I spent this morning listening to Terry Crews on Tim Ferriss’ podcast. Terry speaks of his hardships, and the lessons he has learned throughout his life. He speaks of the importance of belief, and how that belief literally shapes who you are and how you mold the world around you. It’s one of the most compelling and inspiring podcasts I’ve listened to all year. Give it a listen here! I’ve found this to be true in my world, and as I look back on all the experiences I have had this year, I feel an excitement rushing within me as I prepare to outdo myself and these experiences in the coming year.
I had finished my 30 day comfort-zone challenge a few weeks ago, and I was still riding the high of chasing after exploring the things that lay outside my comfort zone. I felt more empathetic towards others, and felt I could easily connect with strangers that I met.
I had been involved with Hack-a-thon’s in the past, but never participated fully in one. Fortunately, the HackUCI team was able to put up a great event that allowed me to both participate and volunteer!
I came into the event with no team, so I had to improvise. I was nervous at first, but after going around and introducing myself to a few others, I decided who I wanted on my team. It was a pre-made team of 3 friends from high-school, I told them about some of the things I worked on, and they agreed to have me on as their last member.
We decided on an Android App, and things got moving very quickly. We used Trello as a tasking system, and worked on creating a Broadcasting Application using Firebase, Android Studio, SF OpenData API, that allowed users to broadcast their locations to others in the area that were willing to meetup. Unfortunately, we overshot the complexity of our app, so we weren’t able to have a fully working version, but we created a mockup of what it might look like to demo to judges. It was a pleasure working with you guys, Calvin, Ho-Ren, and Jerry.
A few weeks later, a non-profit I was working with had our first public event! Wanderlosters set up these big boards on UCI’s campus, and we asked students about their goals, and the expected obstacles between them and their goals. The objective was to help students define these goals, and have breakthroughs in how they might achieve them.
I remember being surprised at how exhausting it was to try and approach so many people and form a connection.
After taking my first Muay Thai class at UCI, I became obsessed with it. Muay Thai become a huge part of my life. I would go to the gym almost every day to practice what I had learned from class. I would videotape myself and try to correct the errors that I could catch. I spent hours watching coaching videos, and would frequently throw elbows and punches while in the shower, trying to perfect my form. My slow & steady improvements was further proof that I could progress in anything as long as I continued to put in the effort. It’s sometimes difficult to see improvements in other aspects of life, but in Muay Thai, I could tell I was getting better every month. After every few weeks, I would notice that I could create a slightly stronger impact while hitting the bag, or kick a little higher than before. It’s still a big part of my life now, and I believe MMA will stay with me for many more years.
I don’t remember where our original destination was set for. We had planned to go camping, but the road was very poorly paved and we did not want to risk popping the tires on my friend’s car. We rerouted to go elsewhere and stayed the night. On our way back home, we stopped in Idyllwood, and wandered around the streets in the early hours of the morning.
Anthony taught me a lot about the value of honesty. During the school year, I spent most of my time with him. From spending so much time with him, I got to see that he never knowingly took advantage of anyone, and was always honest with others and himself. I judged him as being honest to a fault, but I now strongly believe that his mindset will set him up for an abundance of success in the long-term.
5 years led up to this very moment. I regretted not walking with my friends who graduated last year, but then I realized that I had created a new group of friends who were no lesser. I’m eternally thankful for the experiences I had during my short stay at UCI.
I spent the next month studying for interviews, and trying to figure out the “next move.” I never doubted that my success would come, I just did not know what it might look like. My friends Derek and Gary told me they were planning a trip to Europe, and asked if I wanted to come. Surely I would accept, and thus began an incredible journey.
We landed in Paris, and within a few hours took a train to Northern France. I was so stoked to be on the other side of the world. There were so many times during this trip where I questioned how in the hell I had wound up here.
This was the day my entire world flipped. For all my years on this world, I believed myself to be a “cheese fan.” My friends and I walked into this restaurant, and asked the owner to give us whatever he recommends. We had heard of this Maroilles cheese before. It was apparently banned from importing to the US because it was too stinky, but I could not find any news that neither confirmed this or denied it. I believe it to be true. It was the most potent and pungent food I had ever eaten. Looking at these pictures now makes me slightly uncomfortable in remembrance of that dark day.
Paris was probably the most underwhelming city during my trip. It was congested with tourists and poverty. Granted, I was only there for a day, so a future visit is in order.
Derek, Gary and I wandered through the streets of Tuchlauben, stopping for all kinds of foods. A philosophy that I developed through conversations with my close friend Shaun was that food is an experience that should not be taken lightly. It would most likely be years before I am ever back in these streets, so it makes sense for me to splurge on all the delicacies I could get my eyes on.
We only decided to take this trip because Derek had won a package to play at a poker tournament here in Velden. Gary and I killed time at the pool, we played ping-pong along the lake, and explored the rest of this gem of a city. On Derek’s downtime, we rented electric bikes and trespassed into private lakes, and caught some great MPHs while going down hills.
Andreas and Rikard were journalists from Sweden who came to cover Derek’s poker tournament. We dined at a lakeside restaurant to which we arrived by speedboat. It was an incredible energy that these two brought that could light up any conversation. We spent our last days lakeside, shown above.
Onto Germany! I used couchsurfing to see if I could stay somewhere for free. After a few denials, I got to speaking with Kathi, who agreed to let me stay with her. I arrived at our designated meeting spot, alone and somewhat nervous about being kidnapped. My friends jokingly(I think) told me that I was walking into a trap.
Thankfully, she arrived and walked me to her beautiful apartment building. We shared beers together, and she told me of her solo-trips to Asia- where she got around mostly by hitchhiking. She had an amazingly powerful and optimistic way of thinking. She told me of a time when she was in Japan, and staying at a stranger’s house on the floor. Cockroaches were buzzing around her, as she was trying to get some rest. Instead of panicking, she told me that she knew she could only make 2 decisions. She could either get up and leave to go elsewhere, or suck it up and sleep. She chose the latter option, and left with a funny story she could share with others like me! She left me a bottle of water every morning, and kept in touch whenever I was out. She deeply inspired and moved me with her spirit of paying-it-forward.
Munich was my favorite city of the trip. It was mostly due to the interactions I had with the people there, and very little to do with the amazing sights I saw here.
I woke up early morning to make sure that I would catch my flight. I went out to buy souvenirs and came back in time to pack up and catch my flight to Barcelona. I take out the key from my pocket and try to open the keyhole. I hear a crack. I take out the key, and find that the key had slightly cracked when I had tried to open the door. I didn’t have my phone with me, and Kathi had already left for work. I try not to panic and take a seat in the nearby park, trying to assess my options. It wasn’t anything I needed to involve the police in, and at worst, I would just have to catch the next flight. I tried to give the key another try, but it would not unlock.
Eureka! I figure I might as well try to use my brain to get this door open. I picked up a leaf from the ground and rip into a small piece that just might fit into the cracked part of the key. I fit the leaf-key into the lock and try to turn it over. It worked! I got into the gated part of the community, but I needed to get into the house using the same key. I stuffed more of the leaf into the key and tried it again. Surely enough, the door opened, and I had only lost 10 minutes of my time. What a lucky guy I am!
In Barcelona, I went on a bar crawl with a French model! I also went to both a gay and nude beach with my buddy Jack, who became my closest friend while I was in Barcelona. I can’t believe these things happened as I sit here writing this. How in the world am I going to beat these experiences in 2018?
The project I’ve been working on for months was finally launched! I promised myself I would get a working version out on the Play Store before I started work. I’m proud I was able to achieve this, as it was a testament to the progress I’ve been making. All of life I had difficulty seeing things through, and I was glad to achieve this goal. It would set a strong precedent for the future.
Now I’m employed! I’m happy that my co-workers are all easy to work it, and I know I can learn a lot during my time at Boeing. I’m grateful for this opportunity, and will actively take action to make sure I am an important asset to the Boeing family.
It’s been difficult to find the strength to be proactive after work, but I’m slowly getting there. My work is only one part of my many-layered life, and I will continue pursuing those other parts in the new year.
This was our first big reunion between our group of friends. We’ve been together through the ups and downs, and I’m glad we can find the time to hang out as old friends.
Every year gets better than the last. Higher highs, and higher lows. I don’t expect this to always hold true, but I’ll accept the blessings as they come to me! Cheers to a new year! I look forward to another year filled with wealth in the form of friendships, travel, good food, health, and career goals!