Monday, February 25, 2013

My heart was a poundin'

Here's some pictures of my room that I finally finished decorating!  Some of you may recognize your cards, gifts, and photos of us together. :)

The first week of school was good...except I felt like a freshmen again with the "first day of school" jitters.  Luckily, Meredith and I are taking the exact same classes so we struggled together trying to actually find our classes.  As of now, I am taking 23 hours, but I'm definitely going to drop a few once I get a feeling for which ones I like and don't like.  

My first class of the week was Animal Morphology/Histology.  I absolutely LOVED my teacher, and she's even going to make the class veterinarian related since I told her I want to go to vet school!  I've never been so excited for a class before.  

The next class of the day was pottery.  This was funny for many reasons.  For one, there is a rule that if there is an American in any class, it has to be taught in English (I hope my classmates won't hate me for that).  However, the teacher didn't know he was going to have to teach in English.  AND teach two Biology majors.  He joked about that the entire class.  He also said he couldn't understand my "slang" (southerner problems). 

Later that evening, I had Physiology.  I'm not sure if it was because of the fact that it was a night class (my first ever) or the Operation game buzzer sounding air conditioner, the wind from the window clanking the plastic blinds together, the thunder crackling, or the professors phone ringing TWICE with my exact ring tone from my home (minor heart attacks as I thought my phone was going off during class), but I could not focus to save my life.

RAFTINGGGG! I was sooo excited to go to this class.  Since the Tuesday slot only allowed 2 hours, which is not enough time to load equipment, drive to the river, raft, and clean the equipment, we moved our “outing” day to Thursday.  

I also had Metal Crafting class.  In this class, we learned about what we are going to make, and I actually was wishing I was an art major throughout the entire lecture because it seems SO fun.  We are going to use copper, rocks, and wax to make jewelry and a mural! 

Issues in Biology and Environment was the first class of this day.  The entire class was full of seniors who are taking this as one of their final classes, so it may be too difficult and you have to debate a lot, which I absolutely love... NOT.   

Then I had Batik.  In this class, we will get to “tie and dye” (what they call tie dying) and paint fabric with different techniques and other substances including sugar and salt.  Once again, I was wishing I was an art major.  This teacher was also not informed that she would have Americans in her class, so our handout notes were in Malay.  

Rock climbingggg!  In this class, I climbed up a rock wall.  Considering we went two at a time in front of the WHOLE class, my heart was pounding.  I also found out we will get to go to the Batu Caves, and a couple other spots to climb on real rocks!  My muscles are going to be HUGE! Hehe.  While waiting for our first rafting outing, our teacher named Ezzad took us to lunch.  That’s one thing I LOVE about Malaysia.  Teachers will take you to eat AND pay for it!  I hope this trend comes to America.  Meredith and I also killed time by playing tennis and going on a bike ride around campus.  We got quite the stares considering we are the only blonde haired people at this school.  

After a little while, it was time to go to the river for white water rafting!  When we got on the river, we paddled up and down the slow areas, getting a feel for rafting and learning the correct techniques.  There were also some local kids who were jumping off of a cliff (probably about 30 feet high) and my dare deviling little self did it too!  My heart was pounding, but it was awesomeee.  Now as we were walking along the rocks back to our rafts, someone took a fall.  Guess who it was... OPA!!  I screamed. Out loud.  And as he started floating down the river, yelling in pain... my heart started pounding again.  Carson, our lone American guy, went to the rescue and grabbed Opa out of the water.  We made a stretcher out of two paddles and life jackets, carried him up the hill (mostly girls), and Opa and the Americans were headed to the hospital!  The government hospital that is.  While we were there waiting for the doctors to tell us what was wrong, we had to lighten the mood a little.  Not only does Opa not completely understand English, but he was extremely worried.  After saying he didn’t want surgery,  Jocelyn/Hank told him, “Don’t worry, they are just going to sew three cats to the back of your spine to make it heal.”  Then as he was going to get his ultrasound, we also said, “They’re just going to check your siamese twins!” That may have been a little mean, but we were also sweet.  Since they had to cut his bathing suit off, we went to the local night market while he was getting x-rayed and bought him a new bathing suit. After 6 hours of waiting, my prayers were answered, as it was just a deep bone bruise.  Once we were back to our dorms safely, Poor Opa looked at all us and said, “If it wasn’t for you guy, I would be died.” 

Here's a picture of Opa before the trip.  RIP bathing suit.    

Because of the hospital incident, I missed my farm management class so I get to see what that’s like this week!

Only one class on Fridays! Woohoo! AND it’s Animal Physiology!  In this class, we spent literally 45 minutes trying to decide on a time for a lab.  That’s something that’s a little different here.  The class decides on a time and day to have the 3 hour lab.  It has been a pain in the bootay.  After classes were done, we headed to the beach to go camping!  We also left Justin Bieber (on his ceiling above his bed) to keep Opa company while we were gone. 

Since this blog is already so lengthy, I will write a separate one about the beach trip with LOTS of pictures! 

Monday, February 18, 2013

Shakira and Finnegan LOVE Malaysia so far

Well hello everyone!  I realize I left everyone hanging and y'all probably have been wondering your little minds off (or I spoiled y'all with a blog every day)  BUT, it's back to the real world, and this past week has been SO crazy, in a good way. I'm not even sure how I'm going to be able to put everything into words...but maybe pictures will help. :)

I have arrived to my real housing!!! (6 days ago)  I have air conditioning, my own room, clean sheets, hot water, etc... It's still not the cleanest (ants and roaches are my permanent roommates), but I'm extremely thankful for what I have.  We also have toilet paper now, and of course... I clogged the toilet on day ONE.  The sewage system here is a wee bit different I’ve learned.  My room looks beautiful as I have everyone's cards and gifts throughout, along with pictures of all my friends, family, and teammates.  The view out of our dorm is even more beautiful though. 

Orientation Week
First off, there’s something I’ve learned.  They tell us to be at the bus stop at 7am, however the bus didn’t get there until 8am. EVERY morning.  Now, if y’all know me, I’m NEVER on time for anything so if the trends continue, I’ll never be late!  We joke around now, and whenever a time is planned for something, we ask, “Is this American time or Malay time?”  During orientation, we learned the “rules”, got a tour of the library, went to the town, did outdoor activities, had breakfast, then tea time, then lunch, then tea time, then dinner.  They are in NO rush to get things done.  Fine by me.  With my curly hair (extra curly because of the humidity), the locals are calling me Shakira. However, my fellow Americans have nicknamed me Finnegan because I look German and our lonely male american needs some manliness.  I came up with Susie (my go to name for EVERYTHING) for him, but it hasn’t stuck yet.  A prank war has also been started with the women vs. the man so his room got TP’ed and in return, I got an egg cracked in my drink. YUM.    

My fellow roommate Marlee bought one of the head coverings that Muslims wear and some of our new Muslim friends invited us to go to the mosque with them.  We had to cover completely though, which was really cool as I felt like a true part of this culture! 

A couple funny moments during orientation... on the first day of orientation, everyone was given a polo shirt (mine is XL) and hat.  Now being American, the first thing we all do is put our hats on backwards.  We keep our hats on during the entire session until we get to the rules and learn no hats are allowed.  So we all laugh, take our hats off, and say, “Of course the Americans would be breaking rules already.”  Then we continue to listen and learn that you aren’t allowed to have pets in our room (we were considering keeping a cat in our room), no shoes left outside the door (we had shoes outside our door), no opposite gender in anyone’s room (we had all JUST been playing Scrabble together the night before), and a ton of others that we could be fined for.  Come on now, we’re Americans! ;)

Outdoor activity 
First off, we were told we had to wear “track pant” which we found out were sweat pants or long, sporty pants. However, I didn’t pack ANY of those because it’s like a sauna here!  So, I wore jean capris, my tennis shoes, and my XL polo that we were told to wear.  I assumed our outdoor activities would be soccer or some game in the field.  After waiting on Malay time, our transportation showed up which was a truck with wood sides and a black covering.  It reminded me of some military transport truck. But the Americans, Koreans, Indonesians, Malaysians, and a few others piled in this truck and headed through the jungle.  Just imagine...

As we rode, there were tree limbs constantly slapping the truck and pieces of branches and leaves were flying in, and EVERY time, all the girls would let out squeals. Then all of a sudden some kind of organism fell in and man oh man, you would have thought it was an anaconda.  (It ended up being a grasshopper.)  During this commotion, my water bottle started rolling towards one of the Koreans named Opa and he about jumped out of the truck because he didn’t know what it was at first.  I, however, was laughing hysterically because all of this was happening at once, and it was one of the funniest moments of my life.  If no one is laughing yet, this may be one of those “you had to be there” moments. 

We finally arrived to our destination which was a river, and we went tubing!  Now remember this was a surprise, so here we are in our polos, jeans, track pant, running shoes, hiking shoes, and absolutely no water attire.  HAH!  This river was also the shallowest rapidy river ever, and boy oh boy it was awesomeeee. My butt didn’t agree though as it hit EVERY rock. 

After the tubing adventure, the river guide took us up a mountain and it was the most beautiful view I’ve ever seen. 

Meredith and I then rode in a pick up truck back to the school. That was also SO fun, but probably looked hilarious with the locals and two blonde pasty girls (shout out to my pasty pals).

After the amazing river adventure, we went to Kuala Lumpur for the rest of the weekend.  We literally trekked through the entire city, and I felt like the straggling duckling. I’ve realized I have absolutely NO sense of direction (actually, nothing new).  

As Chinese New Year is surprisingly STILL being celebrated, we ended up being in the middle of a parade with dragons, fireworks, phu dogs, and more.  It was soooo cool.


For dinner, Jocelyn/Hank (her manly name) ordered frog.  And I tried it!! It was very chewy. 

The rest of the night consisted of going to a disco club and pretending to speak Swahili and people believed us!  I’m known to pretend to speak in different languages, but I never imagined someone actually believing me.

Also, I finally saw a REAL American flag. Hehe.

After the weekend in KL, it was time to head back to school, which consisted of a “bedtime” story of Goosebumps by Denisse on the bus. She definitely brings some laughter which I love.  

Final note: Class has started! I HAVE NEVER BEEN SO EXCITED TO GO TO CLASS.  NOT being sarcastic. But those details will be in a later blog post. ;) 

Monday, February 11, 2013

I'm so blonde.

Today was a lonnnng day, but good day.

After waking up and getting dressed, we went to a local restaurant and ate breakfast.  Now, they don't really have "breakfast" food, but it was ok.  It was more like brunch time anyways.  Of course I can't remember the name of what I ate, but it was some type of bready stuff with a sauce to dip it in.  I do know it was Indian food!  It kinda reminded me of a mosala dosa.  My fam is probably the only ones who know what that is, but it's my favorite Indian food to get back home so I was happy to have it.

This part I actually forgot was today so I'm coming back to add it in to keep things in order.  After breakfast, we went walking to find the market that was supposedly within walking distance.  We walked for a while, passing houses and dogs, and asked people as we walked if we were going in the right direction (most of them obviously didn't understand).  Not until we got to the third group of people (who obviously DID understand) did they tell us it was too far to walk, so they offered us a ride, and....we took them up for it. (a.k.a. I hitch hiked!!)  I know the worry warts out there probably just had a heart attack, but it was a spur of the moment decision and you just gotta go with your gut instinct!  That's the advice some of my fellow roommates gave me who backpacked through Thailand for a month before arriving here.  Side note: I did see a knife under the seat in the car, and was secretly planning what I would do with it if something happened (heart attack number 2 for the worry warts).  We arrived safely to the town though, where there were shops and more shops.  Now, the fact that my debit card hasn't allowed me to get ringgits (Malaysian money) out of the ATM,  I couldn't really buy much!  If anyone knows me, that probably happened for a reason because we would have been there for hours as I have to touch every little thing when I shop AND then take forever to make a decision on what to get.  Meredith did lend me some money though... Hehe.  And I did have a hard time making ALWAYS, but I didn't take forever because we had to be back for a tour to a waterfall! I would choose that any day over shopping, so it wasn't hard to get me to leave.    

After taking a taxi back to the school, we met up with some students that work for UPSI (the school) who were going to take us to a waterfall.  Now this "waterfall" was supposed to be a 30 min walk.  However, after 2 hours of walking through the jungle we arrived to the "waterfall" that was a 5mph, 3 feet wide, rapid part of the river.  I hadn't really imagined the worst possible yet because I figured a waterfall was a waterfall.  It was alright though, because we made the best of it.  There were 3 little local girls who were playing catch with a blow up ball (soccer ball print, that is) in the river, and we joined them.  It reminded me of the "one-catch, one-two-catch, and so on" game that some of y'all have played with me.  We didn't count, but we tried to keep it up and dang, these girls were good!  I should have challenged them to beating me and Kimmie's head-catch record.  

Some other positives on this jungle journey (which ended up being 5 hours) included seeing monkeys (REAL ones), walking across a cool rickety wired bridge, seeing locals and their houses, getting exercise (that's for you Coach), taking some beautiful pictures (except for of the monkeys who were too fast), seeing a bull, a temple, a grave site, and more dogs.  

There were a couple funny moments....There was this burger stand with a lot of Malaysian flags around it.  If anyone has looked at the Malaysian flag, it looks VERY similar to the American flag.  So me being me, I said, "Oh my gosh, they have American food here!"  Thank goodness Meredith was the only one to hear that, because seriously, would they have American burgers in the middle of the jungle?? Funny moment two...If you also know, I'm not the most talkative person in the world but I'm trying to get better at that, and so here I am walking down the path with one of the UPSI students who understands English (somewhat) and I strike up a conversation.  Thinking about the dress code and their culture, I said, "So, in the kayaking and whitewater classes, do we still have to wear long skirts and cover up?"  He said, "Ohh yeah, you can rent a bike at the school."  I laughed inside REALLY hard, but said, "Oh ok, I've been wondering about that!"  My question never got answered, but I guess I'll find out when I get there.

After the journey, we went to a restaurant one of the local students took us to.  I got sweet and sour chicken here and as I was eating it, I noticed some bites were REALLY crunchy.  I tried not to think too much and just kept on eating.  A little while later, Meredith and another girl named Marlee were talking about all the bones they had to pick out in their chicken.  My eyes got huge and I said, "I was wondering what those crunchy things were!"  Typical.  I know.  I also ordered a mango "smoothie" which ended up being water with mango flavoring in it.  Not quite a smoothie, but still tasted good.  I realize I need to get on the same dictionary page with my words and some of the Malay words that are the same.  While conversing with the UPSI students who knew English somewhat, the conversation was all along the lines of trying to explain the difference between northerners and southerners.  That was funnnnnyyy!  I was described as the typical southerner, and they made comments about my accent.  (Is it really THAT bad???)  I also learned the word for cute.  It is "Comel", pronounced "cha-mel".  I have decided I'm naming my second dog that, which is going to be a french bull dog.  (Just in case anyone was wondering, my first dog is going to be a boxer named "Andre" after the seal from that movie.)  Then, as we were about to leave, my hoarder-ness came out.  I saw the ticket with the order written on it sitting on the table, and I thought to myself, "I should keep that for memories!" and put it in my backpack.  However, a few minutes later, one of the UPSI students said, "Can we get the ticket you took to pay please?"  Totally didn't even think of that....HAH!  I still managed to get it back after we paid. I'll definitely be on that hoarder show when I'm older.

Now, it's bedtime.  Or I hope so...even though some Koreans just came over.  Who know ENGLISH! YAYY!

Anyways, Selamat Malam! (Good night!)

Sunday, February 10, 2013

"Temporary housing"

Well, well, welllll... since it is Chinese New Year (don't know what that has to do with this) we were told we couldn't move into our dorm/apartment until Wednesday and are living in "temporary housing".  I'm going to try and be as polite as possible now... :D

After our classmate arrived, we were off to our "temporary housing"!  This ride brought a couple slight scares...1) when speeding motorcycles came zooming past in between traffic and mopeds were driving a fourth as fast in the emergency lane, 2) when I would look up and forget for a second that they drive on the opposite side, and 3) when I looked at the speedometer and saw it was on 100 but was calmed by Meredith as she told me it was 100 km, not mph.  HAH. 

2 hours later.... we arrived to the "temporary housing".  At first I noticed all the clothes hanging over the balconies.  I guess this is the most cost efficient method, but it was kinda pretty.  Now being the way I am though, I still imagined the worst possible "temporary housing", that way I couldn't be disappointed.  However,  this is pretty close to what I imagined.  Here's a list of some things we don't have: air conditioning, shower curtain, trash can, refrigerator, stove, microwave, hot water, or toilet paper.  Things we do have: water hose by the toilet, cobwebs, newspapered shut windows, spiders, dust piles, dirty sheets, 1-inch mattress, ONE male American neighbor, and I'll stop there.  Normally, I would sacrifice myself and not take a cold shower, butttt I've been in an airplane for 25 hours and I desperately need one.  So I took a deep breath and suffered, while watching a spider crawl across the wall in front of me.  I know what I'll be dreaming about! 

With all that said, it could be worse.  I am very thankful for 6 friendly roommates, the roof above our head, running water, outlets, wifi, my $2 dinner across the street (talked about later), and the stray dogs that made my day when I saw them.  One of them will soon be my 7th roommate.  KIDDING Courtney. ;) 

As we got used to our surroundings, we went exploring.  This was realllly fun and relaxing to me as the scenery was so green and beautiful.  We saw some cows, some really cool old property, gorgeous flowers, the cutest calves, more dogs, and some pet bunnies. One of the bunnies was as big as the cage he was in.  Kinda broke my heart a little.  

Then we went across the street to get some dinner.  EVERYONE, be extremely proud of me for this next part... I had absolutely no clue what was on the menu, considering I don't know Malay, and literally just randomly picked an item.  It was called "Belacan".  I chose this one because "bella" means beautiful in Spanish.  At the time I told everyone, "I'm choosing this one because 'bella' means beautiful and Latin so it must be good!"  However, I'm literally laughing out loud now because I just remembered bella means war, not beautiful.  Sorry Dr. Reed! ;)  The food was not like war though, nor was it beautiful, but it was tasty enough for me to finish every bite.  I still can't believe I ate it without knowing what it was, but after looking it up online, it is shrimp paste?!  Whatever that means, I don't know....and I don't know if it's a good thing that I ate it or not.  Oh well, I'm still alive! 

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Made it Malaysia, delirious. ;)

Well, the title says it... I made it to Malaysia!!!  AND my suitcases made it too!

The 15 hour flight.
Surprisingly, it was better than the 5 hour flight!  Not only did the check-in guy give Meredith and I a row to ourselves, we had pillows, blankets, and movies to watch!  As soon as we were in the air I passed out.  After about 8 hours of in and out of sleep and tossing and turning, I woke up to have breakfast on the plane.  We had two choices: clam and chicken something Or ham something.  I chose the ham something...which ended up being creamy hashbrowns and red salsa on top of eggs and sausage, or at least that's what it looked like.  Now the picky eater I am, I normally would not have eaten that.  But I want to try new things, including airplane food. (OR I was just extremely hungry and had to eat it or starve.)  However, the yogurt, bread with jelly, coffee, and orange juice were delicious.  Coffee was a bad idea though.  Jen, you know why. :D  Then to entertain myself, I watched the movie, "The Perks of Being a Wallflower".  It ranks third for weirdest movie ever, but I still enjoyed it. Then I listened to music and rested until we arrived in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong.
They didn't make me have my Visa afterwards!  Wooohooo!  Here, Meredith and I were the ONLY blondes in the entire airport, but no one was "petting" us, so that's good.  We were only here for about an hour before we were on the plane again to head to Kuala Lumpur!  On this flight I read a book Meredith had brought called, "How to travel the world on $50 a day".  It was extremely relevant as the author had traveled to Malaysia before and talked about transportation, accommodations, and food.  There was also information about not being scared, which I needed to read.  I'm not that scared though, just a little nervous which I get from my Aunt Beth.  One peculiar thing did occur on this flight.  With about an hour left before landing, I heard the sound of a spray can and saw misty looking "clouds" forming in the aisle getting closer and closer.  I thought to myself, "OH MY GOSH, THEY'RE KILLING US."  Then I realized it was disinfectant spray.  The flight attendants finger didn't come off the button while walking down the ENTIRE aisle.  So yes, we were coughing...and covering our eyes...and saying "Chill with the spray can, lady!"  I still don't know if that was normal routine or if someone was sick or what.  Weirrrrrrd.  One funny thing also occurred.  When we were about to land, the flight attendant wanted to put Meredith's backpack in the overhead storage thing.  Now, this flight attendant was probably a little bit bigger than me (muscle wise) and asked if I would help her lift the bag.  Why she asked puny me, and not the MAN sitting directly beside me, I don't know.  But I helped her, and as we were lifting the bag, she said, "Don't let go." (Imagine in an asian voice.)  I giggled and then laughed out loud with Meredith once she left.  It wasn't THAT funny, but give us a break.  We had been on a plane for 25 HOURS.  I think I'm getting delirious... Hehe.

I'm here if you didn't already know.  After getting off the plane, Meredith and I took the metro to where our baggage was.  Somehow I managed to lift BOTH my bags.  I AM getting stronger Coach! :D   Then we were off to find the guy to pick us up.  We walked and walked some more, and then went around the corner to see a TON of people lined up along a railing...ALL with signs.  Most were in Chinese though, so when I spotted some English on two white signs saying, "Sarah Alyse Johnson" and "Meredith Anne Keeley", we knew we had a ride!  We went to greet him and man oh man, that was tough.  He definitely wasn't fluent in English, and while in the delirious state I'm in right now, I was doing EVERYTHING I could to not bust out laughing.  He was saying something along the lines of waiting for another student who is arriving in two hours and then something about a SIM card.  Random, I know.  Meredith told him we didn't need anything, so now we're just sitting in front of "Malaysia Wok Express" waiting for our future classmate.  One odd thing so far... I went to use the restroom, and there was a water hose beside the toilet! Don't start using your imagination too much though, there was also TP.  Thank the lawd!

I'm thankful to have made it safely, and I'm extremely excited to get to the school.

Talk to y'all soon!


Friday, February 8, 2013

From watery eyes to almost peeing in my pants...

Hiiii everyone!

So as everyone probably already knows, I am studying abroad this spring in Malaysia!  I know, I can't believe it either.  But I am SO excited, and this will be SO good for me!  I may even learn how to boil some water! (That's for Daddy.) 
Now, I'm not much of the "journaler" type, but I'm gonna try and do a blog while I'm abroad. If the rest of the days are as funny (not at first) as today started, this will be quite an entertaining blog.  So, I hope y'all enjoy!

Now, where to begin...

Do NOT get me started.  First off... BAD decision to wait until the night before to put things in suitcases.  Imagine ME (borderline hoarder) trying to fit 5 months worth of clothes and necessities into 2 suitcases, including about 15 t-shirts....Not 25, Mama.  :P  However, I won't go into any more details of the night.  Just ask Anna if you really want to know as she heard it all while she was trying to sleep.  Poor sister. 

The day of departure.
It started off with packing the car leaving the house at 10:15 AM (45 min past planned time...of course) and going to visit Granmama and Grady.  After the stressful night before, they had some great words of wisdom.  Grady said, "I am sending Him (pointing above) with you to Malaysia, and I know he'll look out for you."  That was really all I needed to hear, actually. Then Grandmama gave me only about 5 hugs bye before we were off to Charlotte!  Now of course, since Queen's is on the way to the airport, I had to stop by to say some final good-byes.  And then since one of my favorite restaurants, Bad Daddy's, is down the street from Queen's, of course we had to get my last U.S. lunch there. I recommend for any Charlotte visitors by the way. Then we were off to the airport! 

Airport arrival.
Daddy dropped Mama and me off at the door with my suitcases and went to park.  Now, why he left two blondes together to check in, I don't know.  He was there after a few minutes thank goodness.  We walked up to the counter to check in and the check-in ladies or whatever they're called weren't the nicest of the bunch if I must say so myself.   She looked at me and said, "Driver's license, passport, and visa."  Visa is the key word here... When preparing to go abroad, we were informed that I did not have to have a Visa to go to Malaysia.  It was probably the only 1 of about 130 places that didn't require one, so we triple checked to make sure.  After conversing with the lady and some urgent phone calls (and watery eyes), we figured it all out... I think.  I'm still not there yet, so knock on wood.  Then after that stressful moment, it was time to weigh my suit cases.   If there was a sound insert, the classic Jaw's movie sound would go hear.  AND of course, my bags were 45 and 63 pounds.  The limit was 50.  My dearest friend Jordan who was at the airport to send me off came to the rescue!  Not only did she have an extra suitcase (which I didn't end up needing after all) and an "old" friend's draw string bag, she eased the tension to say the least.  As I was wearing a maxi dress she let me borrow for the trip, this came by pursuing to tell me I had on HER dress backwards.  Daddy said, "I thought it being longer in the front then the back was the new style!" This brought loads of laughter, which was HIGHLY needed.  After a lot of switching around and getting rid of a couple things, the bags ended up weighing 50 and 50.1 pounds.  Praise the Lord! 


After saying goodbyes to Jordan, Mama and Daddy walked me to the security line and this was where we separated.  As I walked around the windy line, without my parents, I said, "Woah, this is weird."  And that's when it hit me.  That I was myself.  I still don't think it's hit me that I'll be in Malaysia of all places, but that time is coming near. I can feel it.  Then I met my fellow traveling mate and Queen's friend Meredith at the boarding gate.

Now, as the boarding time was 4:35 PM, I sat down at about 4:00 PM and chatted with Meredith.  As we chatted and chatted some more, Meredith said, "It's so empty around here..."  This was 4:25 that we noticed this and realized something was wrong.  We then discovered we were at the WRONG gate.  So we rushed over to our correct gate, which was luckily 2 gates over and we were JUST in time before they closed it.  Now, how crazy would that have miss our first flight.  But we made it, and now we're in LA!

After what I thought felt like painfully long flight (only 5 hours), we grabbed our last U.S. dinner at the California Pizza Kitchen here in the airport.  Now we have a 5 hour layover until we board a plane to Hong Kong.  I am NOT looking forward to this as this flight will be 15 hours.  15 HOURS!?! I'm planning to sleep though since excluding the time difference, it will be 3AM to my body.  But this is the first and last U.S. blog before I'm in Malaysia! So everyone keep me in their prayers and wish me luck! 


P.S.  I am SO proud of myself for this lengthy first blog ever of mine!  Maybe because I'm bored, or I'm excited, or I just type a lot once I get going.  Anyways, see ya in Malaysia! :)