How I landed an internship on the other side of the world

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Those were my thoughts as my semester in Australia neared its end. It’s a pretty common sentiment among college students, especially those reaching the end of their college career. Which includes me.

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I couldn’t graduate yet. I wasn’t mentally ready.

Yet, at the same time, I didn’t want to just take extra classes and drag out my degree. That would just be delaying the inevitable and creating an extra financial burden on my parents. No, if I was to delay graduation, I would do it by doing something worthwhile.

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For those who don’t know, my school– Northeastern University– has a program where students work full-time for 6 months in between taking classes. It’s a great program, one that I really believe in. After all, kids get real-life experience in the field that they’re studying, bolstering their resume, helping their personal development, and allowing them to discover what they really want to do. I completed a co-op last spring and was keen to get another one.

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Though Northeastern has a lot of connections with local companies in Boston, students still have to go through the job-seeking process. We write resumes, contact employers, and go to interviews. Sending off my resume and applying for jobs was no problem– but I had one little bump to get over:

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I e-mailed my co-op advisor in concern, who believed that it wouldn’t be a problem. We live in an age with internet and video calling. Any employer should be willing to interview via Skype, right?

Wrong.

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Since I have a good bit of work experience, I was contacted by many companies. All of whom reached the same conclusion:

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Soon, no fewer than five companies had asked me to interview with them– only to retract their interview soon after. I was starting to lose hope.

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I was reaching the end of my semester in Sydney, so finding a job was becoming urgent. My friends and I were leaving Sydney after exams were over. Soon, I’d be on the road, traveling through the Australian boonies. Who knows if I’d even have internet?

My co-op advisor was really on-the-ball for this one. Stunned that so many employers were unwilling to give me a chance, she went the extra mile to help me out.

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And then, as my semester came to a close, a ray of hope appeared.

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Could it be?! Someone was actually willing to Skype me! My co-op advisor even arranged the time and webcam for the interview to happen.

Thus, from my bedroom in Sydney, I went through my first Skype interview.

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I was nervous, of course, but I thought the interview went well regardless. A few days later, I was even contacted for a second interview!

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Additionally,

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And…

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So. Two weeks from then, in some hostel or campground, I would have to interview for two hours in the middle of the night. I was a little freaked out by this. What if the hostel we were staying at didn’t have internet?! What if it was a loud, rambunctious party hostel?! My friends offered up their smartphones if I needed them.

But I lucked out. The night of my interview, we were staying in a campground. The family running the camp had an area of their house set up for guests with wi-fi. The owner was kind enough to keep the area open for me that night.

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And thus, the interview began. I would be talking to 5 different people over a course of 2 hours.

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It wasn’t the greatest interview. As I discovered, I barely knew anything about the equipment I worked with the previous year. I was also falling asleep by the end of it. The interview concluded and I finally went to bed…

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…only to wake up 4 hours later.

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All during that tour, I tried not to think about my interview. I was convinced it went horribly. I obviously didn’t have that much technical knowledge, and I was half-asleep the whole time. Plus, they had other candidates that they could interview in person! How could I make an impression over that?

But I still held on hope.

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I got the job.

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No way. 

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For some reason, the people had decided that I was the best fit for the job. I have no idea why they thought this.

Seriously, though. I was about to fall asleep during my interview.

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But I’ll take it.

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Now I’m happily employed until the end of June, working for a pharmaceutical research company in Boston. I still can’t believe I managed to land such a good position after that insane Skype interview.

And that’s how I netted an internship while on the other side of the world. Life is crazy sometimes, you know?

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They caught him! Now Boston can go back to partying.

The police caught the second suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing!

Things were getting tense Friday night. The police had searched all of Watertown and concluded that the suspect might have escaped. The MBTA opened with limited service, and people sheltering at work were encouraged to go home, so I decided to head into Boston.

Right before I left, though, my friends started a message on Facebook:

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Somehow, we all ended up listening to the police scanner. It was obvious something was happening. My friends and I were almost expecting another explosion. The police kept telling other officers to get out of the line of fire, calling officers over to a certain area…

And then: radio silence.

If you’ve seen the news, you know that the rest is history: the police cornered the suspect and captured him alive. The suspect is now in the hospital being treated for his wounds. Boston and its surrounding towns could finally breathe a sigh of relief.

So we did.

Boy, did we.

Shortly after I met up with my buddies at Northeastern, we received a message from one of our friends.

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We complied, walking across campus to see what was going on.

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Well, as The Sun managed to document…

This many.

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Northeastern kids were packing Hemenway Street, despite NUPD’s best efforts to break up the crowd. Well, they weren’t trying that hard. After all, we were celebrating their efforts.

My friends quickly joined the chanting and cheering.

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Yup. I admit, I went there.

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The residents of Hemenway were hanging out their windows, waving flags and blasting music.

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People ran around dressed in patriotic attire.

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A random kid managed to climb up a tree, wave his flag, and lead the crowd in some traditional American songs.

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Some policemen actually drove their motorcycles straight through the crowd. Everyone clapped, cheered, and high-fived them as they drove by.

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My favorite moment was when my friends and I managed to start the whole crowd singing the national anthem. It was a crazy moment– as soon as we started, people joined in, and soon the guy in the tree was conducting the crowd.

Yup, I was in the middle of that fist-pumping mess!

What really surprised me, though, is how non-destructive this rally was. We didn’t flip any cars, start any fights, or break any windows. In fact, the crowd dispersed rather peacefully after concluding that the police didn’t need any more trouble for the night. Though there was a lot of beer, and beer cans, thrown around the crowd.

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I’m no zealous patriot, but I felt pretty proud of my city. Northeastern wasn’t the only place to celebrate. Watertown took to the street as well. Hundreds of Bostonians paraded down Commonwealth Ave, police stopping traffic to allow them to march. In a tamer form of remembrance, flowers, notes, and gifts have been left at the bombing site.

I’m sure that, as the suspect recovers, more details will start to emerge. We don’t know if anyone else was involved. We’re not sure of the brothers’ motives behind the bombing. Investigations will be done, I’m sure, as there are still so many questions still unanswered.

But for now, Boston can feel a bit of relief. I know I do.

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Edit: Cool, there’s video! Below is a video of the Northeastern students cheering on the police:

And here’s the national anthem:

So in 4 months I might be able to hug a koala bear. On the other hand, I could also be bitten by a deadly spider and die.

Back when I was in elementary school, I had big dreams.

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Today, I still have big dreams.

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Ok, well.

There’s more to it than that.

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Hmm.

I’m not helping my case.

Alright, fine. I’ve wanted to go on a long-term study abroad program for a while. When I went to Germany and Japan I felt as though it wasn’t long enough. It was like I had only started to get comfortable, know the culture, and make friends when I suddenly had to return to the USA.

On the classic exchange student graph

I had only really ever reached here:

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I never had culture shock, just culture surprises. I wasn’t around long enough to get homesick. And this might sound strange, but… I feel like I missed out on those. I want to learn how to adapt. I want to take the challenge of being in a new place and a new culture. I want to go through the shock, the depression, and the uncomfortable adjustment.

And, I want to beat it. And have a smashing good time.

But that’s just me.

I’m cheating a little. Australia’s an English-speaking country, which already makes the adjustment 10 times easier. I couldn’t help it, though– as I researched programs through Northeastern, Australia seemed to be one of the only nations actually offering biology courses to international students.

So, last October, I declared to my parents that I was going to apply to the University of Sydney. (I was actually hoping to go that fall, but I postponed it when my German host sister decided to visit America.) I went to my study abroad office. I called my academic advisor. I checked the USydney website. And I submitted my application.

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And I waited.

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Finally, a couple weeks ago, I opened up my e-mail at work…

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I was accepted! University of Sydney accepted me for their “winter” semester (our summer time) running from July to November! Whoa geez. I guess I’m going to Australia!

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I still have things to do before it can actually happen, though. I have to find my own housing in a city on the other side of the world. I need to apply for my absurdly priced $600 visa. I have to book that $1,000 one-way ticket to Sydney. Did I mention that Sydney’s one of the most expensive cities in the world?

But, yeah. I thought I’d just let you know.

Coming soon in Vy’s life: Platypi, potoroos, and poisonous things!

Husky Hunt: Northeastern does scavenger hunts right

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One of the biggest events at Northeastern every year is a little game known as Husky Hunt. Husky Hunt is, in short, a scavenger hunt. It’s been going on for a few years now (I think the first one was… 2005? 2006?) and is hosted by NU’s Resident Student Association.

Husky Hunt has escalated in popularity in recent years. I believe that, this year, somewhere around 120 teams or so registered to participate. (Don’t quote me on that! I heard it down the grapevine.)

That may sound strange to you. I mean, why do so many college kids want to do a scavenger hunt so badly? What makes it so great?

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Husky Hunt may be a scavenger hunt, but it’s a scavenger hunt taken to epic proportions. First, Husky Hunt takes place over a course of 24 hours. No breaks. That’s 24 hours that participants have to stay awake. And, in the case of many kids (like me) we also have class, work, and the like before the hunt begins, forcing us to stay up even longer.

Second, Husky Hunt isn’t restricted to just Northeastern’s campus. Nope, Husky Hunt takes place all over Boston. And even more: clues are also in Cambridge, Brookline, Somerville, Quincy… hell, there have been clues in Rhode Island before.

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I should mention that cars aren’t allowed. No, hunters must make do without the use of motorized vehicles. (Public transportation is okay, though. Taxis are not.)

Finally, the prizes for winning Husky Hunt are crazy. One year, all the members of the winning team received Kindle Fires. Another year, they all got round-trip plane tickets to anywhere in the US. This is serious business.

Husky Hunt is simply one of those things you have to do before graduating. Even if you lose– and Husky Hunt is super competitive– it’s all about the experience.

I had to do it.

Not that it’s easy to become a participant, either. First, you have to set up a team of exactly 12 members. Then, you have to get your team qualified. I said earlier that around 120 teams signed up. Only 50 actually get to hunt. How does RSA decide who’s in and who’s out?

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In order to weed out the less serious teams, RSA releases a quiz to every team captain. The team must finish the quiz within a day. The quiz is only a dozen questions or so– but they are the most insane of questions. 

Like, not even brain benders. Just impossible riddles with the most ambiguous of hints that you really have to get lucky to solve.

I can’t even provide an example.

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If the team manages to pass that, they are then able to participate in Husky Hunt. Husky Hunt took place from 7PM, November 2nd (a Friday) to 7PM the next day.

As you can guess (because I’m writing about it now) I was on one of the qualifying teams.

Now, while Husky Hunt is a serious undertaking, a lot of people just do it for fun. As a result, Husky Hunt teams can be divided into a few different categories:

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I was, surprisingly enough, on a serious team. My team was comprised of mostly seniors, seniors who had done the Hunt before. Last year, their team had placed 5th out of 50 teams. This year was their last shot, so they were here to win.

And so was I. My roommates had put together their own team, and it was only natural that I had to beat them.

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That Friday, the hunt began.

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Each team received a set of hints– a set that numbered over 600 clues. 600. Most of these clues were locations in and around Boston. Teams were supposed to find these locations and take photos at them. The photos are then submitted to RSA before the end of the hunt on a USB drive.

That wasn’t the only thing going on, though. RSA also ran a constant stream of on-campus challenges. Races. Puzzles. Games. At each challenge, only a limited number of people could participate. Teams would receive text alerts throughout the 24 hours, leading to this every time a new one arrived.

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There were even Twitter challenges, Youtube challenges, challenges demanding that you bake RSA a cake, or buy them Pokemon cards, or…

My team didn’t do any of that.

We had our reasons. I mean, the on-campus challenges are fun, but competitive. I was on a team full of engineers and gamers and science-y kids. We were up against track stars and hockey players and general jocks.

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Instead, we focused on the clues. The locations. What we lacked in athleticism, we would make up in intellect. Or with this insane phone app one of our members developed:

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That member flew in from across the country to participate in Husky Hunt. That’s true devotion.

At any rate, our team split up into groups in order to cover more ground. I was put into the “fast” group– aka the team that covered the most distant clues. I’m no athlete, but I had confidence. I could bike. I could survive this 24 hours.

Since I’m living and breathing and writing this post now, I obviously survived.

But only barely.

That night, I saw more of Boston than I have… ever. We biked everywhere. From Northeastern to the North End to Science Park to Cambridge, circling around for miles, looking for clues. Take a look! (Photo has been edited to reflect emotional state at the time: )

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Accordingly, I learned a little bit more about Boston and our nation’s history.

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I also learned that everywhere can be biked to. EVERYWHERE! 

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I learned the limits of my (lacking) physical prowess. At a certain point of the hunt (probably around 4 AM or so) I definitely started to feel the effects of sleep deprivation, freezing temperatures, and physical exhaustion.

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The fact that we were biking around Charlestown at 4AM, when it was completely quiet and deserted and eerie, didn’t help.

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By the time daylight arrived again, my team barely spoke to each other. No small talk was exchanged as we biked. We only spoke when it was completely necessary.

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Which was just as well. By the end, everything seemed surreal. Like I was dreaming. It was probably a bad sign.

In total, I think I was actually biking around 9 hours or so. Which actually isn’t too bad– I have friends who were up and about for the full 24 hours. My team had some time to take breaks– as we did in the Northeastern library.

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A couple of hours before the 7PM Saturday deadline, we crunched through all of our photos, put ’em together on a flash drive, and rushed to NU to hand them in to RSA. As a congratulations for completing the hunt, RSA gave out free ice cream.

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And that was that. Husky Hunt 2012 was over. I returned home and proceeded to sleep for 13 hours.

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But who won?

RSA took their time grading each team’s submission, or maybe they didn’t– they had a lot of clues to look through, after all. Either way, we didn’t find out the results until a month later. They announced the results on a boat.

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Yeah. Like an actual boat.

All Husky Hunt volunteers and participants are invited to a cruise each year after the hunt is over. There’s a bar (for 21+ only, of course) a dance floor, a DJ, some food…

While not everyone was enthusiastic about being in the emotionally taxing Husky Hunt, the cruise everyone could enjoy. Including myself, as I went.

The cruise ran from 12AM to 3AM, since RSA really enjoys not letting people sleep. At the end, they announced the results, starting from last place and going up to first place.

I was nervous. My team had worked hard. I play to win. I wanted to win.

They got through the bottom 10…

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Then the next 10 teams…

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Then the next…

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And the next…

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And at this point I was freaking out a bit. My team had not been called yet, meaning we were in the top 10. The top 10! I listened in…

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8th! My team had placed in 8th. Not bad. We even got a prize!

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And then Husky Hunt was truly over.

So the question remains: Would I do it again?

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Though my friends won’t agree with me, I had a blast doing Husky Hunt. Even though I was with people I didn’t know, going places I’ve never been, it was simply… an experience. We were cold. We were tired. We were miserable. Don’t get me wrong. But there’s something about Husky Hunt that makes people do it over and over and over again. Is it the sheer scale of the event? The camaraderie? The whole experience? I don’t know, but it’s there.

So, Northeastern kids? Do the hunt. At least once.

Or don’t. Less competition for when I rock ultimate at Husky Hunt next year.

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Can I just talk about Assassin’s Creed III for a moment? I just finished it and now I’m all like

Everyone’s a little bit racist…

…even against their own race.

Subconsciously, even.

Including me.

Last month, the Northeastern Vietnamese Student Association held a design contest. They wanted to print some custom hoodies. Photoshop-user as I am, I decided to enter with my own designs, which you can see here.

I entered my design and the VSA members voted on it. And I won! It was very exciting, until my dear roommate noticed something was a little off…

No, they couldn’t. As a result, I was asked to redesign the hoodie with the dog outside of the bowl. But when I did…

The VSA e-board decided to have its members vote again. This time, a different design was chosen– one that, in my opinion, is equally cool if not more cool!

But what about me? The winner of the design contest was promised a free hoodie. Except now, not only had I not won, I wouldn’t be able to get a hoodie of my own design. So the NUVSA e-board cut me a deal.

Was that okay? Hellz yeah it was okay! So I ran off and made another design, just for me.

I guess I didn’t learn my lesson.

If job interviews were graded, I would get an F minus.

So I’m trying to go on co-op next semester.

Or should I say, cooperative education. It’s when a school tries to integrate classroom learning with real-life work experience. Northeastern, which is built on the philosophy of “experiential education,” drives this point hard with its students. The majority of kids at NU get some sort of work experience while going here, whether it be an internship, volunteering, or, of course, the famous co-op.

In this context, co-op refers to a 6-month long time where a student doesn’t take classes and works full-time instead. There are a lot of variations of the co-op (like, 4-month co-ops, part-time co-ops where kids pick up a second job as well, etc.) I want the full shebang, though. 6 months. Full-time. Working in a company.

Last I checked, NU actually has the #1 Career Services in the nation. We’ve got lots of resources to help kids get jobs, not to mention a lot of connections to potential employers. However, this doesn’t mean that an NU kid will be handed a job on a silver platter.

Like with finding any job, we have to go through the whole process. Including:

That’s right. I’ve been interviewing. It’s been a, uh, terrifying process, to say the least. I mean, the only other time I’ve interviewed for a job was when I applied to McDonald’s. And that doesn’t even count as an interview.

So I went to my first real interviews last week. The company I was interviewing with happened to be a larger one, with several different departments. However, candidates were not told which branch they were interviewing with until the actual meeting itself. (The job description was just a very generalized “Research Assistant.”)  In other words, I went with really no knowledge of what exactly I was interviewing for.

Thus, I had an interview that looked like this.

This was off to a good start. And then it gets even better.

And to kick it off:

So I didn’t get that job.

(But never fear! I actually got hired for that company, under a different department. That guy seemed to like my rants about the importance of organization and how awesome research is. And I took the job. Coming in January: Vy is gainfully employed!)

Here’s a husky in a bowl. I hope you like it.

I am just totally and utterly

In the meantime, please enjoy this quick designs I did for my school’s Vietnamese Student Association. I whipped these up SUPER fast, so they’re not the cleanest! Hopefully you get the gist.

Meanwhile, did I mention that I got hired for co-op next semester? Chyeah!

I get to meet my hero! (Art Spiegelman, author of Maus)

I MET ART SPIEGELMAN!!!

Art Spiegelman, for those who don’t know, is a Pulitzer-Prize winning cartoonist  best known for his comic book memoir, Maus. The two-volume graphic novel details the life of Art’s father, a survivor of Auschwitz, and the complicated relationship between Art and his father as a result of the Holocaust. Art Spiegelman is also known for being a pioneer in underground comix, pushing experimental comics to their limit. And finally, he is a huge proponent for “comics-as-art,” advocating that comics are more than just pulp superheroes for kids– rather, spun the right way, comics can have reach all audiences and have a huge emotional impact.

A bit of Maus' first pages.

All of these things I admire, and Spiegelman has proved a huge inspiration for me quite directly. In ninth grade, my school required us to submit an entry to the Mordechai Anielewicz Creative Arts Competition— a regional contest where kids submit art pieces about the Holocaust. I went completely off my nut, and, over a period of two months, wrote a whole graphic novel spanning a little over 100 pages. Yeah. It sounds unreal even now. Better yet, I drew the entire thing with Sharpies, so by the end I looked a little like this:

The weekend before it was due I actually pumped out 40 pages in two days. It was a surreal experience.

This comic will never see the light of day, because I wrote it five years ago and therefore it’s total and utter crap. Terrible art, choppy pacing, underdeveloped story– it’s a bit embarrassing. But it was definitely an achievement for little ninth grade me, and it was completely inspired by Art Spiegelman’s work.

So when I saw a poster announcing that Art Spiegelman was giving a guest lecture at NU, I was more than a little excited.

After confirming that this was actually happening, I proceeded to freak out to all my friends:

The lecture was titled “What the %@&*! Happened to Comics?” and basically featured Spiegelman walking us through the history of comics in North America. He also elaborated on how he got into the comics industry, how he ended up writing Maus, infusing the whole thing with both wit and depth. And I, the whole time, as a comic nerd, was grinning like a fool:

He even put to words what I’ve been trying to figure out for quite a while now. People have often asked me why I like comics so much, and honestly, I’ve never had an answer. Which is a problem when you’re at a college interview, and the intimidating successful woman doctor asks you, condescendingly, why comics are your “thing.”

This is actually exactly what happened at my interview for Harvard. And, in fact, we were discussing Maus.

And then Art Spiegelman comes along and argues that are just as effective– sometimes more effective– as other forms of expression. According to Spiegelman, this is because “comics echo the way the brain works. People think in iconographic images, not in holograms, and people think in bursts of language, not in paragraphs.” I couldn’t have said it better myself.

So yeah. The lecture was amazing. But the best was the reception. The crowd wandered out of the auditorium, helped themselves to drinks, and waited for the chance to meet Art himself.

Coffee was not a good idea. By the time Art Spiegelman came out, I was positively jumpy:

BUT I GOT TO MEET HIM! AND SHAKE HIS HAND! Mr. Spiegelman was really, really nice and willing to listen to everyone, even jittery ol’ me.

But he was very patient, and politely asked me what comic artists I liked:

IT WAS PRETTY AWESOME. I never thought I’d get to meet one of my cartooning idols. I couldn’t stop grinning for the next hour.

Probably the most memorable moment, though, was when he was talking to a girl who was in line in front of me. She asked the question I actually wanted to say:

He reacted with surprise.

And he said it with a straight face.

And then what he said surprised me:

I was shocked.  I’ve always seen cartooning as a goal, something to strive for. A dream. But for him, a cartoonist of such huge prestige and success, it was not?

But at the same time, I realized, his words reflected my own feelings. I don’t know why I like to read comics. I especially don’t know why I like to draw comics, as it is a time-consuming and often agonizing experience. But it’s something I’ve always done, since age 7. It’s something I’ve just… had to do. That’s why I taught myself how to draw. That’s why, contrary to my parents’ hopeful predictions, I still haven’t “outgrown” comics. That’s why this blog exists. I may get my BS in biology. I can go on and get my graduate degree. A PhD, even. I could work for a company. Or maybe run my own research. Or completely change my major to International Business and work in Yugoslavia, or maybe become an accountant destined for a cubicle. Who knows? The future is totally up in the air. Except for one thing: comics. In no future of mine, in no projections or plans or daydreams or bucket lists, do I ever see myself not drawing comics.

Because comics are a passion that will stay with me the rest of my life. I know that I will never stop drawing.

And the rest will fall into place.

I have an Asian nightmare

I had a horrible nightmare the other night:

Oh wait. It doesn’t stop there. It gets better.

My sleepy subconscious was in legitimate agony. Yeesh. Dreams are weird.

Speaking of dreams, I forgot to mention here what is old news to my friends: one of my dreams is, indeed, coming true!

At the beginning of this semester, I applied for one of Northeastern’s Dialogue of Civilizations programs. These programs, exclusive to NU, are kind of like a summer study abroad, except with a much greater focus on cultural immersion and experience rather than just taking courses in a different country. For example, there are Dialogues where kids learn about healthcare in Australia, micro-financing in Cuba, or photography in Italy.

I applied for the Language Immersion Dialogue to Japan.

It was a bit of a long shot, actually. I’m just a freshman. My Japanese, when I applied, was… rusty. So when I went to interview for the program, I kind of freaked out:

But… I guess I did okay! Because, last month, I got an e-mail…

I was accepted! Oh my goodness gracious, I was accepted. I couldn’t believe it!

Especially because I’m the only freshman going on the trip. Everybody else is an upperclassman. I just… can’t… I don’t…

So this summer, from May 11th to June 19th, one of my longtime dreams is finally coming true. I’m going to Japan! 日本に行く!I’m still in shock, really. The best part is that my scholarship pays the tuition costs– so I’ll only have to pay about $700 instead of $10,000. Not a bad deal, for sure.

And this time, I’ll remember my camera!

I’m gonna be a judo master (once I learn to, uh, roll on the ground)

I’ve always wanted to learn a martial art.

I’m going to admit that it’s partially because of comics. When your first manga (which I read at the tender age of 7) was about badass cyborg hunter-warriors beating the bloody crap out of each other, the ability to fight would seem desirable.

When I was in middle school, in fact, I coerced my parents into signing me up for a karate class. Except it was Tiger Schulmann’s Karate, a large mixed martial arts chain in my region. I soon discovered that the class was more about building little kids’ self-esteem than actually learning karate. Kids advanced belts depending on how long they had been at the dojo and not so much on skill. When I got there, I was already better than many of the kids. (Just because I was older and more coordinated, and they were like, 6 years old.) And, being in my cynical pre-teen years, I quickly tired of my “sensei” preaching the value of believing in myself.

And then I transferred to another dojo that was so hardcore I was scared out of my mind. Thus ended my venture into karate.

But now, I’m a bit more mature.  I understand that martial arts takes commitment. It takes practice and refinement. I’m old enough to understand that I won’t be able to learn it instantly.

And I’m still immature enough to want to beat the crap out of people.

Well, okay, only in self-defense and if they attack me first. But living in a city– I’d like to know how to defend myself, you know?

So this semester, I signed up for one of Northeastern’s instructional programs, for judo. For those who don’t know what judo is, it’s a modern and combative martial art that focuses on grappling rather than striking. It’s been refined into a competitive sport, complete with rules, a scoring system, and an official slot at the Olympics. Northeastern has a team, which appealed to me– I could be able to pursue judo beyond just a basic class!

Granted, of course, that I survive.

I’ve been to a few classes, and it’s hysterically fun. I also suck at it. Our sensei is a large man from Thailand who resembles a giant panda (one that could kill you in an instant, of course)

He’s a hilarious guy, though absolutely serious about his sport. Some of the stories he’s told us…

Cheerful. Then again, it’s entirely true. Judo is a sport of throwing. If you can’t protect yourself when you’re thrown, you could be seriously injured. Our sensei also told us how

So far, then, we’ve primarily been learning how to, well, roll on the ground. Which sounds like it’s easy. Except I suck at it. No kidding– I’m the worst in the class.

Oh, sigh. Sensei even had to defend me:

It matters little, though. I’ve never really had much natural athletic ability– I’m the type who needs lots and lots and lots of practice. So I’ll get better! And I love the class– it’s surprisingly fun! While we spent the first class rolling and learning how to fall, we moved onto something a little different the second class:

Even more awkward was when I was paired up with a guy:

Even more awkward was when we learned our first grapple hold:

But the class is really, really fun! I absolutely love it, even if I do suck. I just wish I had more free time to practice. Because I definitely need to catch up with the rest of the class…

One of these days, I tell you! I will be a JUDO MASTER!