I’ve finally gotten a grip on how to practice! It’s been four years, and with changing productivity rates due to a Covid world, being on and off campus, off and back on campus, having ensembles and then not having ensembles, there have not been very many dependent variables in my practice routine. Let’s face it, there haven’t been many dependent variables in anyone’s practice routine. But based on how difficult it sometimes is to operate within a changing environment, I can say that I have gleaned a lot more from this time than I originally expected I would. This post comes at a time when I believe (and I could be wrong) that we might be turning a corner back into normality, or at least an adjusted normality, whatever that looks like.
Time flies. My first semester and winter break here at UIUC have passed. It has been several months since I left home. Because I also studied alone in Taipei, Taiwan, a different city rather than in my hometown during my undergrad, it seemed that to some extent I was supposed to be accustomed to this lifestyle. However, I would go home at least once a month and would also return home during long vacations at that time, whereas I seldom had long travels after starting my new journey here in Champaign-Urbana. Living in a foreign country can sometimes inevitably make me feel lonely. To overcome this, in addition to video calls with family abroad or friends in other states, I also travel, cook, exercise, gather with friends, or participate in the school’s activities. Those activities have gradually made Illinois a "Home Away From Home."
During the height of the pandemic, I would often take walks around the Urbana neighborhoods to get some fresh air and see more of the outdoors. I used to always see dogs being walked around with their owners, and I realized how badly I wanted one. It was such a bright spot in my day to see the joy that dogs can bring to other people, and since I saw it so often, I desperately wanted that in my own life. I did my research and found my sweet Sailor a few months later. She and I have been together since her seven-week birthday, and her Goldendoodle energy has only gotten stronger in the last year. It’s wonderful to have a companion so loving, and during the stay at home period, she was such a great support system for me.
Winter and summer vacations are the breaks that students look forward to the most. Many people have already been travel hacking and planning their vacation travels before the break officially starts. Since mid-December, I saw many beautiful photos of my friends traveling when scrolling social media. But even so, I chose to stay in the Urbana-Champaign area, hoping to explore this area more deeply during the winter vacation.
Musicians spend a lot of time practicing their instruments every day. Although it is an indispensable daily routine, being sedentary and maintaining the same posture for a long time can bring about various body aches, or more seriously even irreversible pain and sequelae to the body. So far, I am glad that I have not experienced such troubles, perhaps because I have maintained the habit of exercising. Whenever I become tired after practicing piano or doing homework, I can always rejuvenate myself by exercising.