Nereo and Michelle’s California summer vacation turned proposal!

A little late, but I finally finished editing mine and Nereo’s travel video from June 2018. I really enjoyed going down memory lane. We took on California for Chico State’s Asian Christian Fellowship’s 50-year reunion. (Why Chico? More about that here) We met up with family in Walnut Creek, then went to San Francisco and Napa Valley with dear friends. Enjoy our highlights, plus our proposal in the middle 🙂 One of the best days yet…

This was all filmed on a GoPro! Editing videos for personal pleasure is soothing when I can go at my own pace. I foresee this happening more often. Stay tuned for more of our documented travel adventures in the very near future!


“Freshman year” of life

Do you remember going to college for the first time? I do, given it wasn’t THAT long ago, in the grand scheme of things. As a freshman, you’re a wide-eyed sponge, taking in every moment. It’s the most exciting, and nerve wracking moment of your life. Nothing is more important than going out and meeting people.

Me with my randomly assigned freshman roommate-turned best friend in our dorm, where many laughs were shared, and all wall space was to be covered by sticky notes, posters, and Sheldon.

You sign up to join nearly 100 organizations, thinking you have time for everything. (Freshman year you do, but Sophomore year reminds you studying is a thing, and the reason you came to college in the first place). Living in a 130 sq. ft. dorm room with a stranger, sharing a communal bathroom with 20 other girls was actually exciting. You let go of things in your past and welcome new adventures with open arms and a lot of faith.

I paint this nostalgic picture to say I feel like I’m in my “freshmen year” of life. It’s been a year and a half since I graduated college, and I’ve learned so much more than I thought I would. There are things I didn’t know I didn’t know. In the past year and a half I started my career, got in my first car wreck, bought a car, bought a house, and got engaged! Life has not slowed down recently. But I can handle it. Everyone who knows me knows I hardly slow down and I’ve been accused of not knowing how to relax. Working on that.

I grew tremendously in college in just four years. I embraced my Chinese half that was too-long neglected, and grew to make my faith my own, rather than a product of my upbringing. In post-grad, I’ve grown more confident as a person. Thoughts of comparison no longer consume me. With more responsibilities and accountability, I’ve learned to prioritize quality time with friends, family, and my fiancĂ©, because life is precious and fleeting.

In college I had to develop new study habits, hold myself accountable, take better notes, manage my time, and initiate meetings with my professors. Now, I’m learning to have more discipline to reach personal goals.

35480944_10215447426034533_377936798262755328_o (1)
Getting swole

Ever since signing up for a gym membership a year ago with Nereo, I’ve learned a lot about weights and machines. I never thought I’d be okay with lifting weights alongside buff men, and possibly being the only lady in view. But 9/10 that’s the case, and I’m content with that. It takes time, consistency, and the right fuel to tone and build muscles, the same ingredients needed to learn a second language.

That’s right. This fairly new weightlifting hobby has helped me apply the same discipline to other things in life. I’ve been wanting to learn Mandarin Chinese for awhile now, mainly to communicate with my relatives. I wasn’t exposed to classes until Sophomore year in college. Ever since, it’s been a dedication roller coaster. Some days, I’ve given up. Other days, my longing to be fluent is so strong, it hurts. I often revisit memories from my visits to China. Connecting with my relatives for the first time was incomparable to any other experience.

Grandpa Zhu teaching me character strokes

They wanted to connect with me just as bad I wanted to connect with them. Despite a heavy language barrier, moments were treasured and a desire was ignited to fill in the gaps, make up for lost time, and learn another part of me. For about a month now, I’ve started my morning listening to Mandarin on YouTube as I get ready for work. Just being exposed to Mandarin audio has made a difference. If I want to develop a stronger relationship with my Chinese family, I have to keep up the practice. After all, learning a language is a matter of how much you want. Likewise, if I want a toned butt, bulging biceps, and a chiseled back, I’m going to have keep at it in the gym.

The day I said “yes” to forever (6/24/2018)

It feels good to have something to work toward, just like I was working toward that college degree. I had to figure how to be “college student Michelle”. Now, I’m learning who I am as “young professional, home-owning, soon-to-be wifey Michelle”. Along the way, I’m meeting people who impart their wisdom. There are those who’ve never left, and continue to see the best in me. There are those whose friendships are, no doubt, long-lasting, with some belly laughs sprinkled in. I very much look forward to this wedding, and to be Nereo’s wife. Life decisions will involve more “we’s” than “I’s”. It will be the adventure of a lifetime. And one thing will always remain: I have faith in God that He will stay true to His promise to steer us onto greater things than we could ever imagine.

“Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another and all the more as you see the day approaching” Hebrews 10:24 

A piece of this five-month-old reporter’s mind

One of my old instructors from freshman year reached out to me recently, asking if I could come speak to his class of 130 broadcast journalism freshmen. I was flattered and overwhelmed at the thought of speaking in front of a classroom. I remember being in their shoes not too long ago and now I’m expected to give my professional insight. Whoa.

So I’ve been thinking about what my perspective has to offer. A few talking points came to mind as I was watching “Humans of New York” episodes on Facebook, for some reason. When creativity sneaks up, exploit it! …even if it’s past bedtime. I quickly jotted my ideas down, knowing I’d otherwise forget tomorrow. That quickly turned into blog-post material. It’s been awhile since I last posted here so why not? I found I write better when I “word vomit” and let it all out without thinking too much. So what started as a speech outline, is now a blogpost. I consider this a look into how I’ve developed as a professional journalist. It’s been five months since I started the job as a reporter/multimedia journalist for WACH FOX News in Columbia, SC. I have learned and developed personally and professionally for the better.
Here’s a piece of my mind when it comes to my career. Thoughts are a bit choppy:

I am in the field of journalism because it’s a different adventure every day. It feels good to be in an industry that thrives off creativity, expression and human connection.

There’s always room for improvement and learning new tricks, even for those who have been in the business for awhile. Technology and demands of the viewer are constantly changing.

It requires talking to people you normally wouldn’t talk to on a regular basis. The conversations I have are enlightening, empowering, inspiring, and eye-opening. Sometimes they’re disheartening, discouraging, the kind that puts you in a bad mood for a few hours.

The good outweighs the bad.

My experience so far has been outstanding. My coworkers are my teammates, ready to help right away, beating the unpredictability of technology together.

The most rewarding part of this job? When it’s evident people appreciate me telling their story.

Most memorable parts for me so far? Reporting the solar eclipse from the Riverbanks Zoo, capturing a historical moment people will talk about for many, many years to come.
Telling stories during the hurricane season, alerting others of what’s being done to help our neighbors desperate for help, thus spreading empowerment.

And boy, I’ve learned so much. I’ve gotten more comfortable with live shots, writing, editing video, how to conduct myself professionally.

The support I’ve found from professional Facebook groups has made a positive difference. They’re reassuring and educational.
I’ve gotten a lot of work dresses from “Newscaster’s Closets”! (The struggle with upgrading my wardrobe from “college” to “big girl” has been real)
Find those groups. Read what people are posting, whether it’s stories they’ve covered or advice. (lots of job postings too!)

Become part of the story you’re telling. Find someone or some aspect of the story you can connect with. From there, presenting the story in a compelling way will be a breeze and viewers will sense your authenticity.

Smiling at the end of your standup makes a difference, if it makes sense with the context. Viewers like smiles.

Not everyone will like or agree with what you’re covering and they’ll make it known. Politely remind them the stories you cover don’t reflect who you are. You can’t always control what you’ll cover. And you’ll soon realize other peoples’ two cents don’t have a chance of putting a dent in your thick skin.

This job also teaches you how to prepare healthy meals on-the-go. Looking decent with heels while carrying equipment around town calls for quick nutrition! This list is my favorite right now (17 high-protein meals you don’t need to reheat):

Big picture? I consider myself absolutely blessed to be able to tell stories for a living. Telling impactful stories means connecting with people on a personal level. Building trust. Keeping the community moving forward. I will forever owe a huge thanks to my news director for taking a chance on a graduate fresh out of college and for seeing potential in me.

I heard from a professor that overcoming the hurdle of getting a first job is the hardest part and things get easier from there. I’m excited to see what my good Lord has in store for the upcoming years.

I saw a post from one of the aforementioned Facebook groups in which another young journalist shared a quote from Henry Luce: “I became a journalist to come as close as possible to the heart of the world”.

That says it all.

Mindfulness and Fulfillment

These two words, mindfulness and fulfillment, have been ringing in my thoughts lately. A recent email I received defined mindfulness as: a practice that enhances your ability to be able to bring yourself in the present and step back from the “noise” that can affect how you experience the people and situations around you. It allows you to gain perspective, so that you’re responding to situations intentionally, instead of based on knee-jerk reactions.

That email served as a reminder to remain mindful of the people around me and be in the moment. We’re all familiar with being stuck in our phones, scrolling to the next Corgi or recipe video.

According to my Timehop, I posted this photo three years ago and am still intrigued by it. It’s an accurate portrayal of how we allow social media take away valuable time.

I’m also reading a book that talks about fulfillment. Christian Author Jennie Allen said it well: “To prove yourself a committed follower of Jesus, you APPARENTLY need to have a stable job in the right field, be registered for the proper political party, have the appropriate friends, and a modest savings account. God forgive us for suggesting that fulfillment comes more from the life we build here than in the life that waits for us with Him. We are utterly sick from self-absorption…Somehow we miss that the most exciting, fulfilling rush of an experience comes in following the spirit of God.”

What Jennie was getting at is that Jesus promises fulfillment. It isn’t found in the things the world prizes. True fulfillment means we have the ability to live present in both positive and negative experiences.

15542317_10210521051998261_7459855638732690780_nA couple of weeks ago, after finals week, I went on a disaster relief trip in lower SC with college students from all over the state to help victims of the recent Hurricane Matthew. For five days, students remained UNPLUGGED from their phones. Granted, we were busy working 8 a.m.-6 p.m. and were exhausted at dinner time. But there was something cool about fully being present, knowing everyone’s minds were in the same place, as we chatted, laughed, and bonded after a day’s work. It was different from the world we’d return to after the trip. otyxnxpbtoq-brooke-lark

Jesus set a good example. He lived with peaceful joy. He lived fully. He created
unforgettable moments and enjoyed the people around Him. One of my favorite passages is when Jesus made breakfast. Yep, BREAKFAST was prepared by JESUS, the savior of the world. In John 21, it says, “Jesus said to them (his disciples), ‘Come and have breakfast.'” It’s simple but there’s something sort of awesome about Jesus partaking in a simple human need; He made breakfast, which I imagine was delicious, for those he cared about. Jesus took pleasure in making food, the thing that has always brought people together.

I keep revisiting these words and experiences over the past few days, so I wanted to record them in blog-form.

This post could perhaps be inspiration to be mindful and strive for fulfillment in Christ, but it’s mainly a challenge to myself for later down the road. I’ve found myself praying for peace and joy lately, both of which result from where time and energy is spent. In striving to use Jesus’ examples and not conform to the world, I want to give more of myself (my presence and attention), rather than focusing on excessive consumption of temporary things. I want to be with my people and scroll less. I want to prioritize time in my bible. I want to want God more. I want to not be addicted to my phone (because I am). I want to listen to my people. I want to choose God over this world daily.



“If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.” –C . S. Lewis 

Progress report: high school senior to college senior



I recently had to submit this report for a class assignment. I’m a fan of keeping a record of accomplishments and goals, so I decided to also publish it as a blog post. It entails my journey of learning and experiences relating to my career goal.

Discovering what I wanted to commit the next four years to
Many college students choose their majors because it’s the field their parents want them to pursue. Some choose a generic major while deciding more specifically what they want to study. There are those who have known for a long time what they want to study. For me, I didn’t always know, but an experience I had senior year of high school made it clear. I was part of the school news show, called “3ns”, standing for the No Name News Show. What made it so wonderful was that the entire school—students, faculty and staff alike—looked forward to the Friday morning segments, live shows, and seasonal school-wide lip dubs. It all wouldn’t have been possible without the mastermind behind the show—Mr. Joel Gray, a journalism alum of the University of South Carolina.

The lovely 2013 3ns crew at our end of the year banquet

There were many mornings brainstorming, putting our brains together to get creative juices flowing. The small group of students who put the show on found their niches; I found, for the first time, that I was comfortable with and enjoyed being in front of a camera. Having grown up as a shy, quiet girl made my time in 3ns one of discovery and cultivation. And that’s what led me to choose broadcast journalism as a career path. I can recall when video cameras were intimidating and video editing was a daunting task. I didn’t know where to begin when it came to finding a story and telling it digitally. But as a college senior, I have gained confidence in those areas and have been able to produce digital content younger me would have been blown away by. I attribute such development to training by my wise, skillful professors and peers who share the same values and challenge one another.


Already, I am a semester away from graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism. In my early college years, I got used to telling people “I hope to be a reporter, traveling around and capturing the best stories”. This idea was just that—an idea. Now, I have seen what that truly looks like—to be constantly aware of what’s going on in the world, and what it takes to be ready to tell a story in the most effective and visually appealing way possible. My professors say journalism is not a career; it’s a lifestyle. College freshman me probably would have been terrified. But the experiences and opportunities I’ve taken advantage of along the way have allowed me to further my confidence as an upcoming journalist, as discussed below:

Campus Experience

Me interviewing the sheriff at the new university president’s welcoming reception

Spring 2016 I participated in National Student Exchange and spent the semester at California State University in Chico. As a junior, it is ideal to study upper division broadcast courses within the journalism school at South Carolina. However, my advisors made an exception and I made sure to make the most out of my California experience in every way, including journalistically. Before even arriving at the West Coast, I interviewed with the news editor of the The Orion Student Newspaper via skype. I got the position, so as soon as I arrived I was put to work. Writing for a newspaper in a completely new town sometimes had its challenges, but it was also a blessing. I was ahead in knowing what was going on in the community. Remaining on-call every week to report breaking news, live tweeting significant events on campus, including the welcoming reception of the new university president, are ways that writing as a breaking news reporter for the student newspaper made my experience as an exchange student unique, valuable, and exciting.


Back at USC, I have participated in CreateAthon for two consecutive years. CreateAthon is a 24-hour event in which journalism and art students create marketing campaigns for nonprofits in need. In both 2015 and 2016, I was part of the “House Team”, which is responsible for social media, messaging and overall branding of the event. Being a broadcast major, I used my video skills to capture the night. The night was long and lacking sleep was tough in the early morning, but I formed friendships and received valuable guidance as a result of the experience.

2015 CreateAthon House Team discussing our tasks for the next 24 hours


Professional Work Experience
                As I progressed through school, I became more qualified to use my broadcast journalism experience to work in the professional world. The summer after studying in California, I switched gears; instead of telling stories through writing I signed up to tell stories through video, only this time at a summer camp in Missouri.

Having fun before hosting on the green screen for our awards video

As video manager assistant at Kanakuk Kamps, I oversaw six videographers while they created weekly camp videos. I was sent to capture certain camp moments to incorporate them into marketing videos. I also spent a lot of time editing in Adobe Premiere. Even though I had experience under my belt, I still went into that job nervous. But my boss was passionate about his work and was quick to guide his staff to be better in video making. In the end, I was able to produce a touching story of a young international camper from Japan.


As summer came to a close, I was in a phase of internship applying for Fall 2016. It was not foreseen, but I came across a paid video intern posting on the journalism school website for a small pest control company called Terminix. It wasn’t a

The faces behind the camera at the corporate office of Terminx – me and my classmate

news station, but I proceeded in the application process with a “why not?” attitude. I went in for an interview as soon as I came back to campus at USC. I got the job soon after and was pleased to find out I would be sharing the position with one of my broadcast journalism classmates. Every week, we produce in-house training videos for various departments at the corporate office. The semester is already nearly over and I am very satisfied with my experience working for Terminix. It has given me a taste of what it is to work in a small company, one that is very family-oriented.



What’s Next

Within the blink of an eye, I am set to graduate in six months. I can’t deny it is a scary thought. Next spring, I will be in senior semester which means, for the broadcast students, we will dedicate Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. to putting on the Carolina News. We will experience every position that constitutes a newscast—producing, reporting, anchoring, and news directing among other technical tasks.  While in senior semester, I will be steadily searching and applying for reporting jobs in small, local news stations. My goal is to start as a local reporter and then eventually anchor. My ultimate goal is to be a face on a morning show, where peppy and positive topics are discussed.

It is encouraging to remember how I started off and to see how far I’ve gotten. The videos I’ve produced and can show off in my portfolio are tangible proof that I’ve developed as a student journalist and video producer. I think the key to finding opportunities and taking advantage of them is knowing what you are capable of, remembering that if you did one thing, you can do this next thing without a doubt. For me, it was traveling to California and writing for the student newspaper, flying to Missouri to work at summer camp as a video manager assistant, then getting employed at a small company as video intern. With continuous hard work and dedication, I am excited to see what’s next.

California Wrap-up

Four months ago I arrived in Chico, California as a stranger. This born and raised South Carolinian knew no one. I didn’t even realize Northern and Southern California were so culturally different. I was open to any opportunities and new experiences. The town and Chico State campus felt like a maze and life felt like I was living freshman year all over again. I was okay with that. New beginnings are refreshing. And it didn’t take long for the experiences to start rolling in.

This is my reflection of my semester spent in Chico, California. I got involved. I grew in my faith. I made friends and memories. I traveled. I said goodbye in the end, and hello to a new summer journey. I regret nothing, knowing California will always be a sweet, sweet memory.

A lot can happen in four months. I got involved in four different organizations and

thumbnail_image1 (1).jpg
Sarah and I at the end of the semester

made lasting and unique friendships in each of them. I got involved in Christian Challenge, a college ministry that has equipped college students to disciple one another and lead others to Christ. It has built community and helped students find purpose and direction. I was blessed to build special friendships through that ministry. The insight of my friend Sarah, who I met there, was refreshing and thought-provoking. In my short time in Chico, I think it is safe to say Sarah and I helped one another grow. We shared a class, Asian American studies, for which we managed to share a required book. We helped one another with Chinese (her interest sparked from a past mission trip in China, where she and a team are currently serving for a mission trip, round 2!)


Alex and I matching before Challenge one night

Sarah’s roommate Alex, with whom another great friendship was built, challenged me in sharing the gospel. Somehow she kept me laughing. Something about her bluntness and thinking everything was awkward kept our moments together bright. Alex was the very first person I spoke to from Chico. We coordinated transportation from the airport and she and Sarah both made the 1.5 hour drive to pick up a stranger from the Sacramento Airport. As mentioned in my very first California blog, these ladies greeted me with a “Welcome Michelle Zhu” sign. If nothing is more hospitable and welcome than that, I don’t know what is. As the semester progressed, Alex instilled in me strategies and passion for sharing the gospel in practical ways. She helped me and I helped her to have confidence and to reemphasize the urgency of the matter. Alex had a major role in how God changed my perspective in sharing the gospel. I was inspired by her willingness to reach out to other women to strengthen their faith and expand the kingdom. By the way, Alex also drives a white Toyota Camry just like me. So I felt at home when I rode in her car. Alex’s bluntness, humor, and contagious passion for the Lord is missed.


I also got involved in Asian Christian Fellowship. I was eager to find out more about this group from the beginning. Soon after finding out I would be studying at Chico State in the Spring, I began my research of prospective organizations I could get involved in. Deep in the records, I came across ACF. My interest was struck right away since I do love Jesus and I do love Asians. I reached out to them and I got a response from a few student leaders

Last ACF gathering of the Fall semester – 50 total people!

– David and Marlon. (Yeah, I’m a little proactive when it comes to starting anew and getting involved.) Once I was was able to put faces to names, it didn’t take long for me to grow to appreciate the ministry of ACF. We met at a couples’ home, who had met at ACF years ago. David was always diligent with transporting me and others every Friday night. I could sense the strong camaraderie of the community. Welcoming, family-like, and loving are prevalent descriptors of the ACF environment. Soon, I had found myself a group of friends, of all backgrounds, beliefs, and educational paths. Yet, there was a sense of acceptance and community that kept the bonds. Now, only four months later, I have a generous bundle of memories with these people to reminisce over for a lifetime.


The trip to San Francisco, since I had never been before. The late nights spent at Marlon’s and/or Lisa’s apartment just enjoying one another’s presence. We didn’t care what we were doing – the time away from our busy schedules was refreshing, whether it was games of Monopoly, mafia, Uno, random card games, learning how to play chess, or eating pizza.

A fantastic team of breaking news reporters at our end-of-semester banquet (Just an hour before leaving for the airport!)

Of course I can’t forget my enriching experience writing for The Orion student newspaper. I’m at the point in my undergraduate career where it is integral to be gaining hands-on experience outside of the classroom. Writing as a breaking news reporter for the Orion was THE place to do that. I gained friendships through it, especially from a road trip to a journalism conference in LA. The neatest thing, which can apply anywhere, was working among like-minded individuals, who wanted to be better. Everyday was a learning experience, for both my coworkers and our news editor, George. Of course, I knew nothing about Chico, so the beginning had its challenges. But when writing for a newspaper in a new city, the benefits outweighed the challenges. I had an inside scoop and a unique perspective on what was happening in the community. Yes, print media is a dying industry. But I believe journalism is a versatile field and good writing will remain at the core of intriguing content.


Hmong culture night

Lastly, I got involved with International Neighbors mid-semester. It is a diverse group committed to building an international community at Chico State. Every week, they have people present on their country/culture, followed by a delicious meal of the according cuisine. I learned about France, Vietnam, Brazil, and the Hmong nation. International Neighbors is welcoming of all students, American and international, as well as local community members. There was an overlap of people from ACF there as well, which was a bonus. A highlight was when I helped with the Hmong presentation and modeled traditional women’s dresses.

I also have to include a wonderful going-away gathering I had right beforethumbnail_IMG_2749.jpg getting into final exams week. I decided to boldly invite my friends from each of these separate communities. A geology classmate, Lori, willingly opened up her home where fun was had. Because she has two young daughters, she was well-prepared with entertainment for a bunch of college kids. Several of my international friends experienced a trampoline for the first time. Music and food was great, but the best was having loving connections to spend time with for the last time.

I learned something in my time at Chico for the semester. I’ve been a Christian for a while now (since middle school), but I don’t recall a time when I came to a full realization that there are indeed people right next to me who don’t know Jesus or understand the same concepts I do. Growing up in a Christian home and going to church made it easy to talk about those things and be surrounded by like-minded people. Of course I knew there are millions of lost people, and I knew they were in reach. But I suppose that fact didn’t become a fathomable, heart-wrenching reality until I arrived in Chico.

Before I close, I have to point out some East-West coast differences I noticed. A barbecue in California could refer to the grilling of anything – hotdogs, hamburgers, eggplant, etc. My fellow Southerners know, however, that a BBQ refers to pulled pork. Of course, there’s the huge climate difference in humidity. The difference in dry heat in California and moist heat in the Southeast was so evident. Diversity in ethnicity is more prevalent in Cali. There’s more roundabouts on the road. Food trucks are casually placed throughout, whereas in South Carolina, we have annual food truck festivals.

A year ago, I was convinced I was not going to follow up with my plans to go to California as part of the exchange program. This was while I was studying abroad in China. To be honest, the long-distance relationship was hard and I couldn’t imagine spending a whole semester away. Thankfully, my selfless boyfriend Nereo, encouraged me to go to California because I would regret it if I didn’t go. He was so right. Even as I type this right now, I’m shocked at the possibility of me missing out on all those experiences.

The moral of the story is that I wholeheartedly believe it was God’s intent for me to boldly start fresh on the other side of the country for a whole semester. I grew stronger in my faith. I began to take the Bible more seriously (rather than seeing it as a collection of inspiring words on paper). God worked in my relationship with Nereo too, even from afar. To keep a connection going, we began a habit of going through a book of the Bible at the same time.

This is a big shoutout to God for allowing me to venture across the country for the first time. (The furthest I had been prior, was Tennessee, and China.) Shoutout to my dad for paying for my plane tickets, which allowed me to arrive there and back safely and quickly. Shoutout to my mom for being supportive and encouraging. Shoutout to the National Student Exchange Program for even existing. And of course, shoutout to Nereo for being the supportive boyfriend he’s been…AND for dropping me off and picking me up from airports more than once at this point. Here’s to finding another home on the West Coast. Be right back, Cali!


Thanks to Vu from Germany and TaeHee from Korea for this farewell selfie on my way to the airport.
Thanks to these guys for sending me off to the airport late at night.




Spring break – a visit from home

*NOTE: this was written last Thursday (April 7th)

Hello blog readers! It’s me,
I was wondering if after all these years you’d like to meet,
To go over everything

that’s happened in California since I have been too busy soaking up life that I haven’t given this ole blog the attention it needs.

Sorry I had to cut into the Adele flow, if you caught on 😉

Yesterday morning, as I was eating breakfast, I looked at my calendar and realized that in EXACTLY 6 weeks, I will be embarking on my journey back home to the East Coast. And in 6 weeks from today, I will officially be meeting Nereo at the Atlanta airport.

Not long ago I had a vivid image in my mind of me sitting on a bench waiting for my flight, reminiscing over my semester in California, the friendships I made, hiking every week, and just exploring. Then I had a displeasing thought of not having posts to read of the memorable parts of my everyday life here. There’s no better time to document a rare opportunity than when actually living it.

So to my followers, thank you for reading and staying updated through my never-ending pictures on social media. I gotta say, thinking back to ALL the experiences and putting them into written form can be tedious. But keeping in mind you who actually enjoy reading these things keeps me going.

Since I last updated you all on my LA trip, my life has continued to be rad. I have more blessings to recall than complaints. I always say the good outweighs the bad. And really, the only bad on my end is stress from school projects, and occasionally really missing the comfort of my South Carolina home. But in the broad picture of life, one semester of college is not a long time. It’s true because I vividly remember arriving in Chico, hardly knowing anyone. Now here I am, 6 weeks left in California, with countless memories and pictures to recall, just imagining my life this summer that is just around the corner.

A lot has happened since my last blog post. During my spring break, my sweet boyfriend made a visit here all the way from South Carolina. I discovered solar panels are more casually installed on personal homes (sustainability is so emphasized here). I saw several instances of CA being more liberal than the Deep South. I gained friendships and memorable experiences through my involvement in organizations. I’ve grown in my faith, disciplining myself in reading my bible more than I did before. I took and enjoyed exercise classes at the gym—fuego, mat pilates, abs, spinning, and cardio kickboxing. I’ve become accustomed to local lingo and the Chico ways. Since the mountains are not too far away, hiking has become a casual thing—which I LOVE! It’s also been neat to be the first to know the latest in the community from writing for The Orion Newspaper (including a long-talked about faculty strike which recently got canceled since they came to an agreement with the Chancellor on their wages). I’ve learned what it takes to be news reporter of The Orion.

To save you from reading 5 books worth of blog posts altogether, I first want to document Nereo’s trip to California.

His visit from South Carolina was entirely short but entirely sweet. But because it was short, we were really strategic planners and managers of time. I was super excited to introduce him to all my friends here. (Thank goodness he’s an extrovert or else I would have felt guilty introducing him to a bunch of strangers at once). The whole trip was actually a huge blessing. I had some help from a dear friend, Valerie, from Asian Christian Fellowship to pick him up from the Sacramento Airport, which is an hour and a half drive from Chico. Valerie had an idea to make it a field trip and get a group going. Soon enough we had three cars full of people road-tripping it to Sac. Strangers ambushed Nereo as soon as he came down the elevator into baggage claim. I figured that if he was going to be overwhelmed by strangers greeting him, I might as well go all out. So I drew his name in giant letters on a sign. We held it up just to make sure he knew exactly where to find us. To be able to finally see him in person again was wonderful.

12512329_10208148884535557_7147920651059543525_nWe explored Old Town, Sacramento, which Valerie was familiar with since she grew up in the area. The environment was rundown, yet comfortingly pleasant. We ate at a delicious Chinese buffet. My most prominent memory of the food is the fresh shrimp I devoured. For dessert we went to Jollibee, a Filipino fast-food restaurant. A majority of the group tried halo halo for the first time, a wonderful mixture of condensed milk, shaved ice, red beans, purple yam, and jellies.

Halo halo from Jollibee

From there we went to Seafood City, a Filipino grocery store, and a Chinese grocery store, per request of our friend Ling. The evening arrived quickly and many of us were exhausted from the long day, especially jetlagged Nereo. So we made our way back to Chico.


Sierra (my neighbor), me, and Ling

I have to mention my conversations with Ling, who speaks little English, and only Mandarin. I realized that conversing with someone who speaks very little English, but rather the language you want to learn, is highly beneficial. Ling wanted me to help her with English, and in doing so, I was forced to speak the Mandarin I already knew, plus new words she taught me. It was challenging at times, but we had fun and had to laugh at ourselves sometimes. I’ve come so far with speaking Mandarin, but such a long way I have to go!


Hiking in Upper Bidwell Park. (Both of our first times!)

The rest of that short weekend consisted of me showing Nereo around town. We both tried local restaurants for the first time. We went hiking in gorgeous Upper Bidwell Park with some friends. To make it even with my city boy, we did “urban hiking” in the Chico Mall. Its size reminded me a lot of the small Anderson Mall back home.


I took him to the church I attend here – Asian Bible Church. Everyone was warm and welcoming. We hung out with friends from ACF and played an intense game of Mafia. We spontaneously saw “Zootopia” in theaters. I highly recommend this great movie! We also joined friends from Christian Challenge in Game Night, where we discovered a new, unique, but oddly fun game called Exploding Kittens. No worries, it’s just a card game.

Jacob and Alex laughing at Nereo flashing his phone as the “paparazzi”


We went on a spontaneous double date with friends from Christian Challenge, Jacob and Alex. (Alex is the friend who picked me up from the airport in the very beginning!) It was a fun time. We enjoyed Thai food and laughter was constant.


Our In-N-Out order after hiking: double double, cheeseburger, extra crispy fries, and animal style fries. Not pictured: strawberry milkshake.

We treated ourselves to the freshest burgers and fries at In-N-Out! (My first time ever) I even intentionally avoided eating In-N-Out the previous 2 months so I could actually try it during Nereo’s visit. I’m not typically a burger girl, but those fine patties, buns and toppings were an art. I got extra crispy fries and he got animal style fries (with sauce, grilled onions, and melted cheese). Yea, healthy Michelle splurged. I wondered what all the craze was with such a simple menu. It’s gotta be the freshness. Not to mention the close-pinned red apron and hat attire of all the employees was like a throwback to the traditional American diner. So will In-N-Out ever make its way to the East Coast?

I blinked and Monday rolled around. Nereo had to make his way back to South Carolina. But luckily, we had the entire day to explore. We had the one of the best brunches I’ve had at Mom’s Restaurant.

Nereo’s artsy shot of his poached egg brunch

The poached egg and an ABC omelet (avocado, bacon, and cheddar) was a great start to the day. We explored downtown and stopped in Naked Lounge (coffee shop!) and shared a coconut oolong hot tea, which was my first Chico coffee shop item ever. I’ve come to prefer tea over coffee lately. We ate authentic tacos from a taco truck right down the road from where I live. We followed up with persimmon and avocado ice cream from a Mexican ice cream shop.


With the help of some friends from Christian Challenge, we made the trip back to Sacramento that night. It worked out perfectly since Sai, the driver, was also picking up his sister from the Sacramento Airport. Then suddenly there Nereo and I were, parting ways in the airport again. It was sad to say goodbye for now, but the joy I had for him coming all this way to visit, even for just a short weekend, was real. What other chance will I have to get accustomed to life in Northern California for two months, and then introduce my boyfriend to new friends and places? It was pretty cool. Thank you, Nereo, for making the trip. And thank you, Chico friends for being awesome and making life memorable. These are moments that I will value and carry on with me.

If you made it to the bottom dear reader, thank you for taking the time to read this continuation of my Californian adventure. I’ll be back very, very soon! (on the blog, and in South Carolina).

I mustache you to stay tuned!

Adventures in LA

About two weeks ago I received an email from the adviser of the Chico State student newspaper saying student reporters were invited to a collegiate journalism conference in Los Angeles. He described it as, “a terrific opportunity to meet other college journalists, attend training workshops and attend professional critiques of The Orion newspaper.” Naturally, I knew I had to go!

Fast forward. It’s image1 (1).JPGlate and I’m getting ahead on schoolwork so missing classes for two days is affordable. Then suddenly it’s 6 a.m. on a Thursday and I’m frantically packing my luggage in a half awake state. Risa, the former Editor in Chief of the Orion picks me up, then we pick up the other two of our road trip crew – Elizabeth and Matthew. Before hitting the road, we make an appropriate stop at Dutch Bros, a drive-in coffee shop. The chocolate macadamia nut coffee, aka the “annihilator”, couldn’t have been a more perfect first-time Dutch Bros drink. To my South Carolina friends, if you ever make your way to Northern California, I recommend trying Dutch Bros for your coffee! I still have more to try, but the menu looked satisfying.

I hardly knew Risa, Elizabeth, and Matthew before this trip. But by the end of the weekend, I can say venturing around the city and getting to know these talented individuals was awesome. The same applies to Stephanie and Jenice, who took the quicker route and traveled by plane. With eight hours of traveling to and from the city (plus traffic, and rest stops) it’s inevitable to bond over road trip playlists, newspaper talks, South Carolina differences, reasons we chose Chico State, and anything that came to mind. Kudos to them for putting up with my over-excitement about the lush green landscape where Happy Cows come from, the typical palm tree and LA skyline, and the Hollywood sign that I’d only seen in movies! It’s all probably more normal to California natives.

Our group of four stayed at Risa’s cousin Dave’s house, who lives in Lo12745446_1022062161194191_1121033209794012930_nng Beach, a half hour away from the city. (An hour with LA traffic.) I think we were all appreciative and taken aback at how hospitable and welcoming Dave and his wife were. We had the in-home cozy experience in the suburbs right outside the lively city. As a bonus, Dave showed off tricks his talented little dog Bandit could do. Later, he and his wife gave us a tour of Dave’s new event and entertainment magazine studio called Amplify. His fresh new establishment was commendable and he even gifted us with posters, sunglasses, Twizzlers, and Gatorades. His excitement for modern media was contagious. What a great way to kick off the first night in Southern California.

The next morning it was go-time. Actually, the entire weekend was go-time. From the moment we left Chico, to the moment we arrived back at 2:00 a.m., we were on-the-go. And I had to come to terms with reality immediately hitting with my 9:00 a.m. class the next Monday. Was it all worth it? YES!

Day 2, LA

At about 7:45 a.m., our second day in SoCal and the first official day at the conference, we make the drive back into the city. Upon arrival at the Sheraton Hotel, where the conference was held, we were consumed in back-to-back workshops, morning til evening. So many workshops to choose from. So much knowledge, so many highly credentialed speakers, so hard to select just a few to attend! The amount of knowledge gained in just three days was extremely valuable for our passions and future careers. I decided to write a separate blog on everything I personally learned from the workshops I attended. Journalism and mass communications majors may especially appreciate it.

We had fun in the city too! First stop outside the hotel: A Mexican food truck in walking distance from the hotel, and across from the entrance of Universal studios. In the little time we had for lunch, our small group of six from Chico State ventured outside to see what food source would cross our path first. It was owned by two brothers from Texas who travel all over the country with their greasy, flavorful menu. The Texan vibe was real, with their accents, “ya’ll” signs, and ringing of a cowbell when an order was made. I ordered loaded chili cheese fries, something so uncharacteristic of me. Those who know me know I usually go for the more green, healthy food items. But since I was in LA, I didn’t care suddenly. Getaways are good for the soul.

Day 2, evening 

The first full day of the conference adjourned but our day wasn’t over! The Hollywood City Walk was a decent walk from the hotel. But even more conveniently there was a Universal Studios tram giving free rides within the vicinity. Once we entered the mini metropolis of fine dining and merchandise, flashing signs illuminated the alley ways. First in sight: Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., Jamba Juice, and Johnny Rockets. There was even a sock market. A market for trendy socks. Dinner of choice: Bubba Gump Shrimp, of course! I hate to admit, but the last and only other time I went to Bubba Gump Shrimp was on a college tour field trip in high school. I ordered a salad and NO SHRIMP. Since then I’ve matured and learned how to widen my food horizon and enjoy options other than leafy greens. This time I threw down on high quality coconut shrimp. It was a jolly good time. I can appreciate Bubba Gump Shrimp because Forrest Gump is one of my number one favorite movies. And I did take a picture with a large shrimp mascot.


The current Editor in Chief, Stephanie, was getting us all excited for a comedy show happening in downtown Hollywood, starring Joe Rogan, former host of Fear Factor. Honestly I had never heard of Joe Rogan before this night. But with Stephanie’s high level of excitement, one couldn’t help but join in. Bellies full, uber car reserved, we made our way to Sunset Boulevard, where all the action takes place. We were no doubt in a land quite the opposite of small, scenic, Chico. People were rushing , cars honking, and various smells of food and marijuana. Yep. Everything was fast-paced. Definitely not the environment I grew up in. I’m not one for stand-up comedy but it super neat, star-striking moment when Chris Rock soon after Joe spontaneously came on the stage! The first and only celebrity I saw in LA. I’d like to think it was his trial run for hosting the Oscars.

Day 3

It was our second full day at the journalism conference. More knowledge and skills gained! That evening there was a fancy awards banquet open for all participants. However, since it was $80 to attend and not all of us had that expense covered by the school, Matthew, Jenice and I stuck together and traveled by metro to downtown on a mission for Korean Barbecue. I had never tried KBBQ before this trip. What better place is there to try it for the first time than LA?! The experience was everything I had dreamed of and more. We walked away with full bellies and eyes fixed on the celebrity stars on the sidewalk. While waiting for the others in our group to join us from the conference banquet, we walked the KBBQ off and took in the city surroundings. I finally came across a “Michelle” celebrity star. The ground was filthy, but I sat on the star, just like I had seen people do in the past. I guess you could say I met the Hollywood tourist expectation.

Even cooler, though, once we met up with the rest of our group, we checked out the historical Chinese Theater. There, you can find hand and footprints of various celebrities: the Twilight cast, Hunger Games cast, Marilyn Monroe, Tom Hanks, and more. There was one from 1929 with imprints of hand rifles. (didn’t think to take a picture, sorry!) But I did take a picture next to Jackie Chan’s prints since I loved watching his movies growing up.


Day 4

It was our final day of the conference and being in LA. It was the final morning drive from Long Beach to the hotel. Big shoutout to Risa for being a champion of a driver, facing the hectic LA traffic day and night, crossing over three lanes to take a quickly appearing exit like a boss. Overall it was a great journalism conference. The Orion Newspaper definitely got some recognition with awards! Stephanie and Jenice took their flight back to Chico, but the remaining four of us decided to venture around a little more, accepting the fact that we’d get back late.

Our plan was to visit the Getty Art Museum and then go to the beach. Surprisingly, we spent a majority of our afternoon at the Getty Art Museum, and ran out of time to see the ocean. Next time! We rode a tram up to the Getty, which was perched atop the beautiful mountainous landscape. The scenery was gorgeous overlooking the city. We picked up food from the cafe, took it out for a picnic in the grass, and split a bottle of wine. It was refreshing to get a change in vibes from the fast paced heart of the city. Somehow we spent hours in a super intriguing photography exhibit.

4:30 p.m. came around quickly and we realized we’d arrive in Chico at 1 a.m. at the earliest if we left right then. So we had to say farewell to the city and make the drive back. What partly made the loooooong drive back bearable was our collaboration of a roadtrip playlist, 2nd edition. Midpoint we made an impromptu stop to Denny’s for a late breakfast dinner. It was the best Denny’s meal I’d had. We were loopy, tired of sitting in a car, and somehow found my pancake funny.

At 2:00 a.m. I finally make it home. It was then time to fall asleep before my alarm woke me up to go to morning Geology class.

From this trip to LA I learned that, although I can appreciate the excitement of the city, I’d much rather live in the suburbs. I gained a few new friends who share the value of journalism.  I obtained a decent collection of pictures, memories and stories to share. And since I had DJ responsibilities in the front seat, I’m now team Spotify instead of Pandora. Here’s to a native South Carolinian’s first roadtrip to LA!



Takeaways from LA journalism conference

At the end of February, I took an opportunity to attend the Associated Collegiate Press conference in Los Angeles with a small group student journalists from Chico State. The amount of workshops offered was excitingly overwhelming. I had to choose wisely which ones to attend. Oftentimes, our group would fill one another in on what was learned in our separate workshops. In an effort to value and remind myself of the knowledge gained that weekend, I wanted to document it all in a blog post. Hopefully my fellow Journalism and Mass Communications students can appreciate or even take something from it. Below I have listed, chronologically, which sessions I attended and what I took from it.

Journalist rights – Frank LoMonte, Student Press Law Center
Campus unrest is heightening the traditional conflict between student journalists and police. We’ll discuss journalists’ rights when covering campus emergency scenes and how to respond to demands to surrender your camera or cellphone

Journalists are not superior or inferior to officials and citizens alike.
The Privacy Protection Act of 1980 resulted from a court hearing which stated that police do not have a right to search a journalist’s work product. A search warrant is not enough.
In an instance of a public injury, a journalist should not be charged for invasion of privacy. Getting injured in public is not private.
Officials may use HIPAA in defense. The majority of the time, this law only applies to medical doctors. Likewise, FERPA is only related to education.
“Plan your arrest” – wear your press ID, record the arrest, and be mindful of what you’re asked to sign.

Raw images for print and digital publication – Ken Steinhardt, the Orange County Register
We’ll look at print and web reproduction tools in Photoshop, editing workflow, and managing your images. Steinhardt will introduce monitor calibration, color space, Colorsync, profiles, cameras settings and image editing plug-ins.

Photo Mechanic 5 is useful for tagging photos, relocating, captioning, copying, and sending pictures.
720 is the ideal dpi (dots per inch) setting.
When adding colors in PIGMENT, the result will be black. When adding colors in LIGHT, the result will be white.
Photographers refer to a contaminant as what saturates or desaturates color, in other words adding or taking away blue. The opposite of blue is yellow.
Dot gain refers to the absorption of ink. Newspapers have a heavy level of dot gain.
To open skin in a photograph, take blue out of red.
A raw file has more megabytes and is better to edit with, whereas a JPEG file is compressed.
iCorrect software is a Photoshop plugin used to tone photos, including decontamination.
Back up photos on an external hard drive!
1 take typically equals 300 photos. Ideally save 20.
“save laters” are for generic stock.
Color settings in Photoshop to make a universally good edit -> color settings ->(ask printer for color sync profile so what you see is what their press looks like) -> RGB setting: Adobe -> US web uncoated for newsprint, US web coated (swob) 2 for magazine.

The day we benched our photographers – Jeff Goertzen, The Orange County Register
See how one of the nation’s leading newspapers benched its photographers and used graphics and illustrations to tell the stories of two high-profile cases that gained national attention and took reporting to a new level in its print and digital platforms – “The Snitch Tank,” and “The Prison Escape.”

1) Cultivate reliable sources – keep tabs of people you talk to
2) Think outside the box
3) Make your editor happy
4) Don’t be afraid to take risks
5) Have fun

Food journalism – Jenn Harris, Los Angeles Times
Food journalism is staying on top of the food world in your city, being a food critic or food reporter (there’s a big difference). Learn how the pros do the job and how you can do it better at your media outlet.

Words not to use: tasty, foodie, gourmet, bounty, iconic, decadent
DETAILS. Put reader in your shoes even if they’re not eating the food.
Do background research on the chef, food, etc.
Take decent photos – clear the background, get some light
Find out if the article has already been done; if so, find a different angle
Generic freelance income: 600-900 words is $700, recipe development is $1000, roundup for blog is $250
Be yourself. The weirder, the better.
Write how you talk. How would you explain the restaurant to your friends?
Don’t go the obvious route when using adjectives.
Read other reviewers (Lucky Peach)
Find stories as you go out!

MY PERSONAL FAVORITE –> The Art of the Interview – Geoff Boucher, Formerly LA Times and Entertainment Weekly
Learn the essence of the interview process and specific tricks of the trade from a veteran journalist who’s interviewed celebrities (like Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks, Brad Pitt, Clint Eastwood and Beyonce) onstage and on the page. 

Unplanned and unexpected serendipity is why we do this.
Have a deep sense of wonder.
Journalism is now knowing what you’re doing the next day.
Have a sense of history, mission, ethics, and connection.
Interview for print and on air.
Insight is greater than insult.
Visually take it all in – write things you see. Match verbs to subject matter.
If you show people things, they feel it. If you tell people things, they learn it.
Suggestion: watch C-SPAN and take notes for five minutes. You’re “building a muscle”. It will lead to better writing.
Recording is good.
Interviewers = dancers. You don’t know what will happen next.
Don’t look at your notebook! They’ll feel like they’re being audited.
Don’t miss the moment. LISTEN.
You want the magic of FOLLOW-UP.
It’s okay to interrupt, politely.
If you don’t want to read a story, you shouldn’t have to write it.
If you want them to open up to you, open up to them.
What makes interviews special – memorable moments.
Describe unusual scenes! (Boucher recalls time he spent in a penthouse at 4 a.m. with Mariah Carey.
You can’t fake it; reveal yourself.
Stay true to ethics.
Avoid off-the-record interviews.
Off-the-record is an agreement between the interviewer and journalist.
Know body language – it will help enrich your understanding of a person.

Telling stories with sound – Willa Seidenberg and Victor Figueroa, USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism
Audio journalism is in demand and has expanded beyond traditional radio news stories. This session will explore how to tell meaningful stories for audio platforms, touching on recording techniques, writing, interviewing for audio, using ambient sound and creative approaches.

Why radio and audio? It provides a powerful, intimate connection to the human voice. Radio is portable an nimble. Podcasts are personal.
Great audio stories have:
1) High quality audio. Speak no more than 3 inches away from the mic source. Mic should be pointed slightly off center, away from air flow.
2) Guidelines. Never let the interviewee hold the mic. Always wear headphones while recording. Avoid rooms with hard surfaces. Use a wind screen. Constantly check levels.
3) Ambient sound. Similarly to video closeups, mid-shots, and wide-shots, have varying levels of ambient sound (background and foreground). It gives a sense of being present. Capture activity at the location. Don’t throw it in just to throw it in there.
4) Interviewing. Make subject tell a story, every action. Ask open-ended questions. Follow up with specifics and examples (Give me an example. What was your favorite moment?) Get visual details, anecdotes, and scenes. Allow silence. Always get clarification. The best stories come from people not used to giving details.
5) Writing for audio is the most important. Write for the ear, in active voice. Make it conversational. Use strong verbs and nouns. Read it out loud.
Write visually: Use all senses; emotions (tension, happiness, anger, excitement); clear beginning, middle, and end; don’t necessarily write chronologically <-start with the most interesting sound. You will come in powerfully.

Christians in the newsroom – Michael Koretzky, Society of Professional Journalists
Can you be a serious journalist and a devout Christian? At secular schools, you wonder how to fit in without giving in. At Christian schools, the challenges are different: You get weird looks at conventions and questions about whether you’re a “real” journalist. Join us for a conversation, not a presentation.

The job of journalists is to tell the truth, whether you believe the content or not.
What do you want your newsroom to understand?

General Session: covering terror, the San Bernardino shootings – Greg lee, ABC7; Ryan Hagen, San Bernardino Sun
On Dec. 2, 2015, 14 people were killed and 22 people were injured when Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik, a married couple living in the city of Redlands, attacked a holiday party at the San Bernardino County Department of Public Health. Journalists immediately began covering the breaking news and became an interesting part of the story in the days that followed the attack. 

This job is a calling that you have to be passionate about.
Sometimes for breaking news, time is little. Just talk about what you see.
Maintain your poise in difficult situations; People look to you for information.
Find a mentor, people you can talk to.
The role of social media changes the way we do our job.
If you’re a respected journalist, get the facts right. Two important aspects: newsgathering and providing read updates.
To process tragic events:
For every negative story, there are 10 positive stories.
You’re preserving memories.
Take time to talk to people.
Your job is to tell both sides.
The climate of journalism is showing that more people are doing less.
When interviewing grieving subjects, remember the golden rule. Only treat them how you’d want to be treated.

Building relationships: finding and telling stories through photos – Amy Gaskin, Freelance Photographer
As a student, how do you gain access and build trust with subjects? Recent graduate Amy Gaskin shares the behind-the-scenes stories and tips that will help your photo stories have greater impact. 

Carry your camera all the time, everywhere.
Advantages to being a student:
-Deadlines are more lenient. You can go to the event early and stay late.
-Don’t compare – only compete with yourself.
-You’re your own boss. If you have a bad assignment, it’s on you.
-You have this opportunity to shoot what you love.
Ask: where can I go that’s different?
Take every photo story opportunity.
Keep shooting – always be available.
Show subject you’re committed so they build trust.
Take care of your subjects. Give them prints.
Ask for permission – “Can I stand here?” They’ll gain trust.
Think where you your next shoot will be.
Make the most of your location.
Build rapport and people will help you.

How to cover campus crime and breaking news
From bursts and break-ins to fires and natural disasters, entropy can really throw you for a loop as a journalist. Come learn how to cover breaking news, criminal enterprises and things that go “bump” in the night.

Number 1: Stay calm. Stay safe.
The minute you panic, you’re worthless.
Ask: Are people dead? Is the situation under control? GENERALLY – What happened?
Witnesses can be unreliable and offer no protection. A cop is a better, privileged source.
Don’t let witnesses do the accusing.
Secondary information – if the witness is describing the scene that is okay, as long as they’re not accusing.
Scene description – go to agencies (county/city dispatch, 911 call, firefighters)
Student Press Law Center will back you up.
You never know what you’re going to get until you ask for it.
Be understanding with victims of disaster.
Three types of interviewees:
-“I don’t wanna talk about this.”
-will hurt or lash out against you
-will want to spill everything out.
Collect information at the scene. Who can you be in touch with as the incident furthers?
Things to avoid:
-Never convict people in your story.
Don’t use the word “allegedly”. Not using “alleged” gives readers room to form their own opinion.
“Police said…” is an appropriate attribution.
Know crime lingo:
-robbery: victim was threatened in person.
-burglary: item was stolen when owner not present.
-accident vs. intent
-murder vs. man slaughter
Don’t extrapolate.
Don’t let witnesses write crimes for you.
If you make a mistake and learn from it, it’s meaningful!

General Session: Where do we go from here?
Campus protesters vs. Campus Journalists. Free Speech vs. Free press. Inner Space vs. Public Space. COme hear leaders of collegiate media programs and protest movements discuss how they are navigating the collisions that result from competing expectations.

If someone says “You can’t report on this”:
-If you legally be in a location, you’re allowed to publish.
-There is no law against photos of children.
-If police clear an area, you’re not above them. But they cannot exclusively relocate you.
The question is, how can we teach people to trust the media? It begins with journalists. It’s a matter of perspective.
You’re allowed to be bias in favor of students.

Go on and do big things, journalists and communicators of media!


I love sharing my life with people by telling stories. Sometimes I’ll tell a story that seemingly has no point or conclusion to it. My friends have even coined the term “Michelle Story”, a completely random, pointless story. Shoutout to Erika and Norma. Here in Chico, new things happen everyday. The thought often comes to mind, “I need to blog about this”. And then times like right now arrive: the night is still sort of young, I’m already showered and in my pajamas, I’m not too sleepy…maybe I am. And there’s no other distractions, except for the people I hear socializing right outside my window. These walls are thin.

Anyways, I can’t stand the thought of adventures and stories expanding without documenting them in a timely manner and sharing with my mysterious readers. Maybe you’ll enjoy reading about my California adventures in your spare time. Mainly, I want to have something to look back at and say “I did that? Wow, I’m glad I had the discipline to blog about it”. I know there is truth in that because that’s exactly what happened when I read over my posts from studying abroad in China last summer. So here it goes.

First off, I’m meeting new people and making discoveries on a weekly basis. It’s incredible. Friends will introduce me to their friends. I will be bold and initiate conversation with the person next to me on the bus. A talkative classmate tells me about their weekend hiking in Upper Bidwell Park (I’ve yet to go. I need to!!). I socialize with new people at both Christian Challenge on Tuesdays and Asian Christian Fellowship on Fridays (college ministries I’m involved in on campus) (yes, I love my weekly dose of college ministries – they’re awesome! I could go on about that in another post).

A lot of this creating friendships and memories has to do witvintage map.JPGh not holding back. By agreeing to run errands downtown last Saturday with Sierra and Melinda, who live in University Village (my on-campus apartment complex), I unexpectedly tried Jamba Juice for the first time, a staple smoothie shop only found in the Western region. I got a satisfying matcha smoothie with soy. We ventured into an old vintage store and found a large canvas map of the United States, which lead us to show one another where we’ve been, where we’re from, and where we want to go in the future. Melinda, if you’re reading this, this is the reason I weirdly went behind you to take a picture of you looking at the map. I tend to take pictures of everything. We then went to an 80’s thrift shop owned by a lady who travels to thousands of stores across the country to add to her huge in-store clothing selection. Check out her store!

80s thrift

While sitting on a ledge between downtown and campus, sipping our smoothies, three young people approached us: Alethea and Tim, a married couple from Australia, and Nick from Germany. All three are students from Shasta Bible College, an hour North of Chico. Their mission was to encourage and pray for strangers. That kind of boldness was random, unexpected, and indeed encouraging. Different nationalities, backgrounds, and three countries represented in the below picture, and one loving God who created us to witness and share His love. These three were actively living that out.


This is an example of how not holding back from adventure, opportunities, events or simply passing time with friends, can lead to unexpected moments to smile about later on. I’ll call them memory making points. I strive to begin everyday with the mindset of being open, taking in my surroundings, and valuing those “memory making points”.

So that’s an introduction. I’ve found the easiest way to share with you the details of my life over the past week is to organize my thoughts with the theme of “things”. I want to share with you things I’m learning, thing’s I’ve done, thing’s I hope to do, lifestyle things, etc.

Things I’ve Learned/Am Learning:

Hmongs have HUGE families! I learned from my Hmong friend Lisa that families have at least, if not more, 3 children. Am I correct?

Roundabouts exist. They appear to be a safer alternative to four-way stops. They wouldn’t be ideal for someone with vertigo; they can make you dizzy if you’re making a far turn. I hear they’re common in Europe. Maybe I’ll drive through one one day.

Enterprise news stories can be written! I wrote my first enterprise story last week for The Orion (student newspaper). The story was about the presidential selection process for California State University campuses. That was my life for a week, as I interviewed the student body president and the CSU Employees Union president and communications director to understand the process, make note of statistics, and hear viewpoints. Am I sounding like a journalist? I hope so! With it being my first enterprise story, I was honestly stressing. I had to dive deep and get hard facts about the matter. I had to conduct professional phone interviews with ideal representatives. I reached my word-quota and met with the enterprise news editor, Elizabeth. It turned it into an easy-to-follow story. I accomplished what I set out to do.

The yummy bagel chips you find in chex mix can be bought alone! They’re called Rye Chips. I discovered this in my break between classes, while I was curiously looking through the bookstore. I was so amazed, I had to take a picture of it. It’s the little things.

rye chips.JPG

I can’t refer to “USC” without people thinking of the University of Southern California. Of course, being from South Carolina, I’m talking about my South Carolina Gamecocks. I do have to change up my vocabulary a little bit while I’m here. I’m figuring it out as I go.

Things I’ve Done:

I cred envelopeelebrated the Chinese New Year/Spring Festival! Asian Christian Fellowship celebrated by sharing traditions, making dumplings, eating delicious Asian food, and making decorations. I won a red envelope (çșąćŒ…) because I knew how to say “spring festival” in Chinese (昄节). I’m sure glad that earlier that day, between classes, I watched a Google Hangout by YangYang Chang, creator of a Chinese learning program. She discussed Chinese New Year traditions, and how to say relevant phrases. It’s a good feeling to get in touch with my Chinese side, especially through fellowship with Asian Christians.

I tried Jamba Juice for the first time. I wish I could share with you the reactions of people when I tell them I had never been to Jamba Juice before then. To California natives, it’s absurd, and I can’t imagine how they feel. Perhaps it’s like someone never experiencing ChickFilA in the South? Getting the wonderful Matcha Green Tea Smoothie was a memory making point and I WILL go back. In-n-Out is next.


I went to CalSkate for an 80’s Skate Night with Challenge on Saturday. I doubted myself since I hadn’t been skating in awhile (unless you count the annual ice skating back home in Columbia). I won Red Light Green Light and got a free drink out of it! Woo! Of course I got a green tea because it’s apparently my obsession nowadays.

If you follow me on social media, you may know I was very happy about discovering a Chinese restaurant downtown that has Dim Sum AND boba tea. This is what I was hoping to find as soon as I arrived in California. Naturally, I treated myself to a taro bubble tea on my way to class. I’ll be back. They have an avocado. boba. smoothie.

taro boba

I went to the gym on campus. Here, they call it the Wrec, short for Wildcat Recreational Center. I actually ran a mile there from my apartment, ran a mile on the treadmill, and ran a mile back. The Wrec reminded me a lot of the gym back home at USC. I never considered myself a runner, but that felt great. I also went running today after church. I ran through campus and downtown for 3 miles. I might possibly be discovering a new runner side of me? I downloaded a pedometer app and used a phone holder arm band gifted to me by my boyfriend for Christmas. I wouldn’t be surprised if I returned home with the desire to consistently run several miles at once. All it takes is discipline.

I went to the Saturday farmers market with my exchange friend Stephanie. I got a lemon soap bar.

I watched the Super Bowl with my Challenge community. They do indeed get into football on the other end.

super bowl

Things I hope to do:

I hope to venture out of Chico soon. I’ve been here for two weeks and three days so far and I’ve only been to the Sacramento Airport, if that counts. I’m thinking San Francisco, where it’s expected to take a picture on the Golden Gate Bridge. That’s the California thing to do right?

I hope to try a taco from one of the many taco trucks.

I hope to go to Bidwell Park, the large park that runs through Chico. I hear there’s plenty of scenic hiking routes and swimming holes.

I hope to check out the local mall, with the help of my exchange friend who has already figured out the bus route there.

I hope to see what the Bay Area is all about.

I hope to see DISNEY LAND!

I hope to go to LA and take a picture in front of the Hollywood sign.

I hope to get more boba tea!

I hope to go to the famous Madison Bear Garden restaurant and see what this jiffy burger is all about (burger with peanut butter).

I hope to see how clear Lake Tahoe is.

I hope to set up my Eno hammock soon now that the weather is getting nice! Even if it’s not a popular trend here, I will be comfortable hanging in a tree somewhere.

I hope to go running every weekend.

I hope to blog every weekend.

Things New:

I truly am in the land of fruits and nuts. Orange trees are commonly found in people’s front yards! There ACRES of nut trees in the countryside. This just isn’t normal in SC.

Grocery shopping is B.Y.O.B. Because plastic bags cost a few cents, it’s nchico bagormal to bring your own bag when getting groceries. We’re all about sustainability here. It’s funny because this was a new thing to me in China last summer. You hardly saw people taking their groceries home in plastic bags. So here in Cali I actually bought a “Chico Bag”. It’s a shopping bag that can fold within itself and be hooked onto something like a key chain. The material reminds me a lot of my Eno Hammock. Now I feel like a cool Chico local.

Grocery stores that don’t exist in SC: WinCo, Safeway (list to be expanded)

Grocery stores/restaurants that don’t exist in CA: Ingles, BiLo, Publix, Hardees, Cracker Barrel, Waffle House

I’ve noticed it is more ethnically diverse here. There seems to be a culture of acceptance of all races. It’s normal.

Taco trucks are on every corner, as well as Mexican food 😀

Well It’s officially 11:30, I’m sleepy and that means it’s time for me to get eight hours of sleep before my 9:00 class tomorrow morning. Small town Chico been great so far. I have zero complaints. Stay tuned for the next entry to see where my memory making points take me next.