San Diego: Coronado

I’ve been contemplating how I should arrange this post. Only two days were spent in San Diego, yet I have enough stories and pictures to last a lifetime. Since my trip was so fascinating, life changing, and beyond breathtaking, I decided to make a mini San Diego series (with a Tijuana post, of course).

Before going to San Diego, my opinions on the city were limited. After visiting the main cities in North Cal, I assumed South California would have the same characteristics. Boy, was I wrong. San Diego was my first South Californian city to visit. It was also the first time I actually felt like I was IN California. Everything I had ever dreamed of coming to this State was present this weekend in San Diego. The array of palm trees everywhere I went, the glowing beaches, and the bright blue skies made me feel like I was living a California dream. As of now, I officially know that California is HOME for me.

Like many of my other posts, this one is heavily pictured.

San Diego Sky ViewViews From The Plane
Processed with VSCO with fs4 presetBig Breakfast

While the weather in Sacramento has been rainy the past few weeks (winter has finally hit California), San Diego was fairly sunny. Sunny enough for this Canadian native to jump into a bikini and hit the beach. With so many beaches to choose from, I didn’t know where to go first. Which beach is the best one, I wondered. With our hotel being only a few minutes away from Coronado, we decided to go there.

The walk to Coronado was magnificent. This is where I began seeing California for the surreal State it is. There is something about the layout of this area that appealed to me. I felt like I was in an episode of One Tree Hill. I’m in California, I thought. The little girl inside of me that always dreamed of moving here was feeling all giddy. I’m ACTUALLY in California!

Processed with VSCO with kk1 presetProcessed with VSCO with kk1 presetViews From The Street

I adore beaches. The heat, the sand, and the positive vibes surrounding me were gratifying. I sank my bare feet into the warm ground and felt the adrenaline slowly move up my body. I froze up like a mannequin. This beach, here in Coronado, was where I was supposed to be. In that moment, I felt almighty. I felt safe. I can be philosophical about my experience, but I see no point. I think moments like these make you realize your interconnection to the universe. You finally see yourself and your experiences for what they mean. This moment made me understand that I am taking the right path in my life. Sure, career wise I do not know where a Journalism degree might take me. But, I now know what it takes to make myself happy.

IMG_0035IMG_0036IMG_0037Views From The Beach

And here I am, feeling comfortable and happy with myself. It’s so weird how your body and soul work. When you feel good mentally, you begin to feel good physically. San Diego was truly a life changing experience. I hope you all stay tuned for this mini series!

School Blues

I have so many issues with people who constantly complain about school. And yes, I totally understand coming from a Middle-Upper class, European-Canadian home, I do hold privilege in the education institution. Curriculums have been catered to my upbringing and I recognize the incorrectness in this. 

However, I am a first-generation immigrant and was the first person in my immediate family to graduate high-school and receive a bachelors degree. My family’s lack of education has constantly pushed me to continue mine. 


Catholic school, private school, studying abroad in Italy, university (both in Canada and America), and soon-to-be graduate school… I have been granted an education, IN A FIELD I LOVE, that many people only dream of. I am grateful for this. One day, I will share the knowledge I have obtained with others.

As a journalism and women’s studies student, I am bombarded daily with assignments, essays, and articles to write. Oh and did I mention that I need to stay up-to-date with current event stories from all over the world? This isn’t to devalue any other major, but I complete way more assignments than the average college student.

Sometimes I wish that my programs would consist of only two exams and one major assignment. This is the standard course load I see in a lot of other majors. But, these were the degrees I chose. And, I have no regrets.

I love school. I would chant it from the top of the CN Tower in Toronto if I could. Sure, those late nights writing 20 page papers were brutal at times. But, I’ve been dreading graduating university ever since I was in Preschool. The end came so soon. How, in the matter of months will I be done 2 university degrees? Sure, I can probably prolong my degree. Take a 5th year, mess around and take a bunch of random courses. But, I’m already taking an extra semester I don’t really need. For what? To boost my already high average into a perfect 4.0. Is that really necessary? Nope, not at all.

This isn’t to brag about my knowledge. Everyone is smart in their own way. But, I saw something the other day that completely disheartened me. And it was this…

It’s so easy to claim you hate school when a big assignment is due. School is indeed stressful at times. But, if you’re constantly going to complain about your workload, skip class, or put in the bare minimum… You should not be in school. School, isn’t for everyone.

My issue arises because I acknowledge that school is a privilege. My parents were unable to receive an education because of familial and economic reasons. Though that was over 30 years ago, these inabilities to access education still occur today. Before you complain about hating school, think of all the individuals who were and still are unable to receive the same opportunity you have been given.

People are denied an education because:

  1. They simply cannot afford it
  2. They have familial duties (Usually tied in with economic inability)
  3. There are no education facilities in their local area
  4. They have disabilities & the society does not want to accommodate them
  5. They are a woman (Usually tied to poor sanitation and lack of menstrual accommodations)
  6.  AND MORE

So please, if learning really is a burden for you, either think twice about your position of privilege or simply question whether a higher education is right for you. As I stated previously, school isn’t for everyone.

UC Berkeley

Ah, the search for graduate school continues. My undergraduate life is coming to an end (CRYING), but a new chapter is about to begin. The big question is… What graduate school should I go to? I need to attend a school that caters towards my program, needs, and views.

Any answers are much appreciated! 

Screen Shot 2017-11-02 at 2.29.27 PM

  • Hoping to get a Master’s in Journalism
  • Want to take elective courses related to my Women’s Studies Minor, like International Relations topics
  • Political views are pretty Liberal, but I want a campus where freedom of speech and opinion is welcomed
  • Even though I’m a graduate student, I still want that college feel
  • I’m a sucker for beautiful architecture
  • I want to be surrounded by hard-working, intelligent people

Now onto the whole reason I wrote this blog post… My trip to UC Berkeley! Berkeley has always been a possible graduate school option for me. It’s renowned for its competitive acceptance rate and academic opportunities. I’ll admit, this university has some outstanding reviews from students, faculty members, and visitors. However, I didn’t realize how well suited this campus was for me until I visited.

The Campus

Processed with VSCO with f1 preset

Animal Rights Protest in Place

IMG_0427

Sather Tower (The Campanile)

Library

The Social Life

Work and Social balance is extremely important to me. Even though my academics always come first, I make time to explore and have fun. For a school that is home to some of brightest students in the world, this campus sure knows how to party! I had a wonderful time celebrating Berkeley’s alumni weekend at both a Fraternity party and the Football game (GO BEARS)!

IMG_0429

Fraternity Party

IMG_0433

Outside The Fraternity House

IMG_0435

Football Game

Whether I end up going to Berkeley or not, I had an amazing experience learning about the school’s traditions, cultures, and history. I think fate will definitely lead me to the graduate school that is right for me.

Special shoutout to Serena for giving me a personal tour of the campus!

Yilei Xiao: From China to California

Yilei Xiao is an international, exchange student from Zhejiang in China. She is studying Interior Design at Sacramento State. Back home, at Nanjing Tech University she studies Landscape Design. 


Where in China are you from?

East of China… It’s called Zhejiang.

What do you miss most about China? 

My parents and my grandma. The hours are different by 15 hours. It’s kind of like they are in my tomorrow. I’m still in their yesterday. It’s more than half a day a part.

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

Why did you decide to come to America for exchange?

Because I want to see different cultures and to learn English. As a transfer student, we only have transfer programs to America. There are over 50 universities I could choose in America. If I fly from China to America, California it’s the closest to my home. I also really like the weather here.

Can I talk about the weather in California. For the past 4 months, it has only rained once.

Why do you think it’s important to learn English?

I think it’s interesting to communicate with different people from different countries.

IMG_9891

Have you had culture shock here?

Nearly everything is different. For example, in class it’s so strange that people can leave before class is over. Back in China, teachers think it’s impolite to leave before class is done. Here, no one cares about what you do. And obviously the food here is really different.

Oh and people here have high enthusiasm to participate in parties and in sports. Everyone likes to assemble. Also, when I’m walking in the streets here I can say hi to anyone even if we don’t even know each other

What new experience do you want to have while you’re here in America?

I experienced my first sports game here in America. Back home we all know that Americans like sports and people are all really enthusiastic about sports. I just go to the games here and have different experiences because of how passionate these sports fans are.

How can you compare American students to Chinese students?

I never talk much with American students, so I don’t know much about them. During the classes that I have taken, I see nearly most of the students paying attention in lecture. Students in China are always writing their notes by hand. There is an old proverb that says ‘writing can help you memorize things.’ Here everyone writes their notes on their laptops.

There is always a misunderstanding with a lot of Chinese students. There are a lot of students who have a lot of wealth and their families will send them abroad to study and a lot of these students don’t like school. I don’t hang out with these students. I feel like their parents did not give them a proper education. But some of these students are very hard working because studying abroad is an opportunity to cherish. Money sometimes does not equal a good education.

Do you feel scared being an international student in America? 

I rarely go off campus, but when I’m on campus I feel very safe. There are so many people in China. Here sometimes when you walk on the street there are only cars passing by. This kind of situation scares me. I read the news everyday and there is so much bad news here in America of deaths and hate crimes always happening.

I don’t think about my race when I think of safety. I think  you should try your best to obey all the rules in the country you are staying in. Don’t do something that others would get mad at you for.

Are you ever going to come back to America once your exchange is done?

I’m not sure. Maybe for travelling. I want to go back to China. I miss everything about China. I grew up there. I miss my parents; my family. America is so far away from there.

What are your thoughts on the Yulin Dog Meat Festival?

We really hate it. We have a micro blog and we’ll expose the people who hurt animals. When people from different cultures mention that we all eat dogs, we feel a lot of shame about that.

Lake Tahoe

The serenity I feel consuming the phenomena of the physical world is indescribable.

The mountains, lake, beaches, trees, hiking trails, and even city of the Lake Tahoe region took my breath away. Literally, climbing those mountains was tiring. Visiting Lake Tahoe was a MUST on my California bucket list. Partially because of its close proximity to Sacramento, but the landscape is truly a sight to see.

Though we drove around the perimeter of the whole lake, our main excursions were to South Lake Tahoe, Emerald Bay, Tahoma, the StateLine (for the casinos), and Sand Harbor.

I want to keep my words to a minimum and let my photos do the talking.

California Side

South Lake Tahoe

IMG_0420

IMG_0419

IMG_0421

The Nevada Side

IMG_0416IMG_0415IMG_0414IMG_0413Processed with VSCO with f1 presetIMG_0411IMG_0410

Farm To Fork Festival In Sacramento

I had the best weekend! Blog post done.

Just kidding… My weekend in Sac Town was lively. Can you really blame a girl for wanting to share her happiness with the rest of the world? I don’t think so.

One of my roommates wrote in her journal: “Happy thoughts only.” I think this is an important motto to remember when writing. Even though, I still want to share some of my deeper and more emotional thoughts with you, I want my travel section to remain POSITIVE. Looking back at my travelling adventures, I only want to remember HAPPY THOUGHTS.

Friday Night Lights

This section will be short and sweet (you’ll catch my drift in a bit). A typical Friday night for a bunch of college students was in place. You know the type filled with beers, other drinks, food, music, and more beers. A Sacramento pub called Low Brau has officially become a Nicole favourite. That is where we spent our Friday night. The atmosphere there is homey and fun. It’s just what I like. After a couple of drinks and an incentive to explore, we found ourselves stumbling into a dessert diner. Yes, those apparently exist. Giving us total 1960’s feels, we ordered the most delicious milkshakes and sat for a few hours. What a night!

IMG_0328Processed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with q3 preset

Farm To Fork Festival: The Real Fun

Sac Town is apparently America’s Farm-to-Fork Capital (I did not know this). Just like its name, the festival celebrates where the local food comes from. Wearing our comfiest shoes, we spent what seemed like the whole day checking out each local vendor. The free event offered a generous selection of fine food and drinks.

Processed with VSCO with q5 presetIMG_0329IMG_0331

The Food

Heading to the event, it was our intention to buy lunch there. We would find a vendor that appealed to our tastebuds and purchase lunch from them. But, booths were giving out free samples. And of course, I took each free sample I could get. Cheese, bread, fish tacos, pumpkin pie, cookies, and coffee were handed out for free. After devouring what seemed like my 20th free sample, I was full.

To be fair, we did pay for a fun, interactive wine tasting event held at the festival. California wine really is a marvel.

IMG_0333IMG_0332IMG_0330IMG_0334

The culture and community made this event special to me. Back in Toronto, locally grown foods aren’t celebrated or even acknowledged as much. Seeing thousands of people come out to applaud their local food culture was charming and quite inspiring. In a city that is so diverse with national identities, I appreciate the bond the food culture established for the citizens of Sacramento.

Processed with VSCO with q5 presetProcessed with VSCO with q5 presetProcessed with VSCO with q5 preset