Lehigh University

I have decided to include the most exciting trip of all. This trip is a pretty long and ongoing one, and I don’t expect to return home and reside there permanently again until the summer of 2021. This travel blog is dedicated to my trip here at Lehigh University.

Many people, when thinking of travel, immediately think of their vacation trips. Many seem to forgo college, which is a long trip. First, it classifies as travel because people need to leave their homes in order to attend this. Some students only need to travel a few minutes to go to a school close to home, but many students like me decide to move very far from home. This trip for me has been the most exciting and daunting one yet. It is my first time away from home for more than two weeks, and I am living on my own. After 18 years of depending on my parents, it is finally my time to take care of myself.

A lot of students share this responsibility, and it truly is a test for everyone. Some students take full advantage of this newly found freedom and spend it on their social lives while many have a healthy balance between that and their academics. This trip to college has been my most challenging one yet. I am in control of my life now. From what I want to eat for every meal to planning out what I am doing on that day, I have the power to decide for myself.

Lehigh University is about 2700 miles from my home. San Diego is known for the amazing weather year-round, popular beaches, and authentic Mexican food. I shocked many friends and family members when I announced my commitment to a school all the way on the East Coast. It did not bother me that Lehigh was all the way across the country. I knew that at some point in my life, I needed to experience something different than home. I decided that it made the most sense to leave for college as I can always return home and work there after I get a degree. Experiencing life somewhere away from home is part of growing up, and for now is the most unpredictable trip. I do not know what to expect for the next four years, but I know that this is one of the best trips of my life.


I’ve had my fair share of travel for golf tournaments. I’ve played courses as close as 10 minutes from my house and on courses all the way in Scotland and China. One of my favorite tournaments has been located in a small town called Killington. Killington is located in Vermont, and while it may be a small town, it has one of the best views. While it is known for its skiing resorts, Killington is home to Green Mountain National Golf Club. I competed in one of American Junior Golf Association’s golf tournaments at this location.

The tournament at Killington is known to attract coaches from colleges such as Princeton, Yale, and Brown, which were all schools I was interested at the time. I knew that if I competed well there and made a name for myself, that my chances of getting recruited there would increase.

I played at this tournament the summer between my sophomore year and junior year. This summer is one of the most important summers for all prospective college golfers. I trained all year just so that my game would be ready for a summer of nonstop travel. My mom and I flew into the airport in Boston and began our 3-hour drive to Killington. The luscious trees along the way made me extremely excited for all the East Coast has to offer. At the time, I already knew that I wanted to attend a college on the East Coast. I used the trip to get an idea of what I would be living with for four years of my life.

Driving through each state made me realize how small and close the states were. In California, you have to travel at least 10 hours to reach each end and at least 3 hours from side to side. It’s a pretty stretched out state. On my drive to Vermont, we hit four different states in a little under 3 hours. After a long nap, my mom woke me up by telling me to look outside. There were small wooden buildings everywhere and everything looked so green. I could not see the tips of the trees as they were all so tall. The sky was so blue, but there was no sunshine. Killington made a gloomy day seem so cheerful, and so clear.

Stepping out of the car, I took a deep breath. The air was so crisp and so fresh. I have never breathed in fresher air. We went into the hotel, which seemed more like a lodge. All of the rooms and buildings were made of wood and very cute. Soon after we got settled in, it was time for my practice round at Green Mountain National Golf Club. The course was about 10 minutes from the hotel, which was very convenient.

The name Green Mountain Nation Golf Club was very fitting. The whole course seemed to be on a mountain, and everywhere I looked was green. The course had tall trees, large green bushes, and some of the purest grass I had ever seen. On that particular day, there was a soft drizzle and paired up with the shade provided by the plethora of trees, it was a very cool day. The course was unlike any course I had ever played on before. Each tee was elevated, and there was always some sort of hazard right in front of each tee box. The fairways were all extremely narrow, all lined with deep forests of trees or a water hazard. This course was extremely tough for players who do not hit it straight. The greens were not too tough, except they were pretty big. This made it tough for players who did not hit it close to the pin. I was not feeling too confident in my playing abilities there, which was what hurt me the most that week. Confidence is so important to each golfer, especially on foreign courses. I did not play well the week, which in hindsight was completely okay. I put a lot of pressure on myself that week, and I learned to not do that when it comes down to important tournaments. Some nervousness is crucial to competing, but it messes up my game when I am not also relaxed and composed. I learned a lot from that tournament, and it has definitely made me a better person and golfer.


Every year at my high school, each grade had a designated trip to go on. The freshman got the chance to go to China, sophomores had a hiking trip in the Northern Sierras, and juniors and seniors got the opportunity to pick their trip. My junior year, I decided on going to Cambodia. This trip included a homestay portion, something very unique to do in any country. I have previously done a homestay trip before, in China, but felt more comfortable going into that because there was not a language barrier for me. Feeling a little nervous about that portion of the trip, I decided that I was not going to let it affect me. I was going to go to Cambodia with some of my best friends from school, and that was an incredibly rare opportunity.

The flight was 20 hours long. We left our school at around 3 in the morning to catch our flight in Los Angeles. We first flew to South Korea for a quick layover. Then, we made it to our first destination: Phnom Penh. Phnom Penh is Cambodia’s capital, and one of the most developed cities in the country. The weather was completely different from San Diego. It was extremely hot and humid, and there was no shortage of mosquitos.

Cambodia is a pretty conservative country, so we were all wearing elephant pants or harem pants. We also had to make sure our shoulders were properly covered. Like most parts of Southeast Asia, the head is considered the most spiritual part of the human. On the other hand, the feet are considered the dirtiest and the lowest part in terms of sacredness. With this in mind, when we sat on the ground, we had to make sure that our feet were always tucked in and not pointed at someone. These common etiquettes are different from what we see in America, and to see a country where mindfulness is extremely important just shows how different societies are.

In Phnom Penh, we learned about the Khmer Rouge. This is an extremely sensitive subject in the country as it was 3 years of genocide. This still effects the country as there are thousands of survivors still living with the horrors what happened and ongoing trials against many leaders. Pol Pot, the tyrant that led the regime is often compared to the likes of Hitler and Stalin. He believed that Cambodia needed to be rid of royalists and intellectuals. Along with killing 1.7 million Cambodians, they rid the country of books and almost all things educational. As part of learning about Cambodia’s past and the genocide, we visited Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and the Choeung Ek Killing Fields. Tuol Sleng was a Khmer Rouge detention and torture camp. It was once a high school before turning into a prison in 1975. There, we saw the holding cells, gallows, and recollections of what the prisoners went through.

Next, we visited Choeung Ek, where the bodies of millions of people were disposed of. There are about 9,000 bodies still in mass graves. Many victims were not spared with bullets, many were killed by pickaxes or cart axles so that the soldiers could save bullets. Infants were thrown into pits and defenseless men and women were killed against this big beautiful tree. Walking through the Killing Fields was deceivingly beautiful. The day was not too hot, and the large and plentiful trees provided plenty of shade. There was a soft breeze flowing through the whole place, providing perfect weather. There was a large square pond surrounded by beautifully carved stone structures. It was unbelievable to think that this place was once an extermination camp, where thousands of people were detained and tortured.

Walking through the museum and the killing fields was absolutely horrifying. I saw cases of skulls belong to victims, bones in the dirt, and reading journal entries all opened my eyes to the horrors of the country’s past. I grew up in a family and community that valued education over almost everything. I was privileged enough to go to a private school, and now one of the best universities in America. For a whole country to believe one man’s belief of ridding anyone with an education was unthinkable. What I could not believe even more was the fact that it was my peers’ and I’s first-time learning about this genocide. Every high schooler in America learns about the Holocaust, but not even a mention about the Khmer Rouge. Especially because it affects education, the idea that more people are not learning about it is completely shocking.

After an emotional and eye-opening time in Phnom Penh, we left for Koh Pdao, an island in Kratie. It was time for our homestay. We stayed a total of 7 days on the island. We in huts made of straw and wood elevated on wooden beams. The island was beautiful. We ate with our homestay families every day and they were all incredibly kind. It is amazing how human to human understanding can lead to communication between people who do not speak the same language. I feel as if I had full conversations with my host family just through showing pictures and using my hands. The language barrier did not deter from my experience at all. On the island, my peers and I helped to start and finish a garden in the mayor’s house. It was one of the most labor-intensive things I have ever done, but to see how happy the locals were made it worth it all. After my time there, it was very hard to leave. I formed strong bonds with many of the children there and had one of the best experiences. I learned so much about the culture and what rural life is like in Cambodia. When we got on our boat to return to the mainland, I looked back and looked at my host mom crying. To see her cry made me think of the good times that we had together and made myself very emotional as well.

Once we completed the homestay portion of our trip, our time in Cambodia was coming to an end. Our last stop was Siem Reap, also known as a resort town. Here, we stayed at a hostel. This hostel was also the home to hundreds of amputees. Cambodia has a landmine problem, which was left after three decades of war. These landmines are anti-personnel landmines, meaning that they explode upon contact. It is extremely expensive to remove, which is a problem for the poor country. Staying at this hostel was just a reminder of how many problems the country’s war-torn past has left the current population.

Here in Siem Reap, the major attraction we saw was Angkor Wat. Angkor Wat is just as beautiful as the pictures show them as. To get there, we had a 14-mile bike ride through the busy streets of Siem Reap. The trip was extremely tiring, but in the end very rewarding. Walking through the temple and the largest religious monument in the world was surreal. The whole trip was very heavy in terms of all of the things we were learning, so it was very nice to take a break from it all and just enjoy the beauty of Cambodia.

On our bike ride back to our hostel, I was actually hit by a motorbike. I escaped from the accident with just a few scratches, but it was amazing to see how quickly the locals jumped to help me. Local store owners ran into their stores and returned with ointments to apply onto my scratches and others called the cops to report what happened. To see how willing everyone was to help me, some random tourist, was extremely touching.

On our last night in Cambodia, we learned about another issue affecting the country. With many celebrities such as Angelina Jolie adopting children from third world countries and adoption becoming a large part of many countries, orphanages are opening up in many of these countries. In Cambodia, many of these orphanages are corrupt. Orphanage tourism hurts children and families. Many of these orphans are starved and forced to perform for tourists visiting. They are beaten by the directors, and all of the clothes and toys donated are all just sold so that the directors can pocket the money. Many poor families sell their children to orphanage directors so that they can have the money and hope that their children will get adopted by better families. The reality is that most of these children do not get adopted and just suffer through years of abuse. While many organizations and countries have good intentions in supporting these orphanages, they are actually hurting families and removing children from homes. It is difficult to stop this as many people just do not know the truth behind these orphanages.

The whole trip opened my eyes to so many issues. Social justice is not something easily achieved and many problems just cannot be solved easily. I learned that the best way for me to help these people is to educate. I believe that it is my duty now to educate as many people as I can about some of these deep-rooted issues. Money cannot solve most of these problems, and it is up to everyone to learn and try to help. That is why travel is so important to me. Without visiting and seeing everything for myself, I cannot do much. My trip to Cambodia has led me to learn some of the most valuable information and issues that years of schooling have failed to teach me. This was one of my best travel experiences, and I hope to revisit in the future.


As a golfer, it had always been my dream to visit Scotland, the home of golf. Even better than just visiting, playing on some of the world’s oldest golf courses would be beyond what I could ever imagine. When San Diego Junior Golf Association rolled out their travel team applications around December of my junior year of high school, I quickly glanced down the opportunities they were providing. Girls’ Junior America’s Cup, The Aaron Baddelely Invitational, and lo and behold, the Euro Junior Golf Cup. The Euro Junior Golf Cup is a prestigious juniors golf event where America, Canada, and Scotland all produce one team to compete against each other. Each team consists of seven boys and two girls who compete against each other in a match play format. When I saw this, I immediately knew that I had to do whatever I could to receive this honor.

San Diego is known for its beautiful weather year-round, so it is a hotspot for junior golfers. The opportunity to compete and train year-round is a privilege for all golfers as it is not possible in most parts of the US. With this being said, I knew that the competition was high. The team only accepted two girls, so I definitely did not get my hopes too high.

I remember receiving an email that March. I was in math class, my last class of the day. My teacher had very strict rules on using phones in that class, so I had wait for what seemed like hours. I kept looking at the subject title – Re: Travel Team Application. I was never known to be patient, so it was completely frustrating for me to wait. Once it was 3, I didn’t even bother packing up. After I read through the email, I was in shock. I first found out that I was chosen to represent San Diego at the Girls Junior America’s Cup. That was a huge honor because it consists of a team of four girls, also very competitive spots. However, that was out shadowed by the fact that I got chosen for the Scotland tournament!

Traveling to Scotland was a long trip. We first flew to London, where we had a long enough layover to have lunch. Soon enough, we were right back on a plane and on our way to the home of golf.

The trip itself was 13 days long. During this time, we trained, explored, and just tried to make it the best trip ever. It was truly “a trip of a lifetime.” Visiting courses such as St. Andrews and learning about the rich history of Scotland and golf was all a golfer could ask for. I even got to play with hickory sticks, which are golf clubs made out of wood. It transformed the game for me, and all I could think about the whole time was how lucky I was to be there. Representing my country, playing the game that I love. When it came down to the tournament, I channeled all of this positive energy and delivered a performance. I snagged every point possible for me, beating out all of the girls I played against. I played through wind, strong winds, and the thickest fescue grass I have ever seen.

My love for the game drives me in life. It has led me towards some of the most amazing opportunities, such as college. Whenever I play a difficult course, I think back to the tough courses I played in Scotland, and it makes every course seem like a little mini putting course.

I don’t know when I will be going back to Scotland, but I know for sure that I will be going back. It’s a place I will never be ready to let go.

Courses I played:

Scotscraig Golf Club (13th oldest golf club)

Leven Golf Course (Since 1820)

Crail Golfing Society (7th oldest golf club)



Places I Have Visited

North America:

California, Hawaii, Nevada, Arizona, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, Texas, Georgia, Maryland, Kansas

South America:

Mexico (Cancun, Tijuana, Los Cabos)


London, Scotland (St. Andrews)


China (Shanghai, Beijing, Yunan, Weifang, Qingdao, Xinjiang), Cambodia (Kratie, Siem Riep, Phnom Penh), Vietnam, South Korea