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It’s the little things

I don’t like knowing that I can’t go home for 2 weeks because my student pass is in process. But at least I can be back one week before CNY to help out with groceries and decoration shopping. I guess dad will wait for me like he always do.

I don’t like being a loner today after orientation. I feel this is not a good start. But I guess I will make more friends along the way. After all, those who were mingling were already with at least one friend.

I don’t like knowing that I can’t apply for student concession card anymore, because graduate students are not eligible. And……so far I haven’t found any good in this.

Came back and ate one and a half chocolate bars that Zul bought for me.

Lazed on my favourite lounge chair in the room while watching the introduction of 酒大多千万年历, feeling excited to receive it in a few weeks time.

Texted my family about the news, and my sister said she can come over to Singapore instead.

Sat down in front of my desk and switched on the new led lamp that was bought to prepare me for my studies. I love it.

Looked up and saw the post it with a list of to-dos waiting to be strike off. I’m done with all these procedures.

Took out the thick book received in the orientation today, and linked my NUS student email to my phone. I am officially a NUS student now.

Flipped to the pages listed with modules that I can choose. I am finally able to take subjects that spark joy in my heart.

Checked my email flooded with information about seminars and talks and posters, feeling interested and elated. So this is how it feels to do what you love.

Then I looked out from my window. It is a fine, fine day.

 

This is a very random post.

Tata

 
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Posted by on January 5, 2017 in Family, School

 

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Kwi Shan’s 2016

On work

The down

2016 marks my second year working as a Research Assistant in NUS, even though I had wanted to leave since the first year. The scope was okay, I love science and hands-on work. My colleagues are good. And I made it clear I wouldn’t work overtime or come back during weekends like how my boss pushed for everyone in the lab to do.

I didn’t dread going to work everyday. But after finding out what my ultimate interest is, I simply couldn’t settle for the second best. I wanted out. I want to go for what I truly love, to actually feel happy and motivated to drive my own project. It was a chore to do Journal Club every month, reading papers that don’t spark my interest at all. That itself was already wrong. Journal club is a time when we share research papers that we read, discuss about them, get ideas on their approach and results, then improve on our own project. It is a time you get excited about papers that can help you, or be interested in a new method.

That didn’t happen to me.

But getting out wasn’t easy either. I applied for many jobs, first focusing all out on the field where my interest lies. Most rejected due to funding limits. Some I went for interviews, even second round of interviews. But none succeeded due to my lack of academic background and research experience.

I would’ve left the job without securing the next one, but I couldn’t. I had my study loan to pay. And there’s rental, transports, phone bills. So I stayed, and stayed, and stayed. This is all part of growing up right?

The up

I left my job.

I turned down the invite for the year end cum farewell lunch that my boss organized. There was no farewell party, no farewell cards. I am perfectly fine because this is how my lab works. Plus, I can always walk over and have lunch with them. It also wasn’t a clean leave, as I still need to wrap up my paper for publication.

But I’m happy.

I left the place without looking back. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate this job. But I don’t like it either. I am grateful of what this job brought for me: research experience, good colleagues, publications, and most importantly, money to pay off my loan.

lab-sports-day

People come and go in this lab. Thank you all for the great memories.

On studies

The down

Many people ask me,:

“Why you still want to study?”

“PhD?? You want to get permanent head damage ah?” (To which I always roll my eyes and ignore this lame question)

“4 years? Wa! So long ah? Then you still want to study!”

Yes. 4 years is very long. It is longer than my diploma, it is longer than my bachelor’s. But no. I didn’t choose to get my PhD because I think I’m damn smart, or I want to “upgrade” myself, or I have a lot of time to spare and got nothing better to do.

Truth is, I didn’t really have a choice. I would’ve been happy to simply settle as a RA or even a lab tech in one of the labs that work on wildlife. I’ve applied to research labs in DBS, labs in TMSI, vet clinics, WRS and AVA.

I didn’t get any. Lacking relevant experience is one thing, my nationality as a foreigner is another. I spent months trying and trying, went for interviews and get rejected, waited for replies that never come. After one big round, I came down to a conclusion and also a decision:

Further studies is my easiest way in.

So I started applying for schools. I shortlisted overseas labs, spent weeks drafting letters, took up TOEFL and GRE at the very last minute, sent in emails, and wait.

This time, I faced even more rejections. A handful of the PIs replied saying their lab has reached the maximum capacity while encouraging me to keep trying. A few were kind enough to reply with a few sentences of rejection, while the others just outright ignored my email.

I was disheartened, because it seemed to me even the easiest way is so much difficult. Many times the thought came that maybe it wasn’t meant to be. Though I have to admit, I was a little too specific. Because I thought since I’m going overseas, might as well go for something that I really want to do right?

The up

NUS wasn’t my first choice. It wasn’t even my second. But it was the easier choice. After countless rejections from 2015 until 2016, I received my acceptance letter.

ss-nus-offer-letter

To be fair, this surprise didn’t come smack up my face. I had already went through one interview with my potential supervisor and also with the department. One day before this email, my supervisor notified me that I was accepted and should be receiving the official letter soon.

I wasn’t thrilled to the bones. I didn’t jump up and down and started squealing. I didn’t start texting everyone and announcing the news. Partly because it wasn’t a project that I had wanted at the first place. And it wasn’t DBS who offered me a placing because they want me as a graduate student in their department. Long story short, I wouldn’t have gotten in if not for my supervisor.

I remember feeling very upset after realizing this fact. It seemed to me that no matter how long I tried, it is never enough. The papers that I willingly read, the extra measures that I took. In the end, they only want people who have the academic background and experience.

But hey, two months later and here am I, happy with how things have turned out, and looking forward to school starting in a couple of weeks. Zul was right. Any step forward is a step forward. I can’t simply jump two blocks at one time to enter a different world. I need to first get out of the old field, and at least put one foot in the new one, then work my way up.

And so I did.

tmzw3101

Guess who’s ready for school?

On friendship

The down

In 2016, I almost lost two very dear friends. It wasn’t something that we want to talk about anymore, but it’s not something we will forget either.

Going through the year like that hasn’t been easy. Heck, it was damn hard. We all cried our share, have our doubts, and was on the verge of letting it go. I chose to take a step back and wait it out, because we said we needed time. Occasionally we took little steps forward, then retreated back again because it didn’t seem to work. We scrolled our feed and slowed down at each other’s post, wanting to know more but stopped asking, wondering why had it ended up this way.

The up

We mend.

Time didn’t make things better. Turns out, communication was what we needed the most. I am forever grateful of the day when she texted me and said we should do something about it, and she was ready to patch it up.

We are back in each other’s lives now. We had our first bake- and cook-off few weeks back. We talked nonsense like how we always do. We bicker and mock each other. And we are going for our first overseas trip tomorrow.

It sounds easy, but we all know it isn’t. Certain things are still there, and might be forever. Essentially, we all are still trying.

img_0294And I am grateful for that.

On family

My parents are healthy and well, and I couldn’t ask for a better thing than that. My mum and I talked more, sharing things from recent news to skin care to korean stars and food places. It wasn’t used to be like this, but I’m glad for this change.

Dad has been busier after quitting his job. He is doing full time volleyball coaching now and finally getting paid for it. Lots of commuting is involved so it’s more tiring. But seeing him do what he loves is a happy thing. He is never a person who can sit still at home anyway, so it’s good for him too.

Sister as usual is working hard. She told me work has been getting mundane, and it only gets busier and busier. She do have plans to further studies and leave Sabah, though that will have to wait until she passes her final exams.

Looking back at my photos and realized we celebrated all of our birthdays almost together.

817Video called the sister on mum’s birthday celebration.

2262Dad turned 60 this year! Sister and I went back home to surprise him.

img_2103Zul surprise me with an air ticket to fly over to Sabah.

yhah7794Parents treated me to a yummy Korean BBQ dinner!

Continue to stay healthy and happy okay?

On travels

The most remarkably travel will be my first Helpx trip at Australia.

Helpx is a website that works like Wwoof. If you have no idea what any of them are, basically it is a network where people provide labour in exchange for food and accomodation.  Wwoof is generally on farmwork, whereas Helpx includes everything, from farmwork to art galleries to beach resorts to horse ranches.

I absolutely love the idea. Our host, Carolyn, is a lady who owns a 100 acre farm.

17811784See all that land? All hers.

She has an olive groove, a handful of chickens, sheeps, alpacas and an overactive cattle dog.

1743We miss you Bundy boy!

We were there during winter, so we get to experience wood chopping and fire starting to keep the house toasty.

1778Everyday we made the fire first thing in the morning, let the chickens out, fed them and the sheep and the alpacas.

1752She has the cutest animals.

1785Then we had breakfast with Carolyn. It was always toast with homemade jam and honey from her bees, washed down with tea or juice.

We did chores like pruning her olive trees, getting rid of one thorny pest plant while having our fingers stung, set up a soil patch for new plants (it was really like harvest moon), and cleaning one of the abandoned gardens.

That was about all we did in return for our food and accommodation. Carolyn is really nice. She would bring us out to town whenever she have errands to run and left us there for a few hours to explore. She drove us and show us around. We even followed her when she was up at Perth for family visiting. She cooked us amazing meals and taught us how to make fluffy scones.

19911992

In short, she’s an amazing host, and we were really lucky to work for her for our first Helpx.

One down during this unforgettable experience would be the passing of Zul’s mum. Just one day after we reached Carolyn’s place, we received the news. I forever remember the devastated look on his face, to receive this sudden news when we were miles away from home. We haven’t been at Carolyn’s place for 24 hours and we were already packing to leave. We rushed back in time for the burial, and I stayed with him for the entire funeral. I didn’t mention this to anyone except for my family. On my part, I’m glad I was able to be there for him during this difficult period.

We went back there again few days later. I guess Zul knew that I really wanted to. I like to think this trip helped distract him for a bit. It was truly one of the best trips that I’ve been to.

On love

20151217_144850We’ve been through too many ups and downs for me to keep track. Our relationship is not perfect. We still quarrel and we fought. Still cry and get mad. Still have doubts if we are the right one for each other.

But in the end, we stay. We wiped our tears, made new compromises, and try again. It hadn’t been a smooth sail, but we learnt along the way.

He has been my greatest support, pushing me to go for it when I was hesitating about my studies, comforting me when I felt down and doubt myself, wanting to take care of me when my life was in a mess, looking at possibilities instead of pushing away my random thoughts or goals.

He said this before:”Because with you, we can be dreamers”.

We talked about going overseas once he finishes his bond. With me going for my post doc and he will take a Masters degree.

We talked about owning our own farm, getting Peking chickens and sheep, having our own orchard on my side and a hydroponic farm on his.

Then we talked about life on sea. Living in our yacht or having a trawler for a living.

We also talked about buying a house in Malaysia and transform it into our workshop.

We want to travel the world, one country each year. Want to try wingsuit flying, paragliding, hiking volcanoes, scuba diving.

I said I want to bring my family for a caravan trip in New Zealand. He told me then let’s do it next year. If we can’t afford to, we will got for my second choice, which is Blue Mountains at Australia. And if even that is too expensive, we will bring them to Chiang Mai, where my dad has been yearning to go.

Not once has he told me it is not possible and waved me off.

I know, because I have been with someone who always brush it off.

Processed with VSCOcam with b1 presetBecause with you, I can dream.

Cheers 2016.

May more wishes come true in 2017.

 
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Posted by on December 30, 2016 in Work

 

突然觉得现在的我很没有目标。

工作其实没有很难,也没有很累。

老板很烂,但是同事很好。

可能是兜兜转转了两年,自己的project好像没什么着落。

已经好多次不能replicate自己的results。这点其实让我很怀疑我的能力。

不过现在最大的原因,应该是在等着的入学通知。

我…真的很想进。怎么说都是小时候的梦想。

从一开始兴奋地开始找工作,找学校,开心地告诉身边的人,我想出国读书。

去了一些面试,得到几个回复。结果没选中,结果没位置。

转了一圈,申请了就在眼前的学校。一等就等了三个月。

从开始的信心满满,渐渐等,渐渐灰心。

会不会因为没有适合背景而不被录取?

会不会因为名额有限而没有位置?

会不会因为scholarship funding减少而不被考虑?

会不会因为只是second upper而被first class比下去?

我的cover letter写的很好,我的成绩不算太差。我有工作经验,我还有publications。

是不是还是不够?

在追梦的路上一再被拒绝,我有点麻木,也其实很难过。

我知道路还很多,我还有很多方法可以试。

看着做着自己很爱的事情的人,我很羡慕,非常非常羡慕。

什么时候轮到我?

 
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Posted by on September 5, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

Train to Busan

Heropage-980x560_56How should I put it.

I have expected this movie to be intense, but I totally didn’t know it will be THIS intense. It is such a heavy movie that we had to not talk for awhile after it ended.

In the face of death (or even worse), do you choose to save others, or do you choose to save yourself?

When your family’s life is unknown, or when you know they are gone, do you still care about strangers? Would you care if they are able to see their family?

How do you look at your loved one, slowly being devoured by death just to save you? When they tell you to run, how do you do it?

To me, this is not a movie just to scare. This is a movie to think.

 
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Posted by on August 11, 2016 in Movies, Uncategorized

 

是的。

到最后,我什么都没有。

 
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Posted by on March 12, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

This is the choice of you guys.

I quit.

 
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Posted by on March 11, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

I’m angry

Yes I am.

Perhaps not so much of a boiling rage. But it is there.

Of course, I am mostly at fault to begin with. I wouldn’t deny that. But day after day, I’m losing faith.

Those petty little games you are playing. You. Yes you. I always know this about you. You talk about people with your friends, have opinions about them. Then you ask them to be the bad guys. For them to voice it out while you keep quiet and watch. Backing them up if things are going well, or just play mute so you don’t seemed to be one of them.

I have always despised that. Though it gets on my nerves sometimes, I chose to close one eye. But this time, I am the target. And I fucking hate it. I hate this kind of little mind games, trying to hint, hoping that he or she gets the message. No. You stop doing this. If there’s anything you want to say, say it out loud to that person. Say it out loud to me. This is the worst possible way to communicate, to get your words across. This is the worst possible way to let that person understand how you feel. Don’t play guessing games, don’t use silent pressure. Don’t regret when the day comes and it is too late to fix anything, because you never put your words out loud and clear to the person you care and love so much.

 

Perhaps certain things are just beyond repair.

 
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Posted by on March 9, 2016 in Uncategorized