Sunday, September 9, 2007

Roundup of 2nd week in School

Apologies for the lack of updates. I have been too tied down with too many stuff I hardly have any time for myself. Time seems to fly faster here and I wonder why I am left with so little time at the end of the day. Guess it's a double edge sword to be occupied. On one hand, I am learning and experiencing new things just about every other day, been moving around much more than back in Singapore, never been more independent before by doing my own laundry and cooking my own meals. Now I wish I hadn't taken my Mum for granted for washing my clothes and cooking my meals. I really wish my Mum is here to help me. Haha. Well, but it's time to grow up. Because of all these hassle, I am starting to stress out with my studies. Pace of school is much faster down here, no spoon feeding, minimal notes, no breaks in between lectures and maximum independent self study. Sharks man, I really hope I can survive this grueling torture by the end of semester, totally didn't make any contingency plan if I fail any of the classes. Please bless me everybody.

Ok, here's the list of key events or incidents I can recall that happened for the past one week.

31st August, Friday
I was supposed to contact my exchange mentor for EAP Dinner, but only realized my mistake on the day itself, so of course I didn't meet my mentor unlike what I state in my previous entry, but guess what happened. Another EAP mentor, UC Berkeley student, couldn't find his mentee and he adopted the whole bunch of mentor-less Singaporeans as his mentees. The interesting thing was this guy, David, went to NUS for exchange last semester, i.e. AY06/07 sem 2, and he stayed in Eusoff Hall, which was the same hall as Shaun, so we clicked right away sharing about our experience and perspective of Singapore. The thing that struck me most about him is he shared how he actively search for SPG, sarong party girls, high and low in Singapore but he couldn't find one, so he felt very cheated and label it as a scam. Haha. And there was once a Singapore girl in Eusoff Hall invited him to her room and chat up with him for long hours, so he expected some request for "XXX" in return. But yet again, he was so shocked and disappointed that nothing happened. Haha, it's just so funny the type of mentality and attitude those whites have, really amusing. Another interesting thing about him. He can speak Singlish amazingly well for a white, like wa lau eh, la, lor, ma etc, so damn funny and cool. He also commented local movies sucks and the jokes are bad. Well, that's your opinion dude.

1st September, Saturday
Went IKEA to shop for furniture, bed sheets, pillows and cutlery. The meals in IKEA are just as budget as those in Singapore, $4.99 for 15 meatballs plus potatoes, very cheap for a meal in US. Miss one of the most significant events in UCB calender. Yep, it's Football night, but I mean America Football. Every time there's a home match, the 72,000 seater stadium will be filled to the brim, the roadsides will be full of parking cars and there will be traffic jam on the streets. And mind you, this is just college football and UCB student population is only about 20,000 plus, while Berkeley population is about 150,000, but yet the locals are so supportive of their local football team just like the way the locals support their local football clubs in Europe. College football team is equivalent to their local football club and they staunchly support and follow their favorite football team. Good Gracious, UCB, nicknamed the Cal Bears, emerged victorious over Tennessee University and you could see the rave celebrations of the delighted fans on the streets and restaurants. The whole town is momentarily painted dark blue with the Berkeley shirts or pullovers. So do you now understand why it's so hard for Singapore to excel in sports internationally? The sporting culture is just not the same. In this upcoming notable fall fixture, the Cal Bear is going to play against UCLA and their fiercest local arch rival, Stanford University at home. My goal is to catch at least one of these football matches before I fly back home, hopefully the ticket price don't jack too high up because of the black market. Tickets here are all sold out and black market tickets are over 40USD per match. Crazy man.

2nd September, Sunday
Nothing significant except we took 1 hour of train ride to Oakland just to eat Singaporean food at Banyan Tree restaurant for dinner. The food is no way near average Singapore food standard. Bet any Singapore hawker who come over to the Bay Area will have better business than this restaurant. No idea how they manage to expand to that many chain restaurants in the Bay Area either.

3rd September, Monday
It's a public holiday cos it's Labor day, but I rather forget what happened on this day. Accompanied Qi Rong, a fellow Singaporean exchange mate, to San Francisco before taking a long futile trip to northern Bay Area to "Target", a super mart, only to find out the prices of the cutleries there are more expensive. So, we have to make a another rush trip down to IKEA. Wasted hell lot of time waiting for the train and buses that I got very vexed and frustrated. The schedules they displayed at the train stations and bus stops are useless if they follow them. Really make me appreciate Singapore efficient transport system after experiencing those nerve-wreaking, torturous wait for trains and buses, waited like half an hour to an hour just for the train or bus to arrive. And to make matters worse, public transport here are so exorbitant, I spend about 10 dollars merely just on all the train rides that day. Living expenses here is almost triple that of Singapore.

4th September, Tuesday
Start of 2nd week of school. Didn't submit one graded assignment for discussion cos I didn't know it's counted. Oh gosh. Students here are very outspoken. They actively answer instructor or tutor's questions and come to class prepared with questions. Instructors will answer questions in the middle of lectures and pause to look around for questions from students. In essence, students never bring their doubts back home, so unlike Singaporeans. I heard the consultation hours of the tutor and instructor are always packed with long queue and they are flooded with emails from students everyday. Culture shock man. For my law class, it's even more scary, every student fight to speak in class, I feel so timid when I am with them , plus my inability to slang like the American accent makes it hard for them to understand me too. Jesus Christ. To make matter worse, my law instructor gives no notes and write no notes on the board and whatever lesson you learn comes solely out of his mouth. This is what I call the highest order of learning. Make your own notes and read the textbook. Instructor is here just to facilitate you. Guess this is the way to groom top academia and researchers. Independent motivated self study and instructors are just here to facilitate you, not feed you. I thought Singaporeans should be the most competitive people on earth since they are renown for their kiasu-ism, but I am proven so wrong down here. Passion for learning, or what you call thirst for knowledge beats kiasu-ism in the long run. If there's a statement to distinguish students in America and Singapore, I would say Singaporeans are result-oriented while Americans are more conscientious and passionate of their work and studies.

5th September, Wednesday
I cooked my meals for the first time in overseas. Made vegetable and chicken soup and I dare say my soup taste as great as my mum's soups. Mum, I am not kidding. More home cook meals to come.

7th September, Friday
Another EAP party organized by the International Office. Finally, I get to meet my mentor, a UCB graduate, and oh my, she's a gorgeous beautiful white lady. She went to two places for exchange during her time as an UCB undergraduate, India follow by Italy. An environmental economics major graduate, she's currently working in a small environmental consulting firm. We struck up pretty good rapport and before she left, she arranged to bring me to Santa Cruz to chill this coming Sunday, so cool and exciting. My exchange mates who haven't seen their mentors till then were so jealous they keep teasing me about her, but come on, she's attached and she is bringing her bf and best friend along for this trip, don't think too much people. David, the same guy who met us last Friday joined us for dinner and come over to our apartment to chill out and have a chit-chat session. For those who uses Facebook, Facebook is very big thing in America and I always see people using it in computer labs or talking about it. Friendster is totally non-existent here now. In our apartment, David, showed us the photos of the Singaporean girls he fancy and dated using Facebook as well as the places he went in South Sea Asia, very cool dude.

8th September, Saturday
Went for SMSA, Singapore Malaysia Student Association, of UCB BBQ in a park off-campus for lunch. It's was a freezing cold afternoon and I can't stop shivering even with my jacket on. Wonder how am I going to survive in the winter. Think I need to wear thicker clothings than everyone here soon, so embarrassing. Met Ying Xim who used to be Hok Him and Liren's classmate back in Hwa Chong JC, what a small world. Talked to alot of people and realize some of the full-time students have become very Americanized and majority of them come from RJ as expected. I was pretty amazed that quite a number of them have actually seen me in campus as I took same classes with them, but I didn't notice them in class. Guess it must be me coming late for classes always which make me more "visible" than anybody. Not that I want to, but my classes are all packed together with no breaks in between and the lectures here end at the very last minute and I need time to travel to the next venue. After I talked to some of the scholars, I realize I have been pretty much overloaded and they joked the reason I am seen by so many people is because I took too many classes. Haha. Even full-time student don't take on so much workload, let alone an exchange student. Haha. What to do? I want to transfer those credits back to my home university. But I might seriously consider dropping one module which I totally don't understand what's going on but still trying hard to persevere. Haiz. That's this one cute very Americanized girl who took one same class as me and she was so glad she finally found somebody she know for this class that she requested me not to drop this class and sit with her. Haha. So flattering. But knowing America do not have the culture of exchanging cell phone numbers with new found friends easily, just like they hardly sms, I didn't ask for her number and doubt I would find her that easily in lecture, maybe discussion session is possible. We shall see.

Thanks for reading this long entry. Give yourself a pat for enduring my long-windedness. Haha.

No comments: