Designation Continued!

The last few weeks have been pretty hectic! I've been learning and honing so many new skills at Designation, the design school I've been attending. Recently, I've been more focused on coding and design. Coding is one of those things I could do for hours without eating, drinking, sleeping, or even peeing! Once I get into the zone, it's hard to break away from the computer.

I was given the assignment to create the branding and design for a futuristic app when phones can identify smells. I went ahead and coded a website for the app, which you can view by clicking this link. I coded it from scratch minus the Jquery & CSS animations.

One great aspect of Designation is that you have some time to pursue your own interests. I sat down one day and figured out how to code Parallax scrolling through an online tutorial. Parallax scrolling is a special scrolling technique where background images move slower than foreground images/text, giving the site a more dimensional effect. Here is the link to the very rough exercise I put together, if you'd like to better understand what it is. Using the information I learned from that exercise, I did a fun and interactive animation experiment. You can view that experiment by clicking this link. I am always open to feedback, and appreciate all the comments people have made about my work! (My friends want the hot air balloon to explode haha - maybe I'll work on that in the future).

For the next few weeks, I'll be working on real-life (yay!) client projects from startups that are part of 1871, Chicago's entrepreneurial hub for startups. It's such a privilege to play a part in the process of helping these new companies realize their ideas. My tasks are somewhat daunting yet very exciting at the same time!

A big thank you to my friends who have been helping to sustain me over these arduous weeks. Thank you for feeding me, checking up on me, and listening to any issues I've been having!


Little 3ish year old Abi in Kazakhstan

The First Time

The first time I pedaled
on a two-wheeled bike, I was eight,
scared, and weighed down
by self-doubt and old pieces of
pink bubblegum. My foot met a
pedal, its first hello tinged with
distrust as it sunk its weight
into the mesh of plastic and
metal. Sweat poured from
pores, skin sticky like
cherry lollipops.
Three seconds to launch
and my imagination
skyrocketed, as I pictured
hitting the razor-sharp
pavement that would
cut my knees til they
blossomed red.
My father began the countdown
and I steadied myself to lose
control, face contorted with
courage. He released me,
and my thighs pumped
like train engines,
my feet faster than
speeding cars,
the wind bowing before
my every movement,
and I flew like a princess
on top of the world,
with the powers of
a superhero, my fantasies
touching the precipice
of reality.

Designation: Week 1/10

The first week of Designation has ended! Designation is the name of the design school I'll be attending for 9 more weeks. It's basically an intensive bootcamp to learn about User Interface Design (UI), User Experience Research (UX), and Front-End Development. If you don't understand what that jargon means, basically I get to design cool things like websites and apps! The school focuses on creating portfolio-ready pieces to equip us to land jobs or internships.

There are 22 people in my cohort. Many of my classmates quit their jobs and moved across the country just to do this course. It's so awesome to be surrounded by an eclectic group of people who are just so hungry to learn. One of them was a creative lead for MTV, and another worked on the Obama campaign. OHOHOHO networking opportunities right there!

The school's space is pretty cool. It's pretty reminiscent of the startup vibe, and has a bustling feel to it. The beanbags, which I have been caught napping on, are SUPER big and comfy. The hours usually run from 10am-9pm, so it is pretty intense and exhausting at times. BUT, totally worth it!

This week has been focused mainly on UX research. Our instructor is the lead interaction designer (IxD) for Grubhub, a popular food delivery app. He has a wealth of knowledge, and has been teaching us very practical real-world skills. We've been doing quite a bit of sketching and research practice.

Post-it notes can be your best friend when trying to find themes and glean insights from research. 

UX research allows businesses to understand how users interact with their products. It's a very vital process to carry out before delving into designing. 

I will be updating hopefully once per week, so my future posts will be revolving around Designation! I'm very excited to be doing exciting projects super soon. A BIG THANK YOU to all my friends who have provided me with nourishing food this week.


Taken with the iPhone. The sky looks so starry, even though they're actually fireworks!

Apologies for the eclectic nature of this post, but this week has been an odd mix of adventures.

4th of July happened! I had a BBQ with some friends - IT WAS SO DELICIOUS! We watched the fireworks afterwards, and it was just filled with magical moments. It was one of those times I wished I had a boyfriend haha.

Kevin's worn out shoes. You can see the skyline in the reflection!

On Saturday, I hung out with my awesome talented photographer friend Kevin in downtown Chicago. We wandered around and got semi-lost a couple of times, but that was all part of the fun. We talked about our dreams. Some of mine include:

  • Speaking 4 languages fluently before I die
  • Becoming a super awesome UI designer/front-end developer
  • Becoming really good at videography & photography
  • Starting my own magazine
  • Starting my own company

Yesterday, I was teaching my friend Josey a tad bit about photography. It was lovely spending time with her and getting to know her better. Isn't she such a cutie?


For prep work for my design school, I made a mock website regarding a mock book about dog butts. I used a template, the edited the code to fit my needs. I didn't take the photos though - just found them on the interwebs! The link is here. I think it would be so fun to actually make the book one day.

YAY so that was my week! Apologies for the odd mix of content, as I was super busy doing prep work for design school. I finally had my first day of school today, and will be blogging about that soon! Most of the content over the next 10 weeks will probably be more design focused, so that's something you can expect. Phew it is time to sleep now - I'm so exhausted. Goodnight world!

I've Graduated!

I can't believe I've graduated already! This past Saturday, I received my BS in Communications and Certificate in Engineering Design. It's crazy to think how fast time flies. 

My dad and I!

Saying goodbyes has been hard. I cried for a bit when some people left. The thing is, I know I’ll see most of my friends again and that there’s always Skype and Facebook. Rather than grieving over the loss of friendships (because, after all, we will still be friends), I was grieving over the end of a wonderfully fun and abundant chapter of my life. Things will never be the same again. There will be no more spontaneous late-night hangouts with those friends, no more hanging out at their apartments, and no more bumping into each other randomly around campus. Even when we have a reunion in the distant future, things won’t be the same. We’ll all have moved on and found new friend groups. But with every closed chapter, there is a new one right up ahead.

I'm very excited for the next chapter of my life - design school! I still have a lot of prep work to finish, but it will be starting July 7. Just 2 more weeks to go!