Ben Nguyen’s 10 Favorite Things

Hi! I’m a senior at Garnet Valley High School, taking a break from writing college essays to talk about my favorite things. I’m not that good of a writer, but I hope my earnestness can help prop it up a little bit. All the articles I see on the site are politicians, actors, writers, singers – where’s a space in the New York Times for an average high school student? These are some of my favorite things, either pretty general (like “family”) or pretty specific (like “my favorite blanket”). 

  1. Family

I mean, do I have to explain what family is? Family is what gets you out of bed, what keeps you alive and healthy for whatever’s coming next. Family are some your closest friends, and are blood red-threaded to you in a pact that lasts for your entire life. I might have my ups and downs with each other person in my family, but I can’t deny that I love them a whole lot. 

  1. Costco

Before the pandemic, it was almost a tradition to go out on Saturdays for a free-sample lunch at Costco while grabbing groceries. Sometimes, we just went for the samples and the $1.50 hotdog combo. The big warehouse environment feels more friendly to me than a department store, and in no other place can I walk out with a 12-pack of croissants and a $5 rotisserie chicken at once. 

  1. Ramen

Ramen is something that helps lift my spirits (and my sodium content) when they’re down, a smooth soup you make with a hot water kettle and a couple minutes of time. It’s my comfort food when my parents are out or I’m feeling a late-night snack! When I have a bad day, I can count on hot ramen to prop it back up a notch. 

  1. Piano

Something that I hold very close to me is my love of piano, and the wonderful people I have met along the way as a result of it. My first teacher (who passed away from cancer while I was her student) told me that “music is a way of speaking”, which I wholeheartedly believe; music is a way of expressing the soul past words into its own universal language. Going on 7 years now with my current teacher, we have grown really close to each other as time has passed due to our shared love of piano. We talk, laugh, and cry together about events the other has experienced both in and out of lessons. For someone that can’t sing well, playing or composing piano is a great way for me to express myself.

  1. My Favorite Blanket

It’s huge and pink with some flower designs on it, and its polyester texture is something satisfying to hold. Less of a blanket and more of a tent, the blanket I bring everywhere is a refuge I can shelter in and a reminder of the home I’ve temporarily left behind. 

  1. Overwatch/Minecraft

When I was having trouble finding friends in school and I had some free time on my hands, I downloaded these video games and instantly became immersed in the world they offered. Minecraft explored the limits of my imagination in the towns I built, and Overwatch taught me teamwork and how to make friends from behind a screen. I don’t have a lot of time right now (especially with essays) to play video games, but I still fit in as much as I can. 

  1. Boku no Hero Academia (My Hero Academia)

Boku no Hero Academia is this anime (Japanese animation/cartoon) where superpowers are commonplace, and the best teenagers with powers are invited to a high school where they train to be heroes. I really like this show because of the main character, who is very strong. He has a powerful superpower, but its his tenacity and determination which makes him good. 

  1. Hoodies + Sweatpants

Hoodies and sweatpants are pretty much socially-acceptable pajamas, which are perfect for when you want to go to school and want to feel more relaxed for a big test. Unless something stressful also requires me to wear something formal, I don the hood/pants and just vibe (ex. the SATs/PSATs).

  1. Chinatown

There used to be this nice Chinese banquet place in Chinatown in Philly (Joy Tsin Lau), where my cousins and I would find ourselves every couple months for the farthest of reasons. An aunt’s birthday? A good year at college? Oftentimes, it felt like our families thought of the restaurant before the occasion. We didn’t mind though, since the food was absolutely amazing. Ginger lobster, peking duck, fish maw soup; we didn’t have expensive delicacies like this often, so they were eaten up in a heartbeat. The restaurant recently closed down, but I still love going to Chinatown for bubble tea and a good time. 

  1. Reddit

Reddit is somewhere I can see posts and feel like I’m a part of a community, even if I’m just lurking around. My favorite subreddit is r/AskReddit, where people give answers to questions you never would have come up with on your own. The responses feel human and funny! 

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