Saying Goodbye to 2017

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Wow, it’s been a while since I last checked in here. The last few months of 2017 really flew by, and now that I’m working full time, winter break ends with the new year. Before work picks up again, I wanted to take some time to reflect on the past year and set some new year’s intentions for 2018.

Well, let’s start off with what I said back in January of 2017:

“I hope 2017 will be another year full of happiness, love, and good news. This year, I don’t want to make grand plans to become a new person. I just want to keep growing, but as me. I want to become someone who gives more love, shows more kindness, possesses more courage and confidence, tries new things without fear, and someone who stays busy striving to make each moment meaningful.”

I know, it’s basically impossible to sum up an entire year in a short paragraph, but I think I really tried to stay true to these words. By the end of this year, I got to experience a handful of new adventures and hit some major milestones in my life. I graduated from college and got a master’s degree, and although it’s still hard to believe, passed all of my CPA exams. I moved into a new apartment in Hell’s Kitchen. I spent my first full winter in New York. Although I was apprehensive about being away from my family for the holidays, my Christmas season in New York was rather filled with love and warm spirit.

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But what really made this year meaningful are the relationships and connections that I made with the many great friends that I got to know better throughout the year. I led a small group for another fall semester in 2017 and got to bond with more fellow brothers and sisters throughout the season. I tried to expand and maintain my individual relationships with friends that I have made at different points in my life. Moving from place to place every since I was a little kid, I’ve developed and surrounded myself with a different group of friends each time.  As blessed as I feel to have known so many great friends, I’ve felt that it’s tragically easy to let them just drift away with time. In 2017, I tried to go beyond just texts and simple hellos to developing deeper friendships, and I hope to continue doing so in the new year.

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In 2017, I came to appreciate my family even more. Having my parents visit New York, losing my aunt to cancer, spending a summer with my sister, and spending time with my grandparents back in Seoul all had a tremendous impact on the way that I think about family. I came to realize that the family that I know and grew up with isn’t going to stay the same forever, but the essence of it will always be with me. I now know that it’s important to cherish and appreciate the fun memories, but also work on creating new moments that will one day become warm subjects of nostalgia.

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I thoroughly enjoyed my last semester of being an undergrad student, but I was already studying for my first two CPA exams by then. Then I studied through summer break for my master’s, transitioned to a full-time job, all the while still studying for CPA exams and staying involved at church. This really took a toll on my physical and mental well-being. In late November, I had a really bad case of heart palpitations. I had never experienced heart palpitations before, and the discomfort – and the fear that accompanied it – got to a point where I was lying down under the covers in fetal position, just praying to God that the suffocation and the anxiety would go away. I went through a full physical exam and a cardiology consultation, and since then my condition has improved drastically. But I never realized that the stress was building up inside of me and breaking me down.

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Well, for the new year, I’m just gonna give myself some room to relax, heal, and grow.

My heart scare at the end of this year really was a wake-up call for myself to pay more attention to my health. I kind of let myself go in terms of health for the last half of the year, preoccupied with working and studying, all the while eating junk or eating out. In the new year, I want to feel good and comfortable with my body, both inside and out. I’m doing a January reset diet, where I’m going to avoid:

  • Gluten/white grains
  • Added sugar
  • Dairy
  • Alcohol
  • Processed food

Hopefully this will improve how my body functions, and maybe help with developing healthier habits in the long run.

I’m taking a break from leading small group, and hope to work on becoming closer to God by focusing on my relationship with Him rather than all the logistics that come with being a small group leader. I want my love for God and the love for my church community to spring from myself, not from my responsibility as a leader.

I also want to be creative. Although I am stuck at a desk during the week, I don’t want to be stuck in a rut during the rest of my day. I want to make full use of my free time to create things, produce content, and try new projects. With that in mind, one thing I want to try is cooking at home more often. This really encompasses my personal goals of physical well-being, and hopefully, it will help me save some money as well.

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I also want to read more books. I burned through a few books during the summer, and I remembered how fun it was to be totally immersed in a story inside a book. My goal this year is to finish 12 books, so at least one book per month.

I want to try a challenging activity, whether it be a new sport, artistic endeavor, a new instrument, or a new language.

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I want to give more. The holiday season really made me realize that the gift of giving is a precious and amazing feeling; I want to spend less money and attention on myself and more on others.

I’m sure there will be obstacles, but here’s to hoping that the new year will have a lot more breakthroughs and achievements than there will be hardships.

Cheers!

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A Weekend Away in Chicago!

As you may know, my sister has visited me in New York quite a few times over the past four years. I, however, did not get a chance to visit her in the great midwest until this past weekend. She rode up to Chicago to pick me up, and the two of us met up with our dad, who was making a quick stop in Chicago during a business trip. After a great day in the city with food and fun, we made the trip to my sister’s school in Notre Dame… which turned out to be completely different from my campus (if you can call it one) in downtown Manhattan. Here’s a video of what my weekend was like!

Without further ado, Here’s a video of what my weekend was like!

7 Easy Ways to Make Money

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Life in New York City isn’t all that glamorous for a broke twenty-something.

With Manhattan’s notorious monthly rent and the endless (albeit necessary) takeout coffee, the soaring cost of living can take a toll on your bank account. So today, I wanted to share some easy ways to save money and make some extra change – with very little effort!

 

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1. Be smart with your credit cards.

If you have a credit card, chances are it offers some kind of a cash back deal on your purchases. So I prefer using my credit card for everyday purchases, to the extent that I can safely pay off the bill at the end of the month. Plus, sometimes companies offer special promotions on certain purchases. For example, my Chase credit card will offer extra cash back for drugstore purchases for one quarter, and on restaurant purchases the next quarter; you can stock up on household supplies at the drugstore, or offer to pay the check at a group dinner then have your friends pay you. Other credit cards offer special deals on travel – you can redeem your cash back points for more value when you use them to book a trip. Being savvy with your purchases can earn you extra cash back.

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2. Earn money from online shopping.

In this day and age, most of us do a lot of shopping online, whether it be beauty products, shoes, or household supplies. Websites like Ebates and Honey track your online shopping trips and give you cash back. Honey will also scan the web for any coupon codes when you check out to make sure that you get the benefits of any discounts that are out there (especially useful if you’re a frequent shopper on Amazon). If you use Google Chrome, you can install extensions for these websites to receive notifications when cash back opportunities are available.

3. Take surveys.

In college, the research center at my school used to offer students a chance to take a survey or complete a study in exchange for a couple bucks. You can do the same thing, except it’ll be easier because it’s online! SurveySavvy lets you take surveys for compensation that ranges anywhere from a dollar to $20. InboxDollars also offers surveys for slightly lower incentives, but there are more surveys available. InboxDollars also offers a variety of ways to make some spare change – you can watch videos, answer trivia questions, or search the web to start earning. Speaking of searching the web…

4. Get paid for searching the web.

Along with InboxDollars, Qmee also pays you for your searches. They pull up links to websites or advertisements that you could click through to make anywhere from 5 to 8 cents per click. Cashing out is super easy since you can get paid instantly through PayPal.

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5. Join rewards programs.

If you have shops that you visit frequently, you might want to consider getting a membership card. Stores like Walgreens and Starbucks have rewards programs that offer discounts and free credit as you accumulate points. Downloading LevelUp apps for various restaurants around the city can save you a lot of money during lunch hour. These apps allow you to pay with your phone, and every time you spend a certain amount, you can unlock free credit! Most of them also offer free credit when you first download them. Here is a list of apps that I enjoy using around the city:

Fresh & Co ($3 credit on download)

Bluestone Lane ($5 credit on download)

Sweetgreen ($3 credit on download)

Glaze Teriyaki Grill ($5 credit on download)

By Chloe. ($3 credit on download)

CAVA ($3 credit on download)

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6. Clean out your closet.

I realized during my recent move that I have a lot of clothes and accessories that I don’t wear anymore. There are many platforms online through which you can sell things that you don’t need. EBay is a common one, but if you want an easier way to access your shop, apps like Poshmark are pretty effective. For a small haircut on your sale, Poshmark guarantees payment and also covers shipping. You can interact with potential buyers, share your listings, and track your shipments all from the palm of your hand.

7. Get paid for unlocking your phone screen.

Selling old clothes isn’t the only thing you can do on your phone. S’more literally pays you to move your finger; that’s right, the app pays you to unlock the screen on your smartphone (Sorry iPhone users, this app is currently only available on Android). For each day you keep the lock screen on, the app gives you 10 points. These points can be redeemed for rewards like Google Play gift cards, Starbucks cards, and Amazon gift cards (which is basically cash). S’more also offers opportunities to take surveys or complete offers for extra points.

Hope you enjoyed this list – Happy saving! 🙂

Summer Diaries 2: Moving, Long Talks, and Reading for Fun

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We are already halfway through 2017! I have finished the first batch of summer classes, and although final projects and exams were quite overwhelming, I have been trying to remind myself that tests and school are not the only things in life. The weather has been pretty nice these days, but I can’t decide which is better: a super sunny day that makes me sweat like a waterfall or rainy weather that literally feels like a waterfall.

I spent the first several weeks of class living with my younger sister Lisa. Not only was she a tremendous help when I was in the process of moving out of my apartment that I had lived in for over two years, she really supported me emotionally through all the changes and the tough times I was having recently. Being just two years apart, I feel like she has been kind of like my best friend. Yes, we fight nonstop, especially when we are physically together. But we spend way more time laughing at stupid things and having each other’s back. That’s just how siblings work, right?

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Lisa and me in our kindergarten years, cheesing with Grandma at a resort back in Korea. I remember those dresses were custom-made to match.

 

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Summer Diaries 1: Graduation Week!

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I’ve always strived to be good – to ace that test, run the race, to find the answer. But I had never really thought about my life as a whole. Who am I, and where am I going?

In May 2017, I was officially finished with my undergraduate education! I was especially excited to have my family here to celebrate this joyous occasion with me. But having my parents and my sister stay in my measly midtown apartment wasn’t so easy. ‘This week was supposed to be about me’, I thought. I had successfully completed four painstakingly arduous years of college education away from home, and now it was time to honor that. But as the week went by, I was starting become tired down by the constant need to satisfy my parents’ jetlagged, awkwardly-timed hunger, both for food and visiting attractions in New York City. On top of that, I was in the process of moving out of my apartment, so I couldn’t even find where anything was amongst the storm that was the disarray of suitcases and clothes. Disoriented and stressed out from having to play the tour guide… There I was, kindling a love-hate relationship with my family all inside my own head.

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The night before my all-university commencement day, I suddenly realized that this week wasn’t about celebrating my achievements. In fact, this was all thanks to my mom and dad. They had poured their support and resources into my education and to helping me study what I wanted to pursue in life. I had been so preoccupied with getting the attention that I did not even deserve that I’d totally been ignorant of how thankful I should be for my parents. Truthfully, sometimes it’s the people who are the closest and most precious to you that you find the hardest to be grateful for.

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Ancolie: Jars Galore!

I am back with a café discovery! I occasionally walk by this spot on my way to class and decided to give it a try with a friend. The cafe has two to three small tables, nicely decorated with succulent pots and bright lighting. The overarching theme of the cafe seemed to be the reusable jars that they sell their food items in (even the wifi password had a witty touch related to jars!). Soy and coconut milk options are available for coffee drinks – kind of sad that they didn’t have almond milk, but the coffee tasted good nonetheless. Plus, the service was amazing – the staff was very kind.

 

I loved the idea of the food and beverage items being in glass jars. On my visit one morning to grab a quick breakfast and coffee, I picked up a matcha chia pudding, of course in a jar! I actually got to bring the jar home with me, and I’m planning on making my own little parfaits in the little glass container.

The cafe is located just off of Washington Square west on 8th street. If you want to find a spot to chat with a friend or just someplace to get some work done without having to fight for a table at Starbucks or Think Coffee, this is the spot for you.

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58 W 8th St New York, NY 10011

 

Spring Break in Cancun!

Last week during spring break, I went on my very first tropical vacation to Mexico with my friends! It was truly one of the most amazing trips I’ve ever had. I was able to escape the major snowstorm that hit New York and enjoy beautiful summer weather instead… I’m already missing the ocean breeze and the unlimited pina coladas!

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