Isolated thoughts

Month: August, 2016

Home and Away

http://qz.com/769776

This is basically what it feels like to be away.

I have always idealised what it would be like to study abroad. When I was younger, I was especially disillusioned, dreaming of studying in the USA or the UK. I have achieved that to a certain extent – I am studying veterinary science in Australia, after all. And after I’ve been back for that one month, I do feel like everything has changed. Once important social circles have crumbled, and group dynamics have shifted so much that I felt like I didn’t belong in that local narrative anymore. Life abroad isn’t as rosy as it seems sometimes, especially when things come to bite you in the ass.

I love the freedom of being able to do what I want, whenever I want. Want to pull a study session in the library till midnight? Sure, just have fun shivering on your walk back and being wary of strangers that cross your path. Want food? Make it. I am satisfied that I am independent enough to survive on my own. I love spending time outdoors, going on walks and living an overall much healthier life. I like meeting new people, drinking cheap wine and trying new things. But it is starting from ground zero, building a new home that needs to be able to shelter and withstand the hardship that would be faced. And here, I have no buffer zone.

On the other hand, my family is back in Singapore. I am not one to bawl my eyes out at the thought of leaving home, but nothing beats coming home to dinner cooked with a mother’s love, or knowing that no matter what, there is someone here that would be here for you. Living in Singapore isn’t that bad at all, and I can see why every single time. I do miss home dearly, and I wonder how my perception of it would change yet again.

95 days

I’ve been stepping out of my comfort zone in many ways. I’ve started actively going out and doing things, meeting new people and just putting myself out there. To be very honest I’m quite happy alone but it is nice to be around others for comfort and free food (lol).

I have so much to be grateful for – fantastic friends who have helped me over the breakup, asking me out for evening walks to the farm where we would pat the horses and I would forget everything for an hour or so. Last weekend I volunteered at a dog agility trail and learnt how to scribe, meeting new people and seeing how fantastic the pet-owner bond can be. I swore that if Honey was here I would get a clear round because you know, best bond ever. Lessons at the farm are fun as well. We would line up and guess the weight of a cow or sheep, and I always get it pretty wrong. The little goat that I carried was so sweet. A lot of good has come out of these dark times, and for that I am so thankful.

The world is so vast that I’d be stupid not to try everything whilst I’m here away from home. I have some very big dreams. And to think I’ve already done so many things that my 18 year old self would never have imagined accomplishing. I would remember so much when I return home eventually.

I bought a Father’s Day card for my dad because its celebrated September 4 here down under. It’s the first card that I’ve given him in over a decade and I hope he likes it.

And it helps that a lot is going on – signed up for farm experience and all for next year already. I can’t wait to see what else is in store.

Of cattle and greener pastures

Today, I learnt how to um…do things with cows?

For example, I learnt how to restrain their heads and check how old they are. I’ve also learnt how to tie ropes around them and a range of knots which I have unfortunately already kinda forgotten. And the best thing that happened today is that: I didn’t die! Okay, fair enough I was frustrated with how slow working with cattle can be. With sheep, it was a very individualistic practise: just get hold of a sheep and do your own thing. But with cows, its not that easy. But I am alive; thank you Bridget for being sweet and nice.

Walked all the way from the farm back home – an almighty distance when you’re carrying gumboots and overalls covered in cow shit. I was mulling things over again, with a war between logic and emotions raging in my head. I didn’t check my phone as I was busy being envious of people who actually had cars because I was feeling so pathetic and sorry for myself on the walk back home. Came back, collapsed on my chair after stripping and finally checked my phone and I got a call from the place that I submitted my cv to! Also made plans to go out for dinner tomorrow after a long day in school so I’m pretty happy right now.

It has been a very stormy day. I wish to be cuddled in my bed reading a nice book but unfortunately that’s not happening at the rate that I am procrastinating. Blame the exhaustion from being frozen to death during farm prac or just having focussed really well in lectures today but I really need to destress. Bought things for hun bun (it was on discount!) so I’m really very happy as well.

Sleepy Sundays

The wifi at my place sucks big time. The apartments are not provided with complementary wifi so my roommates and I have sourced for an alternative that gives us unlimited internet for $80 per month. Even so, it is slow and does not work at times. Hence, when I am actually connected I just take full advantage of it. We are fortunate enough to be located close enough to school as well so that we can occasionally tap on the school’s wifi when it is not being used by too many people in school (i.e. during holidays and on weekends).

Yesterday, I had a good run. I ran for three consecutive days last week, from Friday to Sunday. This week has only been Saturday so far. I plan to do another run this afternoon followed by a good break hiding in the shadows and watching videos using the good wifi at the fields. Back in high school, I hated running so much. I hated the searing hot sun and the feeling of being too unfit and weak – unable to go any faster just because I can’t. Here, it is different. Running is difficult to schedule in because I struggle with the weather. This means that a run can only be done when the sun and hence the temperature is at its peak – from 3pm to 5pm. I refused to head out when it rains or when I’ve had a heavy day (ending from 4.30 after a tiring farm practical or at 5.30 after a shit day). I really should though. I aim to be able to run 5km by the end of the year. I expect to be able to run from my house to the nature park and back home, a loop of about 4km.

I am thinking of making myself roasted salmon as a good treat before next week begins. My Monday, Wednesday and Thursday would be full days – with lectures, labs and practicals. I am afraid for this week’s practical because we are dealing with cattle and frankly speaking, that’s terrifying after all the horror stories that I’ve heard. I also need to prepare for my first assignment submission next week, followed by an online quiz that is graded. I really need to find some motivation.

Spent yesterday doing a graded report and submitting my resume for some jobs. I don’t know if it is a good idea to do so given my lack of motivation in school coupled with my still-fragile emotional state, but I really do want to own my very own car (eventually). At the very least, if I manage to save, I would be able to purchase textbooks and offset some costs next year – isn’t that good?

“People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are. I don’t believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and, if they cant find them, make them.” – Vivie Warren, Mrs Warren’s Profession

I believe in hard work and pursuing one’s dreams. I admit, that I was fortunate enough to have parents so selfless and loving that they would spend an estimated $300k on my education (25, 50, 50, 90, 76). It is not easy living with the knowledge that your school fees are a huge burden – that with that money, all 3 of us kids could have been sent abroad to study any other course. I am fortunate to be living with like-minded people though. I cannot imagine how stressed out and resentful I would be if I was surrounded by people who spend thousands per month. I cannot blame them for their affluence, but some things just can’t work when you scrimp and save and someone else has no qualms putting down $40 for a meal. It just can’t work out sometimes.

Despite the countdown, I kind of dread going home. It means falling into the comfort of dependency, of being coddled and treated like a fragile little thing, brought out for lunches and dinner just because I am back and evidently cannot take care of myself properly abroad. It means the dreadful feeling of displacement. Not amongst family, but in pretty much every other circle that still exists. When I get back at the end of 2020, after what I envision to be the most trying two years of my life, armed with my bachelor of science and dvm, who will be there? There will be no friendships of convenience as I have long left anyone that was there behind when I did the insane. What can I say? “I’m sorry, what was that inside joke about? Remember: I’ve been abroad for about 5 years and have missed out on all these shared experiences that you’ve had together?”

 

109 days

It seems like it has been forever since I have posted. It is two weeks into this semester, a month since the break, and it will be 15.5 weeks to home.

I worry terribly about my future. Call me crazy but I am already planning on what to do when I get back in December. I want to save up enough to buy myself my very first car next year. I want to do something that I would never be able to do in the future. I want to work towards my ultimate goals which include graduation in a far away 4.5 years’ time and returning home (I think).

But I am not sure. Doubts are wrecking my confidence. I do hope that I would be able to pass every unit in the following years. Even now, I struggle to focus in lectures where the lecturer reads off the disjointed slides. I have been enjoying one of my units tremendously though – it is like a dream come true. For a child whose days were spent poring through encyclopaedias of horses and stories of farms, it is the ultimate fantasy come to life.

I walked into class unsure and literally not knowing what to do with the sheep. But at the end of the day, it makes me immensely satisfied to be able to age, sex, tip and condition score them. It is something fundamental I suppose but still, for a weak city girl like me it means a lot to be able to hold onto a sheep and do that. I find so much joy in clambering over gates, practising knots, picking up adorable kids and just being around animals. Given the choice, I will definitely choose to spend most of my days on the farm. Sadly, it is limited to only weekly lessons but I am very fortunate to have it almost every week!

Just this week I experienced my first national day away from home. It is funny how we seek the comforts of home in the loneliest times. For those who only have a year or two at home it might not be as apparent. But it makes me count down the years till I am back. I have only 4 more national days away from home! What awaits me at the end of these years, I honestly don’t know. Who will be there other than my family? Would I have a future in my very own country? Would I ever be able to build a future there? I cannot know. All I can do is to study, aim for the stars, and pray that there will be a better way.

I have been reflecting on studying in general. Certain units frustrate me because I have learnt the material before in high school. It makes me upset because I am literally paying a few grand to do these units when I believe that I know the content already. On the other hand, it makes me seething mad to have disjointed and seemingly pointless units. It makes me unmotivated. Yet there are those gems that remind me why I am here and why I am doing what I am. I cannot wait to finally get through these foundational cum general science units and get to the real thing next year. I really cannot wait to finally take a big step towards becoming what I want to be.

I will try my best to do well again. I will get through these tumultuous times filled with trepidation and a worried heart.

0/120

I have about 120 days in Perth before I head home again. It seems rather strange to be counting down the days. It is as though I hate studying and cannot wait to be back. That is not true to say the least. I do enjoy what I am studying and am in fact excited for the start of my next semester which commences tomorrow. I’ve just been struggling very badly for the past few days and it is at times like these that I yearn so very badly to be home. 

I have been quite stressed out with budgeting for this semester. Unit readers and laboratory manuals are expensive despite their relative affordability as compared to textbooks. I had sworn that I would not purchase one this semester – I was forced to do so for one self-learnt unit last semester and thankfully I was able to find a buyer for it. It would be inevitable, I suppose, to have to purchase texts in my later years for reference. But for now, I’ll try to wing it. The current situation is better than expected though. Despite big ticket purchases such as overalls (in the less than ideal colour nonetheless!) and boots, I’ve somehow managed to save on readers by printing it out myself – thank the heavens for a relatively cheap laser printer. I’m right on track and it is a big burden off my chest for now. I might even be able to splurge a little here and there which sounds like a real treat to be honest. Curse immunisations for being expensive though. 

The past week in Perth was spent unpacking, gathering materials for the next semester and basically trying to enjoy life before uni begins again. I am quite determined to excel. I received a letter from the school congratulating me on my results. It made me really quite happy. To be very honest I take an immense amount of pride in my work and I am satisfied when it is received well. I think I might stick it up on my wall as encouragement to get another one after this semester 😉 

Meanwhile, I have also managed to sit down and read a book. I was reading a series on wattpad on the plane ride over and for the first couple of days. Whilst waiting for school to start I’ve also managed to complete To Kill A Mockingbird last night. Taking time out to read gives me this indescribable joy. I really enjoyed this book. I hope to take some time here and there in the midst of a gruelling semester to read more. I wish that I had taken down the words that were new to me. I used to keep a vocabulary book when I was little to help me remember new words. I have lost that practise, but I really would like to pick it up again. I want to improve. I’ve been feeling unsatisfied with my grasp of english for a while now. It is time to take action. 

I am also thinking of keeping a journal just to keep track of my progress and thoughts through life. It would be interesting as I find myself in this crazy whirlpool of emotions and musings every single day. I suppose that I would also like to look back on these as fond memories in the future. Wouldn’t that be nice. 

Posted this up a day late because my wifi at home is THAT bad. It’s freezing.