Reflections as a freshman; AY2015/16

Typing this seems so surreal. Year 1 is about over.

I remember dreamt of getting into this school, little did I know what was in store for me. From the Sem 1 camps, intro mods and getting accustomed to things to stepping up more in Sem 2, not just taking on leadership roles but also growing very much intellectually and maturing, it’s been such a wonderful academic year.

I did things I never imagined I’d ever do, most people ask me if I’m crazy. I think I am. Writing this, I don’t know how to put into words the many things that I gained from all my experiences. I gotta say I’m also very blessed to be in FASS. It’s a faculty where I get to study everything I want, it’s so enlightening to learn things, to appreciate perspectives, to have ideas to discuss, to understand my world, my surroundings, to know cultures, history, and so much more. It’s a wonderful place, really, one that I could never have dreamed of, in terms of allowing me to pursue what I love and that in depth and breadth. I am very grateful indeed.

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Exam Results

To be honest, when I saw the results I felt quite sad, I expected more, a lot more. However when I told those around me, they felt that it was good and commensurate to the work done. I came to think of a few things on taking it.

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Freshman Year, Semester 1 // Lessons


1. Relinquishing control: giving it to God was literally a hard saying for me, for someone who needed sooo much control in my life, in my academics, over my friends, in my family etc. But this semester, I was forced to give up my control over what I held so tightly to, when my mom went into hospital there was nothing I could do except fall on my knees and ask for God’s help. When my assignments didn’t seem to match up to expectations, I was lost, I needed to ask for help, I had no one to turn to. In my decisions, people who I asked left me with ‘it’s your choice’(s) and ‘do whatever makes you happy’(s), how was that even an answer, but it was God’s way of telling me to come to Him, the Answer. And it was when I went to Him for help, that the calmness came to me to make decisions, and He blessed my choices. It was a gradual learning process, and I have not learnt fully but I am still learning to lean on Him, every day in all I do.

 

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ODAC // Week 13

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I never stopped to think about this, but I thought I should. It’s been a while since any decision I’ve made paid off so handsomely, especially in terms of things out of the academic zone. I made a choice to join ODAC, to be honest, at this point I still don’t know why, but I did, and the emotional reward has been nothing short of awesome. I thought about it, and wondered why I would be able to connect to them so well. It’s really cool, like I actually enjoy being with them and my fears about fitting in and stuff were really quite unfounded. Contrary to popular belief, despite me being all gung-ho and stuff, my fears were real about the inability to fit in, and the fact that I might not be able to understand the way they worked, and so many other considerations. But on an emotional level alone (judging from there because I have not started planning events just been doing a lot of admin), it has been good. The workload has been steady but very manageable and I have had a lot of support and even I feel not an obligation, but a certain willingness to help out where I can. Above all, I think the community is welcoming and allows me to be myself. Of course, I get all the nonsense from them too, but this is part of the journey which I will treasure and learn from. I suppose at this point in the semester I just stop and thank God for good friends, a good environment and more. There are many things to be thankful for, and this is one.

Freshman Year, Sem 1; the people

It’s week 12, and I have so much to be thankful for. Before school started, there was the camps. For the seniors who I made friends with then who became really reliable friends that I could count on when I, as a blur shit, walked into school and got lost (literally as well). To Zong Xian Brandon Lim Wei Jie thank you for being particularly helpful! To the THEP peeps (tagged below)- my source of jokes on the E White Ninjas chat , every time I meet y’all I want to die of stomachache, it was really the best camp I had in the holidays. Thank you for being such an integral part of my semester. ‪#‎THPRIDE

Literature Camp came on the heels of that and it’s kinda like a family I guess, being part of the Exco. Everyone contributes in their weird and quirky way and I really like how we are. To the seniors who sell their mods to me HAHA I really appreciate it a great deal, for all the direction, advice and comments, I cannot be more grateful. To Rennes Lee I love you hahaha here’s to more OOTDs and soft toys being strewn around the room (Y). To Michelle Lim thank you for hearing all my rants (you know what I mean) and for giving me solid advice when I had to make decisions, and for always reassuring me when I doubted myself and my abilities, you go boss!

CRU next up. Here’s to a God-loving, fun filled, open hearted and ever loving community. I am so thankful God placed you guys in my life. Coming into NUS was in a way a cultural shock for me, and I felt sorta lost and sometimes jaded but I am relieved to have you all as family. From camp where I caught on the fire to join the family (credits: Lim Boon Pin) and for all the littlest of things you guys have done for me; from the acceptance of us into the family, to the small texts like ‘how are you, haven’t seen you in a while’ to driving me home to my doorstep, giving me food, always provoking us to trust Christ even and especially when the goings got tougher, sharing heartfelt stories over BBQs and study sessions, dinners/suppers, singing together (Y), Impact meetings (so glad I came for Impact 7), then there’s ‪#‎Reps4Jesus‬ my lifting CRU Kenneth Chew Mengting Wu Joshua Soon and the rest (yes see what I did there hehehe), and last but not the least, my amazing DG Gaomin Chow Crystal Koh Phyllis Ho Rachel Oh & Erinna. You guys bring so much joy and it always feels like home.

So many things happened in one semester.

Canoeing (which I really wanted to stay on but could not), but gained Abigail Leong and a bunch of friends from it), and then ODAC!

ODAC haha well, I enjoy it with them. Zi Ran Xie Jun Hong Tan Qun Qunz Jymie Ng and more. All the ships, actually just THE ship, the fun, laughter, Ameens dinner (we need more of that), the bonds forged (and to be forged), man I am thankful for the camaraderie. There’s more to come, much more, and I hope we grow and learn as a committee together. Mabel Goh we shall continue to cope with the madness of emails hehe

Other people who have made this Sem a bunch better:
Bryan Chong Wr for a heck load of fun, laughter, concerned text messages and more, thank you :’)
Ashwath Ashwath bro please stop sleeping (actually just do it man, sleep is for the weak :P), on the brighter side, thank you for bringing me for sushi every time I had sushi cravings which is like every other day HAHAHA. I owe you man.  Ashraf Omar HTHTs are always appreciated and I am always here for you okay!Felicia Chiuh for our calls that occasionally last more than an hour and a half, I miss you VERY much my dear.
Ms Natasha Alvar for always being there to hear me out, mark my essay, discuss Lit with me, and reassure me to follow my passions and chase those dreams.
The crazy funny EU1101E team. Thank you for making me laugh, best project group I’ve had Chia Jia En Gladys Wong Geoff Wong Jun Jie
RuoNing Tan the little production cutiepie who never answers her phone, for those hugs here and there and the short but quality time spent, thanks (: Charmaine Yeo my fairygodmother, one of the best friends ever, and a sister for life
Hakim Harsono BAEEE how much more can I say, you just get me and you’re extremely supportive even when I’m down, so so down, you have that uncanny ability to….throw pretzels at me what the heck, but yes, Love you to the max.

TO MY MOM lastly: please get well soon, I love you very much

Week 11// Part 2

Week 11:
Someone told me something this week that left me very uneasy. I was speaking to that person (whom I was not close to) about some choices I needed to make next year and the person said one thing: You’re quite confused aren’t you.

This set me thinking for the rest of the week, there are so many things in Uni that I want to do, I know this is the last chance in the education system before I enter the world/hellhole also known as the workplace. I therefore entered NUS with one thought at the back of my mind, and that was to, besides studying (well), also enjoy myself, do things that I wanted to try (not like a YOLO without abandon kinda thing) but to explore new aspects of interests.

Somewhere along this journey I realised I had too little time to do everything I wanted to do, 4 years would not be enough time for me to complete the modules I felt I would be interested in taking up, not enough time for me to try all the CCAs I wanted to get my hands on, then people spoke about scholarships and exchanges and wow. There was just so much.

As I thought of it all, I asked myself why some people had so much direction in life, but (I think) a good part of the student population actually has no idea where they want to go in life, or what they want to do. I realised that being confused is okay, being unsure of what you wanted to do and where you wanted to go was okay. It wasn’t wrong. I always thought that living a life of direction was meaningless, but I am slowly being proven wrong.

Let me qualify that I don’t mean it is okay to be confused about directions in life such that one parties all day and neglects their grades, I mean I think that working averagely well to the best of your ability is a given. What I want to talk about here is that it is okay to not have decisions yet, or have a path set in stone for yourself. Here’s why I think that is so.

Firstly, we are still young, I’m 19, the oldest of us is 23/24 and I think that we still have our lives to live, we have so much ahead of us, experiences, life lessons, mistakes to make, places to be in, people to meet. It is okay to not have a decision because we have not seen enough to come to one yet. I believe it is better to not make a decision than make one rashly.

Secondly, the FASS system teaches me one thing, if you never try, you never know. I never knew I was interested in European Studies until I took it and I went WOAH, even better, I never studied South Asian Studies and when I took it I really enjoyed myself in it. Of course one can say that’s a very blanket statement, like just because one student feels that way does not mean everyone feels that way. That is true, but my point here is that when we are indecisive or tentative as compared to being stubbornly decisive, it makes us more open to things that might interest us.

At this point I feel like I’m trying to justify why I am ‘confused’. Maybe I am, but more so, I think I learnt to be okay with it, I learnt to not feel guilty that I cannot make decisions, that I want to try everything, that I ask what does something hold in store for me? Every time I see the IVLE Student Events section, it never ceases to be filled with countless calls for participation in this and that and everything else. The question could be – what is worth your time? Apparently that question is not so easily answered, because you won’t know what is worth your time unless you try it, and so if you try it and it is not worth your time, perhaps you learn, or you may see it as a waste… Well, but it could be worth it too, I guess.

Woche Elf // Week 11

It was expected on Sunday by yours truly that the week would be hell. Every odd week is, with a Wednesday that only Engin timetables can rival. So I braced myself for the madness of the week, climaxing on Wednesday and petering out by Thursday – Friday.

But this week, God threw in His curveball of a move and made things happen in such a way I never expected and in the aftermath I can only stand in awe and gratefulness.

First, the blessings, because I must write it down.
1. Wednesday was not just any random day it was the last Impact (if you’re in this event you’ll know what I mean), and God renewed my vision, hope and desire to love and give myself for His cause.
2. I restarted deadlifting and beat all the bars I set for myself beyond expectations.
3. I scored for one midterm paper to my expectations which made me thankful that effort paid off
4. When I attempted to do my quiet time, God was merciful and so, so good to come like a gentle touch and heal my heart
5. For bringing mom safely through the colonoscopy this week. She said she wasn’t sedated enough but thank God for bringing her through
6. Lastly for all the smaller but not any less significant blessings, like journey mercies home, friends to send me home, the ability to wake up on time


I felt this week God showed me that my world is very small, when I think about myself, and my assignments and deadlines, I closed myself to what He had in store for me. That night when He reached out to me again, I could not help but feel extremely ashamed for the lack of love I had to Him, for the selfish ways in which I lived my life, seeking my own desires and ambitions, ignoring the mandate that was set for me. I felt useless in that I had so much, and yet I gave so little, to those around me especially. I was guilty but when I looked up to the cross as pastor preached on Sunday, there was a sense of hope renewed, that because of Christ Who gave it all, and for ALL He did for us who deserved nothing, we had this chance to now live our lives for Him, and that pulled me out of my rut and made me directed once more.

It seemed amazing that on the week in which I was the busiest, God kept me the most sane and instead showed me that there were so many things out there for me to look forward to. I did not expect it but He surely works in the most unexpected times, and I felt I was then used as a blessing to spur those around me on in whatever capacity I had.

Monday was really nice too, on another good note, I made a trip down to the other island, Pulau NTU and explored the Hive! It was cozy and welcoming, and to be honest I think travelling time is sorta negated in my mind already, I’m more or less used to travelling durations of an hour or more, gives one good reflection time too.

All in all, I am reminded of Who He is, amidst the daily battles for survival, I know He is my God and He is able, and because of that, I am able to live with Him by my side and with Him in me, alongside this journey.

My hope is that I would not be ‘useless’ in my niche in society, in whatever I do, to be always humble, remembering I am not alone, I am not of my own, but I will listen to His voice and His directions and live for him.

4 things I learnt in 8 weeks of university life // Week 8

1. No one holds accountability for yourself but you
2. Friends: they aren’t (just) people in your class, or lecture or tutorial or OG, they’re people you make an effort to spend time with. If you wanna keep them you make the due effort.
3. Most people don’t know yet what they wanna do in life, even Year 4 seniors, and it’s okay to just do things out of interest and not because it’s necessary for a job in the future. And it’s okay to not know what you wanna do in life
4. We all need alone time. Mostly I forget I need it and then I pack my timetable sore. And then that’s when I remember why I should’ve kept it emptier.

Roller Coaster // Week 5

It’s never been more of a roller coaster day than today. I guess after so many things going wrong for me all the time I’ve forgotten how to feel when things actually go right.

Tomorrow’s polling day and then it’s a holiday because we don’t vote LOL and then there’s technically a break for us but for me it’s work and more work.

Two amazing things happened this week. Many good things happened but two were significant.

In both cases I prepped myself for the worse case scenario. I prepped for the tears that would fall, only to be seen by the pillow and no one else, I prepped for the feeling where your heart drops so low you can’t retrieve it. 

But in both cases it didn’t come. It went okay. It maintained where I hoped it would be.

This week I also came to terms with feels I cannot express in words. ‘Twas a good experience and a very heart warming and fulfilling one. 

I watched Inside Out last week and boy oh boy I really acquiesced with it in many ways. I thought it was a really well thought through film both in terms of technicalities (like how they use the terms of subconscious and Long Term Memory etc) which are real (vs possible fictitious terms) and also in terms of storyline.

I thought it was a well thought out film because it felt like meta cognition. Thinking about thinking. And with thinking that connoted emotions and emotional state of mind of many individuals. The characters were extremely well casted and their dynamics pretty accurate and insightful.

Overall it was a good experience.