My open ending

By Nhi

This is my final post on this blog. While I have been absent from blogging publicly for a year (and admittedly guilty for not following through with our blog goals), I want to come back to tie everything in an open ending – I am graduating from college in a week.

Four years ago, when starting this blog, I wrote:

The idea is simple. We wish to discover, write, draw, talk about hobbies that shine like little lights in our lives. We also want to share with you stories and photos about people and things that we consider lovely enough to light up this world. Yes, this blog will make us live slower, enjoy more and love more.

Many things have changed (or rather, evolved) from this simple idea for the past four years, but at the same time, things seem unchanged. Both of us still use this simple philosophy to navigate through tangles of life, embracing its uncertainty and complexities with curiosity, depth, and appreciation. While I can’t speak for my friend, today, I still pondered over the delicate beauty of flowers’ petals in an unusually late spring. In that still silence of the inner peace, warm rays of afternoon light pierced through busy beats of life, surrendering me into appreciative moments of photographic memories. And my heart remains pure and passionate.

I started out this blog, or rather college, wanting to be a writer, reader, photographer, video-maker. I ended college, aspiring to be someone else – a more whole self with all of those identities mixed together for a particular purpose I found meaningful and worthwhile. It is not that I no longer want to be a writer, a photographer, or a video-maker. But I have learned the for what of all these skills. The answers to these for what are what move me – keeping me up at night, pushing me to move fast, overcoming those little disappointing moments and going forward.

And by no doubt, it will help me grow. I am, just like many things in life, work in progress.

I recently read The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen and it is unexpectedly a read that responds to where I am in life (it is an important book – go read if you haven’t). I have been struggling internally for the past six years with my identity in America, and this book helps me see through my dark moments of uncertainties and embrace my own limits. This is me, I realized, I have an identity. I have never paid attention to how little I know about myself, because I have always tried to be spontaneous – a more socially acceptable way of saying that I want to break away from the conventional, reject social assigned identities and not be tied down to any social groups. I didn’t want to be seen only as a student, a millennial, a woman, an international student, a Vietnamese, an Asian female, or a Communications professional. I want to be seen as me, when I am with you. But in that exciting process of trying to be different selves and let people bring out different sides of me, I also don’t know who I am and accidentally reject other people’s identities. I want to see them with more than what their identities with me tell. And then along the way, I get hurt, feel lonely, hurt people, get confused, and think with no direction.

But that is okay. For all the learning and relationships that have become a by-product, or rewards, of this ongoing process, I am grateful and appreciative.

All this talk about confusion aside, on a more simple note, I have found Anne of Green Gables, nature, Passenger music, children, and simple kindness to be my source of inspiration.


Naomi Shihab

…Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
It is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.

And I have also found people who I learn, unlearn, and re-learn about. My best friend, the person whose identity is a part of mine and mine of her, for the past 8 years, even though we haven’t seen each other in person 90% the duration of our friendship. Our deep friendship is simple and kind. I hope I have been as good of a friend to you as you are to me. My parents with whom I will forever be indebted to and respect, while working through our complicated differences and delicate moments of closeness. My longtime friends, who have remembered me in ways I don’t remember myself, and stay with me while loving me in their own ways. My mentors who I respect and love with my sincere heart, because they have taught me once about my worth, and what it means to be a growing self. My brother who had no idea that his presence has changed my life forever. I would never be who I am today without you. My grandparents and family, who I won’t be able to give back to as much as they have given me. I choose to give back to the world because I am indebted to you. My new friends who I have shared a part of myself with while being unsure which part is me, and they sincerely appreciate me for reasons I haven’t fully captured. I want to keep you, so I can share more parts of myself, and grow together with you. Different people who have taught me that we can change the world in our own way. Whether it is through helping people directly, writing, listening, caring deeply only about those who matter, sacrificing our own ambitions to take care of your children, being kind, smiling at a stranger, having good thoughts or being happy. We all contribute in some way, even when we don’t know it. 

I will by no doubt keep creating even when I am no longer publishing on this blog. For those who have been following, I write this for you.

Many thanks,


My 2017’s goals

Okay let’s keep it realistic: New Year’s resolutions are hardly ever achieved. Therefore, I have been thinking a lot this year to keep them as attainable as possible, and would like to call them “goals” in stead of “resolutions”, for “goals” always have something more attractive to it (take football, for example!).

Here are the things that I absolutely want to accomplish this year:

  • Write essays about Graphic Design

As a Graphic Design student who has learned from a lot of reading, I’d recommend any student to read and write more about subjects concerning their studies to develop a critical mind. To quote my teacher: “There are as many opinions as there are graphic designers.” I believe that writings from students are as important as those from pioneers and professionals. Students nowadays are educated in a totally different ways from before. They come in contact with new technologies and are the ones who will help shaping the Graphic Design of the future. Besides, writing down my thoughts and opinions would be a good way for me to look back at my developments in the future.

  • Limit buying groceries in supermarkets.

I don’t like supermarkets, especially internationals. It may be because I have been working in the retail industry as a job student, or because I adore the countless family businesses on the streets of Hanoi. The modern lifestyle appears very strange to me somehow: We are dependant on the opening hours of the supermarkets (we rush to the stores right after work before they close or flock there on Saturday for example); we always consume the same products coming from other internationals like Nestlé, Cocacola,… that keeps reappearing in whichever supermarket we are in without even knowing; we encourage industrial catering and food processing, we forget how a real palmier tastes like… A few years ago still, we could have said that we had no other choice, but today there exist so many alternative way to fill our fridges and cellars that it has rather become our choice to keep this absurd consuming behaviours.

Things that I want to avoid buying from the supermarkets:

1, Vegetables: In Belgium there’s the possibility of subscribing to local organisations that provide organic fruits and vegetables. According to the amount of money that we pay, we will receive a fruit or/and vegetable package from them at the end of each week.

2, Meat: Since I don’t eat meat, this shouldn’t pose any problem. However, there are still countless butcher’s shops out there that sell meat with higher quality and with less shady origins.

3, Cereals, cookies and meat substitutes: Bio stores have gained popularity lately and are good alternatives to supermarkets. Although the price is often higher, it may be a good way to limit myself from buying large amounts of cheap junk food and to focus on healthy food that are truly necessary.

4, Rice: Come on, a real Vietnamese buys rice in bags of 10 or 20kg from Asian stores!

5, Books: I have never bought books from supermarkets (they only sell sensational titles anyway, like “50 shades of Grey” at half the market price), but still prefer cute cozy local book stores to Fnac or ordering from Amazon. I am always afraid that local book stores might one day have to face extinction if even loyal book readers turned away from them.

Things that I will still buy from the supermarkets: Cleaning & hygiene products, toilet papers.

  • Redesign the cover for every book that I have read, starting with the books that I read in 2017.
  • Pass at least the theoretical exam for the driving license.

After all the effort of my mom and my boyfriend urging me to study for my driving license, I am still convinced that I will hardly ever need it at all. I dislike cars and have never been in a situation where public transport or biking routes are so rare that I’d wish to have a car. Maybe one day I will change my mind and want to drive a car on a daily basis, who knows, when electric cars have become cheaper and more convenient, for example.

But for now, maybe it’s still good to have a driving license, just in case of any emergency, like when everyone is drunk and I should be responsible for the safety on the way home (does it really count as an emergency?). Passing the theoretic examination before September might already be a good start.

  • Complete one short graphic novel

How many times have I begun drawing the first few pages of a comics or graphic novel before loosing the motivation and abandoning? Well, I can’t count anymore. Maybe it’s time for some better planning.

  • Gain more in-depth knowledge about calligraphy and lettering
  • Blog once per week
  • Reach level B1 in German

The three official languages in Belgium: French, Dutch, and German. Although the two first languages are the most popular in this country, there is a smaller area where German is spoken. So, you may already be able to guess the best joke an immigrant can make to a Belgian: “I speak more Belgian languages than you.” (wink)

Okay, I admit, this joke is only one of the many reasons why I want to learn German. I love languages and am convinced that German is the perfect language to learn after Dutch and French. Besides, my mom has recently found an old diary of mine, in which cute little 14-years-old me wrote: “I will have mastered 7 foreign languages when I turn 35.” Oops.

Plants, plans, too early and too late

  • Just one week before the beginning of the winter vacation, Graphic Design students at School of Arts (Ghent) were surprised to see a team of big macho tough guys in black uniform entering their beloved studios, carrying… plants. Yes! Someone (thank you, our dear Someone) in the school’s administration has finally realised how inspirational it is for design students to have living organisms in their studios! Even though our school used to be a former hospital dating from the 17th century, the design studios are in a new building. Contrary to the long-lived beauty of the old buildings, the new one can be defined as modern, clean, almost sterile, wearing fifty shades of grey and having walls in glass. The advantage of this architecture is that students can work in their studios while enjoying, thanks to the glass walls, the satisfying view of the school’s charming garden. The disadvantage is, of course, that this extravagant life style is only possible when the sun is not so high that we’d see nothing on our laptops’ screens except sun glare.


But NOW!! Thanks to these plants, we have passed from being zombies to becoming a little more design-student like!


Knowing that the plants and this little cactus will be there through out the exam period, it fills me with determination.


Hi Miss Cactus!

  • I am going to Paris for a few days to celebrate my long awaited winter vacation. Never have I ever lodged in a studio far away from home WITHOUT MY PARENTS! There seems to have no end to the preparations; and I’m so afraid to miss the international train that I have resolved to arrive at the train station one hour in advance! It’s also the first time that I will be traveling with my boyfriend. Should I bring an extra toothbrush and some shampoo for him? That surely can’t be a bad idea.
  • Last but not least, MERRY CHRISTMAS TO YOU ALL!!! I’ve probably said this one day too soon, but I won’t be online tomorrow, and it’s better to say it too soon than not to say it at all. Enjoy this time of the year wherever you are. Just because we can. Duh.imag1350

Well, okay, I have to admit: Christmas is not really a tradition in my native country. But hey, any event is a good excuse for creatives to make some illustrations!

This little postcard of mine is available for sale at

and also in a range of merchandise.

This is probably too late because postcards must have been sent daaayyyys before Christmas to show the receivers how enthusiastic you are about writing and fixing postage stamps! But hey, late is better than never at all 🙂

Dear Nhi, my co-blogger, I will send this postcard to you to show how dear a friend you are to me; but I will wait until you’re back in New York, because mailing to Vietnam is such a big hassle. So please excuse me if Christmas arrives in your letter box in February.