1 year ago on this day of the week (i.e. Thursday) I was gloating because I was finally done with my “5 papers in 4 days” torture, which was the kind of bullshit you had to put yourself through if you took on a hybrid combination. Thank god for A Levels for showing me a side of myself I’ll never expect myself to see, I would never foresee myself undergoing that level of academic rigour ever again.
And today I’m eternally glad for the hard work I put in then- to allow me to enjoy catching up on readings and appreciate what I learn so very much. I love the extensiveness of the library and how the entire Geography department here is larger than the entire RVHS school library. It makes me so much closer to those theories I’ve regurgitated countless times in my essays in the past, and to appreciate reading widely so much more. Geography is a truly underrated degree and subject that many would choose not to pursue to be “realistic”, I suppose.
And of course I truly appreciate the time I get outside school. I don’t think one who has experienced the Singapore education system will ever complain. Despite how much I’m doing relative to most of my course mates here, the effort I am putting probably still pales much more in comparison to those in NUS or NTU.
2 months ago I was hugging people and waving goodbyes at the airport, well-knowing it’ll be a long time for things to be the same again: I’ll probably never see some people again (eg. my maid), and gatherings would only become rare, if not none at all from then.
And in this 2 months I miss people every day. I miss people everytime I open Snapchat and hear familiar voices of “Supper!!!!” “Prata woohooooooo” “Swee Choon! LOOK AT THIS OMG OMG OMG OMG” with a leaking custard bun in their hands, I miss people everytime I look at the twin room snaps in NUS/NTU halls with everyone in their JC school-based tees and bright FBTs. “Snapceptions” when two people film each other going to bed- and here I am watching those snaps all alone in my room. I miss people everytime they meet up conveniently at UTown, or when they meet up at Holland Village to have dinner. I miss people everytime I see groups of people cooking instant noodles together on Snapchat, making jokes that would only match a scene in the Singaporean kitchen. It’s heartwrenching because I feel the urge/need to check on people and how they’re doing through the different social media platforms (I’m much more active nowadays), but I’m constantly reminded of how I chose to be excluded from all their social activities, and the laughter that comes along with bonding among hall mates or RV school mates.
I miss people most when I’m sitting alone or waiting alone in a crowded place. Like outside the lecture theatre, when people congregate among themselves. Or when I need someone to run with me because I have been so used to running company during PE lessons in the past, when we run at a pace slower than walking, shouting out all the Chinese songs. Or when I listen to National Day Songs and realise that no one else here will probably appreciate them. I never thought that one day I’d be shaken by the very songs I sang proudly in my tone-deaf voice, I miss just sitting by the staircases on the floating platform and watching the fireworks illuminate the sky with familiar tunes of Home, In A Heartbeat and We Will Get There ringing in the background.
Through the years I’ve began to grow a lot more dependent on existing friendships, and kicked away my desire to make friends with virtually the entire world. Having to meet new people everyday here and exchange friendly banter frankly takes a toll on my energy levels and I’d often shun away from social activities, especially when their idea of fun doesn’t click well with the Asian loser in me- “Anything more than cider is overdoing alcohol”. How do I even go to parties and enjoy myself with tons of alcohol? Of course, you can make really good friends here: am really thankful for Tz-Ching and Darren for showing me once again what effortless friendships mean, although they will probably never see this. The difference lies therein through, that you will never be able to talk about the orange hippopotamus PE shirt you wore in kindergarten, or perhaps complain about how we weren’t allowed to put down our fringes in school, that everyone else back at home has the privilege of. Whereas at home, you can upload Instagram photos with derisive captions of what you were made to go through in the past: “one elbow distance”, “nunnery”. These are jokes I can only laugh at when I see them, and not laugh with anyone else here.
Weixuan’s 19th birthday celebration, where we laughed about Asian things and Asian people. Thankful for this “sense of place” and feelings of familiarity among people in this major conurbation.
“All our dreams come true, as we all grow stronger.” This National Day tune on Shine On Me surprisingly hits me most here- it’s so telling of a tale in a “New World”, which sounds like what I’m going through now. You truly don’t know what you have got, until it’s gone. It hit me in 2011, and now it’s coming back in full force again.