What I Learnt in 2016

I would just like to start by saying that 2016 was a hell of a ride, and that I honestly mean it when I said I feel that I’ve grown a lot this year.

At the start of 2016, I didn’t know that going to junior college would have such an immense impact on my life. I thought junior college was just going to be another school, and that life will be more or less the same. I couldn’t be more wrong.

Everything became more difficult this year. This really affected me. I was already used to failures, but still, I was not prepared for everything that life threw at me this year. Homework was tough to complete, and I lost motivation to do work. Project Work tested my patience and resilience. Research really tested me intellectually and emotionally, and made me question who I am, what I like and what my future holds.

What this year really taught me was this: Grades matter really little in this world. What matters more is your attitude and personality – how you view things and how you approach them. Whether you have the perseverance, courage and emotional strength to endure all that life throws at you.

It really made me think: Am I really ready to be an adult and step into the real world? Next year, I will be 18, but somehow, as I grow older, I become more unprepared to be a fully fledged adult. If you ask 15-year-old me, she would be confident in her ability that no matter what obstacles she face, she will always find a way to conquer it and succeed. Now, I’m not sure.

I realise that I’m not as independent as I think. I always need people’s assurances, and I hardly make a decision on my own.

I also learnt that I crave for others’ approval and liking. I hate it when I know someone doesn’t like me, and don’t approve of my ability, which made my research journey so upsetting for me, because my mentor deemed me incapable and didn’t show approval of me. I was so used to being good at things, and having teachers and relatives like you for being quiet, good, hardworking, intelligent, but now that this is not the case. But I realise that this is life, and in life, not everybody will like you and fawn over you like in primary school. I realise that I do not need to earn the approval of everybody, but only those that matters. Still, this bothers me and will be something I need to work on in the future.

I also learnt that I am good at studying, but is that necessarily a good thing? I realise that I do well in examinations, but when it comes to daily life, I have nonexistent common sense, and I cannot recall and apply what I learnt in school to real life. This worries me. Why am I stressing out and studying for assessments if I am going to fail at my biggest, lifelong test – my life? I need to learn how to stop and think before doing, think before saying, and just think, and not be the clumsy fool bumbling around.

This year also made me question my life choices. Am I really suited for a career in science (biology or medicine), seeing how clumsy and stupid I was in research, or should I go for a more arts related career like psychology, sociology, education or business? I do well in the former, but I really take initiative to explore the latter in my leisure. Next year, I will have to make decisions on my career choices and what universities I want to go to, but I’m so not ready for this. How can adults expect barely-18-year-olds to choose what they want to do for the rest of their lives when they don’t even know what each career truly entails? Such a flaw in this system.

2016 was also filled with so much calamities. Brexit. Donald Trump. Berlin Christmas market shooting. Orlando nightclub shooting. Many other terror attacks and gun shootings. The Syrian crisis. Carrier Fisher. Debbie Reynolds. David Bowie. Alan Rickman. So many lives lost.

That being said, 2016 wasn’t all bad.

I experienced new firsts: stand up paddling, doing my first online transaction, placing 3rd in a lion dance competition, ranking 13th in my cohort for my Biology block test, doing a research project, having a sleepover with my friends for Halloween Horror Night. I made new friends, and shared experiences with them, and I fell more in love with old friends and tried to keep those friendships as well. I went to Japan for the first time ever. I watched so many great films, television shows, read so many great books and listened to so much great music. I got into Korean dramas, variety shows and music, and learnt how to read Korean Hangeul.

I am super grateful for the opportunities and gifts that I have received in 2016, and for the opportunities and gifts I will receive in 2017. While I complain and whine about all my worries and obstacles that I face, I also know that I am super fortunate to be allowed to worry about these things, and not about whether I have enough food for the day, whether I have a roof over my head or whether the next airstrike would hit me. I will keep this in mind, and live my life to the fullest in 2017 and face each day with courage and determination.

Goodbye, 2016. Hello, 2017.

What I Learnt in 2016

#PushThrough

It’s been a long time since I posted here. But I felt like this is the age where life starts to get confusing and difficult, and I wanted a online diary (of sorts) to document all the ups and downs of this wondrous life.

I’m going to be 17 in a few weeks. In one year, I will take my A Level examinations, and then I will go to university and work towards a career of my own.

As exciting as that sounds, I am so confused as to what I want. Before this year, I thought I knew what I wanted to do in life. I was going to do medicine, and be an oncologist. I was so convinced this is what my future holds.

Now, I’m not so sure. I was advised that I need to start thinking about career and university plans, and as I was doing my research for that, all my plans began to unravel. Am I really capable of medicine, when I’m so careless and incapable in mere lab sessions? Or was I really drawn to it because of the glamour and excitement it brings? Am I really interested in medicine? Because while biology is my favourite subject and I do good in it, I don’t read up on medicine articles and books as fervently as my friends.

I was told to see what I am interested in. The thing is, I am a Jack of all trades, but really, master of none. I like reading articles on human affairs and education, I like watching vlogs on Youtube, I like seeing the editing and the videography of videos. I love films, I love television shows, I love books and stories. Maybe what I liked about medicine was the human interaction.

Then, I came across Boston University’s College of Communications, and I felt like that was everything I was interested in.

But what if this is a rash impulse? How do I know for sure that that is really what I wanted? The only thing I knew I wanted was that I want to study overseas. I want to experience independence, no matter how terrifying that seems, and I want that freshmen experience that I can get in the United States.

This itself opens another Pandora’s box. I want that experience so much, but I feel so bad to let my parents pay for such an expensive education. If I knew what I wanted, I could convince myself that it is a worthy investment, but alas, I don’t even know what I want. I don’t even know if going overseas is even feasible.

Another thing I know about myself is that I don’t want to do research. I’m currently on a research attachment, and I’m finding out more and more that this is definitely not a career path I want and am suited for. It’s so stuffy and rigid, and I’m just not that type of girl that can regurgitate Chemistry facts or do calculations at the top of my head.

I got scolded today for showing illogical experimental design, and it is true. I made so many stupid mistakes, but I still feel weird about making mistakes and getting scolded. Not bitter, but just weird. Unaccustomed. This made me realise that there’s a lot for me to learn for the future, and I realised that life will not be as smooth sailing and as successful as school is, and I have to learn to accept it. I have to learn to accept that mistakes are inevitable, however embarrassing and ridiculous my mistakes always turn out to be, and that I have to learn to be out of my comfort zone and be able to move on from my mistakes. I need to learn that it’s not my mistakes that define me, but my attitude and actions that follows. As long as I am responsible and honest and do my utmost best, I must have faith that I will turn out fine. I must also learn to not grovel and please everyone. There will be people will not like me no matter how hard I try, and that’s okay. That’s life. I haven’t learnt all these lessons yet, not yet, but I will repeat this to myself whenever I face any hard days over the next month or so. I will be fine, as long as I work hard and show that I am willing to learn from my mistakes.

I will end off this really rambling post with this beautiful video that fills me with hope, optimism, determination and tears. This is the mantra that Jasmyn Wright, an American educator, teaches her third-grade students to say everyday before lessons. I urge anyone reading this to check out the video and this news article written on it. It is really worth it.

If they can do it, I can do it too. #PushThrough

Video

2013 in review

2013 was a good year.

I got to spend more time with my classmates. I did pretty well in my academics. I did something a little extra with my time by helping out with Project Esperenza, which allows me to tutor younger kids. I watched more movies and television shows. I managed my time much better. 2013 was also a year of many firsts. In 2013, it was my first time acting, albeit a rather weak one in drama class (or should I call it “not-acting-but-more-like-reciting-lines”). In 2013, it was my first time directing a play, though I had lots of help with all my classmates. It was definitely a class effort. In 2013, it was my first time riding a horse. It was my first time playing golf. It was my first time riding a jet boat.

To end off this year, I decided to do a little summary of one of my happiest moments this year: my vacation in New Zealand. Here are Instagram-inspired collages of my iPhone shot.

20131231-203501.jpg
Top (from left to right): my airplane stopping at Melbourne for a transition; Fernhill, Queenstown, NZ; outside the supermarket at Remarkables, Queenstown, NZ
Middle: the lake in Queenstown, NZ, from my balcony’s view; first sunset in NZ; first jetboating experience at Shotover Bridge
Bottom: a lovely quaint café at Arrowtown, NZ; an old storefront; an old, deserted town

20131231-203509.jpg
Top (from left to right): simply love the never ending roads I see as we travel from town to town; a shed selling honey that is based on honesty; inside a fruit store
Middle: by the road outside the fruit store (finally got to take a picture like this that I always see on tumblr!); rainbow that I was fortunate to see on my first few days in Queenstown; paragliders with Queenstown as the background
Bottom: the Salvation Army’s store in Queenstown where I got two books really cheap; in the maze at Puzzling World; puzzles in Puzzling World

20131231-203521.jpg
Top (from left to right): Fox Glacier, NZ; light ray at Fox Glacier; double rainbows at Fox Glaciers
Middle: Kea (which we illegally fed); feeding this really cute and greedy goat; trees at Uncle’s farm
Bottom: pulling out radishes at Uncle’s farm; lots and lots of flowers at the farm; sheep and lambs (mehh)

20131231-203530.jpg
Top (from left to right): by the sea picking rocks; picture of my sneakers and rocks by the rapids; cheeky little parade that likes to show off
Middle: one of the many mountains; at the beautiful golf course; at the pier at Queenstown, NZ
Top: at town, Queenstown, NZ; one-legged seabird that posed for us; at town, Queenstown, NZ

Of course, not forgetting all the food photographs I took:

20131231-203539.jpg
Top (from left to right): coffee at the airport at Melbourne, Australia; pasta at Arrowtown, NZ; the famous Fergburger at Queenstown, NZ
2nd row: soup, salad and ribs at this lovely vintage restaurant at Fox Glacier, NZ; hokey pokey ice cream while on the road; a cappuccino at a café during one of our breaks
3rd row: breakfast at the farm; hokey pokey ice cream again at this cute store; salmon at a pub in Queenstown, NZ
4th row: cappuccino at the salmon farm; Asian food to our relief (and it was really good because of the Indonesian/Asian chefs!); my birthday cake (celebrated my birthday overseas for the 3rd time!)

I still have many regrets: not paragliding, not taking a picture of the gorgeous sunset on the plane, not being daring and asking the ballet dancers their name, not bringing my camera and taking photographs of the dancers, not taking pictures with LY. But I also had many good memories: performing with my CCA for Chinese New Year, BSE, DramaFest, participating in IvP, performing with my CCA with the dance school, helping out with LeAP, just to name a few.

I hope that 2014 will be as brilliant as this year, and that I may make more friends, do well in school, improve on my photography, try to do as many thing as I can and strive to do the best that I can. And I hope that whoever who’s reading this, may 2014 be an amazing year for you as well.

“Tomorrow is the first blank page of a 365 page book. Write an interesting one.”

— unknown

2013 in review

The Lovely Bones

20131110-174709.jpg
This book has been (sort of) haunting me since I’ve finished the book and I thought I would just write my thoughts down just like Ruth in the book does.

The Lovely Bones was something I picked up from the school library on a whim. I had heard of the movie, and when I saw the book I spared no thought and just added it onto the pile I was going to check out. It was very difficult and challenging to read this book.
The crime itself, the rape and murder of Susie Salmon, was the least harrowing of all. In fact, it was the easiest to comprehend for me, but I cannot really fathom why. One thing I find it hard to understand was the heaven or the afterlife, whatever you choose to call it. I am not the most religious person – I don’t even know what I believe in. For now I still call myself an agnostic. My idea of life is like a virtual game. We are all avatars or characters being controlled by a larger being, and all we achieve or lost is basically based on our skills, talent, hard work, determination and a fluctuating amount of luck. I don’t believe in heaven or afterlife. My idea of death is that after your last breath, you will close your eyes to darkness, darkness that is eternal and forever. And maybe, just maybe, you might be reborned later on, but I believe that your memories will be wiped out and you start fresh. So reading Susie’s perspective from Heaven was difficult, yet comforting. Comforting to read that Heaven is safe and comfortable for the dead.
I think what I really love about this book is that it gives you snippets and snapshots of all the different people’s lives, and how they carry on with their life and cope with Susie’s death. I love how realistic the book is, how in reality people don’t just pick up their lives from where they stop and continue on after a death like nothing happened. I love how the book touches on the issues all the different characters face, and how they struggle to cope. I love how Jack (Susie’s father) loves his late daughter so much that he never let goes of her memories, and how that impedes on his life and his family’s life. I love how Susie’s death made Jack love and protect his remaining daughter and son more, and how Lindsey and Buckley in turn be more protective and love their father more. I love the relationship between Lindsey and Samuel, how gentle and realistic and beautiful it was. I love how Hal and Samuel was somehow slowly incorporated into the Salmon family, and how they just seem to belong them. I love watching Buckley grow up, so mature yet nerdish and precious at the same time.
One of the things I couldn’t understand was Abigail (Susie’s mother). I don’t get how she could suddenly be attracted to Len in the immediate aftermath of her daughter’s death. I don’t get how she didn’t like her life as a mother and wife and always want to leave this life. If that was so, why didn’t she leave earlier? Why only after Susie’s death? But I really like how the author wrote in Abigail running away from her fears or old life, because I think that is something a lot of people do, run away. I like Abigail the most when she came back from San Franciso, back to her old life. I respect her strength and her courage. I also like how Lindsey’s and Buckley’s reactions was so realistic and blunt and how the author didn’t turn it into some sappy happily every after thing. And I am so envious of the love between Jack and Abigail, how distant yet close this relationship was and is.
I also don’t get how Ray started to love Susie, and Susie started to love Ray when they don’t know each other well. To me, that’s a crush and nothing more. I don’t believe in love at first sight (I only believe in adoration or attraction at first sight) and they were fourteen! Isn’t that too young to know surely if you’re in love?
Ruth is a complex character. Till now I still don’t know if she can see the dead. I don’t understand what she does in New York, finding people’s death site and stuff like that. And I completely dislike the part where she and Susie exchanged roles. Again, I don’t believe in an afterlife.
I love how cleverly Alice Sebold, the author, weaves in even the finest detail about the most minor characters. Mr Botte’s daughter’s death. Artie in the gifted sypnosium. Joe Ellis being affected about being misunderstand end by everyone. Ruana Singh’s marriage falling apart. Len coping with his life. Grandma Lynn and her drinking and craziness and loving her daughter and gaining her daughter’s acceptance finally. Mr Harvey and his childhood with his mother. I only wish that she had touched on more about George Harvey, about how he killed his other victims and Susie, and why.
Alice Sebold’s musings about the bones was complicated. To say I understood everything will be a lie. I don’t understand the book fully, and I admit I will never pick up this book again for a re-read. This book was depressing yet hopeful, complicated yet simple and it put me in emotional turmoil. There are certain parts where I felt like crying or actually teared up a bit, and there were parts where I smiled, and I think those parts was the loveliest bits of the book.

I guess these are my thoughts. I think writing this out probably allowed me to accept the fact that I loved and disliked this book at the same time, and that I never really truly understood this book.

The Lovely Bones

Love is love

I’m so happy that DOMA is overruled and that gay people are allowed to get married. I don’t know if my facts are right, but I’m just so happy that there is a breakthrough in gay rights.

I live in a more “conservative” country. I guess you can say that. When I was younger, the word “gay” and “lesbian” were teases or insults. I never thought that were actually gay and lesbian people in the world. But after I grew more mature, and I started watching Glee, I realised that there was a whole new world in front of me.

And I realised I was okay with people being gay. I didn’t care if they kiss or had public displays of affection. It didn’t disgust me. In fact, I thought it was sweet.

I’m glad I did. I’m glad that I was open-minded and not discriminative against a unique group of people who aren’t doing anything else either than loving someone they love.

My mom isn’t as open-minded as me. I thought she was, when we watched Glee together and she didn’t react negatively or violently. But I knew she was open to the fact because one day, she told me that she didn’t send me to a girls’ school for me to turn out lesbian. When I heard that, I was really upset. Who cares if I’m a lesbian? I should be allowed to be whoever I am!

Then I realised, if I should be allowed to be whoever I am, then she should be allowed to have whatever opinions she have. So I let it go, and from then I never mind what negative things people might say about homosexuality. Sure, I get upset when I see homophobic slurs, but people are entitled to their own opinions.

Love is love. That’s my opinion. People can love whoever they want. I support the LGBT community.

Thoughts on Graceland:
On a side note, I watched the latest episode of Graceland and I’m just love this episode so much. I love every episode, period. I wanted to create a Tumblr again so that I can reblog all those beautiful gifs (and Les Mis and Avengers), but I hesitated. Anyway, I love how realistic it is. That even though Mike is professional and graduated with highest honours, he’s still green. He’s still a “kid” and he gets affected. He’s not that experienced as he shows, because he obviously hasn’t seen much of that kind of stuff, like how innocent people just die. When Briggs shot the guys in the pilot episode, it was because those guys did something wrong. But Eddie, he didn’t. He was doing something illegal, but he was doing it to make a living. Not for the fun of it. I love the last scene where you see Mike breaking down. I wanted to cry then. I wasn’t affected by Eddie’s suicide, because I know it’s a show and it’s just acting, but I see Mike and then I feel a bit of how he felt – shock, a bit of grief – and I feel like crying too. The cast is amazing. I love them all.

Love is love

The Breakfast Club

In a span of two days, I’ve accomplished about 4 movies. The Breakfast Club, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, The Best Exotic Marigolds Hotel, and Snow White and the Huntsman. The Breakfast Club is probably one of my favourites.

The Breakfast Club

The Breakfast Club is a 1985 American coming of age comedy-drama film written and directed by John Hughes. The storyline follows five teenagers (each a member of a different high school clique) as they spend a Saturday in detention together and come to realize that they are all deeper than their respective stereotypes.

I was first compelled to watch this movie because I was fascinated with the old movies. I like to call them “oldies”. I loved Grease, and Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and this movie is now added on to the short yet classic list. The movie is really cute. And very realistic. It’s hilarious, and confusing at the same time, and makes me laugh even though I should be exhausted at 11 in the night.

Bender is the jerk, the trouble-maker, but yet I can see what Claire sees in him. Behind that bad-boy appearance is a boy who is consistently hurt and put down by his father and just want to be liked. His snark protects him from any more hurt, and as a boy of course he’s meant to make trouble. He’s also loyal, from how he distracted the Principal Vernon just to save his new friends from being caught.

Claire is most likely the Queen Bee of the school. She’s pretty, and she is into makeup and shopping. She’s innocent, and she’s a little conceited and self-conscious. She’s unable to admit that she’s a virgin, but she has a kind soul and is probably the first to see the good in Bender.

Andrew is the jock. He’s on the wrestling team, and so were the rest of the men in his family. His father puts high hopes on him, and consistently gives Andrew grief from not doing bad-ass things and getting into trouble and risking himself from losing the wrestling competition. Andrew feels overly pressurised and feels hatred and anger to his father, just like Bender.

Brian is the geek. He’s handsome, and really cute. He’s into Mathematics, and Physics and like Andrew, his family has high expectations of his grades. Brian is also unable to admit he was a virgin, and was suicidal because he flunked an assignment and was afraid of his parents’ reaction.

Allison is the confusing one. She’s a compulsive liar, and her family ignores her, making her feel despair and feel like leaving home. She carry around things as though she is running away from home. She has no friends either than the Breakfast Club, and her random yet few outbursts makes me feel confused. She doesn’t dress well, and keeps to herself.

But soon, the Breakfast Club bonds together. Claire helps Allison doll up, and everyone admits about their problems, such as peer pressure. However, despite these developing friendships the students are afraid that once the detention is over, they will return to their very different cliques and never speak to each other again. After the detention, in which Brian write an essay for all of them, Allison and Brian kissed, and Claire gives Bender her earring, which he wear on his ear.

I think what touches me is not only the developing, rare friendship between them, but also the essay Brian wrote.

Dear Mr Vernon,

We accept the fact that we have to sacrifice a whole Saturday in detention, for whatever it was we did wrong, but we think you are crazy for making us write an essay to you about who we think we are. You see us as you want to see us. In the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions. But what we found out, is that each one of us is a brain, and an athlete, and a basket-case, a princess and a criminal. Does that answer your question?

Sincerely yours,

The Breakfast Club

It was so true and realistic. People see each other as they want to see. We are consistenly being defined by labels. And we feel the pressure to abide by this labels.

I suddenly feel the courage to break out. I don’t know what I am labelled as, be it grumpy or irritating or goody-two-shoes. Who cares? As long as I’m who I want to be, as long as I’m friends with who I want to be friends with, as long as I dream whatever dreams I want to dream of, WHO CARES?

I don’t.

The Breakfast Club

Post-examinations

So my examinations are over. Yayy. After more than a month of studying, studying and a bit of procrastination…

I’m still afraid that I will do horribly in the examinations, but I keep comforting myself that I’ve done my best, I’ve studied and crammed all I could and whatever results I get, I’m going to accept it. Somehow that made me felt worse.

But I have other things to think about for this five days I’m free from school. Such as what movies to watch, which book to read, what Glee and Taylor Swift edits to make for my Instagram, and events to plan for my co-curricular activity. (Did you know I’m appointed Welfare Head? I’m so happy and excited!)

And of course my piano theory examinations are in two weeks, and now that my time is freed up from studying, I have to practise the piano. It’s not like I hate playing the piano. I actually like it. But I don’t enjoy to playing my examination pieces, and scales and arpeggios. I rather print sheet music of popular songs and jammed it out. I wouldn’t even want to take the examinations, except I understand my father’s rationale. That learning and taking the examinations will give me a skill I can use in the future.

Oh did I mention I got 59/100 for my French examination? It’s kind of good in my class, since there are only a few who got higher than me. I’m glad I passed too. But somehow, I feel really unhappy, because my friend N had a better result. I’m really competitive, which is a blessing and curse to me. Blessing as it motivates me and pushes me to strive for better results, and curse because it gives me too much unduly stress.

Oh well. Before you leave my page, to check out this hilarious video on Youtube about this guy called Tommy trying to use lyrics of Taylor Swift songs as pick up lines.

Post-examinations