Transience: NYC Day 3

colorful outfit
Dress, Forever 21 | Sweater, thrifted J.Crew | Necklace, LucyMint | Bag, Rosegal | Hat, Amazon | Shoes, XOXO
Outfit shots by Alura Chung-Mehdi

It's absolutely unreal that it's been almost two weeks since we were last in New York. I felt the same on our final day there--where had the first two days gone?

My favorite moments from our last day actually went intentionally undocumented. The 19th century European art in the Met museum was impressive and moving, but I knew any photos couldn't do the pieces justice--they couldn't capture the intricacy, the vibrance, what the paintings evoked. These were the kind of moments you just let happen. If you're curious, however, and ever stop by the Met, my favorites were Pierre-Auguste Cot's Springtime and Paul Signac's Notre Dame de la Garde--I highly recommend taking a gander.

So, I present to you final set of photos from our spring break trip. In the meantime, I'll be hacking away at the keyboard, burying myself in books, furiously scribbling notes, and dreaming of the next break. 

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Impromptu: NYC Day 2

floral blazer
Blazer, LC Lauren Conrad | Dress, Kohl's | Scarf, grocery store | Shoes, Keds | Bag, Rosegal
Outfit shots by Alura Chung-Mehdi

Day 2 was definitely my favorite--not only because our group stumbled upon a Belgian waffle food cart on our spontaneous trek to Brooklyn Bridge, but also because we tackled the 36 questions that went viral with Mandy Catron's essay "To Fall in Love with Anyone, Do This."

For us, the point wasn't to fall in love, but to simply get to know one another better--our small group was composed of friends and friends of friends, so it was an effective way to connect. 

While I'd love to wrestle with vulnerability and love and friendship in this post, I'll have to save my thoughts for another day. The next few updates will be shorter and more focused on photos because my challenge for the next week and a half is to maneuveur through this pileup of essay deadlines and midterm dates. I venture that it'll be even trickier, more frustrating, and more overwhelming than driving in Manhattan, but I'll keep pushing till I can cruise on clear roads.

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Anticipation: NYC Day 1

Jacket, Sears | Sweatshirt, Love Nail Tree | Skirt, Target | Boots, XOXO | Bag, Rosegal
Outfit shots by Sarah Ditton

Fittingly enough, I forgot to mention many life updates in my recent life updates post--namely, I've been feeling a bit better since the weather has been brighter (now if only I could get over this nasty cold), and that I spent the beginning of spring break in NYC. 

Since I'd never been before, my expectations rested on internet photos, catchy pop tunes, the movie Enchanted, and vague recollections from books I had read in elementary school (Baby-Sitters Club, anyone?). I envisioned expansive boulevards, impressive department stores, a perfectly picturesque Central Park, heavenly food. I anticipated awe and enlightenment. I really should've known better--a city's a city, after all. NYC was just larger, a little more crowded, a little more eclectic.

We spent most of the first day settling in (aka struggling to make sense of directions and figure the subway system out from Grand Central) and the rest of it walking, window shopping, and eating. And of course, in honor of Pi Day on 3/14/15, we scoured Times Square for an open pie shop before finally settling on a French café and each downing a slice of a tart at 9:26 pm and 53 seconds. I'm not ashamed to admit that that was one of the more satisfying moments of the day haha.

Happy first day of spring! Hoping to be back soon with more travel photos.

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Artsy Endeavors + Life Updates: I Chose a Major

good morning
ohio heart necklacehome is where the heart is
ice breakers
doughnut-shaped chocolates
doughnut-shaped chocolates = double win
pep talk

All (well, almost all) photos from my instagram

Before I came to college, I thought I was a humanities person.

I emphatically rejected all possibilities of studying anything other than English, Philosophy, History, or Amherst's special major Law, Jurisprudence, and Social Thought. I reveled in the nuances of writing, the mind-boggling questions, the countless intriguing stories. I vowed to break the Asian stereotype by shunning quantitative fields. I wanted to search for what I truly wanted to study--not what society, my parents, or friends told me I should study.

Earlier last week, I declared a double major. Ironically enough, one of them was math.

After a tumultuous fall semester of a humanities-heavy schedule, I came to appreciate the concrete. When my papers frustrated me, I retreated to my problem sets. It was comforting to know that there was an answer, one that was absolutely right and couldn't be interpreted otherwise. It was satisfying to wrestle with a mystifying, complex problem and emerge triumphant.

As the semester progessed, I realized that in my fervent efforts to reject any external influences, I had also renounced part of myself. While I love expressiveness, I am also undeniably left-brained; I obsessively analyze all possible outcomes before making decisions, I analogize the abstract to the concrete, I prefer routines or predetermined methods.

So, in an attempt to unite both sides of me, my simultaneous predilection for the humanities and quantitative reasoning, I declared math and French.

I'm nervous about whether the formality of declaring will make me feel more pressured to perform well, but I'm really grateful to have a direction for my undergraduate years, advisors I know well, and majors in fields I'm enthusiastic about.

I can't lie and say I know exactly where I'm going with these majors, but I would still like to go to law school. Given my current understanding of the field, I think law will suit me well, since it's a fusion of logic and rhetoric. We'll see where life leads me--after all, for me, the purpose of college is not to become marketable. I believe that I'm at college to learn and grow as a person, and the rest will follow.

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leopard print dress
leopard print dress
Dress, H&M | Top, thrifted Target | Shoes, Keds | Necklace, Nordstrom BP

The deep, pensive note erupted into a furious minor scale before subsiding to a whisper. The final pitch of the second phrase lingered in air for just a moment. Then, there was silence.

It was late at night, and I was alone in the rehearsal room of the music center. I was alone because thesis rehearsal had been cancelled, but I had missed the group message. I was alone, but I was happy.

The large, empty room had been a bit eerie at first, but I soon found it liberating. Because of the pressure of performance, I hadn’t felt this raw connection with music in a long time.Yesterday’s orchestra concert, for example, had been deeply disappointing—I had been so anxious after spotting my Russian lit professor in the front row that I hadn’t been able to enjoy playing.

Here, none of that mattered. I wasn’t afraid of wrong notes. I didn’t feel obligated to project a polished image. The absence of expectations and fear is freedom—and that’s exactly what I found.

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4 Ways to Style a Button-down

1. Under a sweater:
Sweater, Calvin Klein | Button-down, thrifted Ralph Lauren | Skirt, Wet Seal | Boots, Tommy Hilfiger
Sweater, thrifted Forever 21 | Skirt, thrifted Hollister | Button-down and boots, same as previous
Sweater, Mom's | Button-down, thrifted | Shorts, Kohl's | Necklace, Macy's |Boots, Tommy Hilfiger

2. With a skirt:
Button-down, Target | Skirt, H&M | Shoes, Forever 21 | Necklace, eFoxCity

3. Under a dress:
Dress, thrifted Forever 21 | Button-down and shoes, same as previous | Original post here
Button-down, thrifted Ralph Lauren | Dress, Kohl's | Shoes, same as previous

4. Under a cardigan:
Cardigan, Target | Button-down, thrifted | Pants, American Eagle | Shoes, Tommy Hilfiger | Necklace, eFoxcity
Cardigan, Forever 21 | Button-down, thrifted Ralph Lauren | Skirt, thrifted Hollister | Shoes, DSW | Necklace, Maxnina | Original post here
Photos 2, 5, 6, 7 by Jingwen Zhang

Consider this a throwback, remix, and casual tutorial all in one post.

Up until a year ago, I avoided button-downs, deeming them appropriate only for professionals. Since then, they've become a staple in my wardrobe--nearly all of these shots are of outfits I never got around to posting last year, and all of them incorporate a button-down. I'm now a huge fan because they're so versatile and inexpensive if you thrift around. Let this be a testament that these polished pieces can definitely work in everyday looks!

How to make it work:

1. Layer it under a sweater
This is one of my favorite combos, but also the one I have to be most careful with--it can easily look too academic or bulky. To solve these problems, I usually toss in a skirt with the ensemble, or if I do wear pants, I keep it casual with leggings or jeans. As for bulkiness, I look for a more lightweight, looser sweather. For the very first look, I actually took to the men's section in a discount department store--I got exactly what I wanted, and only for $10!

2. Style it with a skirt
I found this very work-appropriate while I was at Nordstrom--it's a sweet and simple twist on a professional staple.

3. Wear it under a dress
It not only adds some polish to otherwise-casual pieces, like my floral dress, but also helps you transition between seasons. This way, you can wear your summer dresses in the fall or spring and still stay warm.

4. Throw a cardi over it
Ditto on the transitioning between seasons-- extra layers = extra warmth. Cardis also keep things casual--I do my best to avoid stand-alone button-downs.

If you have any tips of your own, drop em in the comments! This post is definitely evidence that I shoot photos more often than I have time to post them, so I'm going to do my best to balance that out from now on.

Wishing you a happy transition to spring!

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I totally left this unbuttoned as a fashion statement...whoops!
Cardigan, thrifted H&M | Button down, thrifted | Skirt, thrifted Hollister | Shoes, Keds | Necklace, Love Nail Tree
Photos by my brother

If my hair looks a little shorter and my smile more carefree, it’s because I shot this look just over a month ago, when I was still on break.

I never thought I’d be this homesick. Before I left for second semester, I told my parents not to buy me a plane ticket home for spring break. It’s not a holiday, it’s expensive, it’s only a week, and it doesn’t align with anyone else’s breaks, I reasoned. And after all, hadn’t I not even wanted to go home for the winter? Hadn’t the change I observed when I returned for Thanksgiving unnerved me so much? I was sure I wouldn’t mind waiting until May to return.

I was wrong. I didn’t realize how much home had grown on me over that short month between semesters. I didn’t realize that I had come to terms with the change, accepted this new definition of the town where I had spent most of my life. I had overestimated myself.

I miss home. I miss the days when my biggest stress was getting to work on time or agonizing over whether the vegan muffins I had baked would turn out okay. I miss the boisterous Asian holiday parties with beautiful food and intense rounds of mafia and ERS. I miss catching up with friends in coffee shops and local diners. I miss watching the blue sky through the second story great room window while lying contemplatively on the beige carpet of my house (yeah, I do weird things like that). I miss my family. I miss the familiar.

This semester hasn’t been the kindest. The classes that caused me the most pain last fall I now reflect on fondly—round two has been so much more demanding. Anxiety is far from a foreign concept to me, but it’s never been this paralyzing. There were moments I was so stressed about my work, I couldn’t focus enough to actually do it. When I couldn’t do it, I only stressed more. It was a cruel paradox. I was a tangle of tension, sleep deprivation, fear—I was terrified of failing to meet my expectations.

The storm eventually broke. Time was my remedy—I didn’t feel better until I emerged from the pileup of exam dates and essay deadlines.

I wish I could say I emerged with new clarity, or some surefire way to conquer all my worries. The truth is that it’s an ongoing struggle. I can’t control what life throws at me. But I can take a deep breath and tackle everything one a time. I can pray for strength to meet my tasks. I can talk it through with friends. I can dress up, belt out Julie Andrews' My Favorite Things, and remain perceptive to everyday inspiration, like the quotes on magnets I stumbled upon in a bookstore this weekend:

A winner is just a loser who tried one more time.

Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly.

I may be homesick, some of my classes may terrify me, but I’ll be okay.

After all, there’s no growing without growing pains.

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Note: I've taken a little break from reading blogs, but I look forward to catching up soon.


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