Monthly Archives: May 2016

Moving out of Schafer House

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I have finally packed my 8 months of life into these 6 boxes. Here’s to wearing the same set of T-shirt and FBTs for the next 36 hours. I am really excited to reach home and see the familiar Changi Airport control tower as the plane lands, but I’m also having a flurry of mixed emotions at the same time. I can’t believe time has flown by so fast once again. The days pass so slowly, but the weeks and months pass ever so quickly.

I will always remember my first day moving into Schafer House because it was honestly a pretty rude shock to the UK university experience. Although the contract for the flat started on 19th September, I moved in only on the 20th because I wanted my parents to send me off to the airport — explaining my late arrival (and implicating poor Weixuan in my decisions). Corridors were therefore already lined with people and alcohol, partying with loud music.

As I dragged my 32kg suitcase to my building (Block C) I freaked out realising… that there’s no lift. I took more than 5 minutes to singlehandedly lift my suitcase to the 3rd floor with my hand carry luggages… and there were already (tons of) people partying in my flat. My new flatmates leapt out to welcome me, introducing themselves to me as I looked totally lost with my thousands of luggages and my inability to enter my room as I continued fumbling with my keys. I was not exactly ready to socialise at that point in time because I just wanted to rest after the tiring flight, awkwardly addressing myself as Ping and not knowing how to sustain a conversation with them; they had probably done up all their self-introductions to one another prior to meeting this lone Asian. Everyone was already acquainted by my point of arrival and I wasn’t sure how to squeeze myself into that table they were playing cards on… of course with alcohol. For some context of my alcoholism or the lack thereof, I flush on cider so that’s how pathetic I am. With loud music blasting in the background, I took a total of 3 to 4 hours to unpack and beautify my room, while my flatmates continued with their partying and probably moved to the club after their session of pre-drinking.

That was the start of being alone and while it was exciting, it got really difficult at times. Although Aloysius willingly came over for dinner most of the nights, I opted to snap out of that routine to properly get my life in order — I did not want myself to be dependent on anyone anymore. I was looking through all my Tumblr posts and there were many word posts ranging from “homesick” to “homesick again”. When the sky gets darker, the night truly gets harder, except that it happens much earlier in cold and long winter nights. Nostalgia can literally kill when sunset occurs at 4pm and you spend much of the day alone in your own room in darkness. For a Christmas baby who should love the holiday season associated with “jolly good times” I am so much more thankful for summer and longer days.

For the entire freshers’ week, alcohol events were constantly ongoing. Schafer House reeked of alcohol for the entire week, consisting of drunk alcoholics and freshers in clubbing attire. Unsurprisingly, I retreated into my room every single time being the true Asian I am, and ended up very much detached from the whole freshers’ scene. I just could not embrace the drinking culture which is obviously rampant in UK universities. You gradually have an “acquired taste” for alcohol in the words of my seniors, but till now I haven’t really been able to appreciate it.

(Sidetrack: Flatmates are talking about how much they enjoyed “last night”, something I never said this whole academic year).

So gradually I found myself things to do and stopped wasting time on thestudentroom reading about how to meet new people if I could not drink alcohol, if I were not close to my flatmates and if I were not invited to parties. I laughed over how Flatmate #2 brought her boyfriend home every Friday and engaged in Christian Grey inspired sex, to the point of recording voice clips of her terribly load moaning like DUDE can you keep it down. You don’t truly understand who and what exactly I was neighbouring until you have heard it. I laughed at the balls of Flatmate #1 when she pasted a note on Flatmate #2’s cupboard asking her to freaking wash her dishes to “respect” the rest of us. I talked to Flatmate #5 on an occasion to find out that her aunt and uncle were also in the Navy, she laughed when relating how he was involved in a ship crash… In months to come, Flatmate #2 and Flatmate #4 would also leave Schafer House as they leave university for personal reasons, only to be replaced by two new flatmates who were already in Year 3. Student accommodation can be scarily transient: one day they are there, and the next moment someone different would occupy the same room. I did not even get the chance to bid them goodbye.

It was also in this tiny heck of a room that I started becoming drawn to Korean culture again (in UK, wow HP), wishing to pick up the Korean language along with the rest of the world; I also started experimenting with new dishes as I watched countless cooking videos. During the Spring term I managed to set into place a daily schedule which was religiously led up till the examination period (ironically), charted weekly to-do lists and weekly meal plans. I ran thrice a week in the mornings of Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday/Sunday depending on when I was free, did one online Korean lesson every two days, and played the piano for at least 15 minutes every single day on top of academic commitments in the form of readings and looming deadlines. I am honestly quite surprised by the level of discipline I had just to have more productive days, I was getting sick and tired of long winter nights of doing shit.

As of tomorrow I would be bidding goodbye to this room after Flatmate #2 and Flatmate #4, which has served me well, given me good ideas, sparked off motivations for new forms of learning and fed me really well with the occasional sleepovers and group dinners. Solitude is precious and it has given me a lot of time to think and reflect on myself, my past experiences and anyone or anything I have been thoroughly unhappy with, especially as my block is separate from the larger blocks. I truly appreciate this alone time I know I will never get back home, but I think I still prefer the noisy family.

Bye Schafer House, thank you for the past 8 months 🙂

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Post exams tourist

I need to note down how touristy today was:

1. Spent close to £100 at Primark and SportsDirect… probably the second shopping spree after the first one I did when I just arrived in London. I finally have new clothes! …just when I am about to leave.

2. Had Freakshakes for dinner. They taste as good as they look. Best of all is that they were pretty affordable for London standards at £7 hehe.

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Just look at that level of sex in a cup… it actually looks even better in real life. Sorry for poor food photography…

3. Watched Charlie and the Chocolate Factory — because it’s apparently the “Final Golden Year”. Really enjoyed the musical, it’s honestly the first musical I haven’t dozed off/zoned out in after the experiences of Wicked and Phantom Of The Opera… I am hopeless in dark ambiences and having stayed awake throughout the 3 hours was pretty darn much an achievement, which goes to show how good (my brain thought) it was.

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Here’s us outside the theatre with my newly bought-on-impulse Tsum, walking into and out of the Disney shop within 5 minutes. Why am I behaving like a billionaire heiress… ok to justify my actions it was on 25% off and it is really cute right. I love Donald and Daisy they are the cutest Tsums!!!!

Finally packed, and am waking up in 7 hours to jet off to Norway! I love ending exams and everything with regard to post exam activities, but I really dread the results coming back. 😦 I’m terribly afraid of falling short of expectations; I should really just shut up and hope for the best.

End of exams!

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Now that was fast, it’s the end of being a freshie! Evidently my life hasn’t changed much… I’m still spending most of my time in hall, just that instead of sitting right in front of my table, I’m making pancakes in the kitchen. So I thought it would be fun to finish exams before everyone…

Ah, at least my frustration is mostly gone now, have been getting really irritated with people who enjoy putting others down academically; I was already stressed enough over unspoken expectations. I laughed during the speech by Mr Philip Yeo during the Singapore Speakers’ Series when he jokingly mentioned that “if they do not get all As, we send them (FTs with scholarships) home”. Now the joke is on me. Cheers to the end of exam-related woes for now.

I should probably sum up my first year in London to reflect on what I have received this entire year and how much I have grown, but after writing about maybe 20 or 30 academic essays in the past month I feel like I need a break from words. In other words, I am just lazy. I shall do that on the plane home when I am no longer able to snooze.

Anyway, I can’t wait for everyone to be done with their exams and then I’m setting off to Norway and finally, HOME!!! 11 more days to go and I’m so excited for all the meals and meet ups. All the current food fads better wait up for me.

Long days and long nights

I am honestly really unprepared for my 4 consecutive papers next week and it worries me a lot. To top it off I haven’t been performing spectacularly in my time here. For the first time it’s not something I can brush off easily because I do have expectations to meet this time: it’s not just my unrealistic personal expectations as usual, but I have to justify why taxpayers are wasting their money on someone like me. And I actually have people to account to.

I repeatedly remind myself that hard work will eventually pay off like it did in Secondary 3 when I actually put my ass out to study properly, or when I literally mugged my head away in Year 6 to save my pathetic grades in Year 5. But then I remember that I did not work my hardest this time (started late/many unproductive days) and it honestly makes me very disappointed in myself knowing I can do much better than this. I leapt out of the Singapore education system to snap out of this endless paper chase but some things can never go. I refuse to resign to my fate of mediocrity — here’s a promise to myself to work much harder and smarter next year.

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Here’s me in the laundry room to prove that I am still alive. I had to upload this because it’s the only place I have been to the past 2 weeks other than my neighbouring Sainsbury for grocery shopping and exam venues… I used to comment how I was ‘living like a hermit’ during A Levels but I had no idea…. this life is the true hermit life. Without my phone at that.

Summer is approaching, the tree outside my window has been growing so much it’s blocking my view of the sunset now; Regents’ Park has really bloomed to its prime and it’s so colourful once again. Families stroll along the parks, the London Zoo crowds with little children, with the Open Air Theatre in Regents’ Park actually having people inside… I love the crowds. I love long days, even though some people mentioned that 9pm and 10pm sunsets will eventually annoy you. I still love them.

Which means that these 8 months have literally flew by. It scares me. It’s nearly the conclusion to my first year in university… what have I even accomplished?

Occasionally (like now) nostalgia hits me quite badly. Listening to some oldie that my Dad always played in his car nearly half a decade ago, and missing how fulfilling my life seemed at that point in time. I had the best experiences in CCA, best memories with my family (when my family just retired and we ate together every single weekend), and the most well-maintained friendships. And a pretty memorable relationship. Thinking back… I sadly have lost so many.

I always glamorise the past. I often omit how tough those days were, battling the cold and flu that never went away (such that I had to secretly head to the clinic to purchase the pills without my parents’ knowledge). Struggling with rather poor grades (didn’t even know how to log before a log test) because CCA commitments were taking up too much.

But if I were to choose again I’d still relive it all over again. My upper secondary school days seem so magical on hindsight. No matter how childish a mindset I held or no matter how bitchy or flirty I was or I don’t know how shitty my personality or attitude was. You don’t realise when you are too busy being happy. I felt alive. I felt like I was doing something with my life. I knew what I loved and enjoyed. I knew who mattered the most to me. I recall smiling to sleep on so many nights; it really saddens me to admit that I haven’t felt that way in a very long time.