Friday, January 9, 2015

Getting a Taste of Christmas Spirit in Seattle

Happy New Year! I hope everyone enjoyed the holiday season, because I sure did. After a very hectic finals week,  I got to get away from Tacoma for a little more than a week. The first few days of Christmas break was a bit hectic because I got sick and had to go to the ER, but I got to enjoy a relaxing Christmas after I got better! I got to explore Seattle a bit and enjoy the Christmas spirit along with other cool and amazing things, and here are some activities that you all might be able to try if you are in the area next year during Christmas.

1. The Sheraton Seattle Gingerbread Village
When I was first told that I was going to see a gingerbread village, I imagined a group of small gingerbread houses. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the displays. These were very well-made works of art made from gingerbread and other yummy goodies. There was one which had famous buildings in Seattle and another which was Hawaiian themed. Even though the line to see the gingerbread village was really long, I highly recommend seeing this!

2. The Fairmont Teddy Bear Suite
There were teddy bears, teddy bears everywhere. This is also another Christmas event in Seattle, and it's absolutely adorable. The teddy bear suite is free admission (though you can donate to the Children's Hospital), and you get to walk around rooms with many teddy bears of different shapes and sizes. Taking pictures is highly recommended, especially with the giant teddy bears! You can find more information through their website:

3. Seattle Art Museum
If you go to the Seattle Art Museum, make sure you set aside a few hours, because there is a lot to see here. The Seattle Art Museum has different kinds of art: from Ancient Greek and Egyptian art to contemporary art. There are also many different art from different cultures. Right now, there is a special exhibition on American Pop Art, and I really enjoyed it. If you are familiar with Pop Art artists, the exhibition had some pieces by Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein, along with many other works of art. It's actually ending really soon, so if you haven't seen it, I recommend you go there right now!

4. REI
This store is for those outdoorsy people out there. REI has a lot of cool equipment if you're into camping, skiing, snowboarding, biking, etc. If you haven't done any outdoors activities in the Pacific Northwest, go to this store to get some ideas on what is out there! I've been to a few around Tacoma, but the one in Seattle is definitely bigger and more extravagant. There are some really cool sculptures and displays including the iron throne (for those Games of Thrones fans out there) made out of skies.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Where is Love?

Dear friends,

This is not an article about romantic love. In fact, I have never felt in love, so you won't get much advice from me.

But what I can tell you is that besides the autumn leaves, my other favorite thing to see as I walk across the campus is the different couples on campus.

They sit here and there, hold each other's hands, and they would just talk for a very long time. As I walk to class, I see some kissing each other goodbye, or when I am in the library, I see them studying right next to each other. You can be homosexual, heterosexual, bisexual, transgender, and nobody would care. This is what I love about PLU- always being accepting no matter how different you are from your peers.

You will find people smiling at you as they walk passed by;

You will find employers who are just like your grandparents who would offer you ice cream and tea after a long shift;

and supervisors who would prepare care package for you as final's week approaches;

You will find professors who would help you move out of your old apartment because you don't have a car, and professors who expect you to be good, encourage your to be good, and also inspire you to be good;
Photo by Amanda Brasgalla

You will find sweet greetings from front desk workers in each residential hall as you walk in and out throughout the day;

You will find people who are just like Olaf and give the warmest hugs;

You will find baristas working in the market who would break the rule just to satisfy your midnight craving for milk shake;

You will find janitors vacuuming and dusting and cleaning while the world is still dark and asleep;

You will find the university baker and her helpers baking at six in the morning so that you can get some warm and fresh baking goods when you are awake;

You will find delicious scones and cookies being offered in the library during the most dreadful final's week;

You will find RAs spending their own money to provide quality hand soap for you and your neighbors who live in the same wing;

You will find on a special Facebook page some heartwarming compliments, which come from those who are too shy to tell you ;

You will find friends who would cry with you, listen to you,

laugh with/at you,

sing for you,

go on adventures with you,
spend days and weeks with you,

and love you for who you are.

There are SO many more nice things you will find at PLU, so many more kind spirits you will meet at PLU, and so much more love you will feel at PLU. I just can't list them all. It is cliché, but love...

really is everywhere.

I will love you always,


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Music To My Ears

As I might have mentioned in a previous blog post before, I have been involved in music at PLU for the last two and a half years. In fact, music has played an important role throughout most of my life. I started taking piano lessons when I was 4, and have continued to take some type of music lessons. 17 years later, I'm so happy that PLU has helped me keep music a big part of life even though I am not a music major or minor.

Let me tell you about my involvement in music at PLU. First of all, to fulfill my requirement of receiving a music scholarship, I am required to take lessons and play in an ensemble. Lessons really help me develop my skills as an individual, while playing in the PLU Concert Band really allows me to play in a big group. Meanwhile, I also play in a saxophone quartet, and this is mainly for fun! I love playing in this small group and it's a lot of fun playing different types of music and experimenting with those.

PLU saxophone studio (taken by Erik Steigner)
Students who take music lessons are also required to participate in a studio class. This year, we had a very large studio class of 17 saxophone players! Our saxophone studio class plays in two concerts during the year. The first one in the Fall semester is the woodwind recital, usually in the beginning of December. The second one is a joint concert with the University of Puget Sound (another university in Tacoma) saxophone players, which is always a lot of fun! We take turns hosting the concert, and this year it is at PLU so you should come if you are in the area! Concert Band also has one concert per semester, and musicians work hard to prepare for this.

Unfortunately, since I will be busy doing research and working on my senior Capstone project, I will not be participating as much in music next semester. I'm really thankful for the opportunity that PLU has given me to continue playing music even through college, and I encouraging you to support the musicians at PLU whenever you get the chance to do so, because I personally think we have great instructors and musicians at PLU!

Enjoy the holiday season, and I will be back again in January!

With love,


Friday, December 5, 2014

Let's talk about FOOD! Well, more like let's talk about The Commons @ the AUC.

Hello Lutes and everyone else!

How has your week been? Some of the words that many might relate to are words like hectic, sleep-deprived and stressed.

Finals week is just around the corner and I'm sure everyone's preparing hard for this final battle!

Let's forget about all that for a while and talk about something that usually motivates people and enlightens moods.

FFFFFOOOOOODDDDDD! Not any food, PLU FOOD! Specifically, Food @ The Commons.

I had the pleasure of interviewing The Commons Student Manager, John Pham. He was nice enough to offer about 20 minutes of his time on a busy day at the cafe.

We chatted about how things worked at The Commons, how menus are prepared, feedback and improvements.

What are some of your day-to-day tasks/duties as a student manager?

  • Making sure that people show up.
  • Scheduling shifts. 
  • Running the service area.
  • Ensuring that stocks, ingredients, supplies etc. are adequate. 
  • Delegating tasks during shifts.
  • Maintaining a supervisory role.

Then we talked about food and related issues/items. 

  • Head chefs would decide menus for the year.
  • Feedback from everyone is welcomed and in fact, encouraged.
  • They do listen to what we want!
  • Our happiness is their main priority :)
  • There are dining committee meetings (panels) that are open to all students.
  • So if you want to voice an opinion or talk about food quality, choices etc. be sure to catch these meetings!
  • Menus for the week are posted online on the Commons webpage! Go to the PLU webpage and search for The Commons, or, just click here.
Anddddd.... Something we could all do to help out at The Commons.

  • Always remember to clean up after ourselves!
  • Bring your own dishes back to the machine that moves like a conveyor belt.. Apparently it's called the accumulator. 
  • Currently low on custodial staff so please remember to help out a bit in cleaning!
  • Oh and also, if you're not sure about recyclables, just put it on the accumulator. 
So, that's about it. Thanks again John, for your time.

Thank you for reading this and I hope you've learnt a bit more about The Commons, our main food provider on campus. 

Have a great weekend and take care always!


Thursday, November 27, 2014

My last fall visit day was bittersweet

Dear friends,

Only three more weeks! Then we can start packing for home to spend the holidays with our loving family. I haven't decided where to go this year, but I won't be able to make it home to China for sure. A fleeting glance, I realized that I have spent two years at PLU. It was long enough for me to finish my degree. But it was not long enough for me to say goodbye.

Last Friday, I helped set up the very last Fall Visit Day I'll ever attend. I had a great time, as always. 

This year's Visit Day was not as big as the previous years in terms of the number of students who attended the event, but we were able to connect with a European club from Green River Community College and also two students from Pierce College.

This year we also tried a new activity to serve the purpose of the campus tour, which we called Photo Scavengerhunt. Students who came were divided into three groups to compete with each other. Each group was provided with a campus map and a list of signature buildings on campus with short descriptions.

Gum Tree
The students were to locate where the buildings were, find the locations, and take pictures in front of the locations. Accompanied by the typical autumn rain, each group tried to complete the task within an hour. The winner who found the most of the locations won and of course they got prizes at then end. It was a new thing we decided to experiment this year. So far I have not heard any major complaints. So perhaps this can be a keeper for next year's event as well. As long as we don't get pouring rain, it is always a fun adventure exploring the campus in the dark.

Giant Slug
Glass art in the music building. I kind of reminded them to look up... 
Morken stairs. We were being followed by another group LOL
During dinner, some mentioned that PLU had much better food options compared to their college. I won't say who, but that comment made me smile :)

Then it was Global Getdown. An annual talent show held by the students. Many were great performances. The last few dances were brought by some authentic Mexican dancers. There were in traditional clothes and danced happily. I think we all had a blast.

Anyway, that was the end. It didn't feel real to me. But as I watched everyone getting into the van that was sending them home, I waved my goodbye. See you later maybe. And I hope you all a bright future.


Sunday, November 23, 2014

Making a Difference Through PLU Courses

This semester I have been enrolled in a School of Business course called "Principles of Marketing". Under the supervision of our Professor, Mark Mulder, we were given the task of creating a campaign for a real-life non-profit organization, Living Water International. Not only were we given the opportunity to gain first hand experience of creating and implementing a marketing campaign, we were able to make a difference. We were actually raising awareness of an important cause and raising funds to secure the installment of a well near Leon, Nicaragua by PLU students in March 2015.
One of our campaign photos. 
I have had the pleasure of working with an amazing marketing team, who since the beginning of the course have been extremely engaged and excited about our project. We created a video to raise awareness with facts about the water crisis, and to promote our main campaign event, a water walk.

The water walk held on November 21st, aimed to raise awareness and simulate the struggle that women and children go through every day to gather water that may not even be clean. Our goal was to have students carry a jerry can full of water a collective distance of 4 miles, the average distance woman and children walk every day, not including the extra 3 miles during the dry seasons. We also collected loose change from participants and non participants to help them realize that every penny counts just as every drop of water counts.

PLU students carrying the Jerry can.
The turnout for the event was great. Students walking by were happy to help us carry the jerry can and were taken aback by how heavy it was and how far children have to carry water every day. We were able to raise a lot of awareness and reached our goal of 4 miles in less time than anticipated. We would like to thank everyone who stopped by, participated and donated to this cause. It makes me very proud to go to a school who is so invested in bettering the lives of others and want to make a change in the world. If you want to make a difference, PLU is a great place to make it happen.

If you are interested in learning more about our partner organization or about the PLU Well project I have listed some great links below.

Living Water International's Website:

Read more about Lute experiences in Nicaragua:

Information about the study away course:

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Experiencing Different Cultures with Around the World

Around the World is an event that happens every year during International Education Week. In this event, students have the opportunity to share their home culture or the culture of a place they have studied away in the past. This allows PLU students to be immersed in different cultures and experience new things such as food and music, and even learn new things about a country that they may not have known about before.

This year, we had students representing Denmark, Norway, France, Morocco, Sweden, China, and Thailand. The Danish table was teaching students how to make Julehjeter (Christmas hearts) and were jamming out to Danish music. The Swedish table introduced students to some facts about Sweden through a short quiz (this wasn't easy!). The Chinese table served some dumplings, which were very tasty! The Moroccan table served a mint tea that smelled and tasted really good. Each of the tables brought a unique aspect to the event. I'm really glad that I got to spectator to  Around the World this year again, and I'm excited to see what will be done for this event next year!