lIt’s crazy to think that my last semester of college is only a couple of days from now and then another chapter of my life will come to an end *cue sad music*. I haven’t had a chance to write any new blog posts this break because I went to NY (will make a separate post on that soon) and I’ve been studying for my MCAT, but I can briefly recap what happened in my last fall semester of college. I gained a new perspective of my future, re-learned the definition of “trust” and I learned so much more about God’s love for me. However, the biggest thing I learned was to not compare my path and my journey to medical school as well as my journey in life to other people. I knew many people who got into medical school, dental school, etc. and I am so proud and excited for them!! They really deserved it and worked hard and I’m excited for the day when it’s my time to celebrate as well.
But in the back of my head, I was comparing myself to them. After all, this isn’t really how I pictured myself senior year of college. But nevertheless, in this season of my life, I really learned to rely more and more on Him. I haven’t give up my dreams of becoming a physician and doing medical missions in Latin America/Philippines, but I stopped gripping onto it so hard and I gave it to God... Like actually be willing to sacrifice it to God the way Abraham was willing to sacrifice his only son Isaac. I dedicated my dreams and everything in my heart to Him wholeheartedly. After all, He was the one that put those desires in my heart in the first place, who am I to be selfish in keeping God away from them?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m still pursuing the pre-med track & it's still my heart's desire, but I learned that despite it all, He is what I want more than anything that this world has to offer. I’m still learning to be satisfied in His presence, His love and His plans for me. I may not always know what He’s up to but as Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” That has been one of my favorite verses since high school, but it really has meant more now that I’m older. So I’ve been dedicating my studying and every aspect of my life to Him and it really has changed my mentality. The more I seek Him, the more I find myself in Him and the details become smaller as my pastor says.
I’m not too worried about the details anymore but I’m just going to give my last semester my all and let God use me for His kingdom. His plan, His timing, not mine (literally my new motto in life right now).
So recap of the semester:
It was my first semester as the Texas Public Health Social Director and I had sooo much fun. We had so many socials this semester and it was a great way of getting to know other students in the org. I tried incorporating a lot of typical Austin tourist-y things as our socials so we went to Mt. Bonnell, the Greenbelt, swing dancing (my first time) and Trail of Lights along with some sweets like Red Mango and Moojo’s. Being social director is fun because I never had to worry about being alone b/c there’s always socials to attend with some really cool people. Our officer board is all girls and honestly girls get stuff done soo. ;)
I really didn’t try new food places or any new coffee shops this semester because I was just so busy on the weekends. Literally every round of my exams were on the same week all the time. It was crazy to me though that I was celebrating 21st and 22nd birthdays with the people I’ve known since freshman year of college. Talk about time flying tho alright. Even though it was my second to the last semester of college, I still managed to meet some amazing people and become closer to friends that I wasn’t as close to before which is always a great feeling. It just shows that time doesn’t have to do with anything especially when you just click with someone. Like where were you these past four years??? Nevertheless, I’m still grateful I had a chance to get to know these friends better and spend as much time together before we go our separate ways.
I had a chance to mentor another wonderful group of freshmen this semester and of course I had to take them to Hula Hut and enjoy the view at Mozart’s. We also went to Blanton Museum of Art on campus (it’s free on Thursdays and free for UT students) and I’ve actually never went so that was really cool. Museums to me are underrated and it was fun playing model with my mentees and taking pictures.
The new public library on Cesar Chavez opened up and it was so beautiful. They had a teen section and so many floors and areas to study. My favorite part was this outside-is area that had really pretty lanterns that were hanging from the ceiling. I didn’t realize that you have to pay for parking though but if you park on the street it’s only $1/hr which isn’t that bad. That and the new engineering building that also opened up on campus are my two favorite.
As normal, I went to one football game this semester. We lost against OSU after we went into overtime (13-10), but I got a picture with D'Onta Foreman (hehe thanks Kayla for letting me tag along in your pic). But hey at least we ended up winning our bowl game against Missouri!
I reached a milestone with the clinic I volunteer for since I officially have volunteered for a year now so that was always exciting!
I also got my class ring this semester!! I was putting it off for a while, but I finally got it. Ring by spring, am I right?? Special thanks to my mom and dad for my late birthday gift. If you know me I’m not really a ring person, but I actually wear this ring everyday. It makes me proud to be a longhorn and makes me a little sad/excited about graduation. Hook 'Em forever.
My Filipino friends and I made Filipino food for our Christian fellowship group and it was my friend and I's first time making pancit (pahn-sit) and it was a success!!
My sister and I had our annual Thanksgiving photo shoot (where we dress up really nice and actually put on makeup and go around taking pictures, it sounds silly but we have a blast). We also had the chance to celebrate Thanksgiving with family friends this year instead of just us four so that was different, but fun. Of course, we had turkey and Filipino food like pancit palabok (pa-la-bok) and lumpia as well.
Although I didn’t get to try any new coffee shops this semester, I did get a chance to fulfill my lifelong dream of becoming a regular at a coffee shop. My friend Laura and I would study for 8+ hours at Bennu and we even met other cool regulars so you can say that I’m cool now. I did try this place called The Village in Bryan where I had brunch with my dad. I forgot what it was called but I had eggs, toast and bacon. Their coffee was really good though.
Every year the Bravos-Valley Filipino-American group hosts a Christmas party for everyone in the area. This year’s theme was Filipiñana and we wore traditional dresses and barongs (what my mom is wearing in the picture, there’s also some for males). So Filipino culture lesson here, the barong is our equivalent of the suit and tie and it’s usually reserved for formal events like weddings. Barong Tagalog is only in the Philippines and wearing it is like showing off how proud you are for being a Filipino.
Last but not least, Christmas time in Austin is always so merry and cute. Even though it was hard to get into the Christmas spirit (we got out really late this year and my last final was Dec. 20th). IT SNOWED, even though the snow didn’t stick to the ground, it did stick to my car and I still made a snowball... so I guess I’m okay with that. I went with some of my public health friends to the Trail of Lights (my third time ever) where I ate a very delicious funnel cake and took some pictures at the giant SAC tree with my OG day 1 friends.
I'm excited for what my last semester will be like at the Forty Acres. I am grateful for my supportive parents who are my number one cheerleaders throughout my college career. I'm grateful for my sister and for my friends who continuously are down to have study marathons, get wings, pray for/with me, make me dinner, share their food with me and late night heart to hearts with my roomies. Here's to my last semester and to making it count. Next stop: graduation!!
The girl with upside down dimples
P.s. Follow my Public Health Instagram page: @publichealthpotato that I started this semester. It's my IG dedicated to promoting public health and sharing my love for it (after all, I am a public health major).
You would think by now I would be used to having finals... after all, I'm a college senior. Sadly, you're mistaken and I still am struggling with balancing everything. I have three exams and a final lab practical this week which feels like a lot, but honestly it's the third time this semester that it's happened so I'm kind of over it. Plus, I know it's crazy busy for everyone this time of the year so who am I to complain? I am jealous though that some of my friends in other schools are done with classes this week and are taking finals while we still have a full week of class left AND the Monday after that. We don't even start taking finals until the 13th and for me, I don't have a final until the very last day aka 5 days before Christmas. I guess it's one con of starting school late this semester.
I was listening to this song by The Austin Stone Worship (you should check them out on Spotify) called "Center my Life" and something about the opening line really spoke to me. It says: "Turn my eyes to see you Jesus, in all Your glory, turn my eyes". In the midst of this busyness and stress of school, it was a great reminder that I needed to keep my eyes on Him. I get so caught up in this bubble of worry and stress of striving to be the best in everything I do that I forget to ask help from Jesus. It's so easy to feel burnout when I'm trying to do everything in my own power so I am learning to rely on Jesus more. He is all powerful and wonderful. He not only created the universe, but He knows me by name and knows my deepest desires and insecurities.
Whether you've been close to God all your life or don't even know if you even believe in Him, I encourage you to ask for His help in the midst of everything you're going through. He'll listen. He's not one of those friends that get annoyed because you only go to Him when you need something. He'll meet you where you're at and He will remind you of your identity in Him.
Joshua 1:9 says "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go."
There's no reason to be afraid of finals or even the future because our God is with us. There's a saying that says "Pain is temporary. GPA is forever" and I used to laugh at it. Yes GPA is important, yes grades and extracurriculars are important, I'm not here to say that those things don't matter, but I'm here to remind you that those things are not everything. You are more than your GPA and you're more than all of the things you have done. Instead, I encourage you to seek God in the midst of everything and put Him first. I'm going to leave you with one of my favorite verses, one that I'm trying to live by right now since I'm a senior who is just trying to figure out things out one day at a time.
Matthew 6:33 says, "But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well."
Good luck with your finals/exams/papers/projects/quizzes etc! Make sure you take care of yourself. Take a study break (not too long) and surround yourself with people who will encourage you. I'll be praying for ya.
Nicole aka The girl with upside down dimples
Now that it's November, it's time to start playing Christmas music!! Am I right? Just kidding. Honestly though, I don't think there's a right and wrong answer regarding the "when is it an appropriate time to play Christmas music" debate. As a Filipina, I never remember celebrating Thanksgiving until my family and I moved to America... so I've always been one of those people who jump straight to Christmas, but I do enjoy celebrating Thanksgiving with my little family and eating traditional American food + Filipino cuisine (which is super delicious by the way since my mom is such a great cook, shoutout to my mom)!! Lately on my social media I've been seeing people post one of those "Today I'm thankful" posts each day and it had me thinking.... what am I thankful for today? After all.. it's a Monday and the weekend was obviously too short.
With everything going on in the world right now: shootings, hate crimes, white supremacists, and numerous amounts of suffering and pain... what is actually there to be thankful for? I'm not trying to be a Debbie downer, don't get me wrong... I'm a natural optimist, but lately the world has me feeling devastated. My heart feels heavy and I can't help but feel helpless as I mourn the loss of yet another group of innocent people. "What is there to be thankful for?" I ask myself.
Of course when there's a question..God has an answer... whether you want to hear it or not. Hahahaha. Anyway, I went to church yesterday and the message was about cultivating a thankful life-- a life full of thanksgiving to the Lord. How relevant. The guest speaker said something that resonated in my soul, he asked us: what do we do when life comes at us in a way we didn't expect? Then he told us we could either be bitter or be better.
I don't know why, but that phrase really had me thinking. I haven't lived on this Earth that long... I mean I'm only 21, but there have been countless times where I was surprised with what life threw (and continuously throws) at me. I could only imagine it for people who have been here longer and have experienced more hardships in this life. There are so many times where I have let the negative events in my life and everything around me make me bitter. I wish I could say I always chose to be better, but honestly that hasn't always been the case.
Of course I am thankful for many things (which I will post about later), but today I am especially thankful for a Father who isn't going to let me down. I am thankful that although I may not understand everything that is going on right now, I know that God is working on it even though I cannot see it.
Hebrews 11:1 says "Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."
My friend and I were talking on the phone and I couldn't help but complain about how hard it is to completely trust God in situations like yesterday where yet another shooting happened. Or, for example, as the future gets closer and closer, trusting in Him becomes more difficult. My friend just laughed and said, "....well that's faith" and I couldn't help but smile because my friend is right. Even though I don't know why all of the things in the world happen the way they do or what God's plan is for my future, I have faith in a God who is all-knowing, all powerful, and most of all knows what He is doing. And for that, I am so thankful.
I mean, who am I to try and fully comprehend what God is doing, yet alone tell Him how to do His job?
They say that your 20's are your "selfish years" and that you should work really hard so you can reap your benefits when you're older. The first time I heard that statement, I wasn't bothered by it, but now that I'm 21 and a senior in college, I can finally understand why people say it. I'm a senior in college now and I feel like time is moving even faster than it has the past three years. Although I can relate and want to work hard for not only myself but also for my family during my 20's, I don't want to be someone who live such a selfish life. I don't want to always put my needs above everything else. I don't want to be so self-absorbed with everything going on in my life that I forget to help or love those around me.
Don't get me wrong, I've had that mentality of "I'm gonna do me and put MY needs above everyone else's". It was fine for a while, but then it didn't satisfy me anymore. There is a difference between self-care and knowing when to say no, so I'm not saying that you shouldn't say no once in a while, but It's just so easy to get caught up in yourself in today's society. Especially in college, I feel like I've encountered so many people that are only looking out for themselves and it's hard not to get caught up in that mentality. I mean we're all selfish in a way because we're only human, but I can't help but think about how Jesus did it. He ultimately sacrificed His life for us AND He lived such a selfless life that was so full of love. He served those around Him, not only those who loved Him but also those who hated Him. I was reminded of this verse in Philippians 2:4 that says:
"Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others." Like most of the verses I've read, it's easier said than done.
Reading that made me feel good, but do I even really practice it?
It's so hard considering that we're all so busy all the time. The free time that I do have, I just want to be by myself or relax and enjoy it alone, not go out of my way to help someone. I also want to be able to be selfless and give to people without waiting for something back. There are times when I'm like "Okay I did this for you and I was there for you what are you going to do for me?" Obviously I don't say that to anyone's face, but it's something that I have thought about before.
Then I realize.. what if Jesus was like that? "Hey Nicole, I gave my life for you...so what do you have to give me in return?" I would literally have nothing to offer back. There are plenty of times where I just run to Jesus about my problems without even thanking Him. I will never be able to give back everything that He has given and done for me, yet He chooses to love me regardless. So why should I expect something back from others? I want to be on that level of selflessness and loving others that I can happily choose to serve them with a happy heart.
I want my last year here at UT to not be a year of selfishness and "doing me", but I want to be selfless. I want to give back to my community, to my friends, to those around me and especially to my family who sacrificed so much so I can be here. Yes I want to be a doctor so I can give back in that way, but I might as well start with what I have now and with those surrounding me.