hostel, we were already divided. We were a group of ten so you know. We took a nap and then got ready to party. We went through Picadilly to find a club to go to. We had finally found one after an hour that let us in for ten pounds. Considering everywhere else was full and cost twenty pounds, I say we got a bargain. I admit I am not usually into the whole clubbing thing, but it was great to spend it with friends. Harsha wanted to go to a strip club, but none of them would let us in. We did get to see Chinatown and Soho though, so that was a plus.

12191406_10206380520525301_8257798572248723105_n12191626_10206380572006588_4627857029208070462_n 12190913_10206380526245444_6507567579652289325_n 1922510_10206380542085840_4850620742218354347_n

We didn’t get back to the hostel till around 3 in the morning. It was so cold, but thankfully the bus stop wasn’t too far from the hostel. It was so hard getting everyone up the next morning. I even pelted a guy with a pillow. Hilarious. Sunday was spent seeing Big Ben and going to the Sherlock Holmes museum. Harsha and I went alone to the museum since everyone else wanted to see things we had seen on our previous trip. It was definitely somewhere I would suggest people go to in London.

12180141_10206394628677996_200864926_n 12200562_10206394628797999_1299646641_n 12200562_10206394630438040_2115569703_n 12200787_10206394630238035_2023163315_n 12202341_10206394630678046_1820219516_n 12202538_10206394629118007_1425145106_n 12207660_10206394628117982_1845730839_n 12207811_10206394630358038_57476151_n 12207890_10206394630518042_338161219_n 12207898_10206394630118032_212316371_n 12208189_10206394628878001_134545062_n 12208213_10206394630038030_1704426317_n 12208227_10206394629518017_61728235_n 12212508_10206394628958003_2114652615_n

Even though I had been there only once, I found our way through the city pretty easy. What can I say. I remember directions pretty well. Other than the London trip, I’ve had some interesting times here in Cardiff. Just going out with friends is fun and exciting. I went with a friend to the Doctor Who Experience the other week and I had so much fun the second time around. It’s definitely way better than going alone.

IMG_0558 IMG_0559 IMG_0560 IMG_0561 IMG_0562 IMG_0563 IMG_0564 IMG_0565 IMG_0566 IMG_0567 IMG_0568 IMG_0569 IMG_0570 IMG_0571 IMG_0572 IMG_0573 IMG_0574 IMG_0575 IMG_0576 IMG_0577 IMG_0578 IMG_0579 IMG_0580 IMG_0581 IMG_0582 IMG_0583 IMG_0584 IMG_0585 IMG_0586 IMG_0587 IMG_0588 IMG_0589 IMG_0590 IMG_0591 IMG_0592 IMG_0593 IMG_0594 IMG_0595 IMG_0596 IMG_0597 IMG_0598 IMG_0599 IMG_0600 IMG_0601 IMG_0602 IMG_0603 IMG_0604 IMG_0605 IMG_0606 IMG_0607 IMG_0608 IMG_0609 IMG_0610 IMG_0611 IMG_0612 IMG_0613 IMG_0614 IMG_0615 IMG_0616 IMG_0617 IMG_0618 IMG_0619 IMG_0620 IMG_0621 IMG_0622 IMG_0623 IMG_0624 IMG_0625 IMG_0626 IMG_0627 IMG_0628 IMG_0629 IMG_0630 IMG_0631 IMG_0632 IMG_0633 IMG_0634 IMG_0635 IMG_0636 IMG_0637 IMG_0638 IMG_0639 IMG_0640 IMG_0641 IMG_0642 IMG_0643 IMG_0644 IMG_0645 IMG_0646 IMG_0647 IMG_0648 IMG_0649 IMG_0650 IMG_0651 IMG_0652 IMG_0653 IMG_0654 IMG_0655 IMG_0656

As for my course, I have to say that I love it. It’s so enlightening to be with people who are dedicated writers. I’m lucky that I didn’t go into business or science. We don’t have exams like everyone else. But that doesn’t mean that it’s totally easy. It’s hard to come up with ideas and to critique your own work. I think the greatest advantage to being here other than in the States is that since everything is so different, I can get material from that. I also gain a knowledge about what international readers might think about American writers. There are some things that I have to explain to them when I’m writing that I probably wouldn’t have to if they were American. And it works the other way around. So it’s interesting trying to make everything accessible for everyone.

I’m so happy that all of my friends are proud of me. I have yet to send out my postcards, but believe me, I will get to them. And I found a substitute for Target. Tesco has a big store near where I live that is basically like Target. It’s huge and kind of intimidating. A place I can get lost in, just like at Target.

I miss all of my friends back home and hope you guys can keep in touch. I love you all!

London Calling! To be or NOT to Be, that is the question… writing skills

It’s been a month since I got here! What? That’s crazy talk! I feel like it’s been a lifetime of amazingness… which of course is not a word, but I’m a writer. I have “artistic license.” Since I only have two classes a week, I have a ton of free time to work with. Mainly I spend it writing, or reading. But sometimes I go on walks to help give myself inspiration. There’s a park behind the place I’m staying at and it has given me some great inspiration for my writing. Plus the open air just really makes me happy. Wales in the Fall is beautiful. Especially in London… it’s spectacular!

Coming from the Bay Area, I haven’t really experienced this thing you call “Fall.” So when I actually got to walk around London in the Fall, it was like Heaven on Earth. I am seriously not kidding. My favorite site in London was the Buckingham Palace. Not just the building itself, but the trees surrounding it. It gave me the perspective that hey, I could be a royal. Hahaha. Just kidding. I’m totally not about that high life. Give me jeans any day.

I saw Hamlet! The one with Benedict Cumberbatch! It was amazing! I did snooze during the show… in parts where Benedict wasn’t in them… but hey. I literally had no sleep for two days. The performance blew me away. I am a huge fan of Hamlet and getting to see him portray such an iconic character was awe inspiring. He brought so many different layers to the character of Hamlet. I was not disappointed. Afterwards, I got to see him. Well, sort of. I was in a crowd waiting to see him and I was a few people from the front. But I got a great photo.

12080388_10206283814507711_5851054988721155205_o

The rest of the trip was amazing. We went to the Tower of London, the London Bridge, Big Ben, Buckingham Palace and Westminster Square. I went with my flat mate, Harsha, who is from India. She is such an amazing person. Normally when I’m around people for an extended period of time, I want some time to be alone. But I felt very comfortable around her. I’m glad that I have her as a friend. She loves taking photos and so we would always go around taking random photos. I like being behind the camera most of the time, but she definitely brought the photogenic part of me out.

12068526_10206287153831192_4589862339566657898_o 10733830_10206284409882595_7923484291350482795_o 11056067_10206283810987623_2904760686762236692_o 11082216_10206284406482510_4861035033590247911_o 12094962_10206287145590986_4261963955317337360_o 12091172_10206284412202653_1597893277282895528_o

I want to talk about the feeling of homesickness. I miss home like any normal person would in my situation. I’m a thousand miles from home and knew no one before coming here. The friends I have made have all helped me out in so many ways. I think I’m more happy than sad now. It sucks not being able to physically give my mom a hug or even cuddle with my cat, but they’re always in my heart.

I’m also going to bring up the fact that I am an American. The people in my program are all from the UK. Sometimes when they talk about things, I sit there wondering what in the world they are talking about. But it is an enriching experience. I don’t want to just be hanging out with international students. Students from here are cool as well. I thought it would set me apart and alienate me, but I quite like it. People aren’t as mean as I thought they would be about the fact that I am from America.

I want to write a poem about my experience… I’m not a poet so you’re going to have to bear with me. FYI I haven’t edited this at all… so if it’s rubbish just say so.

The sweet smell of Fall in the air
Cold      Crisp
Voices of different languages
The steady heartbeat of
another
against my chest

I yearn for home
and want for another
This dark, new experience
hanging by a thread
I’m scared and restless

Images and sounds
help me leave the darkness
of the world and into
a parallel universe.

This feeling inside me
will never fade.
If only for a moment
shall our paths cross

Then maybe I can see
again.

*****

Maybe that made no sense. But I stopped thinking during that exercise. I think as writers, we shouldn’t limit ourselves to one medium of writing. I wrote a short play as an exercise for a piece of fiction I was writing. And it gave me one of the best scenes that I had. If you can translate something you wrote into another form of writing, maybe that will give it some new perspective. I’m not saying change it, just try to write it as a poem, a play, or maybe a fiction piece, if you’re writing poetry. These might help you come up with new ideas and new perspectives on what you are writing.

Now that a month has passed, I know that I can succeed in this new country and I am looking forward to the many months ahead of me.

I wrote a new character!

I’ve made the biggest breakthrough in the history of my story. There is another character! You know when you feel like you’re missing something and for the longest time, you just don’t know what that something could be? Well, I found it, after two years. This is huge for me. This adds a whole dimension to my story that I never thought of before. I thought I was set with having a few characters and that being it. But as I began to workshop my piece in my Masters class, I realized there was so much more I was missing. For instance, why would her parents be okay with her leaving the safety of her home, alone?

At first I wanted her parents to be super cool and okay with her decision. But I guess it was too much to hope for that everyone else would buy into the fact that her parents would just allow her to go. I could have made it so that her parents didn’t know about it until it was too late. But then that would have just made my character a bit more… mean. I started off with the scene that was easier for me to fix. The bar scene. I went through it and as I was writing, I realized that the waitress had a bruise on her chest.

This bruise led me to connect it with something from Hazel’s life. It connected with a friend of hers. This led me to realize that this friend makes her rethink her plan. But I also wanted her to connect with Aaron, so she has to continue her journey. So then I thought about maybe having Annabelle going along with her, but then they get separated after a big fight. Here is the piece that really made me rethink my entire piece:

One night after walking twenty miles, I stop at a small bar in Denver, Colorado. It’s the first building I’ve seen in ten miles. My feet are aching and I’m tired. I walk into the bar; my want for food bigger than my wish to get out of this small one horse town. Denver may be considered a city, but to me it’s one horse shoe away from being a scene in an old Western movie. I’m sure if my mom was here, we would have a good laugh.

The air in this bar smells like old cigarettes and stale Whiskey. “Hotel California” is blaring from the karaoke speakers in the far left corner. Yay, irony. What is even more ironic is the guy at the karaoke machine. He would be a country version of those hipsters in San Francisco. He had the clothes of a hipster, but his hair screamed “Country Boy.” He is wearing a Sex Pistols t-shirt with black skinny jeans and a pair of red Chucks. His brown hair is thrown every which way and there are small pieces of hay stuck in his hair.

I take a seat closest to the left wall, to avoid the stares of the men nearest to the counter. I take a look at the menu and am not surprised to see that most of t heir dishes have something grown from their local farms. Barf. I’m hoping I can quickly scarf down my meal so I can get to the closest motel to sleep. That fox really scared the living piss out of me.

As I’m contemplating what to eat, the waitress saunters over to my table. She looks like some kind of Debutant. Her hair is bleached blonde and her nails are perfectly manicured. I can tell she’s anxiously waiting to talk to me. I bet the only people this place sees are regulars. I’m the oddity. The outsider. As she approaches, I can smell the scent of strawberries. Since I’m still looking at the menu, she clears her throat.

Now that I’m looking directly at her, I can tell that she has a bruise on the top of her shirt. Some would say it’s just a hickey, but I know better. It’s just like the bruise Annabelle had the day after her dad left. When I had brought it up to my dad, he said that men like that should not have kids. I remember my dad was  pretty agitated when I told him. I had no clue at the time why, though. After that he always made it a point to treat Annabelle like family whenever she was over.

Thinking about Annabelle makes me rethink my plan. Maybe I was wrong to turn away from her. I’m interrupted from my thoughts by the waitress.

“Excuse me? Are you ready to order?”

Am I? Have I made the right decision in coming here? Oh God. I have to call Annabelle. I reach for my phone, but don’t feel it in my pocket. Oh shit. I start rummaging through my backpack. No, not there.

The waitress is getting impatient.

“Eh-hem.”

I look up.

“Do you have a phone I can use?”

“There’s a pay phone out back. Are you going to order something or not?”

“I will. I just need to make a phone call first.”

****

I actually wrote this while sitting outside a cafe in Cardiff Bay. Cardiff Bay is easily one of my favorite spots over here. It’s the location of the Doctor Who Experience, it has a wonderful musical theater scene, it’s very calm, and they film a lot of Doctor Who over there. I will always remember that scene where we found out such and such was the Face of Boe. (Don’t want to say who it is just in case you haven’t seen Doctor Who yet.)

This trip has made me open my eyes to all of the possibilities my life has to offer. Since I only have two days of class, I have to figure out what to do to fill the rest of my time. I typically see movies, walk around, or just write. I’ve finished three books since I’ve been here and am continuing reading still. I’m currently reading this book called “Carry On” (I totally want to sing the rest of the line: Carry on my wayward son. There’ll be peace when you are done. Lay your weary head to rest. Don’t you cry no more.) by Rainbow Rowell. I feel like her books are a hit or a miss. I loved Fangirl, but I disliked Eleanor and Park. So far, the book is reading a lot like Harry Potter. If you are missing Harry Potter, read this book. Good thing about it is: it has curse words. It’s also set in Wales.

I will be honest. I miss my family and the closeness of home. But I really do love it here. I have friends who I can turn to if I need help. Definitely a plus since I felt like I didn’t have that that much back in California. I love the shopping over here. And the culture. You know how people in San Francisco are so into baseball and football? Well it’s like that here, but with rugby. It’s super fun to be a part of this.

I want to thank all of my followers. You guys make me so happy and I’m glad that I’ve reached almost one hundred followers. If you could tell your friends about my page, that would be great.

Wales, Mosquitoland, Doctor Who Experience and stuff

Okay, so I haven’t posted in a while and I apologize. Life has been getting interesting for me. I have moved to Wales and have started classes. I’m so happy that I’m here, but at the same time, I miss home. It was a long journey to get here, but it has finally happened.

I recently finished this book called “Mosquitoland” by David Arnold. I loved it. As someone who is writing a story about a road trip, this was the perfect book for me. It also gave me some great insights for how I want to proceed with my life and what my goals for writing are. The book is about this girl who finds out that her mom has cancer and may be dying, so she takes a bus to where her mom lives. Oh yeah, she lives with her dad and stepmom. I think this book really called to me because of it’s theme. It was a must read for me, especially at this time in my life.

I’ve been putting off writing a blog post for some time now. Every time I sit in front of the computer, I get distracted. Well here is me not getting distracted…oh look! A new Doctor Who episode! Eh, but I’ll watch it once I finish reviewing these stories for class. So when I got here, I had to wait for my checked back to come. I was pretty smart and packed my essential clothing stuff in my carry on. There was some kind of problem with the layover in Amsterdam. I was the first one to arrive to my flat. I was quite nervous to find out who I was staying with. There are four other people besides me living in this flat. We share a living room and kitchen. We each have our own bathrooms.

My flatmates are super cool. Three of them are from India and one of them is from China. It’s definitely an interesting culture on our floor. The first place I ate at was this place called “Hogwurst.” It sells coffee, tea, bubble tea, ice cream, nachos and oh yeah. Hot dogs! They’re pretty fancy looking hot dogs. Plus, they have books and board games in the shop, so it’s a cozy place to go read a book or chill with friends. The food here is pretty good… except all of the Mexican shops here all taste like Chipotle.

There is so much walking! Just to get to class I have to walk about fifteen minutes. My calves feel stronger from the three weeks that I’ve been here. I even walk around the City Center a lot. It’s my favorite place to be in the middle of the day. There is always people around over there and the shops look amazing. There are different small “arcades” which kind of remind me of Diagon Alley from Harry Potter. Unfortunately the shops normally close pretty early so any late night shopping is out of the question. There is a huge mall called “St. David’s Arcade” in the City Center and seriously, it’s one of the coolest malls I’ve seen. One thing I do miss is Target. They do have a store that is owned by Walmart. Hahahaha.

I did get to go to the Doctor Who Experience. I shall not tell you about what you will experience there, but the exhibit hall was fantastic! (And if you read that in Nine’s voice, extra points for you, ya nerd! XD) Cardiff Bay was the place to be for any writer. It’s calm and it has a great view of the water and other amazing spots in Cardiff. I just could not believe that I had the chance to go. Plus, I went by myself so I got to do everything on my own time.

I’ve met several people on this trip. I am part of the North American group on Facebook and we basically met up the first week. We all get along quite nicely and I’m glad that I was able to make friends easily. Definitely people I can turn to whenever I want to go places. The thing about traveling to another country alone is that if you don’t make friends, you’re always going to have to watch yourself more. Whereas if you make friends, those people will have your back to make sure you’re okay.

I’ve walked so much while I’ve been here and I’ve gotten to know the streets well enough that I stopped using a map sometimes. It’s amazing how familiar you will get with a place if you are forced to walk everywhere. Something that I still have an issue with is money. It’s confusing. Anything less than 5 pounds is a coin. I’m not used to carrying around so many coins.

The novel that I read really made me think about the way our lives are in general. The main character, Mim, runs towards this idea of her mom. She believed that she needed to see her mom and that her stepmother was to blame for everything. She meets these two guys who she forms a bond with. One is a kid who is mentally challenged and the other a college drop out. One of my favorite parts of the book (Oh yeah… SPOILERS AHEAD!) was when she was sleeping with Beck. No, not having sex. Just sleeping next to each other. She felt so close to him, and even if they weren’t going to be together in the relationship kind of way, she still enjoyed being with him. Just being with someone can be far better than sex. It’s knowing that person in another level and just … being.

I actually convinced someone to buy the book the other day. I was in a bookstore, applying for a job, and this girl was looking at the Young Adult section. I told her that “Mosquitoland” was really good and she got it. I also want to say that the fact that it uses mosquitoes as a symbol was very insightful. Mosquitoes suck your blood. So basically, Mim feels like her life sucks and she eventually sees the fact that she is a mosquito in a way. Or at least her mom is.

I also want to say that I love how it wasn’t a typical romance. I mean, they don’t hook up in the end. Beck says he’s too old for her, but we know he will wait. They both know it’s something more than just a crush. It was great reading the part where Mim says, “This is not just a crush, you know.” And Beck knows what she is talking about. They get each other in a whole different level. I love it.

That is kind of the thing I’m going for in my own novel. My first class was amazing. We had this author come in and talk to us. He talked about the power of imagination. And how our realities are dependent on the stories we believe. Thinking in terms of what is reality makes me think of storytelling in a different way than before. I only have about six hours a week in class, so I count myself lucky.

Yesterday I went to Barry Island with my flatmates and their friends. It was kind of like Santa Cruz, since there were rides and stuff. I saw a pug! It was so cute!!! The ocean sounded different over here. The waves weren’t huge like at home. I would like to go back and spend an entire day there. Hopefully I can get in the water properly.

I am writing this at one am in the morning. I should go to bed. I will keep you guys posted on anything else. Oh and I have edited my story again, so I will post that later!

Dear Future Jillian

So here we are, dear readers. I am a few hours away from boarding a flight to Cardiff. I am beyond excited. It has taken a lot of courage and motivation to get to where I am today. This was only a small idea in the back of my head last year. I didn’t even really think it would actually happen and that so many people would be so into the idea of me going. I started off just inquiring about it and then it was a long process to do the application. I kept procrastinating on the application and I remember my mom saying that I probably wouldn’t even do it because I was taking so long. Well, I did it. Cardiff University was my first choice of school. Mainly because of the location and also because it seemed that it had some ties with SF State. I am very glad that I picked the school that I did.

There are so many things I would like to say but I can’t get up the motivation to write them down. My hopes and dreams for this year is to get out of my shell and to be who I truly am on the inside. I feel like I mess things up sometimes and each time it kills me inside. I need to learn to deal with my mistakes. I want to take the world in, one country at a time. This is my opportunity to start a new life and to really live up to my full potential. i’m not just studying for that piece of paper that says I have been awarded a masters degree. I’m chasing a life of potential and success, in any shape it may come in. I strive for the chance to live my life as I see fit. Yes, I’ve had some amazing opportunities because of my parents’ help, but now it’s up to me to pave the way for my future.

I may not know where I will end up after this year, but I do know I will come back a different person. I would like to write myself a letter.

Dear future Jillian,

I hope you are doing fine. Gosh, hope I am not reading this from Heaven or whatever. (If I am in hell… then you done messed up bro.) I am writing this hours before I leave for Wales. I hope Wales treated you nice. You are a bright, brilliant young woman and you deserve your spot of happiness. Tell me, do you run off with some sexy Welsh man who wears plaid and plays guitar? Or even some Scottish bloke? Either way, I know you will do fine. I want you to remember the girl you were before your trip. If you ever have to think about whether you made the right choice, read this. You will know that you did. Remember that it is no use comparing yourself to others. It will only bring you down. It’s society’s way of telling you that you are not important and that you should be ashamed for ever thinking that. No. You are important. You don’t need to compare yourself to anyone else but yourself.

i want you to remember the girl you were when you first decided to get up on that stage and sing Anastasia. You know what I’m talking about. It may seem like the easiest thing for you, but remember that most people don’t have the courage to sing in front of older kids. If you ever have a problem with finding a voice, remember mine. We live each day as a new person. We might not see it now, but we see it as we grow up. You are in charge of your own destiny and I hope you made the most of it.

Love always,

Yourself.

P.S. Please tell me you lost at least ten pounds by the end of the trip. XD

As I embark on this new journey, I would like to thank everyone who made it all possible. My mom was a big supporter of this who thing and if it wasn’t for her I would not be where I am today. Thank you guys so much for the support. Next blog post will be from Wales!!!

Keep me in the pocket of your ripped jeans

With 21 more days until I leave for Wales, I wanted to keep everyone in the loop with what is happening with that move. Also I wanted to take some time to go on about my hopes and my fears about moving to another country.

Starting with the fears, since that is what is literally on my mind all of the time. I think part of me is slacking in the getting ready department because I’m so terrified. I mean, I keep asking myself, WHAT SHOULD I BRING???!!! I mean, will I even bring enough to last me a full year? I know that I could always get my mom to send them to me, but think about it. Shipping it costs money and there’s also the tedious task of having to explain what I want shipped and yadda yadda yadda.

I didn’t buy a return ticket home because I don’t have that much money to spare. And who knows when I’m able to come back during the year. Also, I have no clue what my plans are for after the year. I guess my fear is that even though it is only a year, what if I don’t come back? Not in the death kind of way, but just that I choose to stay there. I have so many little trinkets that make up my room. I would hate to leave that for my mom to take care of during the year. Also, those books I have are a huge part of my life. They say I should go digital but no thank you. I cannot concentrate while reading anything on an electronic device.

Another fear I have is that I’ll be the only one with an American accent over there. I don’t want to be the weird American girl. I know this is just crazy nonsense to be worried about and it probably shouldn’t be on my top list of fears, but it’s scary for me. At least when I went to Macau I was surrounded by a bunch of people very similar to me. This time I’ll be alone to wander those amazing Welsh, British, Scottish and maybe some Australian accents.

There are other fears, but they aren’t that prevalent in my nightmares. These fears will all come to be little things compared to the amazing adventure I’m about to embark on. I have a few friends who are traveling the world and I get so envious that they are doing it right now. I would kill to be in London, Paris, or Scotland right now. It’s all about the waiting game now.

My big hope for this trip is to discover myself outside of my comfort zone. I’ll be thousands of miles away from my family and friends. I will have to develop INDEPENDENT THOUGHT!!! AHHH! I feel like most of my life has been in subtle fear of being judged by friends and family members. Being so far away will give me the chance to really find out who I am. One thing I would like to kick is this little voice in my head that worries about what other people think.

As for progress in this process (hey that rhymed!!!) I have been approved for my visa. I just paid for the return shipping so they should be sending it to me in the next two days. I have just started putting things I want to bring in a box. I will then sort it into what can go into the suitcases after I put in all my clothes. Hopefully that works out. I have to do more research on phone coverage, but it looks like if anyone wanted to contact me they would have to do it through the internet. I’m sure when I get there it will be a bit easier to get a hold of a cheap phone.

I put in my two week’s notice at work. I’m kind of sad that it’s finally over. I’ve worked at my job for three years. I’ve seen plenty of people come and go and have made interesting friendships because of my job. Just… wow.

So I wanted to end on a creative piece I’ve been thinking about in my head. These are from little moments in my life.

***

That time that guy said he could see Lara Croft’s boobs in Tomb Raider so he could impress you. Or that time someone jumped from the slide and got send to the hospital. Or when a kid got his forehead bashed in playing kickball. His teeth were inside his head. Or even that time a wild dog strolled into the elementary school campus. These moments play an interesting part of my young life. Moments that sit in my head like honey. I sit and watch the world go by; all while walking down from the store. The ocean dances into view as I take the hill down to my house. Moments of pure innocence, the only kind I ever want to think about. Watch me drift into the void of space and reality, while still holding my head high. I’m searching for this object of infinity that I won’t find at the store.

***

It’s kind of poetic, I think. I kind of wanted to give the feel of trying to find infinity and getting lost in the past. I think we are all trying to find that piece of infinity. This adventure will be my route to finding it. I think the best feel for what I am going for is this:

We keep this love in a photograph
We made these memories for ourselves
Where our eyes are never closing
Hearts are never broken
Times forever frozen still

So you can keep me
Inside the pocket
Of your ripped jeans
Holdin’ me closer
‘Til our eyes meet
You won’t ever be alone
Wait for me to come home

***

It’s from “Photograph” by Ed Sheeran. Definitely go give it a listen if you’re interested. I hope you liked reading this as much as I liked writing it. Will definitely add more stuff later on to this blog. I’m so thankful for my 79 followers and everyone who supports me.

My Macau Speech 2015

This weekend I attended the UMA (Uniao Macanese Association) evening dinner. I got to write a speech about my Macau trip. I didn’t do that bad. A lot of people liked what I had to say. Here is what I wrote.

BOH-ah NOY-teh, my name is Jillian Rogers. I am 23 years old and will be attending the University of Cardiff in the fall to obtain my masters in Creative Writing. I recently attended the Youth Encontro de Macau. The experience was one I will never forget. I would like to personally thank UMA for the opportunity to learn about the amazing culture my ancestors came from. The experience to visit not only Macau but China as well was very eye opening. Up until this year, I didn’t have that big of an idea of what it meant to be Macanese. Because of this trip, I was able to connect with my Macanese roots and learn about the rich cultural heritage that is Macau.

When people think of Macau, it is normally centered on this idea of gambling. Macau is in fact the gambling capitol of the world. It is even getting its own Eiffel Tower (like the one in Vegas!) But it is so much more than that.

I am not big on gambling. When I heard about this opportunity, I only thought about the historical buildings I might see and hopefully some of what Macau was like back when my mother was there.

This was my first time outside of the US. I had no clue what to expect. Coming from foggy Bay Area, I rarely got to experience humidity. When we got off the plane, we had to take a bus to the Ferry Building in Hong Kong. It was such a shock to get outside, after being in an air conditioned plane for thirteen hours, and to experience the intense humidity. Ninety degrees over here is nothing compared to how it felt at 80 degrees over there.  After a long day of traveling, we all wanted to go to bed. I unfortunately had to get up earlier than the others in my group because I was the chosen leader of our chapter. I got to meet the consulate of Macau and listen to his very kind words about keeping the heritage alive. I am so glad that I got the opportunity to witness this.

I was very impressed with the transportation. When we went to Macau, we had to take the Turbo Jet, which was this pretty big ship. All the transportation was very cheap and easy to navigate. I’ve always been interested in travel and I was so happy to get to experience this aspect of travel. When I was in Hong Kong after the trip Encontro, it only cost $40 to cross three bridges, each bigger than the bay bridge. I’m sure if I took a taxi the same distance here it would cost $200. Also in Hong Kong is the longest suspension bridge in the world. That is so cool!

There were several amazing places that I got to see. From the A Ma Temple to the Ruins of St. Paul, there were plenty of awe inspiring sights. There was one place we went to called the Mandarin House, which had 65 rooms in it and was how a house looked like when Macau was first getting started. The house had Chinese and Western influence. Definitely a place I would have loved to stay in… if it had TV and internet. There was also the dragon boat races. Our own Bay Area dragon boat team was in attendance at the races! Man, did I really enjoy dragon boat racing! Galaxy NUMBA ONE! It was too bad it rained on our chance to actually dragon boat ourselves. There was a Typhoon warning that changed most of our plans. We did get to visit a temple that looked like it was from that movie “Skyfall.” And we visited a Macanese house. I even got to experience a very interesting way of making coffee. So the rain didn’t totally “rain on our parade.”

Our trip consisted of plenty of activities, museum viewing, and oh yeah. The food! It was amazing! We had all kinds of Portuguese dishes, Chinese dishes, and Macanese dishes. I didn’t know how much I love Egg custards until this trip! I even got a free copy of a Macanese cookbook, which I intend to make use of right away with some Minchie. The dinners were very organized and it seemed like all they wanted to do was fatten us up. One dish that I did not like at all was the Snails. Snails over there are ten times bigger than the ones over here. I have an irrational fear of snails and I had to sit next to a guy who was eating a whole plate of them at the closing ceremony. His name was Julian and every time someone said my name or his name, we would both look up. It was kind of hilarious.

There were plenty of activities that we did over the trip. We did an Amazing Race game, go to a soccer match, and also folk dancing! I’ve been in a quite a number of musical plays and know how to follow steps. This dance was crazy intricate. I always forgot a step or miscounted. It was so fun though! The Amazing Race game was something I will never forget. Halfway through the game, my teammates left me and I had to walk by myself to the next checkpoint. Even walking through the streets of San Francisco alone makes me scared, but somehow I felt okay. There were plenty of signs and friendly people who were willing to help point the way.

The trip was very educational and fun. I learned that the Chinese government has a plan to help connect the countries more efficiently by creating bridges that run from Macau to China, helping to reduce the amount of traffic in the area. They are also trying to make China more Eco-friendly. They are already starting up their work on new buildings that are environmentally friendlier to the Earth. Their hope is to create a better China by at least 2017.

I went to Macau to get closer to my roots and to connect with where my grandmother was from. Recently, my grandmother, Maria Conceição, passed away. My grandma was an amazing person and she is truly missed by me and my family. While in Macau, I felt like I was at home. The people were very welcoming and I had this feeling that I was meant to be there. The second to last night, I found what I was looking for. I went on a walk to the Ruins of St. Paul at midnight. I forgot my phone and all I had on me was my wallet. Halfway through the walk, I felt like I was being watched. When I did finally reach the ruins, I could see a bright light illuminating the ruins. Maybe it was just the light behind the structure, but I knew as I walked up to it, that it was my grandma looking over me the whole time.

One of my favorite souvenirs from Macau was this picture frame. I had this picture from when I graduated from high school. I hold it very near to my heart. It’s of me and my grandma. Every morning I wake up and see this and remember her. It always reminds me of how proud she was of me. It gives me courage. On the trip I even brought along a letter she gave me when I graduated college last year. It reads: “To my dearest granddaughter Jillian. Hoping, wishing you a very bright future. Love you very much as always, Nana and Balbino Cruz.”

This trip inspired me to be more involved with my Macanese heritage. It is a beautiful thing to be Macanese. We must not let our heritage die out. By supporting Macanese youth to go explore our heritage, we are continuing our traditions and hopefully our children’s children will be as involved with our Macanese heritage as I hope to be in the future.

As the leader of our group, I got to go on stage during the opening and closing ceremonies for pictures. We even got our pictures on the front page of the Macau newspaper. I am so glad that I got to be the leader of our group. I wasn’t sure at first, but in the end it turned out that it was a fun experience being the chosen leader.

Everyone was really nice on the trip and we all got along nicely. There were people from Canada, Australia, Rio De Janerro and Portugal. The people from Rio gave these amazing gifts to each of the leaders. I got a little bottle of Portuguese Tequila, a pen, chocolate, and some coffee beans. Each casa had their own leaders. We had three leaders in the USA alone. It was great to hear from all of these different groups about what their casas were doing.

I would like to also say how great it was to go with Emily and Stephanie, the other youths who went on the Encontro. They were very nice to be around and were very helpful whenever I needed advice. They were also very helpful when I cut my trip short. I was supposed to spend four extra days in Hong Kong, but plans got changed. Emily and Stephanie missed their flight home and stayed overnight in Hong Kong. They graciously let me stay with them so I would have company before I left for home. I’m so glad that they were to help me out. I could not have asked for a better group to lead.

I am so happy and thankful that I got to have this experience. I learned a lot about not only my heritage, but also about what I want to keep doing in my life. I want to travel more and see the world and what it has to offer. I will definitely go visit Macau again and hopefully bring my mom and sisters with me. If I could travel back in time and relive it again, I would. Thanks for listening to my amazing experience and I hope you all have a wonderful evening.

Macau trip Days 4-7: I hope you had the time of your life

So here we are dear readers. I have failed in my attempt to catalog every day of my trip. I got really busy having fun and learning about Macau. I have to tell you that I went home early. I could not take it alone in Hong Kong. But, I will get to that later. This trip was an amazing experience for me. I learned so much about the different cultures of Chinese, Portuguese and Macanese. Honestly there wasn’t that much free time between visiting different regions of Macau and participating in the various activities. I will go back to Day four, since that is where I left off.

11200801_10205532439363802_5203855921922126041_n

Day 4:

The Amazing Race. I won’t forget this day. We had to go around the city and find various checkpoints. The team with the most points and less time wins. I was a group leader and so I had to randomly pick out two names out of a hat. Both of my teammates were boys. I am not a competitive person, so I knew that they would somehow suck the fun out of it by being too competitive. We started out saying that we were going to take it slow, but it was apparent that they really did want to win. They wanted to win so much that they told me to meet them at the next check point so they can run. I was so confused and in shock that I let it happen. We were disqualified because they left me. They did get yelled at, so I guess they got what they deserved.

Learning Portuguese Folk Dancing. This was fun yet tiring. I looked at the photos and man do I look confused! I kept losing track of the steps and doing some weird things with my feet. Plus it was really hot. The downstairs was so hot and smelled like sewer and fish. I am so not used to it being extremely hot and humid.

Overall, this day was okay. A lot of running and also being let down by teammates. I was so tired from all that running and walking that I didn’t have the energy to even try to cuss them out. I was really hurt by what they did. I was fine though. Didn’t get hurt or harassed.

Day 5

  

             We got rained in! Seriously, we were supposed to participate in dragon boat racing, but there was word about a typhoon and so we had to cancel that. Instead, we got to sleep in and enjoy a meal at a monastery. We did have to walk in the rain while we were visiting this amazing temple. But it was still nice enough where we didn’t need a jacket. Oh and their snails are humongous! I have a huge fear of snails and that just terrified me. Basically all we did was visit shops and we also got to visit this museum of this Macanese house. I would have loved living there.

People kept leaving and not telling others where they were going. I don’t get why anyone would do that. It is rude and inconsiderate. Plus, you’re there for the Encontro, not on vacation. Some people didn’t get that memo I guess. I’m glad my two group mates didn’t wander off.

Day 6

  

     COOKIES! We got to learn how to make these Macanese cookies called “Genete” which were really really good. They tasted a lot like those butter cookies that my grandma always had around the house. Seriously, I will make some of my own and show everyone. If you don’t know the kind of cookies I’m talking about, I’m sure you can find them in Costco. I know my grandma had a huge can from Costco that she put out for Christmas.

Meeting the Consulate General. We got to go to the Portuguese Consulate and talk to the general. He was so nice and he had some great things to say about the Encontro and the Macanese. Sitting in on that was amazing because it made me appreciate where my relatives are from. I want to help preserve that culture and bring awareness towards people of Macanese decent. I will gladly tell people that I am Macanese and that I do belong to a certain racial identity. I was always split when it came to explaining what racial background I fit into. But now I know that I can say that I am Macanese and proud. I’ve already started trying to learn some Portuguese, so I’m on my way.

Closing Ceremony. Man, what an adventure! I don’t really want to talk about the closing ceremony but I will because I should. For prosperity sake. I don’t want to talk about it because I hate endings. I’m like the Doctor. I realize that everything has to come to an end, but that doesn’t mean that I want it to. I started this journey scared that I wouldn’t belong and I would be homesick. But with this group of people I didn’t feel so scared. I was happy to share this experience with every one of them. The ceremony was mainly speeches and pictures. Great food though. Except the Escargot. Ewww! Remember how I said snails over there were bigger? Yeah… imagine my terror when I saw that on the plate next to me! I was supposed to do a speech but Stephanie wanted to do it so I let her. I do regret it only because when I heard everyone else’s speech, I realized that I wanted to put my voice out there. But I’m glad Stephanie got the chance to.

Day 7

Oh man. Here comes the part I was dreading talking about. The night before this day, I had planned with this girl from the Vancouver Casa to meet up at 11 am in the lobby so we could go to Hong Kong together. She was staying an extra two days and had kindly said she would hang out. When I got to the lobby, however, she was nowhere to be seen. I tried texting her, but I never got a reply. I waited for an hour and realized that she wasn’t going to show. I was bummed. I ended up going with some of the Australians to the Ferry. I took the Turbo Jet to Hong Kong and went to the hostel. It was really isolated and on top of a hill. When I booked the hostel, I thought it would be okay since it was cheap and I didn’t want to spend so much money. But when I got there, I had some doubts. The room was cramped and I thought I was going to run out of air.

I thought that I would just try to stay out as much as possible. But when I took the shuttle to the Ferry building, I didn’t really feel a good feeling in my stomach. I walked around and did some shopping. I didn’t feel that scared and some of the people seemed nice. But it didn’t seem like something I could do every day for the rest of my trip. I tried to contact the girl again, maybe in hopes that there was a mistake. I did write her about how horrible it felt to be left with no message whatsoever and to worry that something went wrong. I always worry that people are going to get hurt and so I was a little worried that maybe something bad happened to her.

Anyways, as I was searching up things I could do, I get a text from Stephanie about how they missed their flight. They said I could stay the night at their hotel so that I wouldn’t feel so alone. I quickly took a taxi to the hostel. However, the driver didn’t know English so he thought I said Yacht club. I ended up having to pay twice as much because of that mix up. By the time I got to the hostel, I was pretty scared. I called my mom crying that I wanted to go home. At first I thought maybe it was just homesickness, but I did cry on the shuttle down from the hostel, earlier that day. I was homesick then and gave myself time to settle.

I just could not stand staying in that hostel and being ditched really dampened my spirits. I know I planned the trip so I was alone, but the fact that I was in an isolated area and hardly that many people understood me, really scared me. So I ended up leaving the hostel and staying with Stephanie and Emily. I booked the same flight they were on, with help from my dad, and now I am home. I got home earlier today at 9 am. I got to live Thursday twice. I’m totally Doctor Who! XD.

I feel bad that I had to buy another ticket home, and that I didn’t stick it out, but in the end, you have to do what is right for you. I overestimated how I would feel being alone and I will definitely not do it again. If I do travel again, besides going to Wales to study, I will go with a group. And maybe I will try travelling alone another day. They say that this was a once in a lifetime chance, but who knows that really? I’m only 23 years old. You are never too old to travel or live the life you have always wanted. I have to stop letting other people’s opinions dictate who I am as a person.

I am also glad that I did write to that person about how I felt. We should not have to walk on egg shells if someone hurts you. If someone hurts you, tell them how you feel. Do not worry if you hurt their feelings. Get those feelings out. The difference between being immature and telling someone off is the way you phrase it. If you go out of your way to make that person feel like (pardon my French) shit and tell them how worthless they are because of what they did to you, that is immature. But if you call someone out and tell them that they hurt you and that you are upset, that is the way to go. I did not cuss her out and I didn’t say she was stupid or anything. I was as diplomatic as I could have been, while getting my point across. I’ve learned to not hold these things in… well, in some cases.

To the people who made this trip possible, thank you so very much! This experience will live with me forever. I am so glad that I got this opportunity to enjoy this and to learn about the Macanese culture. Next time I travel, I will definitely pick a hotel. I also want to say that I feel closer to my grandma and I will always hold her in my heart. I love you Nana, and I know you were with me the whole time. I went to the St. Paul ruins around midnight one of the days and I forgot my phone. I felt this guiding presence the entire time and I swear it was her. Thank you for protecting me.

IMG_2792  I totally got this amazing picture frame in Macau. I love this so much.

Macau trip day 3: Dragon Boat racing

Apparently I missed a blog post yesterday so here it is. Yesterday we had a Macanese youth meeting, lunch, watched dragon boat racing, went to church and ate at this awesome Portugese restaraunt. It was excruciatingly hot and most of the time was spent griping about the heat. I loved the dragon boat racing. The community part was amazing. I had so much fun rooting on the team. 

This trip has been a blast so far. I love the atmosphere around this place. I feel at home around this place. Everyone is so nice and welcoming. I was so scared about going to another country, but I feel like it’s something I can get used to. Traveling I mean. 

I don’t have much to say because I’m still exhausted. But I will get some more writing done later on.