Downtown Done Right

Downtown Done Right

In my JMC305 Multimedia Journalism course at Arizona State University, my final was a group project. Four ASU students and I made a website where we provided prospective ASU downtown Phoenix students with advice from fun things to do around campus to how to not gain the “Freshman 15”. We made videos and infographics and also wrote stories. Check out the website downtowndoneright.wordpress.com.

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How “Fresh off the Boat” nails growing up with Asian Immigrant Parents

As a young Asian American, I always believed that there was not enough representation of Asian Americans in mainstream media. The only Asian role model I had growing up was Mulan. Do not get me wrong, I love Mulan because she is a badass female protagonist. But, my point is that there was only one Asian figure I can look up to and relate to. Additionally, any Asian representation on television was portrayed in an inaccurate and insulting way. For instance, Long Duck Dong from 16 Candles. However, on February 4, 2015, a show I can finally relate to aired on ABC.

Fresh off the Boat is based on Eddie Huang’s memoir. The memoir is set in the 1990s and revolves around Eddie, a young teenage boy who loves hip-hop, and his Taiwanese American family.  The show follows his family relocating from Washington D.C. to Orlando, Florida in pursuit of the “American Dream”.

Both of my parents moved from Vietnam to America. My mom arrived in America by ship in the 1970s with her mom, dad and five siblings, and my dad arrived by plane in the early 1980s. Initially, they both had nothing in America and had to start from the very bottom. However, both of my parents did well in school, went to college, and started to climb the economic ladder. But, the climb was not as easy as it seemed. They had to learn English, secure housing and work and break cultural barriers. They also learned how to raise me in a completely new and unfamiliar culture. Fresh off the Boat perfectly portrays growing up with Chinese immigrant parents, and here are multiple scenes that nailed it.

    1. Becoming too “Americanized”

In Season 1 Episode 13, Eddie’s mom, Jessica, realizes that the family has assimilated into the white culture surrounding them in Orlando.  She panics when she sees that she made macaroni and cheese for dinner, which demonstrates how comfy she and her family has gotten with American traditions. As a result of this realization, she tries to bring Chinese traditions back into their lives. She stresses how her family made sure she knew her own culture, and she wants to do the same for her three boys.

She sends her boys to Chinese school in Tampa, tries to introduce the boys to Chinese delicacies which include chicken feet and prohibited shoes in the house (even though “Louis’s wide feet make shoes like suction cups”).

I found myself drawing many parallels between my own upbringing and this episode. Although I consider my parents to be quite “Americanized”, they still made sure I followed Chinese traditions. I went out to eat dim sum with my family, did not (and still do not) wear shoes in the house, and I went to Chinese school for the majority of my childhood.

My parents made me go to Chinese school every Saturday for 10 years. Unlike the Huang boys, the ride to the school was not two hours long but instead 15 minutes long. At the time, my reaction to going to Chinese school was quite similar to the three boys in the show. I absolutely despised it and thought it was a waste of my time. Now, I realize how my parents did not want me to disconnect from my own culture, and I appreciate them for doing it. Not only does it give me an advantage in the workforce but it also helps me communicate with family members who do not speak English. In the show, the boys sometimes struggle with talking to their grandma, who is not fluent in English. Seeing those kinds of scenes made me feel extremely grateful to be able to communicate with my grandparents through Chinese.

2. Superstitions

Tetraphobia is the practice of avoiding instances of the number four. It is a superstition firmly rooted in East Asian nations since the Chinese word for “four” sounds very similar to the word for “death”.

In Season 1 Episode 11, Jessica faces her biggest challenge yet: selling a property at 44 West 44th Street. Jessica still manages to sell the house while standing outside on the curb and shouting at the couple touring inside about its features. However, her victory is cut short when she sees her commission check, which is numbered “4444”. She rips up the check, but Louis decides to tape it back up and buy a mechanical bull for his restaurant.The family faces multiple unfortunate events, including Eddie breaking his arm and child services visiting the family. I guess you can say it got wild.

My family, like the Huangs, do not like the number four. However, our fear of the number is not as extreme as the Huangs. In the show, there is a series of flashbacks that reveals clocks with upside-down fours and Evan turning the number three to “second three”. My family and I still say the number four, but we do try to avoid it if possible.

3. Our love for freebies

In the show’s first episode, Jessica and Eddie go to an American supermarket for the first time after Eddie insists he needs “white-people lunch” to fit in at his new school.  A supermarket employee approaches them with a free sample of chips and dip, and Jessica takes the whole bowl of chips. Personally, I found this scene hilarious because it reminds me of multiple occasions when my family and I took advantage of Costco samples.

There are multiple reasons as to why we Asians love to take advantage of freebies. *Disclaimer: these are observations I have made from personal experiences, and I do not mean to offend anyone by these next sentences*

Some Asians are stereotypically stingy and have the “why pay for it when you can get it for free” mindset. Additionally, when we can get something for free, we will most likely get more than one of the item. It is all about having a practical mindset: collect it and save it for a different, appropriate time. On the other hand, some Asians are highly competitive and are, in a way, hoarding as if it is a competition. There is the mentality that “if I do not take it, someone else is going to take it”.

4.  Success

Throughout the show, it is very evident Jessica and Louis put a huge emphasis on success. They want their three boys to do well in school, go to a good college and get a well-paying job in the future. Additionally, Jessica wants to be successful in the real estate business, and Louis wants his cowboy-themed restaurant to be a big hit. It is all related to their idea of the “American dream”.

As I mentioned before, both of my parents had it rough when they first came to America, and they did not have many luxuries growing up. My dad told me when he was a child, his family was so poor that he only had a tin to play with as a toy. They used to tell me when I was younger that because they did not have much growing up, they wanted to give me the best life possible. They enrolled me in art, piano, violin, tennis, figure skating and more just so I can experience things my parents could not when they were my age.

I can never thank my parents enough for everything they have done for me. I appreciate all the time and dedication they have put into my education and my upbringing. Yes, there are times when their tiger parentness gets a little out of hand, as seen in Fresh off the Boat, but I truly would not be the young woman I am today without them constantly pushing me to be my best self. So, to all my fellow, young Asian brothers and sisters out there, I know our parents can be a bit harsh and wack at times. But, just remember they are trying to help you succeed, and they do everything (yes, even the most insane and annoying things) out of love.

Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications

Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Communications opened the doors of their new building in downtown Phoenix on August 25, 2008. Cronkite is widely considered the best equipped, most advanced journalism education facility in the country. 

In this video, I take you guys on a tour not only of Cronkite but also its surroundings. I also give a little history of the building and talk to Danielle Malkin, a sophomore at Cronkite who studies broadcast journalism. You can find more info on the Cronkite school at cronkite.asu.edu!

How to NOT Gain the “Freshman 15”

First and foremost, I want to debunk the “Freshman 15” myth. There is no concrete evidence that proves college freshman gain 15 pounds during their first year of school.  However, there are studies that show college freshman gain approximately 2 to 5 pounds. Although it is not much, it is still concerning for students who want to stay fit in college. In this post, I will share my best tips to avoid gaining weight during your first year of college.

  1. Choose Healthy Foods

 

Being in a tiny dorm space filled with junk food under my bed is not the best situation one can put their self in. However, I have seen so many college students, myself included, with stacks and stacks of junk food in their dorm room. There may or may not have been nights where I completely devoured bags of Hot Cheetos. If you are a binge-snacker, I suggest filling your dorm with fruits, veggies, and more healthy snacks. Instead of having bags of chips, replace them with nuts, bars, or whatever healthy snack your heart desires. Many supermarkets near college campuses provide multiple healthy options. However, I highly suggest checking out Trader Joe’s healthy options (They are absolutely delicious). Although junk food is not the best for your diet, you do not have to give it up completely. Eat a little bit each day and pace yourself.

2. Take it easy when it comes to drinking
 

Whether you are drinking your third chai latte of the day, an energy drink, or a cup of beer at a frat party, those calories add up quickly. Instead of a sugary coffee, stick to black coffee or tea.

Freshmen should not be drinking alcohol in the first place, but it is bound to happen since alcohol is a huge part of college culture. “Calories from alcohol are ’empty calories’, they have no nutritional value,” according to drinkaware.co. “Most alcoholic drinks contain traces of vitamins and minerals, but not usually in amounts that make any significant contribution to our diet.” One pint of beer has as many calories as a large slice of pizza, so just remember, to limit your intake of alcohol or just avoid it if you are worried about gaining weight.

3. Do not skip breakfast

As many people have said, breakfast is the most important meal of the day, especially if you have an 8 a.m. class. You need the extra energy to stay focused in class! Additionally, skipping breakfast has been linked to weight gain, according to a study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology in 2003. They found that people who regularly skip breakfast had a higher risk of obesity. A second study, published in the Journal of Rural Medicine in 2014, found similar results and even noted that skipping breakfast was more strongly linked to weight gain than eating before bed — another common dieting faux pas. So remember to not skip breakfast!

 

Here are some healthy breakfast ideas to get you guys inspired!

4. Stay active

Grab a buddy, and hit the gym! Having friends to work out with makes exercise more fun, and it is not nearly as easy to ditch a workout when you know there will be people expecting to see you at the gym. ASU’s Downtown Phoenix campus has a wonderful gym filled with all the equipment you would ever need. Here is a video to help you all when it comes to working out in the gym!

I am going to be honest with you all, I hate the gym. I know that there are some people out there who are just like me who want to know how to stay fit without having to go to the gym. I walk to all of my classes, and I love to take leisure walks around Downtown Phoenix. There is just so much to explore! There are days where I just plug in my earbuds, listen to my favorite tunes and leisurely walk around the city. It is a nice way to have some alone time and simultaneously stay fit. It is also a great way to explore your college town!

Here are my favorite songs to listen to while I walk around the city:

5. Get more sleep!

As a college student, I understand an eight hour night’s rest is rare. However, studies have shown that if you snooze, you lose more pounds! According to a study done by the American Journal of Epidemiology, people who sleep less than seven hours per night are more likely to be obese. Make sure you are getting seven to nine hours of sleep a night. Not only will it help you lose weight but also give you extra energy to conquer the day!

Remember that all bodies are beautiful, and you are not defined by the number on the weight scale. Never forget these words of wisdom from Christina Aguilera herself.

Have a safe, happy and healthy first year in college!

How to Make Chocolate Chip Cookies

I have always considered myself a cookie connoisseur. I am always on the hunt for the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe. After searching for hours and hours on Pinterest for the perfect recipe, I have finally found the one. To share this remarkable discovery with you all, I decided to film myself following the recipe, step by step (with a little twist of my own). I hope you enjoy the video! Happy baking to you all!

California Looks Good in Lady Bird

Oscar-nominated film Lady Bird is a coming-of-age story about a high school senior in 2002, played by Saoirse Ronan, and is a semi-autobiographical tale of Greta Gerwig’s, writer and director, upbringing in Northern California. Both Lady Bird and Gerwig cast themselves as artistic spirits who want to flee Sacramento and head to the East Coast “where culture is” as quoted in the movie—only to realize two minutes too late that their hometown was a “beautiful place”. Gerwig has mentioned multiple times that Lady Bird is her love letter to Sacramento, so it is not a big surprise the majority of the movie was filmed there. However, there were a couple scenes that were filmed in Southern California. Watch my video on the Lady Bird filming locations if you are interested in embarking on your own Lady Bird adventure.