2013 in Review

It never ceases to amaze me just how many events, good (and bad) experiences, new connections, etc. one can fit within a span of one year—and how incredibly fast such a jam-packed year can come and go.

As with 2012, I’ve learned many, many lessons, but unlike 2012, I won’t be concluding the year with that type of post, i.e., listicle.

Instead, I’m making it harder for myself (and likely anyone who reads this) by reflecting on some key moments from this year and try to extract some significance from them, if I hadn’t already after experiencing them.

BUBA team works with client
Following a team from Nathan Bernard’s Urban Business Accelerator and writing a story that my professor liked enough to help push it to the Globe was a tremendous accomplishment.

Finding a Focus: Spring 2013 Semester
Yup, school first, right? I remember this semester mainly as one where I finally realized my interest in covering business (and technology) due to an article of mine being published on the Boston Globe. I had known that some of my best articles were coverage of technology-related topics from my USA TODAY College internship during summer 2012, but this online journalism class (in which I wrote the Boston Globe article) has unexpectedly helped guide me in a career path that I can finally pursue with passion. Wow, does it feel great to be able to say that with conviction. Startups! Small business! Wearables! Technology! Alright, you get the idea. (But actually, Fitbit Force, anyone? I would love one.)

Traveling Throughout Asia
Even now, I certainly feel that I don’t show enough gratitude to my parents for funding such wonderful trips to (in chronological order) Singapore, Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Beijing, Shanghai, and Dubai. Solely based on around 2,000 photos from the overall trip, I think it’s safe to say I will never forget it. Of course, everything I got to see and experience was certainly memorable, as well—from tobogganing down the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall to taking in the gorgeous view of Dubai from the top of Burj Khalifa, swimming in Singapore’s famous infinity pool to eating Hong Kong’s delicious sweets. Ah, I cannot wait to return to China in the spring for study abroad!

Patch business card
My Patch business card added a professional touch to my job as an intern.

One of 40: AOL Patch’s Summer Editorial Internship
I know—for those media literate folks, as soon as you hear AOL and Patch, you probably don’t think very highly of hyperlocal journalism and its potential to expand successfully as a business model. Patch hadn’t been doing so well before I even started this internship that ended with all 40 interns being fired, in addition to the hundreds of full-time employee layoffs. But hey, experience is experience, and I’m grateful regardless of the company’s status. Why, you ask? Well, some of the more, I guess, amusing reasons: How many interns can say they were fired from a paid journalism experience a week before it was scheduled to end (yet still get paid and receive the $1,000 scholarship), witness a now infamous company phone conference where the CEO fired another employee on the spot, and post (and repost) more than 650 articles over the course of 11 weeks (reposting constituted probably about 80 percent of that number)? The whole experience was, in many ways, invaluable. Yes, no doubt did we all experience ups and downs, but most of those downs only strengthen us (I must say, some downs are simply unreachable) and, as you can tell, make for very interesting conversations…not that I speak of being fired as an intern very often.

Living in Boston University’s Student Village Two
Seriously, this has been a key experience, in terms of my health. Yeah, it’s about to get slightly more personal. The benefits I’ve received from living in an apartment with a kitchen and directly next to our (ahem, state-of-the-art) gym were unexpectedly life-changing. Very basically, my family’s medical history isn’t exactly stellar, so my own terrible health is due to both hereditary and dietary reasons. Dietary because, as any one of my family members and friends know, I have been addicted to sweets for a very, very long time. Despite the high levels of, well, a lot, from yearly blood tests, I would always find a way to deny that my diet is that horrible. After all, I did eat the “healthy” stuff, such as brown rice, wheat bread, salmon and fish for the omega-3s, fruits, broccoli and other veggies, etc. And I never really liked soda or juice, so I always stuck to water. And entering college really hasn’t made anything better, and, in fact, has made my health decline.

View from Student Village Two
The incredible view of Boston from the top floor of my residence building.

Starting with freshmen year, I would spend most of my dining points on Jamba Juice. Oh, god. That sugar. Then when that disappeared for relocation construction, I found I leaned on Starbucks and its shudderingly unhealthy pastries. Just thinking about how really terrible my diet had really been makes me cringe with embarrassment and shame. How were +50g-of-sugar smoothies; +400-calorie, sugar-filled pastries; and sugary drinks in any way healthy or “better” than soda and juice? I had never given much thought or weight on that. For years, I wouldn’t think much of having one or two cookies, maybe some frozen yogurt, or any of the baked goods for dessert whenever I went to the dining hall (and that was often, considering I had lived off the dining hall and food court with my meal plan before this semester). But when faced with having to make my own meals (I still had an apartment meal plan, meaning I still frequented the dining hall a few times a week, but I tried to stay away from the “poisons”), something clicked. Long story short (is it too late to say that?), I found that I could actually live with consuming less sugar (and food, in general), and with a blood test coming up soon, I am more confident that my efforts will reveal some better results, and I aim to continue on a truly better diet and lifestyle.

Part two of living in this awesome residence building: Within one year, I went from living in a horribly cramped, dirty, and old three-person dorm meant for one or two, to a spacious, clean apartment with a fantastic view. The huge transition made me appreciate the expensive housing even more.

Interning During the School Year, Having a Busier Yet More Balanced Schedule
For the first time in my college experience, I interned for a news organization, while overloading on a semester of classes. (If you’re wondering, my GPA turned out to be pretty great, in my opinion.) And even with so much on my hands, I still actively sought new opportunities to learn from and help others:

  • I attended various tech and business events/conferences and followed more startup news (you can read more about how obsessed I’ve become with reading newsletters),
  • I joined and actively participated in an Asian studies club, and
  • I reached out to BU’s Entrepreneurship Programs Office to create a position of “entrepreneurship reporter.”

Still, I found the time to work at least ten hours almost every week and work hard to earn high grades in five classes. (And from the past key experience I mention, also had time to somehow be healthier. Wow, how the hell did I survive?) I like to think that waking up between 6 and 7 a.m. even on weekends helped. At the start of the semester, I would’ve never thought that I would ever strive to wake up at 6 a.m. on some days, or even 7 on others—and function the rest of the day. But toward the last few weeks of the fall semester, I considered waking up at or after 7 late. The earliest I had to be anywhere was at 9 for work, and 9:30 for class. I liked to start off my days with a relaxing, not rushed, morning. I still do.

And with that, I believe my yearly reflection concludes. I feel great (so you should try this if you don’t/haven’t already). This has been a more positive reflection, though there are certainly more not-so-positive changes from this year, as well, including the unfortunate fact that I haven’t played my violin for most of it. Trade-offs, right? I am truly looking forward to 2014. More trips to be made, more experiences to have and remember, and more successes (I’m being optimistic) along the way. I’m aiming even higher with my summer 2014 internship applications, and I’m more confident than ever that I can and will accomplish my personal and career-related goals.

Here’s to another amazing year to come.