2016: In hindsight
by Jolyn Low
Now, there are still 3 days left of 2016, and as always, things change very quickly sometimes but this is just a reflection of my year. It has been the most insane, somewhat unexpected and quite trying, and I still do not grasp the multitude of everything that has happened at times, really.
My new year’s was spent in Chiang Mai, Thailand for I was there playing my last softball tournament with NUS. At that point I did not realise, but it would be my last Chiang Mai Open, and for that I felt quite wistful, for it marked the close of a 7 years journey playing softball. We took the sleeper bus down to Bangkok and it was a good few days shopping, cafe hopping and basically chilling. I doubt that I would get to vacation as such until I am done with my degree.
The rest of the time back in Singapore was spent working, tying up loose ends, applying for my visa (bloody long and tedious process it was) and just figuring out the impending leave. I was quite excited for the new life abroad, despite being completely and utterly clueless for what was in store.
I left on the 10th, on the third day of Chinese New Year. I was fortunate to have been able to meet many friends in the week leading up to my departure, and for that I am so very grateful, for it was wonderful. I recall the night before leaving quite clearly at the bar, as well as the last minute packing rush on the morning itself. I wasn’t expecting much of a send off, for I wanted to leave quietly, as though I didn’t exist. Sometimes I still wish that I could live without any form of attachment, but that is not the case.
There was orientation, driving about panicking because of unfamiliar roads and basically being left in an apartment with 7 other girls and having no idea how to feed myself. I had not known how to cook rice, meat, or even an egg despite ‘practising’ with friends beforehand. The end of of this month was also when classes began, and I felt so underwhelmed for this was nothing compared to juggling 6 mods, tuition and other commitments back in Singapore.
I cannot remember what happened very well, so as I type I am looking through pictures on my phone.
I explored Perth and its outskirts with my friends. We went to Penguin Island in Rockingham for the very first time, and participated in some International Student Festival in the city. I also went clubbing (at a gay bar, nonetheless) for the very first time and felt quite overwhelmed. I visited Cottlesloe beach for the very first time, Fremantle at night and saw the most amazing sunset at South Freo Beach and swum for the first time at North Freo’s beach. The month was one of exploring, and it was so very exciting and exhilarating.
I did the silliest shit like drinking till 3am at someone else’s place, getting tipsy at the beach and it now feels like a complete whirlwind of a month where I basically went with whatever I had felt, screw the consequences.
I did my first dissection of a piglet, went to Cottlesloe (again) before it got too cold and went up to Hillary’s to get our wifi modem, which we aptly named MagicMike. It was starting to get cold, and many of my nights were spent on the phone.
The work was piling up, and it got a little overwhelming at one point in time. Amongst all the assignments and things to prep and study for, we took a trip down to Albany. It was an incredibly cold and stormy weekend, and so I was quite afraid but excited. We visited insane rock formations, windmill farms, monuments, clambered through rock faces and visited the most vibrantly green waters. This does not mention the huddling through storms, the cold night in the backpackers or the hail that rained down on us.
The start of the month signified the end of classes for the semester and the beginning of the exam period. I was quite unafraid, for I had stupidly entered the uni exam hall not knowing shit (it was accounting fml) but still passing back at home. I was quite confident given the amount of practice and work I had put into my subjects despite how inane some of them were, and the results came out well. I had a short break before heading back home.
I hated this month back at home, and if I could, I would have chosen to never had gone home at all. There was a lot of uncertainty that I struggled with, and a lack of support from those whom I had desired it from. I do not think that I would expect people to be supportive of my endeavours anymore. I wish I had the luxury of wealth to take a trip somewhere else to just be alone to grieve and recover. It was quite traumatic, for I felt like breaking down all day and holing up in bed to waste away (all 40kg of me) and quite simply couldn’t because how does one do that when there is no private space to do so?
Semester 2 began, and it felt quite full on. I had wanted to throw myself into my work but there really wasn’t much that I could have done at that point. Since getting good grades had become more of a habit and a bit of a game to me, it seemed like fun seeing how much I could push it yet still achieve the results that I desired. I went for a lot of walks to see the horses that lived on campus with my friends, and it helped me quite a bit. I made new friends, surrounded myself with people who cared for me and tried new things here and there. We also had animal handling lessons, more for the vet students and so I was very happy whenever Wednesday afternoons came around.
I volunteered more, friends came over and we met up which was what I needed, went for bootcamps to get my ass handed to me on Saturdays and attended workshops and talks. The workload got quite intense for once, and I tired myself out in a good way, which helped.
We explored more areas around the uni, going to the lakes and whatnot. Had more exciting adventures going out, drew blood from a sheep for the first time and the prank war continued. Went on an overnight adventure to star gaze at the Lancelin sand dunes, which was amazing. Started preparation for exams, and it was a good time.
Classes ended about midway through, and more was going on despite finals being just around the corner. I was quite at odds with myself, quite confident for certain papers yet kind of winging some others. I did stupid shit like movie nights before finals, going to the beach between papers to see the moon and panicking during the sheep handling exam. I still ended up with the results that I desired – 4.0 GPA for once in my life, coming from someone who had grossly underperformed in her first couple of years in secondary school and junior college with GPAs of 2.5-3, this is good.
I think that having a consistent and honest work ethic speaks for itself, and is reflected in one’s results. For sure, grades are not everything and people value very different things, but having gone through the 13 years of education as I have I’ve found that consistent hard work has never let me down.
The end of the month also marked the time when I would move out of the student accommodation on campus, and into my new place. I had taken a big gamble on it, and it had worked out in the end. Packing made me quite wistful and whilst I wish that I was still in such close proximity to people whom I know I can count on, this new opportunity was very hopeful. We had a Harry Potter movie marathon, and I enjoyed my time thoroughly before I left for a short trip back home.
I spent 10 days in Singapore in a very different manner from which I had once lived or experienced before. I no longer count the days, and am quite accepting of whatever happens sometimes. I moved in quite hap-hazardously with little idea of what to do and expect, but it has worked out.
I feel like my current situation and reality is very different as compared to what I had once expected it to be, which is not bad in all honesty but it does surprise me. I don’t think that I will be leading the life of a more normal international student – I do not foresee myself having the luxury of 3 to 4 months back at home for summer at all. What time that others get to spend back at home in a year, might in all honesty be all the time that I get to spend at home over the course of 5 years. And this makes it seem so long and gruelling even though I am merely at the beginning stage of this marathon.
Now this blog has been something that I have used to document my journey from 2014 to 2016 – a whopping 3 years with at least a post in every month. It has followed me through the crucial A level year, mess of getting to vet school and the ongoing catastrophes that happen in my life (lmao). And with 2017 being another very significant and new year, I was hoping that I would be more consistent with my thoughts. I was thinking of checking in every Sunday, for all 53 of them and we will see how this consistent posting progresses. It can be anything – a quote, poem, song, or reflection, but I just thought that it would be interesting to try.
As I leave this as my last post of 2016, I just wanted to let the future me who’s probably looking back on this know that you have made it through what you once thought was your darkest time, and were successful at that. Also, whilst it is good to prepare for the worst, don’t forget to be the stupidly optimistic kid you are as well.
On to 2017!