WIBDQ #2: A Blast From The Past—Analog to Digital Video Converter

I have to admit, it was difficult to transition from my hectic daily routine to having virtually no responsibilities. I quickly realized that I took the freedoms in my “normal” life for granted. As a constantly busy person, I now felt uncomfortable having all of this free time, and immediately felt the need to make a long to-do list of things to do to occupy my time.

This list was long and quite diverse. I wrote down every single task that I’ve ignored doing in the past. From deep cleaning my shoes (aka wiping the muck off from going to bars) to improving my French on Rosetta Stone (it’s free right now for K-12 and college students!), I was determined to use quarantine in the most productive way possible.

I’ve gotten through a good chunk of this list, but I’ve had my lazy days where I basically do nothing but stare at the ceiling for hours. I’ve felt guilty about being unproductive, but I quickly realized that it’s actually okay to not be productive all the time. I’ve read a bunch of articles to affirm this—we’re literally in the midst of a traumatic, global event, so it’s okay if you’re not productive all the time. Especially when you’re stuck at home.


At the beginning of quarantine, I briefly went to my mom’s apartment to collect a bunch of old stuff for my mini-projects. One daunting project that I’ve had on my list was to digitize the files on my dad’s old video camcorder from the 90s. These precious video files live on 8mm cassette tapes, and I was motivated to figure out a way to have a digital copy.

I consider myself a pretty knowledgable person when it comes to technology, but I was dealing with a video camera that was older than me. This video camera was not only ancient, but is extremely bulky, with a million cords and inputs.

This project has been on my list since day 1 of quarantine, and I just successfully accomplished it by day 34. The Elgato Video Capture – Digitize Video for Mac, PC, or iPad (USB 2.0) was extremely easy to use, and I’m looking forward to converting more old cassette tapes in the future.

SHIPPING SPEED: 4.5/5.

Amazon has slowed down their Prime shipping speed due to COVID-19. Instead, Amazon is prioritizing the delivery of the more essential goods. My video converter was considered non-essential—rightfully so—and it took weeks to come in.

When I finally received my $20 converter, it was incompatible with my Macbook, which is running on the newer Catalina software. After doing more research and returning the old converter, I caved and purchased the $90 converter that was “guaranteed” to work with my Mac.

The Elgato converter actually took a surprisingly short amount of time to come. I received it in 3-4 days, which given the current situation at hand, wasn’t too long. Because it’s a more expensive product, it has a higher priority to ship faster than other converters.

BRAND ANALYSIS: 5/5.

I mentioned in my last blog post that I have been trying to purchase more “ethical” and “local” products to help small businesses out during this time. Well, this goal is impossible when it comes to technology, and especially for video converters. I know that Amazon has profited billions of dollars over the past month with the rise of sales… For the sake of this post, I am going to review Elgato as the brand, rather than discuss the questionable morals of Amazon as a corporation.

I was thoroughly impressed by Elgato and how clear the instructions were for using their converter. It’s a USB converter, so anyone can use it. You also have to download their free software off the website, which again, was simple and just took a couple of minutes.

They also seem to have a great customer service platform if you have any questions. Elgato made this whole process for me extremely easy. The other video converters I was looking at were complicated and had sketchy and out-of-date websites.

PRODUCT QUALITY: 5/5.

This product was outstanding and didn’t give me a headache to figure out. You simply insert the USB into your computer, hook up the video (red) and audio (white) cables from the converter to your device, and play back the video on the software.

I rewinded my cassette to the very beginning, and there was about 31 minutes of footage on the tape. I was then able to record the video and audio as an MP4 file to my computer. It will take the same amount of time to download as footage time, so sit back, relax, and enjoy the show.

OVERALL THOUGHTS:

Although the product itself was expensive, these memories are priceless. It was totally worth the $90 to have this footage on a more stable and permanent viewing platform. I’m so glad I was able to convert my analog video that’s quite useless in this day and age. I have some experience in audiovisual technology from attending tradeshows with the rAVe Agency, but even if you’re a complete technology noob, I promise you can do this, too.

My father picked up this video camera around the time I was born (late 1998) and recorded my older siblings and I for a solid five years. At this time, my family resided in Southern California. Naturally, I don’t remember much from this time in my life, but it was so cool to see my parents and siblings so young.

Some precious memories recorded include: me being fed out of a baby bottle, me reaching for the Sprite can when I was just months old, me reciting the Pledge of Allegiance and my ABCs when I was a toddler, and my siblings and I performing dances to songs for my parents.

This was one of my favorite quarantine-friendly activities that I’ve accomplished thus far. I realized that without this ample amount of time at home, I would have never found the time to digitize these home videos.

Overall, the Elgato video converter was a successful quarantine purchase. I have no regrets.

The setup.

Pre-Internship Thoughts

In about a week, I will be moving to the great city of New York to start my journey as a copywriting intern at JetBlue Airways. There are a ton of exciting changes to come–but most of all, I’m excited to fully be on my own. My move to New York for the summer is truly a dream come true.

However, this isn’t to say that I figured all of this on my own. I am extremely thankful for the UNC School of Media and Journalism, as I have encountered all the resources I need to succeed during my time at Carolina. I am proud to be a recipient of the Lookout Fellows scholarship this summer, which has provided me with the financial support, close mentorship, and confidence to take on this amazing journey to New York City.

I am also thankful for my friends and family who have supported me along this journey, who constantly pushes me to tackle my seemingly impossible dreams. I am excited to have them visit this summer to see how my internship unfolds. Hopefully by then, I’ll be a true New Yorker, and my goal is to treat them to my cool different sites and my favorite food spots.

I am especially excited to be a part of the JET summer program, which has a ton of programming and events for the summer interns. I will be able to network with my peers in different sectors of JetBlue and even be able to interact with top executives of the company. I have talked to my HR coordinator since the very beginning of this hiring process, back in the early fall when I first interviewed with her. It’s been extremely helpful to have her still be in constant contact with me and answer any questions I have regarding my internship. Additionally, I have been contacting my boss, the Senior Copywriter at JetBlue. This has helped me feel acquainted already. Although I haven’t met anyone in person yet, I can tell that I will be a great fit into the company’s culture.

While I will be working in JetBlue’s headquarters located in Long Island City, I will be living in an NYU apartment-style dorm in the East Village. This is the perfect area for me to be this summer, as I will be surrounded by thousands of other like-minded and hardworking individuals to take inspiration from. Currently, I am interested in a variety of industries, such as fashion, tourism, and multimedia. Above all, I hope to gain some clarity in the career I want to have post-graduation. My hope is to connect with alumni in the city throughout the summer, as they can share their own personal experiences and insights with me. And of course, I plan to learn as much as I can from my internship, to see if working in the aviation industry is something I want to pursue long-term.

I plan to document my experience this summer through both blogging and filming. Feel free to follow my blog with email updates or reach out if you have any questions!

Discovering My Passion for Writing

Circa 2003

I believe that passions are fluid, meaning that they can come in and out at any point in your life. Some passions seem to come naturally, while others need to be consistently practiced.

One of my biggest passions is writing. Growing up with a single mom who would work after school and on weekends, I would have to constantly find ways to entertain myself. As a young child, this meant checking out 30+ books at a time at the library and making outfits for my stuffed animals out of old socks. I would have the craziest imagination as a kid.

In 2006, my family purchased one of those bulky desktop computers and put it in the corner of our living room. The monitor would take forever to turn on and load, and the Internet was outrageously slow. It kind of sat there, collecting dust, as we only used it to print out directions off Mapquest or send a quick email.

That summer however, I discovered Microsoft Word. Unlike other kids who were playing random computer games to waste time, I became obsessed with Word. I was just eight years old, when I started to type all of my stories on the desktop computer and have them saved to the hard drive.

I remember writing my first “novel” when I was nine years old, printing 30 pages of a single-spaced story. I unfortunately do not have a copy anymore, but it was a fiction piece about a girl and her sister getting stranded from their family after a hurricane.

And with the hours on end I would spend sitting at that desktop computer on Friday nights, I became an insanely fast typer, typing at about 130 words per minute.

I believe that passions are strengthened with positive reinforcement, and it is especially crucial when you are young. Although my mom immigrated to the United States in her mid-twenties and has trouble with her English sometimes, she encouraged me to keep writing. By the end of the third grade, I received the “Most Likely to be an Author” superlative. By the end of the fifth grade, I won $100 from an essay contest–which back then, that was a ton of money for a 10 year old. And when I got to high school, I never dreaded writing essays or making projects for my classes. Still to this day, I would prefer to write a 20-page paper for my class than take a final exam.

And now in college, I am an advertising major in the School of Media and Journalism. My assignments require creativity and writing skills, and I couldn’t be more grateful for a major that aligns perfectly with my passion. I am constantly encouraged by my brilliant faculty members to work harder, think deeply, and dream big.

Writing has also become something that is therapeutic for me. I often struggle to put my thoughts into spoken words. Meanwhile, if I start to drag my pen across a piece of paper in my journal, my thoughts flow continuously in written word. Therefore, it has become a medium where I can express myself when my spoken words fail me.

I am so glad my passion is something that I can turn into a career. I plan to go into copywriting, an important and growing part of the advertising industry. Another big dream of mine is to write an autobiography of my life, which I hope to get started on sometime soon.

What It’s Like to Speak Multiple Languages

This photo was taken on my recent winter break trip to South Korea.

“Welcome to the first day of class. I want everyone to go around the room and say their name, hometown, major, and a fun fact.”

As much as I dislike these kinds of icebreakers, I have perfected my introduction that I use in every class. My fun fact is that I am trilingual in an interesting combo of languages: English, Korean, and French. When this time of the year comes around, I can always rely on this trusty fun fact.

English is my first language, of course, as I was born and raised in the United States. My second language is Korean, which is the language of my parents, who immigrated from South Korea in the early nineties. And although I never formally learned it when I was young, Korean was the language I spoke at home growing up. And finally, French was the language of choice throughout my entire K-12 education. I also studied abroad in Paris, France after my first year in college and am now pursuing a French minor.

While I use English in my day-to-day life, Korean and French are two languages that I don’t get to use as much. I speak Korean less frequently than when I lived with my mom, and I only practice my French now in classroom settings a few times per week. The only other times I’ll hear these languages is when it’s sprinkled into conversations I overhear in random public settings.

For example, I was sitting at a Starbucks in Durham by myself last week to get a fresh breath of air and escape campus for a few hours. It was a beautiful day, so I worked on assignments at an outdoor table. All the other tables were full of people, young and old, also enjoying the sun. Next to me, I started to hear the chatter of two elderly Korean women, gossiping about some other women in the neighborhood. They looked over at me a couple times, probably because they could gather that I could understand what they were saying, but they continued their conversation anyway.

I wasn’t intentionally listening to them and I obviously couldn’t stop my ears from doing what they were naturally wired to do, but these moments always make me laugh to myself because I remember doing the same thing with my mom. Those who speak multiple languages know that this is a huge relief to be able to switch to a different language when having to gossip or making a decision with your own discretion. It has come in handy in crucial situations, such as when my mom and I had to make sure the car salesman wasn’t ripping us off when I was buying my first car. However, it can also make others feel like they’re being left out of the conversation–it’s like when you go to the nail salon and everyone there isn’t speaking English to each other.

About a month ago, I was sitting shotgun in an Uber with some of my friends. I am the type of person to be conversational with my Uber drivers, and so I found out that our Uber driver had immigrated from Morocco, which meant that he could probably speak French. Soon enough, we were having an entire conversation in French–we talked about moving to North Carolina, how I studied abroad in Paris, and what it was like to live in Morocco. Not only was I able to confuse my friends, I also made my Uber driver feel happy to speak French, a language he knows far better than English. Language can be a unique force to connect two strangers together beyond the surface level.

Although I live in North Carolina and I don’t normally expect to practice these languages on a daily basis, it always makes my day when I get the chance to hear or speak it with others. It inspires me to learn more languages and to travel to countries where these languages are pervasive.

The Seine River in Paris during the summertime

My Summer 2019 Plans

My last summer as an undergraduate is just about a month away, and I am excited to take advantage of this free time to further my personal and career goals. In this blog post, I will be detailing my summer plans, as I want to keep myself accountable for everything I want to accomplish over the course of three months. My hope is that by the end of August I will be able to reflect on my achievements before entering my final year at Carolina.


I am thrilled to announce that I will be a copywriting intern for JetBlue Airways this summer! I will be moving to Manhattan for 10 weeks, working full-time and living on my own for the first time in my life. If you already know me or have been following my blog closely throughout the semester, you would know that one of my greatest passions is travel. What better opportunity is there for me to combine my interests together than working for an airline?

I began the interview process for this position back in November, and it wasn’t until the end of January when I got an official offer. During the span of a couple months, I had the chance to learn more about JetBlue’s brand and the company culture. I immediately accepted the offer because I wanted to be a part of a company that prioritizes fun and passion. JetBlue’s mission, “Inspiration starts here,” proves that this is an innovative and inspiring workplace. JetBlue is constantly coming up with initiatives to foster creative solutions and give back to the community.

I will be living in an NYU-affiliated apartment called Alumni Hall. Located in East Village, this is exactly where I want to be, as I will be able to meet other twentysomethings working in the city. East Village also has amazing restaurants, nightlife, and events going on in the summertime. It’s been my lifelong dream to live like a New York local, learning about the best coffee shops and hidden gems throughout the city. I know that a ton of friends and family are planning on visiting me at some point in the summer, so I want to be well-equipped to show them around.

Another goal of mine while I’m in New York is to network with as many professionals as possible. There are thousands of Carolina alum who work in the city, so I hope to connect with these individuals to gain new insights about the advertising industry.

And by working for an airline, I will be able to redeem free travel benefits. While I want to see New York as much as possible, I hope to fly to cities I’ve never been to and explore other parts of the country on weekends.

I know that this summer will fly by, and I want to cherish every single experience. Above all, I want to learn more about myself, gain a greater sense of clarity for my postgraduate plans, and savor the last bits of fun and freedom as a college student.

Central Park, Summer 2018.

Small Wins: Sunny and 65 in February

In this series of my blog, I’m going to be discussing my small wins and what that means to me.

It’s all part of my bigger resolution for 2019 to have a better understanding of myself and be more mindful of my surroundings. As a busy college student, it’s so easy to get lost in the mundanities of my day-to-day routine. But within the nooks and the crannies of each task I have to cross off of my to-do list is a bunch of small wins that I don’t give better recognition. To me, the most unconventional occurrences in life are the best small wins of them all.

Today’s small win was not just the abnormally beautiful weather outside for a February. It was also the chance that I got to hang out with two of my closest friends, Emily Smith and Harrison Pierce.

I met Emily on my summer study abroad trip to Paris almost two years ago. We explored the ins and outs of the city together for six weeks–her adventurous spirit was akin to mine. I had always heard that the people you meet on study abroad would be some of your closest friends in college, but I didn’t realize that Emily would become a lifetime friend.

I met Harrison through Emily and other mutual friends, but we became especially close this past summer. We instantly clicked as our personalities and mindsets were extremely similar. I consider Harrison to be one of the kindest and thoughtful friends that I have.

But when we’re together as a trio, we always have the most fun. Out of the blue, Emily texted me today asking if Harrison and I wanted to model for pictures she wanted to take for her blog post. It felt so good to just be able to walk outside and enjoy the breeze with two of my closest friends for hours until the sun set.

The “J” in Stella J. Shon

The launch of my new website, http://www.stellajshon.com

It’s hard for me to believe that I am more than halfway done with college. Long gone are the days when I was unsure of what my major should be, or when I was worrying about which organizations on campus to join. As a second-semester junior at Carolina, I have a much clearer idea of what will come post-graduation. Now, I am thinking about my long-term professional and career goals.

If I were asked to describe my college experience in one word, it would be the word “growth.” Carolina has allowed me to thrive as an individual and has helped me figure out my interests and passions that define who I am.

Growth /ɡrōTH/-

the process of developing or maturing physically, mentally, or spiritually.

Some of the happiest moments of my life were during college. Experiencing my school winning the NCAA College Basketball National Championship reminded me how lucky I am to attend UNC. Studying abroad in Paris made me realize how much I desire to continue to adventure and see the world. And simply spending endless time with friends who care about you and your wellbeing are some of the most valuable moments I will always cherish.

Growth, of course, is never linear. Some of the most painful moments of my life were also during college. Overcoming self-esteem issues, rejection, heartbreaks, family problems… No matter how hard some of these moments were, I learned something new about myself and came out of each experience as a stronger person.

Growth (August 2016-now)

Right now, I am taking a course called “MEJO 577: The Branding of Me.” I can take agency over how I want to be portrayed using new mediums, combining my personal and professional life together. Each week, we have to create two new posts, but we have the freedom to take any direction we want to.

In addition to introducing myself and my background briefly in this first post, I wanted to discuss the initial steps I have taken to brand myself and why my middle initial is so crucial to my identity.

I was born in Los Angeles, California in 1998, where my parents had immigrated to from South Korea in 1993. We moved to the East Coast when I was about four years old. While I do not remember much about living in California, I remember it was a truly diverse place where thousands of families—mostly non-White—lived and tried to make sense of the American dream.

I moved to Chapel Hill, North Carolina when I was five years old. And yes, I grew up in the same place I now attend college. A medium-sized town of about 60,000 people, Chapel Hill is a blend of college students and families.

Growing up, when my identity was very malleable, I quickly lost touch of my Korean heritage. Only a few other kids in my grade were Korean, unlike in LA, where almost all of my friends were also Korean.

I became embarrassed of being different. I never wanted my mom to volunteer in my classroom or on school trips because of her broken English. I asked my mom to pack Lunchables or let me buy cafeteria food for lunch instead of eating the delicious, authentic Korean meals that other kids thought were “smelly” and “weird.”

I would go back in a heartbeat and tell my mom to keep packing me kimbap (Korean rolls) and kimchi.

In middle school and high school, my self-confidence continued to plummet. When others asked me what my middle name was, I never wanted to tell them. I thought that Ji Sun was too foreign of a name that nobody would learn to pronounce or needed to know. After all, I tried so hard to fit into my peers.

It wasn’t until I got to college when I truly started to explore my heritage. At UNC, I met my roommate and best friend Jaein, who is also Korean. We immediately shared this bond that was unexplainable to anyone else. Through exchanging stories and similar struggles as well as seeing her so confidently being Korean, I started to embrace that in myself.

During my first semester at UNC, I took a course called “SOCI 130: Family and Society” that explored the ever-changing structures of American families. I learned that the 1950s “ideal” model of a family—happily married, two kids, and a dog—was no longer the majority. My classmates and I shared our personal anecdotes of our families. Some made me laugh, some made me cry. Above all, this class taught me how important diversity at Carolina is to the makeup of our student body.

Now, when people ask me what my middle name is, I am not afraid to tell them. I believe that the “J” is crucial to my brand, because it is a representation of my Korean-American heritage.