Saturday, November 27, 2010
Although I have always interacted with hearing people, I did not live with one until my freshman year of college. It was quite the experience at first. I had anticipated frustrations, challenges and lots of awkward moments. Needless to say, it was not what I had expected. Haley and I lived with mutual respect and understanding. Communication was generally very easy and superficial. My sophomore roommate, Caroline was a bit different. Even though we are great friends, living with her was not quite what I had expected. I think this time, it had to do with the living environment. We had a wall that split our room into two. She had her space and I had mine. And we lived in the dorms. So it wasn’t necessarily living together. We also had different circles of friends.
This year is the year that has really put things into perspective. Hearing people are so fascinating! My roommates, Mary Beth and Sarah both are huge fans of music and in particular, Taylor Swift. They play music as much as they can, especially when cooking or eating or pretty much anytime they’re in the apartment. Sometimes I feel a bit left out watching them belt out the words to the song. Living with two hearing people certainly is different than living with one hearing person. The conversations are a bit faster paced but lively. They have unknowingly made me a better listener. As they converse, I work hard to read their lips and listen. Externally, it may seem that I am listening as intently as I always have, but internally, I struggle. It is not their fault; it’s just the way things are.
I’ll admit that I was nervous about living with them. I realize that I require a bit more attention and help than the average roommate. Initially, I did not want to test their patience, see how much of my deafness they could handle. Fortunately, I was being ridiculous. My worries and fears diminished the second I felt their warm welcome.
Living with a deaf family has its advantages, staying up late and making as much noise possible are two of the great advantages. Mary Beth and I had a bit of a squabble about the annoying things we did. I would close the door a bit too loudly in the morning when I would go off to class and she would turn on the bathroom light when I was headed to bed. So far, these mini issues have been fixed.
Funny story – Apparently, I brush my teeth in a very weird way. I brush my teeth in a certain way which doesn’t seem normal. According to my roommates, it sounds very circular and slow, much unlike theirs. It was then when I realized that I had learned things in a completely different way. Most children learn certain things such as teeth brushing through sound and model it as they heard it whereas I did not.
These lovely ladies have changed my life so much over such a short period of time. I owe them much gratitude. I cannot believe a semester has already flown by. Each day I spend with them, I feel incredibly lucky. Recently, I noticed Sarah becoming more conscious of how to make things easier for me in terms of communication. We were walking back from the BSC with another friend and he was telling a story. Sarah walked in between me and him, suddenly, she walked over to the other side of our friend because she knew it would make it easier for me to lip read Geoff. While that moment may seem like a typical thing to her, it meant the world to me. That single act of kindness showed me the trueness of our friendship. Mary Beth has always been such a great friend of mine, but it seems that living with her has strengthened that bond. Both Mary Beth and Sarah have been learning sign language throughout the semester and it has been so much fun signing with them. When we go out with multiple friends and I get lost in the craziness of things, I know I can look over to one of them and they would rescue me. For that, I am forever grateful. I will always hold them dear to my heart, no matter what happens in the future. They truly are amazing, beautiful, and wonderfully weird women. I am proud to call them my roommates and great friends.
In the words of Winnie the Pooh “If you live to be 100, I hope I live 100 minus 1 day, so I never have to live without you.”
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Today, as I sit in my classes, listen to my professors lecture about philosophy, media, and society; I yearn to be back in Taiwan, celebrating with my teammates, feeling on top of the world. I really do miss it. The realization of a dream happens in the blink of an eye. It lasts a moment and then it’s gone, part of the past. A lifetime of training and sacrifices were confined into this one moment. What a life changing moment it was. I look at the world differently, I see myself differently, I observe people differently. That day changed me forever. On September 14, 2009 I had done two things, I achieved my dream and I destroyed my dream. No one ever thinks about what happens after the dream is accomplished. We always think about getting there and being happy once the journey is over. We definitely do not think about what happens afterwards.
The aftermath was, in short, confusing for me. I had lost myself; I did not know what to dream about anymore. The Olympic dream took over my life. I had sacrificed everything for it and did not think about what to do after. I still don’t know what my new dream is. It is perplexing; I don’t know what to sacrifice for, why to live, how to create a new dream. It is all new to me and I ache for that moment of clarity and achievement I had in Taiwan with my teammates.
The gold medal currently sits in my room, on my desk, safe in its wooden box, collecting dust. The pictures have become permanently imprinted in my mind, every time I close my eyes, I see the smiling faces of my wonderful teammates celebrating, crying and laughing. Don’t get me wrong, life after Taiwan has been amazing. Studying abroad expanded my horizons so much more and I would never trade any of my experiences for a billion dollars. But nothing beats the Olympic dream I spent 21 years chasing.
I never imagined the glorious feeling I would share with my teammates, we are forever linked because of that. Though we have been apart for a year now, I still carry them in my heart and hope for a happy reunion in the near future.
A year ago today, my team and I smiled proudly with tears and sweat streaming down our faces as we watched the flag rise, what a powerful moment.
I miss you Team USA 2009!
Monday, May 31, 2010
Angel in the Fields was one of the many pubs my friends and I enjoyed meeting up and hanging out. It really is a one of a kind pub. I miss it.
When I returned back to the US, one of the most common questions asked were "Which country is your favorite?" I know that I have said so much about each place I visited and each time I said that I loved the country more than the last one. No matter where I went, the grass was always greener. Even though I went to so many fabulous places and spent hours exploring in each place, there is no way to see it all. Don't get me wrong, I am beyond grateful for being able to experience everything I experienced in the past four months.
Above is one of the roads the lead to Regents College and Regents Park. I frequented this road nearly everyday. Below is one of the last pictures I took of London, the bridge is Tower Bridge, one of the most iconic bridges in the world.
Four months in Europe, that's all it took. Four months in Europe changed my life, my perspective of how the world works and what makes it spin round and round. I can only wait until my return to Europe. I hope it is sooner, rather than later.
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
There are quite a few parking spaces designated for bicycles and mopeds. When I saw my first one, I thought I was in Taiwan again. Confused, I looked around to see if there were any Taiwanese signs or delicious chicken dumpling carts. During my semester abroad I have learned that no matter where you go, there are all kinds of interesting people, especially when you go downtown. There was a guy walking around with a musical cart with his cat sleeping in the front. Nervously, I walked by him and turned around quickly, snapped a quick shot and then walked away as quickly as I could.
Mary had recommended a few places for me to see in Geneva, I figured it was a good place to start. The first place I went to was the Saint Pierre Cathedral, I really did not want to go into another Cathedral and see the same kind of stuff I had seen all semester. It's a good thing I went anyway because this cathedral had the most interesting basement! Yes, that's right, basement. I went down to the foundation of the church and amazingly, the church had been built upon another church upon church upon church, FOUR churches in total. Really fascinating stuff. My jaw dropped as I walked around, reading about the structures and history behind it. It became an archaeological dig when it was first discovered and there were several different cultures that built the churches. After picking up my dropped jaw, I went to see another suggested place, the Reformation Wall.
The entrance of the church was not exactly what I had pictured. It appeared to have a dominant Greek theme. The stained glass was absolutely stunning. I never get tired looking at stained glass in various churches. I think it is amazing how beautiful the colors are when the sun shines through. It is one of my favorite characteristics of churches.
St. Peter's has quite an history, there are several churches underneath the present church. People are currently theorizing the lifestyles of those who once walked through the halls of the churches. I thought it was eerie how several churches had been built upon each other, the thought of what lies beneath brings goosebumps to my skin.
The third day in Switzerland was memorable, Mary remembered that in a town called Lausanne was a pretty significant museum. Can you guess what this museum is? Mary described the museum to see if I could guess. IT IS THE OFFICIAL OLYMPIC MUSEUM! I got so excited and could not sleep the night before. Lausanne, by luck, is on the way to Interlaken. So, instead of going straight to Interlaken, I stopped over in Lausanne to see this wonderful museum.
My journey to Interlaken was quite easy, I had one minor bump though. I had to change trains in Bern and I nearly missed it. I must have been emotionally drained from the Olympic Museum, I fell asleep on the train and if it weren't for the guy sitting across from me, who knows where I might have ended up? Oops...
When my fellow Coloradoans met the other people who were canyon jumping (something very similar to bungee jumping, only instead of being yanked back up, it's a giant swing), they realized that they would get their money's worth from Canyon jumping and switched over from bungee jumping. They convinced me that canyon jumping was so much more intense and it didn't take much to convince me. So, instead of bungee jumping, I went canyon jumping. It was exhilarating. I really really enjoyed it thoroughly and I only wish I could have gone a thousand more times. Basically, you are on a platform at one end of the canyon and you jump off that platform feet first. You free fall about 2/3rds of the way and finally, the rope catches you and you really take off, swinging across the canyon. It really is a liberating experience and I would do it again in a heartbeat.
I met some of the coolest people during this whole thing. Everyone was from all over, some were military, some were roadies (one is working for Whitney Houston and her current European tour!), and those Coloradoans really helped make it all that much better. I ended up hanging out with the roadie and the military guys afterward.
Oh, Did I mention? - my family had no idea I went to Switzerland by myself. I can only imagine the reactions they are having after reading this blog.