The Best Story

The best reality documentary on youtube is a Vice series titled “North Korean Labor Camps” where they sent a Canadian Journalist, Shane Smith, to investigate the hermit kingdom and bring back cultural learnings with him.

It has everything: politics, humor, wit, fear, camaraderie with absolutely random people, realities of everyday life of common people, getting banned and kicked out, and going into the endless unknown (Siberian Tiga) like a spaceship.

It’s in a blog, video diary format with a pretty bad camera (it was 10 years ago), and it’s just so cool. All seven parts of the series are just insane. He gets in trouble with the FSB, there’s a car chase in the wilds of Siberia, and he befriends the local mob. My favorite part though is all the random people that just helped and tagged along: a cop, ex-chief of police, freelance journalist, and some crazy Russian guy who saved the journalist from angry authorities.

It all started in North Korea, with a video titled “We Tried Sneaking Journalists into North Korea.” In it, you see how unsettling and just off North Korea feels, at least 10 years ago. Anyway, soon he finds out that Koreans are being sent to logging camps for like several years at a time in Eastern Russia and so begins the aforementioned series. I want to do something like this one day.

Besides what he manages to uncover, what’s most shocking is how calm the journalist was despite the tense circumstances. From intimidating drunk guys on trains to North Korean camp leaders telling him no, he just kept his cool and kept asking questions. That’s a Journalist!


More Waves

I probably had one of my rawest encounters with the ocean on the Santa Cruz trip. On Thursday the group hiked to Smugglers cove (Liam and I ran), this large round bay faces south, unlike Scorpion Ranch which faces northeast where we spend most of the trip. What’s important is not the bay itself but that hundreds of miles south of the bay a hurricane was(still is) active off of Baja. Hurricanes and storms such as this one generate 90% of swells worldwide, and this storm is no exception. For days large lumps of water have traveled hundreds of miles along the coast bringing warm water and very good waves to Mexico and California. The swell and bay direction created a very interesting experience in the water. Large closeout walls slammed into shores in sets of 4 to 5 waves with faces that peaked (to my best guess) at 7 or 8 feet. Liam, Zimo, and I got the opportunity to swim out into these waves ducking and swimming under them and even catching the smaller ones with our bodies, or the boogie board in Liam’s case. This experience is easily one of the coolest I’ve had in the water because of the lack of wind and large swell, the waves were perfectly clean giants and they were absolutely gorgeous. Each set was a new masterpiece of nature and each wave defined the ocean’s beauty. I love waves.

pc: Pierre Dasen

My Obsession With Germany

I always thought it was weird to be obsessed with a country. But after a big struggle to avoid going to Germany, a weird enthusiasm for that country grew in me.

I find myself getting overexcited every time I encounter any kind of German connection, including people’s German last names, WW2 in history class, and even Sauerkraut from lunch. I almost forgot the reason that made me so afraid of going there. Instead of an inevitable reality, it turned into an attraction to a foreign culture.

Sadly, the same obsession didn’t happen with learning German. I have only opened my German books only once since this school year started.

As of today, this obsession is slowly fading away like my German skills, but one day I will pick both of them up and go to Germany.

Living away from home

When I was 4 years old, I lived away from my parents for the first time as I went to a boarding school for kindergarten. At the age of 11, I moved even further away, to a foreign country on the other side of the earth. Through living independently (not completely independent, I had to live with a host family or in a boarding school) at a relatively young age, I’ve experienced both positive and negative sides to it. 

I can have a lot more freedom since my parents are far away, and I can do whatever I want in my free time. But this also brings the major downside— the loss of self-control. I always had a hard time with time management, and after I started to study abroad, the situation became worse. I didn’t know a lot of English, so I didn’t understand anything in class, I tried to take notes without knowing even what they meant, but it didn’t work, and I still can’t keep up with my class.  Being the only Chinese student, the overwhelming foreign language and environment smacked me. I gave up doing any school work, resulting in a row of Fs on my transcript.

Although I don’t regret anything about my experience, my suggestion to parents who are considering sending their kids to another country is: to make sure their child knows what they are doing before sending them off to a place full of strangers.

Using Spanish

I have taken Spanish casually for 9 years now and at no point have I thought I have been good at it. I never really paid attention until high school, but completing workbook pages in Spanish was my least favorite homework. The work I was assigned was habitually tedious and boring. On the other hand, I thoroughly enjoy listening to music in Spanish and speaking Spanish with people who speak the language.

Last year, I hated Spanish 3 Honors. I hated learning tenses and rules, what even is the reflexive? This year I am in AP Spanish, which is more conversation and application-based, which is the first Spanish class I have really enjoyed. My speaking ability has improved immensely, and I have a good grades without feeling like I am slaving over the work. This has given me confidence in speaking that I never really had before.

I have also started speaking mostly Spanish to the new girl in my grade from Spain. I have talked to her friends who only speak Spanish for hours on the phone and have gotten only good reviews.

I am very proud of how far I have come in speaking Spanish and feel like I can have a decently fluent conversation with just anyone.

PC: Pintrest

In a house, trapped.

I can’t live in the same house for 10 years, I can’t even imagine it.

The longest time that I have lived in the same place was 5 years. The five years from when I was born to when I was 5 years old. Thereafter, I move to a different place at a frequency of about every 1 to 3 years. As a result, I can quickly adapt to a new environment, but at the same time, I get bored of the same environment easily. 

I imagine in the future— if I could,  I will sojourn in different places around the world until I can’t anymore. 

If I am trapped in a place for long enough, I will first be tired of the daily routine; waking up in the same bed, eating at the same table, and shitting on the same toilet. Then, my eyes will be irritated by my unchanging surroundings; seeing the same trees out the window and opening the same door every time I go out. It would be the most terrifying torture in the world to me.

In order to prevent me from developing mental issues, I will constantly alter the house and explore different ways to do things. For instance, if I grew tired of sleeping in bed, I can go camping in the yard(if there is one). Or if I can’t stand the trees outside, I will plant new ones. 

After all, I’m still not sure how long it will last until I just can’t do it anymore.

Traveling Sucks the Life Out of Me

I’ve been traveling a lot recently, and it’s just reminded me how terrible traveling is for me. I really can’t ever travel healthily. It always ends up with me needing days to recover and feeling completely out of it both mentally and physically.

Mostly I hate flying on planes. The altitude really affects my ears, so I’m popping them for even weeks after I fly sometimes. Not even eating something or chewing gum helps. I have to be wearing the special pressurized earplugs and chewing gum to even feel somewhat okay when the plane takes off or lands.

Besides my ears hurting a ton, I get super swollen from flying. My fingers get too big for my rings to fit on them and my feet swell up so I have to loosen my shoeslaces a ton for them to fit into my shoes. Probably because I don’t drink enough water, but I lose my appetite and feel sick when I eat or drink anything when I fly, so I can’t really force myself to drink. Also, nobody likes going to the bathroom on planes. I avoid it if I can.

photo credit:

When I get to my destination, I’m always so exhausted that I can barely even remember the events that happened when I look back on the memory. I get overwhelmed so easily when I travel that I’m on the edge of having a meltdown. It’s not super fun to go through a ton of pain just to forget why I was even there and only remember being agitated.

When I get back home, I need several business days to rest before I really feel like myself again. It takes a long time for my body to readjust to being home, but it takes my mind even longer. I have super realistic dreams every time I sleep, and when I’ve just traveled they’re even worse because I wake up and don’t even know where I am. It’s hard for the fact that I’m home to register in my brain, and I’m still in fight or flight mode from the new environments freaking me out, so I just end up in a terrible mental state for a week or two after traveling for even just two days.

Needless to say, I need a good few months of being strictly at home again. Honestly, that was one part of lockdown that I didn’t mind- I didn’t get to travel anywhere.

Reasons Why I Hate England

I’m from the U.S., so it shouldn’t be surprising that I have a vendetta against England. There’s literally no way to explain how it started other than that I’m from the U.S.. I’ve just uncontrollably despised England since I was born. Anyways, here we go.

They drive on the left side of the road

Driving on the left side of the road is just fundamentally wrong. It doesn’t make sense. The majority of people in the world are right-handed, so theoretically, people should drive on the right side of the road. Also, pretty much every country other than the ones that used to be controlled by England drive on the right side of the road. By the law of “majority rules,” England is incorrect.

Chart: Which Side Of The Road Do You Drive On? | Statista

They use Celsius and kilometers per hour

Hear me out on this one. Yes, the metric system makes a lot more sense for generic measurements, HOWEVER– using kilometers per hour is stupid. I know that pretty much all of Europe uses kilometers per hour and Celsius, but this article is about England specifically so I’m gonna pick on them. Using Celsius and kilometers per hour is dumb because they have no standard of what’s too much or too little. Hang in there, I’ll explain. 0 degrees Fahrenheit is way too cold, and 100 degrees Fahrenheit is way too hot. And 0 miles per hour is too slow while 100 miles per hour is too fast. Celsius not only doesn’t apply to the human body, but it has no reasonable standard of being too hot or cold. Like 0 degrees Celsius isn’t incredibly cold, but a human would die at 100 degrees Celsius. Celsius was a measurement system created for water, not humans. And I think it’s convenient that there’s the same metric of what’s too big or too little between Fahrenheit and miles per hour. This reasoning might sound stupid, but I’m sticking by it.

Kilometres per hour - Simple English Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

They have weird accents

This one is really dumb. I’m not even gonna try to defend myself. I just think their accents are unattractive. Australian accents? Wonderful. Scottish accents? Great. German accents? Really pretty. English accents? Gross. The only good thing about their accents is that they’re really easy to mock.

Learntalk | Different English Accents From Around the World | Learntalk

They still have a monarchy

Like, in this economy? Something’s gotta be wrong with them if they think having a monarchy and a democracy at the same time is a smart idea. I mean, I don’t know much about how a monarchy works, but I know that it didn’t work out well for France, so I’m gonna assume it’s a bad idea overall. Plus, the royal family mostly works as a publicity stunt. They should just get rid of it.

British monarchy: The Modern Era, 1901-today - Discover Britain

Their Prime Minister is the worst

Boris Johnson sucks so much. To be fair, I’m pretty sure that a good amount of people in England agree with me, but I’m still gonna hold it against them. I don’t like him.

Boris Johnson in Commons fight as No 10 parties report looms - BBC News

Since I’ve already hated on them so much, I guess I’ll put in something I like about England.

Russell Howard is from England

Russell Howard is a comedian with his own show from England. He’s really funny. I love him. He’s probably the only good thing that came out of England.

Russell Howard storms out of comedy gig after five minutes because of woman  filming him | The Independent | The Independent

I hope you enjoyed reading my passionate ranting about hating England. I don’t get super patriotic very often, but I definitely whip out the stars and stripes when England comes up in conversation. I will never stop arguing for why I don’t like England.


My favorite sport is football. Not the bloodsport played with the oval ball by yanks, but the beautiful game, joga bonito, or if you lack any sense of intelligence and cultural awareness “soccer”. Specifically the Barclays Premier League (also called the English Premier League).

The thing that sets footy apart is the fact that supporters of teams are allowed to be rowdy. Fans consistently scream obscenities, light flares, and heckle the players and opposition supporters.

Partizan Belgrade vs Red Star probably has the most heated rivalry (between fans) in European soccer. The clubs represent their fans’ political ideology and personal identities. These clubs’ fans have literally stabbed each other over support, and fights are a given outside every fixture. Most notably, fans light flares inside the stadium which seems like it should be illegal, but hey…it’s the Balkans.

VC: Copa 90

English fan culture is equally unique. Fans mostly just yell the most obscene and insulting things they can, oftentimes insulting dead relatives and getting into players’ heads. The chants they yell in support of their players are often touching and tailored to their players. For instance, Wolverhampton Wanderers supporters often chant, “Heeeeee’s Koreannn, He’s only on loan for a seasonnnnn, but we think he’s fookin brilliantttt, he’s Hwang Hee Channnnnnnn,” in honor of the Korean loaned star.

VC: The Wolfpack

These chants unite fans in ways unthinkable to American sports fans. Here is a foreign Man U fan leading the chants, known by all supporters, in a local pub.

VC: Football Away Days

I implore you to go explore the world of football chants, fair warning, it can get kind of raunchy.

VC: SommitSports


VC: SommitSports

These fan groups are stems for identity, FC St. Pauli fans broke away from Hamburg SV fans because of the racist, sexist, and all-around toxic supporters, forming their own group that stands for inclusion.

When fans or players are acting a little wild, it’s called “shithousery.” Here are a few examples.

VC: Vaulted

VC: Dan1S

Football > Ovalball. If this didn’t convince you I don’t know what will

The City So Nice They Named It Twice

I thought New York was such a mess all around. I thought New York has so many crimes happening every day. I thought New York only had cloudy days. I thought New York had nothing that attracted me. I thought I knew all the facts about New York. 

My parents told me so much why they didn’t like New York. 

I watch the news on television about how terrible New York is.

However, It’s really different from what I expected. 

My parents are right about the environment. It is a little messy all around the street, plus, there are lots of homeless people who come to me asking for money. Although there is trash all around the city, New York City is still attractive to me. After all, the people, the city, and the weather make it impossible for me to not see how perfect NYC is. 

The best part that I will never forget is when I went to Time Squares for the first time. That night, right after dinner, my friends took me to Time Squares. The city looked vivid with the colorful LED lights and screens shining all over the city. As I walk towards the center of the street, listening to some random people playing the song, Empire State of Mind by JAY- Z, I feel alive again for the first time. At that moment I knew I became a New Yorker and I wanted to be a New Yorker. Watching people walking pass by with smiles on their faces. Don’t tell me it’s not paradise while everyone can be whoever they want to be and enjoy the night with their loved ones. It’s difficult to describe with words as there are so many beautiful and exciting moments happening every second.