Tag Archives: experience

Have A Bowl of Crossing-the-bridge Rice Noodles Before Exams

By Qianhui Ni

Edited by Natalie Grace Sipula

[4.5 minute read]

What do you normally do before an important exam? In some cultures, people will pray to the god of wisdom, or avoid washing their hair because it is believed to wash the knowledge out of the brain. Some tend to wear clothes with lucky colors. For me, my pre-exam ritual is to have a bowl of crossing-the-bridge rice noodles.

Crossing-the-bridge Rice Noodles from Ludingji at San Gabriel

In Yunnan, China, the local people’s diet holds rice noodles to an equal status as rice. Different from rice noodles from other provinces, the traditional Yunnan rice noodles are made of fermented and milled rice. Thus, they have a very slightly sour taste due to the longer fermentation time in the production process. Crossing-the-bridge rice noodles are the most famous cooking method of these noodles. The soup base is stewed with pork ribs, fresh chicken, fresh duck, and Yunnan ham. After simple seasoning, the thick soup must stay boiling and be put into a large, insulated bowl. You can then add fresh fish slices, fresh tenderloin slices, mung bean sprouts, and mushroom slices to the soup individually. My favorite ingredient to add are fresh raw quail eggs. As the raw quail egg touches the soup, the color of the egg white and yolk changes even before they start changing shape in the broth. This is how we magically make a soft boiled egg in a fully intact shape. When I was a little kid, I always wanted to complete this part by myself but was stopped by my parents since the temperature of the soup was too high. 

You are probably wondering why this dish is named “crossing-the-bridge” and why it is connected to pre-exam rituals. One well-accepted version of its origin story goes like this: in the Qing Dynasty, a scholar living in southern Yunnan used to go study at a pavilion in the middle of a lake to prepare for the imperial examination. To support him, his wife often made his favorite rice noodles and brought them to the pavilion. Every time she got there, the rice noodles had already become cold. One day, she accidentally found out that the thick layer of chicken fat covering the soup helped it stay at a high temperature. The rice noodles, the meat, and the vegetables actually tasted more refreshing if they were put in right before eating. Since then, she always stewed the soup with chicken and other meat first, and waited until she arrived at the pavilion before putting in the extra thinly sliced ingredients and rice noodles. With her support, the scholar eventually got the highest exam score. Because every time the scholar’s wife needed to walk across a bridge to reach the pavilion, people named this cooking method “crossing-the-bridge rice noodles” in order to commemorate this talented woman. Since then, having a bowl of crossing-the-bridge rice noodles has become a popular pre-exam ritual for many local people. 

Spicy Rice Noodles from Ludingji at City of Industry

As part of the cultural heritage of Yunnan, China, crossing-the-bridge rice noodles have become a top cuisine that no visitor to the region should miss out on. Before I went to college, I used to take it for granted because there are so many restaurants that sell it in my hometown. I did not realize how hard it is to find authentic crossing-the-bridge rice noodles until I started my life in another country. However, after visiting almost all the Yunnan restaurants in LA, I found two good ones where you can get a taste of this traditional cuisine: 

Yunnan Restaurant:

You can find two Yunnan Restaurants in LA: one is located in San Gabriel, and the other one is in Monterey Park. Here, when ordering crossing-the-bridge rice noodles, you will have the chance to add all of the ingredients to the boiling soup yourself. Apart from the rice noodles, don’t miss the amazing Chinese Salad with different cold meats or vegetables in spicy sauce. 

Casserole Rice Noodles from Yunnan Garden in Hacienda Heights

Yunnan Garden:

Located in Hacienda Heights, Yunnan Garden has a more spacious dining area. The crossing-the-bridge rice noodles here are put in a big bowl in which the cook has already put in all the ingredients and rice noodles. The soup base is great and I’m sure you will love it. 

If you want to try a new pre-exam ritual before a major exam, try the crossing-the-bridge rice noodles and remember the story of the scholar and the talented wife, and hopefully it will bring you good luck.

Featured Image by Frank Zhang on Unsplash

Qianhui is a doctoral student majoring in Psychology. She received a B.S. in Psychology from East China Normal University in 2019. She is interested in how children learn about social agents and the social world. When she isn’t working in the lab, Qianhui enjoys traveling, reading novels, watching movies, and cooking.  

Take a Breath: Keeping Things in Perspective in College

By Stella Yeong

Edited by Natalie Grace Sipula

[4 minute read]

It’s easy to feel like college is supposed to be the most important and formative part of your life. At least, that’s what many of us have been led to believe through media and film. However, after some time, I’ve come to realize that’s not true for everyone. It’s hard to not get muddled up in what you think your experience is supposed to be, but it is best to focus on making it the best version of what it already is. I felt the same way about high school — like everything that happened was the most important thing in the world. Yet, the number of people that I still keep in contact with that I used to see every day can now be counted on one hand. Even my most embarrassing or happiest moments have all become a blur.

Photo by Fuu J on Unsplash

High school and college can be all-consuming while you’re in them, especially because they are a cesspool of unhealthy comparison. However, everyone is on their own path — it may take longer to get from one place to another for some, but that doesn’t determine your destination. Trust that everything will work out, and if it doesn’t, worry about it when it happens because everything, good or bad, eventually comes to an end.

Here are a few tips I’ve gathered over time to help remember how to keep things in perspective in college:

1. Start studying early to minimize stress around exam time.

Photo by Matt Ragland on Unsplash

Annoyed how tests, projects, and papers all seem to pile up at the same time? Start studying early by going over your notes for a few minutes each day so you don’t have to cram for four classes at once. When you have some free time, study even if you don’t think you have to because exam time can sneak up on you before you know it. Easier said than done, but try not to procrastinate! This way you won’t be so concerned about where you stand in relation to others when you are cramming during exam week.

Continue reading Take a Breath: Keeping Things in Perspective in College

Roommates and the College Experience

By Stephanie Wicburg

[4 minute read]

Coming to a new place and figuring out how to survive classes is a challenge that all incoming college students face. It involves having to adjust to different teaching styles and the various contents of whatever classes you sign up for. You might also have to get over a couple of months of not using your brain nearly as much because you were on summer break. Classes can be hard, but they are something we’re all used to. Even if the environment is new, school is something familiar to all of us. Living in a new place, however, and learning how to coexist with people other than your family is a wholly different challenge.

Photo by Joyful on Unsplash

Roommates in college can either be a great adjustment or a significant challenge. If you’re not used to living with people outside of your family or you are accustomed to living by yourself (which is true for most people), there might be a few moments of rude awakening for everyone involved as people figure out how to be functional individuals in an environment with more than one person.

Many people find lifelong friends in the people they end up being roommates with. I have personally heard wonderful stories about people who get randomly assigned to roommates. Those people didn’t know anyone that they might want to room with and ended up forming extremely strong bonds with their roommate. In some cases, roommates can coexist without bonding or disliking each other, and in some other cases, roommate pairs end up with stress and disaster. So how do you find that seemingly all too common best friend that many find in their college roommate? If you are randomly assigned a roommate, you can’t necessarily control if you will “click” with that person, but there are plenty of ways to foster a relationship in order to prevent the worst-case scenarios we all hope to avoid. I have listed some tips below that you can use to establish a good connection with your new roommate:

  1. Reach out on social media. If you have never said hello to your roommate before you meet them in person, chances are you aren’t going to be very close with them.
  2. Be open. If you go into living with an entirely new person with a ton of expectations, you set yourself up for disappointment and frustration.
  3. Communicate with your roommate about the things that concern you. If there is something bothering you, say it. The roommates who become really good friends are the ones who can talk to each other about issues in a respectful manner and work on them together. Do not let things that bother you fester up inside of you or you will start to feel resentment rather than a growing friendship.
  4. Be considerate. Be aware that you and your roommate might come from very different backgrounds, and respect each other’s boundaries. Maybe even make an effort to explore each other’s cultural differences and perspectives if there are any.
  5. Do fun things together every once in a while. No relationship, friend or otherwise, will work if you never do anything fun together. Go to Disneyland or Chinatown or see a movie. There are plenty of things you can find to do that will help you and your roommate share happy and fun memories to build that close bond.
Continue reading Roommates and the College Experience