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 with 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!
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.
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 celebrated 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 (红包) because I knew how to say “spring festival” in Chinese (春节). 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.
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.
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.
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 normal 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.