New Year resolutions set at the end of 2016
1. Learn at least 3 more full songs on the piano (the first being 以后别做朋友).
2. Advance far in Korean to attend the advanced language classes by the Korean Society next year, and to understand most drama dialogue by the end of the year.
*3. Obtain my driving license.
1. My piano unfortunately became a dust collector, or maybe a resting area for my clothes when they are still wet. Let’s just say having a teacher and having piano lessons are extremely important for undisciplined people like me when it comes to music.
2. I have not gone that far in Korean yet, but I am currently registered under Upper Intermediate Class 2 for next term – this is unfortunately a bullshit label, I can barely speak a proper sentence. I still cannot attend the Advanced classes because they engage in debates about politics when I can barely mouth out a grammatically correct sentence, but through this process I have realised that it is difficult to track the progress of language learning. I am definitely way more comfortable with listening to simple Korean dialogue though, and am also able to write sentences with relatively intermediate grammatical structures. I improved the most when I decided to sign myself up for Korean classes after summer, as it forced me to listen to my teacher speakƒjune quickly especially as she gave all her instructions in Korean. I also continued attending lessons by the Korean society, and at a point it seemed like I was putting in more effort in Korean than my academic pursuits (not true ok…)
3. Driving is a nightmare!!! I registered for my license in early 2017, and started lessons proper in mid-February. I drove until mid-April when I stopped to study for my examinations, and continued once again at the end of October until mid-December. Now that I have written it out, it doesn’t seem as if I went for many driving lessons afterall… but I disliked every single lesson and I really have Monday blues for this reason. I am sad to admit that I do not have an innate talent for driving or a born affinity with a manual car. I get afraid when I see a car slowing down in front, because I am afraid of stalling when shifting gears downwards. After so long, my clutch control is still pretty atrocious. I get afraid when I see a whole line of cars parked on the left because my left spatial awareness is really bad, and on many occasions my instructor has adjusted my steering wheel when I am on the drive because I am getting too near parked cars or too near the kerb. I am still a nervous idiot when approaching roundabouts. How will I ever get my license at this rate?! I don’t ever see my family members nervous when they drive, so why the heck am I so nervous… I should however, get my license by summer because my instructor told me to go ahead in booking my test, which I have not done because I do not think I ever will be ready. I hope they, as instructors, know best, and I hope her intuitions are accurate.
I paid for and attended the New Year Eve’s countdown north of the river with Weixuan and my batchboys. It was fun, and was not a nightmare getting home as I expected. I went on the UCLSS Ski Trip for the first time, and probably the last time in my life. I am sad to admit that I did not enjoy skiing as much as I thought I would, probably because I spent half the time being worried about getting injured. The muscle aches and blisters on my foot also served as a huge deterrence to enjoying the overall experience, and I was also for the most part of it down with a cold. My body clearly objected to the experience on these many grounds, and it also meant that I was unable to complete my GEOG2002 coursework leading me to achieve 55 marks on that. I guess we cannot regret these experiences though, because it was something I really wanted to go for at that point in time given that many seniors have already gone before me, and any older I would probably collapse on the slopes with injuries all over my body.
I spent the rest of January meeting up with people in the crazily cold temperatures, and attending Korean lessons in my thickest black coat when London hit temperatures of 0 degrees. I will remember these nights. I also remember attending HCI’s Chinese New Year carnival.
Academically, I enjoyed this month because there were no submissions and we were doing interesting things like a fieldtrip to the Men’s Bathing Ponds at Hampstead Heath and practical sessions on ostracods and diatoms. I had a meal at a Gordon Ramsay restaurant (Maze Grill) with Weixuan, Dilys and Xinmei. I had a blast with the Chinese New Year celebrations in London. There was Gold Mine and hotpot at Warwick with the RVUK people, there was another hotpot with the SAF seniors, there was a dinner at Beatriz’s house with Aloysius Beatriz and Youjing, there was another CNY dinner with the 74th people in London, there was a meal with Joey, Rachel and Lavender where I played CNY songs over Joey’s TV and there was the meal at Wern’s place where we had great hotpot. Near the end of the month there was also the gathering with the Intermediate class teachers and students that I enjoyed very much. HT secretly left Valentines’ Day presents for me through Chee Zheng through Weixuan, which was pretty interesting. Dilys, Weixuan and I spent Valentines’ Day at Chiswick Gardens looking at the Chinese New Year lanterns, which was quite a journey from our place after eating Shackfuyu (coincidentally after a disastrous driving lesson). I visited Xinci at Durham and watched Fifty Shades Darker, they did not even check my ID!
I also watched This Week, My Wife Is Having An Affair in this month and it remains one of the most thought-provoking dramas I have watched.
I watched The Kite Runner with Weixuan in the early part of the month, and sneaked to Dilys’ school for a free lunch at LSE. I attended the Korean BBQ outing organised by the UCL Korean Society, which was rather awkward because the intermediate class students were little represented. I remember rushing to finish quite a number of courseworks in this month- for Reconstructing Past Environments, Statistics and the dissertation proposal, assignments that I honestly enjoyed very much. The parcel that I forced HT to send from Singapore arrived, and I was happily living off Bee Cheng Hiang and some chocolates from Singapore. I started running in preparation for IPPT again, and had a lot more good meals with people (Honest Burgers, Patty and Bun, Herman Ze German). I met up with my batchboys, including Kenn Hong and Timothy Kok when they happened to come to London. I got rid of my hair because I dropped too much of it, unfortunately it was cut a bit too short and it tickled my neck. I watched The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time with Dilys and Weixuan. Gordon came to London in this month and put up at my place for a few days.
In this month, I went to Italy with my siblings! I nearly did not wake up on the train to Gatwick Airport, and cannot express how thankful I am when I got out of the train immediately upon waking up and realising that the doors closed immediately to head to the next station. The trip was something that I had anticipated for a very long time, as I had not seen my siblings in a very long time. We went to Milan, Rome, Florence, Venice and Verona together, and created some very funny and beautiful memories there. We bought microwave-able food to share at the Airbnb, and got lost in Venice trying to navigate up and down the stairs with huge luggages. I enjoyed all our jokes and laughter. Surprisingly I was not that sad when I had to leave my siblings at the end of a week, as I knew I was due to see them in a matter of 1.5 months.
I went to Amsterdam with Weixuan and Dilys to meet Jiayan and Kaiyun! I actually find this trip very memorable because it was very well-planned by people who knew the place most (not me oops), I enjoyed Jacketz, the pork ribs at Satellite Sports Cafe, I enjoyed the pancakes, the tulips, and learning a lot more about the red light district scene after watching the peep show. I remember feeling very strongly about these prostitutes, yet sadly realising that prostitution may actually be an attractive pathway for people who value a lavish lifestyle more importantly than their body.
Flipping through my organiser, it seems as if I worked very hard in the rest of this month in preparation for the examinations. I see quotes like “23 days to first paper!!!” and “*3 essay outlines a day!” plastered through the whole organiser page. I honestly do not remember working that hard because I was struggling to stay productive at home with the Forest app. I also thankfully managed to get IPPT Gold in this month, much to my surprise because I have been a potato year-round.
The start and end of examinations. More significantly I remember that I was frightened from my sub-par academic performance throughout the year and in most coursework submissions. It led me to develop a sense of anxiety for my papers because I was overly concerned that I would do badly: for the GEOG2020 Hydrology paper, I realised I forgot to bring my Casio watch when I left the house, something that was extremely significant to me in every examination as I would look at the timer run to pace my essay writing. I ran home to get it, and while making my way back to the examination venue my heart would not stop pounding. I wish I could say I am exaggerating, but I remember how scared I was about doing badly like the previous paper (GEOG2007). I thought about how I might not be able to pick out a single question that I could attempt with my learnt knowledge once again. I was trembling in the 5 minutes before the start of the paper when the venue remains silent while everyone waits for the clock to strike 2pm, and I hated that exam anxiety so so so much. Thankfully that paper went better than I expected.
I ended my last paper on a good note at Camden Town, and went to have lunch at Sushi Waka with Darren and Weixuan. We then went to Lanka for some green tea cake. I felt GREAT!!! The sense of liberation was exceptionally great this year. I also watched Weightlifting Fairy, which was a nice drama. I went to watch Wicked with Dilys, and went to Seven Sisters with Weixuan and Dilys. It was also the month I went home, and I saw HT after a long 6 months of being lovesick. He looked shorter than before, and his voice was more high-pitched than I remembered previously. I also attended Edina’s birthday party, the first 21st birthday party for me in the year after having missed many in the first half of the year.
I attended my second 21st birthday party – Kenn Hong’s party! I also went out with HT a lot in this month and of course spent a lot of money – bowling, KTV, suppers, ice-skating, and a lot more. I was busy relishing in the joy of returning home and unfortunately did not do much academically nor militarily, much to my bitter regret when I started school again this academic year. I also unfortunately started VA on RSS Freedom in this month, and it was really a scary experience to be posted to ship all alone by myself this time compared to the last. By then, I had no batchboys left on the wharf to guide me, and I no longer had a familiar ship crew to call my own. I was all by myself, and it was admittedly difficult in my first few days. I am thankful that I met some very kind people who taught me the ropes and familiarised me into the ship environment quite smoothly, and these are faces and names that I will definitely remember for life. It got more difficult after an unfortunate incident, and if I were to choose again I would rather not relive those days as it was extremely to drag myself to work with an extremely low morale.
Our anniversary dinner was good, but I could not enjoy it properly because I did not feel well. They even gave us a cheesecake on the house. I ended up waking up at 4am and vomiting into the toilet bowl. I fell very sick in this month with stomach flu, with 2 visits to the polyclinic and A&E on Saturday when no clinics were open. I honestly never felt this terrible before. I remember taking a cab to base to hand over the laptops and slides for sailing, and holding a plastic bag all the way because I got so queasy. I vomited everything that went in and had almost no appetite throughout the course of a week. I had a craving for frog porridge one day and made HT drive down to fetch me for it, and I sadly only ate one scoop of the porridge because I wanted to throw up with every bite.
I recovered in the same month, and also attended Dilys’s birthday party. It was a difficult month and lots of tears shed, which I would like to forget very much. In my journey ahead, I vow never to become like the senior officers that have shown little support, only hurling disparaging comments to young training officers. I know exactly what I found unpleasant and demoralising, and this post will immortalise my words to shape my actions in the future.
My mental health faced the most challenges in this month. I celebrated HT’s birthday with him and he was off for his 6 weeks sailing a few days later. It meant that in the many days when I felt beaten and worn out in this month, comfort was not at arm’s length. My mood was greatly affected evident in the many arguments with my family members and my morale was at an all-time low, because I saw no purpose for so many things I was doing.
I constantly faced challenges in getting COC opportunities, and the fact that no senior officers on my ship (lol) wanted to help me crushed me again and again. I remember HT calling me in the midst of his sailing after a few uncontactable days telling me that he had already gotten his COC on his new platform, but he withheld this information from me for a while because he did not want me to be sad upon knowledge of it (“I am not sure if I should tell you this”). I walked to the quarterdeck after ending the call and bawled my eyes out uncontrollably. This was of such significance for me that it was starting to affect the people around me, and I had no idea what to do because so many circumstances were beyond my control. I was even jealous of HT, an officer way more senior than me, because his fellow officers cared enough to even pick out his mistakes and teach him how to improve. I hated starting a new day because it meant I was running out of time. I hated losing out to unfairness when other luckier officers had their seniors fighting for them because they prioritised their growth on ship. I hated feeling like I had to beg people. Perhaps what was most difficult was the fact that I was supposed to be a happy and cheerful person, and I tried to keep this persona even in my interactions with people. Maybe I was, for most parts of the day, when I might be laughing in stupid conversations. But I would walk alone to the female changing room at night on duty days and cry for such a long time because that was the only thing I honestly could do to make myself feel better, to the point that other YOs would start messaging and calling me to ask me whether anything happened to me after realising that I disappeared for quite a while. No lah siao, don’t curse me hor! Nothing happened. I was just slacking in the changing room. I will do the rounds with you later, I would say. I would then quickly return back to ship after making sure that my eyes no longer appeared swollen.
I extended my VA once again. I thankfully gained some opportunities from other ships when I stayed later and, really, begged their appointment holders for it – but I faced even more obstacles when I tried going through the initial stages of assessments with other ships because of different ship cultures and therefore differing expectations as to what “you should be”. Thinking back, I wanted it so much I was so thick-skinned and asked to chip in for every fire drill opportunity and COC assessment. It paid off in the end, but only with help and assistance from the people I was once acquainted with in other ships, and of course I realise that I have to be very very very grateful for the trust entrusted in me and help out of their own goodwill. I ended VA on the last day of this month. I remember enjoying a lunch with my ship crew, and for the first time I actually remember feeling happy to be around the crew. I am thankful I left on a good rather than bad note for the fact that I got my COC, and I actually voiced this statement to my CO who told me that this required a lot of trust on their part. I am once again thankful, and I will not take this for granted in the depths of my heart.
My hair went back to brown to signify being a full-time civilian! I met up with a lot more people in this month and started chasing dragonflies in Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park, thankfully with HT who spent a lot more time with me after returning from sailing. I swam a lot this month at Temasek Club, because I realised the blessing of a 50m empty pool on weekdays. I also panicked and started preparing for Master’s applications (and am still panicking now), in the midst of my dragonfly data collection. I also drank LiHo too excessively in this month, as evident in my photo albums. I attended Szemin’s 21st birthday party too, much to my delight because I pushed returning back to London one week later.
Back in London. Started Korean lessons, that I very much enjoyed even though there was quite a bit of homework each week. Ate a lot within the span of a week – Breakfast Club, Eat Tokyo, Franco Manca, Burger and Lobster, KBBQ at New Malden, ASSA, all in my first week back. Bank bled a lot but I was very happy to be spending time with people I love, possibly in my last year in this city. I took a lot more photos on the move this month because I would walk past places and think to myself “this might be my last few times walking on this road”, and therefore my phone memory has lots of random photos of UCL, Oxford Street and the Trafalgar Square area. I went to Richmond Park with Dilys and Weixuan to go deer-spotting, and got some very nice photos from the day because it reached a high of 18 degrees if I remember correctly. Had more food – Lobster noodles, £5 ramen, more ASSA, Big Easy, Roti King, some dim sum place in chinatown, more Seoul Bakery, Banana Tree, in-store Franco Manca, Gold Mine, Muffin Man, Honest Burgers, …. ok wtf now I know where all my money went. I also watched Phantom of the Opera for the 3rd time and enjoyed it all the same! Love love love the dramatic effects and music, listening to the soundtrack never gets tiring.
Worked a lot harder academically this month because of the need for weekly blog posts. I actually recall most of my days being spent in the library after school, and drinking a lot more coffee in this month because I have started to grow dependent on it. I had a lot more driving lessons, a lot more paid Korean lessons, and a lot more informal lessons by the UCL Korean Society. Caved in to temptation and bought my second branded purchase – a card holder (surprise surprise, before this they were all gifts or hand-me-downs HAHAHA). My favourite dim sum place in London has got to be Yauatcha at Soho when I ate it with Dilys before watching The Mousetrap, which was an interesting mystery play! Never thought that these concepts could be turned into plays.
Reading week was spent in Toulouse and Carcasonne with Tzching and Weixuan, at which one postcard to my family never did arrive. 😦 The experience in France changed my impression of French people very much from my initial impressions in Paris though, in a good way. They were such welcoming people, and it was honestly strange to travel around feeling so safe in a European city for the first time. For that, it was an enjoyable experience.
I found out something about my ship early in this month, and it shocked me how heartless I was when I showed no sympathy or pity to a senior I was once acquainted with. I think that I am a person who is usually empathetic, but this incident showed me how cruel my heart can be and it scared me mildly. Mostly continued doing work in this month, and worked quite hard for my dissertation this month by going to the library really really frequently. I also went to a KPop Club for the first time and I loved it!!!!!! Now I know why I hate clubs so much – the music sucks (to me) because I never get a thing. KPop club was amazing because I was finally bopping to some music I knew for the first time in my life. I also went to Winter Wonderland, and if everything works out well this may be the last visit in my life 😦 I also had some pre-Christmas meet ups with Darren and the Secret Santa was fun and really memorable – Darren is really an extremely good host and I will remember this. I remember being very thankful to Anson and Jan in this month because of all the help they provided with my Master’s application, and I will not take these for granted.
Mid-December hit pretty quickly, and I went off to Morocco. Missed a flight, had another large expense, but all was okay as we returned safe and sound. I did not end up missing my flight to Singapore. I will always remember the long flight back from London to Singapore because it was incredibly expensive, with one transit in Dubai and one stopover in Colombo which worked out to be the cheapest combination of flights. I was also fortunately seated in the first row of economy (exit seats), where I actually talked to the people in my row – an Emirates cabin crew member who was going home for the holidays, and an expatriate who happened to work in Dubai with 5 years in Singapore previously. I must say it was the more memorable and enjoyable leg. Because I was situated on the exit seats, I also happened to strike conversations with the air stewardess when it came to landing and take-off on the 2 occasions (initial take off + stopover landing + stopover take off + final landing), and got to know her a lot more as well as Emirates’s cabin crew policy. I really enjoyed the flight, which was something I would never have expected because I hate flights so much (no food because I cannot stand the smell of the plane + extremely restless + travel insomnia).
I enjoyed my time a lot at home! We finally managed to continue playing Secret Santa which we have never done after I went off to London. I celebrated my 21st birthday much to my delight, and scooted off (lol) to Japan, namely Tokyo and Hokkaido with HT. I enjoyed the trip even though the flight tickets were extremely expensive.
Overall, it has been a very, very, very good year in spite of all the academic challenges and roadblocks during VA. I have felt more loved than ever, more accomplished than ever having obtained my COC and a better academic performance, and luckier than ever for having all the spending power for holidays and great meals with people I love. I faced difficult months in summer but these were eventually overcome when I worked harder than ever, and I guess these moments were also comparable to the difficult times I experienced in MIDS 2 years ago. My family and friends were mostly healthy, and my sister has also fully recovered from her kidney infection that kept her grounded at home for a few weeks. I am thankful to everyone who has been in my life through the course of this year, and in the near future I will always remember that my 21st year was one that was extremely good to me.
I will stop being greedy about my New Year resolutions because they never come true, so here are some simple ones –
1. Obtain my driving license in London this year. I better do, if not it is just a proven fact that I am a disaster on roads and should not be causing danger to other people’s lives.
2. Get first-class honours! Ok this isn’t that simple to me actually 😦
3. Continue learning Korean.
I am honestly sad about my impending graduation because it means that this enjoyable higher education journey might come to an end soon. Studying hard for examinations is probably all I have ever known since I was 7, and I am not quite ready to leave this comfort zone. Nonetheless I guess it comes at us eventually, and with that I welcome 2018 with open arms.