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It is almost that time of the year again where people make wish lists, to-do lists, and all kinds of possible lists they can come up with. I, too, have a bucket list of things that I want to do before the year ends. Of course, some of them are leftovers from 2011. Those crossed out are the ones I have achieved.

  1. Have a toned and healthy body: Quite impossible. Food is just, you know, the most sacred thing to humanity. Just can’t let it go to waste.
  2. Travel to 3 different countries in the world: to Japan in February, to Indonesia in June, to America in August. I’m from Vietnam, by the way.
  3. Get into a good university: Here I am in Fontbonne.
  4. Earn some money by writing: Because I plan to become a writer. Thank you Fontbonne for paying me for my written words.
  5. Get A for Math: It was easier than I thought.
  6. Exercise everyday: I’m crossing this because walking 40 minutes to and from school counts. And 15 minutes to Starbucks.
  7. Travel to 3 cities in America: Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Chicago. My next stop is San Francisco. Yes, I do love traveling.
  8. Save $100 every month: Simply impossible…
  9. Make 3 new friends in America: And I made way more than 3.
  10. Learn a new language: I’m learning Chinese.

So I was able to do 8 out of 10. It was pretty impressive because last year I only did 5/10. Guess America is quite the place for me! I have not made a list for 2016 yet, but it would possibly filled with travel and diet plans.

How about you? Did you achieved your goals for 2015? Tell me!

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There are only 2 weeks left until the very end of this semester. After this is a 1-month break for all of us. Many of us may have cool travelling plans or just go home (if you are not from St. Louis) for Christmas. And of course, many of us would stay in St. Louis and enjoy the Midwest cold.

Food is of course an inevitable part of holidays. Holidays are to gain weight. But not necessarily if you have good AND healthy food – most famous Asian dishes are like that. Though Yelp is pretty helpful, the reviews are not always accurate. Now, I, as an Asian food lover that has tried many Asian restaurants since I first cam to St. Louis, have 3 recommendations to make your cold winter warmer.

  1. Hongkong Dimsum: WeiHong seafood restaurant                                                                                                                 Where: 7740 Olive Blvd, St. Louis, MO 63130                                                                                                                         Why: Though are Not high-rated compared to Lulu and Wonton King, this place is my personal favorite. The Dimsum is served from 12-3pm and are all newly cooked. The place looked sketchy and old but it makes this restaurant look more mysterious. The Dimsum is the best compared to other places since its fillings are tastier. The service is also quite good during non-rush hours.
  2. Pad Thai: Pad Thai                                                                                                                                                                         Where: 12676 Lamplighter Square, Saint Louis, MO 63128                                                                                                  Why: I I I have to agree with Yelp on this one. I had the best.Pad.Thai.ever. There are lots of meats and beansprouts compared to the usually large portion of noodle. It is not too sweet like how they often make it in Thai restaurants in America. This restaurant gives a more authentic taste of Thailand and authentic is always best.
  3. Vietnam’s Bun Bo Hue: Truc Lam                                                                                                                                              Where: 3737 Gravois Ave, Saint Louis, MO 63116                                                                                                                  Why: You have the fullest, tastiest, hottest Bun Bo Hue here. Though Pho are generally more well-known as the signature Vietnamese food, Bun Bo Hue has been rising in popularity. I have eaten this dish at more than 5 Vietnamese restaurants including the famous ones, but this one here in Truc Lam got my heart. The portion is relatively bigger and there are more things to eat inside the bowl, compared to other places. Their service is fast, too. This place is a must if you want to try Vietnamese food.

Hope this list saved you some time choosing where to eat during your winter break!

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I speak three languages. One is my mother tongue. One is part of the school curriculum since I was young. One was self-picked-up due to mere personal interest.

Learning languages is difficult, not to mention languages that are not in the same “system” as your mother tongue. Take Chinese and English as examples: the basic writings are nothing alike, and due to cultural difference, meaning of expressions are half a world apart.

However, if you yourself have that thirst and determination, being fluent in another language is not that tough a task. It is hard, of course, but it will be enjoyable if you love the language enough.

I have to say this upfront, as for me, learning language is not just learning how to listen, speak, write or read. Language is the firmest and trickiest boundary between cultures, it is an inevitable part of any culture. If you plan to get over the fence, be ready to learn how to deal with the thorns attached. This post, however, will not show you how to absorb the culture, because that would be up to individual’s interest and ability. Here, I would only show the general steps that I took to be able to “make Chinese sounds,” because it takes a lot more than this to “speak Chinese.”

I am a Chinese-drama addict. In other words, I could not possibly live without watching at least 1 episode of Chinese drama per week. During breaks it’s per day. After a while, I realized that I could understand what the people are saying without looking at the subtitles, sometimes. And then I learned the words, the sound, and the way some common phrases are used. That was my first layer of foundation.

For Asian languages like Chinese, once you get a hold of how grammar works, it is actually a simpler job to understand the language. I bought several textbooks on this and started from scratch, annotating all grammar points from the simplest greetings to more complicated structures. This set of notes never left my side. Whenever I have time, I would take them out and read them thoughtfully, but would not force them into my memory. Until this point, I had had some grammar foundation.

And then, I went back to carefully watch even more drama and TV shows while minding every sentence being said and paying closer attention to structures that were familiar with me. I would recite the sentence occasionally, until it naturally became part of my knowledge. A little bit of history of the country would also help a lot in learning vocabulary

Learning vocabulary is an essential part, but this comes after the grammar. After I had a decent amount of grammar in my head, I turned to cover my surroundings with vocabulary. Every piece of furniture in the room would have its Chinese name on it, and after I was familiar with these words, I changed to other things like colors, shapes, etc., until I had known how to describe my surroundings, myself, the people around me.

After combining both the vocabulary and the grammar, I visited Chinese websites that were about things I like and created a few accounts on Chinese social networking sites. Here, I made Chinese friends and talked to them about our mutual interest through typing to improve my writing. The conversation could last forever, or only in a few surfaced greetings. It doesn’t matter — just take every chance to have. A lot of people that have the same interest are really friendly and enthusiastic. You will eventually find someone that can talk to you verbally. And this is when you practice your speaking.

To conclude, my advice is to take your foundation study seriously and build on it with things in the culture that interest you. I also try to speak Chinese to all the Chinese people I’ve met, in other words, speak Chinese whenever and wherever I’ve got the chance. Because constantly speaking the language will make it yours.

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Something about myself:

I’ve done my undergraduation in India, from JawaharLal Nehru Technological University in 2012. After my undergraduation, I’ve worked for Google Maps in India for 3 years. Then I took the decision to pursue Masters in Computer Sciences, to move a step ahead in my career. The process of applying to the universities had been very easy for me. I dreamt of an admission into Fontbonne University, as it is one of the best universities in Saint Louis.

I’m enrolled in the course of Masters in Computer and Information Science. The reason behind my decision to choose this course of study is because of the course field that Fontbonne is giving. Cyber security, data mining and software testing are one of the best fields in Computer Science. The scope of career development is vast and it’s booming in technology these days.

 

As everyone know Saint Louis is such a place where Computer Science is highly recommended. I’m glad I joined this school, it’s a lot of fun, collaborating with studies.

Life has changed a lot for me, of course in good ways,  there are always opportunities knocking my door every single week. Being busy is a routine now!😊 I’m in love with it! 😊☺

I’m also working as a student worker at Center of Emerging and Educational Technology with Amy Peach. It couldn’t have been any better. 😇 Ms. Amy Peach is the best teacher, a guide, and a perfect role model. I got to learn a lot of things from the faculty at Fontbonne.

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Students writing for Real Life at Fontbonne are paid a small fee for each post by the university.