G-Day

With my college graduation just over a month away,  I can’t help but have mixed feelings.

Today I would like to share those feelings, not so much in words (though I will use some of those), but with the help of some GIFs.

Part of me can barely contain the excitement

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Let’s face it, college is hard. Even though I chose the easiest major I could possibly think of (English language and linguistics), I am still ready to be done with homework, projects, and tests.

I want to be done with BYU

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As much as I love BYU on principle (mainly for its cheap tuition), spend too much time in the same place and you’re bound to harbor harsh feelings toward it eventually. I feel like it’s time for a change of scenery, even if I am technically still going to live close to BYU (but at least I won’t be a student there!)

My immediate reaction at the thought of being done:

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I know I used this exact GIF last week, but this particular GIF is just too brilliant to be under-used. In fact…

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OK, I’m done.

The point is, I get really excited about the thought of being DONE with school. The idea of just working full-time and then having the rest of the time to myself??? It’s almost too good to be true.

Too bad people rain on my parade by telling me how difficult life can be after college.

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Yet no matter what other people say, I won’t let them ruin my dreams of a peaceful post-college existence.

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But then people ask me what I plan on doing after I graduate, and I’m all…

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That’s when it hits me. I have no idea where my life is headed after this.

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And I realize that picking the easiest major might not have been the best option after all.

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No matter what I try, I will inevitably stumble and fall at one point or another.

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Then people tell me to date more, asking me when I’ll just settle down and get married. To which I only have one reaction.

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Let’s just worry about graduation for now, shall we?

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Europe–Chapter 3: A Tale of Two Cities

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…

OK, maybe only the best of times.

For this chapter of my Europe-themed blog posts, I will be focusing on the two most famous cities that I visited during my trip: London and Paris. Mostly London, because I spent three weeks in London and just two days in Paris.

I considered writing multiple blog posts about London and a completely separate post about Paris, but with school starting and whatnot I realized that, if I were to keep blogging at that rate, I would still be blogging about Europe in February of 2017! I cannot allow myself to dwell so much in the past, and if I think too much about my study abroad, I fear I will fall to the ground and start twitching out of utter despair because of how much I miss it. Or maybe I’m just being a tad bit over-dramatic. As I tend to be.

So here goes. I will avoid focusing so much on the sights that I saw while in London and Paris. Instead I will focus on what made my trip to those cities unique. In doing so I hope to emphasize the fact that everyone can have a truly unique and wonderful experience while traveling. No two experiences are the same!

So here are some of my favorite memories from London and Paris:

4th of July, London Style

We brought in the wonderful all-American holiday in a bit of a non-traditional way. Even though we ended up traveling to London on the 4th of July (kind of ironic, if you think about it), we still managed to find time to gather as a group and celebrate being American. A-MUR-ica! We played games, ate marshmallows and hot dogs, and just enjoyed each other’s company. And though I got along quite well with the others before getting to London, I feel that it was in London that close friendships began to form between me and my fellow study abroad students. I remember after the 4th of July party, sitting outside of the apartment complex like unto a HOOLIGAN and talking to some of my new friends until the late hours of the night! It was one of many late-night conversations.

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The London Temple

We had the opportunity one day to visit the London Temple. It was nice going into the temple and also exploring the temple grounds. We got some nice pictures that showed off just how attractive we all are!

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Platform 9 and 3/4

A trip to London would of course not be complete without a journey to Platform 9 and 3/4! I went with three other people in my group, and since there were four of us we each got to represent a different Hogwarts house! The decision was unanimous for me to represent Slytherin, since apparently I’m the most evil one in the group… even though I have told everyone on many occasions that I am not as evil as I make myself out to be! Though I have to admit, this picture of me looking suspicious as my green scarf billows in the wind–well, let’s just say, it’s a good representation of my personality. Maybe I really am evil. Oh well!

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The Old Hide-and-Scare Tactic

One night some of us decided to do a ghost tour of London. For obvious reasons, many of us were put slightly on edge after hearing about the different supernatural phenomena that supposedly take place around London, including the statue in front of St. Paul’s Cathedral that, as legend tells it, dismounts its plinth every August 1st at midnight, runs around in a circle, and then resumes its position as a statue. Creepy! As we were heading back to the tube station that night, two of the girls in my group were lagging behind a bit, so the other three of us decided that it would be funny if we hid from the rest of our party so we could scare them. We found the perfect hiding spot that allowed us to remain in hiding while we could still see the two girls coming. As they walked by, the three of us yelled and ran out from our hiding spots. The two girls screamed bloody murder, and I’m pretty sure they each almost had a heart attack. Not surprisingly, they did not speak to us for the rest of the night as an effort to punish us.

Sunset in Hyde Park

At a loss for what to do one evening, Jacob (the only other boy in the group) and I decided to take an impromptu trip to Hyde Park. While we were there, we witnessed one of the most beautiful sunsets I have ever seen, a sunset that rivaled even the desert sunsets of Arizona and the tropical sunsets of the Philippines. As a sucker for nice sunsets, I was pleasantly surprised.

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The London Night Tour

Three of my classmates and I took a tour of London by night on a double-decker tour bus. We basically saw all the same things we had seen by daylight, but it was a different experience seeing everything at night. Though it was difficult getting pictures as we sped through the streets of London, I managed to get this rare shot of the London Eye and Big Ben in the same line of vision.

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The London Theatre

While in London I had the opportunity to see not one, not two, but three musicals: The Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables, and Once. We also got to see a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in Shakespeare’s Globe Theater.

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The Eiffel Tower

One weekend some of us took a side-trip to Paris. It was a scandal-and-a-half because I was the only boy there! Without a doubt, my favorite part of the trip was going to the Eiffel Tower. We not only climbed the steps of the Eiffel Tower but also took the time to watch the Tower light up at night. Nothing can really describe the surreal feeling that overcame me as I took a picture of the Eiffel Tower’s shadow while standing in the tower itself. And while we sat at a nearby fountain and watched the Tower light up, we experienced a few unexpected slips and splashes as we navigated the slippery grounds and tried avoiding the jets of water that burst out at random intervals.

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Chill-axing by the Louvre

I cannot forget, however, the time we took earlier in the day to rest just outside the Louvre. We found some lounge chairs by a fountain (there seems to be a certain fountain theme in association with Paris, doesn’t there?) and relaxed for a little bit before carrying on with our day. To describe my Paris trip as hectic would be quite an understatement, so it was nice to take some time to rest.

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Inside Notre Dame

There were two main landmarks that I wanted to see while in Paris: the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame. I saw about 763 cathedrals, minsters, etc. while I was in Europe, but the Notre Dame Cathedral was probably my favorite of all–if not partially because it was the most famous one I saw! And I was glad to not see any hunchbacks or gypsies while I was there. No offense to all my readers who are hunchbacks or gypsies, I’m just not a fan of The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Sorry.

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Exploring the Streets of London

During my last Saturday in London, I found myself alone as half of my group had gone to Stratford (I didn’t go because I was weary of both traveling and spending money), others wanted to go shopping (which is basically my version of hell, so no thanks), and the rest were going to spend some time packing (I repeat: my version of hell, no thanks). So I took some time to explore the streets of London on my own. I started by taking the Underground to Elephant & Castle, just to see what I could find in such a strangely named place. I was slightly disappointed that I found neither elephants nor castles, but the day was not a waste: I ended up wandering until I got to the Thames, then I saw a number of interesting characters and sights on the South Bank. I saw graffiti art that inspired me to action as well as a man dressed as a cat–basically, things you don’t see every day! It ended up being one of my favorite days in London because I got a deeper look into just how much character the city has.  It was at this time that I realized how much I had grown to love London and how at-home I felt there.

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An (Almost) All-Nighter in London

As our time in London came to an end, we all experienced mixed feelings. Well, I can’t speak for everyone, but I for one was excited to be visiting new places (mainly Scotland) but also sad to be leaving London, which had really become like home for me. So we decided to make the most of our last night in London by enjoying each other’s presence. I know it sounds cheesy, but it’s only going to get cheesier, so you might as well get used to it. We gathered in one of the girls’ flats and undoubtedly pigged out on food (probably chocolate, as was tradition) before playing a game of truth or dare, which actually just turned out to be a game of truth: basically, it was an excuse to get to know each other on a deeper level than we already had. We then each took turns saying what we liked about everyone else in the group. By the time we were done with these heartfelt shenanigans, it was somewhere around two in the morning, so Jacob and I went back to our flat. This would have probably been an ideal time to sleep, but instead Jacob and I spent almost three more hours talking. By the time we finally called it a night, it was almost 5:00 A.M. And we had to wake up early to catch a train to York. Needless to say, we were exhausted over the next few days. But it was worth it!

The Marriage Blurse

Over the past few years, I have noticed something about me.  Actually, it isn’t so much about me as it is about the people around me.

It seems that many of the people around me have this weird habit of getting married.

Let me paint a picture for you.  Since starting school at BYU, I have been on many a road trip between Provo and Arizona, where I’m from.  None of these road trips ever seemed like a big deal–they were each simply a ten-hour means by which I could go back and forth between my hometown and my college town.  Yet after a few of these road trips I couldn’t help but notice something.

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Almost every time I went on a road trip with someone other than an immediate family member, somebody ended up getting married shortly thereafter.  And that person was never me (just in case you haven’t figured it out, I’m not married… at least, not legally).  Here’s a brief rundown of what happened after my road trips between Arizona and BYU.

  1. Before my mission, I rode to and from home with two of my cousins for Thanksgiving.  One of them got married while I was on my mission.
  2. Also before my mission, I rode to and from home with two friends over the President’s Day weekend.  One of those friends got married while I was on my mission.
  3. When I left BYU and moved home in preparation to leave for my mission, I rode home with one of my best friends.  You guessed it–she got married while I was on my mission.
  4. After my mission, I rode from Arizona to BYU after Christmas break with a friend.  After that next semester, he got married.

I will admit that I recently rode home with three friends, and as of now none of them have gotten married yet.  Does that mean the blessing/curse (let’s just call it a “blurse” to keep things simple from now on) has been lifted?  Absolutely not!  You see, I figured it out.  My marriage blurse only works if I ride to or from home with one or two people.  If I ride home with one person, that person will end up married in the not-too-distant future.  If I ride home with two people, just one of those people will get married.  If I ride home with more than two people, the marriage blurse is invalid.  Just as a note, I have recently taken a road trip from home to school with two friends that has yet to be decided… but if things keep going the way they’re going now, I believe that one of those friends will be married before too long.  The blurse lives on!

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And the marriage blurse does not only apply to road trips.  In my Church we do something called home teaching, which means we go to other people’s homes, get to know them, help them with what they need, and share a gospel message with them on a monthly basis.  At BYU, I usually home teach around two girls and two boys in a given school year.  Since coming home from my mission, two of the girls I once home-taught are now married, two of the guys I home-taught are now engaged, and two of the girls I currently home-teach are engaged.

If you still don’t believe me, there was a group of four girls that I hung out with a lot in my freshman year.  They are all now married.

So what is it about me that causes all these people to dash to the altar?  Do they take one look at me and realize how horrible the single life can be?  Or do I inspire them to take the next big step in their lives?  I’m going to go with the latter, even if my self-doubting tendencies make me more inclined toward the former.

To conclude, there is much to be learned when you have many married friends.  Here are just a few things I’ve learned as a single friend to the married folk:

  1. It is important to be a good and positive third wheel.  Seriously, ask me if you need tips.
  2. It is important to win over significant others who might be suspicious of your presence in their lives.
  3. You should only expect to see married friends on a monthly basis, if that.
  4. In friendships with the married folk, it is likely that the single person will have to make most of the effort.  But you don’t get mad because married people have an excuse to not make an effort.

23 Goals While I’m 23

I’m happy, free, confused and lonely at the same time.  It’s miserable and magical…

Those are the feelings that, according to Taylor Swift, come with “feeling 22.”

And I must say, I’d have to agree.  That is exactly how 22 felt.

But as of today, I am done feeling 22.

So what does that mean?  Well… nothing, really.  Honestly, how different can 23 be from 22?  On the other hand, a new year marks new beginnings, and since I “forgot” to make new year’s resolutions at the start of 2013, I thought I’d take this opportunity to come up with 23 goals I have while I’m 23.

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  1. Tell people what I want, and do what I can to get it!  I’m tired of being that passive guy who never lets his opinion be heard because he doesn’t want to step on anyone’s toes.  Over the years I have had a difficult time getting people to read my mind, so it’s about time I’m more forthright with people in expressing my opinions.  If I don’t like the way you’re treating me, then I’m going to tell you.  This may cause some people to be offended, but as a wise man once said: “Are you offended?  I don’t care.”  I’m not going to let people walk all over me anymore.  And that brings me to my second goal.
  2.  Be more direct.  I tend to beat around the bush like no other when I’m trying to express something that might qualify as being even slightly uncomfortable.  But there was one glorious night a couple of years ago when I was able to be direct and to-the-point, and it was awesome.  I would like to be able to do that all the time from now on.images
  3. Enjoy my alone time.  This year, I want to reacquaint with an old friend.  He’s someone I’ve known my whole life, and when he’s at his best, he’s pretty cool.  His name?  Matthew Gilliland.  When I was little, I loved to be alone.  I could entertain myself for hours and hours using just my imagination.  In recent years, however, I have found it more difficult to get along with myself.  But since nobody likes you when you’re 23, I need to learn to like myself better in preparation for turning 24, when people will start liking me again.  (I’m aware that this last paragraph must sound really depressing, but it’s all in good fun, I promise.)
  4. Keep up with my blog more.  I have already kind of started this one.  I think I must have already written more blogs in the first two months of this year than I did all last year combined.  And if I had planned things a little bit better, this could have easily been my 23rd post, which would have brought things together quite nicely.  Anyway, I hope to continue my consistent blogging as the year continues, especially considering major upcoming events like my Europe study abroad and my wedding.  OK, I’m not really planning on getting married.  I just wanted to see if you were paying attention.
  5.  Catch up with old friends.  I want to be better at keeping in contact with my friends, especially my friends from home as well as those from my mission… even if it is just through Facebook.  
  6. Go to Europe.  Even if something freaky happens and I end up not continuing with the study abroad program, I am determined to go to Europe this year!  Even if it means losing a ton of money, which makes me anxious just thinking about it.
  7. Simpsons_couch-1-Spend quality time with my family.  Ugh, I wish there was a less cheesy way to say that.  Cue the Full House music, please.  I’m in somewhat of a difficult position to do this right now, seeing as I’m living in Utah and my whole family is currently in Arizona, but I will definitely go back as much as circumstances allow… even if that’s just a couple weeks in the summer and then the Thanksgiving/Christmas holidays.  I see my family as one of my most reliable support groups, and I will do anything to maintain that… even if we are actually not so much like the Tanners from Full House but more like the Simpsons: violent and dysfunctional.
  8. Give myself to the Lord.  This is kind of broad, but honestly this is as specific as I feel I can get at the moment.  I have tried most of my life to just do things my own way, but after almost 23 years of doing it, I must say that I understand what Taylor Swift means when she says “This is exhausting.”  It’s time to quit trying to drive myself down the highway of life and let Jesus take the wheel!
  9. Keep my Taylor Swift blog references to a minimum.  As of this post, I have decided that I have quoted/mentioned Taylor Swift far too often in my blog.  It has to stop.  I think I need serious help… an intervention, maybe.
  10. Serve the crap out of everyone.  Not literally, of course… that would be awkward and gross.  But all stupid jokes aside, I really do want to serve more.  Maybe then I can stop focusing so much on my own problems.
  11. Exercise… all year this time.  It seems like I’m always good at exercising during the summertime.  But then the winter comes along and my exercising comes to an end.  But since I will be living much closer to my school’s free gym next year, maybe I can actually motivate myself to exercise during all four seasons while I’m 23.
  12. Write in my journal at least once a week.  Whether my future kids like it or not, they will be able to read a detailed account of what their dad was like at the age of 23.
  13. Use my disappointments to my advantage.  I will not let myself be affected by the disappointments in life.  Instead, I will turn those disappointments into opportunities.  For example, in the not-too-unlikely scenario that I get a C in one of my classes this semester, I will celebrate my first-ever C by having a C-party.  Included will be C-shaped cake and foods that start with a C (chicken, carrots).  And then I will hang a banner that reads: “C’s get degrees!”  Actually, that sounds like too much effort… effort that would probably be better used trying to make sure I don’t get a C in that class.  But you get the idea.
  14. 100_5710Work, work, work.  No two-month breaks from work this year.  If I want to survive the financial toll this study abroad trip is going to take on me, I need to work as much as I can (and maybe even take a second job).  Also I need to do an internship or two before I graduate if I want to impress prospective future employers.  If I were to adopt a motto for this year, it would be this: work hard and play hard.
  15. Make a bucket list.  This may sound morbid, but for a while I’ve been wanting to make a list of things to do before I die.  After all, I’m not getting any younger!  Literally… I actually just recently aged a whole year.
  16. Maintain/improve my Tagalog.  Once upon a time, I lived in the Philippines and spoke Tagalog every day.  Now that I live in America, I rarely speak Tagalog more than once a week.  I am finding that my Tagalog skills are suffering as a result.  So I am going to do everything I can do to use my beloved second language, including speaking, writing, and praying in Tagalog.  I also want to finish reading my Tagalog Book of Mormon.    Ayaw kong makalimutan kasi ang aking pangalawang linguwahe.
  17. Go on another camping trip.  My twelve-year-old self would have literally thrown up at such a suggestion, but I actually like camping now as long as it doesn’t last for more than a night or two.  And as long as it’s nice outside.IMG_0261
  18. Quit hiding my true self from others.  I once had a companion point out that I was “good at hiding.”  He was not talking about physically hiding, and I think anyone who has played hide and seek with me could attest to that.  What he meant is that I put up a front so convincing that it is difficult for other people to see the real me.  Well, I’m tired of doing that.  I need to start being who I am and not caring how other people react.   If other people don’t like it, they can leave me alone.   I’m done hiding.  After all, I’m getting a bit too old to play hide and seek.  Actually, if I’m being honest with myself, I’d kill for a game of hide and seek right now…
  19. Get back into photography.  As I touched on briefly in my last post, I finally have a camera again, which gives me the perfect chance to take some legit pictures… especially when I go to Europe!
  20. Go on a road trip with friends.  I fully expect to go on at least one road trip with my family this year because we have already planned one (we’re going to Disneyland!!!  No, seriously.)  But there is just something about taking road trips with friends.  So I feel like I need to go on at least one this year.  Even if it means that one of those friends will inevitably end up married in the near future.  Confused?  Stay tuned for my not-too-distant-future post about how everyone around me tends to get married.
  21. Stress management.  I want to be more optimistic this year.  I want to allow just a small part of the day to let myself be stressed, then spend the rest of my time thinking positive thoughts.  I want to not worry so much and allow myself to be happy.  It won’t be easy, but since I would like to actually live another 23 years, I think it will be worth it to better handle the everyday stresses of life.
  22. Make mistakes.  This should be easy!  So maybe I should say that I want to become more comfortable making mistakes.  After all, it is trohugh our mstiakes taht we lraen, rghit?
  23. Move on.  Last but not least, it is the simplest goal to say and yet the hardest to do.  I feel like I’m still hung up a lot on the past, but I will work this year to move past all that.

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And that’s it.  I’m glad I did this, even if it is ridiculously long.  I feel really hopeful about my 23rd year now.  This is going to be the year of Matthew!

The Stages of Friendship

Friendship.  It is something that we all have (hopefully) experienced.  Some people have a large group of friends, others have just a close friend or two.  What makes us connect with some people and not so much with others?

In the past, I felt like I would all of a sudden have friends without even realizing it.  What I mean is that I would look around at my friends and realize that I had no idea how I had even become friends with them.  It made it difficult when I had to go to college and make new friends, because I could not for the life of me remember what I had done in the past to make friends.

In more recent years, I have been more aware of how friendships form. It’s probably different for most people, but for people like me, there are definitely some interesting steps that I take when forming new friendships.  I have come to know them as “the stages of friendship.”

AgonyApathy5Stage 1–The Apathy Stage

To be honest, when  I first meet people, I’m kind of apathetic toward them.  I neither like nor hate them… they’re just kind of there.  That probably sounds kind of heartless, and it probably is, but I think there’s always a part of me that is “cautious” about making new friends.  It’s a scary thought for me, putting trust in other people.  There’s probably some psychological reasoning behind that, but this isn’t a therapy session… it’s a blog post.

Stage 2–The Realization Stage

Then it gets to the point that I realize I’m friends with someone.  This often takes longer for me than it does for the other person.  Often people will mention something that hints that they’re close to me, and I’ll think something along the lines of, “Wait, we’re friends?”  I guess you can say I’m a bit slow on the uptake.

Stage 3–The New Friendship Phase

This is by far my favorite stage!  When I first start being friends with someone, I’m not so aware of that person’s flaws or annoying habits.  To put it simply, it’s almost like friends are perfect at this stage.  I want to hang out with them as much as possible, and there hasn’t been enough time for any contention to rise.

Stage 4–The Furniture Stagefurniture

The name of this stage might be confusing, so let me explain.  At this point, the new friendship phase has worn off.  It becomes easy to take friends for granted at this point because I’m so used to having them around.  They therefore become like “furniture,” just additional features to the house that is my life.  I might or might notice them when they’re in the room.

Stage 5–The Rough Patch Stage

This stage is pretty much the worst.  Like an old muffin or a TV show that has gone on too long, friendships often go stale.  Something happens that makes me exercise my patience in order to keep the friendship alive.  It might be something as simple as just drifting apart or something as complicated as a several-month-long misunderstanding.  Whatever it is, it causes somewhat of a rough patch that could potentially end up tearing the friendship apart.  But if I get through this stage where it feels like I want to die, then eventually I get to another, much better stage, which is…

Stage 6–The Life-Long Friendship Guarantee Stage

Let’s be honest.  If I am willing to put enough energy into a friendship to push through a rough patch, then it is likely I will stick with that friendship forever.  I find that, after a rough patch, most of my friendships end up being ten times better than they were before the rough patch began.  I feel somehow much closer to the friend after the conflict has subsided.  It’s like we have gone into a war together (often a war with each other) and have come out of the war, not completely unscathed but still very much alive (and definitely much stronger than before).  Thus any friend in this stage secures a position as a lifetime friend, no matter what happens.  In many cases, a friend will become an honorary family member at this stage.

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So there you have it.  Those are the stages of friendship–according to me.  I’m fully aware that I might be alone in this (which is why I refrained from using phrases like “when you first make a friend” when writing about each stage, even though I really wanted to), but hopefully I’m not completely alone.

Friendships are a tricky thing.  Oftentimes it is not easy to maintain friendships over a long period of time.  The same thing goes for relationships with family members.  It can be frustrating at times, especially for people who value their personal relationships above almost anything else.  But the most important relationships are ones worth fighting for, as much as it makes me want to vomit just writing that…