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Withering through the storm…

“And the flower gets tossed in the waves, as every dew within is vaporized in the wind…” I achieved a milestone today – I showered mom. This second time back and mom’s day five of pleural effusion (draining of fluid from lungs), she was in less pain now, able to breathe better and the swelling … Continue reading

  • Exactly a year ago, as you read this, I was on a flight bound for Boston from London. The details of this journey can be found in my other blog post on September 2011 so I'll not go around the journey there. Instead, I will mark the one-year 'anniversary' by relating my experiences before I left for the States, the period when I was in the States and life now, after the States. Before I had left home for four years, studied a course I thought was 'glamorous' with a scholarship in hand, armed myself with 'ranks' good enough to get into the top-notched multi-national companies (MNCs). To sum up 4 years of my life in 500 words is kinda impossible. So, I'll instead let you know how I felt back then and if you manage to meet me, ask me and I will tell you my story. Mechanical engineering was definitely not my first choice. (Let's leave topic on education for some other day) I entered college, got a scholarship and most importantly, I obtained freedom (remember bucket v1.0?) I loved the fact that I was able to spread my wings and fly, doing whatever I wanted to do. For my Foundation year (A-levels equivalent), I did not study much but threw myself into the college activities and I went out every weekend. With some luck, I still got a second class upper and went into degree. During this one year, I made amazing friends, traveled and hung out with them which I still keep in contact with them these days. They were the ones that brought me to 'heart' musicals, have intellectually sarcastic conversations and inspired my spiritual encounter.   Freshman year marked a whole new change in my perspective. My scholarship had a bond and to maintain a second class upper result was just a child's play. I always had the idea that for the next 7 years of my life, the road will not change and I was bound to work in a power plant. It was that way until I was introduced to my mentor by one of our legendary seniors. He planted a seed in my brain - Your bond is not everything. Life changes. The option is always there. Work hard, get good results and you will achieve your dreams. This was what was he related to me when I told him that I was so disappointed in not getting a scholarship to go overseas and that I had given up in studies since I am doing something I dislike and I am bonded. The option is always there. He gave me the epiphany that a scholarship bond is just a scholarship bond, that dreams are possible with sheer hard work and determination and no one is bound to know what will happen in the next 7 years of your life. His words got me in a different direction. Thereafter, I started my hunt for masters scholarships to study overseas and I brought my 'kiasu' attitude back. In the next 2 years after talking to him, I still meet him on a regular basis until he left my college before I left for the States. Every single time I talk to him, I am once again reminded of my goals. In the year before I left for the States, my life was pretty depressing. I was in a relationship knowing thing will not work out yet I still couldn't get myself out of it. I did my internship reluctantly with YTLPI's in-house consulting team, rejecting the offer from Accenture. I didn't hang out with friends and it was just a period of time where I felt that I was just deep in the ravine. During The States came at the right time. I felt as though I leaped like Talia (from The Dark Knight Rises) from the plunging ravine to the top of the mountain. Life was filled with so much excitement. The adrenaline just kept rising. Together with the other States scholars, we grew so close living in the dorms and you won't even feel a second of loneliness. Fall semester was pretty boring still as we just got into a new environment and we needed to settle down but as winter break grew closer, each of us embarked on a month-long of traveling around the United States. Even so, I would still say each of us enjoyed our time during Fall getting together knowing each other really well. In the meantime, I gave myself a list of things to do while I was in the US. I explored every single opportunity given to me trying out new stuffs. I can be the sole Asian girl going to an all-Caucasian event not afraid of being left out, I learned to walk up to strangers and strike a conversation, I picked up good observation and listening skills when I can't really get into the conversation and most importantly, I learned to  be myself. Spring semester was just a mind-blowing semester of travels. My schedule was so jam-packed that I didn't even have a weekend of rest (Yes, I was always known as the busy Asian girl). At the same time, studies were catching up and as I thought I would never be able to achieve a 4.0 ever in my college life, it came. :-) Wanderer, that's what my besties call me. I guess I really do live up to that name, always wandering out alone. I tried couch surfing for the first time and I was again alone, realized my long dream of traveling solo all the way in New Mexico (freaked mom out), traveled with people not of my culture et cetera. I can really go on and on if you ask me about my adventures... Now, what did I learn? I think I developed a better appreciation of life after this whole journey of travelling to 31 cities across 19 states in 2 continents. The vagaries in travels and also human emotions made me take things with better equanimity and I appreciate life better now. Simple things please and amaze me easier than before as I take in the beauty of everything including the small joys in life. It has also taught me a great lot on humility as I listen attentively to the yester year stories of immigrants admiring them with a high level of respect. I made a whole bunch of different type of friends. From the princesses to the sporty girls, I get along well with them. A friend whom i randomly traveled with once told me 'My mom actually warned me about traveling with new people but though we are quite different, one thing i like about you is that you are not afraid of people laughing at you.' Well, that's quite true. I really don't mind saying random silly thing and make myself a laughing stock. After all, what are travels without these stupid memories and laughter? After Finally, the return - a drastic change of lifestyle. I am back to face reality. There is no more priceline, no more couch surfing, no more random walks on the streets, no practice sessions, no swing festivals, no unlimited food access et cetera. I came back and woke up feeling that I was in a dream. The moment you open your eyes to see the four walls of your room that looked exactly before you left and the silence that follows it sent a chill down my spine. The fear of going out alone encumbers me just too often that I just choose to lock myself up in the house. I had to admit that my first month back here was still okay as I had activities lined up and I even went on a Sabah trip with my course mates (Yes I love traveling a bit too much). The second month saw me running down the road of depression once more with life-changing events happening to my life, the red tapes I faced in college, the fact that I am extending one semester and not knowing anyone in class was very overwhelming. At a point, I cried every day for a week. The turning point came when my besties whisked me away for a retreat in Penang. It brought me back to remind me of my travels and how much they loved me. Remember I said I was quite easy to please? I didn't do much in Penang except relaxing and talking to them and for once, I was a tourist in Penang, slowly seeping in the unique culture of the place. My solitude moments gave me a lot of time and things to reflect (you can refer to the previous few posts) but what I like most about now is that I learn to value the freedom I have now even more. The fact that I am no longer tied to someone gave me all the freedom to pursue whatever I wanted to do. I no longer need to 'report' nor ask for permission. I can go swing dancing without worries, sleepover with Nasha whenever I feel like doing so, go for late night 'yum cha' sessions et cetera. My conversation with my friend last night reminded me that the freedom I had now did not come easy and Ishould by all means, appreciate it and venture to make the most out of it when I am still young. I am in the third month of return and I assure you, my life is as colorful as it was in the States. I will stick to my promise that I will visit a new country every year, participate in as many youth programs as I can and I will spend time with friends. To those returnees that felt the same way I did before, I urge you to surround yourself with the right people. Life can be colorful back here too if you paint it well. Keep yourself in the loop of events, don't be afraid and leave the house for life is too short to just be afraid that bad things might happen to you. :-)
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