Cute professor :(

Today I had a great seminar for the Global Environmental Change module. It was basically about microplastics, macroplastics, the scale of the problem, how we can assess the scale of the problem, and the best solutions to overcome these problems… that was the general gist of the seminar. The professor, let’s refer to him as NR, made a drawing of beaches, rivers, sewage treatment works… it was quite nicely done which would have meant that he put quite a lot of thought into it – the drawing was effectively a mind map summarising all the possible inputs and outputs of plastic waste. He handed these around for us to scribble on it – our notes and our ideas. At the end of the seminar it seemed that no one intended to keep these drawings anyway, so one girl went around collecting all of them. I thought she was going to pass it back to him for the next seminar, and was thinking to myself how kind she was for preparing the class for the next seminar. No, on the way out, she folded it and… THREW IT AWAY IN FRONT OF HIM.

WTF????????????????????????????????????

How is NR going to feel when he realises that his field drawings/notes simply become garbage? How did he feel at that point in time when he saw her throwing it away? I felt so so so so bad for my professor who led the seminar at that point in time. He was patiently trying to make this whole topic of plastics more engaging and interesting to a bunch of young adults in their 20s who cannot care less about the world, yet this is what happens to his hard work. It becomes waste immediately after the seminar?! I felt so terrible at that point in time, I should have been the one collecting them, and I should at least pass it back to him so that it can be reused as teaching material.

Time to study, had to get this off my chest because I felt so bad. 😦

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Altruism

All of a sudden, I found myself thinking about the days on the Koh Rumdual Island and Kolap 4 in Cambodia yesterday. I remembered feeling out of place in ironed T-shirts and school skirts, and realising how trivial my everyday worries were as a secondary school kid. Not having enough money to eat out, being stressed out having to study for tests after tests, hating the feeling of dragging my ass to go to school in the morning. I told HT about it and asked if he had any similar volunteering experiences, he said he has not. My thoughts about Cambodia ended there.

Coincidentally, I had a lecture today morning on urban poverty and sanitation as part of my module on Water and Development in Africa, and revisited this whole topic of toilets, slums and urban poverty once again. It honestly feels so unbelievable that in one area of the world we live in, women are prostituting themselves to earn money for sanitary pads, women are subjected to sexual abuse when going to public restrooms and women are making slum dwellings their safe space. I got really distracted during the lecture and thought about the personal statement that I wrote for UCAS many years back, that I had wished to help the less privileged in these undesirable living conditions one day. I obviously stopped focusing on the lecture and thought about how I did not bat an eyelid when I booked my air tickets home this Christmas for £1000, how I booked my birthday venue and buffet dinner for another huge amount, thinking to myself that it would be the only birthday celebration I plan for myself in this lifetime. I thought about my spending habits, and how I would cart out expensive items as long as I was keeping my expenses within my monthly budget. I also thought about how I am going to Japan after Christmas, another big ticket expense that I readily splurged on. I thought about how I probably would not have much chances to travel together with HT anymore in the future, since it is difficult for us both to take overseas leave at the same time, and these thoughts seemed to immediately justify my vacation expenses. I suddenly felt extremely guilty for earning a paycheck, that seemed to benefit no one except for myself. What happened to the desire to help the underprivileged that I once spoke about?

I still think well of voluntourism despite the debates ongoing in academia, because the awareness/empathy of an extra person to the living conditions of the underprivileged is never a bad thing. So today, I committed to my thoughts and decided to make a small donation to Harvest Care Centre, the centre which guided me on my first overseas learning trip as a student. I hope that it will go a long way, and I hope to have greater financial capacity to help many more people in the future.

Seminar group

I would like to document this before I forget.

I think most people underestimate the step that we, as Asians, have to take out of our comfort zones to simply enjoy a meal with other people who are not similar to us – and by that, I mean people who aren’t Asians. I am comfortable sharing a meal with Koreans, like my Korean tutors from the UCL Korean Culture Society. I am also more than glad to have meals regularly with Joey, Tz Ching and Darren, because there is just an inexplicable similarity among all of us that smooths the interactions. Maybe it’s the fact that we look similar, maybe it’s because we sound similar given that most of us are acquainted with the Chinese language, maybe it’s the fact that we think similarly because we have common roots. I cannot pinpoint it myself.

Most of my discomfort comes from the knowledge that most people do not understand what I say in the initiation of a conversation, because of the varying intonations and how we drop all our letters in conversation habitually (s, d, t, th, the list goes on). For this very reason, I understand the desire for people to adopt accents, because I truly think that it makes a difference in the depths of conversations you can have with locals if you sound similar to “them”. I do not think that this is any form of reinforcing Western superiority, because they have to do the same in your country, like how they have to understand a bit of Singlish to fully experience and understand the local life in Singapore. I quote Anpu as an example (a friend in my Geography course), who was trying to imitate Singlish with an inevitable mix of his British accent, much to my laughter. I do not think of them as “try hards”, which are labels and criticisms that we readily lay on people who attempt to fake an American or British accent. I think it is all about code-switching in the appropriate circumstances. I do acknowledge that this is an unpopular opinion among people in my social circle, but I say this having outcasted implicitly in an international environment because of my “very strong” accent. I am often concerned that people would not understand my point because they just nod and smile anyway, like what I do when I am lost in translation. This really makes me speak up less in class compared to when I was attending school in Singapore, even if I had any heart-burning queries about certain themes in the lecture.

After my seminar today, the exchange student in my group asked if we wanted to have lunch together and I readily agreed, before regretting right after I agreed. I am sorry. Thankfully, another girl in my group, who is an exchange student at Germany, came along as well. It reminded me of my first few weeks at UCL as a fresher when I readily agreed to lunch and dinner meetings because I felt the need to socialise. I contemplated a bit and decided to go along in the end because it is my final year here in UCL, and I would not have those opportunities very much anymore.

Moments and conversations:

1. How the guy who came from Catalonia (not Spanish!) was actually pro-independence given that he came from a small town. There are fundamental differences in their language, and this also causes them to develop differently in their mindsets, with political ideology as one example. I think (third) language learning has literally opened my mind to another world out there, and I am thankful for the sudden/random decision I made to learn Korean when I was travelling with Aloysius last Christmas.
2. and therefore, I remember how they were astonished when I told them English is my first language. I think most Europeans still do not know this. I was thankful because when he first asked where I was from, he immediately expressed doubt that I was Chinese because he said my accent sounded very different “you are not from China, right?”.
3. How the girl was really thankful for her free university education.

While transient, I think these are moments that I will remember in the future about schooling in a totally international environment in a foreign country. The only thing I regret is getting that second cup of coffee because I already had lunch. Oh my god, enough caffeine for the day.

Scenes in my head that I’d like to document in writing

1. Seven Sisters



We took the hike, alighting from Seaford and walking towards Eastbourne station through the entire length of the Seven Sisters cliffs. It was a good day!

I remember certain moments:

1. Dilys urgently needing a toilet, while I chose to pee in the bushes (lol) thrice hehe
2. Having to take an extremely long detour around a valley because we obviously could not walk straight ahead. I think that detour took more than an hour, truly “so near yet so far”.
3. Not being adequately prepared for the long hike and therefore not bringing much food other than 3 miserable chocolate bars we bought that morning…
4. Having to self-time all our shots on rocks, grasses, stacking of our bags.
5. The PMS weather, having to put on our jackets, remove them, put them on, remove them, until nearly the end of our hike when it became really cold and windy. It stayed on permanently after.

Regardless of point 5 the weather was lovely, it was warm enough to shed our coats for most parts of the hike. I remember we thought that seven sisters meant 7 sets of uphills and downhills, and it appeared to be so in the photos as well! But when we were actually scaling the hills, it was so much more than that, and I perspired so so so so much. I requested for a rest after the second hill… I was, at that point in time, the epitome of a true potato. Exams had just concluded and I was far from any form related to the word ‘fit’, and the hike was really strenuous. Walking a total of 50000 steps right after exams was memorable to say the least, with our feet aching so badly by the end of the day. Bad decisions make excellent memories!

I also find it hard to believe that once upon a time, I walked 24km for my route march with shitloads on my back… What happened, HP?

2. Richmond Park



Laying our sleeping bag as a picnic mat, putting our food down, enjoying a very Instagram-worthy background….. and then hurriedly picking our food and scrambling around when birds ended up perching (and shitting WTF) on the tree above us. 진짜진짜! We got visited by huge dogs too, who hopped over our strawberries and cookies…

And the deers!!! Deers! Took a selfie with the deers before we approached someone else who was also interested in the deers and therefore came close by. Hehe. We went for Korean fried chicken at night at Liverpool Street, and snagged for ourselves some salted beef bagels for breakfasts the following day too. Good day!!!

3. Food

I have been eating (and spending) too much in London.


First meal in London with Bowei this academic year.


Burger and Lobster with Bowei. It was £20 in my first year, £26 when I ate it in my second year, and now £31?! WTF?



Korean BBQ and bingsu with Chenxi.


Chirashidon when we (Aloy, Bea and I) were out celebrating Youjing’s birthday!


Korean fried chicken at some Superstar Korean restaurant.



£5 Shoryu ramen and 1-for-1 buns. Love it.


Lobster noodles!!!!! Loved it.

On a very random note, coffee is truly an acquired taste. I used to hate it so much, then I started going to Starbucks in JC, started consuming the coffee mixes occasionally in Year 1, and am now reliant on at least a cup everyday. I hope the same does not apply for alcohol anytime soon my tummy cannot afford it.

On another very random note, please support two of my academic blogs this year heh (1, 2). I feel like I need to put these out there because I clearly am writing for an audience, but probably no one will read it except 1 or 2 curious coursemates, and the course convenor when it comes to grading the blog. LOL. There is a need to make frequent weekly posts and that means this platform will probably be very much neglected compared to the other two.

But then again, my blog always seems to be the most active when I am the busiest. During busy periods, blogging seems to be the most justifiable activity when procrastinating 🙂

One door closes

After all the challenging months of waking up amid failures during VA, this seems like a walk in the park.

I am of course, disappointed, and partly guilty for all the misplaced faith, but I will try again. For everything beautiful, hard work needs to be invested. And I will continue to remember that 谟事在人, 成事在天.

三生三世 十里桃花

我将尽量使用中文来发表我的感触,但是尽量至此,我最后一次在博客上打中文可能就是重考高级华文当前的一天吧。如果对自己坦诚,我的语文程度也非当时的了。

“看过《三生三世十里桃花》的人都会明白一个道理:神仙要飞升上神也是要历劫的,何况凡人。只有渡了劫,经历了磨难,人生才会有新的高度。所以,当我们在生活中遇到不顺,也不要退缩放弃,没准这也是在渡劫呢!其实专升本又何尝不是一场上神修炼的过程呢?只有经历磨难,努力坚持的人才会胜利。”

我终于看完这部电视剧了。 这58集每一集我都喜欢读看一下评论,而我对这章可是特有感触吧。男主角夜华,女主角白浅,都没有办法逃过应受的劫。到凡间之前必须喝下忘川水,历劫时失去了自己在天宫有的荣华富贵,经受该经受的人生苦难。我特别喜欢夜华在凡间的造化。他在天上砍了四个继承了父神法力的猛兽,当中也失去了一个手臂。但因为这对父神是个大不敬,尽管他在凡间颇有成就还是要还个前世的债。在凡间他也就如此没了个手臂,必须立志来经得起别人的耻笑与刁难成长,孤独寡人一生才能重复回到天宫。

我米了这电视剧当真并非一段好时期,但看完以后发现追此剧也不如一件坏事。我重新明白了一个重要的人生道理,而就是人生中的造化早已定。在人生中是否要还债,讨债或报恩,我坚信这一切早已命运所安排。我近年来常常受过很多心结,反复地面临自称的失败。别人看似顺利的企业绝不如此简单,而可能这种情形我的家人和最亲的朋友也不会料到。但我必须重重地告诉自己,万事都要退一步看开,可能我就是在为我这几年显得顺利的人生之途路报恩或为我前世犯的错应劫。神仙都需历劫才能踏入下一任仙班,何况是我们凡人。我希望我会记得自己写的这番话,遇到不堪的道路一定要切记。

小六会考之前老师嘱咐了我们向父母要了个“秘密讯息”,而这就该成为我们准备会考的推动力。我的爸爸送了我一句:“谋事在人,成事在天。” 当时我并非完完全全地明白了这句的意思,只是觉得很有趣,独有我的父亲写了这番深奥的讯息。长大后我对这句深以为然,面对任何的挫折我必然会谨记在心。我希望这最后的一年,我继续用尽能力取得好成绩和结果,厉过当前的劫最终变成胜利者。但是如果办不成自己的要求,我不会继续盼望不实际的目标,也不会让自己承担起没有办法负起的负担。这不是我自欺欺人的一个借口,而是过这几年我渐渐相信可能有些愿望达不成就是我的命的造化。尽管命运如何嘲弄或造化游戏,不属于我的东西终究不会是我的。

London for the third time

Third time’s the charm, they say.

Today I arrived in London at 0600hrs, reached home at 0800hrs and tried to make the best out of the day to cure my jetlag as soon as possible. I met Weixuan (obviously), Richard to return him his laptop and Bo Wei for lunch. It was nice to catch up with Wei Xuan and Bo Wei especially, since we hardly met when we were back in Singapore. I think this is one of the things I will miss a lot when I return home back for good too — being so so so close in proximity to my closest friends. Being in London presents a valuable opportunity for us to talk to each other very much, and I am looking forward to exploiting much more of it on my last 8 months here. I did my grocery runs quite a fair bit. I bought a new set of oriental sauces that I will need for cooking this year, heard 933 over the radio when I was in Chinatown and missed Singapore. I bought household supplies, including toilet paper and bathroom cleaners. I bought 5kg of rice that I am going to be cooking with and living on, and bought cereal too. I feel like I am living two entirely separate lives when I am in Singapore and London that even my diet differs. There is no more fancy hokkien mee, mee rebus or seafood fried rice that I can purchase from downstairs my house whenever I am hungry. I am forced to be much more thrifty and independent here because I have to do my own cooking and my own household chores. I make much healthier food choices here too (although not the best), perhaps because of an active choice to eat healthier to keep my weight down.

I have a lot of mixed feelings this time and it confuses me quite a bit. It was, of course, painful to part from HT once again. We shared so many memories these 2 weeks. After he came back from his deployment, he took lots of days off to spend my last week here with me. Frog porridge trips to Geylang, swee choon trips, cable skiing, escape room, arcade screaming at each other on Bishi Bashi, employing him to help out with my dissertation and dragonfly watching, subsequent swims/showers at Temasek Club, Halloween Horror Night at USS, late night bingsu dates, eating at SO MANY places in Jalan Besar… we made so many beautiful memories out of our tiny island. I cried bitterly at departures and I believe it is a lie that people say it gets easier. It does not ever. It felt reminiscent of one whole year ago when I left him at departures too. Choking on tears all the way to the departure gate, crying on the plane with tears streaming down my eyes even with my eye mask on. I get very triggered especially when I see photos of us together, I cannot help it.

But in all the missing him and LDR, I oddly missed London as well. I missed London and the lifestyle I have come to associate with living in this city. I sat on the quarterdeck of Freedom on some days and missed the nights running for Korean lessons at 6pm. I missed heading home in the dark after that, cooking my own dinner and having the whole night to myself. I missed walking through Oxford Street to get to places for meals with my friends, or even HT when he was here for a short 2 weeks last year. In many nights through the last academic year, I sat alone with my own thoughts and I think I missed that. I missed being able to make travelling plans at a whim, and I missed the picturesque scenery that really cannot be replicated anywhere else (Seven Sisters, Norway, Switzerland, skiing). You could only enjoy all these sights through travelling, and living in London allowed so many affordable opportunities for that.

8 last months, and I hope to make it count.

I am really sleepy all of a sudden and this is the perfect opportunity to cure my jetlag since it is arguably time for bed (2230hrs). Good night.