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Blogger Style-Aimee Song in Mother of Pearl coat

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Exploring Boston: Part I

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Fresh from my semester exploring Europe, I vowed to make the most of my final months on the east coast by taking full advantage of the city. In the the last three weeks I’ve left the comforts of Comm Ave and ventured into new parts of Boston. Here are some of my favorite gems I’ve discovered:

Deep Ellum: I discovered this romantic and quaint speakeasy bar and have been back three times since. I fell in love with the classy interior design, friendly and knowledgable staff and nice variety of students and 20-somethings. Ordering new (and tasty) foods I splurged on the pork belly, duck confit, gorgonzola fries and hot buttered rum. The hot buttered rum (Santa Teresa Reserva rum, Butter, brown sugar) was the closest thing to butter beer and I was instantly transported into JK Rowling’s imagination. 

Ariana Restaurant: Instead of my usual Thai food favorites, I ventured to try Afghanistan cuisine. I ordered the Kofta Challow (beef meatballs with sun dried tomatoes) and Kaddo (baked pumpkin with garlic yogurt and ground beef sauce). The indulgent meal was hearty, wonderfully comforting and the savory flavors stayed in my mind hours after the meal was over. 

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum: My friends and I decided to check out the new wing in this museum and instead spent a few hours wandering the halls and garden of the museum. While sipping on free hot coco, we ignored the howling snowstorm and lazily walked around the lush greenery and admired Isabella’s art collection.

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Aquarium and Legal Seafood: Pretending to hide among the hundreds of toddlers who pressed their noses to the glass fish tanks, Steph and I shelled out the money to spent a few hours at the Aquarium. We  loved seeing the colorful jelly fish and 90-year-old turtle. We finished our afternoon by splitting Clam Chowder and Lobster Bisque at Legal Seafood.

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Museum of Science: Undiscovered Worlds Nighttime Planetarium: My friend surprised me and got us tickets to see the 8:30pm showing of Undiscovered Worlds: The Search For Our Sun. Laying back on comfy chairs, we faced the circular celling and watched the stars expand and contract. I was transported out of Boston’s smoggy skies into a foreign universe full of stars and planets. Definitely one of the best museum exhibits I’ve seen in Boston (runner-up is Chihuly Glass Exhibit last year at MFA).

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Year in Review and Goals

2011 was an exciting year full of growth and new changes. Professionally, I matured in leaps and bounds as I learned about global communications and technology in Silicon Valley and Europe. Emotionally, I learned how to live in a foreign environment outside my comfort zone. Physically, I started seriously exercising and trying exotic foods (pigeon, goat, rabbit, buffalo). So much of my growth is still unrealized and the anticipation for my future has reached new heights. 

Short-term 6-month goals for Boston:

  • Language: learn code (javascript, HTML), strengthen Spanish on BU Rosetta stone (2x a week)
  • Media: Blog once a week, allocate reading the news into 15 min periods, don’t keep Twitter open all-day
  • Health: get to 7:30min mile, remove bread from diet
  • Music: Learn 1 new secular song each week on the guitar, learn 3 new finger picking patterns, develop stronger fingers so I can remove my capo, attend four concerts per month 
  • Judaism: attend 2 Meor/Hillel lectures per month, go to Rabbi Loketch’s dinner once a month

Long-term Goals:

  • Associate more songs with moments. Keep my music personal to me
  • Become more detail-oriented
  • Manage time efficiently / Don’t over-commit
  • Utilize 4-day weekend by exploring the east coast (visit Miami, NYC)
  • Strengthen friendships
  • Show appreciation for little things
  • Look for every opportunity to make a new connection and friend
  • Display less sheer enthusiasm and become more business-friendly

Thought Catalog: 20 New Year’s Resolutions For 20-Somethings

“Find a way to save approximately 300 dollars and spend it on a flight to see a friend or family member who lives far away.”

AV Club: New Year’s pop-culture resolutions 2010  (Nathan Rabin)

“I’d like to be unplugged a whole lot more. I spend way too much of my time online, indulging my compulsions, so I think it would be lovely, if quixotic, to try to spend as much time away from my Apple Overlord as possible. Also, I’d like to fill in some of my pop-culture blind spots, namely reading fiction, going to plays and reading poetry.”

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Bonjur Paris

A few weekends ago I traveled to the city of lights: Paris. Waking up at 4am, my friends and I boarded a 6:30am EuroStar train to Paris, France.

Next I enjoyed a delicious coffee in a small cafe off a cobbled street. As we explored the small side-streets of Paris I helped myself to a delicious chocolate crepe.

Next we walked over to Notre Dame. The gorgeous cathedral was juxtaposed by the scary gargoyles. Nothing like the cute characters from the Disney movie.

 

 

After a delicious dinner of french onion soup and creme bulee…

As the sky dimmed, the city came alive. After a romantic ferris wheel ride, we walked to the Eiffel Tower. For the first time in my life, I saw why Paris comes alive in the evening – the dim lighting set against historic landmarks, romantic couples strolling around eating baguettes – I was breathless.

 

 

The next morning, we awoke very early to get in line at the Lourve. While the Mona Lisa was nice to see, it was a little underwhelming. We spent around three hours in the Lourve, I wish we could have spent the day wandering around looking at all the ancient portraits and artifacts.

Next we walked along the Avenue des ChampsÉlysées filled with lots of high-end designer shops. While window shopping I carefully listened to the variety of international accents and dialects. At the end of the street towered the Arc de Triomphe which honors those who fought and died for France in the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars. All the names of all French victories and generals were inscribed on its inner and outer surfaces.

That night for our final meal, while I ordered delicious mozzarella pasta, Christina ordered tartare raw beef!

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Madrid: Viva la fiesta

This past weekend I flew to Madrid, Spain! By far, it was the most relaxing, delicious, culturally diverse and magical weekend I’ve had during my semester abroad.

Christina and I arrived at Tasmin’s late Friday night. After dropping our bags, Tasmin shared delicious Manchego cheese and bread. Using this rare opportunity to catch up face to face with one of my closest friends, we reminisced on our incredible summer at Yahoo! and recent tech news. Once we got it out of our systems, I took pleasure in purging myself from all work related topics for the remainder of the weekend-fully embracing the city and Spanish culture. Contrasted to London’s fast-pace business and theatre culture I’ve been surrounded by lately, Madrid was a healthy dose of relaxation and warm weather.

Friday night Tasmin invited us to an apartment party with some of her Spanish friends. Upon entering the apartment, I was greeted by 8 Spanish boys kissing me on both cheeks and speaking animatedly in Spanish. I suddenly realized for the 100th time this semester – America is not the center of the world and it is my duty to become a knowledgable global citizen, continuing to learn and interact with the world around me.

Straight out of one of my Menlo Spanish class assignments, attending this party forced me to brush up on my Spanish skills.  I was surprised how much Spanish I accurately remembered. Asking questions like “what TV shows do you watch?” “what are your favorite Spanish foods?” “what are you studying in university?” seemed to dominate our conversations. Ironically, the boys seemed eager to try out their sparse English with Christina and me. But by using hand motions and exaggerated faces, we discovered a humorous mix of our conversation topics.

The next morning, Tasmin took us to a local coffee shop to try a typical Spanish tortilla and coffee. I was skeptical to enter this run-down shop, but instantly changed my mind after digging into delicious potatoes and eggs covered in  two types of salsa.

Next, we took the metro to the center of the city and leisurely walked around for a few hours. Taking advantage of the warm Spanish sunshine, we stayed outdoors while my happiness continued to escalate.


All the while, I noticed a slight change in Tasmin’s demeanor. In the summer months at Yahoo!, we ran around Sunnyvale, inhaling coffee, attending meetings and constantly chatting about the future of technology. But in Madrid, Tasmin easily fell into the relaxed pulse of the city. I watched her casually mimic everyone around her; strolling around Madrid, sitting and smiling. Even our customer service was laxidazical and calm. No one seemed to be in a rush to get anywhere or do anything for that matter. Some small part of me realized that life in London and Boston’s quick paced city has changed me –  and maybe I could use a dose of warm weather living.

While continuing to be a perfect tour guide and translator, Tasmin brought us to the most amazing market. Indulging ourselves, we slowly devoured creamy salmon and caviar, red wine, and 8 different types of cheeses. turning to the sweets section, we split a rich macaroon, chocolate cake and caramelized pine nuts. Continuing to people watch and stroll around the small side streets and cobble stones, we ended the afternoon by enjoying ice-cold glasses of Sangria.

That night we went to a “posh club” in the center of Madrid. We left Tasmin’s apartment at 1am and didn’t return until 5:30am!

On Sunday we walked around a huge outdoor flea market “El Rastro”. Then we had a delicious tapas lunch. Shrimp, mushrooms, foi gras, duck, vegetables, jam, carmelized onions all covered in cheese on toasted bread. Next, slowly dipped sugared churros in liquid chocolate. (Photos speak for themselves) Finally, we concluded our perfect weekend by walking through the El Retiro park, gazing at the lakes sparkling reflection and breathing in the warm air.

Much thanks to Tasmin for sharing her abroad world.

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Rediscovering my guitar in London

After a particularly busy Monday, I came home to my London flat and had a sudden urge to play guitar. Borrowing a gorgeous steel string from a kid on my floor, I excitedly hurried to my room to practice.

But I immediately discovered, I was rusty. My fingers fumbled. My hand cramped. The lag time between thinking a note and playing it dragged on an extra second. Surprised, I realized that in this last month of starting my internship, traveling foreign countries and studying for my PoliSci class, I had pushed aside one of my favorite activities and lost some of my treasured skills. Loud and clear, this was a physical indicator that I need to slow down and take some time to myself to rediscover my passions. Exiting my browser’s TedTalks and SlideShare, I spent last night learning an old-time favorite: Regina Spektor’s classic “Us”.


http://youtu.be/xzrC72Xv6pE
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Halloweekend in Dublin

Over Halloween weekend, I traveled to Dublin, Ireland! Arriving late Friday night, my friends and I ventured into Temple Bar area and I drank my first Guinness beer. Little did I know it would be my first of many Guinness’ over this weekend.

On Saturday I visited the famous James Joyce bridge and the actual Guinness factory. The entire factory store was structured around a six-layer glass beer mug. Learning about the beer creation process, we made our way up to the Millenium Bar on the top level, drinking a pint while gazing into the 360-degree surreal view over-looking the entire city of Dublin.

After the Guinness factory, my friends and I went on a Halloween pub crawl around Dublin.  As typical Americans, we dressed in cute outfits (Hadley and I were bunnies). Thinking we had the perfect costumes, we were surprised to see that everyone in Dublin (and Europe I soon learned) did not have the same idea of  a Halloween costume. Blood-soaked monsters, knives in skulls, skin falling off mummies bodies and horrifying makeup. No “Mean Girl” cats or bunnies to be seen. A few times I glanced around the street in pure shock, clearly mistaken I was in some sort of Euro-trip horror movie! I didn’t take any photos but here are similar images.

{taken by Christina’s amazing high-resolution camera]

At one of the Irish pubs, I filmed a classic Irish folk-tune “Molly Molone.” notice the leader of the band is a flutist!

The next morning we took a short trip to Howth, Ireland; a small fishing village. The moment we stepped off the bus, a the sharp sea air washed over me. Since it was my first time seeing the ocean in months, I’ll admit I was a little homesick for my Bay Area summers in Half Moon Bay and Pacifica. We leisurely walked around the ocean shore, admiring the splashing waves and small sailboats. It was one of the first times I was happy I didn’t have 3G on my phone, completely at peace with my surroundings and unattached from the world.

{taken by Christina’s amazing high-resolution camera]