Tag Archives: learn



Relationships Are Valuable.

Relationships are hard work, especially for introverts like me. By relationships, I mean the ones with friends, family, co-workers, strangers, and significant others, so pretty much everybody. I can get by in most relationships; I follow social norms, I can read enough nonverbal cues and subtexts to understand what other people want to say, and I can ask for help or make plans with others when I need to. But there is definitely room for improvement.

My natural introvert preference is to do as many things by myself as possible. It’s quite satisfying to be self-sufficient, especially when I accomplish major goals by myself. I also prefer this because it reduces risks and dependencies to just one person: me, and I can usually count on myself to make things happen and in the way that I want. From there, the only other thing I need is good internet access.

Benefits of Having Relationships

Still, there are many cases when I need other people to accomplish goals. In professional (and personal) settings, for example, the more people I meet and get to know, the more opportunities there are to advance the careers and lives of both the people I meet and me. Another benefit for having people in our lives is to be able to experience something together, whether it is working under intense pressure at work, traveling in a foreign place, fighting on the battlefield, or even just being stuck in an elevator for a short period of time. One can do these things by themselves, but having others with them can make the experience less stressful, less overwhelming, less painful, and less scary.

Personally, I must admit that even after long periods of staying in, being self-sufficient, taking care of my own stuff, and being in my own head, I inevitably need to take a break and socialize with other human beings. Being exposed to other people’s thoughts after hearing only my own for a long time can be refreshing and even inspiring. Even for introverts, there has to be a balance between internal and external stimuli.

Another benefit to having good relationships is the satisfaction of bringing joy to others through giving and being kind. I remember the warm and fuzzy feeling I got during the holiday season when I gave my friends presents without expecting anything in return; it just felt good to give and to make others happy. It sort of validates my subconscious desire to become a better person.

Much to Learn

I am far from having the perfect, most successful relationships. There is still so much for me to learn about communication and managing my connections, both professionally and personally. I still need to find a balance between having enough “me time” and being social. And I need to muster more energy in me to be kind to more people and more often. It’s a lot of work, but I believe it’s worth it.


5, 9, 23, 25, 29.



Always Keep Learning

Good Advice

By my senior year of college, I was beginning to keep up with the graphic design industry through blogs and podcasts. Occasionally, I would come across interviews of well-known designers talking about their design philosophies, including advice for new designers coming out of college. One advice that kept coming up from different designers was to always keep learning, even after school.

In their experience, sometimes newly graduated designers have the tendency to assume they know everything just because they completed their training at school and thought that they could take on any project and immediately excel at it. Even with just a few years of real-world experience myself, I would agree with the general sentiment as well. There is already so much I had discovered and experienced between graduation and now that I look at new grads the same way, sort of like how most adults feel about teenagers: foolish and naive. At the same time, I’m still relatively young (fortunately), so I’m sure more experienced professionals would probably feel similar about me (and rightly so).

So Many Things to Learn

Regardless of what stage you are in life, the important thing is to always have the appetite to learn. The subject matter could be an extension of what you studied or what your job needs, like new software and tools, or it could be a side passion of yours that you now have more time to explore, like cooking or new sports. It could even be as simple as consuming information, like following certain blogs, podcasts, or talks. Whatever it is, I believe that learning new things helps one become a more well-rounded member of society.

For me, since the last time I had been in school, I continued to teach myself programming languages, partly to set up my website for my career and partly for fun; I continued to work on improving my health by finding the right exercises and diet for my goals; I started learning new sports like surfing and snowboarding; I tried out different language learning programs in an attempt to be fluent in more foreign languages; and I explored my dancing abilities by joining local flash mob groups and performing in public spaces and planned events, including a wedding.

New Opportunities

The benefits of learning something new goes beyond just that thing you’re learning. It opens you up to opportunities to learn more things. Earlier in my college career, the teacher from one of my design classes shared with us a student discount for the subscription to the graphic design magazine Communication Arts. Subscribing to it led me to an article about the online personality Ze Frank. I became a fan of his creative, multimedia work, particularly his year-long vlog The Show. One of his episodes mentioned attending South by Southwest (SXSW), so I subscribed to the SXSW podcast and discovered a session covering the productivity methodology Getting Things Done (GTD). It revolutionized the way I work, and I now approach life with a better sense of purpose.

Also through Communication Arts, I encountered the article about Stefan Sagmeister’s class that focused on emotional connection through design. This helped shape the idea for the “thesis” project “Why Don’t We Care?” for one of my senior design classes. In the project, I also referenced Ze Frank and The Show.

At a higher level, I probably would have learned about some of these things in other ways, but it’s the progression of discoveries and the potential for serendipity that make this experience special and exciting. It also probably would have taken longer to discover.

Learning is Ongoing

It is worth noting that learning is always ongoing. New content may surface, existing information may become less important, and longstanding opinion may change. This is overall a good thing, because it usually means whatever you’re learning is improving itself, and by keeping up with it, you are improving as well.

This is important to me because 1) I often feel like I know the least out of everyone in most situation, and 2) I’m naturally curious and want to learn as much as I can about things that have the most of my attention. The fact that learning is ongoing sort of levels the playing field so those who are behind can try to catch up, and it helps satisfy my curiosity and feed my mind with more and newer content.


2, 3, 7, 11.

Languages Intro-Learned

This past weekend, I finished the first level of Pimsleur Mandarin Chinese. That makes five languages that I had gone through in the past four and a half months (Italian, Japanese, Spanish, Norwegian, and Mandarin). It also makes me ahead of schedule, which was the opposite of what I expected would happen had I taken one month to intro-learn each language, preventing me from learning the languages before my trip. Going at a rate of three 30-minute lessons in two days was semi-aggressive (except for Mandarin, where I doubled the rate), but I think it was totally manageable.

It had also been mostly enjoyable learning not only the language but the slight as well as the big differences with the same words/sentence structure across the languages as well as the cultural influences within each language. Italian and Spanish are similar in many ways (ex. “perché” and “por qué”), while a few Norwegian words are almost similar to English but still follow gender rules in adjectives (ex. “ett glass” (neutered), “en kopp” (masculine)). Japanese and Mandarin are similar in that they’re totally different beasts for those without previous experience, and I can’t imagine how someone can learn Mandarin or Chinese without an immersive experience with reading, writing, listening and speaking for hours every single day.

As I was learning each language, I imagined myself transported to the countries that speak that language and just live life either as a local or a long-term tourist. This has influenced me to return to one of these countries some time within the next five years and just live out my visa (usually 90 days) and see how much I can pick up and see how different life would be. Going full circle, there are two guys currently doing this for a year that have helped convinced me that learning languages is easier than most people think and that I could totally intro-learn five or so languages in less than 6 months.

I also want to keep intro-learning more languages after my trip, though without an urgent need, I may find it difficult to find the same motivation to learn them this quickly. Some of the languages I want to learn are: Russian (many of my coworkers seem to be Russian, so it’d be fun to be able to greet them in Russian), Korean (I’m already doing Chinese and Japanese, so I might as well do Korean as well), Dutch (It’s quasi-similar to Norwegian, and it’s more popular), and German and Portuguese (I might actually do a short crash course on these as I will have short layovers in Brazil and Germany during my trip).

I sort of wish that one day, I will be able to master a few of these languages, though that may involve learning them in a more immersive environment, meaning I would have to live in other countries, which I totally welcome.

(48 days until start of trip)

(People (mostly public figures) have been doing ice-bucket challenge to raise awareness of ALS. Kind of nice way to use viral marketing.)