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I went to US last month, and it was my first solo trip going there. I have done several solo trip to Europe countries, but my trip to US was a bit different. I went to US in a very bad timing. It was snowing everyday.
On the first day, I was supposed to go to Boston right away taking the train from JFK to Harvard. But I got stranded by minor storm, all bus and train routes were closed, and I just had to stay for two days more in NY.

I stayed over at my friend’s house, in Queens. Unlike my summer trip to UK, where I feel safe whenever I go, I felt a bit insecure about everything in the US. Because to be honest, New York was too crowded. There were a lot of people on the streets. And this is just my very own perspective, people in US are a bit unfriendly and inconsiderate. More like, they are very individualistic. you know, in UK, Germany, and other Europe countries, if you bring a heavy luggage, the first person that passes by will help you right away without even being asked. But in the US, people would just pass by and not bothered to help you. Some even bumped into you, and without even saying sorry, they just left.

But thank God I have my father’s Chinese blood in me, so I have oriental face, cause most of the Chinese that passed by thought I was Chinese and they helped me right away (while talking in Chinese, and all I could say was ‘Xie xie’ means thank you). A bit racists though, but whatever.

I joined this Harvard Conference in Harvard University for 4 days, and extended my stay for 5 more days to explore Boston and New York. I met a lot of amazing individuals there, from different academic backgrounds, and countries. And out of all people I’ve met there, the nicest ones come from The Philippines and also Japan.

First, The Filipinos have really good English pronunciation and no weird accent ( I love listening to them speaking). Based on the trips I have gone through in non-english speaking countries, if you get lost, and you meet a Filipino, you’re being saved by God. Why?  because usually they can speak both the local language and english. So they can easily help you, and they’re very friendly as well, they would do so without being asked (I love Filipinos!)

And as for the Japanese, it is quite different. They might not have the language capability, but they are very nice, and they are willing to help you out, although they, themselves don’t have any idea of how to help. Life is better with company, don’t you think so? It feels so great knowing that there is someone who would help you solve the problem, although they don’t know how, but at least you’re not gonna be alone right? 

I was appointed to be the conference ambassador representing Indonesia (such an honor for me to do so). I met a lot of prodigies from many different academic backgrounds. I got along with a very smart and fun French guy named Jean-Baptiste who promised to meet me next summer in Tokyo. And the most important thing is, i managed to get to know a lot of people from WHO, and Harvard School of Public Health. It was such an honor for me, and also a very nice opportunity. You don’t get to meet these people everyday, right.

Cause somehow, the things you do today is for the sake of your future ambition. I have the ambition to get into Harvard School of Public Health, one of the professor took a look at my resume and told me to get an internship ASAP, cause i have an ‘outstanding’ (he really used that word to describe it) resume, but he wanted me to have a professional experience. Will do so:)

I met a lot of Indonesians as well, (out of the conference, during my extended stay) I just knew them then. But turned out, one of my high school friend has been living there the whole time without me knowing. Maybe I just stopped getting along with my high school fellas as soon as I got out, that is why I didn’t know he lives there. You know, med school is crazy. But fortunately we could get the chance to meet up. He and his best friend brought me around Boston to enjoy Boston’s best delicacies. I love the infamous clam chowder, and also the lobsters (yumm!).

My most favorite place in Boston is the Quincy Market. They have amazing food promenade over there. From pizzas to fajitas. I tried a cherry bomb there. I remember Dakota Fanning’s famous line in ‘The Runway’ movie, ‘I am a ch ch ch ch, cherry bomb!’ It was actually nice, but I prefer strawberry with chocolate or apple with caramel. Their strawberry banana smoothies tasted just like Heaven.

As for New York, I love the parks, and skating rinks. I love Rockefeller center and the infamous Lego House. After visiting the actual lego house, I have to say that I disagree with what Ed Sheeran says in his song, ‘I wanna pick up the pieces, and build a lego house, if things go wrong we can knock it down.’ - dude, I found it easier to knock down and rebuild an actual house instead of lego house. It was frustrating to even make one (maybe it was just not my thing, LOL).

I love Dominique-Ansel Bakery’s infamous Cronut. People were actually queuing since 6.30 in the morning. I was so surprised, but it was kind of worth it. It tasted SO GOOD.

I love The Central Park, it was covered by snow, it was all white, and pretty. I can feel the festive ambiance near the skating rink, it felt like Christmas and New Year all over again.  I enjoyed my solitude by sitting down on one of the dry bench and listened to my most favorite song from John Mayer called, ‘Who Says”. And there, I ticked one of my lifetime wishlists.

Grand Central terminal was just lovely. It brought me back to my junior high school most favorite TV series called ‘GossipGirl’, on the pilot episode, Serena Van der Woodsen with all her bags, struck a pose, and got herself taken in a random papparazzi camera in Grande Central Station. I kinda did the same thing, tho :) Oh and, I found a ‘Van der Bilt Gate’ and I kinda remember that even Serena dated Tripp Van der Bilt, is it the same Van Der Bilt?

You’re not in New York if you miss The Times Square. I went there at night and took a lot of pictures, it was so crowded, and I realized how everybody is power-walking all the time, and sometimes, they still walk even when the red light is on. I did a lot of shopping, and got a back ache because I carried too many heavy things in one hand. And I wonder, how wonderful it must be to spend the New Year and watch the ball being dropped at the Times Square.

I went to The Empire State Building, every time I hear the name of this building, I remember Jay-Z and Alicia Keys’ song ‘The Empire State of Mind’ - “New York, concrete jungle where dreams are made of, there’s nothing you can’t do. These streets will make you feel brand new, big lights will inspire you, now you’re in New York.” - the song was kind of emotional. I was standing at the deck and looked around, it felt wonderful.

I wanted to go to The Liberty, but apparently due to the bad weather it was closed for a week or so, so I could not go there. Maybe, next time. I ended up going on a culinary trip around New York with my friend, we went to eat Halal Guys kebab, Gray Papaya’s hotdog, Serendipity deserts, Magnolia Bakery’s infamous banana pudding, Godiva’s chocolate shake and pralines, New York Yankees power meal, Hershey’s awesome chocos, etc.

When I think back, one of my favorite travel blogger sent me a postcard from New York last year, and he wrote ‘New York, next year? You’ll surely be here!’ and exactly one year after that, I get the chance to experience New York myself (not through postcards or his travel notes). That is just an awesome coincidence. cause I remember he sent me New York and Valentine themed postcards - PS. although I was in New York, I still spent the Valentine’s Day alone - with some loner-friends from Beijing and Shanghai as well, actually, but you know, we were just being lonely together.

I had a really good time there. I believe that traveling leads you back to yourself. It does, and I believe it wholeheartedly. At the end of the trips, I found myself being grateful for what I’ve got, and I have a new place to write down on my wishlist. And traveling is like the fuel of my never-ending hectic life as a med student, it feeds my spirit. Cause sometimes, I find it really hard to keep going and fulfilling the targets when you’re fed up, I do need a break, and when I travel, I stop thinking of my targets and relax my competitive mind. And actually learn something on the way.

So do travel, cause the world is pretty amazing.

Being a good person is hard

In new year, what is the hardest resolution to be fulfilled in that one upcoming year? Losing weight? Nope. getting 4.0 GPA? for some of us, yes, but no. Getting into a new relationship? ha.. please. Moving on? please. The list goes on and on, but the hardest thing is actually achieving something pretty simple, and it has been there all along.

The hardest resolution to be fulfilled is being a good person. It gets harder each day to get the chance to become one. Cause people these days are overly judgmental towards one another. You know, when you’re trying to care for someone, and ask how are things going on with them, they’re gonna think you’re butting into their business. Like, ‘man, we’re not that close, and why the hell do you ask me how are things going with me.’

Or when someone tries to get close to other people by being kind, they’re often mistaken for being flirty. ‘dude, could you just stop hitting on me?’

Or when someone pays too much attention to details in order not to make any mistakes, he or she will be called annoying for making you work more than you think you should. But, to be honest, that person just wants things to go according to plan, not making things harder for you.

Or when someone tries to change his or her perspectives towards something, instead of being called open-minded, they’re often called ‘inconsistent’ or lack of persistence. You do know right, there is nothing constant in this world, cause everything changes except the change itself. I say, feel free to change your mind all the time, cause sometimes what you think was good is not good anymore.

Or when people want to speak their minds and express their feelings, they are often marked as  ‘attention-seeker’ or  being accused of ‘overacting’. Come on man, its 2014, why do i feel like we had more freedom back then in 90s?

Or when people try to build their networks and get along with people from other community or society, they are often called ‘social-climber’. Don’t you think it’s a bit too much?

How are going to be a good person when the good things that can be done are limited by other people’s negative point of view?

Maybe some of you have gotten rid of the heavy feeling you got after listening to how people bitch about the things you did, while you did those things with a good intention. But for some of you who still feel it, just get rid of it and stop giving a damn.

Cause at the end of the day, what matters is what you did, not what other people think you did, or what other people did, or what you think other people did.

So, stop taking things too seriously and enjoy life as it is, do as many good things as you can. Let them judge, cause maybe, judging is their purpose of life.. we never know :)

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