Chuyện văn hoá

Cách suy nghĩ không còn như vậy nữa. Cách tư duy, cách phản biện, hay cách đáp trả, không còn như vậy nữa.

Mình thay đổi rồi và sẽ không bao giờ quay lại là mình của trước kia được nữa.

Sáng thức dậy nhận được vài ba cái tin nhắn. Một trong số đó làm mình nghĩ thầm, “Nhảm nhí quá ba ơi,” và mình cũng biết luôn mình nghĩ vậy là sai. Nhưng mình thấy nhảm thật, dù đó cũng có thể coi là cách nói chuyện mà mình từng quen thuộc với người mà mình từng quen thuộc.

Mình trở nên bình tĩnh hơn vì những cuộc trò chuyện xung quanh mình đôi khi sẽ chạm vào những vấn đề, những tình huống mà mình không thể đồng tình được. Vì cách suy nghĩ của mình khác đi. Mình không nói mình trưởng thành hơn, mình không nói mình đúng đắn hơn, mình chỉ bảo khác đi. Và chỉ hai từ khác đi cũng đủ tạo nên khoảng cách.

Nỗi sợ còn to hơn: sợ quay về và sợ những ngày ngồi vào bàn ăn với gia đình, nhỏ và lớn. Ừa, haha. Sợ những thói quen hằng ngày rồi sẽ phải thay đổi, vì “đây không phải là cái người Việt làm” hay “càng ngày càng giống Việt kiều rồi ha”. Không, mình không giống ai hết, mình chỉ là chính mình nhưng được bỏ vào một chút gia vị của vùng đất mới, của cái xứ lạ mà muối được đặt trên bàn ăn, ai thích thì tự thêm vào. Của cái xứ lạ dạy mình cách chào hỏi, cách ăn nói, để có thể hoà nhập, và hopefully sống một cuộc sống bình thường hơn. Bình thường hơn là bị dòm ngó vì khác biệt.

Chắc chuyện văn hoá là chủ đề cũng có hơi nhàm chán và bình thường với mọi người, nhỉ. Với mình cũng vậy, nhưng chuyện về cách suy nghĩ lại là chuyện khác lắm. Hai ngôn ngữ. Hai văn hoá. Hai môi trường. Hai lối sống khác nhau. Nề nếp. Luật lệ. Khác nhau.

Nhưng không đồng nghĩa với tốt hơn các cậu ạ.

Mình nghĩ cái nền của sự cô đơn mà du học sinh phải trải qua là câu chuyện về assumptions. Về “chắc bên Mỹ thì cái này cái kia tiện lắm”, “hay chắc bên Mỹ thì cái gì cũng hơn Việt Nam” nên không bao giờ có ai muốn nghĩ tới một vài câu chào hỏi “ừa dạo này có mệt không”, “bài vở có nhiều không”, “có bị choáng ngợp không”.

Ở bển có điều kiện làm mọi thứ rồi, đâu có giống ở Việt Nam thiếu thốn đâu nên nói câu nào cũng thiếu thực tế. Đâu phải cứ cố gắng là được.

Cái nền đến từ suy nghĩ. Một khi người ta đã assume cái này cái kia thì người ta không bao giờ muốn nhường bước cho những cái khác tốt hơn, hay đơn giản chỉ cho một vài suy nghĩ thật của những đứa con xa nhà len lỏi vào. Người ta nghĩ đến một đất nước giàu hơn thì đồng nghĩa với việc bạn sẽ vui vẻ hơn. Người ta nghĩ đến một đất nước phát triển hơn đồng nghĩa với bạn sẽ coi thường người ta hơn.

Mình bảo là không. Nhưng chính những ý niệm như vậy là cốt lõi dẫn đến sự xa cách. Dẫn đến mình và bạn bước bước đẩy nhau ra.

Mình sẽ kết tại đây, vì mình hứa sẽ mua bánh cho bạn vì hôm nay sinh nhật bạn, và mình bị trễ giờ rồi.

À chưa kết. Mình nghĩ bản lĩnh của mỗi người sẽ là cái quyết định một người đi được đến đâu. Bạn bè sẽ không rơi từ trên trời xuống. Kiến thức giống như Calcium, có thể có ở mọi nơi nhưng nếu bạn không có vitamin D thì chịu thôi. Đều là câu chuyện bản lĩnh cả. Dễ dàng là khi được về nhà chăn ấm nệm êm, một nhúm wifi và một nhúm phim hay. Dễ dàng là khi đến trường cắm mặt vào bài vở trong một góc thư viện, không quan tâm, không ngắm nghía gì ai. Dăm ba người bạn nói tiếng mẹ đẻ của mình ở xung quanh. Dăm ba câu đùa mà mình chưa từng hứng thú.

Vậy nên cần bản lĩnh để bước ra khỏi những cái vỏ bọc đó, để make the most of everything. Để có những người bạn tới từ mọi vùng miền khác nhau. Để tìm được chính xác những con người mà mình có thể gọi là chí cốt. Để học hỏi, và để thoát bản thân khỏi những định kiến đã có sẵn từ rất lâu.

Có cho chọn lại cũng sẽ chọn đi du học. Vì nếu không đi thì chắc bây giờ mình còn đau đầu nhức não tự hỏi bản thân là ai và bản thân làm được những gì. Vì nếu không đi thì chắc bây giờ đã hình thành nhiều loại assumptions bào mòn suy nghĩ của mình dần dần. Nên ừa hơi cô đơn xíu, nhưng mà cũng ổn cả thôi.

Và tiền là một vấn đề khác. Vậy ha.

write and recharge my battery

I have been…

Running more lately.

Reading more lately.

Working out more lately.

I am becoming better in many things – finishing homework before bedtime, being on time for work and classes, being open to advice from others, and changing those few bad habits bit by bit every day.

But the weather has not been nice to me. It takes all my energy, leaving me with this emotion mess. But I assume there are still ways to get out of it without moving to somewhere warmer.

Be optimistic.

That sounds counterintuitive, I know! But isn’t that all we need to be happy? It’s truly hard for an introvert like me to work in groups and talk with people at work and class all day long. I always imagine that every second when I open my mouth to speak, my energy slips out of my body.

That does not mean I will lock myself up forever to preserve my energy. I think after a while, a long while of encountering people for different reasons, I have learned to expand my limitation. I still need time to think through things before sharing them with teammates, but I also learned to initiate conversations in groups. Those “turn to your neighbors and discuss this problem” no longer seems to be annoying, but rather a way for me to use my energy sufficiently to learn from friends, I suppose.

Today, I read this great, great paper of a guy in his English Composition class. What I loved about it was how his sentences were fragmented, but they also connected so well. The structure was not something teachers teach at school, but it’s how he communicate with English, with the world. And that fascinated me.

Today, I realized that there is always this feeling in me that bothers me so much. That I am different stops me from telling those who care for me my thoughts. I always assume people will judge me for who I am and for what I do.

I never get to test if that is true. I might be able to find joy in those moments of sharing, but may I have a little bit more time? More time for me to process my thoughts, to be sure of what I think, to keep those precious thinkings for myself.

Because they’re all I have.

Those words you said, they hurt me. I would love to walk instead of taking the Uber, because I think it’s a great way to be closer with nature and with my mind. Yes, you might say I make way more money than you and I am stingy, but forty-five minutes walking under that cozy weather energizes me. I know there were other ways to do things, but I wanted to use that walking-running time to talk more with my housemate. Perspectives are dangerous and are something you cannot judge. So I beg you, for once, just listen to me, and that’s it.

Things happen for a reason – why I am such an odd.

I have met so many people saying I am a weird girl. I do things in a very different way that they cannot understand, but no one ever asks for reasons. I always assume that even if I speak up, I will never be heard, just because I am an odd. But the truth shall be realized.

It is an undeniable that technology has become a very important part of human daily life. I am thankful for what it brings forth to me – living 14K miles away from my family but still talking to them as though they are here. I am thankful for the information the Internet gives me – I know things happening all over the world, I get advice from different sources, and I even learn more about myself. I can use all the good words to praise technology and smart devices.

But I also want to say that I hate it in some ways.

People say I am stingy because I pay very little for my phone bill, too little that I cannot even do anything with it. I have no data, so I rely more on physical maps when in need. However, it seems that I don’t even need a map because I am genuinely good at direction. I don’t pay for data on my phone, so the moment I am not at school, or at home, or at the library, airports, Starbucks, etc. (wherever they offer free Wifi), I cannot do anything. My phone becomes useless, but I feel better.

Stingy. Yes, I am. But let’s talk about the reason first.

What people will first do when they get a chance to stop moving – on a bus, train, while waiting, or just simply sit down anywhere? They take out their phones. I don’t have data for a long enough time – probably my whole life – to have a chance to observe people’s habits when they get to take out their phones.

No one will ever understand how lonely it will be like when I sit down with my friends, looking around, and waiting for them to put their phones down. No one will ever understand, because I am stingy, and they are not. Definitely not.

I feel lonely, because I don’t see my value in people’s eyes when I hang out with them, being the only person not having access to the Internet. I cannot do anything when they don’t want to talk to me and when they stare at their phones – for nothing.

Family. Friends. People are doing the same thing without actually thinking about the consequences.

There are many times when I wander around online to search for cheap phone plan that offers a tiny bit amount of data for a good price. I can afford, totally. But I always give up because I don’t want to conform. It is fine when other people have unlimited data and texts and calls, but I don’t, because I don’t want to be a part of it.

I know my limitation when I don’t have something. When travelling in group, it is harder for me to get a sense of where we are going, because I don’t get to have a real map, and because I am not given the chance to be in charge, “You have no data, Thi. You cannot navigate!” I know my limitation when I have to prepare everything before leaving home, otherwise I would be desperate for a place offering free Wifi to search for direction, or to check an important email, or to tell my Mom I will not be able to call her tonight because I am currently at a club meeting.

But limitation opens doors for great grow. It helps me understand what people need more because I have learned to put myself in their shoes. I recognize that I have to put my phone away when a friend approaching me in the library. I recognize I shall turn off background music to better listen to people talking, which leads to the fact that I don’t even have a headphone or earbuds, because I feel no need to be a cool high school girl want to be one her own. I learn to talk rather that chitchatting. I learn to really listen rather than nodding my head without perceiving the situation. I do, though, taking out my phone to take great photos, to later share with my parents what I have been doing the whole day. I have learned that my family loves seeing my photos, because that is a great way for them to know about my life.

I wouldn’t suggest anyone being an odd. Because I think it’s harder to find friends who share the same interest. But I would suggest people, thought, slowing down with daily activities to actually observe what are happening, what humans are doing wrong, and what humans can do to change this sad reality. An odd feels lonely, most of the time, even when with her boyfriend. An odd will give her closet friends five minute to check their phones before demanding them to focus on her. But an odd will never dare to do that to strangers or surface friends, but she believes that good friendships are built on communication. So she prays to God that they will eventually change.

The problem humans are facing is huge enough that I truly look forward to a revolution in the future. People will one day understand the situation. I know,

You live in the twentieth century, you need to know how to use a smart phone!

But since everybody knows how to use such smart devices, you don’t need to show off every time you hang out with others. Let’s show off something more special, such as being able to put your phones deep in your purses or bags when surrounded by people!

It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity.

Albert Einstein

But we human will do better than that. There will be a big change. And I believe in the future.

Arts 🎭

This is Joy. She was mad because she didn’t understand all these artsy stuffs.

This is when I told her to smile so that this would be a great photo. And greater it is.

Curvy. Los Angeles. The City of Angels.

We have been here for five days. To me, this is my very first trip that I have gone with friends at my age, that we all have to be in charge of our own stuffs, and that I am not in my hometown.

I was and am excited. I am not sure if I want to go home, but I am also not sure if I want to stay.

A city. I was born in a big city. I know it’s big because everybody look up to it, as a goal, an achievement, something that they have to reach for, to try their best for. I was born and lived in that city for 16 years. I have met and heard about all good and bad things, and I love it.

The city. I left it two years ago for a smaller town, where once I miss the bus, I will have to wait for an hour and a half until the next one comes. It is a Dutch town, 75 years old, and it is safe to walk around at night, because there will be no one walking around except me.

My mom usually tells me to find a bigger city, because that’s where I have always belonged to. A bigger city gives me chances to learn about life, to see more people, so that I will be more “active”. But after two years living in that Dutch town, I have fallen in love with this peacefulness. No need to talk to people. They are all nice because they are not too busy with their own concerns. Little town where people know each other.

I went to LA, because I wanted to travel. I have always been aware that I need to go places. I want to make a decision about which school to go to, and the best way for that is to understand if an urbanized area is a good fit for me.

To my surprise, sure it is. I love LA because of what it has to offer. I love the metro lines, the bus, and the underground subway. I feels to me that I was born in a city, and therefore my heart is drawn back to cities the moment I am there, even though I left the original one.

Los Angeles is also not solely just a combination of Asians and Americans like Bellingham – the place where I am currently living in Washington. I don’t just hear Chinese, Japanese, or Vietnamese, but in LA I hear French, Italian, and especially Spanish. The mix is greatly varied.

Los Angeles was great to me, as though I found a part of me. However, traveling with other girls who are as the same age as me seems to be hard. They were all Indonesians, and therefore the only way that I can talk to them is using English, and that’s in cases when they want to speak English to me. Sometimes I do feel as though I am left out. There was even a time I cried to myself because they didn’t let me know what was happening.

Languages is a big difference between us, but as human beings we are all the same. There were small conflicts during the trip, and I, as a non-Indonesian and a gossip-hater girl, was put in the middle of a cold war. Two eighteen-year-old girls and two seventeen-year-olds (I’m 17). Joy, the girl I mentioned in the beginning, was complained about how she behaved during the trip, while I was also complained to about the other two girls.

When I got a chance to actually talk to all of them (in this case, I have nothing to do with their war, but I am put in the middle. I guess I am the bridge then, which I’d love to do.), I got to understand that they have reasonable points of view, and the only thing is that they are lack of communication.

See the photo above? The two sides of that photo have the same meaning, but from two perspectives we get two outcomes. This is also what I have learned from this trip. I think as long as they actually share what they think, they will feel better. But they never did.

I am aint the odd or even. For the most part of my life, I hang out with boys and with myself enough to understand why Joy never has best friends that are girls. I aint the odd or even. I can be both. But I’d prefer to be the bridge between Joy and the other two, rather than let them separate from each other. After all, we are one.

Women, ladies, or girls, or whatever you call them, have this powerful strength that can break others’ hearts. I don’t know who is right or wrong, but I do know that the lack of communication caused enough damage on human bondings to actually get people far from one another.

I also realize my power, that I am understanding and know what to do to make others feel better. But I don’t know what to do to make others also perceive the situations from different perspectives, so that we all can have the same voice and our bonding will be tighter.

Sometimes I think that’s my fault. The bridge is broken.

For the night, it is a mess now. I am disappointed because the other two girls are older than me, but they leave me this mess without actually telling me what to do. I know how it feels to be left behind. Because that what they have done to me. I know how it feels to worry about something but having to suffer it on my own. Because I went through that situation. But how? How am I supposed to tell them what they should do when they are older than me. This is a mess.

And I am hopeless seeing my friends turned their backs from each other.

Joy, I know how you feel, I will be with you.

Ivy and Tasha, you two are great, but I wish not just great to me, but also to Joy.

At a place 2-hour flight from home, we are home to each other. Make it safe and warm. We have been through enough.

Mệt quá đi hiu

(Other perspectives) Looks like tears. 

Sáng mở mắt dậy mà cứ hiu hiu không muốn đi học đâu, không muốn làm bài đâu. Nghĩ tới cái lịch kín mít chẳng có nổi nửa tiếng nghỉ ngơi mà buồn xịu. Rồi dần dần cũng nhận ra hình như dạo này mình đang xa cách với tất cả mọi người vì bận, vì bài vở, nên ngồi một lát cũng ngẫm lại vậy liệu học hành thế có đáng không. Đáng không khi mọi người quên mất mình là ai, và mình cũng quên mất mình là ai. 

Mà phải chịu thôi chứ sao, mình phải ráng ráng, vì mình mong muốn được vào một nơi cool cool, vì khi nhìn lại quá khứ mình biết cuộc đời mình đã thay đổi chóng mặt nếu không được vào trường cool cool như bây giờ. 

Mệt quá đi huhu. Cũng khó có thể nói với ai vì 1. hoặc là ai cũng bận bịu vậy, 2. người ta không thèm hiểu, và 3. người ta không thèm lắng nghe mình. Mình gặp nhiều khó khăn nói chuyện với các bạn gái hơn là con trai, mình không nghĩ vì mình hợp với con trai hơn, mà đơn giản chắc vấn đề nằm ở mình – mình không cởi mở đủ nhiều nhỉ. Mình hứa sẽ thoải mái thân thiện cười nhiều hơn mỗi ngày. Mình không muốn bị bỏ lại đâu dù giờ mình đã cảm nhận điều đó thật rõ rệt. Mình mệt mỏi và bận bịu tới mức chẳng còn quan tâm tới ai khác. 

Tại chính mình mà mình cô đơn. 

Mình mong mọi người hiểu. 

Invisible Love. 

The mind and the heart. 

Which one wins? 

Ừa vừa mới nhắn các bạn ơi đừng buồn mình vì mình bận quá nha. Communication is key. 

Không biết nữa. Love is invisible, but that doesn’t mean you can still claim that there is love when there’s no sign of care. When I stop asking, I also stop them from being my friend.

At the age of 17, I understand that I am still young and life still has so much things for me to learn. On the one hand, it’s easier for me to forgive myself when I make mistakes and also easier for me to be open-minded about the world around me. On the other hand, being 17 exposes me to emotional changes that are just really hard to bear. It will be better later, but the feeling at that moment sucks. I don’t have experience in getting over things, hard things, and learning them also brings about hard feelings… 

But I’ll make this time of my life valuable. I will not waste it because I understand I am still young and free. I know I can work and study as much as I want without worrying too much about my health (well, I don care a lot about it, otherwise I will die pretty soon), I can eat or not eat whenever I want, and I can go back home to visit my family without thinking about how much time will it take for me to adjust the time zone. 
And it is also awesome when I am young and adaptive. Changing environment seems to be nothing, and that is extremely important because the world is changing fast. 

My mind tells me to study hard, stay healthy, and do what I want to do.
My heart says I should care for others also because they are the core of my life. Without them I am nothing. 

What do I do? 

Mini cocoa mug

It is beautiful the way it is.

Saturday’s afternoon – a day for relaxation, a day for friendships to grow.

But when it comes to art, music, or knowledge, I often spend time on my own. I want to step out of the crowd to enjoy them myself.

We went to CreativiTea in Fair Heaven, and together each of us decorated a pottery cup. My very first idea was to draw the universe, for I love the Sun, the planets and stars so much. I painted it half black and half white, but it did not turn out the way I wanted it to be. I looked around and saw how my friends had creative ideas, and their mugs are cute with pandas, cactus, or roses. Others chose to make things simple like writing their names. All are cure. Except mine.

I struggled for more than 2 hours. I couldn’t draw details because I couldn’t control the amount of paint on my mug. So I put layers on top of each other – black, white, and black and white. In my mind, I would have to use this mug for maybe the rest of my life, so I want it to be cute so that whenever I see it, I’m happy that I have made one. Therefore, I aimed for perfection. And I felt jealous about people around me.

At the end, my name appeared on the mug without any universe. It is actually how I wanted it to be at last. However, the main purpose of going to CreativiTea – to hang out with friends – I did not achieve. I should have talked to my friends more. I should have complimented them with their artsy mugs, because it showed their beautiful souls, rather than focusing on my own. At the end of the day, it’s not the physical works that make me feel happy about my day, but it’s the spiritual relationship that I was supposed to tighten with my people.

“It’s beautiful the way it is.”

That was what my friend told me when I complained about my own mini cocoa mug. It’s beautiful because we have been there together, not because we made something perfect.

I should have understood it sooner. The moment I walked into CreativiTea.

Apart but together

CCF – Campus Christian Fellowship, also my family.

Fridays are CCF days, because the coolest people in CCF will go to club meeting, and I get to see and talk to all of them. It is a community where I can find myself being a really different person, but also still a real me.

Today I thought about how I and many of my friends would move to different places in the US for high school, as well as going back to their home countries. It is sad, when I got to meet all these amazing people and at last have to say good-bye to all of them. There might be a chance we would never meet each other. Social media is a great way to keep in touch, but that real relationship when we see each other everyday will be gone forever.

But the good news is…

I will meet many, many new friends from different places, as long as I also go different places. Since I was little, I usually changed schools to a new place where I don’t know anybody at all. My friends stay in groups at school because they have known each other for years, and all I could do was to start a whole new journey. I have done that so many times that now I only feel excited about colleges. Where would I end up going? Who would be my friends and who would be my adviser that help me with everything? I wonder.

Again, we would all fly away, because we are birds from different flocks. But there is this truth: we are those birds that want freedom and knowledge. We are those that want to fly and enjoy flying. Not because we are skillful at doing that. We are scared when joining a new flock where we don’t know anyone else, but we are excited about the treasure those new places bring forth.

Hey all my friends, you are from Japan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Taiwan, Hong Kong, the United States, Canada, Ireland, Venezuela, Vietnam, etc. I love how we have all been together at one place – CCF and classes. I love how you teach me to do things – play Frisbee, get involved in group activities, enjoy sport, and appreciate cultures. I also love how you teach me to love myself – I became aware of who I am and what I love. Reading is not what you all would do with me, but I know you all support me when I do it. If we have to say good-bye, please remember this is not an end.

In the mean time, I would try to make the most of the time we are still together. Thank you y’all!