Category Archives: Else

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.

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End of VA2 

It’s the last day of two long and stressful months. I have felt a lot through these two months, felt desperation, helplessness and unfairness at many points, and most notably, felt bitter and unhappy.

I remember encouraging my juniors (when I met them) to strive and achieve their COC as much as possible, and I truly meant those words when I stood in a position without so. I would not have the opportunity to even make a choice between summer school and UGPMET back in Singapore, I would have to go back to the  same squadron with an equally taxing routine, or even worse when I’m supposed to be “enjoying” my summer holidays. In my current position and extra experiences from these two additional months, I can see on hindsight why I did not succeed in my previous assessments. It truly takes a lot of moral courage to vocalise that you are not ready because that means you are way behind your peers, but I can say with certainty now that I would not trust that unconfident individual one year ago. One year on and I am far from being perfect. But I am much better and I definitely will be way more confident when dealing with unexpected scenarios in harbour.

I also had a brand new crew this year, much to my surprise when I did not get posted back to the same ship because of their constraints from an exercise. I was initially apprehensive, at the same time  happy, because I was worried that I would be identified as HT’s girlfriend when I’m on board instead of my identity as a YO in the process of learning. I regretted that decision along the way because it was once again a struggle to establish rapport with the crew as well as gain support in your endeavours when they knew nothing about your competency. It eventually paid off, but I cannot deny at many times I regretted not expressing a preference to return to the same ship. It seemed much much easier, and it would also have been easier to return to the same page where I can continue learning instead of restart learning.

This year I couldn’t wait to get out of VA because I was extremely stressed and it was really taking a toll on my mental health with all the tears shed after demoralising debriefs. I thought about the possibility that I may have to restart this journey all over again, and I felt so so so beaten every single time. I am extremely thankful that all this is over, and I am happy to leave on a good note with my last day at FF Training at Mandai. I learnt much much more about fighting fire in a more realistic setting (which was my very weakness since last year), and where I managed to have great conversations with the crew over my farewell lunch. I definitely feel attached to everyone especially after seeing them day in day out for 2.5 months despite the rough start, and am thankful that I had a unique experience despite having stayed put in the same squadron.


In everything, there is a lesson. And I am thankful for the many lessons learnt this year.

Freedom

Hi. It’s been a long time. Every time I blog I amaze myself at how quickly time passes, and as of today I have one full month left before HT leaves me for his long deployment.

It’s been about three weeks since I came on board and it certainly could be easier.

I think it’s easy to like your ship when it’s doing well. I was part of the work year that saw 82 getting best unit, and I saw for myself all the processes that made it possible. All the stringent checks on the crew, the tightened security measures and all the small safety checks that they conduct on the crew. I enjoyed my time on board too, I never understood why people hated their PV life so much. Why? The 82 ship crew was a great bunch of people. I enjoyed going to ship everyday because I laughed. I laughed a lot. People took care of me. They didn’t despise my gender for one — it’s really easy to come across as useless when you are unable to help to shift the gangway because it’s too heavy, and you probably wouldn’t contribute much other than highly possibly falling overboard. When you are unable to manage the running fenders properly because it’s bulky. When you are not strong enough to be a line handler on the deck. You can’t do seamanship for nuts. But the crew understood and were accepting about the weaknesses of my gender, and these weaknesses were hardly directed at me personally. Or even if they did, it was never blatant or disrespectful to me.

It’s then difficult to fall from the peak. So hard, in fact. I remember being so happy on my first few days or weeks on board 82 especially as I had less stress towards the attainment of my COC — these were great memories that I too detailed on my blog posts. A lack of a proper initiation on the very first day onboard a new ship this year showed the clear fleeting nature of my temporary presence. It’s honestly okay to me for this did not matter much to me, as I was bound to leave in a matter of a few months anyway. But there were some people I’ve known to be crew for more than half a year, who left without a sound. The ship really carries on without these people, without any regret. Where was the Navy family that they spoke about?

And of all times, something happened on the third day I was attached to this ship. From there, sailings were all cancelled. They were replaced with weekend duties after weekend duties, and there goes all my weekends. The crew had their Offs and SRs taken away as the ship continued to ready itself for operations. There were several knee jerk reactions that were put in place that put us through so much administrative trouble, there were so many initiatives that I deemed unnecessary but nevertheless had to go through with it because it seemed that ~we~ were the ones clearly at fault, and there were so many false hopes (“after this weekend it’ll be okay” “everything will go back to normal”) given to the crew again and again that remained false hopes because of the extra scrutiny put on us by the squadron staff and everyone else who deemed us unfit for operations.

Day to day I head to ship with a smile but the negative energy truly gets to me. I consider myself a relatively optimistic and cheerful person but I am too, affected by the dampened moods of everyone. I feel resentment for the crew and hopelessness from within. Everyone’s unhappy. Everyone’s desperate. In the past, I heard so much resentment about the sailing that was required from our squadron. Why does our squadron sail so much compared to the other squadrons? Why is there so much load taskings on such a lean duty crew in our squadron? Why do we work the hardest but yet receive little or no recognition from the rest of the RSN? Many people dreaded every single sailing so much, especially for those who may not see the purpose in what we are doing. But what all of us never knew was what and how it is like to be taken out of sailing. I draw parallels to being placed on the sidelines when all you want to do is to take part in the competition field after having been through tough physical trainings that you really hated and dreaded. Everyone on the ship right now is so desperate to be normal, to be on the same page as the rest of the squadron. We just want to sail. We just want to be seen as normal again, and we just want to be assigned patrols like any other ship in the squadron. We have been doing so much for this purpose but why have they been all reduced to naught?

I will remain thankful for this learning opportunity to cope with what I would consider a slump. I have been blessed last year to be assigned to an amazing ship with a great culture, but we cannot be lucky all the time. This year I will take this learning opportunity positively and keep the end goal in mind — to be competent enough and confidently get my COC.

Volunteer chauffeur 

He made me take this picture exclaiming that he has been waiting 6 months for me to take his car. LOL. I love this shot — in my hand is a charizard pikachu I delivered to his home for Valentine’s Day, and on his car dashboard is a row of 8 Tsums (brought home from London) that I forced him to put up. I also happen to have unusually slim looking legs in this photo unlike the usual elephant trunks that I go around in.


Loving the late night Bowling sessions, dessert sessions (bingsu!) and exploring… NUS UTown (?) in the dead of the night. All condensed in one day. Thanks for being all that you are for all that I am.

It’s been a long time since an update because I am lazy and I have tons of excuses for myself, for example sending my MacBook off to the new Apple flagship store in Orchard. I would also take this chance to express how thankful I am to be safe and unaffected by all the terrorists incidents in London so far, as well as not having been subjected to the horrific weekend delay by British Airways having lucked out by just one day. I will update more soon (a note for myself).

Nice weather

Because it’s really not a joke that British people start off conversations talking about the weather and the cold and the cloudiness… LOL. I have lots to complain about how it’s supposed to be double digits and how I miss texting on the streets.


But I walk out at 9am, I get blinded by the sun and see clear blue skies. It makes 4 degrees absolutely fine! I don’t pride myself on being a morning person but it’s a hella beautiful morning today.

It can only be a better day. The homesickness (and lovesickness lolol) have gotten to me very much especially as of late but to be honest, schooling in London has never been better.

Another year down

I am spending Christmas in London for the first time, streets are lit up with Christmas lights, shops are playing modern Christmas songs, post offices have long lines of people sending parcels and so many people (like me) are going Christmas shopping.

But I remember this familiar feeling — I listen to 听海 and I remember my brother’s off-tune voice next to me when we were at KTV this summer.

And I just want to be home. 😦

A week into your absence 

The Snorlax you gave me has stopped smelling of you. 😦


I want to keep reminding myself how blessed I am to have had this trip with you, and how lucky I am to grow independently by myself, yet together with you.

Tonight was hard and there will be harder days, but please let all be worth it.