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When I was 5, my mom gave me my first diary and was taught to write in it every night before going to sleep. To this day, I haven't stopped handwriting my personal thoughts, stories, and self-reflections in my journal. 

This is a place for me to share what I find beautiful in my adventures, what makes me excited and passionate, and all the lessons I learn along the way. 

Filtering by Category: Inspiration

FAQ: Tips and tools for getting started in user experience design (aka UX)

Fiona Yeung

This piece was originally published on Medium with Google Design. 

As an interaction designer on the Material Design team at Google, I often receive emails and questions from people who are trying to transition to UX or who simply want to learn more about the ins and outs of the industry.

“I want to get started in the field, but being a [insert unrelated major] student, I just have no idea on where to start. Do you have any advice on what I can do to break into the UX field?”

User experience design is one of the most in-demand jobs right now. It’s a field that has grown and evolved so fast that it places new demands on its practitioners every day. UX designers work on a vast range of products and services from websites, mobile apps, and the Internet of Things, to VR and AI. There’s constantly new tools, new trends, and new technologies that we’re required to keep up with. As a relatively new designer in the industry and a former intern at Google, I wanted to share what I’ve learned so far, and start a repository of the most frequently asked UX questions that land in my inbox.

1. What is UX design?
UX design stands for user experience design. It’s about finding the sweet spot where human needs and business goals meet, while giving users a delightful and seamless experience with a product or service. Good user experience design is often invisible because it’s not just about how something looks, but instead about how it works. My friend and colleague Drew Shimomura helps distinguish between visual design and UX this way: “Visual design says ‘make it clear and simple’ while UX says ‘don’t make me think.’” As a UX designer, I try to help users reach their goal in as few steps as possible. UX is constantly working in the background, presenting information and functionality that makes sense to the user, while reflecting their needs.

2. I want to become a UX designer. Where do I begin?
Start with the fundamentals. Understanding how line, color, texture, shape, form, value, and space work together is useful if you want to develop an eye for good design, and necessary in helping you become a better designer. If you need a primer, I recommend reading Graphic Design: The New Basics by Ellen Lupton and Jennifer Cole Phillips, or Meggs’ History of Graphic Design. Both teach the fundamentals and are informed by contemporary media, theory, and technology. Don’t forget about typography basics too, I love Ellen Lupton’s Thinking with Type.

At Google, we created a design language called Material Design which is a design system that combines theory, resources, and tools for crafting digital experiences. You can explore the system at, and our Material Design Guidelines are a great resource for learning on your own.

Moving beyond these basics, we need to incorporate design thinking. Good UX requires us to understand people and behaviors. Consider reading up on The Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman as well as’s Design Kit to dig deeper into Human-Centered Design. This goes into the research phase of the design process which is especially important in understanding the problem you’re trying to solve. For more information on the design process, I’d take a look at the sprint process created by Google Ventures to get a sense of what a (condensed) design process looks like.

3. Do I need a design degree to become a UX designer?
You don’t have to have a design degree to be a UX designer. I formally studied graphic design and found it to be useful, but many of my colleagues and friends in the industry are either self-taught or have non-traditional backgrounds. For example, my intern manager at Google studied cognitive science and a former colleague was a psychobiology major.

There are pros and cons for both formal training and being self-taught. Design school provides you with a structured learning environment and on-going guidance. There’s a well-planned curriculum with instructors, mentors, and people who are obligated to provide you with feedback. (UX bootcamps are a good alternative form of design education and typically run for 12-weeks or so).

If you decide to learn on your own, you may have to create your own environment, projects, and lesson plans. You can focus on exactly what you want without the constraints of a semester timeline, and you get to choose your own mentors (as long as you put in the work to find them). While it’s great to have more freedom with the types of projects you take on, this may come at the cost of structured guidance.

4. How important are internships?
Internships are a great way to learn about the industry. However, they usually require you to know a bit about UX and have a substantial portfolio already. If you’re currently a student, I highly recommend taking advantage of internships during the summer since many companies only accept students. Internships allowed me to try new experiences without a long-term commitment. It gave me time to figure out what I really wanted in a career and what kind of place was good for me. In fact, being an intern at Google is how I ended up here as a full-time designer! (Psst! Design internship applications are out now for summer 2017!)

5. What tools should I spend time learning?
A designer’s toolkit is large and relies on many skills and tools: physical, digital, and emotional. I like to design with Illustrator but other colleagues use Sketch, or Photoshop. There’s no “right” tool to use, but whatever works for your own process. I’m a bit old-school so I always start with pencil and paper. No matter how advanced our software is, my team and I rely heavily on sketching as a starting point. For prototyping, there’s Framer, Principle, and Origami. I’m still very new to prototyping but my team uses Flutter which is an open-sourced framework for building cross-platform UIs—learning how to use it has been challenging because it’s my first programming experience but extremely rewarding. If you have zero to little experience with these tools, I highly recommend Skillshare and Lynda for video tutorials. You can also create simple prototypes with InVision and Marvel (I used these in school), by uploading pngs and creating hotspots linking your screens.

6. What technical and non-technical skills should UX designers have?
Being a great designer also requires soft skills; everything from being a good listener and communicator, to having empathy and self-awareness. You have to understand and empathize with what your users want. We can’t assume we’re designing for people who live just like us. Take YouTube for example. In their efforts to target the next billion internet users, the research team gathered field studies from India and learned that data was costly and slow. This resulted in YouTube’s offline mode feature, but that was just the beginning. Most recently the birth of Youtube Go, a new Youtube app designed to be offline-first and work even when there’s low or no connectivity. When you think broadly for your users and from their perspective, designing effective solutions becomes easier.

7. What kind of UX projects should I work on independently?
Work on projects that allow you to solve problems involving UX thinking. It can be in the form of an app, a smart device, or even something like the redesign of way-finding at the airport! Take a look at your environment and find something that you are dissatisfied with, then figure out how you can improve that experience. Merge something that you’re passionate about with design and you’ll find your niche.

Your perspective is what makes things interesting. For example, I travel a lot and always want the most authentic experience instead of visiting the tourist-y or must-see spots. That’s hard if I don’t know any locals, which is how I got the idea (while in school) for project Loco, a concept app that connects travelers with local guides for tours or custom itineraries. Let yourself play creatively and you’ll find that your imagination is a great tool.

8. What UX resources do you recommend?
Read, watch, and listen to design articles, books, and videos by design leaders. There are tons of great interviews, podcasts, and blog posts that detail designers’ success stories and explain how teams operate at different companies. Learn about the future of design but also the history. Devouring as much as you can will expose you to how designers really work.

Here are a few of my favorites:

Virtual and in-person bootcamp design classes are also a great way to learn. I’m currently taking a class on Javascript with Codecademy! There are so many different types of classes, you’re bound to find one you’ll like. See: General AssemblyCooper UBitmakerCourseraSkillshareLynda.

Also, don’t forget to reach out and meet real designers! Attend design events run by local organizations, or conferences (like 99U and FITC), and participate in community groups like Designers Guild. I’ve met so many great designers from attending Dribbble meetups and co-hosting XX+UX happy hours. When I was just getting started in UX, I learned a lot by attending Startup Weekend and volunteering at FITC since I couldn’t afford the tickets. Just by attending, I learned a lot more about the UX world and how designers think and communicate. It’s likely that you’ll end up meeting others who are in a similar boat, and who you can learn together with. Continue putting yourself out there as you continue to learn and grow as a designer. Good luck and keep creating thoughtful design work!

If there’s something you’re still wondering about, feel free to add your question in the comments below or email me directly. And if you’re a designer about to graduate, you might find this article that I co-wrote to be more useful: The First Steps to Landing Your First Job.

Stefan Sagmeister on "Why Beauty Matters"

Fiona Yeung

Last week, Googlers in Mountain View had the privilege of seeing Stefan Sagmeister give a lecture on "Why Beauty Matters". If you don't know already, Stefan Sagmeister is one of my all-time favourite designers so I was beyond ecstatic when I found out he was going to give a talk at my office. 

“This whole idea that beauty is skin deep and surface-like is kind of stupid. That’s a very deeply stupid idea. There is an unbelievable function in beauty.” - Sagmeister

I find it really interesting that a lot of designers are 'trained' to believe that the answer "...because it's more beautiful" isn't a valid or good enough reason to why we choose to design something a certain way. However, Sagmeister argues that it is a completely valid answer. He uses the airport safety card as an example saying without beauty, people don't pay attention to things thus it cannot communicate or be functional. 

Modern day airports is another example Stefan brings up . Today, the interior of airports look universally the same so much that the only way you can really tell where you are (aside from looking at the language) is by the power outlets. Is it due to globalization and technology that we've become so unified and the same?  When you look at what the presidents and kings wore throughout history, every decade, every culture is drastically different but fast forward to the 60s to today, suits is all we see. 

Key Takeaways

5 rules that Stefan talked about:
Beauty is part of being human.
Even the oldest tools humans created such as the stone ax were made to be symmetrical even though it didn't add any intrinsic function to the tool other than to simply be more beautiful.

Beauty changes our mood.
Grand Central Station and Penn Station are two train stations in New York City. Looking at the different tweets from riders in each station, it was apparent that those were were in the beautiful Grand Central Station were in a significantly better mood than those at Penn Station. 

 Grand Central Station

Grand Central Station

 Penn Station

Penn Station

When we lose our mind, we can still recognize beauty.
A test was conducted for people with Dementia where they were given 5 paintings and were asked to put them in order from the most beautiful to least. Not only did all the participants rank the paintings in the same order, but they repeated this a few months later even with no recollection of already having done this. 

Beauty improves functionality.
Airplane safety cards were ugly. Nobody ever looked at them thus they weren't functional. Stefan showed an example of Virgin America's safety video which was clever, entertaining, and beautiful, and people actually paid attention therefore improving functionality. 

We agree on what is beautiful.
Sagmeister showed the audience two pieces of painting; one an authentic Mondrian piece, and another was a fake. In each example, the audience was able to guess correctly which was the real Mondrian painting. 

A Conversation with an Uber driver

Fiona Yeung

It was a Saturday afternoon outside the SFO airport. I had just landed from Houston after spending 4 days there for the Grace Hopper Conference (thanks Google!). I ordered an Uber so I could head home, unpack, and unwind for the evening. As my Uber driver pulled up, I got into his white Toyota Corolla that was so new that he didn't even have his own license plate yet. The car ride started off pretty quiet which I enjoyed since I was too tired to really strike up a conversation. Somehow, we ended up talking and having a conversation that really stuck with me today as a good NTS reminder. We started off by talking about my flight. He asked me how long it was so I told him it was around 7-8 hours including a layover in Dallas. He then tells me that he used to be a truck driver where he would drive for 11 hours before sleeping in the vehicle before completing the average 15 hour drive...back to back for several months. He told me it was a rough job and almost impossible to have a life since you were never actually home much. In the last 4 months, he was only home for 14 days..the rest were spent on the road around the country. I don't know much about truck driving culture or what the job is like, but he said it was rough. He hated it so much that he finally quit and that's when he became an Uber driver. In my head, I was trying to figure out why he even decided to take that job in the first place.

I asked him about family which turns out they were all back home in Nigeria. Since none of his family were here, I asked him why he was in the United States. He told me he's been here for 3 years now and this is where the opportunities are. Based on his facial expression and tone, it occurred to me that he didn't seem all that happy. I asked, "So, do you like living here?" and immediately, he shook his head and said "No" with a chuckle. He also seemed to really despise Silicon Valley and techies from the way he was talking about how expensive San Francisco was. Since he didn't like living here, didn't like his job, and didn't have family here I didn't understand why he was here at all. Instead, I asked him what his dream place to live would be, and he said Dallas, Texas. I was surprised, but immediately said, "so why don't you go there!". He didn't have much of an answer. At this exact moment, I realized how fortunate I was, and also how much I took for granted even though I always tried to be very conscious of the tech bubble. It's not always easy to "just go there".  Back home in Canada, I grew up in a city where kids attended after-school programs, clubs, sport teams, back to back. It was a city of opportunities and well-developed education programs. It was a very well-off city. I have never seen a homeless person on the streets in my city of 350,000 people... I didn't even realize how well-off my hometown really was until I googled it one day. 

My point is, I am reminded today that I have to actively try harder to see the full picture. Working in Silicon Valley is a luxurious place. Yes, we work hard and the companies like to treat us very well...but my Uber driver also works hard too, and most Uber drivers work two jobs. Working in Silicon Valley doesn't make us any better or any smarter, or harder-working. I want to remind myself (and all of us) that sometimes things are easier said than done and that making money is not easy. As a foreigner in the states, almost all of my friends are from tech since all my friend groups were formed through work friends or design events. Because of that, it means I have to expose myself more to the world beyond tech and design. I think it's incredibly important to have a diverse group of friends and interests so that we don't end up be blinded to our first-world lifestyle. And quite honestly, there are bubbles everywhere...the Tech bubble, Hollywood, the fashion industry, cities that are less diverse...these are all examples of places with a high concentration of a type of lifestyle making it easier for us to become immune to it.

The conversation I had with my Uber driver today helped snap me back to reality. We say that everyone has a choice, and that's true, we do...but sometimes it's really hard and taking a job you don't like but pays well is what ends up winning. For my Uber driver, he did it for 9 months before quitting. It's easy for me to switch jobs or move if I'm not satisfied but I have to remember it's not that easy for everyone. To be humble also means to accept your reality and know how that lifestyle differs from others and to always be compassionate and empathetic. For this exact reason, I volunteer regularly at the Girls and Boys Club in Redwood City so that I can give back to our communities.

It was a short 15 minute conversation but one that will be used as a constant reminder.

I hope you make it to Dallas one day :) 

The First Steps to Landing Your First Job

Fiona Yeung

Originally published on Medium with Google Design. 

It’s your final year in school, and you can’t wait to graduate. In just a few months, you’ll be out in the real world free from essays and midterms. But just as soon as you’ll enjoy your newfound freedom, you’ll also be faced with the daunting task of figuring out where you will be in the next few months and landing a job you want. As designers, there are many potential paths to take, from entering into the agency world, to joining a design team in a large company or startup, to striking out on your own.

We’re Andre and Fiona, former interns at Google who’ve both returned for full-time positions on the Android and Material Design teams respectively. We’ve pulled together some advice for preparing for your next big step into the workforce. Whether you’re a designer or not, we hope these tips will offer some clarity and confidence as you set off for your next chapter.

Get involved

You’ve heard the statistics and have probably had moments of self-doubt, but applying and landing your first big job doesn’t need to be a scary and intimidating endeavor. Companies understand that as a new grad you won’t have much experience. What they look for is enthusiasm and talent. They like to see that you are willing to spend time growing and learning as much as you can. Do you have the ability to apply the learnings such as design tools and process to solve problems and contribute to projects independently and collaboratively? Not only do they look for hard skills, but they are also hiring for attitude, character, and culture fit. Proactivity and self-awareness are great traits to carry.

Experience doesn’t necessarily have to come in the form of a full-time job. Experience can come from volunteer work, freelance gigs, hackathons, and side projects. Get involved in the design community. Immerse yourself in the industry and demonstrate that you have a strong passion and are motivated for growth and learning. Twitter and Quora are both great ways to expand your network. Sharing your experiences on Medium or personal blogs (like this article!), can be a positive way to demonstrate your personality and unique voice. Don’t be afraid to reach out to designers that you’re inspired by and ask for advice or share your work!

Remember, recruiters and hiring managers are thinking, “Who is this person and what are they going to bring to my team? Can they think outside of the box?” Just the same way a senior designer is going to come in and talk about his or her work experience or portfolio, your job is to come in and show them how excited and passionate you are to start your career and how hard you’re going to work to knock their socks off.

Here are some great organizations, events, and classes that you should check out to get involved:

Know yourself

So you know you’re super excited to get your foot in the door and start working, but maybe you’re a little unsure of which type of company to go for. Ultimately, you have to understand what your values are and what you want out of your first job. How do you want to grow? What do you want to learn? You should strive for the company that has the same core values as you which will make your career more meaningful. Every company is different but there are some generalities to consider when you’re trying to find the right fit:

  • Large-size companies are good large-scale impact. They have access to tons of resources and can help with your career path but can be limiting to specific roles.
  • Startups & small agencies tend to have a higher risk and instability but they allow a breadth in roles with less bureaucracy and it typically moves faster which can be exciting.
  • Large agencies are good for having creative freedom, providing an opportunity to expand one’s stylistic range due to the wide range of clients but can often feel as though there is less ownership.
  • Freelance jobs allow you to have career freedom with less constraints, but it can be also be less stable and require more self-management.

Another thing to consider is whether you want to take some time off after graduating to do something fun like travel. Regardless of what you decide, know that there’s no need to rush. Taking a few months of personal time before starting full-time can also be a good way to learn more before you settle into the “adult” world. Fiona took a few months to go backpacking across Europe and Western North America which helped her recharge before returning to Google. It can be a great way to end one chapter before starting a new one. When we were trying to decide which path to pursue, people offered a lot of advice and opinions. In the end, we took it most with a grain of salt because our processes and learning styles are particular to us.

Think about where you see yourself in a few years. There are endless amounts of resources and mentors you can learn from. You need to ask yourself these questions, talk to a lot of people, and ultimately go with your gut. Below we’ve gathered some thoughts from fellow friends who have tried out different paths.

Sahana Kumar, Frog

“While I was trying to decide what kind of company I wanted to work for, I had to think about it in terms of what I wanted to learn, and how I wanted my career to progress. I had had experience at a small experience agency, a start up, and a large tech company, and had never quite found my fit in terms of projects I felt passionate about, and an opportunity to learn what I felt I needed. I decided that I wanted to apply exclusively to agencies because of the variety of projects I would get to experience. Although tech is super fun and lucrative, I felt I needed the well rounded experience that an agency provides. I get the opportunity to work on multidisciplinary teams and first hand experience conducting research with all different types of users. Working at an agency was an easy transition from the school environment and I find myself challenged and excited every day! I may be ready to transition and focus on a product in a tech company someday, but that will be later down the line.”

Sarah Hum, Facebook

“It was very important for me to try different things while I was still in school because I had no idea what I wanted. I started with the agency route and turned to tech, trying both startups and large companies. I will always lean towards startups. I love the fast-paced, do-or-die environment. I love the satisfaction of working with an all-star team all aligned under the same goals and all experts in their domains.

That said, I knew Facebook would give me the strong foundation that I wanted in a full-time role after school. I wanted to be challenged by the insane amount of talent here and learn how to ship products at scale. Of course, I also needed to believe in the product I would design for and working on Messenger has been very fulfilling. Facebook was an easy choice after I could match my needs with the company that would deliver. I would have had a much harder time making the decision without the internship experiences.”

Adil Majid, Spire

“School had always been incredibly frustrating for me. I didn’t like working from seemingly arbitrary prompts and having my work enter the void after being submitted. My top priority after college was to find a place where the things I designed were solving real problems and where the quality of my work would be determined not by the instructor’s tastes, but by the user. I joined a startup in order to work on a small, nimble team, be close to our users, and focus on shipping instead of endlessly iterating.
One downside is that there’s less room for wildly experimental products (since startups have less money to spend on products that may not ship). This same constraint also adds to the excitement — a startup’s survival depends on being laser-focused on providing a quality experience for its users. There’s no strong brand to rely on if you ship a bad product. As a designer at a startup you’re required to be intimately familiar with your users, be constantly user testing, and collect and analyze data in order to delight your users.”

Talk the talk

After you’ve narrowed down your options, you’ll soon find yourself interviewing. Our best tips for having successful interviews is to be yourself and show your passion. Practicing will help you talk about your process clearly and thoughtfully, but don’t overdo it either. Companies want to be able to see and understand how you think about design and how you’d approach a problem. Your ability to communicate an idea clearly is extremely important, so saying what is meant rather than hurling an arsenal of buzzwords is about clarity.

Rita DeRaedt, Google

“There’s such a thing as over practicing and too many mock interviews. Be yourself. Have a conversation. You get hired because you’re being yourself, but if you get hired because you’re a very rehearsed version of yourself, you won’t like the job.”

In addition to being able to talk about your process, it’s also important to have an online portfolio that highlights your best work and your personality. It’s always better to give the viewer a good sense of who you are, instead of just slapping a name on a website with some projects. You can show your personality through imagery and voice in your process. Tell a story and make sure your passion is expressed clearly in your work.

Evan Coutre, Box

“Interviewing and designing are similar in that they are both an iterative process. It is very unlikely you will get it right the first time. Stay encouraged. Treat it as a critique and collect as much feedback as you can and try to gauge what is working and what isn’t. Iterate accordingly until you start to get some positive feedback or results, then look to improve other parts of your process whether it’s your portfolio, your presentation, or how you sell yourself and your work.
There is a time for learning and a time for earning. When comparing companies to apply to or work for, a fair compensation package is important, however your focus coming out of college should be to find a place where you can learn the most. What you earn now is insignificant to the potential you have to earn later in your career if you maximize your learning opportunity now and become really good at what you do. Individuals learn differently: some learn by doing, some learn from others, and some need a happy medium between mentorship and autonomy. Know yourself and the best opportunity for you to learn and maximize for that.
After redesigning my portfolio and doing a couple interviews, I got to a point where I was confident that I could get past any initial phone screen or portfolio walkthrough, however I couldn’t seem to break through the final step of giving an onsite portfolio presentation. Without much feedback to go off of I could assume that there may have been a lot of variables involved with the decision and maybe I just wasn’t the exact right person at that time, but regardless of the circumstance I knew that I could improve. I reached out to others who had gone through a similar process to see what they thought made them successful and just like I did with the earlier parts of the interview process, after a few tries, I learned what interviewers were looking for, how to better articulate and sell my work, treating it more like a design problem until I saw better results, ultimately leading to offers from multiple companies.”

If you want a full in-depth guide on interviewing for design positions check out our friend, Andrew Hwang’s guide

Embrace the journey

For us, being interns at Google vs. full-time designers is different, but not that different. As an intern you are already treated like a full-time employee. The great thing about Google is that everyone has something they are excited to learn about so in the end, we all feel like students with a never-ending desire to learn more about technology, design, and ourselves. Take time during your first few months to really immerse yourself in the work culture and meet people. These people can become lifelong work friends as well as really helpful mentors. There are talented and smart people all around you, so be sure to take advantage of that.

It can be challenging being the young, new member on the team. It’s easy to feel the imposter syndrome. Remind yourself that your youthfulness and inexperience is actually an asset to the team because you are part of the next generation we are designing for — new grads carry fresh perspective, new ideas, and no prior experience or assumptions, which can be really helpful to a team of designers that know their work inside and out.

Every job and every person is different. The important thing to remember is that your are embarking on a journey, and you should treat it that way — with open eyes and a willingness to learn along the way. Focus on what you want to achieve right now in your life. See how you can combine design with other interests. Throw yourself into projects that make you feel excited and motivated. Be fearless with your decisions because this industry is always changing and so should you. #TheFirstSteps

This article was co-written by Fiona Yeung and Andre Tacuyan. Fiona is a UX Designer on the Material Design team at Google. Andre is a UX Designer on the Android team at Google.


Fiona Yeung

Live with intention. Walk to the edge.
Listen hard. Practice wellness.
Play with abandon. Laugh.
Choose with no regret.
Continue to learn.
Appreciate your friends.
Do what you love and live as if
this is all there is.

Every new year, we like to start off with resolutions and goals after some reflection over the holiday break. Personally, for the past 2-3 years, I've changed up my new year plan by taking out resolutions and replacing them with yearly themes and setting intentions instead.  "Goals put pressure on us and have an external outcome. Intentions align us with our purpose. Intentions are more open. They give us time to grow, to manifest our unique beauty as we skip, jump, and climb our way. They aren’t fulfilled overnight. In fact, it just might take the whole year and it's not about perfection." 

My theme for 2014 was self-discovery, 2015 was letting go, and 2016 is to have trust and faith. Trust in the way that everything in my life is exactly the way it needs to be. To have faith and trust in my actions and decisions because I am choosing them deep within my heart. 2015 was one of my most emotionally challenging years and I'm happy to have experienced everything that I did. I learned a lot about letting go, and I think the next step that comes after letting go, is to fully trust the path that I'm on.

This year I aim to be present in every moment, to not hold back, to be okay with change in myself so I can freely allow growth and new perspectives. I want to hear and listen to inner guidance, to be patient and loving with myself, and to practice balance in all aspects of my life. I hope to ask myself hard questions and focus on more 'me' time so I can connect deeper with myself which in return I can spread love to friends and family.

I also recently got two tattoos; one being a very minimal wave on my left wrist. My second one was a minimal lotus + om symbol tattoo with a lot of different meanings, but the core one is to remind myself for awareness and consciousness in all states. 

W A V E — a transfer of energy and one of the strongest forces on earth. To have faith and trust in what happens and to go with it, not against. To remind myself of how big the world is out there. To be okay with both wild, turbulent waters and gentle, loving seas.

I'm excited for 2016. For once, I really have no idea what this year will hold. I'm not sure what adventures I'll have, or what countries I"ll be traveling to. I'm sure I'll meet a ton of new friends and I'm stoked to learn and see more of this beautiful world. Sending lots of love to all of you! I hope 2016 is a good one for ya! 

With love, 

The Last Few Pages

Fiona Yeung

In exactly one week, I'll be at the Toronto airport ready to board a plane with my one-way ticket to San Francisco. The fact that it's a one-way ticket is already extremely exciting because I won't know what life will be like once I board that plane. Sure, I'll know some stuff like where I'll be working and living, but other than that it'll be a whole new journey. 

I'm 21 (a few days shy of 22) and still in shock at how fast everything happened. I never would've guessed that I was moving out of the country so soon let alone moving out of my parents' home just a few months after graduation. 

I'm excited to experience and start this new book in my life but there are definitely moments where I am hesitant, nervous, and scared about it all.  

  1. Home. I always hear about students who live on campus and when they visit home, things just don't feel the same and home doesn't really feel like 'home' anymore. I was a commuter student so I never had that problem or even knew what that felt like. I'm a little scared about how things will be like when I do come home to visit. Will my room feel mine anymore? Or will I feel like I've learned and changed so much, yet nothing at home changes? I try to remind myself that home isn't a physical place, but all the moments and people combined who make my life wonderful so no matter where I go, home will never be far. 
  2. Relationships. I know that relationships are always a 2-way street and if you put in the effort to stay connected, it's definitely do-able. But at the same time, I do get worried that FOMO (fear of missing out) will happen. I'll miss out on family parties, birthdays, big life events, milestones in my puppy's life...this will be inevitable and as much fun moving to a new country may seem...missing these moments will be something that I have to let go of.
  3. Loneliness. As much of an extrovert as I am, I'm worried that I'll get lonely. I don't think people talk much about these things because the glamour of going to a beautiful place like California always overshadows the fact that it's even possible to be lonely. I'll be surrounded by like-minded people in an fast-paced environment so I think I'll be okay for the most part but it's definitely something I've thought about. 
  4. Environment. I'm familiar with America and know how similar Canada the the U.S are in terms of lifestyle and people in general. But no matter what, the community where I live will feel different, the people including how diverse it is will all make a slight impact on my experience. It'll be something that I have to adjust to and I often can't help comparing my hometown with new places, but that's okay.
  5. Recreating yourself. Back home in Toronto, all my friends knew who I was. They knew my interests, my history, my tendencies, or just random facts about me. Moving to a new place meant that I had a blank slate and could recreate myself completely. It can feel overwhelming when I think about that because it's obviously easier when people already know about your background and the type of person you are. But I realize that whenever you meet someone new, the whole process of getting to know someone will give you that opportunity to open up about yourself. It's actually pretty great to be able to get that blank slate. 

Besides some small worries, I can't wait to see what my life will be like. I'm excited to be on my own and try new things, and meet new people. I'm really looking forward to starting work at Google and really amping up my design skills too. Starting over can have its benefits and in a sense, it's not even starting from scratch anyway...just moving what I've created into a new place to continue developing and working on myself. I'm excited to see how the move will change me as a person...oh, and to finally be surrounded by palm trees! 

Bye Bye University!

Fiona Yeung

It took me a while to process this but I'm no longer a university student! I graduated in June from York University/Sheridan College with a Bachelor of Design honours degree making it onto the Dean's honour list and receiving Cum Laude too! Needless to say, I was not only thrilled to receive those honours but to never have to step into a classroom again! I loved my design program but somewhere nearing the end of my third year, I felt that my time in school was up. I didn't want project briefs assigned by teachers anymore.  I was ready to dive into the real world. 

If you're also a new grad, here are a few things that I try to keep in mind: 

  1. If possible, don't work right away. Take some time to do some exploring. You've been in school for as long as you remember. This is a great time to discover more about yourself!  Once you start working, you'll be working for a long time and there's absolutely no rush or a need to race to the next big promotion. 
  2. Your job isn't your life. What does success mean to you? In the western society, I find that so much of our time and energy is focused on our career and 9-5 life that we forget that our life isn't only about our job. Don't forget to spend time outdoors. Find a hobby. Make friends outside of work. There's a whole other world out there so don't let your life revolve around work.
  3. It's okay not to know what you want to do. There's no rush. It might be freaky to be jobless or be doing something you don't love, but there will be time for you to figure that out. If anything, just try to spend time doing what you love, the things that make you feel alive. Forget about money. I know it's easier said than done but if you have a good support system and find that it's possible to take that risk, go for it. The security and money will find you as long as you truly work hard at what you enjoy doing. There's always a niche for it. 
  4. Everybody is learning as well. You might think your boss has it all or that the friend you look up to is utterly perfect..but believe me, we're all just figuring things out day by day. You'll start learning that everyone also starts out as a newbie and feels the exact same way. We are all learning things just like you so don't be too hard on yourself! It's okay to feel confused about the 'steps' of life or to feel lost at times. 
  5. If you want to move, do it! Now is a great time to move to a new city. One chapter is ending, and now it's time to start a new one. If you want to explore somewhere, then give it your all. Make it happen. There will always be excuses that come and go so don't wait! Your 20's is a great time to explore yourself and the world. If you can't afford to move right away, start working on a plan that allows you to make your dreams come true. 
  6. Change is inevitable. No matter how much you want to hold onto something, someone, or a dream, change is inevitable. So let's embrace these changes and make the best of things.  You're entering a new chapter now. There will be more responsibilities, bigger decisions, and larger sacrifices...but don't worry, change is good, it allows growth. Find something to look forward to that is a result of these changes. 

So go for it. Do what you love. Be brave. See the world. Open your heart to change (especially if it's scary!). It's time to get excited for this new chapter of your life! 

TEDxUCI Limitless: 50 Years of Vitality

Fiona Yeung

I attended and unofficially volunteered at the TEDxUCI Limitless: 50 Years of Vitality event last month! My boyfriend Eric was part of the core exec team so it was a no-brainer for me to attend and show support. The event focused on celebrating UC Irvine’s past, present, and future featuring speakers from UCI and from the community such as Chris Fox, Joel Veenstra, Naty Rico, and Diego Rosso. But what's TedX? — TEDx was created in the spirit of TED's mission, "ideas worth spreading." They are conferences that are held globally by individual organizers such as cities, schools and other institutions. The format of Ted talks are "A suite of short, carefully prepared talks, demonstrations and performances that are idea-focused, and cover a wide range of subjects to foster learning, inspiration and wonder – and provoke conversations that matter.' 

This was actually my first time attending a TedX event even though I've been a Ted talk viewer online for several years. One of my goals is to speak at a TedX event one day as I hope to inspire and share ideas as well. I didn't get a chance to listen to all the speakers but the ones that I did listen to were quite interesting. We even got to see a handy ultra sound demo being done right on the stage! 

It was very touching see that all the hard work of the core team members were paid off as the event was a huge success. It's always important for me to surround myself with people who care about wanting to inspire change, positivity, and promote new ideas so attending this conference was really fun.