(Part 2: first half of 2013)
July: YALE-NUS ORIENTATION
1) Singaporientation (album)
Honestly, I didn't feel all that ready to meet all these new people and be a bubbly hyper facilitator, because June had been such a hectic month and I was missing SOT and all. But Chris Tee was an amazing partner and I'm so glad for the time we had as co-facils and for the friendship that lasted beyond, and will continue to strengthen.
I can't really remember what the weekdays were like anymore - sample classes? Talks? The highlight was obviously the weekend, planned by the comm led by Jared. An Amazing Race to places like Haw Par Villa and Pulau Ubin; camping at East Coast Park; doing the mass dance in the CBD...
but we shall not spend too much time on this because
I've never been to the States before (I mean, come on, a round trip ticket can get me 2 MacBooks), and what better way to spend your virgin experience than with 150+ absolutelyfantasticallyamazingbrilliant people, for free? And it was just nothing short of amazing. (I've run out of adjectives.) We had a lecture, a seminar and a rector's tea every day - would've been far more enlightening if I had actually understood all that was going on, lol. Rector's Teas were like optional guest lectures, except that nearly everyone went for all of them, and I kept feeling that creeping sense of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out, lol Marvin Chun) whenever I considered skipping it for a lie on the hammock or a Shake Shack trip instead. Stupid me.
Other memories: walking around / food-scouting with Wanping, Chris Tee, Evan and Shaun; blueberry picking; Insomnia Cookies. Lying on the grass with Sheryl one night. And, of course, magically becoming closer to Kevin :) Okay but seriously. Nothing beats the hammock. I remember one day I was feeling all overloaded with all these classes I didn't understand, and climbed into the hammock and put on my earphones and let myself drift into the most peaceful sleep. (And then I woke up when I felt a push and Shaun was like "shit")
And going acapella with The Wallets (video) and doing Wondergirls' Nobody with Carissa, Janel and Charlotte LOL (video)! I don't know what evil powers got me to agree to do it with them, but I'm glad I did because our lovely bond wouldn't have been forged otherwise.
(the middle picture is of me using a spoon at Shake Shack cos it's so fantastically thick and creamy)
I also went to the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library and got my hands on the Wycliffe New Testament - one of the first ever handwritten English translations!!! And you can actually decipher the words!!! I spent an hour touching the pages and marvelling at the pencil markings and breathing in 700-year-old awesomeness. The one on the left is John 3:16!! Try deciphering it!! It's not hard!
The weekend trip to Boston was great - explored on my own a lot. I'll always remember sharing a mattress with 4 others in a room of 17 people, because budget, duh. Night-cycled around the city after our amazing lobster dinner!
New York was awesome too. Watched Avenue Q for $60 in the fourth row! I didn't do much in New York because we had the BLOODY FREAKING PRESIDENTIAL SUITE AT THE INTERCONTINENTAL. LIKE WHUT. WHUT EVEN. (video) We also had Ban Ki-Moon address us at the United Nations Headquarters - just us, just 150+ wide-eyed kids. (album: Boston + NY)
Okay okay this has turned into an Orientation post - time to move on.
August-December: SCHOOL!!!!!! (album)
Have you ever met someone who talked so enthusiastically about school before? Especially about university, in Singapore? No? Well you obviously haven't met many people from Yale-NUS because school is amazing. Seminar discussions are engaging and enlightening; professors will talk about anything, but they'd rather let the students figure it out themselves; we have Science activities like figuring out the Egyptian King Tutankhamun's family tree with actual DNA information, and constructing a periodic table from alien elements on an alien planet. Essays on homosexuality and the nature of the human soul; debates on kidney-selling, bring it on. Bring it freaking on. Skits involving Greek, Hindu and Chinese philosophers, from walking into a bar to fighting to be a prof's BFF, reality-TV style.
Thanks to Tiffany and Maria I, we got to meet Sam Tsui and Kurt Schneider before their concert!!! We sat on the floor with them and talked about life at Yale, juggling school and music, music... We told Sam we were currently reading the Odyssey (since he majored in Classical Greek), and he recited the first ten lines in its original text to us! SWOON
And everyone's so talented!!!! Listening to Kei recite her poems, Jevon on the piano, Evan on the piano, etc. Watching Yale-NUS's first basketball game and cheering the debaters on at the Hong Kong Debate Open (two of them won individual Top 10s!!!) and sending our love to the MUN team in Mumbai. We have no coaches / trainers for our CCAs yet, but we fight with what we have.
But I must move on to
I still haven't gotten around to sorting through and uploading the photos on Facebook, but here's a poem (not a happy one), and blog posts one and two, which are only snapshots of the trip and not a comprehensive post. We went to Athens, Ancient Olympia (to witness the opening of the Winter Games) and Delphi, and basically saw a lot, a lotttt, a lot of ancient stuff. WHICH I LOVE. Finally being able to decipher a word or two of ancient stone inscriptions was amazing too.
Delphi was amazing. It was home to a temple where a priestess gave prophecies and was considered "the most important oracle in the classical Greek world" (source: wiki lol). It was a huge complex (being an ancient agora), and VIPs from all over the ancient Greek lands would travel all the way to this remote temple on a mountain for counsel before waging war on other cities. It's mentioned quite a bit in Herodotus's Histories, which is considered the founding Western historical text, and just seeing the word appear on the book made me all excited because like I'VE BEEN THERE. Delphi was breathtaking. It's like, you look at the ancient ruins and know that while this was the structure for the temple-marketplace thousands of years ago, it is nothing like it used to be; and then you turn around, and the mountains you're facing is exactly what they saw in 800BC, too.
Now we arrive at December: so I went on my first hiking trip with my dad, brother, and three others - a two-week trip to Nepal, nine days of which were spent trekking up the Himalayan region. I haven't really blogged about it yet, and I'm still trying to find a way to retrieve my photos from my dead phone, but basically the trip highlighted the futility of all human activity. Like, we trekked to a guest house at 2500m elevation on the first day, and on day 2 they were like "our lunch place is there" and it was a mountain away, slightly lower than where we were standing. And I thought, oh, pretty much a straight road. WELL NO, there's no bridge that leads you directly from one mountain to another, so we had to go down all the way to the river, cross the river, and THEN climb up again. And it was a lot of climbing up and down. I remember one day we climbed 3000 steps to lunch, and then after lunch we went on a very steep downhill trek and then climbed upwards at least 2000 steps more (I gave up counting after that).
It was pretty insane, and it gave me pudgy muscular legs and a terrible complexion, but a really good experience anyhow. You know how the clouds always seem so impossibly high up? A plane takes you to the clouds, yes, but you're still in a machine that's magically transporting you there. It feels really good knowing that I climbed right up to the clouds. :)
Annapurna Base Camp, 4100m
Okay, so here's a memory: going back down after reaching the peak of our hike. It started SNOWING! Wait...was it snow? It was hard, and bounced off our down jackets. Okay, it was hail. But HECK IT, IT'S SNOW, OKAY?! And the ground turned white with hail-snow and I was just freaking out screaming IT'S WHITE!!! CRAP IT'S WHITE!!!!!!!!!!! and just getting so excited. And then we continued to descend...and then it turned into rain. And then it turned dark. So we were trekking in the forest, in the rain, being guided by a path of stones and soil-turned-mud, in the dark (thank God for headlamps / torchlights). That was pretty fun.
Also visited primary schools and orphanages - my dad's school had donated lots of stuff to them. The welcome was insane. Blaring instruments and beaming faces in a line rushing to give you a beautiful garland with a "namaste". I was honestly a bit scared, but it was lovely.
And after Nepal I had two days in Singapore before going to KL to meet my cousins for Christmas again. 7 out of 8 aunts, and a whole bunch of kids! Played I Never as usual, watched 47 Ronin at the stroke of midnight on Christmas. And it's just weird seeing so many small kids around. It's like we were the first wave of kids, and now it's the second wave.
Anyway , that's the second half of the year! On to more adventures in 2014!