OELP UK 2013


My family being lovely by sending me off at the airport hehehe.

I am on the plane…. and I’m going to touch down after a total of 18 hours on the damn plane!!! Being the pig me I slept for about ten hours and spent the rest of my time watching my drama.

There were about four meals on the plane and I skipped all of them, but I did eat anyway. The snacks and the cake hehe. I guess… That trip to Beijing has made me phobic about airplane food forever 😦

It was quite surprising that the air stewardess remembered that I didn’t have two meals, she was like “Are you not having this? Do you not like it? I could change it to chicken for you. I’d really love to help you. You didn’t have your breakfast either.”

That was really nice aha :’) I guess I’m too much of a trouble, sob I remember I used to eat airplane food what happened.

And the pilot just announced that it’s -1 degree, holy shit I’m dead what on earth am I wearing… Some thin white shirt?!?! Oh god I’m pretty sure I haven’t brought enough, luggage is only 13.6kg for a 10 day winter trip!!!

My first meal at the Birmingham airport because I skipped all my meals HAHAHA

Day 1

Visited the coal mining factory upon touch down, unfortunately no batteries were allowed so I couldn’t bring my phone and camera into the mine. It went 150 feet down and it was completely dark. The experience felt really new, I seriously felt like a miner. We were told about mining conditions back in the UK, being paid only 70pence ($1.40) for an entire day of hard work where you are constantly crawling and shovelling. After which, labour got quickly replaced by machinery with the rise of automation which displaced many of these workers.

That isn’t new to us because we learn so much of this in Geography lessons, with the rise of automation leading to unemployment. I feel like it’s being entirely played out in front of us. Furthermore it was really dirty, and they asked us if we would want to crawl through the pathways they took. None of us volunteered (even with enthu Jiawen in my group), that says a lot.

After that, we left in the freezing cold! Took many photos and for the first time we experienced sunset at like what 4.30pm??? What on earth during then in Singapore I’m still contemplating whether to go for a jog depending on the weather.

This picture… it was approaching sunset when the time was only 3-4pm!!!

Went back to our hotel to check in before dinner at the pub connected directly to our inn 🙂 Had fish and chips!

Unfortunately I didn’t take too much because my tummy was still jetlagging and it didn’t feel like dinner time to me. We even had apple crumble with ice cream for dessert omg talk about goodness. Dozed off during reflections at 7pm- which led to the teachers asking me whether I’m jetlagging terribly ooops…? 😀

After which was sleep time which I also had trouble with… Fell asleep very quickly but woke up at 3am/4am feeling rejuvenated which was damn horrible. Jetlag really sucks hahahaha

Day 2
We checked out of our hotel and went from Manchester to Birmingham! Went to Brindleyplace for our lunch where we got to have free and easy for the first time… and their free and easy is truly free and easy. Almost no boundaries to where we can go. I must say the teachers really trust us a lot on this trip haha we are given so much decision-making space and so much time to do what we want. Didn’t have much for lunch though, because we were full from hotel breakfast LOL. After which we visited the Cadbury factory hehe!

Before the factory tour!

This was taken at the Cadbury store hehehe.

We went crazy at the factory because of the long coach ride that allowed us to sleep all the way… Jiawen and I disturbed Weixuan endlessly and came up with some stupid song/rap?? like

“Uh huh Weixuan uh huh”
“Yeah yeah our house captain”
“Uh huh has a twin brother”

HAHAHA FREAK I’m laughing as I type this we were really retarded and we sang it all the way to the playground HAHAHA.

We totally acted like kids HAHAHA :’)

While taking this group photo, tourists around were actually taking photos of us because either 1. We look too ridiculous or 2. We are too funny. We were laughing so so so hard during the photo-taking I think we became a tourist attraction for the people vising the Cadbury factory HAHAHA.

We had so much free chocolates at the Cadbury factory HAHAHA almost every “station” gave out free chocolate bars and free cups of melted chocolate for us to dip marshmallows/sweets in. Goodness me, I thought I might actually lose weight at the UK because of my preference towards Chinese food, but all these food says no to me.

It was a really short day, after the factory visit we went back to Brindleyplace again for a steak dinner- which I can’t take once again so I had chicken instead. Everyone said they preferred my chicken very much HAHAHA ok actually I don’t actually know how the beef tastes like… but I don’t like beef anyway! Maybe due to the very fact that I never grew up eating beef.

Dozed off during the night session again- my body was still having trouble adjusting to the local time and it appeared that I was the only one jetlagging / falling asleep in the reflections!!! Ms Lim then said something like “You have a standard time one, at 7pm your body will switch off, do you have very regular sleeping times?” Actually I didn’t think so, but now that I think of it, I sleep between 12am to 1am every night… LOL. Damn.

Day 3
Visited the Jaguar factory early in the morning! Damn it’s such a pity that we cannot take photos in any of the factories, the automobile factory was so amazing omg. Every robot moves like a damn pro, they wait for the 1st robot to finish their job before the 2nd robot continues, and the 3rd, and 4th, and so on. And the robots sync with the humans so well! Anyway, looking at how the cars are personalised and made so quickly in the assembly line, I wonder why cars can be so pricey sometimes. Ok but to be fair the technology/innovation is real real expensive, just by looking at the robots… they cost a few million pounds. Double that by two and you get it in SGD!!!

However I can’t deny that I had problems understanding the British English sometimes, and I was clueless as to what some of these machines did. I am strangely familiar yet foreign to the standard of English in Singapore- I feel like no other country in the world speaks it and understands it like us. We don’t sound like anyone in the world. Seriously, how did we learn our English and pronunciation? I don’t feel like I pronounce things wrongly sometimes, but there will always be another type of pronunciation and a way to speak it.

Nevermind perhaps that’s what makes us unique- our standard of English hahaha.

Headed for a burger lunch after that, chicken again while the rest of the world had steak! The chicken meal is always more expensive, perhaps that explains!

Looking ridiculous with my long johns but I had no choice but to look ugly because it was so.damn.cold HAHAHA.

We then headed for a dialogue session with the Birmingham urban planning authority, where we got to put Geog to good use!!! To be honest, this is like an Econs/Geog trip, because we are always using UK (especially London) as a case study and we get to see whatever we have been learning in the notes. Really happy and lucky I guess, let’s hope this has increased my knowledge beyond the textbook!

Because when you’re overseas, I guess you must camwhore everywhere 🙂

Had more free and easy at the Bullring Shopping Mall, the largest mall in Birmingham. All the reputed brands were there- namely Zara Mango Topshop River Island you name it they have it. But it’s also because of the fact that all these reputed brands are there- that it doesn’t feel any different from Singapore. Furthermore, the prices there are much steeper, the values of things are largely the same but the currency sign is different.

The exterior of the mall, so beautiful hehe. We took a video also HAHAHA but I guess it’s too retarded to be uploaded… LOL.

We then had night sessions, where I finally STAYED awake!!! That kicked away my jetlag quite a bit, I took 3 days to fully recover HAHAHA. My body clock is really slow to adapting, I used to be much stronger and much capable of surviving on a lack of sleep. The older I get, the more I need to sleep. My latest sleeping times have shifted from 4.30am in Year 1 to 3.30am to 2.30am in Year 4 and in Year 5 I think I’ve never slept beyond 2am / 1.30am even with impending deadlines the very next day, I’ll just head to school to complete my unfinished assignments.

Had dinner on our own and I ate a really long hotdog of 0.5m in length, and I swear I’ll never have hotdogs for the next one month or something I had so much trouble finishing it but yet I must because it was like what 5.50 pounds!!! That’s $11!!! But then again, that’s already street food which meant that all food had that standard price tag brrrr.

Hehehe I was at the German market! I think we were really lucky because there was a robbery reported in the papers the very next day, thank god we managed to miss them.

Day 4
I guess this was safely one of the best days of the trip, albeit not the best. We headed on a long coach ride to Cambridge!!! And my, I must say Cambridge is really beautiful. The moment we got down we were impressed by a wide space of greenery, with a great view of all the buildings around the city.

Failed burst shot/jump shot but who cares anyway the scenery is nice HAHA.

It’s a really small city with a small population of only around 120 000 people, mostly made up of students. I mean, you call it a university town afterall! We had pizza for lunch at some place called Jesus Lane, that place had historical significance which was subsequently turned into a restaurant.

Like I said, Jesus Lane hehehe~

Camwhoring with the slightly skinny pizza hahaha

After lunch our walking guide brought us around Cambridge to share with us all the historical significance of the buildings and the characters that were involved in the infrastructure and statues displayed all around the city. It was really a beautiful city, all the buildings had extremely intricate designs and looked like the perfect place you would imagine in books and see in movies. Learnt a lot about historical characters as well. Notably, I remember King Henry VIII, who had 6 wives, which was never practised in the past.

Just look at how beautiful Cambridge is 😦

We also visited King’s College and Trinity College which was boomz because they were the most prestigious places that anyone would ever want to study at, and even straight As won’t guarantee you a place in these colleges. Standing at the gate… I guess is the closest I’ll ever get to these prestigious colleges. People are so lucky to be accepted at those schools, ok not just lucky but they must be extremely extremely capable. I think about my grades and I decide that if I actually get into a local university, I am already lucky enough 😦

We had time on our own after that to do some shopping and we chanced upon a second-hand book store where I looted a total of 7 books for 14 pounds ($28). That’s really cheap actually, it’s like every book is $4. Okay when you translate it to our local currency it seems like a reasonable price, but you get really good books… ah for the locals it must be really cheap. Bookstores in Singapore should really be subsidised to encourage more reading… ok lame there are libraries where I get my books from anyway HAHAHA.

The market where we got our books hehe!

Scooted around the streets quickly because we were rushing for the chapel service at King’s College at 6pm! All of us aren’t Christians nor Catholics, but we visited the service all the same to well… get a feel of how the service is like. I didn’t understand most of the things anyway, but I must say the chapel is really beautiful and the choir has really angelic voices. That I can never belong to, despite the fact that I was once in choir LOL.

Outside the chapel hehehe.

Ran off to buy takeaway dinner, and slept early that night because of walking around the whole day! That was the end to Cambridge- and to be honest I was really sad because the place was really, really beautiful 😦

Day 5
From this day onwards, all our activities were at London! We had a dialogue session with MFA and IE Singapore. When we headed to the embassy it felt like home again, where you saw the Singapore flag, where you saw our state crest. HAHA yeah it just felt like home again!

I felt a bit bad when he asked us to elaborate more on “IE Singapore” but yet we were quite clueless because we didn’t know what exactly to say. I guess that’s how Singaporeans are- you are always afraid of being wrong. Always afraid to speak up about your opinions in order to not be ridiculed. I truly felt bad as an entire group and I felt really bad for the teachers as well, because we were told to read up in advance about the operations about the company and yet we seemed so ill-prepared for the dialogue session.

Thankfully the second part of the dialogue went rather well! I mean, it became a dialogue at least, instead of a monologue.

Group photo at the embassy!

Went to Harrods after that! Harrods was a super atas mall and I guess the teachers knew that we wouldn’t be buying anything much, so we only had 30 minutes where we spent it entirely in the food hall HAHA. Bought some vegetable tempura which paled in comparison to what we have here in Singapore- I guess every food they have is tailored to the tastes of locals… which I don’t appreciate of course :\

Weixuan and I at the food hall hehe!

After that we sped up to the London Metal Exchange, where we witnessed people holding two phones, sitting in a ring as a bidder… and while I don’t understand much of the operation because of the lack of explanations given, I can sense the tension that the people had in the room. I don’t think I am very suited to work in such a high stress level environment, especially with people arguing over deals or so. You have to deal with the ugliest side of people, you have to deal with so many people you don’t like… and that’s when you possibly won’t be able to form true friendships with your colleagues. The world is such a cruel place, if only I could remain in school forever.

We had time after our short trip to the London Metal Exchange so we went to the Covered Market! Most things there were once again too pricey, so we spent loads of time in the book store again. I seriously think RVians are true nerds, I never looked at books until I entered RV. LOL. In the past it was difficult to even get me to start on a book, but now I voluntarily go to the library just to borrow books!!!

Where I posted my postcards HAHAHA none of them have arrived through.

Checked in for the night- where we were going to spend our next 5 nights at. Finally we didn’t have to change hotels anymore 🙂

Day 6
My favourite day in UK I guess! This day will always stick with me hehehe.

We had a group activity around the Tube (London’s version of MRT) where we had to go to certain station to accomplish certain tasks. Even though prizes are supposed to be given, I guess that has long been forgotten and all of us liked the activity and the thrill of it anyway 🙂 Managed to go to Buckingham Palace and chance upon several iconic areas during our activity which I’m thankful for!

On the tube hehehe!

On our way to Buckingham Palace, it was like late autumn and early winter so the leaves were still yellow and falling and trees were RED and it was so so so breathtaking.

We had to miss the changing of guards to arrive punctually through 😦 After our orientation activity to the tube we had pizza… again HAHA. Didn’t eat my fill unlike the previous time though, similar types of food don’t appeal to you the same anymore. Furthermore most of the pizzas there were skinny pizzas, and I prefer fat pizzas with loads and loads of dough of course! Fat people always like fat food 🙂

We also visited the London School of Economics and my god, was that a wake up call or something. We were brought on a campus tour and the people at the library were literally scrambling all over the floor just to secure a spot to study in the library, chopping BEAN BAGS with their study materials and from the upper level you could see that everyone’s really stressed up mugging for their final year paper or something. Of course, we can’t deny the fact that all universities are stressful, but that scene was… too scary. All of us were turned away from university life after that. I thought all these crazy learning would end in JC, but looks like university is a repeat version of the A Levels every single year until you get your degree. I hope to remain in school forever, but then again I fear A Levels and university life ahead too.

LSE right smack in the middle of the CBD HAHA.

We had a friendly student guide I guess, initially I thought he was a little eccentric but I exceptionally liked his answers to one of my questions which was “Do you think you should pursue a degree that you’re interested in, or a degree that is more practical?” He gave a very comprehensive answer that I really liked and really agreed with- I mean practicality is always an issue in this society. I long to take degrees that I have loads of passion in, but that’s not going to bring me anywhere in the future.

We then went to the London Transport Museum where I dejavu-ed because the lift that time travels was so similar to my recurring dream of lifts!!! Scary but quite stupid because it’s only one storey but it goes to 1700+ because of the year the transport network started HAHA. Camwhored quite a little but was mostly using Wi-Fi, museum visits are always for that LOL.

Camwhoring with a bus in the museum HAHAHA

Shopped around Covent Garden afterwards where we saw street buskers and bustling markets with really great Christmas spirits. It felt so Chrismassy, finally 🙂 Christmas in winter is definitely more convincing, even though Singapore has tried really hard, as seen from Christmas trees popping up everywhere. Celebrating Christmas in Singapore will never be the same as that in other countries.

Covent Garden is such a bustling + nice place with such a great Christmas spirit hehehe 😦 When will we ever get that in Singapore.

Edina and I were the only 2 out of the 29 students who were not catching the musical, so we requested to go to Hyde Park with our Day Pass for us to visit the Winter Wonderland! Like I say, the teachers on our trip were really awesome. They allowed us and so here two of us were on the tube alone, heading to Hyde Park by ourselves! It was thrilling and scary at the same time, London is safe but yet two of us were alone in an overseas country! The level of trust that the teachers gave us is really worth applauding hehe.

Winter Wonderland was beautiful- but what pricks me is that Ariel Lin also went there!!! Urgh I saw her Twitter posts of her on the Tube and ice-skating HAHAHA so happens that a member of One Direction, David Beckham, Infinite, Ariel Lin were ALL in London when we were there and yet despite visiting touristy locations, we didn’t manage to catch any of them.

Ok back to the topic, admission was free but we have to pay for rides, and we paid for thrilling rides HAHAHA we took the plunge, and many rides LOL their security measures weren’t as strict as Singapore’s to be honest, I feared that I may actually fly off the ride at certain points in time because there was only ONE security measure and what if it fails??? LOL. Kiasuism in Singapore, has really made me Kiasu. 😦

At the entrance of the theme park / box office!!!

A ride that we took hehe roller coasters weren’t that thrilling because it was only a makeshift theme park afterall, but good enough!

Took many photos around before leaving after 3 hours. We were given the luxury of time I swear, we had so much time to take photos and queue for rides LOL.

Anyway there was a miscommunication when we were going back and resulted in the delay of about 30 minutes when we were already late enough for the hotel. I can’t say much, but I guess I’m thankful they didn’t 指责 us, and even rushed us back to the hotel so that we could sleep quickly. I am thankful HAHA.

Day 7
It was a really late morning because of the late night before that, so we spent the entire morning in the hotel going through reflections and what we learnt the previous day hehe. Then we went to the BBC Studio where enthu Jiawen and I volunteered to be the newscaster… Goodness me I reached the seat and I regretted immediately because there were so many words I couldn’t pronounce and it was going to look so bad on us 😦 Thankfully I scraped through even though I looked rather bad HAHA.

The only photo I have of me now HAHA.

Went to Oxford Street afterwards just beside the BBC Studios, which was London’s version of Orchard Road. It was really really cold that day so we spent most of our time indoors, and guess what I headed HMV to buy books and more books again. I bought the entire Hunger Games series for 6 pounds which was $12 hahaha I doubt I’ll have the time to read this holiday, but let’s just say I don’t need to borrow books for the next 2 years or something LOL I have so many books to complete now.

We had dinner at a shopping mall attached to a train station (omg I can’t remember) where we had Pasta for the first time!!! I had Carbonara once again because the others were enjoying their steak, but not complaining! Unfortunately once again things were too pricey at the shopping mall so I couldn’t buy whatever I wanted to, but instead went around taking stupid pictures in stupid shops HAHAHA.

For example, posing with a skeleton HAHAHA.

Got real annoyed that night because I can’t stand how rude some people are here. Jiawen and I were kinda playing outside someone’s room while waiting, and both of us were giggling quite softly… And this woman just opened the door and “what the fuck are you guys doing?” seriously? All of us are tourists having fun in a foreign country and you just dampened our mood totally, thank you very much. You gave me an impressive impression of you as well. I am so pissed off and I wonder why people ever say that Singaporeans aren’t gracious. Had a really bad night that day.

Day 8
We had a walking tour of London! Stopped by the Buckingham Palace once again to finally watch the changing of house guards that we didn’t manage to catch on Day 6, managed to see the band marching and the crowd gathering around for the parade. It was such a nice experience, I mean watching a parade of people from other countries is always pretty awesome 🙂

Stopped by several iconic landmarks as well, such as The Big Ben hehe.

Me with the Ben hehehe

Where the horse guards are behind us 🙂

Running in the rustling leaves!!! We tried this so many times because the pictures kept turning out ugly, but finally HAHA. Credits to Ms Lim for running crazily with us in the leaves LOL.

I had vegetarian burger for lunch because they ran out of chicken, but it tasted good anyway because of all the spice added hehe. The vegetarian patty was humongous but I managed to finish the whole plate of food. My dad told me I wouldn’t like the food over there because I won’t get used to it, but looks like I proved him wrong on many levels LOL.

My vegetarian patty burger hehe.

After that, we visited the Tower of London which was where the royalty stayed in the previous centuries hehe. We had a few hours there so we went into almost every room reading up every artefact on how they keep animals in the palace, how they punish royalty, the torture room, and so on. It’s vastly different from the Forbidden City which I visited in Primary 5, although I only have vague memories of that place I do remember the complexity of the palace and the rooms and everything- aiyah they look similar to what I see in dramas anyway.

At the entrance where the tower bridge is behind us 🙂

At the Tower itself! Got photobomed so badly HAHA.

Visited the Olympic Site at night which was at Stratford where we had few hours to shop around… and I skipped dinner because I couldn’t find Hollister. And here’s whats ridiculous: I wanted to go to Hollister so badly so I left my friends and headed to look for it, AND I GOT LOST WHILE TRYING TO RETURN TO THE MEETING POINT. Goodness, it’s the largest shopping mall in London but I got lost running from one point of the mall to the other. I was already 5 minutes late and still running around LOOKING FOR THE MEETING POINT and I was starting to freak out so bad because I didn’t have a phone with roaming and Wi-Fi in the mall wasn’t working at all!

Thankfully midway through my running I bumped into Chong Yuan who was ALSO late and was running to the meeting point as well. Omg, the mall is so large, thankfully I bumped into them. Can’t help but to feel thankful, thank you for blessing me :’)

I wasn’t the latest though hehehe and after that we headed back to the hotel where we had games HAHAHA. It was supposed to be the most relaxing night where we could have pajama parties and everything but all of us were so tired from the entire day.

Day 9
We visited the Spitalfield Market and Bangla City (yeap that’s how it’s named) for loots! We had so much time there that we were busy looking for a shop to kill time, because we didn’t buy anything anyway. Seriously, the prices of things in UK really turn you away from buying anything, the only thing I could bear to part with money was food even though one sandwich can go up to like 5 pounds ($10). Madness prices 😦

We bought dutch pancakes HEHE

After the long morning at the market we went to the British Museum… and we got bored after 1.5 hours so we headed to the Food Court to sit down / use Wi-Fi / share photos / I NAPPED FOR AN HOUR HAHAHA. Ok I am so pro it’s like lecture all over again, taking advantage of the little time we have to nap on the table LOL.

But the museum entrance is nice anyway!

Walked a long way from the British Museum to their version of “Chinatown” and we had dinner at a Chinese restaurant within the area! It was Chinese food after such a long long time and we practically licked the bowl of the curry chicken clean HAHAHA we missed rice and all that so so badly. I had 3 servings of soup as well HAHAHA.

Yihua had a few bowls of rice too HAHAHA.

After that we were given about 45 minutes of free time at their Chinatown where we walked around the makeshift theme park! We took a ride which spun us around and around and I felt like I was going to be flung off the chair. Also, there were fangirls screaming like crazy and being Singaporeans we ran towards the noise source and we found out that David Beckham had just appeared not long ago. That was really coincidental… but still, I wish I managed to see Ariel Lin in London 😦

At the second makeshift theme park I saw in London!

Day 10
Checked out that day with all our luggage feeling so sad because it’s the last day so quickly.

Visited the Bank of England Museum and I’m happy because I feel enlightened about so many of their monetary policies! I even managed to earn a postcard HAHAHA and I didn’t put on my spectacles (left them on the coach) so I had to sit all the way at the front for the presentation- ALONE. 😦

Had sandwich lunch and crackers because we were to be zoomed off to the Coca Cola factory tour… but it’s nice anyway! Afterall, we don’t really have to pay for it HAHA.

Lunch in my hands hehe.

The Coca Cola factory we visited was a bottling factory, and it was quite amazing because you could see that the entire process didn’t require ANY humans at all, machines did everything from the expansion of the baby bottles to the storage in the warehouse. I guess some time in the future you probably wouldn’t even need humans for transportation of goods anymore.

Guess what we had to wear into the factory though HAHAHA to avoid contamination.

After which it was a 2-hour long drive to the airport where we were to embark on another 17-hour flight home. I was so upset omg.

Our final shot at the airport without our coats, forever 😥

Like what Yilin said, this UK trip has been everything we expected, if not even better. It gave me a first-hand experience of the life in UK, of how it feels like to celebrate Christmas in a country that views it as an important event, of how it’s like to simply walk around in the streets with a cup of hot chocolate people-watching like what we read about in books. I have experienced a world beyond my imagination, a beautiful city beyond what I could ever expect and a really enjoyable trip with people I could barely talk to during the first briefing.

Thank you OELP UK 2013 for broadening my vision of the world beyond Singapore and motivating me to study so hard, and for giving me such a well-deserved break for the entire year. I feel like the sweat and hard work for the entire year is all worth it now. Thank you to all the friends and company who made this trip extremely enjoyable, for bus rides to be extremely fun and hotel stays to be so entertaining. While we may have disturbed many guests, we will never see them again anyway so we’ll leave it at that, what matters are the memories we have forged through these two weeks and I hope they’ll stick with all of us always :’)


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