Hey, Miley

Fall of 2012.

Amman, Jordan:

It was a beautiful, sunny day as my roommate, Saba, and I returned from the University of Jordan. We had hailed a taxi in record time and were sitting quietly in the backseat as our driver sang along with the radio and smoked a cigarette. I was lost in thought as I stared out at the busy streets of Amman.

It wasn’t long before I was woken from my thoughts though, as Saba leaned forward to the driver and told him to make a U-turn up ahead. I smiled, knowing that meant we were almost to our host family’s apartment. A few moments later, we asked the driver to stop on the side of the busy road and I climbed out as Saba paid our fare.  Continue reading “Hey, Miley”

5 Stories About My Father

In honor of my dad’s big 5-0 birthday, I write this blog.

As I considered what I would write to commemorate this big event, I decided that I wanted to tell five separate stories about my dad. I present each one of these stories as a piece of the puzzle that is my father. There is no one way to describe him, (and fifty is far too difficult), so five pieces of the puzzle will have to do. I hope you can appreciate and grasp the fascinating puzzle that is Christian Nunez (Yes, Nunez) Pilet. I love you, Dad! Continue reading “5 Stories About My Father”

How To Make Ordinary Life Extraordinary

Spring has sprung in Beijing.

The trees are turning green.
The flowers are beginning to bloom.
And the elderly are back on the roads.

Unfortunately, the color and life that is trying so hard to fill the world is being muted by a heavy smog that has settled on the city. It becomes incredibly depressing to wake up day after day to a brown sky and lungs that ache. This morning I woke up to a dull, lifeless world that really was less than inspiring. Continue reading “How To Make Ordinary Life Extraordinary”

10 Reasons Juan Pablo Is NOT The Villain We Want Him To Be

Alright.

I’ll confess.

I watch the Bachelor.

Now, before you judge me too harshly, let me explain myself. I started watching the show a few years ago with my brother. It was kind of our thing. I’d Skype him while I was at college, and together we’d watch the latest episode of The Bachelor on Hulu. He and I got a huge kick out of watching the drama unfold week after week. We would pick a “winner”, and undoubtably come to regret that decision a week later. We’d make fun of outfits, comments, and personalities. Continue reading “10 Reasons Juan Pablo Is NOT The Villain We Want Him To Be”

The “A” Word

On my 13th birthday, my family was hit with life-altering news.

My three year old brother was diagnosed with autism.

At the time (and, in some regards, still today), no one really understood what autism meant. It was this…sickness, this seeming disease that had suddenly begun being diagnosed all over the Western world. Still, no one really knew what it meant. Your average person may have gathered their best information about autism from the movie Rain Man. A person cowering in a corner refusing to be touched – ah, that’s autism. Continue reading “The “A” Word”

10 Places Everyone Should Visit

I don’t know about you, but my list of places I want to visit is endless. I could talk all day long about the beautiful sights I want to see and the different adventures I want to go on. It can be almost impossible to decide where to actually visit next. In light of that, I thought I would share with you my ten favorite places I have been so far in my life. They are pretty different from one another and I have so many places left to go, so I’m not sure everyone will agree with me. Simply, these are places that stole my breath at one point or another.

Here are my top ten places in the world that I think everyone should visit. Continue reading “10 Places Everyone Should Visit”

Why I Love My Scars

When I was two years old, my parents and I visited some family friends in Oregon. Now, these friends had a pet dog they loved more than anything. That afternoon, they informed my parents it was a very friendly dog that loved to play with kids. I do recognize that it’s quite possible I wasn’t the most charming of toddlers. Maybe I pulled on its ear a little much or maybe I straight up punched it in the face. Who knows. Either way, I must have really ticked off this dog, because he decided to attack my adorable, chubby, little face. Continue reading “Why I Love My Scars”

5 Things I Love In China But Hate In America

1. McDonalds

I, like you, watched the documentary Supersize Me. And I, probably like you, was disgusted. Whenever my family would suggest McDonalds for a snack, I would cry out in horror,

“Guys, we can’t eat there!! Do you have any idea what’s in all that crap?!”

I would force them to find a healthier alternative in order to prolong their lives by avoiding the evil corporation that is McDonald’s. Continue reading “5 Things I Love In China But Hate In America”

Good Grief

April 26, 1998.

I sat on the chair feeling terrible. My mother had specifically invited me to the Ladies’ Luncheon to hear her speak, but I just didn’t want to go anymore. My brother and dad were going to McDonald’s. McDonald’s. My desire to be a “big girl” and go to the special lunch suddenly seemed incredibly boring next to the idea of jumping around in a ball pit at McDonald’s. Maybe Mom would understand? Continue reading “Good Grief”

5 Things America Should Embrace

America has a great many things to offer the international community. For examples, look at my previous blog, “10 Things I Miss About America.” Today, however, I take a moment to point out some things America could profit to learn from the international community.

Here are my suggestions for 5 Things America Should Embrace. Continue reading “5 Things America Should Embrace”

My Life Is Perfect

I’m sure you don’t think my life is perfect. But, the thing is, I want you to think it is.

You see, these days, social media gives us this incredible opportunity to create ourselves. It allows us to set up this virtual version of who we are. Profile pictures, statuses, timelines, likes, dislikes, and updates are all available to us to show the world who we are. And if we don’t like how it looks, well, we can change it. Continue reading “My Life Is Perfect”

7 False Stereotypes About the Chinese

Despite the fact that I spent a good deal of time growing up in Asia, I still had some preconceived notions about China before moving here. I would like to blame Chinatowns, Mulan, and the media for my terrible stereotypes. In reality though, I know I can only blame myself for not having actually bothered to learn before now. After a year of living in good, ol’ Beijing, I thought I would share with you my, now, debunked stereotypes.

7 False Stereotypes about the Chinese: Continue reading “7 False Stereotypes About the Chinese”

What to Expect When You’re Not Expecting

For as long as I can remember I have said I will never have kids.

It’s not that I don’t like kids. Really, I do. It’s just that, after six younger siblings, I’ve already had my kids. I’ve changed diapers, wiped runny noses, read bedtime stories, played dolls, and kissed boo-boos. Honestly, I think this may have been my parents’ way of making sure I didn’t get pregnant outside of wedlock. Good work, parents, good work. Continue reading “What to Expect When You’re Not Expecting”

5 Naughty Words My ESL Kids Love

Today marked the first day of classes for the spring semester at Beihang Fu Zhong. Leif and I teach 7th and 10th grade at this high school here in Beijing. At the start of last semester, I remember being nervous. Would the kids like me? Would I be too boring a teacher? Would I be too spastic a teacher? Shoot, why in the world was I signed up to be a teacher?! This was definitely not the plan. After my first class though, I was no longer worried. I knew I was cut out to stand in front of kids and laugh at myself. I mean, I certainly don’t plan to do it again after this year, but it’s been a good lesson in not taking myself too seriously.

And here are five reasons why: 5 Naughty Words My ESL Kids Love Continue reading “5 Naughty Words My ESL Kids Love”

4 Truths I Learned From Anne Frank

Over the last week I read Anne Frank’s Diary. I’d like to say I picked it up with the intention of edifying my mind but, in reality, the foreign teacher’s library has all of twenty books. I browsed over my options and it seemed like my best choice. As I picked it up I couldn’t help but think of Cecily Cardew from Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest when she says, “You see, it [a diary] is simply a very young girl’s record of her own thoughts and impressions, and consequently meant for publication.” Surely Anne’s diary and the fame that surrounds it made it worthy for publication. Continue reading “4 Truths I Learned From Anne Frank”

5 Reasons I Miss Being Single

More than any other year, this Valentine’s Day season I have felt accosted by the concept of finding completeness in my significant other.

All around me I hear the reasons someone’s spouse or boyfriend is just divine perfection. I even found myself nodding understandingly. I reminded myself how lucky I am to have such an incredible man that is all mine on this hyped-up-on-chocolate holiday. Then, for just one brief second, as I stared down at my red-sprinkled, heart-shaped cookie, I realized…what is this load of junk? Continue reading “5 Reasons I Miss Being Single”

Thoughts of Frost

The best way out is always through. Robert Frost Ever since I arrived in Jordan, the other students in my program would exclaim, “You’re spending your last semester abroad in Jordan?!” And I would always respond, “Yeah. It seemed like a good idea at the time.” And, really, it did. I had considered going abroad earlier, but something always came up. Either I was cast in a show that I just couldn’t miss or there was a core class that was only offered during a certain semester. So, finally, my senior year rolled around. There I was, with no more excuses left. It … Continue reading Thoughts of Frost

‘Tis the $eason

As you know, I have lived in all sorts of places. Everywhere from Midwest USA with their plethora of fast-food restaurants to Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia with its very hairy yaks. And in all of these places, I noticed something interesting. Not about them, but about me. My status as a person changed, depending on where I lived. The concept of wealth and these changing lifestyles are not new to any of us. But I never considered, until now, the significance of this in my life. In the mid-west, my family and I were fine. You know – fine – not rich, not poor. Just fine. In … Continue reading ‘Tis the $eason

A Time to Learn

Before I begin, I need to address something. I realize I am only a young college student. I don’t pretend to know everything, or anything for that matter. The things I say are simply what I have seen and experienced. All I will tell you is solely based on my personal experiences. — I have learned that timing, timing is everything.   Two weeks ago, I decided I would go to the Holy Land over my long weekend. It was an easy decision; It’s cheap to cross the border and I had some friends who wanted to go. We booked … Continue reading A Time to Learn

Amman: Crazy Taxi 2.0

“It is a truth universally acknowledged,  that a single man in possession of a good taxi,  must be in want of a customer.”     When I was 12 years old, my brother and I played a certain computer game all the time. Its name was Crazy Taxi. The premise is that you, as a taxi driver, must pick up customers and take them to their destination before the time runs out. The longer you take, the less money you get, as you have less time to pick up more customers. Due to this factor, the game is a lot less … Continue reading Amman: Crazy Taxi 2.0

The Entertainment Industry, Jordan, and Me

I am an American. I am a girl. Therefore, I am “easy.” The past few weeks I have begun interviewing Jordanians for a documentary I am making. This documentary will address common misconceptions (among other things) that Americans have about the Middle East. In the process, I have learned many eye-opening things. Most interesting has been the Jordanian perception of Americans. Multiple people told me that the American girl is considered “easy.” When pressed, they explained that it was because of the entertainment industry in America. It has led the general Middle Eastern population to believe that American women will … Continue reading The Entertainment Industry, Jordan, and Me

Hide and Seek

Walking alone at night is terrifying to me. It’s scary even when I’m at home and have to walk the five yards to my car in the driveway. So, it’s really scary when I am walking down a dark road to find a taxi in Jordan. The other night I walked alone to find a taxi. The sun sets in Amman around six and it was only a little after that time that I set out to meet some friends for dinner. I held my bag tightly as I walked down the car-lined road to the main street. A light above … Continue reading Hide and Seek

Love in an Over-Sized Bird

This week I learned about love. Eid Al-Adha was October 24-28th. It is a Muslim holiday that celebrates the day Abraham was to sacrifice Ishmael. I have never been more excited about a Muslim holiday. Not because the streets of the Arab world would be flowing with the blood of sheep, but because it meant school was cancelled. And what does a study abroad student do when school is cancelled? Go to Istanbul, Turkey, of course. My mum has always told me she wants to visit Turkey. I never understood. How exciting could a country be that shares a name with … Continue reading Love in an Over-Sized Bird

I’m a Barbie Girl in a Veiled World

When I started telling people that I would be studying abroad in Jordan, I was usually asked a series of three questions:   1)  Where is Jordan? 2)  You’re gonna get blown-up. You know that, right? 3)  Are you gonna have to wear one of those scarf-things?   In response to the first, I began introducing the topic by saying I was studying abroad in “Jordan-in-the-Middle-East” before anyone could ask. To the second question, I would just smile and say, “There are worse ways to go.” And to the final question I would respond, “Umm.” In truth, I had no … Continue reading I’m a Barbie Girl in a Veiled World

The Brink of Uncertainty

Sometimes, we teeter on the brink of uncertainty. Felix Baumgartner knows this sensation better than anyone. Last night, the Austrian skydiver fell faster than the speed of sound from the astonishing height of 128,100 feet. I sat on the floor of my host family’s living room and watched history being made. As I watched, I couldn’t help but compare the two of us and our separate adventures. Felix: In order to leave the atmosphere, he prepared himself. He perfected his skydiving techniques, said “see you later” to family and friends, and put on his special suit. He then sat in … Continue reading The Brink of Uncertainty

Culture Shock: A Reflection

I vividly remember when I moved to Mongolia. I was the most excited nine year old girl you’ve ever seen. I was practically bouncing in my seat as our Korean Air plane landed in the valley in which Ulaanbaatar is located. I had been dreaming of that moment for years. I didn’t care that the ground was littered with broken glass or that the weather was going to be the most bitter of cold. It was my new home. As I look back at my transition to the nation, I note the ease with which I did so. Sure, there … Continue reading Culture Shock: A Reflection

Rain, Rain, Don’t Go Away

I’ve decided it’s time to take off the I-love-Jordan-all-the-time hat. I usually prefer that hat because writing about your feelings? Yeah, that’s tough stuff. However, I am feeling particularly brave today. So here you are: my unfiltered feelings. LANGUAGE Living in a new culture is hard, but studying in a new culture is even harder. I took Modern Standard Arabic class for two and a half years. I worked really hard at it and always got good grades. Can you imagine my shock when I landed in Jordan and no one understood a word I was saying? The dialect here is … Continue reading Rain, Rain, Don’t Go Away

Katy Perry Drinking Coffee in Mongolia

Coffee: Not just a drink, a way of life First of all, you should know that I used to work as a barista at a coffee and jazz house. It was the best job ever. I absolutely loved it. Coming home smelling like coffee and talking to strangers about coffee always puts a smile on anyone’s face. However, due to being surrounded by coffee constantly, I stopped drinking the stuff for the better part of two years. When I started picking up the occasional latte again in college, I found that I’d contracted a very strange problem. I am now … Continue reading Katy Perry Drinking Coffee in Mongolia

Grace, Grace, Grace the Explorer

Just call me Indiana Jones. ‘Cause Harrison Ford’s got nothing on me. Well, except for the whole Han Solo and being famous thing. But, you know, whatever, I’m working on that too. This weekend was straight out of a movie. Actually, I think I’ve seen the movies. Indiana Jones, the Mummy, Aladdin, Lawrence of Arabia, and Hidalgo are some that I can think of off the top of my head. Beautiful red sand dunes and setting suns. Bedouin tents with decorated camels. Brilliantly blue sea meeting towering mountains. Ancient ruins with foreign etchings. This and so much more is Wadi … Continue reading Grace, Grace, Grace the Explorer