Here we go again.

My my, how can I resist you?

It’s another year, and that means another end-of-year wrap-up.

Table of Contents

this year in numbers

215 Github contributions (oof)

36 more college credits

10 weeks crunching numbers and making graphs this summer at Capital One.

4 musicals attended (watched?) (Miss Saigon, The Band’s Visit, Dear Evan Hansen, and West Side Story!)

3(?) countries visited (Canada, China, Australia, and a layover in New Zealand).

Over 3.4 thousand Facebook reactions on my post in Subtle Asian Dating analyzing the language use of SAD posts.

And 1 shout-out from Randall Munroe (of xkcd fame) for my book cover sentence generator.

Highlights

If last year was a year of drastic change, this year was one of settling into the flow of things.

In January, I saw Miss Saigon at the Kennedy Center (starring Emily Bautista as Kim). This was the first of three musicals I had the opportunity to see at the Kennedy Center this year. Our seats were amazing, and the Kennedy Center is really beautiful at night (and all the rest of the time too). I also did a lot of math.

February was a lot more math homework (it kind of took over my life), but with one eventful uh… event. As I mentioned above, I wrote up a fun joke paper analyzing language use of the subtle asian dating Facebook group, and it was met with lots of positive feedback (and I’m now evaluating whether I have too much time on my hands).

We had our spring break in March, and that apparently still means college visits even a year into college. First I went to UVA for HooHacks and to catch up with some friends from high school (the whole thing was kind of a TJ reunion). Then I met up with my U-M squad to drive up to Toronto, where we had Japanese-Mexican fusion tacos, exorbitant amounts of bubble tea, enjoyed Canadian Netflix, and ate dumplings with my friend at U of Toronto.

In April, Blueprint published its 8th issue featuring my good friend Xindi’s art on the cover! Also played in the spring band concert, attended my first Michigan MT performance (Sweeney Todd), and finished up freshman year of college with Coco bubble tea and instant hotpot.

May was a month at my new home in Michigan. It was also my new home because I got naturalized! Other noteworthy events included my car getting towed (it’s a long story) and attending the Dog Bowl in Frankenmuth, MI!

June marked the beginning of my second summer at Capital One. I worked on a hackathon project which detected when you scrolled past a cat picture and suggested a donation to your local pet charity based on how many cat pictures you’ve seen. Also hiked the Billy Goat trail and met up with some friends from high school.

In July, I celebrated my first fourth of July as an American, and watched the DC fireworks from my apartment in Pentagon City. The day after, I went to the archives to see Constitution and Declaration of Independence in person for the first time. Also went to the Lawn at the National Building Museum, celebrated the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, and got a DC library card. Last but not least, I saw The Band’s Visit at the Kennedy Center, and that might have been the highlight of this year. We had amazing tickets in the center of the orchestra section, and the entire musical was just so beautifully well crafted. Highly recommend.

August was equally busy. It started with a visit to the White House (cool, but honestly underwhelming) and farewells to my team and friends at Capital One. Then Dear Evan Hansen at the Kennedy Center (set design was amazing), seeing the sunrise in DC, and celebrating David’s 20th birthday before departing on my travels.

August Travels: First on the itinerary was Santa Monica where I spent my 12 hour layover at LAX. After seeing The Farewell, eating Street Noods, and watching a west coast sunset, I took off for Chengdu. In China, I visited family, friends, and ate lots of food (the existence of AYCE personal hotpot makes me believe in a higher power). I only spent a couple of days in Chengdu before heading off to Melbourne, Australia where I met up with my friend Jacob. We spent over a week in Australia, where we experienced Melbourne’s White Night, the Twelve Apostles, friendly birds, and delicious food. We also snuck into an Australian Costco, hiked the Blue Mountains (where we met an international student from Thailand / Virginia!), explored Sydney, ate emu / kangaroo pizza, and watched West Side Story at the Sydney Opera House! Pad that out with platypi, Nepalese dumplings, and some more hiking, and we’re at September.

September was the start of sophomore year and my first year living in our house off campus. Also the first MDST meeting in my new role as VP of Projects (in other news, lots and lots of meetings and planning for the MIDAS Data Challenge).

In October, we kicked off the MIDAS Data Challenge and had hotpot at Xindi’s.

In November, we wrapped up the Data Challenge, I turned 20 (!!), and I played Dem Debate Bingo. I also tried quince for the first time.

December was wrapping up the fall semester and wrapping up this semester’s MDST project. Then I traveled around California with my family, saw lights in Georgetown with friends, and went to go see the Space Shuttle Discovery at the Udvar-Hazy Center.

Reflections

Now that we’re heading into 2020, I guess it might be a good idea to look at not just the past year, but the past decade. A lot has happened in these 10 years.

In 2010, my family had just bought our first house. We bought another car. We received our green cards. After so many years of uncertainty, worrying about visas, living in apartments, it felt like things were finally settling down. Little did I know, the next decade – the next half of my life – would see me moving farther, living in more apartments, and growing much much more than I could have ever imagined (seriously, who could’ve guessed I’d be over six feet tall).

I lived in our house for all of 3 years before moving to an apartment totally foreign city a few hundred miles away. Since 2010, I’ve lived in more than six different zip codes, I’ve gotten drivers licenses in two states, and I have like 5 different library cards. I moved from a middle school where my biology teacher was hesitant to teach evolution to one of the best high schools in the nation. I’ve learned so much about life, about myself, about love, and about linear algebra (in no particular order). And I know I have so much more to learn and experience in the next decade, and hopefully many more after that.

Maybe one important lesson I’ve learned, as I step back and look at these past 10 years from a thousand-mile-high vantage point, is that you should never settle. My dad took a huge risk when he decided to enter residency. My mom took a huge risk when she decided to move the two of us to Virginia. We had a house, two cars, and neighbors with a dog. We had a free pass to stay in the country. According to everything I’ve read, that sounds a lot like the American Dream™. But sometimes we yearn for something more, and that requires taking risks and jumping in without knowing exactly where we’ll land. It requires courage, courage I’m glad my parents had, and courage I hope to inherit as I take my first steps into adulthood and the pursuit of my own goals and ambitions in 2020.