December 30, 2015


Endings are kinda tough. It kinda feels like surrender. I assure you, it is not.
Giving up feels bad and iffy. Sometimes, it's about doing what you truly want.
Walk away with your head up. moving on. growing up.

And this blog is a record of a chapter of my life that is moving somewhere else.

In 2011, I began the Underdog Architecture Student's Blog to deal with my personal stuff as a design student. I brought to light crappy circumstances as an architecture student who fell behind 2 years under a curriculum change, dealing with the politics and classicsm that is blatant in a competitive design studio environment. I was in a studio where the competition was akin to Mean Girls. I still remember a student look over my shoulders in the computer lab scoffing at me, proud he was done his project, an epitome of a douche. University made me come to terms that I was the underdog, coming from a  lower-middle class of an immigrant family that never owned property nor traveled across the world. Architecture school made me more cognisant of my social standing - some people have it easier to do architecture and for others it's a steeper learning curve and greater financial barrier to come up with the best design with the best drawings and models. I've met students who had to work during school while others had a luxury not to. Sometimes, it felt like a limiting factor against me: a lack of elite tastes or the lack of experience or means to travel abroad. After falling behind, I was disheartened coming out of architecture school during a crappy job market that was still healing from the recession - not landing a full-time job until a year after graduation.

It was amazing to see the tremendous online support and readership grow from a handful of Canadian architecture students (primarily Facebook friends from my school) to friends from the AIAS to people all across the globe. It has been touching to see emails and letters of students continuing through after failing a studio or not sure about giving up all thanks to a blog post I made.

Today, I work in an awesome firm that let's me learn and grow professionally, at the same time, they value a work-life balance.  That lets me discover my passions outside of the field and tap into that non-architecture side that did not exist until recent.  I discovered a passion in Improv and Acting and even I dunno where it is going, to be quite honest. I dunno if it is pushing me away from grad school or licensure to look into other avenues.


A good friend of mine was trying to see whether I am applying for M.Arch this year
...and a few months later another friend a la Facebook messenger.

Masters of Architecture: The one degree that will let me apply as an Intern Architect and actually make my work experience count towards licensure (In Canada, it's a different licensing system).
Going to grad school to get my accredited M.Arch is something i've intended way long ago since High School as I walked through th e. Life doesn't turn out as it was planned. There's so much to do before applying. I'm not ready. I do not know if I'll be. I'm not applying this year. Getting ready for the next time round'.

However, it bothers me. Is it something that I really want? If I truly want it, I would've gone for it in a heartbeat, but I am not sure right now. And it is scary, as the clock ticks, my twenties is on its way to close. I'm in my late 20s and I don't have my shit together.

But you got to start somewhere and stay hopeful. You gotta get engaged ahead of time.
Two roads diverged in a wood...Finding architecture thesis ideas related to Theatre or even seeing if my architecture training can come in service to Acting and Theatre and Comedy. So I'm trying to find ways to get engaged. I can't rule one or the other yet. i'm still conflicted and confused. This Actor/Improviser side of me just bloomed as of recent. Planning does not always come to terms with the spontaneity and randomness of life.

The trouble about falling behind 2 years in school, and focusing only on university for 6 years means you don't have enough leeway to decide where you want to go career-wise. Discovering the non-architecture side that I never saw, is the risk I am taking - because I never saw this side of me.

I was the focused Asian kid that was pretty darn deterministic in finishing his degree - overcoming setbacks without having a life. I've seen myself pour my heart into architecture since my teens to only see myself get chewed and spit out. Perhaps it's my anxiety that ills me - that fear of going back to school might mean repeating the same experience I did in undergrad.

A Final Word to Readers:

It's in the doing an idea comes. 

This is a quote by Edmund Bacon, which I got from reading the How To Architect blog years ago. I get emails and messages of students and aspiring architects asking me what to do.  Honestly, I cannot tell you what to do nor can I determine your future.

A therapist taught me we don't know what we want or where we want to go. The only way to be informed is by getting engaged in things and by doing so they inform us which direction we should take.

If it feels right in your life, you will recognize it from within - without question or doubt. And it's okay if it changes.

Seek Help as Necessary

Your profs are not your therapist or counsellor or psychologist. I used to be bitter offering my empathy and support to classmates and friends, while not being reciprocated with it when I was in the blues and struggling. Looking back, many people just don't know how to deal with a student that is going through a personal crisis - and some people are scared they might say or do the wrong thing. I chose to get help when I was falling behind because I realized that I was struggling more than my peers. Some of the advice we get from our friends are actually more damaging to us and there are professionals who know how to deal with our struggles.  I don't regret the counselling I got from school. The counselling has helped me persevere and go for things that I could have easily just given up years ago and equipped me to this day.

Your past does not have to define you.

Which is why I am choosing to stop blogging for the Underdog Architecture Students Blog. Some people felt I wasn't thinking highly of myself, and sometimes the negative connotation of Underdog I would actually believe in and I would hold on to a negative view of myself.

I'm a scrapper, and I did things out of my efforts without kissing ass to any professor and doing some grunt work to get somewhere in this field. I'm proud of those efforts. However, there comes a time when I can't keep being bitter to the dark experiences architecture school has done to me.

Today, I'm getting help again dealing with the scars that failing architecture school has left behind. The negative thoughts from that trauma haunt me in the workplace and even as an improvisor.
It has come back and impacted how I hold myself - it might delay the time for me to consider going back to school even though I feel like the clock is ticking.

I'm ready to move on. I'm ready to free myself. So next time, next blog you will see.
It's not going to be about the lowly underdog. It's gonna be about me living my life freely.
Not being weighed down by failure.

Till we meet again,
The Underdog Architecture Student