Archives for posts with tag: asian

I know I’m not the only high school senior feeling the pressure right now.  Over the past few months, I have seen several of my classmates break down in tears over the stress of having ridiculous numbers of college applications to complete on top of the responsibilities that come with school.  I’ve accidentally walked in on girls crying to their teachers, begging for extensions on assignments.  It’s not pretty.

It’s hard to stay sane during this process, especially when all of my classmates are constantly telling me about how stressed they are and how much work they have.  A part of me wants to comfort my friends and wrap them up in cuddles and shield them from the horrors of the college application process.  The other part of me wants them to calm down and keep their feelings to themselves.  I think we all feel a smidgeon of resentment towards each other when it comes to college apps.

And I realize now how scary it is that we feel this way: these are the friends we’ve known and loved for years, and yet the pressure to attend good colleges and get good jobs is so crushing that it turns us against each other.  Even though we’re not supposed to think of the process as a gigantic competition, we can’t help but feel like our closest friends are also our greatest enemies.  Ideally, it’d be nice to get into the same schools, but what if we don’t?  What if my friends are accepted to a school I want to attend and I get rejected?

Welcome to the mind of the high school senior.

The application deadline for merit scholarship consideration at 3 of the schools on my list was December 1st—the last day of my Thanksgiving break.  My parents took me and my sister up to the mountains to stay in a cozy lodge for the break, and stay in the cozy lodge I did.  I stepped out of the lodge only for food (so much comfort food—I’m talking pounds here—was consumed) and water; the rest of my time was spent working on my college essays.  Thankfully, I managed to get all of those applications in on time without suffering too much emotional trauma.

Still, I’ve definitely had my fair share of emotional meltdowns within the past few weeks.  My college list is way too long right now.  A lot of that has to do with the fact that I put a bunch of schools on my list that I have no intentions of attending even if I do get in.  That’s what our college counselors tell us to put on our lists: a number of safety schools.

That said, our college counselors tell us to include match schools and reach schools on our lists as well, and while I like most of the schools that fall into these categories, I’m not sure how practical it is for me to apply to all of them (colleges charge us a pretty penny for giving us the pleasure of filling out and submitting applications.  Isn’t that lovely?).  I know the whole point of applying to reach schools is to get an idea of what kinds of schools I can get into.  Maybe some top institution will, by some off chance, make a miraculous mistake and accept me; who knows?  The truth of the matter is, there are some schools to which I am applying that are ridiculous reach schools.  They are way over my head.  I’m 5’2″; say a regular reach school is 6’0″.  These schools are 9’0″.  That far over my head.  The sad part is that I want to attend them—I wouldn’t be applying if I didn’t—but as I write the supplemental essays required for these schools, my mind does a time skip and I can see myself coming home one afternoon in April to multiple letters of rejection.

Throwback to some of my earlier days as a blogger, back when I was still on Xanga: I was not the best student.  My parents had high hopes for me.  Society had high expectations of me.  I had high expectations of my self—high and irrational.  When I started my blog in 8th grade, I thought that my grades would define who I was.  I wanted to be the superstar student so many of my Asian-American classmates were, but my lack of organization skills and emotional turmoil prevented that from happening.  I genuinely believed that my failure to conform to the stereotype of Asians as being high-achieving students, math geniuses, and piano prodigies was an indication that I would be a failure later on in life.  Fortunately, I had a enough of a sense of humor (self-deprecating as it may have been) to laugh about it: thus, Below the Asian Standards was born.

Over the years, through writing my blog and just stumbling through high school, I’ve learned that I don’t need to be the embodiment of a stereotype in order to be comfortable with myself.  But trust me, now that I’m filling out college apps, I sure do wish I had that “Asian”-level GPA.

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I was tempted to try this.  Image from Sparknotes.

To address the question I posed at the beginning of this post: what if my friends get into schools that reject me?  I would be happy for my friends, of course.  We’re all going to end up going somewhere or doing something.  The vagueness isn’t exactly reassuring, but I think it’s important for us to remember how we’re all going to find our way eventually.  This too shall pass.

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This past week, while I’ve been stressing out over the rapidly approaching early action and early decision college application deadlines, my mom’s been in France with her parents and her sisters (they’re traveling just like they used to decades ago!).  I think it’s the cutest thing ever, and it sure sounds like they’re having a lot of fun.

The thing is, with my mother not around to yell at me to do homework, I’ve been feeling the strong urge to slack off.  I’ve always recognized my tendency to procrastinate—”Hmm, I’ve done 5 minutes of homework; I think I deserve a snack”—but I know now that my mom’s not going to be around to crack the whip when I’m in college.  So for the past week, I’ve been working really hard to get my work done.  I even went so far as to organize my binder, just like my mom asked me to do.

So while I was organizing my binder and all of the loose-leaf notes I’d shoved into my backpack, I came across a bunch of old assignments, some from last year.  I remember writing most of them—specifically, I remember putting off writing them until the very last minute and then working furiously to turn them in by the due date.  I started working on at least one essay on the day it was due; obviously not a very good idea and not something I should continue to do.  It doesn’t help that I get decent grades on them, because then I feel even less motivated to start on them early.

My older readers know that I’m…not the most organized of students.  I get sidetracked so easily: the internet is a black hole of distractions, “hunger” is my most frequently used excuse to stop doing work, video games are addicting, and the constant craving to check my text messages keeps me from fully focusing on work.  There have even been days when I’ve neglected all of my homework assignments in favor of staring at the ceiling, which I apparently found much more interesting.

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Pretty much.

I don’t fail my classes because sure, I can get my act together when I really need to, but it’s not like I’m acing all of my classes, either.  It’s a struggle.

I’m sure other people experience this, too—I can’t be the only one, can I?

First off, I’d like to thank everyone who followed my blog since the last time I posted!  Leaving Xanga was probably a good choice on my part; everyone here is so nice!

And now to the meat of the post: women’s colleges.

Ever since I was old enough to understand, my mom has repeatedly told me how much she wants me to go to Wellesley College, her alma mater—and even then, I didn’t fully understand what it meant to go to a women’s college.  I’d always listened to all the good things she had to say about the school and nodded absently, thinking that there was no way I’d ever be interested in going to an all girls’ school.  And a school my mother went to.  Gross.

But over the summer, I visited Wellesley and two other women’s colleges in Massachusetts: Smith and Mount Holyoke.  It turns out that I really like them all, in large part because there’s a certain sense of community that women’s colleges seem to share.  As something of a reticent student (but an outgoing girl outside the classroom), I have some difficulty expressing my thoughts in class.  In most of my classes, guys get the most attention because they put themselves out there and like to be competitive—I’d even argue that they get attention because they goof off and behave obnoxiously in class.  Meanwhile, self-conscious girls like myself tend to keep quiet until called upon, for fear of saying something wrong.  This is a problem for me, but it’s also something that I’ve been trying to overcome.  I’ve started to understand the appeal of being in an environment where girls can talk amongst girls and work together.  Studies show that boys and girls learn differently, after all: read about the differences here.

Of course, when I tell people I’m thinking about applying to a women’s college, some of them stare at me with an expression somewhere between horror and pity.  “But girls are so catty!” and “Watch out—you might turn into a lesbian,” and “That’s like living in a convent!” are some of the responses I get.  Obviously, women’s colleges aren’t for everyone.

In any case, I can talk all I want about Wellesley and women’s colleges in general, but I’ve yet to actually be accepted into any of them.  There’s also the issue of the weather.  Honestly, I think it’s “too cold” as soon as the temperature drops below 70 degrees.

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This might be a problem.

Hi everyone!  For over four years now, I was a blogger by the same name on Xanga.  If you haven’t heard already, Xanga was suffering financial issues and was going to shut down last month—that is, until it held a fundraiser to start up Xanga 2.0.  Unfortunately, being able to blog on the new Xanga means paying a fee of $48 a year, and that’s simply not possible for an unemployed high school student like me.

So as I was transferring all of my old Xanga posts over to WordPress, I had the opportunity to look over them again—and boy, are some of them cringeworthy.  I was really tempted to just straight-up delete them  didn’t quite have the heart, so if you’d like to read over some hilariously embarrassing posts from the dark days that I call “my middle school years”, you may.  Although seriously, they’re embarrassing.

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Actually, never mind, guys.  Please don’t read my old posts.

Anyway, I like the interface of WordPress so far!  I could never really give a reason as to why I chose to start blogging on Xanga, but it was the first blogging community that I came across so I just rolled with it even when I knew there were better platforms out there.

I’m looking forward to writing more and discovering other neat things about WP!

~BTAS

Here’s a lesser-known Asian parenting stereotype: Asian mothers will call their daughters “chubby” or “fat” and tell them to lose weight.

The funny part is that it’s kind of true, and I’ve experienced it first-hand!  My little sister has always been pretty active because she played basketball up until very recently, so she’s thin as a stick.  I, on the other hand, could benefit from a little exercise.  …Unfortunately for my health, I enjoy food and I like my couch.  And I don’t really like exercise.

Now that my own mother has started exercising regularly, she’s been seriously pressuring me to eat better and get fit.  Now, I’ll admit it’s a little bit tempting to listen to her just to get her to stop insinuating that I’m unhealthy—now I feel like an underachieving blob and below MORE Asian standards—but I simply cannot bring myself to get my lazy butt off the couch and go for a jog around the block.  I’d be out of breath in seconds.

I am in no way advocating an unhealthy lifestyle…that’s just something I’ve become very used to.  I plan to be a little healthier in the future and watch what I eat. …Right after I have this pizza.

Wooo!

In my last post, I mentioned that I’m currently taking a writing class.  To be more specific, this writing class is sponsored by CalArts as part of the Community Arts Partnership Summer Arts program (CAPSA), which is an intensive arts program for high school students like myself.  It’s a three-week program that goes from 10 to 5, four days a week.  Aside from creative writing, the program offers workshops in animation, dance, music, photography, theater, and visual arts.  Because it’s tuition-free, the program is selective and applicants have to submit samples of their work in the discipline they’re applying to.

Honestly, I’ve never really looked forward to attending any of my past summer classes—sometimes, I even dreaded going.  But CAPSA has been different: as intimidating as it may seem to write for 6 hours a day, it’s actually a lot of fun to get my imagination running.  I absolutely love my classmates and my teachers.  Perhaps there’s just something about being writers that makes us such a close-knit group.

Maybe the whole idea of summer “school” isn’t appealing, but to give you an idea of what we do in class: today, we went to the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in downtown Los Angeles to eavesdrop on people’s conversations.  The reason?  Our assignment was to write a poem based entirely on observations and snippets of conversations we overheard.  We all had a great time gathering information and writing the poems.

After class today, a bunch of my classmates and I went out for a lovely ramen dinner in Little Tokyo.  Naturally, as I was one of the only two Asians in the group, they relied on me to give them food recommendations and to show them around Little Tokyo (which I don’t even know that well, but it was pretty fun pretending I did.  At least I can pretend to meet some Asian standards, right?).  I brought my ukulele and one of my classmates brought his guitar, so we all kind of sang and had fun and probably annoyed the heck out of the people around us.  It’s funny to think that I didn’t even know these people before last week; I already know i’m going to miss them so much after the class ends.  

Here’s a photo of the restaurant we ate at.  I nabbed it from the internet because I forgot to take a picture 😦

If anyone has any questions about the program, feel free to ask!

Hey guys!  It’s been a little while…. D:

Quick update on what’s been going on: I was invited as a panelist at V3 Digital Media Conference this year to speak about internet safety.  It was a lot of fun getting to meet other bloggers and Asian-Americans in digital media.  If you get the chance, check out the website and register for next year!  I hope to attend it again, so let me know if you’re interested in going!

Apart from that one Saturday at V3 Con, I’ve also been volunteering at Heart of Los Angeles (HOLA) as a cello instructor.  More details on that in the next post, which will definitely be up in the next couple of days.

Finally, I just started a creative writing class today.  I had to submit a piece of writing when I applied, so when I actually got into the program, I thought I must be a superfantastic writer for the program to have selected me.  So I walked into the class thinking I was hot stuff.  I was really looking forward to showing off some of mah skillz.  My classmates are friendly and funny, so the class was pretty easy to get used to.  But then the teacher told us that he’s a poet, and I knew I was screwed.  He had us write poetry—and read it aloud.  I’d been thinking I was a good writer, but apparently I’m not so good at all.  Not…compared with some of my new classmates.  As a matter of fact, I feel a little bit inadequate.

A few of the other students in the class feel the same way I do about poetry: cannot write well.  I thought I was really empathizing with this one guy, who was telling me all about how he was hoping to write short stories and couldn’t write poems to save his life.  But when we all read our poems and critiqued each others’ work, this guy was definitely the harshest critic in the room.  And don’t get me wrong, his poem was good, but he’d just been lamenting about being unable to write poems!  Suddenly it was like he’d become the King of Poetryland.  

It’s funny, because I’d always figured I would always have writing to fall back on if I failed to be a perfect Asian and math didn’t work out (and trust me, math has never really worked out for me).  And yet I realize now that, when I’m in a group of a bunch of students who are all cream-of-the-crop writers, I’m just “meh”.  Looks like everything requires effort on my part.  Must. Work. Harder.

 

More soon!

~BTAS

Hey everyone!  Last weekend was my school’s junior prom.  Someone actually asked me.  Crazy, right?

My mom took me to buy a dress the weekend before.  If you don’t know, I really don’t like shopping all too much—and even less when it’s for dresses of any kind, let alone prom dresses.  But I ended up finding a really nice, really simple floor-length tan dress (and on the cheap, shhhh).  I even went so far as to get my hair professionally done, which I’d never done before.  Now that cost more than the dress did.

One of my classmates hosted a pre prom event at his house, which basically involved finger foods and photos.  The moment I got there, my date’s mom came out like the paparazzi and took a million photos (no really, it was terrifying: she had her shutter mode set so that the camera took 8 photos per click).  My date won points with my parents by being 1) asian, 2) polite, and 3) nicely dressed.

Actual prom was held on a boat, which was pretty fun, and the food was so good.  Unfortunately, the guy who was serving me only gave me like, 3 tiny slices of steak, which was most certainly not enough.  So I forced my date to go back and get some more for me so that I wouldn’t look like a pig.  He was kind enough to actually do it.  Because I’m not all that into dancing, most of the rest of prom was spent hanging out and talking to my classmates and friends.  And that’s a lot more fun than it sounds, I promise.

After prom was…an experience.  This is my third post that involves the topic of alcohol, because there was so much alcohol at after prom.  Well, no, not at after prom.  In the limo on the way to after prom; kids were smart enough not to bring alcohol into the actual venue.  Unfortunately, this meant that many kids drank a lot in the extremely short amount of time it took to get to the venue, so people were drunk off there asses at after prom.  My date and I were playing it cool and kind of sitting back and laughing at all the drunk people.

Despite all of that, it was a fun night.  My date actually told me, “You know, I feel really accomplished now.  I never thought I’d make it this far in life.”  Funny guy.

Pics to come later!

~BTAS

Hey everyone!  The last couple of months have been all kinds of crazy—I went to visit colleges on the East Coast with my school (during the bombing incident), failed a math test (solid 56%), and got my driver’s license (after failing the test the first time).  Like I said, all kinds of crazy.

But the real crazy is all of the standardized tests that I’ve had to take.  The start of this month marked the beginning of testing season, and for those of us who are taking AP classes…testing season is tough.  I took the SAT this past Saturday, the AP Environmental Science exam on Monday, the AP Calculus exam on Wednesday, and the AP English Literature exam on Thursday.  It’s not even over yet!  I still have my AP U.S. History exam this coming Wednesday.  Joy.  

The worst part about taking APs is this: you never know how well you did on any one section of the test.  I know that AP scores are supposed to indicate how well you understand the material, but I’d like to know how much of the material I didn’t understand, too.  That’s one part of it, anyway.  The other part is that I would really like to see my scores on some of my essays because I actually think I did well on them.  I wrote a great essay for my AP Literature exam, and it’ll never get to see the light of day…That poor little masterpiece…

And unless you want to obtain college credits to skip a year, do the scores even really matter?  In some of my AP classes, I feel like I’ve been learning how to take the AP exam rather than learning the material.  

Now, don’t misunderstand me here—I’m pretty good at taking standardized tests, so I’m not complaining.  But when it all boils down to it, is getting a good score on the AP exam really worth taking the class at all?  It’s a lot of work!  Can getting a 5 on the AP exam fill the gaping hole that AP classes leaves in your social life?

Just something for y’all to think about.  

BTAS

Every weekday at 7a.m., I – very grouchily – get dressed and munch on cereal, when I’d really rather be sleeping.  Why, you might ask?  I have to go to school!  At noon, rather than enjoy a delicious lunch with my friends, I hole up in the library, studying…for school.  When I get back home, I spend hours working on my homework that’s due the next day.  Sometimes, I stay awake until the early hours of the morning, frantically trying to study for that darned test that I forgot about or finish that essay.  

Even when I’m not at school, I’m surrounded by it: with all of my tests, assignments, and projects, I’m constantly swimming in a pool of school.  Almost constantly.  But when I’m not physically working on something school-related, I’m definitely thinking about something school-related.  This is junior year!  I have no time to be thinking about a social life!

…Well, I guess that isn’t entirely true.  I do have a lot of work, but it’s really important to find a balance between spending time with friends and doing work.  I think I would go completely insane if all I did was work, work, work.  But with my junior year coming to a close, I’m actually really worried about college.  My grades aren’t anything to be proud of, I don’t play a sport, and I’m really not involved in any clubs……

At this point, I think my parents have almost given up on me.  When your Asian mother starts telling you, “You can always go to community college!” – there’s something seriously wrong.   She might be okay with that, but I’m not.  I’m not!  Never!

And that’s the most pathetic part: I’ve set some really high standards for myself, and now that I’m struggling to meet them, I get very easily discouraged.  I guess “below the Asian standards” goes without saying at this point (I’ve been below the Asian standards for as long as I can remember now); the real issue now is that I’m below my own standards.  I have to work super hard!

On the up side of things, spring break is approaching, which means I’ll have plenty of time to……study.  

Joy…

#BTAS