University Journey #4

I never really talked about how much I wanted to enter a local University, and by local I meant NUS, NTU or SMU. This post will not be a follow up from the previous UJ post, but will instead, be something I will look back upon and think, thank goodness I wrote down how I felt.

The context is, in such a small city-state like Singapore, it is imperative that one gets a university degree from a local university, which are already mentioned above. It is so conceited of Singaporeans, I’m aware, but it’s the reality here. Private institutions like SIM and Kaplan just aren’t as recognised as the three universities, now six when we include SUSS, SIT and SUTD because they have also become autonomous universities. Okay, calm down for a moment if you are from a Private Education Institution (PEI) and you think I’m saying this to belittle you, because no, I’m not doing that. A year ago, before I matriculated here in NTU, I enrolled in a PEI (SIM-UB) and I still think that’s a decision I will never, ever regret. I did that so that I could have a university to study in like everybody else but what I got out of it was beyond amazing – great friends, a quality education and most of all, any negative notion that I had about PEIs were thoroughly and sincerely obliterated. But this is not what this post is about; I’m writing about my feelings when I received my results. Here goes.

This particular post was written the day I received my results, 4th March. Then I wrote this, and this. As you can see, I was trying to avoid feeling anything. In all honesty I expected myself to get into SMU, my dream school. When I received their rejection email (it was the last rejection email I received), I archived it and tried to pretend that it didn’t happen and I could wait for something that I wanted to see in my inbox. For three whole days, I went out with my friends, ate, talked and laughed like nothing was fazing me and avoided checking my email so I could deny whatever was happening: I had no university offers. 

When I settled down to face reality, I did not know what to do. I was at a complete loss. You would not believe the number of times I went to the different universities’ websites to check if I could apply again. I was living in total denial until I realised that it was already June and I had to do something before I had to take a gap year (which I considered, but realised that with expectations and my discipline, must not happen). This feeling is definitely horrible and I told myself countless times that I would not want to feel this way ever again in my life, albeit knowing deep down that someday I might crash harder than this.

I tried not to feel anything. Fear, sadness, anger, I did not want to feel anything at all. After speaking to a friend, I plucked up an enormous amount of courage to apply for SIM-UB and got in, thank goodness. I told myself again and again that it’s alright, it will be alright, and everything will be just fine. But I was fooling no one. At this point, I had to face everyone’s gaze on my reaction to finding out that I was to enter a PEI.

The higher the expectation, the bigger the disappointment.

What a quote to describe me and what I was at that point in time. My ego was crushed beyond belief and I tried to drown myself in dramas and series that I could watch; it was the only way for me to deal with my emotions.

As I told my friends and relatives that I was heading to SIM, I resented myself for not feeling pride in me when I spoke to them. I resented the fact that I was heading there instead of SMU, or NTU. Nothing seemed like it could diminish this feeling so I tried to work and shop alone more so I needed to see less of people I knew who would ask about school-related stuff. Again, using avoidance to deal with problems.

The gist of this post, basically what I wanted to say was, if you are reading this because you are googling “what to do if I have bad results”, “which university courses accept low rank points”, or “do gap years help with university application”, and somehow came across this post on the Internet, don’t be daunted by the very limited options you seem to have. You are probably feeling shitty and maybe you feel like a wreck. You’ve gone through many, many websites, you’re frustrated that they don’t tell you what to do and that makes you mad because you just want a straight up answer, you just want to see one that’s written, to feel acknowledged because you can’t believe you’re the only who feels/have felt this way. But let me tell you this, you will eventually be alright. The only way to handle this situation is calmly. You can tide through anything as long as you believe in yourself. Look at me, I survived this. It took me more than a year to do so, but I’m here now and I’m more contented. Like I said, I would never regret enrolling in SIM, I was so much happier there in comparison to being here in NTU. It’s so difficult to put into words but until now, I have no regrets in choosing NTU over SIM (find out how here).

Ultimately, truths can be so wounding, even more so when trying to handle them with care. I wanted to write this so that I will always remember how painful it was when I received my results, and when I faced rejection after rejection. It was tough but I got through it, chin up. As time passed from the time I received my results, my heart became numb. And writing these UJ posts unfroze my apathetic heart. The next UJ post will take awhile. I don’t think I’m ready to share and neither can I. But nevertheless, let’s face it, regardless of what happens, writing will always be my solace.

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Avoidance

I like to be excited over things that are worth anticipating. Just very recently I bought a pair of glasses from Visual Mass while they were on a 1 for 1 discount, and was informed that these glasses will only arrive in late December. THESE are the kinds of small joy that I genuinely look forward to receiving in my life. It’s like a preordered little present to myself for Christmas! I’m completely loving this feeling at the moment.

BUT, what I tend to avoid talking about (unless you’re a really close friend), is the reason that I’m so adamant to get a new pair of glasses even though my current pair of glasses are completely fine.

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Here’s why I don’t like sharing: Avoidance

I have always known that my way of dealing with problems, or just things that I generally dislike… is to avoid it. It isn’t the best way to “confront” my problems (yes, I know how oxymoronic this sounds), but I recalled this incident that happened when I was in preschool, and that was what prompted this post.

It was a normal day where we would board the school bus and my neighbours and I would be scurried off to school. Such a normal day would entail me crying all the way to where we were supposed to board the bus, and screaming my head off when it came to boarding the bus; I disliked going to school, even though I enjoyed learning very much. Long story short, I forgot why I was getting scolded, but on the way home one day, I was reprimanded by the “bus aunty”, as we would call her. I was sitting on the inside of the two seats on the bus, the window seat, and my then-best friend sat beside me, near to the aisle of the bus. While I was getting rebuked, I never stopped looking at the hole that was formed in between my then-best friend’s neck, and the bus seat, even when I was told by the bus aunty to look at her while she is teaching me a lesson.

This action of looking at that hole, I realised that it is a form of avoidance, and I have practiced it since I was five years old. How unbelievable does that sound? In school, I have always been known to be the one to confront any problems that I had with other schoolmates, or even teachers. You can ask my secondary school friends, and even though I’m not proud of this episode at all, I once quarrelled with a teacher because he was wrong, and I was right. I won that argument, but the proud feeling that I had only lasted until I graduated. So what kind of problems do I avoid? Personal problems.

The reason that I seem so carefree and unplagued with problems, is because I almost never admit to any personal problems that I have. And in many cases, I don’t think I’m wrong to do so, but recalling the incident in preschool made me aware that this was the way I dealt with problems. I never thought this was a worry, but maybe the way I handle complications and issues could be slightly altered. I don’t know.

Anyway, here’s the story of a boy who faced his adversity (which could be seen as a problem) with an absolute display of dignity. Every single time I see this trailer, I cannot help but feel emotional :”) I cannot wait to watch it be it in cinemas or online.

University journey #3

A year in UB-SIM. If I had to use one word to describe it, it would be delightful. There is no way to describe all the lovely occurrences I’ve had in that school, even though I might not have fully immersed myself in the “uni experience”. Ahhh, time flies, and what was meant as an unplanned stunt actually landed me right in NTU, where I am currently attending. Read on to find out how this happened.

It was the time when my brother received his A-level results. He was deciding which university to go to and was taking his time since he had another two years (due to NS) to choose where he wanted to go. It was during this period of time that I contemplated long and hard as to whether I should apply to a local university as well, just to try, y’know. No harm, right? So… I took the leap of faith. There are of course other personal reasons that compelled me to apply for a local university again, but if you would like to know about that do ask me personally!

It took me awhile to finally decide to reveal to my friends that I am transferring to NTU, and I would therefore not be in the same classes as them anymore. It was a difficult process for me personally because it meant that I had to deal with my own emotional turmoil, and my friends were mostly saddened by this piece of news. I did not expect it to be difficult at all, but my friends were the main reasons that I was so reluctant to leave. I eventually did drop all my modules for the summer semester and applied to be dropped out of school completely. As I did that, I promised myself that in this summer break, I must make as much time as possible for the people who matter most to me.

Indeed, that was what I tried to do – I went exercising weekly with my friend, worked more, found another job, visited my friends in SIM as often as I could and had meals with them. It was a fulfilling summer because I truly spent time on the things that mattered most to me.

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Then August came and I was slightly daunted by the fact that school was going to start. Out of the blue, I received a text asking if I want to be part of NTU’s sports camp. I never signed up, but my friend asked if I wanted to be in and I had to be available for all 4 days and maybe a day before that. I hesitated a little because it was rather last minute and I had to clear a lot of things on my schedule but I went for it in the end. YAY. Thank you friend, for the rec 🙂 Truly an experience I would never forget; I made my first friends in NTU there, and even my first friend from my course was from sports camp, although we didn’t know each other from the camp itself.

It was hella fulfilling, and I seriously wouldn’t have had it any other way. Thank you SU24 for this wonderful wonderful memory that I know I will keep close to my heart 🙂

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EXCITING EXCITING!! After sports camp came the post sports camp activities which was mega mega fun!!! It was during this period that I struggled with time management because I suck at it HAHAHA. Some of my friendships with people I saw a future with were strengthened, thank goodness, and it was also during this period of time that I saw who will take the extra step to initiate a meet up with me even though I was extremely busy with different things.

Thank you so much to friends, whether you’re from NTU or not, who bothered to ask for meet ups, who initiated conversations with me and who took the time to think of me – y’all are the best. I don’t know what I would do without you guys in my life. Thank you a million times, x

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Now, I’m in a happy place. Is this the “uni experience” people speak about? I’m extremely thankful that I got the chance to be part of all these!! This was a very summarised version of what I felt and underwent in NTU so far though. If I had to describe whatever I have went through in NTU in a word, I would say… exhilaratingI have no idea how to express my gratitude to everyone who made it possible for me to have this wonderful experience, but I’m really super super appreciative!!!!!

Things definitely changed, as did my mentality when I applied for SIM vs now, but one thing I know for sure is that there was no compromising of the “uni experience” in SIM for me, it was only because I didn’t pursue the things that encompassed this phrase!! Do not ever, because of this post, think that SIM is boring or has no place for fun whatsoever. In fact, it’s the total opposite 🙂 Y’KNOW, as I’m typing this I’m really missing SIM – the warmth it brought me when I realised I was returning to school every single day to a small group of familiar faces, to people who I know will be my friends even when I don’t have time to get out of Pulau NTU to meet them, the people who make an effort to ensure I’m motivated. Even though I’ve left them, a piece of me will always, always stay in SIM, x

Stay tuned for part 4 of this crazy journey!!

Little stories that occupy my mind in the middle of the night #1

This late night storytelling is about an Indian man who I came across, but never had the chance to properly meet.

Seeing him made me so confused – why would someone, or anyone, walk around the carpark with a cloth at 11pm, and somehow looked like he wasn’t going to walk away? As this thought crossed my mind, my father greeted him with a smile and a wave from inside the car. So obviously I asked him if and how they knew each other, and my father replied, this guy washes cars for people for $30/month! When I heard $30, my brain took a double take and I just had to ask, $30/month only? What does he survive on? My father instantly replied, this is his side job, he has a day job and he washes cars for people in this carpark on weekday nights.My heart stopped beating for a second.

All I could think of was how tired he has to be, and how straining his financial situation must be, for him to be washing cars and selling his body to this manual labour that most people would gladly pay to escape from. Yet, he smiles brightly with warmth at every customer as he recognises the cars that are driven into the carpark every single weekday night.

I wanted to probe more to see if my father has any more answers to the many unanswered questions in my head, but I was starting to choke up from thinking about this man’s plight. Pity is a strong word to use, but I guess I would say I sympathise with him, not in a “he’s poor so I sympathise him” way, but rather in a “I wish I could be as strong as him” way.

Typing this made me emotional, only because I realised for a fact that I am not treasuring what I have. Everyone focuses on the things they wish to have, but forgets to be appreciative of the things that they already have. In order to smile so warmly at every single customer, you must be truly contented with what you have. Here’s to this Indian man who knocked some sense into me – thank you for teaching me so much; even though I have never spoken to you, you are a true inspiration and I hope you will strive on and achieve whatever you want!

#traveloguesg: Syonan Gallery

Last Monday, I took two hours out of the first day of my long-awaited summer break for a solo trip to this intriguing place, the Syonan Gallery. A little background on this place: it used to be known as Old Ford Factory before it underwent renovation and became the Former Ford Factory that we know now. It is the place that Sir Percival surrendered to the Japanese Army General, Yamashita, unconditionally on 15 February 1942 during World War II (WWII).

These two hours were very well spent. Even though I had wanted to go for the tour at 3pm, I figured that I would not hear and see as much of the oral recounts as well as exhibitions if I participated in the tour so… the choice was clear 🙂

As I toured this extremely quiet place, I felt the slight atmosphere changes as the gallery transits from one stage of the war to another. Here are only some of my thoughts as I wandered from exhibition to exhibition.

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This haunting past that Singapore has cannot feel more distant to me, a mere millennial who did not go through the pains and sufferings of my ancestors. Detachment, that’s the word. It feels so unreal that this war ever happened because I will probably never experience any of this.

When I was in Secondary School, my Social Studies teacher posed a question to the class, something about how we felt about a (at that time) recent terrorist attack that occured overseas. She listed a couple of adjectives such as afraid, worried, detached etc and asked everyone to raise their hands as she read out the adjective that we are feeling. When it came to the word detached, I was the only one in class who raised my hand, and many people looked at me with surprise. I suppose it was because they find it difficult to believe that someone would feel detachment over fear regarding terrorism, but I had an explanation. It was not because I was not scared, I do dread the possibility that terrorism will arrive in Singapore, and I wish that it would never arrive in Singapore. However, given that something like this happened miles away, I can only feel pity and detachment, not the intense fear that everyone else seemed to be feeling.

I presume this is the reason that all these information seem to fascinate me, because the artifacts that are placed in front of my eyes are real and concrete.

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This was the exact room and table that Sir Percival and Army General Yamashita had their negotiations regarding the surrender, and below, shows the transcript of the surrender process.

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Once we were under the control of the Japanese, we were renamed Syonan-to, which translates to Light of the South.

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As I go on to read about what happened during the war, what agonised me the most was the fact that the prisoners-of-war (POWs) are treated so much less than a human. The torture that was inflicted on them was unspeakable of, yet there were oral recounts by the courageous people who managed to survive and tell their story. I listened to a couple of them, and one of which said that he underwent water torture, which was the process where the Japanese kempeitais would insert a water pipe into the POW’s mouth, and turn on the water. The POW will be forced to swallow the water until his stomach bloats to a sizeable extent. Then, the kempei would step on their bloated stomachs such that the water will be forced our of their mouths, noses and even ears. It was horrifying to hear, which resulted in my inability to listen to the rest of the oral recounts, as I could not bear to hear any more.

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The Japanese, in order to resolve overcrowding issues, decided to build primitive farming villages for some Singaporeans. Besides escaping from the kempei’s wrath, these Singaporeans also felt rather lucky and happy that they were able to make a small livelihood.

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News of the surrender spread like wildfire as the atomic bombs hit Nagasaki and Hiroshima. Above, would be a quote from a Singaporean regarding what he had heard about the surrender, and below would be the Japanese news articles announcing the surrender.

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After WWII, many Japanese were captured and put on trial for war crime.

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This gallery posed a gentle reminder to me that people such as Elizabeth Choy, Lim Bo Seng and other unsung Singaporean heroes who eventually died during this devastating war, did not sacrifice so much to be known as heroes today. They wanted to do the right thing and fight for their country’s honour and for that, I was moved despite the detachment I feel. It is so remarkably noble of them!

Singapore has come such a long way to restore and build upon the peace that our ancestors so painfully worked for us to savour. To appreciate it and at least have some knowledge is definitely the least I can do 🙂 It was an enlightening solo trip, and I would definitely do it again (but maybe not so soon) because I missed the chance to tour their little garden, and also did not listen to all of the oral recounts. There is truly so much to be learnt about the history of Singapore, which makes me so glad I took the time to revisit the things I’ve learnt in Social Studies back in Secondary School, and to relive the moments I’ve read about in books when I was in Primary School.

Being an Ambivert

I don’t know how many people can relate to this – being an ambivert. For people who are reading this and wondering which spectrum of extrovert or introvert this term belongs to, it actually refers to being a mixture, or a balance of both.

First of all, being an ambivert means you are so awkward when it comes to meeting new people. Take for example, a social event, maybe a party. You are never sure if you are able to successfully strike up a conversation with someone you think you would genuinely like to know. Wait, you can’t even muster up the courage to approach them in the first place. You can’t even imagine what to say if you were to initiate anything. So you wait until someone, hopefully a mutual friend,  introduces you to this person. At this point, you feel lucky and happy to know this mutual friend just because that he/she introduced you to the person you wanted to know.

Then, the awkwardness begins. However, you are not a stranger to small talk at all! You engage in a conversation to know more about this person because well, that is what you had wanted to do in the first place. You are careful about revealing too much, you do want that person to keep on talking, and you are cautious about the things you say but at the same time, you want to blurt out so many things.

Consequently, the both of you start to become closer and closer, gradually but surely. Regardless of gender, you feel thankful to have met him/her at the party because it was the event that brought you together. Despite this appreciation, you are somehow still unable to open your heart up to that person fully, no matter how much he/she divulges. It is a headache, to constantly contemplate whether or not to say something that matters to yourself but more than that, you may be worried that this friend might judge, or lower their opinions of you.

Ego-involvement. That is it, no matter what you do, you are somehow unable to let go of this sense of pride in you.

Do you see? If this is relatable to you in some sense, you do have traits of an ambivert, which I believe most people are. There are some people, howbeit, who balance this ambiverted sense of self better than others.

My inspiration to write about this stems from my inner emotions and thoughts that I don’t usually confide in people. I don’t know if I’m going to regret posting this, but it is something that I thought was interesting enough to share.

Being an ambivert has probably made you realize that this world is made up of really nice people. Simultaneously, it is made up of really nasty people as well. Enclosing yourself in your own comfort zone may not be as bad as people think, neither is being alone. Being adventurous though, is something that you know you want, from the bottom of your heart. People nowadays are all for living in the now and #YOLO, right?

Periodically, you crave attention. You want someone to notice you for something that you are doing. Other times, all you want to do is go home and wrap yourself under the blanket and stop interacting with the world.

You are easily influenced by your peers, just as you are easily influenced by that soft but assertive voice in your head. Sometimes, there is no in-between. At times, you cannot spell out your decisions because you don’t know what your heart desires, even if it is a simple conclusion. To put it simply, you know what you want, but you just cannot put your mind to it and tell yourself that is the best decision you can make. You’re neither decisive nor indecisive, something along these lines.

Somehow, everything to you is a passing phase. Oh, I liked flat water bottles at one point because they seemed practical, now I like big and round ones because they are even more practical. Oh, I liked haversacks at one point because it is convenient, now I like tote bags because they are even more convenient. Oh, I liked pens with covers at one point because they looked classy, now I like retractable pens because they look even classier. It is because of this that you cannot decide what to buy for yourself, knowing that you’ll get tired of it. Even this thought makes you exhausted after awhile.

You never know how to describe yourself when the occasion calls for it. For instance, when someone asks you to list something interesting about yourself, you would think all the way back to kindergarten and eventually, manage to find something to say that may not even impress people who were listening. It’s pretty tragic.

Nevertheless, you are beyond grateful that you are an ambivert because you can empathise with both introverts and extroverts. In spite all that was said, the perks of being an ambivert are truly remarkable, to say the least 🙂

Maybe this is just me. 

I’m all for people following their dreams

Casually meandering into the boutique on my own for the first time, I stood briefly at the entrance with both arms stiff by my side and took in with my eyes all the colors on garments that seemed to reflect every ray of light shone on them. The stale odor of the new clothes filled my nose as the rhythm of the electronic dance music played in the store prompted me to nod my head along with it. I then walked in and proceeded to touch any clothing that caught my attention. Soft, smooth, thin, thick, warm, lightweight… they all felt so voguish.

Should I pick that soft sweatshirt, or this pretty suede skirt? Should I purchase that twenty-dollar vest, or that everyday dress? How do I decide what to choose? I craved to feel the best version of myself in whatever I wore, but at the same time, I wanted things that did not fit into that category. Living in a first world country where comfort has never been an issue got me to question my lifestyle. Had I been living, or just surviving based on societal standards? There are so many things that I want, and I intend to turn the wants into plans.

I plan to feel more than the six types of innate emotions that everyone else in the world experiences. I plan to feel genuine, raw emotions while doing something that I am truly passionate about. I plan to feel the soft wind brush against my skin and the itch for adventure tickle my heart. I plan to experience more than what I have imagined from books since a tender age. I plan to be the person that I aspire to be as I pursue things and subjects that I have always been sincerely intrigued by.