Category Archives: The Daybook

The Sunshine Blogger Award

There’s this award going around WordPress called “Sunshine Blogger Award.” I did a quick search on Google and didn’t really find information on who, where, why, or how this got started (either that or I just didn’t search hard enough! If you know something, please enlighten me). Images turned up various designs and interpretations of the award, probably just independently designed by the nominated bloggers who posted about it. Anyhoo, the Sunshine Blogger Award sounds like a good thing. Bloggers nominate other bloggers famous or not—gives them a sense of recognition, somewhat boosts their blog’s morale.

So thanks to my newfound virtual friend, Francesca of A Female Flâneur, for thinking of me for this award. I don’t usually do this kind of things, but I didn’t want to turn you down (your questions are actually quite interesting!) and I’m feeling kind of bored and upset (I just got my iPod touch, which was basically like my virtual diary, stolen ☹), so this is a good way to divert my mind.

Here goes!

1. What’s your dream holiday destination and why?

Well, it should be the whole planet Earth. You know, there are a lot of great things about this world that it’s just hard to choose only one dream destination. But right now, Korea first comes to mind—it’s a dream destination that’s soon going to turn into a reality. 😉

2. What book would you recommend for summer reading?

Moby Dick. It’s what I’m currently reading! The movie In the Heart of the Sea kind of prompted me to read this classic. It’s a good read when you’re stuck at home and wishing for some sea adventure.

3. What outfit or accessory makes you feel fabulous?

Just high waist jeans and sneakers. However, currently, I’m starting to get obsessed with wire rings. They look pretty and funky!

4. On a typical Sunday morning, what would you be doing?

Slouching in bed, watching Netflix. Or spending time at a coffee shop. ❤

5. If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Spaghetti!!! And in red meaty sauce only.

6. Do you have any role models? If so, who are they?

Oh gosh, it’s hard to think of anyone specific. I get bits of inspiration from different kinds of people—Barrack Obama and his diplomacy, charm, and great public speaking, Stephen King and his big-screen-worthy novels, Amelia Earhart and her acting upon her dream of seeing the world, the late Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago of the Philippines and her brilliance and bravery.

These are just the people I can think of right now, but I’m sure there are a lot more people who have inspired me to pursue what I am pursuing now.

7. What is something on your bucket list?

To do something height-defying. I have an awful fear of heights, and I want to do something that would challenge that. I don’t want this fear to limit me. People seem to have a lot of fun doing skydiving or bungee jumping, and if I had the chance to do these things, I would want to (although just the thought of it makes my legs tingle right now!)

8. Tea or coffee?

Definitely coffee. I love bubble tea too, though!

9. What is the best compliment you’ve ever received?

That I am intimidating. It doesn’t really sound like a compliment, does it? I don’t always get that kind of comment about me because I feel that I am always the one feeling intimidated by other people. So to hear that someone thinks I  have a strong personality which they find intimidating was rather interesting.

10. If there was one change you would like to see in the world, what would it be?

The first that came to mind is plastics. We have a huge problem now on plastic waste that many people, quite surprisingly, are not aware of. But then, I also thought of animal cruelty, climate change, racism, and ridiculous national leaders.

If there was one change I would like to see in the world, it is a change in people’s minds—that people would start being rational and actually care about the world.

11. Do you have a favourite fairy-tale? If so, what is it?

I like Puss in Boots and Beauty and the Beast just because I enjoyed the films!


 

I was honestly not sure who to nominate at first as it’s been a while since I last read entries from the blogs I follow. These people might be surprised to hear from me but here are my nominees! These are people I just randomly connected with in the past because I found something interesting in their blogs. We don’t know each other personally, but I do find their blogs worthy of a read.

Happiness Between Tails by da-AL

Pensive Palindrome

Curlygirlabroad

(Almost) Unsalvageable

Fill and Feel

Here are my 11 questions:

1. Books or e-books?
2. Do you ever experience writer’s block? If so, how do you overcome it?
3. What place/town in your country would you recommend to travel?
4. Do you go to coffee shops? If so, which one is your favorite?
5. What’s your typical breakfast?
6. What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done for love?
7. Do you believe in destiny?
8. What is your favorite planet besides Earth and why?
9. Words or pictures?
10. If you had superpowers, what would it be?
11. What was your last dream about?

Here are the rules:

1. Thank the person who nominated you and link to their blog.

2. Answer the 11 questions sent by the person who nominated you.

3. Nominate your favorite bloggers to receive the award, and write 11 questions for them.

4. List the rules and display the award logo on your post and blog.

I look forward to reading your answers to my questions! ❤

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Fighting Fear with Fear: I’m Finally in My Dream Job But—

 

I’m starting work in yet another company—my Nth employer in my lifetime. But this time it’s different. I am finally in my dream line of work.

It’s not easy. I’m happy—but it’s not easy. I’m having mixed emotions. But mostly anxiousness. Leaving an old job –the work you’d been comfortable with, the people you’d been close with, the place that had become your comfort zone—and then venturing out into the unknown is quite stressful. I’m setting out for a new working environment with unknown culture and personalities.

Sometimes, I wonder if I had made the right choice.

Sometimes, I wonder if I had made the right choice. Was it right to leave my comfort zone and stress out again on trying to adjust, learn and fit in? I had stayed in my last job for more than a year—the longest I’ve ever stayed in one in my entire millennial life. The reason I lasted in this job wasn’t because it was great and fulfilling but because it was so convenient and conflictless. Would it have been right to stay in this job? Would it have been right if I had stayed in a kind of job that gave me a sense of ease but not of achievement? I loved the people I worked with, but was it enough for me to tolerate the job?

Perhaps a better question to ask myself is: what do I want? Then, I’ll know if I had made the right choice.

And this is what I want. I want to grow and accomplish a lot. I want to do what I love because we only live once.

I see what I love in the new company—the opportunity to write and the chance to be read. I have worked in customer service, media production, advertising and business development, but this is the first time ever that I will be doing a job that is actually my passion and specialization (writing was my college major). This is a great leap towards the fulfillment of my dreams. A stepping stone to becoming a renowned writer.

To be able to do what I love is a great motivation, so why am I so apprehensive?


I tend to be anxious about many things. So, recently, I made a personal diagram of how I can fight fears, and applied it in this situation.

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The first step is, like they always say, acknowledge the fears—admit the things that I am afraid of.

I am afraid that the new job might be too demanding and stressful that I won’t be able to keep up with it. I am afraid of doing something clumsy or stupid that people are going to judge me. I am afraid of not matching the wavelength of my new colleagues and be alienated. Not only am I afraid but do I also hate to force myself to reach out to people. I’m generally a friendly and approachable person, but I hate feeling like it’s a requirement to make friends and like I have to force myself to come up with icebreakers. I like conversations to flow naturally. I’m scared of being judged.

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The next step is to know why. Why am I afraid of these things?

I walked into a bigger world with a greater assortment of personalities good and bad.

I am not even sure why I feel so afraid and concerned about not matching with other people, being alienated or being judged. I know these are all pointless, restrictive fears. Perhaps I have these ridiculous fears because my self-esteem is so vulnerable and I have the natural instinct to protect my wellbeing. In the university, I was trained and have gotten used to being open to constructive criticisms. But those were criticisms of work. I wasn’t trained to be receptive to personal criticisms. I grew up in a small and mellow environment and had always been lucky to meet good-natured friends. But as I stepped out of college, I walked into a bigger world with a greater assortment of personalities good and bad. I wasn’t used to it.

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Now that I have acknowledged what my fears are and why I fear them, my third and final step is to find more productive fears. What am I more afraid of?

I can’t grow and accomplish things, in this one shot I got at life, if I let my fears hold me back.

I go back to the question of what do I want? I want to grow and accomplish a lot. As far as I can tell, we only live once. And I’m afraid that I can’t grow and accomplish things, in this one shot I got at life, if I let my fears hold me back. I am more afraid to just leave this world and be buried six feet below the ground without leaving a legacy. I want to be remembered through my writing, or whatever creative craft I do. This is what I am more afraid of.

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As a self-confessed sluggish and sleepy girl, I am met every day with the greatest temptation of just burying my face in my iPod or laptop and binging on Netflix and video games. But every day I am also confronted with this greater fear of not becoming the person I want to be, not growing and not accomplishing.


Now, this is what I personally thought up based on my experiences, which I feel is a very good way to fight irrational fears. I have found, however, that there is a book that has tackled the same concept, although it highlighted more on the fear of God; and a very cute and touching episode of a Japanese anime I loved very much as a kid. Fear of God may be the best kind of fear, but in a more earthly sense, a good fear can be anything. It can be the fear of hurting the people you love or the fear of not achieving your dreams.

I may be afraid to leave my comfort zone or make mistakes in the new job or not be liked by everyone, but all of these are a part of the wholeness of the world—at least the world I live in. Leaving my comfort zone means widening my horizons and stretching my capabilities. Making mistakes means learning. And not being liked by everyone? We can’t please everyone, it’s true. But as long as there are people who love me, I will keep going.

What She’s Worth

This morning, I was talking to a girl who was a lot like me. And I said a lot of good things–things that I myself needed to hear.

I told her that she has wasted enough of her time for someone who doesn’t treat her like what she’s worth. Those years could have been the best years of her life, but she was stuck in a closet, like a skeleton in the dark, waiting for no one that could give her life. Her life was not hers.

She does not deserve that. No man is worth treating her like a skeleton in the closet.

She deserves only what she’s worth. And this is her worth: She is worth having as a girlfriend. She is worth letting the world know that she is a man’s love. She is worth fighting for.

She is hanging by a thin thread only waiting for it to snap. She has hoped and waited enough. She should not wait forever just to have a place in someone’s life.

Every day, I have to tell her this–no, a good girl does not deserve that.

Elbi: Food, Coffee and Nostalgic Walks

Seeing men swinging small boards that said “Private Pool” on the side of the road made me feel restless because I knew we were close. A couple more minutes and we would arrive at the place I had been yearning for. The place that served as a true home during the days I was struggling with college and independence.

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The green road to my beloved Elbi (pardon the reflection of the tissue!)

IRRI-sistible!

We arrived in IRRI at 10 AM and grabbed breakfast at the cafeteria – a place I often came to as a student for cheap good food, with a view of the rice fields and the mountainous horizon. I ate a big serving of saucy roast chicken with rice, plus brewed coffee and a slice of cassava cake for dessert for only Php105.

The weather was a bit gloomy at noon and it rained a little, but it didn’t stop me from touring my friends and us from taking crazy photos. Actually, the bit of rain helped refresh the surroundings from the summer heat and the air became a bit cooler for a while.

I visited the pond at the back of the IRRI’s coffee shop, Bean Hub, which was closed at the time, and searched for the lone resident turtle to say hi. Unfortunately, I didn’t find it. Prolly it was sleeping in a corner covered by plants. I hope so.

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Man waiting for an Uber in IRRI?

Dairy-cious…

We left IRRI a little after lunchtime and drove to Animal Science, UPLB (University of the Philippines, Los Baños). We went to PCC’s (Philippine Carabao Center) Dairy Corner, where I used to buy fresh dairy products for a sweet treat after my PE or An Sci classes. My favorite has always been Milk-O-Jel (Php15, then and now❤️) – a small cup of soft carabao milk pudding with sweet syrup on top, sort of like leche flan. At this time, I also got Carakafe – coffee❤️ with carabao milk for only Php35. My other favorite items from Dairy Corner are their yogurts of different flavors and chocomilk. Obviously, all of their dairy products are made from carabao’s milk. They also have meat products. All so natural, so fresh, so delish.

After IRRI, we drove around the campus before heading out. I got off the car and bid goodbye to my friends who were returning to Manila. I, on the other hand, was staying for the rest of the day.

***

I checked in at One Providence, a dormitory near the campus that also rents out transient rooms. I walked along F.O. Santos street going to One Providence and discovered a few changes. Some old establishments I used to go to have been replaced by new ones. Most notably, Sizzlers, a restaurant located on the third floor/rooftop of a building, has been replaced by “Siblings.” I used to love going to Sizzlers for dinner because of the view from the balcony dining setup. It was quite a romantic setting. I bet Siblings retained that setup, although I’m not sure yet if they measure up to Sizzlers’ sizzling dishes (my personal favorite was sisig with egg).

Old street snacks

After resting for a bit in my dormitory room, I went out again for a walk, carrying my backpack with my notebook, pens and laptop. At 4 PM, my first stop was the small kwek-kwek (fried orange quail eggs) cart in front of Vega Arcade, right outside the UPLB gate. I bought a stick of four pieces (Php15) and resumed walking while dipping my kwek-kwek in my cup o’ spicy vinegar.

Along the way, I also stopped by Micha’s, a pastry and cake shop near Demarses Subdivision where I used to live. Whenever I was stressed out with acads (academic stuff), I would stop by and take out either blueberry cheesecake (I remember it’s less than Php100), cream puffs (Php12 for caramel-glazed, Php15 for vanilla-glazed) or chocolate chip cookies. Cream puffs were my favorite, so I decided to buy them this time. Prices didn’t change! I ate my caramel and vanilla cream puffs as I wandered on.

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There’s nothing like Micha’s cream puffs.

New food places

After a couple of minutes of walking along Lopez Avenue (Grove), I was kicking around whether I was going to eat at an old favorite or try a new restaurant. I decided to do…both! At 5 PM, I went to Bibap Korean Restaurant, which was a new find for me. I gave my order at the counter and went up to the second floor to find a low dining table setup. I sat on my floor cushion as I ate my jajangmyeon with delicious side dishes (Php135), while watching some Korean music videos on their TV. At this time on a Saturday, there are not many people at Bibap—in fact, I was the only one enjoying the solitude of the restaurant. On the other hand, perhaps it was too early for a heavy meal…

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Picture-perfect vanilla ice cream coffee at Productivity Cafe

Meanwhile, Productivity Cafe just on the other side of the street had a lot of occupied tables. Since my old favorite, Coffee Blends, was for some reason closed on that day, I decided to try a new coffee shop. Productivity Cafe was a small coffee place on the second floor of a new commercial building along Lopez Ave. that offered a special space for students to concentrate on their acads and for alumni like me to just blend in. When I entered the cafe, I almost thought I walked into a class. On one side, there were four long tables occupied by two young people each, who were perfectly lined up with their laptops set on the table. I occupied a small square table in another corner overlooking the road and set my laptop, notebook and pens on the little surface, with a smaller space for my vanilla ice cream coffee (Php99). Productivity Cafe encourages silence as respect for students who’re trying to work and plays soothing music that makes you feel more like you’re in a spa. It’s a good thing they had bright lighting, else I would have dozed off on my table.❤️

Eatsumo, always

I stayed at Productivity Café until around 8:30 PM. I crossed the street again to transfer to Eatsumo, an old favorite Japanese restaurant, for a second fill. I admit it’s not authentic Japanese, but I still love their donburi and california maki. Their meals were tasty and cheap—served justice to my scanty college budget. Whenever I craved for some Japanese meals, this was where I ran to. This time, I ordered the usual—”toridon,” chicken and egg donburi (Php70), which I found weird at first because I knew it was “oyakodon.” Anyway, tori meant bird or chicken in Japanese, so technically it’s not wrong to call it toridon!

I sat alone on a table while watching other students enjoying their meals and chatting with each other. I used to be like them—dining with a friend and ranting lightheartedly on after a stressful day of boring classes and demanding professors. Although, sometimes, I would just enjoy a meal alone and just be thankful for having the time to run away from papers, go out and chill.

Old nightly habits, nostalgia

After my dinner, at around 9:30, I walked around a little more. I passed by CDC (College of Development Communication) and remembered the nights I used to walk by this place filled with students chattering among themselves or practicing a class presentation or just waiting for friends they were meeting up with. I remembered the nights I used to walk by this place to meet my Dev Com friends. Strangely, as a Com Arts student, I used to have more close friends from CDC and other colleges. If I could be honest, I’d say I didn’t really match the wavelengths of my Com Arts batchmates. I saw them as loud, dynamic and high-maintenance. Their sassiness was a bit intimidating for me. I found it easier to get along with peeps from CDC and Engineering, who were more easygoing and scruffy (in a cute way!). But later on, I also got to meet good friends in my own college who made me comfortable and happy.

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My beloved college, CAS

Past CDC, I walked by the old CAS (College of Arts and Sciences) building with so much nostalgia. At the start of every semester, this was where I fell in line for several minutes to claim the most coveted Form 5 (Certificate if Registration). (And then, I would fall in line again for hours at the Admin office for payment of matriculation and at the University Registrar for stamping of Form 5 and class cards.) This was also where I endured classes with wall fans blowing warm air on our faces in summertime.

It was certainly not easy in college, but it will always be something I’d be willing to relive over and over because every end of the day was rewarding after you finished all of the day’s tasks. At the end of the day, there would always be friends, good food and fine coffee that would ease all the stress. I love you, UPLB.

Sunday morning

In the morning, before heading back to Manila, I decided to grab breakfast and coffee and chill a little more at Cafe Ella, probably the only cafe in Elbi that’s open at 8 AM on Sunday. Cafe Ella is also a nice place to hang around, with its cozy interior and free Wi-Fi. I tried for the first time their classic meaty red sauced pasta (Php175) and brewed coffee (Php65). When I was in college, I usually ordered fish and chips and caramel macchiato. I only went here when I was feeling lavish (when I had extra after paying rent!) because Cafe Ella was a little too expensive for me.

Sundays and holidays will make you realize that the students are the life of Elbi. When there are no classes, there are not many establishments to go to. Most restaurants and cafes are either closed or open late, and it’s hard to find a nice place to hang out especially in the morning. Without the young people, Elbi is like a ghost town.

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I’ll keep coming back to you, Elbi! Love you.

 

A Look Back on Good Ol’ UPLB Days

I graduated and left my university almost two years ago now. I lived in Los Baños, Laguna for a good six years, so surely it will always be a place with lots of memories to look back to. Los Baños, or Elbi as we call it, has been and always will be my second true home.

This Saturday, I will be going back to spend a day and a night there. And the thought of it makes me reminisce about the good ol’ days when I was a student of UP Los Baños.

My year as a graduating student was perhaps the best time of my college life. It was busy, with most days filled with anxiousness on finishing my practicum manuscript on time while fulfilling other major course requirements. I am happy I pulled through all those rather smoothly.

And this was how I did it. I recount here my daily routine as a graduating student in Elbi.

1. I would wake up at 4:30 AM and go out for a jog. My apartment was a short distance to the university campus. UP Los Baños was not only a good place for the brain but also for the body. I would always find fellow joggers at UPLB Freedom Park, a rectangular field about 1.4km in length. There were only a handful at 5 AM, and then shot up around 6. I would finish my rounds at 6 or 6:30, depending on how much drive I had on that day. I usually finished five to seven rounds of alternate jogging and walking. After jogging, I would spot a vacant concrete bench, usually the one nearest the big tree in front of the Student Union (SU) building, and sit for a while so I could breathe in the fresh morning breeze and just watch the surroundings. On that spot, I contemplated on my manuscript, on crushes or on the innocence of the morning. Only a few vehicles ran in the morning. It was only a few hours ’til they overpower the sound of crickets and birds (and cats, every once in a while) once again.

2. After my early morning jog, I would either take a nap or have breakfast at the two big fast food joints. It depended on my mood which one I chose. Mcdonald’s and Jollibee in UPLB had different vibes in them.

I would go to Mcdonald’s with my backpack that contained my yellow pad, laptop and pens. I contemplated, if not writing anything, on my manuscript. Mcdonald’s was students’ haven in UPLB because it was open 24/7 and closer to the campus. I liked to immerse in this environment early in the morning, so I could somehow absorb the scholarly vibe. My usual Mcdonald’s breakfast was a meal of two-piece pancakes and coffee.

I would go to Jollibee when I wanted to just space out. I would get my usual order of breakfast steak and coffee and take a table on the second floor, where I could get a view of Mt. Makiling against the houses and buildings below, and just contemplate. It was a relaxing sight. I didn’t usually bring my manuscript when I came here. There were fewer students, and families and elders were a more frequent sight in the morning. Jollibe, for me, just meant chill.

3. After my breakfast, I would take a bath and prepare for my classes. I didn’t have a full schedule of classes during my last year in college, so I usually had a lot of vacant time to work on my manuscript. When I didn’t have any class, one of my favorite hangouts during the day (there’s a different favorite for the nightly work) was the university library. Thank heavens to whoever championed the improvement of facilities at the library. In my first few years of college, the university had bad air-conditioning and only a few working computers that didn’t have access to the Internet. It used to be one of the worst places to be in when you had research to do but had no other choice but to go there. It was an old building.

Upon my return in the university after a few years of AWOL, I was so delighted to find the library with cool air-conditioning and free Wi-Fi for students! I could stay there for a whole afternoon. It was very conducive to studying and writing my papers. I would grab as many books as I could, lay them on my table beside my laptop and read on. I was productive when I was in the library.

4. If I wasn’t in the library, I would be in IRRI. IRRI (International Rice Research Institute) was another favorite hangout during the day. It’s just a quick jeepney ride from CEAT (College of Engineering and Agro-Industrial Technology). Sometimes, I would even walk the whole way. The road from CEAT to IRRI is lined with trees and your surrounding is painted by nature. It was another refreshing activity for the mind and body (I looove IRRI). Another thing I love about IRRI is the good food. Sooo good! And when I say good, I mean healthy. IRRI specializes in agricultural research, focusing on rice and food security. Its cafeteria serves various dishes of meat and vegetables in different cuisines. Not only that, meals are also reasonably priced–very affordable for a poor student like me!

After finishing my meal (or meals if I was super hungry) and bussing my table, I would transfer to the café next door, where coffee and pastries were also affordable, with an added bonus of pleasant surroundings. A pond with a cute resident turtle at the back. A small garden on the side. And a larger field at the front. The café was where I either wrote my manuscript or just doodled on my journal.

5. Another favorite daytime hangout was Bon Appetea at UPLB Grove. Their “Love Potion No. 9” milk tea was my favorite. Surely it was a mysterious potion that made me fell in love with it. I forgot if number 9 meant anything–all I knew was that it had some oreo and milk in it. Because the place had free and fast Wi-Fi, it was another place I could hang around and bury myself in my manuscript for a long period of time.

6. In the afternoon, I loved taking a walk and going on a street food trip! My favorite street snacks were kwek-kwek (battered quail eggs) right outside the campus and proben (fried proventriculus) along Ruby St. in Raymundo. Super Cup’s milk tea was a super thirst-quencher. An afternoon walk was also a good time to refresh my soul by spending it with a friend. I usually called up my “Rumey” – an old roomie when I used to share an apartment with friends.

7. At night, my top and all-time favorite hangout was Coffee Blends, a modest café farther out UPLB Grove. They opened at around 6 PM, and I often came on time. Then, I would spend the rest of the night there, working on my manuscript or just daydreaming, while sipping on my favorite brewed coffee.

What I loved about Coffee Blends was that it’s a simple place, nothing fancy. Small tables, painted wooden chairs that looked more appropriate for kindergarten, no Wi-Fi. Even so, I still loved spending time here.

Maybe because food and coffee were cheap? I usually ordered brewed coffee for Php50 (Php75 if with a refill) and burrito for Php60 if memory serves me right. They also had pasta dishes and toast at about the same price.

Or maybe because of the ambience? Coffee Blends had ambient lighting, complemented by the tuneful songs they play. It was also rarely noisy here. I guess that helped inspire my creativity and emotions.

Or maybe because the service was good? The beautiful owners managed the café themselves. Although quite shy, they were always attentive and graceful.

Or maybe it was all of the above that made me love Coffee Blends so much. Like I often say, the best coffee places have no need to offer free Wi-Fi!

***

There are many other places and activities that I remember and miss in Elbi. For now, these are what immediately came to mind and made me want to write. Tomorrow, I’ll be on my way to Elbi. While I’m aware that there have been a lot of changes while I was gone, I still hope to find these old places again and relive my college days.

See you in a bit, my dear Elbi! ❤️