Post-hike on Huangshan

Year in Review: The Surrealness of 2014

In the high-pitched voice of Elle Woods, I DID IT!

Elle Woods:

And to add a slightly more authoritative aspect: This concludes my 365-day-photo project.

I am forever grateful to the readers (gasp, not just my mom and dad?!) who stuck with me for the year that was by far the best year that I have ever had. The fact that I was able to document every day of it (sometimes with clever headlines) makes me even happier. Happiness. Sure, I could feel sad that the end has come to a year in which I…

Met and shook hands (ahem, twice) with PayPal co-founder and billionaire investor Peter Thiel.

Peter Thiel with BUzz Lab interns and SHA students

Had casual encounters with internationally acclaimed singer StromaeNew York Times’ columnist and my professor(!) for my final semester David Carr; YouTuber Wesley Chan from Wong Fu Productions; and YouTuber Jason Lee from Jubilee Project.

Proved what a serious fatass I can be (I could hyperlink hundreds of posts as examples), yet how I casually can run seven miles while being all photographer-like.

Went to a casino. Because 21.

Practiced yoga and finally decided to stop trying it when I know I leave questioning the entire concept of yoga each and every time.

Witnessed how cool of a cousin I think I am.

…and so much more. But I choose happiness.

After all, I lived in Shanghai for a quarter of the year, falling so much in love that I not only constantly feel so much nostalgia, but also have decided that I will do everything I can to ensure that I work and live in Asia after graduating. I discovered that, yes, I do see myself living (and, more importantly, eating) in a bustling Asian city.

But it wasn’t just Asia that captivated me. I traveled more in 2014 than I have in any other year…

Enjoying an all-expenses paid vacation with my mom in Panama before leaving for Shanghai.

Returning from Shanghai to travel even more, because the then-unfortunate fact was that, for the first time in my college years, I didn’t get an internship or job for the summer. But man, what a blessing in disguise. This summer’s adventures included…

Going on a spontaneous weekend trip to NYC with my parents.

Accompanying my mom on a work-related trip to Philadelphia and then enjoying ourselves in Chinatown—in July and exactly one month later in August.

It may come as a surprise, but not all of my adventures centered on food.

I camped in a tent for four days at Firefly Music Festival. And trust me, the food was nothing to rave about. But hey, music! And dirt. A lot of dirt.

2014 was the perfect year for this project. It’s not that I would not have taken photos (I mean, c’mon), especially when traveling, but the writing I did about these photos and my experiences is invaluable. I can’t wait to look back on these in two, five, and even 10 years time, reliving some of the best moments. I’ve been doing that throughout this year, even.

In Italy, for example.

What’s amazing is how much of these experiences involved my mom, dad, and/or sister—which is exactly what I need before graduating and leaving Maryland for longer than just a few months. #familybonding ❤

In Vegas.

In L.A., where my mom actually tried smoking hookah and nearly coughed up a lung—which we captured brilliantly on camera. Until she inevitably deleted the hilariously incriminating photo.

When the whirlwind of summer came to an end, I returned to Boston for my last fall semester of college, expecting to focus on my overload of courses rather than work. But then one day, I got an email from the events and operations coordinator at BU’s rebranded entrepreneurship center, the BUzz Lab, about a job opportunity, thanks to an unexpected recommendation by the director with whom I had worked last fall.

Soon enough, I found myself diving into the exciting ecosystem of startups and young entrepreneurship at BU and throughout Boston, volunteering at (and live tweeting from) Greenhorn Summit, designing flyers that made me freak out whenever I saw them around campus, covering the Beantown Throwdown at the beautiful District Hall, and—oh, right—meeting a billionaire.

And for some reason (okay, many good reasons at the time), I had switched to Team Samsung and quickly and easily found frustrations with camera speed and quality, which contributed to some less-than-ideal photos early on in the semester. It was only natural that I found myself back to Team iPhone a few months into this failed conversion.

Despite having a crazy busy semester, I did manage to experiment with cooking…

But I also ate out quite a bit. Because senior year. (LOL at the comparison of the number between photos of cooking and eating out—I had to stop myself from adding more to the gallery below. This is embarrassing. How am I not obese by now?)

I’ve also become scarily skilled at live tweeting—so much so that I dominated #MITCHIEF and the managing director of the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship called me out (“Sonia Su!”) at the end of his keynote. #proudmoments

Interestingly enough, I didn’t do much professional journalism this year, but I like to think I made up for it by blogging and spending my time to develop my knowledge of my coverage interests of tech and entrepreneurship. I attended my first AAJA conference in D.C. over the summer, where I got to participate in a Skype convo with award-winning AP photojournalist David Guttenfelder. In addition to the exposure I gained from working at the BUzz Lab, I enjoyed confirmation of the incredible growth of young entrepreneurship at Xconomy’s tech forum, thanks to a Stay in MA scholarship.

It seemed only fitting that my last weekend of 2014 was spent in—surprise, surprise—NYC, where I stayed in an Airbnb for the first time and spent the weekend eating, exploring, and…eating. I LOVED the exploration. Despite having visited the city so often this year, this last trip of the year seemed like one to a new yet familiar place—new because of where we stayed (the industrial part of Brooklyn [insert wide-eyed emoji here]) and where we went (Chelsea Market and High Line).

WHAT A YEAR. Are you sick of me yet? Given that all this and more happened in 2014, I can’t even begin to fathom what 2015 might look like. But here’s what I know I can look forward to:

  • Covering CES in Vegas,
  • Going straight from Vegas to the Bahamas and the U.S. Virgin Islands to enjoy the remainder of my last monthlong winter break,
  • Starting my final semester of college,
  • Taking a class with NYT‘s David Carr,
  • Interviewing with Princeton in Asia and hopefully getting the fellowship to work in Asia, if not WSJ Asia in Hong Kong,
  • Organizing and being a part of more exciting events with the BUzz Lab,
  • GRADUATING COLLEGE,
  • Traveling around Europe and Asia after graduation,
  • And, most importantly, continuing to blog every day, building my readership, experiences, and quality of life.

Phew. Thank you so much for going on this reflective journey with me. I seriously recommend trying this challenge yourself, whether it’s taking photos, blogging, or both! Please let me know if you do. I’d love to follow other people’s lives—in the least creepy way possible.

What will your day one be?

Eva and I posing together for the last time in 2014

Day 365: New Year’s Eve

After 365 days, I’ve done it. In 365 posts, I’ve documented (most of) the moments that can be described as anywhere from utterly boring to unbelievably exciting.

There’s certainly a lot more that happened in 2014 that I didn’t post for the world to access. No matter how much I do open myself up to the both familiar yet partially anonymous group of readers I have, I left out experiences that remain only in my terrible, terrible memory. I can only record so much.

But for what I did manage to make record of, I am already so grateful. I’m someone who has written in diaries for years. If only I could read those now. But wait, I did type my diary in high school. And I still have the document. With all the entries.

*Some time later.* WOW. Just went down memory lane. Think of an angsty, emotional, dramatic high school student. That was me. Allow me to share some lovely excerpts (try not to LOL or cringe. I certainly did both.):

I freaked out 2 nights ago when I took medicine that had a missing seal and was scared to tears that I was going to die.

[July 23, 2007] High school is COMING very soon! I am SO excited. It’s unexplainable how excited I am!!!!

[November 7, 2008] I really hate high school. Just the people. The actual work is fine but the PEOPLE just piss me off.

I think this summer was probably the most boring one ever. I just READ like 24/7. Speaking of reading, I finally got the 4th It Girl book, unforgettable! It’s AMAZING. And I finally got the 11th (I think the last since they’re going to college) book of Gossip Girl…I forgot the title. But anyway, after that, there’s supposed to be a prequel coming out soon.

OMG I got recommended for AP American Government next yearrrrr!!! But everything is telling me not to do it. Apparently, even GT students this year don’t want to do it either because they got a visit from the AP teacher and said they’ll have 380518305180 tests and find 20 articles every month for something?! AP is college level and I don’ think I’m ready for it yet. So I’m denying the recommendation like I did with Bio GT and English GT. But I’ll probably want to move up for English GT. I didn’t accept Bio GT b/c again, too many projects and SCIENCE FAIR. Doesn’t sound interesting. Maybe they’re signs. The fact that I’m getting recommended for higher levels but denying it? Or just the higher level thing. Oh well, let’s see.

OMG I AM ACTUALLY GETTING MY BRACES OFF JUNE 13th!! Friday the 13th! Haha. And there will only be one day for everyone to actually see my new teeth! Great! UGH.

THIS SUCKSSSS!!! I accidentally pressed DON’T SAVE and deleted my entire diary entry I wrote earlier. Great. My life sucks. I’ll just write it again (goadjnvkadjlsd) later. Hate life.

OMG I was driving and I didn’t look both ways before proceeding in a 4-way intersection TWICE. I had to stop in a one-lane road 2 get off and go 2 the lesson (I was rushing and late) and the car behind me obviously was pissed and yelled GET OFF THE ROAD.

I finally drive to school but it was pouring rain outside so I had a bad morning, coming into school soaking wet. I hate my lunches. I don’t even have time to study for the SATs but I still have a lot of time. [What?]

I played my ORCH test with my group and I got an 84…wtf. I am hated. It was the easiest song too. I’m NEVER doing Music Theory.

HAHAHAHA. I know, I know. I was SO great. Consider that your treat for reading my blog—as if I weren’t already incredibly interesting already 😉 Oh, man. That’s cringeworthy.

Happy New Year, everyone! I hope I wasn’t nearly as embarrassing these 365 days of 2014 as I was in high school.

Eva and I posing together for the last time in 2014

B

Day 364: Anticipation

I’m publishing way before the day is over, but it’s because I literally can’t wait to publish my year-in-review post. It’s long. It felt great writing it. It may feel even better to share it.

I took this ADORABLE photo of my old-but-forever-cute Pomeranian right before heading to Starbucks to work on my reflection.

B

She can’t wait, either. It’s coming.

View of NYC street from High Line

Day 362: City Love

Get ready, folks. This post of 43 photos may exhaust you—yet also blow your mind. 😉

This morning, I woke up feeling so much better. And by better, I mean not ridiculously full. It meant I was ready. My stomach was ready.

We took the F train back into the city, this time to Chelsea, since I wanted to visit Chelsea Market and the High Line, an elevated freight rail line transformed into a free, public park that runs 1.45 miles long on Manhattan’s West Side. Of course, our first stop in the neighborhood had to be food. My friend and I enjoyed a lovely brunch (don’t hate on brunches) at a highly rated restaurant on 10th Avenue called Cookshop. With an adventurous mentality, I ordered a Bloody Mary but then opted for a somewhat healthier option of an omelette, rather than my almost-instinctive choice of either French toast or pancakes.

I was moderately satisfied, because when you know you could have indulged on unhealthier but tastier items, your satisfaction level can’t be 100 percent. But I made the justification that I would be eating for the rest of the day and already pigged out the day before, so really, this was a good choice. Wow, what a hard life, huh.

Then comes the “We feel so full and guilty that we must walk some of this off before going to eat more” feeling. This feeling was briefly forgotten, as the beauty and excitement of walking on the High Line stole my attention. So many opportunities for #ART. I LOVED it. Make sure you click through this gallery for larger-sized photos to see what made me just so, so happy.

Next up: Chelsea Market. I could live here very happily. Despite the insane crowds that made simply walking inside this food haven a challenge, the abundance of FOOD made me fall in love. It reminded me of an infinitely better version of Quincy Market in Boston. Driven by a friend’s suggestion, we sought out the Doughnuttery (click if you dare—try not to drool), a small shop that sells delectable, freshly made mini donuts. We got 6 for $6. For $1 a piece, it was quite pricy but hey, we were tourists. The experience was worth it.

And because we’re fat and our sweet tooth is insanely large and needy, we found ourselves enjoying amazing gelato afterward.

Feeling the #fatass effects, we made our way out of the market and walked. And walked.

Amusing sight while walking in NYC
Just lol.

We eventually found ourselves at Union Square Park and sat on a bench, observing passersby and chatting—while our poor digestive systems worked hard to process the yummy but terribly unhealthy NYC food we had consumed these past two days.

Chilling at Union Square Park NYC
Chilling at Union Square Park NYC.

Maybe two hours or so pass, when I desperately needed to find a place to charge my phone—for the other food photography later in the day, of course. Refusing to go to the boring chain that is Starbucks but somehow still craving something to drink, I made the amazing discovery that Saint Alps Teahouse was less than a 10-minute walk from where we were.

When I was here over Thanksgiving, Saint Alps made me fall in love with sesame boba. Since I kept raving about it, my friend ordered that, while I tried the peanut butter milk tea, which was nothing short of amazing.

Peanut butter milk tea from Saints Alp Teahouse in NYC
Peanut butter milk tea from Saints Alp Teahouse, my favorite place for sit-down boba.

As if we weren’t ridiculously indulgent already, by 5, we made our way to meet up a friend at Momofoku Noodle Bar. Dinner service doesn’t begin until 5:30, but by 5:10, a long line was already forming. #NYC

Pork buns from Momofoku Noodle Bar in NYC
The famous pork buns ❤
Spicy miso ramen with poached egg at Momofoku Noodle Bar
Spicy miso ramen with poached egg at Momofoku Noodle Bar.

I could only handle eating about half of my bowl of ramen (my belly can only handle so much), but I can assure you the chicken was among the best chicken I have ever tasted. I was also in awe to see the entire restaurant fill up within minutes of opening. Amazing. Great job, David Chang.

I wish I could say the return home went smoothly, but I had the most uncomfortable experience on the Amtrak back, which I promptly narrated on Facebook. I’ll copy it below, with paragraphs added to prevent a potential mental breakdown, since you somehow made it through this crazy long post (thank you!), but know that this was like a stream-of-consciousness, in-the-moment rant:

Oh, my gosh. I don’t think I’ve ever been in such an awkward and potentially dangerous scenario in my life. While updating my Instagram profile description (AKA doing important things) on an Amtrak back home, a man who reeks of alcohol sits in the empty seat next to me. When the conductor comes by to ask for his ticket, the man asks if he can buy one. $153, the conductor says. The man proceeds to hand him a crumpled bunch of bills, to which the conductor says, “…I can’t accept that.” The man mumbles something about stopping at the next station to “get cash.” The nice conductor says he can do that and then leaves. The man then reaches into his black plastic bag and opens a large can of beer and begins drinking.

Soon enough, he leans over, asks if I want some, and asks for my name. I had paused my music way back when this whole interaction began with the conductor and had yet to play my music again, but I pretend to have trouble hearing as he repeats his question, the strong stench of alcohol wafting my way. Despite considering giving him a fake name, I tell him my real one. Probably having had experience with people like me, he replies, “Thanks for giving me a fake name. I know it’s not Sonia.” Common sense told me not to argue with him, as I wonder how long it would be until the next stop.

A few moments pass. He then starts rambling about wanting to be the president of the United States, having escaped Ecuador. At this point, I’ve already started playing my music again so I really did have trouble hearing. His slurred speech didn’t help. But then I hear something about him wanting to “kill all the *mumblemumble.*” I feel my eyes widening ever so slightly and literally shout internally, “Holy crap.” He drinks some more.

More now-terrifying moments pass. He slurs, “…you so beautiful?” What? “Wh-mumble-you’re so beautiful?” When is this train going to stop?! Twitter. Let’s scroll through some tweets. Occupy myself. “Do you hear me?” I nod silently. Wait, should I have nodded? An agonizingly long time passes until an announcement comes on. FINALLY. “Thanks for ignoring(?) me,” he repeats. Maybe he said listening. Who knows what he said. “I sat next to you because I want to be(?) you(?)/be next to you(?)” Too scared. Too confused at this point. “Goodbye.” “Bye,” I say.

The train comes to a stop. He quite literally stumbles his way up and out. Oh. My. God. I glance around to the passengers across from me. Asleep. Couldn’t even give anyone that look of, “What. The. Hell.” My seat remains empty.

And now, I have less than a week before I pack up, experience the awesomeness that is CES in Vegas, and then have more crazy adventures in the Carribean until my last semester of college begins!

Ladurée macarons

Day 361: Nonstop NYC

Despite having visited NYC over Thanksgiving break and several times over the summer, I can’t seem to stay away.

This time, I joined my friend in the city for a weekend, consisting of exploring the other side of NYC that is Brooklyn by staying at an Airbnb for the first time. EDIT: Just saw the raving review our hosts left for us. I think this about sums the weekend up:

It’s difficult to quantify fun, but Sonia and her friend seemed to have more fun here than just about anybody. They were upbeat, respectful and very pleasant to be around. We would happily have them back any day.

Baltimore Penn Station
Departing from Baltimore Penn Station.
Violinist performs as we take the train to Brooklyn
Violinist performs as we take the train to Brooklyn.

Oh, Brooklyn. All I’ll say is, at least you have $12.95 all-you-can-eat sushi.

Sake Sushi Restaurant in Brooklyn
All-you-can-eat sushi for just $12.95 at Sake Sushi Restaurant in Brooklyn!

Sake Sushi Restaurant in Brooklyn

After checking in to our spacious apartment at what a neighborhood of Brooklyn that Swarm called “Gowanus,” my friend and I decided to head into the city and explore. And by explore, we naturally mean eat.

A red adzuki bean-filled green tea cake at Spot NYC
A red adzuki bean-filled green tea cake at Spot NYC. Not that great.
Nutella waffle at Spot NYC
Nutella waffle at Spot NYC.
CoCo!!!!
CoCo!!!! ❤
Jasmine milk tea from CoCo in NYC
Jasmine milk tea from CoCo!!! ❤ ❤ ❤

And eat.

Display at Ladurée in SoHo
#ARTsy display at Ladurée in SoHo.
Ladurée macarons
Ladurée macarons ❤

And eat.

Stamina soba noodles at Cocoron Soba in NYC
Stamina soba noodles at Cocoron Soba in NYC.

And drink.

Commonwealth bar in Brooklyn NYC
Commonwealth bar in Brooklyn.

It’s a wonder we’re not obese. Yet.

Unicyclist at Centennial Park

Day 360: Five

Unplanned coincidence—there are only five(!) more days of 2014, and I ran five straight miles today at Centennial Park, my favorite place to go for these past four years to run.

On my second lap around the park, a unicyclist sped past me. Naturally, I took photos and even ran faster to keep his impressive pace—until he fell.

Unicyclist at Centennial Park
Impressive unicyclist at Centennial Park.
Unicyclist at Centennial Park
Right before he reached the top and fell.

Selfie at Centennial Park

B! <3

Before going to visit my family friend’s new home in Germantown, we went to Arundel Mills to show our other family friends (holidays = never home alone) the new casino and to shop. But I guess everyone else in Maryland had the same idea, because there was a ridiculous number of people.

Post-Christmas crowds at Arundel Mills food court
Post-Christmas crowds at Arundel Mills food court.
Sunset view from Arundel Mills parking garage
The beautiful sunset view from Arundel Mills parking garage.
Driving with this gorgeous view of the sunset on 95 South
Driving with this gorgeous view of the sunset on 95 South.
Hot pot at family friend's house
Hot pot at family friend’s house.

5. More. Days.

Su family Christmas prep

Day 359: Merry Christmas!

Su family Christmas prep
Su family Christmas prep.
$600 bottle of wine
$600 bottle of wine. NBD. (We didn’t open it and we didn’t buy it for this occasion. Not sure for what.)

Su family Christmas prep

Annual Su family Christmas feast.
Annual Su family Christmas feast.
Snapchat Santa
I love this Snapchat update.
Weekly planner
Without fail. Every. Single. Year.

The only other thing I’ll add is that unlike last year, we did not take a group or family photo this year. I remember how I carried my Canon DSLR around last year like it was my job. This year? Between stealing bites here there downstairs and watching “Parks and Recreation” on Netflix upstairs, I clearly thought I had more important things to do.

Hope everyone enjoyed their celebrations 🙂

Versace perfume and lotion

Day 358: Christmas Eve

Par tradition (does that sound off to you? I can’t figure it out), our friends from Boston are here for Christmas. For lunch, following what every Chinese and Jewish person does, we had Chinese food. Unfortunately, it sucked.

We went to the restaurant my mom first started working at after she immigrated to America, and while it used to be good, there is a reason we haven’t been in a long time.

Hunan Manor Christmas tree
“Worst tree ever,” my mom said.
Chicken satay at Hunan Manor
Only decent dish at Hunan Manor.

Then we went shopping at Costco, where I saw the Jawbone UP and Moto 360 watch that YouTuber Marques Brownlee reviewed recently. Yes, it was necessary to take photos of them.

Jawbone UP at Costco
I totally didn’t know there were different sizes.
Moto 360 watch
The watch from MKBHD’s review on YouTube!

But the “highlight” of the day was my dad dragging me and my friend to the annual Sarku Japan holiday party at a Chinese restaurant, where we had the typical Chinese wedding food and witnessed a raffle for prizes that were all clearly purchased from Costco.

We so clearly did not belong in the room full of Sarku Japan employees, who included a mix of non English-speaking Chinese and Hispanic immigrants, plus family members. Texting our pain and sending photos to my sister throughout helped us survive. She’s hilarious.

:)
🙂
Dad scaring children
Dad scaring children.
SESAME BALLS <3
SESAME BALLS ❤

We returned by 11 p.m., and as midnight came, my family and Boston friends gathered to open presents.

Christmas gifts 2014
🙂
Versace perfume and lotion
Thank you, mommy 🙂

Merry Christmas, readers 🙂

Driving on Baltimore National Pike

Day 357: For #ART

I see #ART so often in life that I don’t even think about the risks when whipping out my phone to take a photo. And I often don’t even think about using said photos for my blog. I just do it out of instinct. To capture #ART whenever possible.

Even when driving in the foggy winter rain.

Driving on Baltimore National Pike
#ART

I think my definition of #ART, whatever that may be, has expanded. Earlier this year, I most definitely would not have thought that a foggy afternoon driving along a boring, typical suburban road would have any artistic or photo-worthy qualities. But throughout the year, I have come to appreciate a lot more in life, and I seriously have Instagram and VSCO Cam to thank—SO much inspiration* on those platforms (@edwardkb, @vdubl@connortd, @kevinwonka, @xcanadian, @mattbg, @nk7, along with some I recently followed, including @trevortht, @rex.m, @vincelsl, and @litely). You can either find or make #ART anywhere. I encourage you to try it.

*Let me know if you would like more recommendations. The ones listed are great to start, especially if you’re interested in Asia 🙂 And really, just explore Instagram’s “Discover” tab. Endless inspiration. Endless works of #ART.