Thursday, July 31, 2014

Lessons learned by the age 22

It is weird when I kept reminding myself of my 22nd birthday, then suddenly forgot it until I saw my friends’ wishes posted on my facebook. Yes, today I turned 22.
“Do you feel older or wiser?” That’s the question my friend asked me when I turned 21. And today I turned 22. I definitely get older, but actually we get older day by day, don’t we? Another friend of mine just said “21 or 22, not much different because we are still young compared to many people”. But do I get wiser? Not really since I haven’t lived enough a quarter of life and I haven’t experience much. However I know that I am different from the person I was on my birthday last year or even me of yesterday due to the lessons I have learnt in the past one year.
1.    Love your family
“There are two things you can’t choose in your life, which are your country and your family”. This is one of the lessons I was honorably taught by our vice prime minster in one meeting with him but ironically it took me quite a long time to understand fully what he said, especially the family thing. I am definitely not a good child as my stubbornness always tells me to break the rules that my parents set. Sometimes I either get annoyed with them or make them annoyed. I also feel uncomfortable when they over care (and overthink) about me because that makes me feel I’m just a child while I am over 20 in fact. However, after one year living far away from them, I realized for my parents, I am forever their child and I forever need their care. They are the ones who are always willing to hear my complaints or comfort me when I’m down when no one wants to do. And so do your parents. When you are in trouble, you might seek help from friends and family. But friends can treat you with neglect sometimes while the family is always there for you. They love you unconditionally, even when you are at your worst. So, be kind to them, love them and do the best for them before it is too late because we don’t know what will happen tomorrow.
2.       You just need a few good friends
Unlike family, you can choose friends to get along with so you can have as many friends as you want. However, there is a fact that the number of friends you have doesn’t show how rich you are and you don’t know how many of them are weather friends who come around you when they need your sun to shine their darkness and leave you when they do not need you anymore. Some day you will recognize that you just ones who can spend time listening to you, willing to lend you their shoulders to lean on when you feel tired. I could laugh when being asked how many friends I had by a course mate. I don’t count and I don’t want to count because I know who my actual friends are. The broken friendship I have experienced (not a broken love but it is also heartbreaking, isn’t it?) has given me a lesson of friendship, how I should choose a friend to get along and who I can call a life companion. Building a friendship is not an easy task; however, to nurture that friendship is much more difficult, which needs trust, effort and many other things of people. Now I realize how lucky I am to be friend with such people whom I consider as another family of mine, whom I call life compassions. I hope you have someone you call a soulmate as well. And fight for them, do what you can for them and never let them go as they also do the same for you.
3.       You can be selfish, but be generous in helping other people.
Nothing is wrong in being selfish because you live your life, you are the one who is responsible for your life, but when it comes to helping others, don’t be hesitant to show your generosity because you never know who will help you in the long run. 5 months ago, a group of Vietnamese came to Fukuoka for a short term program with the school here and we were asked to support the Vietnamese. At the beginning I felt a bit uncomfortable as I was busy to prepare for my travel. I told that to my mom and she said: “Help them because we are from the same country. And if you are kind to them today, someone will do the same to you tomorrow”. I listened to her, supported those Vietnamese people as much as I could during their stay in Fukuoka, and I felt happy actually. And you know what? When I was on the move, I was given help by many strange people. Some showed me direction, some were my free tour guide, some even bought me water. I think what I received from those people is what I had given to other people before. What you will receive tomorrow is the result of what I do today. It is karma. And happiness is the most precious gift you could receive from helping others.
4.       Be adventurous
Sometimes when you look at your daily schedule, then feel your life is way too monotonous and too safe. That’s time you need to be adventurous. Being adventurous is getting out of your comfort zone, trying something you haven’t done before or something you may be afraid to do. For instance, why don’t you try to have a new look with a skirt or dress, then put some makeup and curl your hair when you are bored with the tom boy clothes in your closet? Try a new road if the one you often go is too familiar for you. You may get lost; on the other hand, you also may discover beautiful places with amazing nature along that new road. That change may suit you or may be not but if you don’t try it, you will never know how it is. For me, I always wanted to travel on my own but I couldn’t make it in Vietnam due to some reasons, but I’ve made it in Japan. Although I had received lots of warnings from my family and friends before starting my trip, I still did and the trip was undescribably awesome. I really wanted to bake cake myself, then I did. However I realized my eggs had gone for nothing after 1 or 2 times trying (What a shame! I’m not definitely a good baker). But I started thinking of ingredients which can be used instead of eggs to make cake? I did lots of searchings after that and found out there were abundance of substitutes which are healthier than eggs. Then I tried to bake some cakes (including my birthday muffins) with those substitutes and they came out good (at least edible LOL). Therefore, take a risk, don’t stay too safe. Being adventurous may bring you both good and evil results but they are all worth trying and you may enjoy your life more than you did before.
5.       Don’t be afraid of being alone
One of my friends kept saying “That’s sad” when being heard from me that I would go travel by myself or did something on my own. I just don’t understand why some people feel sad when they are alone? Is “alone” that scary? No, not at all. Even though human beings are social animals, we do need time to be alone because it can be your time to discover who you are and what you need in order to understand yourself better. We are all on the go for work, study and other things, which makes us forget ourselves. How rare it is when you actually have time for yourself. I do love being with my friends, on the other hands, I am also fascinated with talking to myself and hearing my own voice. I immensely enjoy the time I travel on my own, ride the bike by myself or wander around alone as they have given me precious moments to think about myself, what I have done, and to redefine my goals if I feel I’m off track, then make plans for later phases in my life. I have learnt a lot from other people but also learnt a lot about myself being alone. I have realized I am not as strong as I thought; however, I have discovered myself is a combination of will and sentiment, which makes me more flexible. Being alone is different from being lonely, you are actually not lonely since you still have yourself to talk with when no one is around you. It is an art that we should learn. So take your time and don’t be afraid of being alone! 
6.       We are the one choosing how we feel
Every day when I open my facebook or Instagram, my friends’ photos pop up showing their beauty, success and love. Some’ve got well paid jobs, some’ve become famous and more beautiful, some are living in their love. Sometimes I feel so jealous of them. But 5 minutes later I ask myself whether or not I feel happy if I were them and doing their tasks. No, I would not. We are actually doing what makes us feel happy. Feeling good is a choice and we are the one doing that. We decide how we feel. Life is all perspective so we don’t need to compare ourselves to the others; just do what we want and what makes us feel good. And enjoy every moment in our life. Eat when you eat, sleep when sleep, dance when dance as time is one way travel and we don’t have chance to regret with what we have done. Playing your life with the tune you like and make sure you feel happy when you look back on the time you have been through.
What I have written may sound cliché to you but for me, they are meaningful and unforgettable lessons that 21 years of age has given me. Now it’s time for me to cheer myself and get ready for a new phase of my life.

celebrating my birthday with my host mother and her friends

wearing yukata

Thursday, July 17, 2014

What I Ate Wednesday #1

I have known Jen's blog and WIAW for a while and really enjoy them but I did not make any entry on my Wednesday as well as my eats. First of all, I need to thank Jen for creating such an amazing blog and topic that people who loves (good) food and making them can share their fabulous ideas and learn from each other. And I join WIAW from now on.
I do not have class on Wednesday so I spend most of my time making food along with handling my homework (I am doing 1 year exchange program in Japan, my time is almost ran out though). Yesterday I made pancakes for breakfast as I did not have them for a long time. Those pancakes were made from oats and flour, pure cocoa, yogurt and a teaspoon coconut milk. I also ate them with kiwi and Vietnamese coffee that I need every day (I’m Vietnamese so it’s easily understood).

I topped them with honey and PB later
For lunch I had tacos with shrimps, scrambled tofu, cucumbers and red peppers and kimchi cabbage soup that I went to the second bowl. Basically, I was clearing up my fridge so I ended up eating leftover food I had.

Shrimp and scrambled tofu Tacos
Tacos and cabbage soup
For afternoon snack, I ate a banana and a bit non fat yogurt which were also my pre workout snack.
My workout fuel
Then, 80 minute workout was followed by a dinner which was beef potato soup and breads and leftover cabbage soup from lunch. I tried to make this meal with my mom’s recipe but I always failed without any reasons. Sad face now :(.
I always feel hungry every 3 hours so around 9pm, I snacked with some almonds and dried figs and a glass of honey lemon detox which is highly recommended by my mom. My food might not be appealing but I’m happy to spread my eats on WIAW. Hope you guys enjoy them. And what did you eat on Wednesday?

Oopps, one more thing I almost forgot which is I got a birthday card sent by my bestie in Vietnam. The first gift for my 22nd birthday which comes on July 31st. I'm so stocked. No boundary for friendship! Thanks and love her much much much! We will see each other soon and I can have a belated birthday party with her.

The 22nd birthday is coming!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Ohanami - お花見 (Flower viewing) in Kurume

Hello July! Hello Summer!
July came! It means Summer has come. And I'm in the last month of the age 21 and also the last month (1 month and a half actually) of mine in Japan.  As you can see, my time in Japan is running out as fast as the rocket speed, which makes me to do something I have never done before I officially run out of time here. In addition, my friend and I really wanted to get out of the busy city (just for a few hours though), plus it has been a while since we were last in nature so last week we decided to make a visit to Kurume, a town next to Fukuoka and see hydrangea flowers as it is season of hydrangea in Japan.

We reached Kurume at noon, just in time for lunch. We wanted oden as a shop recommended on the internet before but we failed to find it (maybe it's no longer there) so we ended up having lunch with soba and udon at a random family restaurant. The meals were very nice and huge, super huge, much bigger than we expected. My friend had wanted parfait for dessert but she gave up because of the big bowl of noodles.

My super huge curry udon bowl
Then, we were off to Senkoji Temple which is known as a hydrangea temple. It took 20 mins on bus and 20 min walking. On the way to the temple, we saw lots of flower shop and gardens where contribute flowers to Kurume and maybe other cities. Kurume is not as big as Fukuoka, less crowded and more natural with mountains, flower gardens, rice field every where. We completely lost in nature!

Egle in the temple
what a gorgeous view!
And we also lost in a sea of flowers when we got to the temple as hydrangeas are in full bloom with a variety of colors from red, pink to blue.  I like the blue one the most as blue is my most favorite color and I had never seen any blue flower before coming to Japan. The flowers looked so stunning, so we couldn't resist taking photos of them. Egle and I also found a grave of a prince who was a general of western japan while exploring the place. 
purple hydrangea
a flower path

a sea of flowers

my favorite one

selfie with the flowers

white hydrangeas are the biggest ones there

 After the temple, we got back to Hakata, took our bikes and off to Tenjin for dinner and some shopping. We had pizzas for our dinner and matcha parfaits as desserts in a famous cafe. Those sweets were great, Egle really enjoyed it. She was craving for that all day long. I'm not a sweet fan but I can be up for sweet if it's made from matcha. Actually I wasn't interest in matcha or japanese noodle like udon and soba  when I was in Vietnam or when I first came to Japan. But after a long time living here, I gradually got familiar with those things and now I realize that I'm really in love with them, like I love Pho or Vietnamese spring rolls and other Vietnamese foods.

the heaven dessert
 We had a long day cycling and walking but it's a good day with good walk and good food. Kurume is the place I had wanted to visit for a long time and I'm glad that I made it. Our destination for the next visit would be Karatsu where we can do more walks and enjoy more stunning natures.