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The End | ArtU Series

This is it – the last post for my Art U Series. I know it’s been a while since my last Art U post, and that’s because I did want to save this one for December as it’s the last month of the semester.

I’d like to give a quick shoutout to all students who have pushed through this entire year. It was a challenging year, but everyone kept moving forward and working hard.

Congratulations to the 2020 graduates, as well as those who are finishing up their final semester of studies this last Fall semester!

I truly wish everyone the best in their current and future endeavors. Always be true to who you are, follow your passions, and do what makes you happy.

With that said, it’s been an amazing journey reminiscing on the things I experienced while I was an AAU student. I had to dig through my memories to recall some of the things I needed to put out. As the final post of this series, I’ll be going over the final few things that I had yet to touch on as sort of a final review.

I may or may not tear up while writing.

Freshmen Year Reflection

Ah, Freshmen year.

The year that changed the course of my life unexpectedly, but for the better.

I left the comfort of my home and journeyed to San Francisco with the dream of becoming a Web Designer.

The day I arrived in SF, I was alone and had to figure things out on my own. I was unfamiliar with Uber and Lyft, so I took one of the taxis lined up outside of the airport to get to my dorm. I remembered looking outside the window as we drove on the highway and feeling excited about this new venture. Once we made it to my dorm, I was first surprised at how expensive that taxi ride was, but then was amazed at the fact that I can use my card to pay directly on the card machine in front of me.

I met with the Resident Assistant who showed me to my room and was further surprised to see that I was the first one there. I spent some moments looking around, and then going to my designated bed. Due to jet lag, I quickly fell asleep. I remembered being woken up by my first roommate. I was still in a daze, so after our introductions, she quickly shut the door to my room, and I went back to sleep.

Once I was fully awake, I formally introduced myself to her, and she kindly followed me to the school’s building where I got my official school I.D. Just like any other photo I.D.’s, I was not prepared and didn’t know when they clicked the shutter to take my picture. Fun (note the sarcasm).

Later that night, as I was unpacking, I came across letters from my parents. I didn’t know when they wrote them, nor did I notice my mom packing them. In the letters, they wrote how proud they were of my pursuing my dreams and that they knew the day would come when I had to leave them behind and be an independent individual. My mom included loving reminders, such as taking my vitamins and saying my prayers every day. It was at that point that I knew I had to work harder than I initially planned. I wanted to make them proud. I wanted to show them that their hard work and sacrifices are appreciated and worth it.


I didn’t find my dorm life as daunting and crazy as the movies made them out to be. For the most part, I felt that dorms, at least the one I stayed in, were safe, organized, and peaceful.

I was excited to sleep on a bunk bed for the first time in my life, and have a desk to work on my assignments. I’m so grateful that my dorm room was spacious enough for all four of us, and that we had our own kitchen, washer & dryer, two bathrooms, fireplace, and storage area for our luggage. I know that not all dorms have these amenities available, so for me to have them during my first year was a huge blessing. At least if I made mistakes doing something for the first time, I did them in the privacy of my own space.


My three roommates were the first friends I ever had at the school. I was the youngest, and it felt nice to look up to them and be guided by them. I even considered one of them as my “older sister” as she was the most mature and experienced person out of all of us. She helped me a lot when it came to figuring out around the city, even though she wasn’t accustomed to it as much either. My other roommate inspired me to go out there and take risks, while my last roommate showed me more about positive thinking and kindness.

Everything went well the first semester we were together, but towards the end, everything just fell apart. The first friends I gained became the first friends I lost.

By my third year, I learned that things had to happen the way they did because I wouldn’t have grown into the person I am today if they hadn’t. And with that, I accepted this experience as more of a lesson than a punishment.

To the room 504 women (if you ever happen to stumble upon this site, and more specifically, this post): Thank you for being my roommates. I wish you nothing but the best in your current and future endeavors, and that you’re doing the things that truly make you happy. Continue coloring the world with your creative minds and skills.


I took a total of eight classes during my first year, not including the two online classes I took for the summer.

My favorite classes were Web Design 1 and Digital Photography. I learned so much about coding and photography in these two classes, and I had so much fun with the assignments. Many of the lessons I learned from them are the standards I still base many of my coding and photography work on. Shoutout to Raymond! His work was the first student work I ever admired at the school, and I love his passion for everything he was interested in. He inspired me to constantly learn and acquire new skills outside of the classroom because that’s what he did, and it showed through his work.

My least favorite classes involved graphic design and Photoshop classes. I started out liking the graphic design course, but along the semester, my work wasn’t meeting the standards of a graphic design artist, and it was the first time I questioned if design was even something I’m meant to pursue. And, as I’ve mentioned in my Tools & Resources post, Photoshop is not my specialty, which was first realized when I took that Photoshop class.

As for instructors, I actually liked all of my instructors this year. They were all great and passionate about what they taught. One instructor did intimidate me, though, but it was her intimidation and harsh critique that allowed me to persevere and eventually improve my skills by the end of the semester. Other than that, I felt that the quality of teaching surpassed my expectations as they provided feedback based on their professional experience, as well as guidance to improve my work.


I spent most of my first year of college getting used to my environment and classes. I had only one friend (besides my roommates) but I was completely fine with that. I’m still close with this friend to this day. I used this year to get used to adulting and questioning my decision to attend art school. I was intimidated by the quality of work that my peers seemed to already possess even though we were in the same batch. Think of their works as high school seniors, whereas mine was still sixth-grade level.


The year was full of unexpected twists and turns. There were letdowns and breakdowns, but there were also revelations and growth.

Was it the same for my Sophomore year?

Sophomore Year Reflection

Sophomore year…

After going back home for the summer, I was ready to face my second year. Honestly, as I’m typing this, I had to dig deep to remember what happened this year. Thankfully, after looking at my class schedule, my memories came back.


During my Sophomore year, I was able to move into two places of my own, all thanks to friends who helped with the search.

For the first semester, I was in a residence where a couple of AAU students also resided. I had to take the bus going to and from school as it was pretty far out from the city. I was thankful that I at least reduced the amount I spent on housing from when I stayed in the dorm. I was so excited to finally have a room of my own. The landowners, by the way, were sweet and had such cute corgis!

During my second semester, I had to take a class that ended at 10 PM, and I didn’t want to be taking public transportation going home by that time. So, I wanted to move to a place that was closer to school. I eventually found one, and it was the place that I eventually stayed in for the remainder of my school years. It may have been the most expensive space so far, but I had no other reasonable choice. The start of the semester was near, and I didn’t want to be moving around as classes were in session.

I am thankful that this apartment was close to many places: school, grocery store, restaurants, laundry, parks, bus stops, and post office. Security features and maintenance personnel were also great. The building managers were extremely kind, and they’d always make sure to remind me to keep safe when I’m walking to and from school, especially during my night classes.

The room itself was tiny and really meant for only one person. I am thankful that it was already furnished with a bed, dresser, microwave, sink, and medicine cabinet. The showers and toilet rooms were separated, and there were two of each amenity on each floor. It took a while to get used to this setup. The kitchen was shared and was located on the floor below mine. I didn’t want to have to carry all of my kitchenware up and down the stairs, so for the remainder of my school years, I was left to eating microwavable foods with some fruits, bread, cereal, milk, and other foods that didn’t need a kitchen.


The first half of Sophomore year was the first time I took an online class that wasn’t an LA class, mainly because it was a required class, and I was scared to take it in person. I ended up sort of liking the class, and the instructor made the class more enjoyable.

Looking back at all the classes I took this semester, I’m actually surprised that out of the eight classes I took, I liked only my Designing Careers class. I guess I had a little head start as I had already learned most of the material from a business course I took back home. I mostly had to turn my simple white papers into ones more appropriate for the design. I first thought this class would be boring, but because I had a lively, passionate instructor, I actually enjoyed it. Throughout the class, I was also able to focus a lot more on writing and touch upon the skills I worked hard on before.

It’s hard to identify my least favorite classes as my least favorites because I used to enjoy the subjects taught in these classes. I lost a lot of my passion for these topics and almost lost my interest in design. I felt that I didn’t get the chance to fully increase my knowledge and skills in these topics as I had hoped because, as much as I don’t want to say this, the quality of teaching was lacking.

I didn’t know what I was thinking when I decided to take four core classes in one semester. It was the worst semester for me, with regards to my work and grades. I struggled and had some of my first breakdowns towards the end. I seriously thought I was going to fail my classes. I even pulled some of my first all-nighters this school year. I didn’t enjoy the works I was doing, and I was constantly unmotivated to attend most of my classes. I wanted to quit and go back home to my parents.

My negative feelings lasted until I saw my final grades and was able to breathe a sigh of relief.


Somehow my Sophomore year at AAU reminded me of my Sophomore year in high school = they were my least favorite school years.

I did gain some friends this school year, but I also lost some of these same friends. Other than the stress that was brought upon by my classes, I was starting to wonder what’s wrong with me for losing friends each school year, and will the pattern continue on for the remaining two years.

This school year, I started to learn how to budget my finances better. I moved to a much pricier apartment, which meant I had to really pay attention to my expenditures. It was challenging, especially because I didn’t have a job to earn extra income.

Now I realized why it took a while for my Sophomore year memories to come back – I found myself at my lowest point this school year, and I was praying that my Junior year will help me rise up.

Junior Year Reflection

And rise up I did.

Similar to my Junior year in high school, the second half of my Junior year was my favorite time.


I stayed at the same apartment for the entire school year, which was completely fine. I had no terrible issues with the apartment or the building managers themselves. I felt safe and secure.


At this point, I was in more control of my class schedule, and I was proud of my choices. I was able to attend classes on days and times that were, for the most part, convenient for me. This was the school year where I had my first 8:00 AM class because it was the only time slot available.

I don’t think it’s a surprise that my favorite class this school year was Senior Project, which birthed “The 7.” I also loved Film History 3: Contemporary Cinema, and Genres in Film. I was nervous about taking Senior Project because I felt that it was one of the last few classes I had in order to redeem myself as an artist. If I did poorly on it, then I’d feel like the last 2 ½ years were a waste. For this, I am extremely grateful for the freedom my instructor gave us in choosing the type of direction we wanted our projects to go. I automatically chose the artistic expression route, and it was one of the best decisions I’ve made in design school. Moreover, I enjoyed my film classes because I got to watch movies each week and simply analyze them. The film classes allowed me to watch certain films and genres that I never thought I’d watch, such as Michael Curtiz’s film noir Mildred Pierce (1945) and Charles Laughton’s thriller The Night of the Hunter (1955). Both films became some of my favorites and I wouldn’t have discovered them if it weren’t for these classes.

I did have two of my least favorite classes this school year. I won’t say one of them, and that’s only because the instructor was kind and helped me out a lot. I just didn’t like the fact that the grades I was given didn’t exactly match up the critiques being said. I understand it’s the skills and not the grades that define an artist, but it was just bothersome that the two weren’t being reflected well with each other, making me wonder how good, or poor, my works really were. The other class I wasn’t too fond of was my motion graphics class. This time, it was less due to the instructor and just more on the subject. Motion Graphics just really isn’t my thing. If I were to practice more on it and see improvements, then maybe I’ll like it more, but at this point in time, there was no hope in my focusing on it. I’m just extremely grateful to have passed the class.

I had no issues with my instructors this year. Was I intimidated by some of them? Of course. But no situation ever stuck out where I completely disliked an instructor. Many of them did push me to go after my full potential, and I’m grateful for them.


This year was definitely more positive, and I found myself advancing in my skills and vision as an artist. I discovered something about myself that I wanted to learn more about and figured out what exactly I want to do in life.

I created projects I was proud to show to friends, family, and to the world.

I found my voice.

I formed lifelong friendships that didn’t disappear by the end of the school year.

I found my peace and artist within me.

Senior Year Reflection

Senior year was my ultimate test. I felt like it was the year for me to prove to not only my instructors but to myself as well, that I made the right decision to attend art school.

I had first come into this school with the goal of becoming a Web Designer, and I’m eternally grateful that I kept this dream. If it weren’t for this dream, I wouldn’t have discovered underlying passions that my soul was calling out to. If it weren’t for this dream, I wouldn’t have expanded my knowledge on coding, typography, motion graphics, and user experience and interface.

With this dream, I discovered the potentials I have and the gifts I possess to bring my visions to life.

I passed my test senior year, and it’s one of the proudest achievements I’ve had to date.


I spent the first half of my senior year living in the same apartment. During the semester break, I made the big decision to move out from San Francisco and travel south to San Diego to live with a close friend. It was bittersweet having to say goodbye to a place I called home for the last 3 ½ years. But, I was excited to have this new change and scenery in life.

The move was stressful as my move out date was during the same week as finals, and I practically had little to no sleep that week. Because I accumulated so many things throughout the years, I had to store a lot of them in storage, and with not having a car or friends who have cars nearby, I had to use a rideshare to move my stuff out of my room and into storage. I also had to carry all belongings down three flights of narrow stairs as my apartment had no elevators by myself. Very fun (note the sarcasm). I then had to thoroughly clean my room and make sure things were as they were when I moved in. I also wanted my security deposit back, which I received via check about a month after settling in my new place.

With my new place, my rent had been cut down to more than half of what I used to pay, which I’m extremely grateful for. I am also able to cook more and have a bigger living space overall. Plus, I get to live with someone I’m close to.


I was originally supposed to take all four of my final classes during the Fall semester, but due to scholarship guidelines, I was advised to split my classes to two per semester. My Fall semester classes were both onsite, while my Spring semester classes were both online (this was already planned before everyone had to transition to online learning).

I took Portfolio 2, Advanced User Experience, Brand & Branding, and Rapid Visualization Techniques this year. I loved all of them and was stoked that three out of four of my instructors were ones I’ve already had before. I loved that, at the very least, they had a sense of my design level and style, and they have helped me further improve on my weaknesses and emphasize my strengths. My new instructor was amazing as well. His class was focused on sketches and rapid visualizations, something I was terrible at growing up and avoided at all costs. However, I found myself relaxing whenever I’d sketch, and I noticed that I am capable of such skill and can further improve if I continue practicing. I was very grateful that he provided detailed feedback and was easily approachable for any concerns and questions.


My senior year was full of surprises and life changing moments, to say the least. I feel extremely grateful for how things fell to place with everything that went on.

I was so happy I spend my final onsite classes with instructors who believed in me, supported me, and noticed the growth I’ve had as an artist. I will forever cherish their undying passion for what they do and the endless belief they have in their students to deliver above and beyond their expectations.

Thank You's

I couldn’t post this without giving my thanks to all those who made my time at school worthwhile. Whether we ended on good or bad terms, I’m extremely grateful for the experiences I’ve had with everyone I’ve had more than five minutes of conversation with. I wouldn’t have learned and grown if it weren’t for certain situations, and I’m blessed to be moving forward in life.


Thank you for being there for me when I’m feeling down and ready to give up. Thank you for seeing my potential and believing in my dreams. Thank you for only being a message and call away. Thank you for showering me with words of love, support, and motivation. And occasionally words that needed to be heard in order for me to get out of my negative thought patterns and keep going.


Thank you for quickly and effortlessly responding to and helping me with all of my inquiries. Thank you for taking the time for in-person meetings and phone calls. Thank you for your patience and kindness.


Thank you for pushing me past my limits and helping me discover what I’m capable of achieving. Thank you for seeing your students’ potential and guiding them in the best way possible. Thank you for demonstrating passion, knowledge, and experience with what you teach. I’m grateful to have had you as my mentor.


Thank you for your unique and beautiful artwork. Thank you for constantly inspiring me to create more and think outside the box. Thank you for your constructive criticism and additional guidance outside of schoolwork. I’m grateful to have been in the same batch as most of you. I genuinely wish you all the best in life and that you continue following your passions.


Roommates, Housemates & Resident Assistants

Apartment Managers & Maintenance Employees

Other Department Faculty & Staff

See You Later

And that’s a wrap for my ArtU Series! I can’t believe after how many months I am finally able to mark this series as complete. It was fun looking back at most of my experiences at the academy and seeing how far I’ve come. It just seemed like yesterday that I submitted my application form to attend AAU. There were so many moments of frustration, feelings of not belonging, and wanting to give up and go home. But I’m blessed to have some miracle working with me that helped keep me going, gain confidence in my field, discover what I want to do in life, and achieve so much more than a diploma.

It feels weird no longer having to sign up for classes, attend classes, complete assignments for certain deadlines, or worry about grades. It’s still sinking in that I’m facing so much more than a classroom now, and that I’m no longer completely confined by specific guidelines and structures of the work that I can create.

Now, I’m facing a mass of the unknown. I’m taking one day at a time, heading towards my goals, but not entirely controlling how I get there. I believe in my journey and everything that lands on it, whether they’re blessings or lessons, or both.

School isn’t completely shut for me. Eventually, I’d want to take my Master’s Degree, but that won’t be for a couple of years down the road.

For now, I’ll be adulting, pursuing my goals, and living life as much as possible.

Keep being inspired and take care always,


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