Rattana was the Cambodian name given to me by my parents. The name never made it onto my birth certificate, instead it was quietly shared with me as my hidden Khmer name. But to the world around me, I am ‘Monica’, a Greek name that means ‘advisor’.

I’m awful at introductions, and I usually detest the games people would make others play to get to know one another. The only thing I can do right now for you, the reader, to get to know me is just to delve straightforwardly into who I am.

Everyone calls me Monica, as you might have guessed by now. I only share my Khmer name with a few special people, but I guess it’s out to the world now. It’s a special, hidden name that opens up a colorful book about my past and my family’s past. I’m Cambodian. But I don’t look Cambodian. I was born without the dark, golden-bronze skin, and instead, God gave me porcelain white skin now tanned by many years under the sun playing tennis. Because of this, I always quickly say to others that I am an eighth Chinese because of my grandparents. Many who have met me say I’m an anomaly of an Asian. My looks don’t point toward a particular oriental direction, and some would say I’m mixed with European blood.


I’m purely Cambodian. Of course with a small mix of Chinese.

Now some would say right about now, what is Cambodian? Not many people know of the country my parents came from. Cambodia is a country in southeastern Asia located between Thailand and Vietnam. We speak Khmer and our capital is Phnom Penh, and most people would recognize our worldly famous temple Angkor Wat. This is our flag:

My parents ran away from the Khmer Rouge, a bloody civil war in Cambodia, to America. Here, in California, they met, and I was born in Texas. Their story is a long, tragic but hopeful tale for another day.

There are some important details you should know about me before I begin this blog.

I am:

-a Biology Major with minors in Chemistry and Medical Humanities. Honors Program.

-Pre-Med Concentration. I don’t know what physician I exactly want to be yet, but I know for sure it won’t be a neurosurgeon or urologist. The fields just don’t fit me. The only field I’ve worked extensively in is dermatology.

-Writer. I’ve finished one young adult romance novel in my four-part series following a medical student’s turbulent life. Now I’m working on the sequel and a new dark novel.

-Poet. I also make tons of lists.

-Ambitious Dreamer and very intense in my academics

-I journal extensively. Obsessed with India ink paper.

-Bookworm with a growing list of books I need to read

There are more than this exterior shell, of course, but I prefer that the rest of the layers be peeled back by just exploring my blog entries.

So blogs. I have friends who make blogs about fashion, life lessons, political issues, and thought-provoking themes and travels. I thought I would never make one. But then, opportunities came up for me. I’ve always been one to dream about traveling, but financial woes have always been in my way. But this year, God has presented me with opportunities to see the world – to change my life and to expand my eyes. This summer I will be taking a trip with my family to China and this upcoming fall semester,  I have been accepted to go on a Pre-Med Maastricht Study Abroad with two amazing professors and another forty-something wonderful people. I will be traveling all around Europe with wonderful friends. Needless to say, the idea of a blog has been swirling in my head.

So why not? Today I decided to take the leap and jump on the blog bandwagon.

Theme: // Travels and Happiness.

Travels: Self-explanatory.

Happiness: My best friend always tells me that I never fail to try to put a positive spin on things. Not to say that I’m the type of girl that runs around with a saccharine aura of butterflies and rainbows, for I do have many dark moments, but one of my firm beliefs in life is that one has to know their negative areas well to correct them, but if one focuses on them, one can never be open to anything God puts in your path. I always try to think of how blessed I am to be in the situation I am in right now. If I don’t have faith in myself, my family, my friends, my goals, my ability, and God, then what do I have? Nothing. I would drown.

Disagree or agree. It’s your opinion.

But that’s the main reason why I started this blog. One of the questions I like randomly asking people is “what makes you happy?” There are always the obvious answers of family, friends, boyfriend/girlfriend, good grades, etc. But, many people just never place their mind on the abstract, little things we have in life that day to day gives us an ounce of happiness unknowingly.

This idea of listing random things that make me happy is inspired by a friend I made in middle school. She is one of the wisest people I’ve ever met, and she always loved making lists of what defines her happiness and what defines her dislikes and anger.

I pray my travel blogs will open up the world to you even if you might not be able to see it with your own eyes. I hope for the reader that by reading my blog, you’ll find that different things you randomly see on the streets will start to give you small ounces of happiness. Will start to make your day. Even if your day was filled with relationship drama, awful grades, family troubles, financial woes, and the earth shaking and collapsing under your feet.

Just a little bit of light is all we need.

Current Song: All The Right Moves by OneRepublic



  1. Kathleen Wong
    June 14, 2010 / 02:08

    where do you get all this time to write all this…

    you are admirable πŸ˜›

    <3 Kat

    • June 14, 2010 / 02:23

      Thank you! You are so sweet! Yeah, I’m only going to update this when I have time. Basically I write this so I can also put it in my journal. =]

  2. Jenny
    June 14, 2010 / 02:18

    I like πŸ™‚
    write more! i love reading blogs

    • June 14, 2010 / 02:23

      Yay! Thanks Jenny! I just did this on a whim so we’ll see how it turns out.

  3. June 14, 2010 / 02:30

    my dearest rattana,

    i am so excited to see europe with you and experience all of the wonderful things that we will encounter. πŸ™‚

    mucho [sraw-lan] to you, my wonderful friend. [and yes, that was an attempt at a khmer pronounciation. thank you sadsushi!] you write beautifully and i’m excited to see what becomes of your writings.

    now, as your roommate, i must remind you that you must start reading your cardiopulmonary notes. πŸ™‚


  4. June 14, 2010 / 04:46

    AHHH! I’m the friend with the fashion blog! lolz

    can’t wait to read more in the future, buddy!

  5. Augusta Daley
    September 2, 2010 / 17:56

    I will be reading your awesome Cambodian-ness in all of my spare time. You are such a great writer, Mon. Can’t wait to read more! πŸ™‚

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