Familiarity

What I’ve been up to in London before (and on) my first day of school:

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1. Impromptu (and expensive) lunch with Ooi because I was so desperate for someone to help me with my 20kg crockery- BECAUSE I was already holding another box!

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2. Cooking with Aloysius, Beatriz, Youjing and Beatriz’s Dad last night because her dad was due to leave tomorrow.

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3. Running with the navy trio along Regent’s Park today, which was really scenic. Frankly, the weather also made it much easier for a run- and I think I can confidently clock below 12 minutes for 2.4km in time to come, something I have never been able to do.

I really really enjoyed my first introductory lecture- and I loved how they used simple pictures to show what each professor was doing through their summer break. Fieldwork everywhere, in London, further north of UK, or analysing culture, tracking the status of refugees and the sentiments about random new ones. It’s a truly wild time ahead with lots and lots of learning but I am truly looking forward to this wealth of knowledge.

I keep thinking about my divisional officer’s words, and how he repeated it on two occasions “Hui Ping, when you go to the UK, make sure you don’t hang out with Singaporeans only”. How friends would encourage me to find an “ang moh boyfriend”, or “don’t forget me after you make ang moh friends”. I am ashamed to say that I honestly struggle to interact. Do not get me wrong, most of the people here are REALLY nice and friendly. But I think simply having grown up in a different environment and leading absolutely different lives prior to university makes it a “barrier to entry” to begin with- I’m honestly having trouble finding common topics to talk about, especially when none of my flatmates are doing anything remotely similar to my subject.

To make it worse I’m the only Asian in my block. I do not mind being the only Singaporean, but being the only Asian is making it really difficult for me to step out of my comfort zone with ease. Are they racist? Are my flatmates finding me annoying and inconsiderate? I do not know, and I think one of my biggest regrets was landing late because most of them have already been acquainted with one another by then. I crave familiarity so much that I hang out with Singaporeans- so much that I start to feel like I’m wasting the SAF’s money and my family’s money for sending me so far away from home to interact with people I know. What happened to immersing myself in their culture and truly learning more about myself and where I am?

I really hope that I’m only facing this discomfort because it’s the first few days and I’ve been away from my flat for quite a bit. I shall get to bed soon- for my second day tomorrow. I have no excuses to oversleep or doze off in class because I get to enjoy my full (8!) hours of uninterrupted rest, and I swear to be diligent, as I was for A Levels.

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