Ellen Chen '17

Hey all!

Sorry it’s been about a month since I’ve last posted! I’ve been in exam period for the past few weeks. Exams here are so stressful-each exam is worth 100% of your grade. That’s crazy…and so high stakes. Especially for me, because unlike my course mates, they can resit their exams. But I only had to pull one all nighter. In total, I had to sit three exams, one paper and a presentation, as well as my ICIP (another paper and another presentation).

I was pretty exhausted by my last exam. But I was also very chill about exams here, because they don’t factor into my GPA. That took off some of the pressure I was feeling. I have text anxiety-before every exam, I psyche myself out and I freeze. I’ve been getting better at taking exams, but after this year, I feel like I lost in touch of how to take an exam, because I wasn’t being assessed every couple of weeks. But I think I’ll be happy with my grades this year.

I’m really looking forward to coming home. I’ll be home in less than two weeks. But I’ll also only be home for like a day…haha…because I’m moving back onto the Hill for Summer Research. I’ll be researching on flatness and curvature, geometry of surfaces and spaces, constructing models to exhibit topology and differential geometry concepts with paper and yup…knitting! Haha I can’t wait until I start my project, but because I’m a bit nerdy, I’ve already started reading up on what I’ll be researching on. So far, I’ve read one book that my professor recommended, it’s called The Shape of Space by Jeffrey Weeks. The author also happened to give the Sulski Lecture at Holy Cross this year, and I was a bit upset I missed it, because I thought his book was very good and engaging for someone who hasn’t done any course work in this topic.

So for the rest of my time here, I’ll be relaxing with my mates, doing a bit of researching for this summer, and playing softball.

Cheers! xxx

Hey all!

I can’t believe it’s Week 3 of Summer Term! There’s only about one and a half weeks left of term, and I’m already feeling sad about leaving England. I only have two courses this term, one of which continued from Spring Term and a course called Museology & Curatorship. Although exams don’t start for another 2 or so weeks for me, I’m already dreading them. An exam that counts as 100% of your assessment is crazy! #ICannotEven But everything will be grand-I’ve been revising for about a week now.

After this year, I will have pretty much finished all my required courses for maths-just need a projects course. But obviously, I love maths, so I’m going to take at least three more. I know, call me crazy. Those maths courses at HC are seriously no joke. I remember talking to an alumnus and he asked me what I was studying, and when I told him maths…

Part of the conversation: 

Alumnus: “Math is hard.”
Me: “Haha, yup, it sure is.”
Alumnus: “Math at Holy Cross is hard.”
Me: “Tell me about it, haha.”

Speaking of academics, I declared History of Art minor the other day. So cheers to that-I only need one more course to complete that, and I’m not sure about the Architecture Minor yet, but it looks like I’ll need two or three more courses. But we shall see when I get back.

And speaking about heading back to the States…I can’t wait to move back onto the hill. I literally move back the day after I get home for Summer Science Research. Can’t wait to start knitting those 3D manifolds and surfaces, you know?

But anyways, that’s all for now…I’m leaving for Nottingham in a bit and I still need to pack. I have Nationals for Softball tomorrow-wish me luck!


Hey all!

So sorry about last month-it’s difficult to write a blog post on your phone when you’re on the move, haha. But anyways, EuroTrip 2016 was great! We-Keith Plummer ’17 and I-saw a lot of things, ate a lot of good food, spoke in multiple languages, etc.

Our first destination was Rome, Italy. We saw the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, the Trevi Fountain-all the tourist sports, basically. We then traveled up north to Florence, and during our stay, we took a day trip to Pisa. After Florence, we went up to Milan. But on our way up to Milan, I caught up with the news-as in what was going on with the rest of the world. It was at the moment when I found out about the terrorist attacks in Brussels.

It was literally going to be the next stop on EuroTrip 2016. We were in shock, wondering what we should do-if we could do anything at all. Questions going on in my head there and then: were those innocent people affected by the attacks going to be okay-they weren’t sure of the death/injured tolls then, and what was the emotional state of the country and the European Union then and there? All I knew was that it wasn’t the time to go to Brussels.

So what did we do? We went back to Rome…you know what they say, all roads lead to Rome. We actually went back to see the Vatican. It was closed when we were in Rome the first time-but it could have been a blessing in disguise, because we actually met a Holy Grad in front of St. Peter’s Basilica that day, haha. If it wasn’t closed that first time, we wouldn’t have met him.


After Rome: Part II, we traveled to Paris. The shopping was divine, haha. And we got some good pics of us modeling in front of the Eiffel Tower-and in front of other notable things-let’s just say that EuroTrip 2016 was all about modeling in front of famous landmarks, haha.

IMG_1051Casual candids in front of the Eiffel TowerIMG_0633Will the Italians mind if I just…IMG_0476Two of my favorite HoCros, Keith Plummer ’17 (#TravelBuddy) and Drew Virtue ’17 (who is currently studying abroad in Rome this semester)

Paris was followed by Barcelona. By then, we were kind of tired of doing tourist things-or at least I was. I was ready for some R&R at the beach. While we were in Barcelona, we also took a day trip to Montserrat. Shout out to Dylan Oliveira ’17 for suggesting that idea to me-it was an amazing experience (even though it was a struggle to hike up to the top).



After Barcelona, I flew back to the UK. I was exhausted-I thought going on holiday was suppose to relax you, but I was so tired of traveling. However, I had to rally, so to say, because the next day I had to travel to Nottingham for a softball tournament. Call it dedication, but I really wanted to play, haha. We ended up placing third and it was a pretty good weekend, so no regrets about cutting EuroTrip 2016 short. Besides, we’re already planning EuroTrip 2016: Part II. 😉


Dear all,

So sorry about not posting in a while! I am currently on holiday with my best friend from Holy Cross Keith Plummer ’17. We have traveled to five cities already, and I will be back to write about them soon. It is pretty hard to post a blog entry when you only have your phone with you, but stay tuned, and watch this space!


Hey all!

Hope you’re all doing well! It’s Week 10 here at York, which means that I will be on break after Friday! This weekend is Nationals for Softball and I’m feeling so anxious, so nervous, so excited, so scared-just a lot of feelings. You get the picture? But it’s natural (most likely) because my first softball tournament was about two weeks ago…

The tournament was in Nottingham. We left York on Friday night and got to Matt’s (coach/captain/teammate) house a little after 10 PM. The next morning, I woke up feeling so anxious. When we got to the field and began throwing the ball around, I felt a lot better…until our first game of the day. But I think it went well-I hit the ball, got to first, got in a run-it was a good game even though we lost. The day progressed in our favor though, haha. We won the rest of the games we played that day, and made it to the semi-finals! Who would have expected that? Not me, that’s for sure, haha. The next morning, I woke up, feeling a little nervous. After breakfast, we headed straight to the fields. That was probably my worst game I’ve ever played-that isn’t saying much because it was probably my fourth? fifth? game ever-but I was not batting like I knew I could. My fielding was better than usual though. There was ten minutes left in the game when someone said time-as in the game was over. We had lost by 2, and the other team started cheering and jumping up and down. BUT there was ten minutes left. And don’t you worry, we got those ten minutes. And guess what? We won by 1.

Yup, we made it to the finals. Who expected THAT? Let me tell you: no one on our team. But I won’t bore you with the details of that game. We lost. They played really well.

Side note: their team is sponsored by l’Oréal. (You know because they’re worth it, haha) Sorry I had to, haha.

Winning second place was an accomplishment though! But anyways, we might be playing against them on Saturday at Nationals, and we’ll be ready.

IMG_2742 IMG_2743

The team that was picked to go to the tournament in Nottingham.

Softball has become an integral part of my life these days, haha. I’m either on the field or in class. Just the other day, I was slightly late for my last lecture of the day, because practice went a bit late, haha.

Last Sunday was also the Colours Ball. It’s a Ball held by the Sport Union. I went with Matt, and it was a lot of fun. Matt got Full Colours for representing softball on a national/international level. Not completely sure about all the details, but he plays for the country. No big deal, right? 😉


I got to dress up, eat some good (and some interesting) food, and I also chatted with people who do sport at York, because who doesn’t like striking conversations with the guy sitting next to you?


But then I had to go home and get back to studying right after, which is what I should be doing right now before I head to the sport centre later for Softball…


Hello all!

This past week was-in plain words-miserable. I had three problem sets due yesterday and a 2,000 word essay due today. (I managed to get some sleep, which is always the goal for me, haha.) I also had a lot of applications to fill out (and of course, one of them was for the Odyssey Program-I loved being a Odyssey Mentor last summer). I also applied to the Mentor Program, as well as the Summer Research Program at HC this summer (this project would combine my two of my favorite things: maths and knitting!). I’ve heard back from the Odyssey Program and the Mentor Program, and have been given the opportunity to interview with both of them next month! So, let’s hope the people from the Summer Research Program like my proposal to continue this streak of good news, haha.

Speaking of research, I attended the 2016 Tomorrow’s Mathematicians Today Conference for undergraduate mathematicians at the University of Greenwich two weeks ago. I got to hear about a number of research projects, and I thought they were really interesting.

It started off being a miserable windy, cold, dark Saturday morning when I woke up at 4 AM to get to the other campus to meet up with the other maths students heading down to attend the conference. There were nine of us in total, and like I predicted, I was the only female of the group (I was definitely representing women in STEM that day).

And I’m proud to be a woman in STEM. #ILookLikeAMathematician


Being at the conference reminded me of that “I Look like an Engineer” movement that started last summer. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, it basically brought awareness of the stereotypes that have been imposed on women in STEM. It’s like some people have this stereotypical image of a female in the engineering field (or any STEM field), and when that image doesn’t fit, they’re shocked. That’s the thing with stereotypes-they cause people to assume.

But anyways, I was going for an insightful post today, so I hope it was helpful, haha.

Cheers 🙂


So it’s Week 6 here at Uni and it seems like just yesterday, I was getting off the train from celebrating New Year’s in Edinburgh. Speaking of New Year’s though…Happy (Chinese) New Year!

Since I’ve last blogged, my academic life has picked up-as in-I’ve never had to turn in three problem sets on the same day before. Even though I tried to finish them before the weekend, I was still up until 3 AM this morning, trying to find a decryption algorithm for this cipher. It’s about 8 PM here as I’m typing this, and I’m still thinking about it even though I turned it in this morning. That just goes to show how invested I am in my studies, haha. Or nerdy, but I would take that as a compliment.

Other aspects of my life (that don’t involve maths) have also been great:

Softball has grown on me-I’ve come to love the sport-even though I’ve gotten so many bruises. I also managed to jam my finger last week, which was painful-I couldn’t bend it for a while. But aside from my battlefield wounds, my first tournament is in two weeks, and I can’t wait for that.


I journeyed down to Oxford about a week ago to see some friends. My best friend from Holy Cross is studying there this year, as well as one of my best friends from high school. It was an awesome day filled with shopping, drinking tea, and visiting Harry Potter film sites!

That’s all for now, I have loads of reading to catch up on for tomorrow…

Hello readers!

So January is coming to a close, which means you have either kept your New Year’s resolutions like you promised you would, or you are still in the process of working them out (AKA breaking them over and over again, haha). Either way, a new year for many people means a new beginning. My New Year’s resolutions include the usual: staying fit, and eating healthier. But my goals also include traveling all over Europe as much as I can before I head back to the States in June.
So far, I’ve been pretty diligent about staying fit. I still run in the mornings-usually before the crack of dawn. I love watching the sunrise (that is, if it’s not being blocked by clouds-it tends to do that…). Like this morning.

But the weather has been pretty fair compared to what my friends and family back in the States have been experiencing. So, I’m counting my blessings that I’ve been experiencing a calm winter.

I’ve also joined my Uni’s Softball Club. There’s not a lot of cardio during our practices, but a lot of throwing-my arms are still a bit sore from last week, to be honest. It’s a coed team. I didn’t think I would be able to keep up with the boys, or with the girls for that matter-I was so out of shape-but I can happily say that I can hold my own. #RiseTogether I’m also glad to be on a sports team again. I haven’t played a team sport since high school and that was years ago.

We practice on a field called 22 Acres (Because it’s 22 acres…get it? I didn’t at first-it’s okay). Does anyone else notice that 8 AM doesn’t look that much different from 1 PM?

I’ve also been staying true to this lifestyle of eating healthy. Cooking for myself was a challenge at the beginning of this academic year-not going to lie, but I have definitely honed in on my inner culinary skills and I can proudly say that I/others haven’t died/gotten sick from my cooking. Take my word for it. But also check out how pretty my food is, haha.
#Photogenic #NoFilter



An explanation from right to left:
1. I was craving sushi the other night, so I made some rolls with salmon and cucumber, and once I got tired of rolling, I got creative with the one of the top left-inspired by my days of watching Pokemon…
2. This morning, after my 4 mile run, I rewarded myself with banana pancakes made from scratch, topped with a hazelnut chocolate spread.
3. For lunch the other day, I made a homemade tomato sauce, starring tomatoes, peppers, garlic and onion, with sausage to go with my pasta.
4. And I wanted to experiment with salmon and pasta the other day, so I made a cream cheese lemon sauce, featuring key ingredients: heavy cream, butter, cream cheese, lemon juice and garlic. It was out of this world good.

So there’s my bit about New Year’s resolutions. Good luck with keeping yours if you made any this year!

Cheers x

Hello all!

If you’re reading this, that means you know that I survived my exams. My last final was yesterday and it went okay, overall I think my exams went well (especially for someone who has never studied in England before). The exam procedure here is so interesting. I’m not saying it’s weird, but I felt like I was taking the SATs again, do you know what I mean?

Let me set the scene for y’all. We were only allowed into the testing room 10 minutes before the exam. When we could, we were instructed to pick a number, and that referred to our exam seat. So the seating was random. Before we could find our seat, we were asked to put everything we brought against a wall (things such as coats, and backpacks). For things such as purses, wallets, and keys, they provided us a plastic white bag that we could put those things into, which would be then placed underneath our seats. Touching that plastic white bag during the exam would be considered an academic offense. There were so many things that a student could have done that would be considered an academic offense: leaving the exam room without receiving permission (so if you were lucky enough to finish early, you had to raise your hand until someone noticed to collect your script), having something in your pocket (does not matter what, if they found out you had something…), having a watch on, and the obvious ones like not switching off your mobile phone, having notes from class in front of you, etc.

So when do I start classes again? Um…last Thursday, haha. Term started last Monday. Some departments have lectures during exam time, the maths department tends to not hold classes during Week 1, but the history of art courses sure like having classes during the first week. I already have my first assignment for Tuesday. I took a little break this morning, I woke up and my brain felt like it was fried. But back to work soon for me. I don’t mind though, because this course I’m talking about sounds like it’s going to be a really interesting class. It’s called The Art of the Avant-Gardes. The course description: “This module aims to introduce students to the key themes and debates that have developed around the idea of the ‘avant-garde’ in the 20th century. Specific artists and movements as well as artworks and texts may provide case studies for this module”. Doesn’t that sound interesting?!

Okay in other news-aside from the academics-I spent New Year’s in Edinburgh. Scotland was really pretty! Me and another friend Emily Winn ’17 (who if you remember was my roommate last year) went on a Haggis Adventure Tour.

Our tour guide’s name was Jamie-he was great. We toured the Scottish highlands, took part in the Torch Procession that was part of Hogmanay (Hogmanay: Scotland’s world-famous New Year festival), saw Tom Riddle’s grave, passed the Elephant House (you know what I mean if you love Harry Potter), toured a whisky distillery, went to Edinburgh Castle, and because I love museums, we went to the National Museums Scotland. We also did a lot of walking…but since we’ve been in the UK, we’ve gotten used to it. It’s the way of life here, like how they say, “Do as the Romans do.”
IMG_2093 IMG_2210
But anyways, that’s all for now. Hope you all had a wonderful New Year’s. I know I did-one for the books, most definitely.

Cheers xxx

The clock is ticking. In a couple of days, it’ll be Christmas and soon enough we’ll be celebrating the New Year! #2016HereWeCome! This has been one of the best years of my life, and I’m only 21 years old. It only gets better from here, right? It’s hard to believe that earlier this year, I was scared to tell my parents that I was accepted to study abroad at the University of York in England. It’s also crazy that I was part of a huge fashion show, went on a Spring Break Immersion trip to Alabama, took part in ExploreASIAn, and was an Odyssey mentor for a great group of first years. I loved almost every minute of this past year.

These past two weeks have also been wicked awesome. (Even though I’ve been studying for my exams…) The Office of Advancement rehired me, so up until yesterday, I’ve been working part time on campus. It gave me a schedule to work with-I probably would not have had motivation to study otherwise, truth be told. I would drive to Holy Cross early in the morning to study at Cool Beans before work, and I would occasionally stay on campus after work for a few hours to study in Dinand. I felt like I never left, haha.

I also went to the Holy Cross Men’s Basketball game a couple of days ago, because…yeah…I couldn’t resist breaking out the foam finger, haha. And I guess I missed these guys too.



I also got the chance to catch up with a lot of my friends over dinner after work before they left for their winter break. It was great seeing them, because I missed them so much while I was in England.

The other night, I also got the chance to catch up with a HC Alumnus. You may or may not remember him, but he was on that same Spring Break Immersion trip that I participated in last semester.


Anyways, that’s pretty much all I’ve been up to: working, studying, and catching up with friends. Time flies by really quickly when you’re having fun…I’ll be back across the pond in less than a week!

Cheers 🙂



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Ellen Chen '17

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