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Archive for the ‘School’ Category

I Left My Brain in College

I’ve been wanting to talk about this for a while now.

I feel, no, I know my blog has changed over time. I used to write more universal topics. Things that you can relate to and offer your perspective. I used to get really excited when I get inspiration for a topic like that. My fingers would be flying off the keyboard as I frantically try to capture the thoughts swirling in my head, afraid that if I lose concentration for just one second I would lose all train of thought. I could hardly wait for your comments after I hit “publish”. I wanted to hear from like-minded people; I wanted to debate and persuade my point of view if possible.

That was what to me blogging was really about. A place to share my thoughts, wonder about questions in life and hear your two cents, whether I agree or otherwise. I enjoyed the mental stimulation and interaction.

My writings of late have been almost entirely self-centred. What I do, what I feel, what I want, what I don’t want… I love me, of course, but I can feel myself slipping. This probably sounds narcissistic, but sometimes I like the way I write in certain posts. I mean, I actually think the way I phrased some things in my writings are brilliant. I know that’s self-absorbed of me, but this is honestly how I felt. And I felt that way because I actually took the time to think of that phrase. I mean, I actually, really thought my words out properly, instead of the usual brain-to-finger unfiltered titter my writings have been of late.

I feel myself slipping, because I do not feel proud of my writings. Before, I would often read my posts again and again, marvelling at a certain phrase I thought up, or how cleverly I connect my ideas from paragraph to paragraph. I feel embarrassed admitting that narcissistic bit, but it is the truth. I took pride in my writing. Now, when I read my posts, I don’t feel a sense of accomplishment for having capture any train of thought, I don’t feel I write well at all. I write, but I’m not writing well.

I think a reason for that is because I left college. As annoying assignments and quizzes were, they actually stimulated me mentally, as I now realise. Even though I procrastinate most of my homework, the onset panic of not completing them in time put pressure on me, pressure to make something impressive, or at least up to my standards. Because if nothing else, what I hand in is a reflection of me and no one else, so I can only count on myself to do my best. And while I don’t exactly think this way when I hurry to finish my assignments, the knowledge that it’s graded spurred my competitive side. I was one of the better students in class and I intended to keep it that way.

At work, I still feel clueless most of the time. I have ideas, but I’m too afraid to say it because the very few times that I did, they were unsuitable. Besides, nobody takes me seriously because I’m new and barely know what I’m doing. I don’t blame them for not giving any thought to my ideas. I still have a lot to learn, but in doing so I don’t feel I’m given room to grow and try my wings out because this isn’t about me anymore. We have to give the best to our clients and more often than not, I’m the weakest link and cannot contribute towards the ‘best’ our clients demand.

I suppose that will take time, for me to contribute to the creative aspect of my job, but meanwhile, I can feel my brain rotting from the uninspiring drudgery that is my life. I miss the mental stimulation I got in college. I miss the reasoning and justifying I needed to come up with for essays. I miss wondering why. I miss really thinking.

I miss learning in a classroom, where mistakes are actually encouraged so as long as you dared to speak up and no one would think lowly of you for that.

ps. And the irony of the last sentence is that I was one of the quieter students in my class! :lol:

The Difference Between Work & School

1. Time
Well, time can be relative, but in direct comparison to each other, work obviously takes a longer time than school! Furthermore, students have a lot more break times than workers. Workers can take breaks as they see fit, but if they’re being observed to take one too many it creates a bad impression for their superiors. So people try to look busy and not look like they’re taking a break when they are.

2. Subject
As a student, you have several subjects to study over the course of a day, with usually the same amount of time. As a worker, most of the time you don’t get to do enough of an aspect of the job that you enjoy doing but you get more than enough of what you don’t like to do! And they’re never for a set amount of time. Murphy’s Law would dictate that the bit you enjoy working will be too little or something problematic will crop out to make you enjoy the process less. :|

3. Responsibility
Since a student doesn’t get paid to study, ultimately the only responsibility s/he has is for him or herself. Your parents can try to motivate you by means of encouragement or threats, but whether you pass or fail, the glory or shame is yours alone. It would also take a lot to get you kicked out of school. At work, because you are paid, you have to take some amount of responsibility, failing which you will earn some talking-to from your boss (depending on how nice s/he is) and the guilt that you are not worth the amount being paid. You might also cause further work for your colleagues to pick up after your mess. Talk about a guilt trip.

4. Friends
You can make friends more easily in school, and there are so many people to choose from! At work, of course you have to make friends with your colleagues, but the point of work is work. So you can’t devote as much social time as you would at school to hang out with your friends than you could at work. Even if you’re a quick worker and get your job done fast, you might be disturbing your colleague if you pop over his or her desk to chat one too many times throughout the day. For students, they have more time to be with their friends after school if they choose to. Workers sometimes socialise after working hours, but more often than not they don’t because they want to be home with their families.

5. Money
Well, that’s an obvious difference. With power comes responsibility! When you aren’t paid for doing what you do and it’s only “for the sake of your future”, you’re not very likely to take it seriously. There isn’t an immediate result when you fail a test as a student, except a scolding from your parents and a little momentary guilt. Maybe your pocket money will be lessened, but you won’t starve. If you perform under par at work, this will be reflected in your pay – you’ll probably get a smaller increment or none at all, if you’re still lucky to have your job! When you’re working, you mostly likely aren’t just responsible for your own self anymore – there’s loans and bills to pay, and family to care for.

Any more differences that I missed out?

Effort = Time

I watched one of my favourite movies, The Devil Wears Prada, again today. I don’t know why I’m so attracted to it, because it’s a somewhat typical chick flick. Maybe I love how Anne Hathaway looks. Maybe I love looking at the gorgeous girls and beautiful clothes. Maybe because it’s like a dream I can live in for one and a half hours: working in New York, in one of the biggest publication companies in the world, wearing divine outfits to work that’s free, having a cook for a boyfriend and living with him, having warm, affectionate friends…

When I watched it today, I felt I had more in common with Andy Sachs, the protagonist, than just dreaming to be like her.

Andy Sachs: Fresh graduate looking for her first job
sulz: Ditto

Andy Sachs: Takes up a job because of the opportunity she thinks she will gain
sulz: Ditto

Andy Sachs: Feels when she does something right, it’s unacknowledged but gets the hairdryer treatment when she messes up because she’s still new
sulz: Ditto

Andy Sachs: Thinks she is trying her best but her colleagues doesn’t because they are putting far more effort than she is
sulz: Ditto

Andy Sachs: Believes (in the end) that work shouldn’t consume her and that she doesn’t want to do hurtful things to get ahead in the rat race
sulz: Ditto

I’ve always liked the ending, because I felt she made the right choice in leaving the shitty job. I’m sure I would’ve left much earlier if I were her. The character’s friends and family wanted her to quit the job too, as it was taking so much of her time, not to mention the unreasonable demands by her dragon lady boss and how she was turning into someone her loved ones didn’t understand.

While life in the movies are often exaggerated, I thought the ending offered a good lesson to people about work. Now that I’m actually working, I see that the ending is unrealistic. The fact is that if you want to work your way up, you have to put in more effort than your peers. And among the things your boss would count as effort is by seeing the amount of time you spend at the office.

This is where I would not excel in, work wise. I’ve said before that if I am more in love with my job, I would probably not mind putting more time in. I’m questioning that statement now… As a kid, whether I enjoyed school or not, I always wanted to get home ASAP. When the bell rang, I would immediately rush out of class (as soon as the teacher allowed, of course) so that I could beat the human traffic, students who would jam up the stairwell as they go down leisurely. I would be sticky, sweaty, hungry and tired after a day of studying, so I felt it was pointless to take my time when I could get a head start and be home early. This has been a habit I have practised my entire schooling life, including college; then it was also wiser to get home early, since most of the time classes were over before the rush hour, so it would be silly to get stuck in a traffic jam because it not only wasted time but petrol! I don’t think my habit means I loved school less than those who took their time to get home or stayed back for whatever reasons – I’m sure you know how much I loved college!

Working now, the situation is different. My time to go home does not anymore depend on the clock, but on how urgent my workload is, or how demanding my company’s clients are, or how strict my bosses are. Currently, it is a slow period for my company, so I get to go home by the clock. But once the real work begins, I will be at its mercy. As it is, I think I am gaining a not-so-positive reputation for my on-the-dot leaving of office at the end of the day, because all my colleagues do not leave on time even when it’s not a busy season. They usually go home around half an hour after working hours are over. While they sometimes come in late, some of them even come earlier to work. If compared, I can never measure up – they come in earlier and leave later!

At school, the question of how much effort I was putting in never really came up. Most of the time, I was aware of where I stood in each subject; that’s to say, if I was weak in a certain subject it was because I made a conscious decision not to focus on it, and there was no consequence because my parents never punished me for bad grades. They basically left me to deal with educational issues on my own. At college, my grades belonged in the top half of the class and for some reason, my course came more naturally to me than school had ever been. It was no walk in the park, but I never felt like I was struggling to pass classes. If I wanted to better myself then, all I had to do was pick up my books, and I could do it anytime I wanted to. I suppose it was also easy to me because half the time I would not do most of the homework we were assigned to do (the ungraded ones, that is) and sometimes needed help from friends when the lecturers asked for answers in class orally. :P

I’m barely one month into this job, so I’m still making many mistakes and hopefully am learning from them. I wonder, though, if I am ever settled in there, will I always be considered less committed and not putting in as much effort as others because I like to go home ASAP? And if I work elsewhere some day, will this habit of mine be my weakness? I suppose I need to evaluate this aspect of me…

Convocation & Realisation

So I went through my convocation yesterday. I wasn’t looking forward to it at all. To me, many celebrations in life are kinda pointless when it’s done in a huge crowd, because there’s no intimacy, it’s not special to everybody involved. Which is to say if I ever have a wedding or birthday celebration (I only had one birthday party in my life, when I was nine, which consisted of my classmates and my parents’ friends and their kids) I would make it very small because I want to connect with each and every one at the celebration. Which means that I rather have 5 small birthday parties than 1 big giant one. :P

Anyway, yes, back to my convocation and how I wasn’t looking forward to it. Which was why I managed to have a hearty breakfast and lunch, unlike some friends who were so excited by this that they didn’t feel like eating. Until we were waiting to receive our scrolls, that is. Haha. And it was good that I ate well, because even then I got hungry half way through the ceremony and ate a granola bar. Actually, we’re not allowed to eat in the hall but I didn’t care. I’m hungry and I need to eat, damn it!

Okay, convocation. You know what? I actually enjoyed it more than I thought I would. Maybe because I had no expectations. I was so not bothered about convocation that I turned up at the graduands’ meeting point in just a pair of black pants and a black tank top. Everybody else wore office-ish clothes – formal, that is – and I wore a tank top. I was that not bothered! (Well, I did bring along a black cardigan – smart casual is at least better than plain casual!)

Thankfully, I have great friends because when I turned up, my robe was still in the paper bag it came in (and that too was collected by 9 for me because the robe collection day was the day I came back from Macau itself, and I was sick so I couldn’t pick it up), and I had no clue how to wear the damn thing. Enter my great friends, 9 and Bug, who helped dress me up. All I had to do was stand there. :P

Then, there was the rush to stand in our proper lines to walk towards the hall etc etc… Finally, we were seated. They said graduands weren’t allowed to bring bags in but I was alone when they announced that and had nobody to give it to so I just held on to my bag. Which was a good thing, because the ceremony was so long I would’ve died of thirst and starved if I did get someone to take my bag. I even managed to read a bit during the whole thing, haha.

When the VIPs finally came in and gave their speeches, suddenly my faculty’s graduands were first up to receive their scrolls. (It’s fake ‘cos it’s empty, you only get the real certificate after you return the robe! Great insurance, huh?) Didn’t even have much time to panic, so I didn’t when my turn came. (62nd person I was to receive my scroll.)

I love to get such things over and done with so that I could relax for the rest of the ceremony. It was boring, but luckily my friends sat near my seat and so we talked to while away the time. I even camwhored! (I don’t do it, like, ever. Really.)

It was chaos when the convocation finally ended, because there were so many freaking people waiting outside the hall. I held on tight to 9’s hand as she find her family. My whole class were supposed to wait by this spot to take photos as a class, but the crowd was everywhere, and my parents were waiting for me, so I decided to not waste time and found my parents so we could go take a family portrait at the building across the street.

Paid the exorbitant photo fees – RM100, over and done in less than 5 minutes! M needed the toilet, so we took a while to find one, which was at this corner. By this time, I was naturally sweating buckets so I decided to take my robe off. Then we walked back towards the car, which was parked a good 10 minutes away.

Actually, now that I’ve written about my afternoon, it wasn’t really that fun, was it? But I enjoyed it. It took my mind off my troubles. I got to see my classmates one last time. I got to see my lecturers one last time – I was really, really happy when I saw them in their robes, I would’ve done this all over again just to see them again!

I also realised – whether this is the result of the convocation I’m not sure – that I’ve been moping. I should’ve gone out with 9 on Monday even though I felt low. (We’re going out today.) The thing with feeling depressed is that you should never stay in that situation. If you feel blue at home, get out of the house. Sometimes you feel better after that. It doesn’t work all the time for me, but at least it’s an attempt to make myself feel better.

So, yes, I do feel better now. Does that mean my problems are gone? Not at all. They’re still there, but I see them differently now. Before this, I think about my problems and it makes me feel depressed. Now, I think about my problems and think, it’s not what I want, but it’s really not all that bad. The reason it felt so bad for me before was that I was focusing too much on it!

ps. I know I promised the pictures for my blogging project, but I just can’t wait to record how my convocation went. At least I did keep half my promise – this is a happy post! :)

My Kindergarten Days

I started kindergarten when I was 6 years old. The first five years of my life, I was pretty much taught at home by M. One of my earliest childhood memories was writing my name in a notebook. Back then, I used my English name. (I only started using my Chinese name in Standard One, and it stuck on ever since.)

In kindergarten, I was a big crybaby. I was also very girlish (it was all about Barbie and cooking sets and play pretend, usually some girly scenario) and hated being teased. I went to Tadika Tinkerbell (That’s Malay for Tinkerbell Kindergarten). It’s actually an old semi-detached house. The master bedroom is my class. I know it’s the master bedroom because it faces the front and it has an attached bathroom with a bathtub in it. I remember peering into the bathtub once, and found it full of dead cockroaches.

I sat near at the 3rd chair from the front. Sitting next to me on the left, second to the front (the table is a long one and we sit at the side, rather than facing the blackboard directly), was Joyce, my rival. She competed with me for my best friend, Denise’s attention. Joyce and Denise were smart; they were already doing Standard One work, while I did the normal class work like the other students.

My teacher’s name was Theresa. I liked her. She taught us our dances. It’s customary for kindergarten students to put up performances at the end of school year, usually dances. Most students only get to do one dance, but I got to do two, along with my best friend Denise… and Joyce. We did a Broadway dance, the kind with the tophat and cane and tailcoat, dancing to The Entertainer. We had a boy partner each for that dance. I remember Theresa complimenting me on the way I wiggle my butt as a dance move. The other girls were shaking their butts from side to side, I was wiggling it with my butt muscles… like cocking one butt, then the other. She was so annoyed with the other girls shaking their butts that she made them watch the way I wiggle my butt.

We also did a Spanish dance. I liked the costume. It was colourful, red and blue and green and shiny. We had boy partners too, and another boy who played the bull; there was this boy who played the matador and held the red cloth in front of the bull and the bull had to charge through it. They recorded the whole concert on tape, and for a few years after that I kept watching it, until VCR became out of fashion.

I sat the bus to school. I also sat the bus to the zoo, a school trip. It was my first time to the zoo. I have not visited it since then. I want to, though. Anyway, I don’t remember much of the animals. I remembered that we had KFC for lunch, and I was pouting because I wanted a drumstick, but I was given a thick slab which is the breast or something. Denise got the drumstick. She always got the things I wanted. She was prettier than me, taller, fairer. But she still drank milk from the bottle, even though she was 6. Hah. Anyway, when we sat the bus home from the zoo, I remember holding on to my pee so bad. Luckily I made it home in time.

Even though Joyce was my rival, there was one point we were friends. I even went to her house to play once. Joyce was very mature for her age. I wanted to play pretend that we’re on a holiday in the Caribbean… or something. She wanted to play pretend that we are kidnapped and have to try to escape on our own. I didn’t like it. As mature as she was, she still had to sit on a potty while I use the normal toilet a long time ago. Hah!

So… that’s all I can remember about my kindergarten days. I liked it. I regret giving my ex a photo of my kindergarten graduation. (I have a copy of it, but it’s bigger in size and framed. I have that photo frame somewhere in my room I think.) I looked so serious it’s cute.

The Best Years Of My Life

Today, my class gathered for the last time before convocation. To me, it is considered a really final gathering because not everybody in the class will graduate together. (I really wish you could, Rickey Manatee.)

Three lecturers arranged a party for us. Can you believe it?? It is we who are supposed to be throwing this party ourselves (we had one fancy lunch as a class last week, though, but not everybody came… their loss, the food was freaking fantastic), not lecturers arranging one for us!! I am seriously touched… I’m going to write them an e-mail tomorrow to thank them, and if I can send something in time, a card maybe. Thank you so much Ms K, Ms E and Ms M!!

The lunch started late because some classmates and the food arrived late, but once it started we had a great time. Actually we were enjoying ourselves even before the food arrived, except that I was moaning mightily about my hungry cow that is my stomach.

Anyway, after a stomach-bloating lunch of mee goreng (fried noodles), rendang (something like curry chicken, only spicier and more delicious!) vadai (don’t know how to spell this delicious Indian snack), lasagna, Oreo cheesecake, chocolate cake and cream caramel (tastes sort of like a sweeter version of egg tart), we played Pictionary.

Oh my god, I think we could be heard throughout the whole building. It is still the exam period, so there were no classes going on. Our class is notorious for our noise and for one last time, we showed why. Everybody was screaming out the answers (oh, we are very competitive), laughing and shrieking… I suck at playing Pictionary (I prefer Taboo), so I sat at the back and just basked in the happiness.

After Pictionary, we played Yankee Swop, which is a game where each of us had to bring a meaningful gift, and draw a number. Based on the order of the number, we get to choose which present we want from all the ones available. So logically, the last few people who finally gets their turn to pick would be left with very few choices, right? The trick of this game is that while they have to choose from the remaining few, they are also allowed to exchange with a gift which has already been picked… which means your real gift is the one you have in your hands after the game is over (because at any time someone could pick your gift as the gift he or she wants, and you have to take the gift they took!). I exchanged my gift of soap with a glow-in-the-dark cellphone keychain Rickey Manatee brought from Ms K.

It was over all too soon. We cleaned and packed up (I brought home a tonne of leftovers, because nobody else would… yeah, I’m cheap, I know), and I gave all my classmates a card. Hung around for a bit while one by one left the class… SAC 1, the class where we had our very first class and has always been our favourite class… the class with so much memories…

I drove home in a happy mood, the leftovers of my wonderful afternoon. But driving alone always makes me feel sad, because I am alone and depressing thoughts always come to my mind then…

Another chapter of my life has ended. People I have known for 3 years; some I might stay friends for life, some I might not ever see again for the rest of my life.

It’s true, what people say about university days being the best days of your life. I have grown, I have known. I have laughed, I have cried. In this period, I also experienced what I thought could be love (but alas, it’s not). I have, for a moment in time, made friends with the most amazing people I have known thus far. Despite the politics and bitchings (only natural when you are in a class where almost everybody is female… I have to salute Jelly and Rickey Manatee for surviving this sea of oestrogen for 3 years), we are really quite a close-knit class.

Knowing that this is over, that no matter how much more amazing things I will come to experience in my life later on, I could never replicate what I have gone through with my classmates, the finality of something so good in my life… I just started sobbing in the car.

(It also doesn’t help when you have a song like Colbie Caillat’s Realize playing on the radio.)

I feel so very alone.

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