Nintendo’s latest game is dominating the video game market. But it’s also helping players cope with coronavirus-related woes — and signaling possible futures for positive video gaming.

By Ysa C.

The latest addition to Nintendo’s famed “Animal Crossing” video game series allows players to turn a deserted island into their own personal paradise. Illustration by Ysa C.; Image from Nintendo

SANTA BARBARA, CA — Every day after work, 23-year-old programmer Evan Chang commutes to his other home. Peaceful music plays as Chang chops wood, picks fruit and waters his flower garden. He changes his hair color and outfit in a split-second. Talking animals give him presents, and bags of money grow on trees.

All of this happens, of course, in the virtual world of Animal Crossing: New Horizons, the latest release from Japanese gaming giant Nintendo. Created for the Nintendo Switch console, Animal Crossing tasks players with transforming a deserted island into their own personal paradise. There…


This article was written for UCSB Writing 107M, Magazine Writing, in the Winter 2020 quarter.

Raveena’s “Moonstone” EP follows the release of her debut full-length album. (Photo: Raveena)

There is nothing quite like being young and in love. Young love is a rollercoaster of newfound euphoria, and all-consuming anxiety and excitement and dread, and so on and so forth — all of it sparkling and new, like every old rom-com but better, and felt deep in the pit of the stomach. For some of us, looking back on our first forays into romance brings about embarrassment, dismissiveness, even pain.

But for New York-based singer-songwriter Raveena, these intense and tumultuous moments deserve to be…


Originally written for “Washington Media,” a class offered at the University of California Washington Center, during the Fall 2019 quarter.

By Ysa C.

At the gateway to Washington, D.C.’s Chinatown stands the Friendship Archway, a 48-foot-tall gilded gate adorned with golden dragons. Ornate and richly-hued, the archway seems to promise a bustling Chinese community.

But besides the archway and some Chinese-language signage, Chinatown looks like the rest of the city: gray, brown, and glass. Just steps past the grand archway are a McDonald’s and an Urban Outfitters. A little further out, a Hooters.

These chains were once Chinese groceries and…


Photo: Dana Dela Cruz

Originally published in Deadnite Mag, Issue 2, Summer 2018.

A white man, after learning my ethnicity, tells me that his first wife was a Filipina. He tries to say “I love you” in Tagalog but instead of mahal kita — musical and sweet and crisp — he says muh-hawl keeduh. He grins at me, proud, expecting a pat on the back for butchering my mother tongue. I offer a smile and a forcibly impressed, “Wow, that was good.”

“Filipina women are the best,” he continues. “They’re the kindest people I’ve ever met. The best cooks, too.”

“Oh, I don’t know,”…


Since the arrival of the North and South Vietnamese migrants in Germany in the 1970s — Northerners in former East Germany and Southerners in former West Germany — the two communities have been known as one of the country’s most ‘integrated’ minorities. Vietnamese cultural hubs and a persistent North-South divide in the Vietnamese community complicate this popular perception.

By Dana Dela Cruz, Aryana Kamelian, Isabell Liu

BERLIN — Red paper lanterns and blinking neon signs adorn the halls of Berlin’s Dong Xuan Center, a sprawling Vietnamese shopping market in eastern Berlin’s Lichtenberg neighborhood. Small children run past, shouting in a mix of German and Vietnamese. A hairstylist belts along to a Vietnamese ballad.


The Haus der Statistik, an abandoned East German government office, sits in decay in the center of the city. (Photo: Dana Dela Cruz)

By Dana dela Cruz

BERLIN — At the heart of the city, Berlin’s Alexanderplatz hums with life. Commuters emerge en masse from the sprawling subway station. Shoppers stroll through a giant concrete plaza, swinging bags from nearby stores. Tourists stop to snap pictures of the iconic communist-era Television Tower.

One block over, an abandoned building looms ghostlike over Karl-Marx-Allee: the Haus der Statistik, originally an East German government statistics office. Its walls are gray and graffiti’d, its windows smashed in. Here, the bustle of Alexanderplatz grinds to a halt.

Now, Berliners hope to transform the abandoned complex into a hub…


Walking down Gitschiner Strasse in Kreuzberg I noticed a large crowd of people waiting outside. A concert, maybe. But as I spotted towels, floaties, and beach balls, I realized they were waiting to get into a public swimming pool.

And for good reason. A heat wave has struck western Europe, and temperatures in Berlin reached a high of 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit last Wednesday then 104 degrees on Sunday, setting nationwide record for June.

Keeping it Cool

Like the pool-goers I stumbled upon in Kreuzberg, I had to figure out how to cool off in a city that is underprepared for the heat. While…

ysa c.

queering literally everything (they/them)

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