Wednesday, December 31, 2014

New Year, New Goals

Tomorrow is the New Year and I've been thinking hard about what my New Year's resolution(s) will be. The past semester at uni was a tough one for me. With getting back into the flow of American uni and multiple demanding courses, many things in my life were pushed to the back seat. When deliberating about what my resolution would be I found many things weren't necessarily resolutions. They were simply things that I want to move back to an important place in my life with a less challenging semester on the horizon. In the end I found three things that I want to accomplish this year.

1. Take more pictures! I realized towards the end of this year that I barely took any pictures. Part of this has to do with the fact that I took SO MANY pictures in Japan. Now that I am back I simply am not doing as many fascinating things each week. However, I would like to try to bring my camera with me no matter where I am in case I find something that is worth documenting. 

2. Stay on top of my tasks. I realized this year that I had gotten into the habit of working right at the deadline. I would respond to emails weeks after receiving them, turn in forms right at the due date, and finish a paper a few hours before I had to turn it in. While I still managed to do well in classes and I didn't miss anything important, this led to much more stress and less time to do things that I wanted to do. This year I am going to do my best at getting my required items done early. That way I will have more time to blog, watch movies, read, chat with friends, and other fun things ^_^

3. Be more adventurous with my blog! I've had my blog for almost 2 years (!) but I don't think many more people read it than did at the beginning. I think I expected that without putting in any effort to publicize my blog it would just magically gain readers. Obviously, this hasn't happened. In 2015 I want to work hard to make my blog what I dreamed it could be when I first made it. I don't want to be super pushy with my blog. However, I do want to put more effort into maintaining and publicizing it. 

What are you guys going to do to chase your dreams in 2015?

P.S. the tea of the day is oprah chai ^_^

P.P.S. sorry for the lack of pictures in these past posts! I'm going to write another post soon showcasing some of the pictures I have taken over break. 

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Virgin...A Book Review

Welcome back to my blog! I hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday season with their family and friends. I am having a fantastic time laying around my house not doing anything productive! I have just started my fourth book since being at home (#GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso) and therefore have not had much to write about which explains the lack of blog posts. 

If you remember my last post (which can be found here), I discussed some of the many things that I planned to do while I was home. I said I wanted to read Virgin by Radhika Sanghani and I've done it! I liked this book a lot and I felt is covered some important topics. I hope this glowing review will get you to read it as well!

Virgin is the story of a 21 year old university student in London who has not lost her virginity. She feels embarrassed and out of place, not feeling comfortable telling anyone about her virgin status and feeling increasingly desperate to find a guy to deflower her once and for all. 

My original misgivings when I started the book changed as I continued reading; it started like a cheesy teen romance where the girl doesn't fit in and the super cool rich guy falls for her, gives her life a makeover, and makes her finally feel confident enough to accept herself. However, as I continued reading I found this was not the case. The book, although centering on a girl losing her virginity, was not so much about the romance. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was more about accepting yourself as you are and making bonds with friends (girls or boys) who love you and accept you for who you are. 

Here are a few of the things that I took away from the book:

1. Virginity isn't that big of a deal. Yes, your first time is special and you should only start having sex when you feel comfortable. However, we all need to find our own reasons to either lose it or keep it. Who cares if your friends have all had sex, in the movies people have all had sex, or those with their virginity are seen as "losers". If a girl or a guy is not ready to have sex for the first time, no one should be able to pressure them into being able to do it before they are ready.

2. If things feel strange with a friend, ask what is going on. In the book the main character, Ellie, gets into a fight with one of her best friends. They don't speak for a while and Ellie takes this as proof that her once good friend now hates her. However, she discovers later that her friend was dealing with some other, bigger, drama in her life and didn't know how to tell Ellie. Everything was just a misunderstanding but their friendship almost ended. If things are tense with someone for reasons you think are silly, don't just ignore your friend and wait for them to make the first move. Reach out to them, you never know what might be happening in their lives.

3. Accept your body! Ellie is more curvaceous than most of the girls she hangs out with and she can never accept that she looks as good as they do, simply different. After much pain and many attempts at transforming herself, Ellie finally realizes she looks good the way she is. I think this is one of the most important points the book tries to teach its readers. We are all different, but that doesn't mean that we aren't all beautiful. 

This book is quite short, 294 pages, and it is spaced quite generously. For someone who loves reading Classics (think your high school reading list) it wasn't as intellectual as some of the books I am used to reading. However, I found that this coupled with the humor consistent throughout the book made it incredibly easy to read. 

I would definitely recommend this book to all girls in their 20's. It doesn't matter if you are a virgin/not a virgin/curvy/thin/blond/brunette whatever, this book has a little something for everyone. I wouldn't recommend this for anyone younger than late teens though, since it can get pretty graphic in some areas! 

P.S. the tea of the day is citrus lavender sage ^_^

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Winter Break Lists

Now that my fall semester is officially over and it is winter break, I will be spending my time holed up in my room catching up on all the reading and watching that I wasn't able to do during the semester. Here's a list of some of the things that I will be getting into!

1. This summer I started reading Winter's Tale by Mark Helprin and I absolutely love it! I haven't had the time to enjoy it as much as I should, so I'll be finishing that up over my break.
2. Ever since I read Anthem by Ayn Rand in high school I've wanted to read more of her works. This summer I bought The Fountainhead and I'm so excited to finally be able to dig into that.
3. Kate Mosse is one of my favorite authors and she came out with a new book, Citadel, relatively recently. I'll finally be able to enjoy that!
4. When I was home for Thanksgiving I bought Virgin by Radhika Sanghani. This book looks funny and very relevant for people in their 20's. I'm excited to see if it's as good as I anticipate it to be!

1. I watched the trailer for Before I Go To Sleep a while ago, but I haven't had the time to go see it. Hopefully it's still in theaters by the time I get home!
2. Grand Budapest Hotel! Words can't express how upset I am that I still haven't seen this film.
3. I think I'm going to drag my whole family to see Into the Woods while I am home. What can I say? It has Johhny Depp.
4. I've heard lots of good things about Interstellar and I really want to go check it out for myself

1. I absolutely love Downton Abbey! I haven't been able to watch Season 5 yet, so I will have to speed through that before the new Christmas special comes out
2. I've heard too many amazing things about Orange is the New Black not to watch it. 
3. I watched the first episode of American Horror Story a while ago and it was pretty interesting. I don't usually like horror things but I'm going to give this a try. It could be a terrible idea or it could be great, we'll just have to see
4. I haven't had time to watch the latest season of Game of Thrones yet, so I'll be spending a bunch of time getting caught up on this show.

I'm going to pretend I have enough time to do all these things while I'm home. Between spending time with family and friends and looking for a job it might not happen, but you never know! What are you guys looking forward to doing over winter break?

P.S. the tea of the day is limeade twist...again ^_^

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Why I Hate Final Exams (It's Not What You're Thinking...)

I mentioned in my last post that I've been pretty busy since it's finals week. Well, I was working the closing shift at the library last night and after observing some of the people I decided to write a post about why I hate final exam week.

Disclaimer: I didn't have anyone particular in mind when I wrote this post. It's just things I've picked up during my years at uni and I'm sorry if I offend anyone.

Reason 1: I dislike the structure of not having class. All throughout the year I schedule studying, friends, partying etc around class time. There are set times when I have to be somewhere and do things. This all goes to crap when final exam week begins. Finals week makes me so unmotivated because I have nothing scheduled all day except one test. I have no structure in my day which makes it very difficult for me to work up the motivation to do things.

Reason 2: Everyone is super stressed and cranky. Sometimes during finals week all I want to do is lay around and take a break from studying. I feel like anytime I do this I get glares and cynical comments from people and it makes me sad. 

That being said, I've compiled a list of my suggestions for people during finals week.

1. Don't leave all your work until the last minute! Finals week does not need to be super stressful. If you do your work throughout the year you won't have so much to do during finals. Put in the time during the year to read the chapters, go to class every day if you can, and do the assignments. Then, when it comes time to take your finals or write your paper you will have a better understanding of the material and the exam or paper won't seem so daunting.

2. Breathe! I've found that when people get so stressed for a test they can turn nasty. I've had a lot of people get annoyed at me or snap at me since they are so stressed. To those people I say: calm down. It's just a test. If you believe that you can do it, you will be more likely to do well. If you stress out and think you will fail, you will get stressed and have a greater chance of doing poorly. Just breathe, you can do it!

3. Get a good night's sleep each night. I don't care what people say, I really don't believe anyone works better when it is late at night and they are keeping themselves awake with caffeine. If you go to sleep at a decent hour, wake up early and fresh, you will have enough time during the day to do your work. Maybe you can't do an extended lunch with a friend, but you will feel a lot better in the long run.

Those are just a few things I've learned during my time at uni, both in America and Japan. What do you guys feel is the best way to prepare for finals? Do you have any suggestions for people?

P.S. I'm not sure exactly what the tea of the day is! I received the most adorable box of tea from a friend for Christmas. Each tea dangle has a quote from a novel/author on it. The one I had today said:
"Books had instant replay long before sports" -Bert Williams
Anywho, long story short it doesn't say the type of tea. I think it's what Japanese people call "straight tea" which I think is just plain black tea. Whatever it is, I love it ^_^

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Things That Made Me Smile

Just a quick post this week! My final exams start Tuesday and I've been busy all week and weekend preparing. I will be so happy when I can say that this semester is behind me...just 5 more days! Since this week was so long and difficult I thought I would make a post of the things that made me smile ^_^

1. Twinkle lights: I have some twinkle lights in my room year round, but we just decorated the apartment for Christmas and now we have so many more and I LOVE IT!

2. Chai tea: OK, I have a confession to make. I had chai tea for the first time about 1 week ago. I'd always been scared by chai tea since it has such a strong flavor. I'm so comfortable with my herbal teas and I was always scared to try something that seemed like the coffee of tea. I decided to give it a try the other week now and I can happily say that I am now obsessed. 

3. Letters: If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook you might have seen that this week I received a letter from my friend in the UK. One of my absolute favorite things is receiving a letter in the post and it was so great hearing from her I had a huge smile on my face the rest of the afternoon

4. Mugs with snowman faces: I got a snowman mug this weekend from a friend and it's the best thing ever. I can't stop drinking out of him! I might have to give him a name...

I hope that you had an equally happy, smiley week! What made you smile this week?

P.S. the tea of the day is ginger tea ^_^