Food Diaries Friday: Pho at Saigon Kitchen

Food Diaries Friday is a series on my blog where I write (and rate) my “food adventures” in my last semester at Cornell (and maybe beyond!). This is only the first installment!

Saigon Kitchen is a Vietnamese Restaurant in Ithaca, NY, located in downtown Ithaca. It’s (unfortunately) not a restaurant that I frequent because it’s inaccessible by bus (using “inaccessible loosely here; it’s just near a bus stop but it’s definitely walkable) so when I’ve gone in the past it’s usually due to a car-driving friend. That said, it’s about a 25 minute walk if you start from the edge of campus in Collegetown (and even less if you bus to the Commons!). The walk is definitely not bad, if the weather isn’t bad and you’re dying for good Vietnamese food.

That’s exactly what my boyfriend and I did a few Fridays ago–I have a lighter Friday schedule this semester (ending at around 4PM instead of 7PM, like last semester) so we started walking down there at around 5:15pm. Even though we got there before six, the place was packed–a clear indication of how much locals and Cornell students alike love this place. We were seated, though, in about 15 minutes.

What I love about Saigon Kitchen is that they have vegetarian options–specifically, vegetarian pho–which is what I get there every time I go. There’s another Vietnamese restaurant in Collegetown (which would’ve been a lot closer), but they only use meat-based broth (I think it’s beef?) in their pho–and actually I feel like I’ve only been to a handful of Vietnamese restaurants that serve a vegetarian version of the famous noodle soup, so naturally I had to get it when I went on Friday.

The pho came with beansprouts and basil (and of course a variety of spicy condiments), but it’s mostly topped with crunchy veggies (broccoli, peppers, carrots, etc–tasted pretty fresh!) and tofu:

Bowl of pho with bean sprouts, basil, mushrooms, tofu, and more veggies

Honestly, it’s dishes like this that helps me feel like I’m not “missing anything” when it comes to being vegetarian. The broth was hearty, well-seasoned, and since it was served with a variety of fresh vegetables and rice noodles, it was also pretty filling.

For the price ($11), I would say it’s pretty fair for what you would typically get in Ithaca (I think compared to the suburbs of GA, eating out in Ithaca is quite expensive)–I wouldn’t say that the portion was large, (in fact a friend of mine from Ithaca told me they’ve gotten stingier with their portions as of late), but it’s enough to sustain you for dinner for sure. Overall, a fun treat on a Friday night if you’re willing to walk a little bit.

Besides, look how happy I was when I got my food!

Me smiling with a big bowl of veggie pho in front of me!

[Part 1] Navigating Pre-Med at Cornell: Coursework


Hello and welcome! This is Part 1 of my “Navigating Pre-med” series that I will be publishing on my blog.

If you are new here, be sure to check out Part 0: My Background to learn more about my motivations for publishing this series, and information that would give a LOT more context to the information that I will be discussing!

Previous Part: My Background


In general, the coursework that was required is really split into three parts: (1) Pre-med requirements, (2) Major requirements, and (3) Cornell distribution requirements (which varies from college-to-college). I was also a music minor, though I won’t be discussing too much about that here.

Because my major was pretty different from the pre-med, I did have to take several more classes than say, what a biology major would have to take. This just emphasizes the fact that you really can be any major and still be pre-med. In fact, I have no regrets for choosing my major–it was such a big part of my college application way back then, and it has opened so many doors for me. That’s an entirely different post on its own, however.

Pre-med Requirements

For those who are new to pre-med, it’s not a major but a track. What that means is that it will never show up anywhere on my diploma, but instead is a series of classes that I need to take/fulfill in order to apply for med school.

When it comes down to it, the classes you need to take really depends on what medical school you want to apply to–for example, some medical schools might require two semesters of organic chemistry while others might only require one. I ended up looking at the Cornell Health Careers Guide, which I will be referencing as I go. It covers most (if not all) of the things med schools could ask, so I felt that it was safe to follow along to cover all my bases.

An overview of the requirements listed is as follows:

  • 2 semesters of introductory biology
  • 1 semester of biology lab
  • 2 semesters of general chemistry (with lab)
  • 2 semesters of organic chemistry
  • 1 semester of organic chemistry lab
  • 2 semesters of biochemistry (though some courses at Cornell can allow you to finish it in 1 semester)
  • 2 semesters of physics
  • 2 semesters of English (some medical schools require 1, some require 2–some also allow you to go with AP test scores)
  • 1 semester of calculus
  • 1 semester of statistics
  • 1 semester of social sciences (some but not all medical schools require psychology/sociology, and many allow you to go with AP test scores)

Biometry & Statistics Major Requirements

Required coursework for my major (Following the Major Requirements for students who entered Fall 2015 or Spring 2016) is as follows:

  • Calculus 1 & 2 (2 Semesters)
  • Multivariable Calculus (1 semester)
  • Linear Algebra (1 semester)
  • Biological Statistics I & II (2 semesters)
  • Probability Models and Inference (1 semester)
  • Statistical Computing (1 semester)
  • Linear Models (1 semester)
  • Theory of Statistics (1 semester)
  • 4 Advanced Electives to go towards my concentration (I started with mathematical statistics but switched to general in my last semester)

The only “overlap” was calculus and statistics–and I end up taking way more of statistics than being pre-med actually requires.

College Distribution Requirements

Distribution requirements for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences are as follows: (this changes for each college, so I won’t go into too much details or specifics here, other than outline what I actually take)

  • 2 credits of PE
  • 18 credits of physical and life sciences (easily covered by the pre-med requirements)
  • 12 credits of social sciences and humanities (covered mostly by my interest in music and AP credits)
  • 9 credits of written and oral expression (covered by AP credits and my freshman writing seminar!)

Thankfully, many of these distribution requirements were able to be “stacked” with the pre-med requirements.

What I Actually Took

Now, the exciting part! I’ve broken these up into semesters, with a short description of what requirements it actually fulfilled.

They will be tagged with either ‘M’ for ‘Major’, ‘C’ for ‘College’, or ‘P’ for ‘Pre-Med’ depending on what exactly it fulfilled. I also took several classes for fun (like orchestra!) so those classes aren’t tagged at all.

Freshman Year, Fall Semester

  • BIOG 1440: Comparative Physiology [P, C]
  • CHIN 2209: Intermediate Chinese for Heritage Students I [C]
  • MATH 1920: Multivariable Calculus for Engineers [M, P, C]
  • BTRY 3010: Biological Statistics I [M, P, C]
  • PE 1170: Swing Dance I [C]
  • MUSIC 4621: Cornell Chamber Orchestra

Freshman Year, Spring Semester

  • BIOG 1350: Cell & Developmental Biology [P]
  • BTRY 3020: Biological Statistics II [M]
  • ENGL 1111: Writing Across Cultures [C]
  • CHIN 2210: Intermediate Chinese for Heritage Students II [C]
  • MUSIC 4621: Cornell Chamber Orchestra
  • MUSIC 3501: Individual Instruction in Viola

Notes: by the end of freshman year, I was almost done with fulfilling the majority of the college distribution requirements just based on pre-med/major and AP credits alone. In addition, I was taking Chinese for fun, and was happy to find out it actually satisfied a distribution requirement. :)

Sophomore Year, Fall Semester

  • CHEM 2070: General Chemistry [P, C]
  • BIOG 1500: Investigative Biology Lab [P]
  • BTRY 3080: Probability Models and Inference [M]
  • MATH 2310: Linear Algebra with Applications [M]
  • BTRY 4990: Undergraduate Research
  • AEM 1240: Rose Scholars Program
  • CHEM 1070: General Chemistry I Workshop
  • MUSIC 4651: Chamber Music Ensemble

Sophomore Year, Spring Semester

  • AEM 1240: Rose Scholars Program
  • BTRY 3520: Statistical Computing [M]
  • BTRY 4990 Undergraduate Research
  • CHEM 1080: Intro to Critical Thinking
  • CHEM 2080: General Chemistry II [P]
  • CS 1110: Intro to Computing using Python [M]
  • MUSIC 3501: Individual Instruction in Piano
  • MUSIC 4621: Cornell Chamber Orchestra
  • MUSIC 4651: Chamber Music Ensemble

Notes: Both CHEM 1070 and CHEM 1080 were chemistry “workshops”, i.e., one-credit courses that is designed to supplement the content in the main chemistry courses (2070 and 2080). Rose Scholars Program is a residence-hall, one-credit course that I needed to add to my schedule in order to continue being able to live in my dorm :’). Moreover, even though undergraduate research was done with my major’s course code, it actually didn’t count towards any requirements.

Junior Year, Fall Semester

  • AEM 1240: Rose Scholars Program
  • BTRY 4030: Linear Models with Matrices [M]
  • BTRY 4990: Undergraduate Research
  • CHEM 3570: Organic Chemistry for the Life Sciences I [P]
  • MATH 3040: Prove It!
  • MUSIC 2224: Mozart in History, History in Mozart
  • MUSIC 3514: Individual Instruction in Piano
  • MUSIC 4621: Cornell Chamber Orchestra

Notes: Prove It! Was a course I took so I could familiarize myself with math proofs and Analysis, which I would take the following semester.

Junior Year, Spring Semester

  • AEM 1240: Rose Scholars Program
  • BTRY 4090: Theory of Statistics [M]
  • BTRY 4990: Undergraduate Research
  • CHEM 3580: Organic Chemistry for the Life Sciences II [P]
  • MATH 3110: Introduction to Analysis [M]
  • MUSIC 2208: History of Western Music II
  • MUSIC 3514: Individual Instruction in Piano
  • MUSIC 4621: Cornell Chamber Orchestra

Senior Year, Fall Semester

  • BIOMG 3300: Principles of Biochemistry [P]
  • BTRY 4270: Survival Analysis [M]
  • BTRY 4990: Undergraduate research
  • CHEM 2510: Intro to Experimental Organic Chemistry [P]
  • MUSIC 1101: Elements of Music
  • MUSIC 3514: Individual Instruction in Piano
  • MUSIC 4621: Cornell Chamber Orchestra
  • MUSIC 4651: Chamber Music Ensemble
  • PHYS 2207: Physics for the Life Sciences II [P]

Notes: The biochemisty class I took is a one-semester, 4-credit biochemistry course. If you were a bio major you would have to take an additional 1-credit course, but this course condensed two-semesters of information into one.

Senior Year, Spring Semester–What I’m currently enrolled in

  • BTRY 4110: Categorical Data [M]
  • EDUC 2200: Intro to Adult Learning [C]
  • HADM 4300: Introduction to Wines
  • PE 1272: Walking Tours[C]
  • PHYS 2208: Physics for the Life Sciences II [P]
  • BTRY 4990: Undergraduate research
  • MUSIC 3514: Individual Instruction in Piano

Notes: At this point I’m done! The Education course satisfies my final college requirement (diversity), and my last pre-med and last major course will also happen in my last semester.

Some Thoughts

I was averaging around 20-22 credits each semester (with the lowest at 17 in Freshman year, highest at 24 in Senior year), but I feel like if I were to do it over, I might not have put as much of an emphasis on music (and completing my music minor) and opted for lighter course loads each semester. It’s definitely doable as I was only knocking out one or two requirements for major/pre-med every semester.

Moreover, because I didn’t take chemistry until sophomore year, I found myself in the position of having to take at least one gap year. That’s something that I’m totally OK with now, and more and more people are doing, but if you want to avoid the gap year, then it’s probably more advisable to start chemistry freshman year (as most of my peers are doing) with biology (or deferring biology to sophomore or junior year) and thus you will be ready to take the MCAT by junior year.

Most of the courses I took do not require you to take them “in order”–for example, you can definitely take organic chemistry or biochemistry without first taking general chemistry or biology. That said, I’m glad I took them in that particular order (general, organic, then biochem) because they do get more difficult to study for, and study skills is something I only started to build up in college.

On top of the things I would do differently, I think I would have consulted with an adviser more, or asked more people about the classes I was taking. There was quite a few of mistakes in there: if I were to start over, I might not have gone with the mathematical statistics concentration in the beginning (I would have gone general to begin with), I would have taken chemistry earlier on and biology later on, and one thing I should’ve done was take advantage of course help such as office hours and tutoring in freshman year (I didn’t even know those support systems existed until sophomore year–yikes). In general, I made plenty of mistakes, but I still finished–so it’s OK!


Mistakes were made, but it’s OK!

I ended up only taking a few major courses/pre-med courses a semester, so majoring in something other than biology or chemistry and doing Pre-Med is definitely doable.

In the next installment, I will be talking about my various pre-med related experiences during the school year (including shadowing, research, TA-ing, etc.). See you guys then!

Next Part: Semester Experiences [Link to be updated next week!]

[Part 0] Navigating Pre-Med at Cornell: My Background

Hello and welcome! This is Part 0 of my “Navigating Pre-med” series that I will be publishing on my blog. It’s split up into several parts, which I will update and add here as I go!

Next Part: Coursework
Parts will be added as they are posted!

Purpose & A Caveat

I thought it would be cool to document my pre-med experience thus far (yah mom I’m still pre-med!) as well as maybe provide an avenue of information for those of you who are considering pursuing pre-med at Cornell.

Please note that this is MY personal experience, and I’m not attempting to tell you that there’s a single certain way to go about doing pre-med. Though I will offer some advice and mention things I’ve learned in this series, it’s important to take all of this with a grain of salt. There’s about a million ways people have gotten into med school, and I have not applied yet, nor gotten into a med school (so, technically even though I am at the end of my journey at Cornell, it’s still pretty early in the process for me).

Who this is for: Prospective Cornell students/High school Cornell admits interested on going to Cornell for pre-med, people currently at Cornell and considering pre-med, people who just want to see how someone else (me) did it.

So, without any further ado, here we go!

My Background

Some background information: I’m currently a second semester senior majoring in Biometry and Statistics concentrating in General Statistics in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) with a minor in music.

That basically just means my required coursework includes that of the statistics major and of pre-med, which isn’t any different from say, if I were to major in biology (my coursework would have to include that of the biology major and pre-med). The only difference is that there is less overlap between the statistics major and pre-med and I have to take a lot more math classes than what applying to medical school would require.

I will dive into the nitty-gritty of the specific courses I’ve taken at Cornell in the next part.

The Process So Far…

I spent a lot of my undergrad wondering and deciding whether the med school path was right for me–I would say I “committed” to this path rather late, so you will see plenty of my “exploring career options”, the most influential being consulting. Thus, as I’m describing my journey, it’ll seem like I started kinda late–even though I was taking the courses required from the very beginning, the rest of it was slow to catch up.

So, what else did you do?

Besides the coursework, here is also a brief overview of the things I have done in my time at Cornell related to pre-med, many of which I will of course, talk more about in the later sections of this series.

  • Research
  • Work as a teaching assistant
  • Orchestra
  • Volunteering (Hospice and Retirement Homes)
  • Summer work experiences such as consulting and doing research at the CDC

What’s next for you?

MCAT, more shadowing, gap years working, and then the application process!

Intrigued? Click here to go to the next part where I talk about my coursework: Next Part: Coursework

My Minimalist Bullet Journal: January 2019 Plan With Me

Happy New Year!

For the last two years now I’ve made bullet journaling posts/videos describing my process when it comes to creating my bullet journal spreads. It’s been cool looking back at my posts from 2017 and 2018.

But before we begin, I’ve also created a video showing my process of bullet journaling (if you’re not interested, just read on! It covers the same information):

I’m still using my 2018 bullet journal (the notebook itself–250 pages is pretty hard to finish for someone like me!), and since I plan by semester (and January is in between semesters), I have yet to make another future log/yearly spread set ups. I am close to finishing this bullet journal, so when I go back to school, I am planning on getting a new one and set up for the semester then (and that’d be a separate post!)

I can’t say that in the two years I’ve gotten into more elaborate bullet journal spreads, but I do have more things to keep track of nowadays. I have also gotten simpler as the time went on; I just can’t find myself committing to spending a lot of time on setting my spreads up (that is, unless I have time to spare). I LOVE the spreads I see on Youtube and Pinterest, but it’s just not possible for me as a busy student.

So here it is, the bullet journal pages I chose to do for January 2019:

Cover Page

I kept my cover page for January 2019 quite simple, just the date written out with my Tombow brush pen. I also lined the edge with some Muji washi-tape, as I usually do with my months.


I chose to go with a simple timeline layout (instead of grid/calendar layout) because of the basic fact that it’s just simpler to set up. During the school year, I also break it up into personal/school columns (with the dates in the middle of the page), and in the summer into personal/work columns. For January, since I’m on break for most of the month, I just kept it simple.

This page would include everything from events, deadlines, to things I want to remember:

The lefthand side of the page is of course, pretty self-explanatory: “Weekly Overview” breaks down events during the week further, “Focus” refers to my goals of the month, “Waiting On” allows me to write a list of things I’m waiting on… (this could be responses to emails, payments, etc.), and finally, because I have some time this month, I’ve also opted to devote a section to my reading goals.

The “Me” Specific Pages

One of the best things about the bullet journal system/bullet journaling is that you can pick a goal or focus you have in mind for the month and wrap your monthly set up pages around it. For me, I have a few specific goals and things I want to keep track of in January, and that includes:

  1. My post-graduation job/opportunity search
  2. Cleaning/Decluttering various parts of my room (both at home and my dorm room at school)
  3. Keeping up with this blog
  4. Packing for school and my trip to Asia

And these things are reflected in the subsequent pages of my bullet journal:

In the page directly following my overview page, I have a section dedicated to decluttering/cleaning, and another section dedicated to expenses track (pretty standard for bullet journals):

On the right hand side, I have devoted a page to my post-grad opportunity search, including a check-off for each part of the job application process (cover letter, resume, filling out the application, hitting submit!). I always just find that being able to “check things off” really motivate me to get more things done.

I’ve also devoted an entire page to my blog and a page to my packing list:

Here, again, I’ve used that simple check-list system for each part of the blogging process. And, because I don’t think I’ll be writing more than half a dozen posts in January, I left the rest of the page for brainstorming purposes.

The packing list is simply split up into school, trip, and to buy–it’s pretty self explanatory, and is just a way for me to keep track of things so I don’t forget it!

The next page is something new I’m going to try: A sleep tracker. This has never been relevant to me as I (usually) have pretty good discipline with going to sleep at (semi-)appropriate times when at school. Plus, I’m usually so exhausted by the end of the day that I do sleep at reasonable times after I finish studying. Since getting home for break, I found myself sleeping later and later (usually due to poor reasons such as video gaming). To try to remedy that, I’ve started a sleep tracker, with “goal times” (11pm, 7am) bracketed out. We’ll see how I do…

And finally, because it feels weird to be starting my weekly spreads on an even page, I left the last one blank and labeled it “brain dump”. So I can basically write anything here, and if I had forgotten anything in my monthly spreads, I think I can easily just add it here.

And that’s it! Hope this gives some of you an idea of what you could also include in your bullet journal, and how this system is inherently “goal oriented” and specific to what type of goals you have in mind. Hope everyone has a great 2019–here’s to a productive one!


NYE Declutter With Me–My Craft Supplies!

Happy [almost] 2019!

I’m having a pretty chill night tonight (no parties to go to haha and I’m a happy introvert!), and figured it would be a great time to declutter my craft supplies. I used to be more into scrapbooking, but now I only really bullet journal, so a lot of the supplies I’ve “stocked up” (my boyfriend calls it hoarding) are no longer useful.

The Before

I keep my supplies in three main containers: two drawers, one short (one of the blue drawers) and one tall (the clear drawer), one giftbox/container (I got this from my grandma when I was probably 6 or 7; it used to contain snacks and goodies!), and one small crate (it was an old locker shelf from high school).

As you can see, it looks incredibly disorganized. Look what’s inside though…

The first thing I did was to organize my stickers. I organized them into piles of things that I would use again, and wouldn’t use. In addition, I took them out of their original wrappers. This took care of the small blue drawer, more or less.

Next, I started with the clear bin and started organizing them. Because of scrapbooking, I’ve kept pretty much everything I thought would be interesting for a spread. That resulted in a lot of items that I’ve kept that has some sentimental value but would probably never use in a non-scrapbooking scenerio. I saved some of these items (cards, pictures) and took pictures of some others so I could digitally keep it.

This process honestly resulted in such a large pile of things to throw out! But it also meant that I was almost done: the last part was honestly organizing everything in a way that is space efficient.

I found some old glass yogurt containers to hold beads, ribbons, and loose stickers. I put old scrapbooking materials that I bought in an envelope, and the sticker sheets I wanted to keep in a large plastic ziplock bag.

Then, I placed everything back into their original containers!

The After

Here is the small bin:

Instead of the disorganized sticker sheet from before, I placed my box(es) of washi tape, my stamps, and small sheets of craft paper.

Next, in the larger clear bin, I put the yogurt jars filled with ribbons, beads, and small, loose stickers in, along with the sticker sheets (on the side), old scrapbooking material I bought, and an old scrapbook (I used to be really into the K&Company Smashbooks!) I was pleasantly surprised to see that there was actually a LOT of extra space in this bin.

Finally, in the old snacks drawer, I neatly placed in the rest of my stamps, hole punches, old project life cards, and various stationery items:

And what about the small purple crate? Well there wasn’t a need for that so I kept the few of my keepsakes that I decided to keep in there! In the coming days they will probably migrate into some other containers that I’ve set specifically aside for photos and keepsakes, but for now they’re in the purple container.

And that’s pretty much it! It’s so nice to see all of my craft supplies finally organized in an intuitive way. (Even if it’s a pretty lame way to spend New Year’s Eve…)

Hope you guys all have a great New Year’s Eve! Have fun & stay safe! There will be plenty of posts to come soon.