It’s been quite a while since I’ve written! Mother and I have flown from Shanghai to Incheon to Washington and now we are staying in Centreville, Virginia. We are staying at Mr. Tifford and Mrs. Lee/Tifford’s home. They have two cats named Asia and Evita. Asia is 19 years old and she stays in the basement most of the time. She looks swag with her orange-ish, black-ish hair that sticks out in all directions. Evita is younger and her fur is soft and grey. I love grey cats. Evita reminds me of Lola, my friend Maddie’s cat and the cutest cat I know. Below is a pic of Evita:


Okay, so yesterday was my first day in the States. We went shopping and I got a new iPad Pro (which I am using right now to type this blog entry!). But the most important part of yesterday was visiting my new school, The Madeira School, for the first time ever.

It was love at first sight. The horses that greeted me at the entrance, the new grass turf with a red M in the middle (the school’s logo), the red brick walls of the dorms and academic buildings, the view of the Potomac River behind the chapel/auditorium… It was honestly every bit as amazing as I imagined it to be. 

I had the chance to go into most of the buildings, although technically school was opened only for student leaders and pre-season athletes. The Huffington Library has a lot of books, and there is even a Fiction Room with a fireplace for the winter. The Biedler Science Building looks really weird and triangular and is the most modern building on campus. The Hurd Sports Centre has a nice indoor swimming pool, plus a bunch of fitness rooms. I also took a peek inside Main. The Living Room in Main is really cozy. It has a shelf of old tomes that date back to the time when Miss Madeira first opened the school, which got me really excited! This is also where soirées are held–I hope to participate in a few next year! I also grabbed a bunch of flyers with useful facts and statistics about my school from the Student Centre.

And there’s that community aspect, too. Although there weren’t a lot of people on campus, everyone I saw was really friendly. They didn’t know me at all but they smiled and said hi and welcome to Madeira. Eloise, my SWING (Students Welcoming In New Girls) sister, told me that I will get to know everybody at least semi-personally. Which I think will be cool! I suppose all this camaraderie is one of benefits of attending a small school. Madeira is a very small school of 300-ish students altogether. I’m used to big schools. Last year, I didn’t really know anyone outside of my friend group.

I have so much more to say, but I will save it for later. I plan to write a long, detailed blog post on The Madeira School after I settle in, complete with photos and insider insights and everything. I remember that during the application process, I would have loved to hear more about the school from the current students, but there weren’t many testimonials or stories on the web. Everything I knew about Madeira came from the school’s official website and a few threads on College Confidential. So I hope that my blog would be a good resource for prospective students in the future.

Yesterday I stayed up until 11pm despite being jet-lagged. I was very tired and I have no idea how I managed it, but I am very glad that I did. I’m not affected by jet lag anymore, at least I don’t think so. But that’s not going to stop be from using it as an excuse for everything in the next few days! 😀

Aaaaand I shall take my leave now. Bye bye.


Bye, Shanghai…

This morning, I rode a taxi with my dad. Shanghai taxis are nice—there’s an automatic speaker thing that says a lot of nice things. It says “welcome to my taxi” when I get on, and bids me farewell along with a reminder not to forget my belongings when it’s time to get off. Of course, I’ve heard this way too many times and I usually tune it out. This taxi was no different, except that in the middle of the ride the speaker randomly chirped out “一路平安” which means “have a safe trip” in Chinese. I don’t know why, but I was touched. I was touched because I felt that the taxi was wishing me a safe journey to the States. The speaker was probably broken, judging from how it randomly blurted that out in the middle of the ride. Plus, it was probably (more like certainly) referring to the taxi ride, like, wishing me a safe trip from my house to my dad’s office, but whatever. I’ll always interpret things the way I want to interpret them. I’m stubborn like that.

I’m going to miss these Shanghai taxis. They might not be the cleanest of taxis, and there are some drivers who smoke like a choo choo train, but still. I’m going to miss everything about this city. I’m going to miss the people here, especially my family and friends. I’m going to miss the local culture and language. I’m going to miss the trees that are randomly planted everywhere in this insane, beautiful concrete jungle. I’m going to miss the brilliant lights at night. I’m going to miss the super tall skyscrapers. I’m going to miss the food. [Oh, speaking of food… For lunch I ate a whole lot of Asian food. I just shoved the noodles and rice and everything down my throat. I was like who cares if I puke later, I’m not gonna be able to have this in a long while (exaggeration). I mean, they probably have Asian food where I’m going, with America being the melting pot of a whole bunch of different cultures… but trust me, Asian food tastes the best in Asia.] I’m going to miss my house and my room. I’m going to miss being able to go to places and see flashes of my childhood—I grew up here, and I still go to the same convenient stores and coffee shops I followed my parents to as a toddler. I feel like I’m even going to miss the pollution. I don’t want to say bye, despite the title of this blog post.

0x600.jpg^The iconic Shanghai skyline that I found on Forbes.

Right now it’s nearly 2am here. August 26. I’m done packing and this blog entry is coming to an end. It’s pouring outside—lots and lots and lots of rain. Hope the weather conditions are OK for my flight tomorrow (more like today, haha). It still doesn’t feel real—leaving and everything.

Bye, Shanghai.

Bye, Shanghai…

Holy Crap, This is Clever!

I have a lot of respect for clever designs.

Screen Shot 2016-08-24 at 9.19.27 PM.png

OK, so that’s my box of cereal. You’re probably like, “Elsie, why are you showing me your box of cereal? It’s a very normal box of cereal. Oh wait, are you referring to the super fit girl? Because that’s very normal too—cereals always promise you a nice body. She’s probably photoshopped.”

Screen Shot 2016-08-24 at 9.20.21 PM.png

Do you see it now? The other pair of jeans, other than the one the skinny girl is wearing? The fly is undone because the wearer of the jeans is apparently too fat for them. When I noticed it, I was like HOLY CRAP! THAT’S SO CLEVER! 

Don’t get me wrong—I don’t like how they are playing with people’s insecurities and promoting one “perfect” body type. That’s very mean of them. But still! They probably put some thought (clever thought) into creating this!

Yeah, I just wanted to share that, haha. I hope you guys enjoyed this lighthearted blog post. Bye!

Holy Crap, This is Clever!

Quotes On Pain

The past few days have been very painful for me, both physically and emotionally. “What would a teenager know about pain?” Don’t ask. We all have sorrows of our own, don’t we? Anyway, I found three quotes on pain online, and I would like to share them with you.

“Find a place inside where there’s joy, and the joy will burn out the pain.” —Joseph Campbell

“It is easier to find men who will volunteer to die, than to find those who are willing to endure pain with patience.” —Julius Caesar

“Laughter is the tonic, the relief, the surcease for pain.” —Charlie Chaplin

It is very easy for me to get swallowed up in pain, misery, past mistakes, and bad memories. To avoid this as much as possible, I constantly try to keep myself busy and distracted. It’s a good thing that I will be very, very busy until the moment I board the plane on Friday. I have to finish (more like start) packing, work on school stuff, send a bunch of emails, and complete a section of my to-be magnum opus, among other things.

Another thing I do to block out pain is look forward to things. Right now, I can’t wait to get to Madeira (my new school) and tell you guys all about my first day there. Even when life is very bleak and boring, there is always something to look forward to (if I look hard enough). My friend said this to me in a recent Skype conversation we had:

“Look for at least one thing to look forward to, even if it’s like eating another doughnut.” —Sophia Shen

She’s absolutely right. That’s some real wisdom right there.

Have a wonderful day everyone. Thank you so much for reading my blog.

Quotes On Pain

Boarding School Packing List: Books!

Today is August 23, my birthday! I’m 15 years old now! August 23 is also Dora the Explorer’s birthday, haha. (The date shown on this blog is August 22 because of the time differences. Just don’t pay attention to that.) My family and I had this really nice chocolate cake from Awfully Chocolate. It was awfully delicious.

In this blog post, I want to share with you the titles of the books I will bring to boarding school sophomore year (I’m leaving Shanghai in 3 days—wow).

In my room, there are over 500 books that I am very fond of, plus some really nice magazines and poster books as well. My parents have never denied me books, and I have always kept wanting new reading material—I guess my personal library just grew like that. I have a book room separate from the room I sleep in, and coming home after a long day and letting myself be surrounded by walls all covered with books is really nice. 

Naturally, it was really hard select and narrow down the books I will bring on the plane to the United States. I had to make some really tough decisions. There are so many amazing books that I will leave behind… and that makes me sad. I console myself with the fact that the library at my new school has a ton of books for me to devour. I know I will enjoy the library immensely, except for the fact that I won’t be able to scribble all over the books (because they aren’t mine).

Without further ado, here is my list of books (in no particular order) that I will bring to my new boarding school, not including textbooks, test prep books, and books in languages other than English.

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig
Ten Great Works of Philosophy, edited by Robert Paul Wolff
The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels
The Story of Philosophy by Will Durant
Economics: The User’s Guide by Ha-Joon Chang
Public Philosophy: Essays on Morality in Politics by Michael J. Sandel
Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (This book is required reading for all 10th graders, so I guess it counts as a textbook, and I’m not including textbooks in this list, but then again it’s a good novel, so why not, right?)
Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder
A Little History of Philosophy by Nigel Warburton
A Little History of the World by E. H. Gombrich
The Adventures and the Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
The Middle East Today by Dona J. Stewart
The Making of a Story by Alice LaPlante
Europe: A History by Norman Davies
Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond
Western Civilisations by Judith G. Coffin and Robert C. Stacey
Psychology: Course Companion by John Crane and Jette Hannibal

Selecting these books was a meaningful learning experience. I feel a greater appreciation for all my books now—they all just became a little more precious to me. I can’t wait to bring the books above to the States, I can’t wait to meet new books at my new school’s library, I can’t wait to come back during breaks and be reunited with my amazing personal library.

As always, thank you for reading my blog. It means a lot.

Boarding School Packing List: Books!

Hermione’s Homework Planner

This post is for me, rather than anybody else. Because I seriously need to get my homework done, among other things.

Some years ago, I was a serious Potterhead, and I still love the series to death. This morning I was flipping through my old, tattered copy of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. I came across a quote from the homework planner that Hermione gave Ron and Harry for Christmas. 

“If you’ve dotted the i’s and crossed the t’s then you may do whatever you please!”

Isn’t this just so cute and funny? And motivational too! I found the other two quotes said by the homework planner on the Harry Potter Wikia, and here they are:

“Do it today or later you’ll pay!”

“Don’t leave it till later, you big second-rater!”

I am in love with this witty homework planner, although Harry and Ron hate it to death (boys will be boys, right?). I have plans to get a large chunk of my summer homework done and over with by the end of today, so I better get working. See you later, people!

Hermione’s Homework Planner

My Goals For Sophomore Year

**I didn’t get to the point fast enough. To skip straight to my goals for sophomore year, please scroll down until you see the line of really noticeable bright pink words.**

It’s been quite a while since I’ve posted on this blog! In my defence, a few days ago I’ve caught a horrible cold and I’ve been feeling like utter crap. It’s not any better now, but I thought I’d write this to regain my writing momentum.

Before I get to the point, lately I have been rereading a lot of my favourite books since I won’t be able to take all of them to the States. Today I finished rereading Looking for Alaska by John Green and The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton. I would like to recommend both books to all of you. I love these two books because they tell the teenage story so candidly and compellingly. Especially The Outsiders, because the author was 16 when she wrote the book. So, check those out when you’ve got the time! It’s good stuff. Really good stuff.

“Y’all smoke to enjoy it. I smoke to die.” —Alaska Young, from Looking for Alaska
“Things are rough all over.” —Cherry Valance, from The Outsiders
By the way, you need context to fully appreciate these quotes.You really can’t get the right context without actually reading the books. I tried but I ended up deleting my explanation.

Again, before I get to the point, I know how I am going to die, kind of. I will end my own life when I get bored of it. Or, when it makes me too angry or too sad. Either that or I piss off somebody real bad and they kill me. I won’t mind. Living to a ripe old age doesn’t interest me. 

The other day my dad said something really interesting, about how we’re all going to die one day.
“Your time’s gonna run out, and whether or not you enjoy the time you have till then is up to you.” —Elsie’s Dad
I didn’t put my dad’s name up there for the sake of privacy, but yeah. I thought I’d share that. I’m gonna enjoy my time here before I go. I’m gonna try my best to enjoy my time here before I go.

The Line of Less Noticeable Bright Pink Words

Okay, finally getting to the point: My Goals for Sophomore Year.

I’ve set way too many goals over the almost-fifteen years that I have been alive. Most of those goals weren’t good for me. This time I’m not making the same mistakes again. I’m not going to set goals for things I’ll do anyway, because that defeats the point of having goals. I’m also not going to include goals that I obviously won’t keep, because I know I’ll beat myself up over it afterwards. Plus, I’m not setting a whole bunch of goals. Feeling overwhelmed isn’t a nice feeling. No more stupidity, Elsie. Never again.

The Line of Really Noticeable Bright Pink Words


One. I will try out ten new activities. An example of a new activity would be participating in the play, although I don’t think I will be doing that this academic year. Even if I end up disliking and quitting these activities, they will keep me involved and distracted.

Two. I will earn 5’s on the AP World, AP Psych, and AP Chinese exams. This will be challenging. AP Psych and AP Chinese will be completely self-studied (with prior knowledge, of course). I will achieve this goal by working on the material every weekend. 

Three. I will become a better person with an enriched life by practising my sight reading, by swearing less, and by strategically forcing myself to be social at times even when it’s not completely necessary. Because being social is healthy.

Four. I will write ten pieces of writing (poems, short stories, etc.) that I can be proud of. I will get at least one of them up on a public platform for others to read, enjoy, and critique. Not including any of my blog posts, by the way, although I do really like a few of them, haha.

Yep. Four goals. That’s it. Please don’t be like, these goals are not SMART, so they’re useless. For me, they are good goals, and you can keep your opinions to yourself. And yes, I’m in a stroppy mood, which is most definitely not your fault. Sorry.

Good night (or morning, or afternoon, or evening, whatever, time differences, blech). Thank you for reading, despite everything.

My Goals For Sophomore Year