Posted in Learning Curve, Overseas, Random Stuff

IKKAGETSU

SO I HAVE BEEN OFFICIALLY FULLY INDEPENDENT FOR A WHOLE MONTH.

The moon has waxed and waned, and I have been more than 14900 km away from home for 31 days.

In that relatively short span of time, I have felt like crap, seen religious fiascos on campus, gay-pride flags being hung from church windows, found out that FermiLab is collaborating with CERN, spoken to PWC, gotten rejected by PWC, walked alone, jogged 5.7km for the first time, learnt to play volleyball, procured a shinai, bought a phone (and a phone plan!) for the first time, paid for the phone plan, spoken to multiple students from China, failed to speak in Mandarin to multiple students from China, built a water transport system, read about bio-modified asphalt binders, learned to read maps, bought a bicycle, forced myself through feeling like crap, and somehow survived up to today.

It feels wonderful to know that I am capable of not wallowing in sorrow when I most want to. Granted, the first two weeks were bloody awful. For a time, anything remotely related to Malaysia (food, videos, Facebook pictures – heck, even rice) would set me off. My brain would proceed to tell my tear ducts to start working out and – WALLA – I’d be silently sweating out of my eyes.

I’m better now. I just melancholic about Malaysia and rice and predictably hot weather and being able to use ‘lah’ without people going “What’s that mean?” And also slightly ridiculous about Zainal Abidin’s Hijau because I swear that’s the best Malay song ever. But America seems to gradually be getting better. I am slowly getting accustomed to the food and the fact that I have to draw out my A’s into AEEEEEEE’s when I speak. I regularly check the weather app to see if long sleeves are necessary. I carry around an umbrella because I tell you Fall is not a good time to forget emergency shelter. I remind myself less that ‘rubbish bin’ is ‘trash can’ and ‘toilet’ is ‘washroom’.

And of course, I have to say this – I’m learning to brace myself because WINTER IS COMING.

There. I said it. You have to admit that I had a legitimate reason for doing so.

 

Posted in Overseas, Random Stuff

I Have Been Blessed

By American road puddle water. It has been consistently raining for the past few days, and I suspect that this incessant mourning of the sky is a harbinger of cooler days to come.

Oh wow, Zeus, did you just decide to turn this drizzle into a storm?

I was sitting at the bus stop, waiting for the 120E bus to Gregory and Down – you know, the usual student-with-no-car ritual. With the kind of luck I possess, a car kindly whooshed by and brought upon me the water U of I’s roads seemed to want to offer me. Does this university have an unusually crude orientation ritual for unassuming international students? Is this how to say WELCOME, PEEPS to innocent Malaysian pedestrians?

Hello to you too, America. Nice to meet you.

Posted in Uncategorized

Re:Life

Starting over is hard.

I did it once last year back at INTEC. I shoved my belongings into a luggage bag, moved into Akasia and put together what was to be my material life at college. That wasn’t too hard. I was twenty minutes away from home in a country I grew up in, in a culture that was second nature to me.

It’s different this time. I packed two ridiculously heavy bags, got on a plane and soldiered through a 26 hour-long flight to Champaign, got to my dorm room and basically pieced my life back together (physically, at least) at 12 in the morning on the opposite end of the world.

It feels strange to be so far away from everything I know and have known. People, food – even the smells are different. But a friend once told me to look up at the sky every time I arrived in another country. That looks identical thank goodness.

According to my parents my room is very disorganized. Hey, as long as I know where everything is life is good. Coming to think about it, my room probably reflects what I’m feeling…rather mixed up – but I’m pretty sure I know where everything is, so I’ll be fine.

Hence, this marks my new project. I will write appreciation posts to help me keep up my spirits…until I get used to this whole new international-student thing.

Until then, babai.

Posted in Overseas, Random Stuff, Uncategorized

Narita Has Cool Toilets

I recently arrived at Narita Airport en route to Chicago, and I must say that their water closets amaze me. Two of the average kind, one with enough buttons to drive Arthur Weasley insane with joy, and the flattest squatting toilet bowl I have ever seen. In fact, meh to Arthur Weasley. I am going to be potentially driven mad with happiness.

THEY SELL MANGA LIKE MAGAZINES IN THIS COUNTRY.

Japan, you are doing something right.

Besides the elation of technically visiting Japan, I’m also feeling a kind of ‘Aha-I-told-you-I’d-be-back’ thing. Don’t remember the place looking like this four years ago, but that’s probably due to the sheer size of this whole establishment. I’d take a picture of it, but unfortunately my anak OKU (read: Lenovo A516) refuses to connect with the Narita wifi.

Looking forward to Chicago, but that’s where the nervousness sets in. I have to go through American Customs. Yikes. They be strict in the Land of the Free.

The reality of my situation has not yet fully set in. I suspect that symptoms will only begin to show after a few days or so. I was sent off by my friends and family at KLIA earlier, and definitely felt the love.

On a completely random note, did you know that it rains diamonds on Neptune? That’s according to Physics-Astronomy.

Now, NARITA GIVE ME WIFI!

Posted in Uncategorized

Barebaru

Me: You sure? The art looks kinda sloppy.

Sister: HAIKYUU IS LYFE.

Me: (being the objective, non-discriminating person I am) Okay, I’ll give it a shot.

Me: What’s the big deal with Hinata and Kageyama anyway?

Me: WHAT KIND OF SPIKE WAS THAT?? HINATA?? THINK ABOUT ASAHI!!

*twenty minutes later*

Me: I NEED A VOLLEYBALL.

 

Posted in Uncategorized

Letting Off Steam

 

It seems to me that each generation has an obligation to be plagued by some form of worldwide  tragedy. My grandparents suffered through World War II and the communist insurgency in Malaya. My parents lived through the Cold War, the Cuban missile face-off between the U.S. and Russia, both the Vietnam and Korean Wars, the Tiananmen Square massacre and the 1998 economic crash. Hence, it is only fair that, as part of what most adults would condescendingly call ‘Gen-Y’, my fellow counterparts and I must face our own share of international disasters.

Here are some of the horrors that have occurred ever since yours truly was introduced to this world:

  1. 9/11
  2. The 2008 economic downturn.
  3. Red shirt rallies in Kuala Lumpur.
  4. Global IS attacks, including one in Puchong.
  5. The Japanese earthquake.
  6. Global warming.
  7. People in denial of global warming.
  8. Donald Trump becoming the GOP’s candidate for the American presidency.
  9. Brexit.
  10. The Sulu insurgency in Sabah.
  11. Increased racial and religious hostility.
  12. Immigration issues in Western Europe.
  13. The Orlando shooting.
  14. Greece’s economic disaster.
  15. The bombing in Ataturk Airport.
  16. The bombing in The Holy Artisan Cafe in Dhaka.
  17. The bombing in Bangladesh.
  18. The bombing outside Madinah.
  19. Bombings in general.

So here I am, writing this out, mainly to vent my feelings of utter helplessness while reading Kaichou Wa Maid-sama trying (and failing) to ignore humanity’s stupidity as a whole. IT’S A CYCLE PEOPLE! OPEN YER EYES AND SEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE.

It’s happening again. All the conflict that happened in the past, the conflict our leaders promised would never happen again – well, IT’S HAPPENING. RIGHT NOW.

I’m just afraid. I never thought that I’d have to fear so much in this lifetime, knowing that anyone could pull out a hand grenade, or a hand gun, or a machete, and going kamikaze in the middle of  – oh, I don’t know – Subang? The LRT station? The airport? Just barely an hour ago I was sitting outside a restaurant, anxiously looking around in case anyone or anything seemed suspicious. A few weeks ago, I’d be happily whining about how much rice my dad made me eat, or trying to convince my brother that too much meat is bad for health.

Nope.

Today, I sat on the red plastic stool and spent a good five minutes glancing about my surrounding before the food arrived and my attention was sufficiently diverted. And fifteen minutes ago my attention was once again diverted by Misaki finally getting married to Usui. My inner fangirl is throwing a hypothetical wedding party.

Okay. Back to the serious, depressing stuff.

Throughout history we see a pattern – one of cause and effect, action and reaction. It has happened before when Europe waged war against the Arabian peninsula in the Crusades, causing shock-waves of religious conflict that we still feel today. It happened once again when America decided to intervene in the Middle East, destabilizing the region and causing people to seek vengeance with Islam as their axis (see: excuse). And it happened again in Malaya when the British were hard pressed for help, eventually turning to the communists and aiding their guerrilla war against the Japanese by supplying arms to the PKM.

We see a pattern of responding to an evil with a greater evil – so how long will it take before the Western world snaps and turns this fight into an MMA-style all-out religious war? How long before this becomes, once again, Islam vs Christianity?

God forbid that ever happens.

All I am capable of for now is to vent and to hope that someone – ANYONE – scrapes the dirt out of his/her eyes and sees the cycle of terror repeating once again. Coming to think about it, I do not think that we have had any problem spotting patterns. We do, however, have a problem taking action in preventing those horrifying things from happening again. In all honesty, we are all the stereotypical Asian student – perfectly capable of knowing, but completely hopeless in application.

I feel sorta helpless. But I don’t think I should feel like that. In a small way, I have already won my portion of the battle. I have seen, I have known, and now it is my responsibility break the cycle of hatred and misunderstanding. While I am no great orator, and will not accomplish changing people’s mindset on a global scale, I can play my small part, simply by being a better person to others regardless of race, religion and the whole other bunch of cliche SPM terms used in the closing of an essay. It is amazing, as INTEC has shown me, how far a little charity and selflessness can go.

Also – and who knows? – my writing may help.

Posted in Learning Curve, Random Stuff

NoobGamer Day#2

Me: OKAY IMMA ROCK THIS WHAT DO I DO

Game: Press ONE to use special power.

Me: *Presses W and dashes right into the arms of not-so-loving enemy gods*

Game: Head back to base to regain energy.

Me: Okay I got this. I can r –

Game: Anubis has one God Kill. Respawn in ten seconds.

Me: *stares at screen*……What just happened?

Posted in INTEC, Poems (or so I think), Random Stuff

I Walk Among Giants

Look at me! I am small

Barely five-foot-four, I ain’t very tall,

But I stand amidst giants

With my nose upturned in defiance,

And – holy f- here comes a ball!

 

It weighs a ton and a half

And the giants all laugh

As I squirm and struggle for life

But the ball seems to say,

“That’s enough for today,

Give up, you miniature lowlife.”

 

I live amidst giants

who play with balls of Math and Music and Science

And while they play I roll mine uphill,

When success seems close

The ball rolls down – BLOODY HELL THAT BLOWS

I swear, Hades has no chill.

 

Still, I roll my ball for I have been given a path,

A road I must walk, else I risk my conscience’s wrath

I take grudging steps forwards in over-sized shoes –

Ma, what were you thinking?

That my feet still need growing?

These footwear require so much filling – it’s abuse!

 

But I walk among giants,

Friends who have left behind the footprints of Titans,

And though I may stumble and fall,

My feet may yet grow

There is a path and footsteps I will follow,

And someday – who knows? – I’ll play with my ball.

 

 

 

 

Posted in INTEC, Writing assignment

Not Nearly The Cheesiest Thing I’ve Written

blue-cheese-012

The following essay was meant for Writing class, and is so cheesy it would give Gus Gus indigestion. So bear with me now. 

When you fire an M-16 rifle, you are required to nestle the stock firmly in the concave between your scapula and your chest. Properly done, you release a well-aimed shot – albeit with the disorienting sensation of temporary deafness – and you are satisfied. But if in an unfortunate scenario in which the stock is not well supported, you feel the backward momentum of the rifle push back against you as your bullet is fired. The miniature explosion forces you backwards a couple of centimeters and you land with your face planted firmly in the soil, hands and legs akimbo. Glass breaks in your upper chest and the electrical impulses fire.

That, ladies and gentleman, is what it feels like when someone says “I-love-you” to you.

Robert Solomon said it first, and he said it best. The romantic ‘“I-love-you” doesn’t fit into our conversation. It interrupts them. Or ends them,’ (p. 22) he argues in his aptly titled article, ‘I-Love-You’. It is no surprise, really, that trying to express the essence of an emotion that was never meant to be expressed in anything human language can devise would only end in disaster.

But what of familial love? What of friendship? Does their ‘I-love-you’ sound like a gunshot too?

I vaguely recall sitting in the living room with my diapered rump on the marble floor back when I lived in Taiping, my mother ensconced on the mattress in front of me, cradling my baby sister. She would entertain the both of us; my sister only required the occasional pat or two while my mother had to take to questioning me to keep me occupied. Her favorite inquiry was the one that would cause my three-year-old person the most emotional anguish:

“Who do you love more? Mummy or Papa?”

What a question to ask a toddler.

I would pause for a while, racking my small brains for an answer that would cause me the least grief.

“Both also same.”

I would give myself a mental cheer for being such a diplomatic child. But my mother was not finished with me. She would give me a coy smile and ask:

“Show Mummy how much.”

Ah, dang.

I would hold out my pudgy arms as wide as my physical structure would permit and try to roughly estimate, in terms of arm span, how much I loved my parents. Needless to say, the effort was futile.

Parental love, familial love, and friendship – these variations of love do not require that I say anything per se. This ‘I-love-you’ is not – cannot be – said. This ‘I-love-you’ is silent and unassuming. It does not herald its coming with the great blast of a rifle; it does not want for attention. And like the kind of ‘I-love-you’ that characterizes them, these relationships do not demand that I openly proclaim my love and loyalty, and neither do I expect it of them. There is simply too much seen together – felt together – that neither the meager proclamation of ‘I-love-you’ nor the arm span of a child is sufficient to encompass everything that connects us. After all, what is saying ‘I-love-you’ but a poor, clumsy attempt at quantifying emotions that were never meant to be quantified?

The people who love me and the people I love stake no claims, make no accusations, and expect nothing in return. I am silent, and I love them. They know. There is no ‘perhaps’ to it. No words can excuse the breach of the sanctity of silence when you love someone so wholly, nothing seems enough to describe the emotion of it.  It simply cannot be ‘nailed down’ (Tesich, p.2) in three words pretentiously connected by hyphens.  I ask you – how do you orally express the love of a woman who steps into a room smelling like sour mother’s milk while her daughters trail alongside her, leaving the powdery scent of talcum powder behind them? How do you capture the quintessence of a friend who has been by your side through thick and thin? So in lieu of language, ‘I-love-you’ is substituted with care, advice, company, understanding and shared experiences beyond the reaches of even the most expressive phrase human language can craft. ‘I-love-you’ becomes ‘I = Love + You’.

Solomon has the right of it. ‘I – love – you’ is ‘a terrible thing to say to someone’ (p. 23). It subtracts, taking away the magic, ripping off the suspense. It is a bullet, rushing to tell what can only be shown, and it compresses and binds true emotions to mere permutations of the English alphabet. ‘I = Love + You’, however – ‘I = Love + You’ is selfless and unassuming. It does not want to take, and neither does its presence need to be announced, because it just is. It needs no justification, no defense, no nailing down. ‘I = Love + You’ only wants to give, to add to the beauty of the relationship. And in my silence, rest assured that you hold a special place in my heart – beyond the reaches of the spoken word and everything else in between – for there can be no me if I do not love you.

PS: ‘I-Love-You’ is also like blue cheese. It takes a particular sort of palette to stomach its sheer pungency, and I have not been so fortunately/unfortunately endowed.

Posted in Education, Scholarship interview, Scholarships

Karma and Community Service

I figured since I received most of my help applying for scholarships via blogs, I’d repay the favor by posting one on scholarships myself, to help prepare whoever reads this for what is to come. Links to the scholarships can be found here.

(Viewer discretion advised: all content posted is purely writer’s personal experience).

1.Start with the easy ones

Yes – prepare yourself for spending hours on end staring at the computer screen, filling out forms that eventually seem to make no difference. But it’s going to make a difference. I started out by finishing the ones that could be done fast – PETRONAS, Maybank, PNB, Yayasan Tenaga Nasional – these are a few of those that can be completed in one sitting. Other applications like the Bank Negara Scholarship and the Yayasan Khazanah requires an essay each, so you’ll need to spend more time on those.

2. Fill in the paper forms with pencil first

I made the mistake of filling in both my Maybank and PNB forms with pen. I think I murdered at least two acres of virgin jungle reprinting those forms. No – correction tape or liquid paper of any kind is acceptable on those forms. So yes, fill in the blanks with pencil like the good, environmentally-friendly human being you are then finalize in pen.

3. Essays must be prepared beforehand.

Some scholarship applications require an essay, like the Bank Negara and Yayasan Khazanah Scholarships. There are no set rules to writing the perfect essay, but it would be good if you talk about what really matters to you with someone else. It will help you come up with ideas on why you want to do what you want to do and not sound pretentious about it. Don’t try to play humble. But don’t be too vain. Yeah – sounds like you need to swim while drinking water. I feel you. Also, pre-write the essay in Word document if possible. Then just copy and paste.

HOWEVER – Bank Negara will ask you to write an essay on the spot (cuz they merciless dat wey) so sit down for a bit, and think about your achievements, what they mean to you, any significant events in your life, your goals and why they are that way. List them down or talk about it – whatever helps. Then write when you are ready.

4. Deadlines are lies

No. Do not, under any circumstance, listen to that deadline. Doing anything on the day of the deadline is what you call A BAD IDEA. So many things could go wrong. Your Internet could crash. The post office could be closed. Envelopes could be sold out. The world could end. So get it done as soon as possible. Cause you never know. Stuff happens.

5. You will suffer, but you will be happy about it

Yes, those applications can really affect your self esteem. It’s as though all those co-curricular blanks were meant to be filled with international-level participation and those SPM spaces were meant for strings of A+. It will affect you. Take some time off for a breather. I don’t really know how I got out of that semi-depressive state myself, but I think telling myself that it was okay to be okay helped. But all things come to pass, and eventually you will finish that application and who knows? Maybe good news in a few weeks? It will all be worth it.

I think that’s about it. If there are any questions you’d like to ask me just post it in the comments below (if anyone does read this, of course). I’d be glad to be of assistance.

PS: You’ll need at least five sets of photocopied and stamped certificates and at least ten copies of your IC. So be prepared.

ALL DABESSSSSSS.