Isolated thoughts

Category: Rambles

41.

This evening I reached my car on autopilot mode and had a cold slice of pizza from the free one I managed to snag from the common room. I was hungry and incredibly drained for I had spent the previous two nights getting up at 4am for work. Up to today I still do not regret my work, and I find it incredibly rewarding. But I always wonder if there is a better alternative; a more carefree and yet beneficial position to have but I think that I am doing okay.

Someone asked me if I have cried over my studies before and I said that I hadn’t. Simply because I had entered this year mentally prepared for the jump from the first, and I had experienced the worst kind of helplessness and prevailed. This is not to say that I don’t experience any stress at all; that’s a lie. I still study and try but I do not beat myself up over things that I do not know, and neither do I panic at the thought of learning what appears to be an insurmountable amount of information. And hell, if a competitive streak keeps me in the game I’d play it to my best.

Instead, I think I cry over the more sentimental things. Beneath the usual coldness and apathy lie my sensitive and human bits. And I cry when I feel sad, when people cry over their losses and when I am tired.

I just wish to not feel tired all the time.

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11. 

I personally find social media to be quite a handicap. Whilst I wholeheartedly appreciate being able to see snippets of my physically distant friends’ lives, which is very important when you’re 3000 miles away from home, I do not think that this means that I have been catching up with them. Silent viewership doesn’t foster any connection, and I feel stifled by the number of “friends” that I feel obliged to have on my social media feed. Many of whom I do know and have talked to before, but will probably never speak to again. Therefore I have been quite relentlessly pruning these lists as of late, because I find it tiring having to scroll through unnecessary posts that I am unable to appreciate. I won’t say that I don’t care, but I find this need to simplify and shut off from anyone who is unhealthy or very far gone from where I am currently at, and where I want to be.

In the recent days I have been thinking about the transition from year 1 to 2, and so on. In a mere 45 months I will officially become Dr Jo, given that I pass every single exam on my first try. At work I like to laugh about how I have 4 years to perfect my stethoscope skills or my injecting skills, but really, it isn’t quite that funny sometimes. 45 months seems like a very short time before graduating. I have 9 months of cramming theory into my brain, 12 months to learning how to perform clinical examinations, and a mere 24 months before I conduct my very first surgery. These thoughts make it easier to waddle through the mountains of information presented every day, and it keeps that little spark in me, however weak at times, alive.

In betweens

The humdrum of farm pracs has ended and I have been feeling very lost as of late. Despite keeping myself busy with submissions, organising, cleaning, experimenting with cooking and preparing for the next 4 months of university I feel very bereft of any purpose. Perhaps it is burn out from the three weeks of pracs and running around doing hard work, all just to leave a good impression on others’ minds.

As with anything else, these past few weeks have been constantly changing faces and involved the drawing of more boundaries than ever. I don’t think that I was severely out of my comfort zone, but it was still a very valuable learning journey, as everything is. 

I have gone from being deathly afraid of touching lizards and maggots to playing with them and handling them with no issues. I am also much more confident of working around cows and moving them around yards, and have stuck my hand into their uterus for the very first time. Horses have been a constant so it goes without saying that I was already quite confident with them. I was happy to work with them as well though. More importantly, I now feel more confident and comfortable about going to new places and meeting new people. 
Despite this, I still feel very apprehensive about the start of uni. It honestly feels like high school again with the small cohort and having classes from 9.30-4.30 almost every day. I also don’t feel very prepared for the amount of material that will be taught, and I fear failure which I simply cannot afford. It is not very reassuring to have breezed through the year as with everyone else but be told that this year will be a very big leap from the previous. I really just want to pass. 

2. Realities

I have reached a stage which seems absolutely absurd to me. I just spent the past hour medicating a sickly old dog, and preparing and hand feeding it roast chicken and sausages. All of it from 6-7am in the morning. I swear that some dogs live better lives than I do (especially those that get hand fed by yours truly), which is quite a wonderful thing. The chicken smelled delicious – I might buy myself one one of these days at Coles or Woolies. 

I couldn’t sleep till 2am last night, which is normal for I have spent the previous nights watching chinese shows till the wee hours of the morning. It is funny how we choose to entertain ourselves in certain conditions. I have never been one to appreciate my mother tongue, let alone the shows in the language. Whilst I find some things logically ridiculous and unrealistic, with entertainment comes this ‘suspension of belief’, where we put aside our realities and believe in the narratives presented to us despite the warped reflection of society and life around us. 

Then again, our perception can be vastly different from reality. For example, I had once believed that if I had failed my A levels, I would be screwed for life, for that was the environment that I was raised in. I recall being sat in a lecture theatre and being given a ‘wake up call’ by the principal herself alongside about 100+ of my peers, for we had fared poorly in the first tests of the year in 2014. It was the most irritating and anger inducing thing being told that we should buck up when I literally couldn’t for I was too far behind, and the system (at that point) was not working for me. 

When A levels were near, the teachers were all pushing the ‘your grades do not define you’ mentality. I strongly disagreed for I thought that good grades would get you somewhere, at least. That was what I had thought until I found out how many people make it into university via alternate pathways, other than the typical high school exam or a polytechnic diploma, and some who are my age have already gotten their degrees whilst I am barely into mine! I do not agree that a 3 month bridging programme is equivalent to 2-3 years of struggling with university level content and being pit against thousands of your peers on a bell curve to obtain certain grades. But then again, I believe that education should be accessible to anyone who desires it and wants to learn. 

I suppose that is one of problems of being brought up in a place such as Singapore. There are no other accepted, or respected, options. Not going to university was never presented as an option, not to me at least. We constantly judge and scrutinise, one’s educational qualifications, one’s family background, one’s ability to generate income, and one’s choice of partner when it should not make any difference in the way we treat and connect to them – as another human being. I dread the day that I find the need to conform, or feel the need to impress. I want to be unforgivingly, unadulteratedly me: rash, quick to anger, vexing, immature, and the whole ball of bad and good and in-betweens. 

I am quite grateful that I am surrounded by people who love and care for me. I have friends who see the good in me when I was at my most self destructive; who tell me that I am precious and someone to be treasured, fuck those who do not appreciate it. I have people whom I’ve never thought that I’d keep in contact or grow close with going above and beyond when helping, and providing encouragement in the darkest of times. 

List of wonderful things I’ve done this week:

  • gone swimming on a 38 degree day and had $2 oreo ice cream from HJ’s (simple pleasures!)
  • picked up good quality posture mattresses left on the kerb late at night, tying it to the top of a tiny hatchback with dog leads and making it home without being caught 
  • had bubble tea and those wonderful sausage breads from a bakery that I think is a Breadtalk knockoff
  • played with a baby kangaroo, and tried to feed it
  • played with a big fluffy puppy!
  • finished Spirited Away and Hana Kimi (silly high school drama, but hey) 
  • had a good chat with my Mom

All my farm pracs have been pushed back to Feb, so I will have 3 crazy weeks back to back before school begins. I predict that it will be quite challenging finishing up the activity logs on time before university begins, but I am so very excited for school to restart and to see all my friends (old and new) again. 

1. Beginnings

My new year will be spent administering medications to ill animals. I was quite stressed for one of the dogs had chewed through its drip tonight and I have to administer something every 4 hours or so; there goes my sleep. I do not mind though, for I was thinking of watching Spirited Away and filling in this Life Planner I bought on a whim from kikki.K. It was $6 and a steal: I hope that it would be fun and meaningful to fill in.

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We have new pets in the house: two stick insects named Twiggy and Pop. I’m still afraid of holding them on my hand hence the sleeve. They are free range and make up the centrepiece of the new table, and I am afraid of killing them with my ignorance. They poop a lot, and it sort of grosses me out but they are easy to care for and clean up after.

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I actually wanted to get myself a guinea pig/rat/mouse as a pet, but I do not know if I am allowed one and I cannot get myself to commit to one. With farm pracs and the current situation where I might get busy at night, not to mention university studies eventually, I am not sure if I can handle caring for it. The possibility of illness and veterinary bills also scare me, and the added financial burden is not one that I can commit to easily.

It seems silly to get a pet though, for there is always Morrie for company if I so desired. Also, working with animals almost every day with very temporary, fleeting contact fills the void (I miss Hun Bun terribly). I enjoy learning more about and handling animals that I have never handled before though, like this dove!

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I’ve gotten some stationery for the new school year super in advance, which was fun. I am looking forward to university beginning again, and I’m quite excited to get myself a car in the next few months.

This all makes me feel very ‘adult’ if it makes any sense, having to make decisions such as investing, choosing mobile plans, paying for the bills, purchasing a car and maintaining it, and driving about alone. I quite enjoy it. Not so much doing laundry, cooking and cleaning up. But if I’m going to do this I’m going to make sure I’m damn good at this domestic shit by the end. At the very least I can cook a pretty decent fried rice and breakfast now.

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I have learnt that the beaches have snakes and sharks, which can kill you. Despite much discussion and debate about whether we should ever enter the water again, we still went ahead to the beach to swim on the last day of the year.

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The beach was close to a port, hence the containers. I quite like it, it was quiet and the weather was beautiful. Sunny but also windy so that you don’t feel that burnt. I would miss driving this car – it makes me feel badass (which, of course, I totally am).

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I watched Your Name last night. It was the first time I have watched a Japanese movie, and it was really well made and it made me tear at times. I’m a sucker for bittersweet endings.

I do not have any specific new year resolutions this year. I only wish to take on the year with grace and faith in myself and my abilities. I shall turn 21, have many other firsts, learn a lot of things in the pursuit of veterinary science and also, about myself. This, and my best, shall be enough.

2016: In hindsight

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.

January

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.

February

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.

March

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.

April

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.

May

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.

June

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.

July

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?

August

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.

September

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.

October

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.

November

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.

December

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!

Freedom

Life seems to pass at a different pace here. I have all the time in the world during my summer holidays to pursue things that I do not have the luxury of entertaining during the semester. My room is now neater and I dare call it home, and of course, I am learning so much all the time. This week I have seen a snake bite case, learnt how to use a stethoscope to listen for an animal’s heart rate, take its temperature and injected $800 anti-venom into an IV drip. Thankfully, the cat left the clinic very much alive.

Summer is my favourite season. I like to think that I am a summer child, for my birthday falls in the northern hemisphere’s summer. Here, it falls in winter and exam season but it is what it is. I love the warmth of the sun’s rays on my skin, as well as the occasional cool breeze and the cool mornings and nights. With this weather I would love to go to the beach with my friends, and we have and shall, and we will swim and people-watch, all the good things in life. I would drive about in the manual ride, and listen to summer songs on the radio. And I am starting to enjoy these drives to and fro alone mostly, for I get to exercise my independence and it is mostly relaxing. My car was out of fuel and stuck at the clinic so  we asked a nearby garage if we could borrow a jerry can and they sold me $12 worth of fuel. There’s always a first for everything, and this summer is and will be filled with so many of mine.

2 down, 10 to go

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The past semester was a huge struggle for me – I was extremely affected by certain circumstances, the loss of some people, and basically trying to move on and acclimatise to a new reality. At the beginning of the semester, I felt like I was doomed, for I could barely function, focus in lessons or even care about it. I felt panicky, worried that I wouldn’t do well and live up to my own expectations, but was so lost and struggling with so many emotions that I couldn’t get my shit together.

This is a defining semester – with me stepping out of my comfort zone several times, going for interviews, volunteering, socialising, healing and above all, having made it through far better than I’ve expected.

I am satisfied.

Smooth sailing

Today has been pretty great. I got an additional farm placement at a dairy farm, and I’m so excited for it because it would be my first ever prac with full board! So I will be doing 3 weeks during this summer holidays – one week of dairy cattle, a week of wildlife and one week of horses. It sounds wonderful because if I’m lucky I reckon that I would get to see calving *crosses fingers* and who doesn’t love baby animals?! I also think that it is good to try and finish my pracs quickly whilst I am relatively free and burden free. I also just got my interview rescheduled to after my paper this Friday – I hope it goes well, for it means being financially self sufficient during term time. That would be a wonderful experience as well. 

I have also signed my contract a couple of days ago so I’m pretty happy. Would feel better if I could go down to shadow before I leave, so I might give them a call tomorrow and ask. Since the room is unfurnished I would also need to furnish it myself and since I foresee myself staying there for a good 4 years I have my mom’s blessing to furnish it, with new furniture nonetheless! This is so extremely exhilarating and wonderful for I think it has always been a dream to furnish my own room in my own style and way. I remember watching ‘Groom my room’ on kids central and always being so envious of them because they got to makeover their rooms. Ikea catalogs are also my favourites; I would pore through the catalog when it arrived every year. This would all be done on a budget, of course, but what is 2 week’s rent when you are going to live in that place for the rest of your studies? DIY projects make me excited as well. 

Also, just one week left to home for a little bit! I cannot wait for summer.

Finals Season

And now, the countdown really begins. I have exactly 16 days till home. Literally, just two weeks and two days. And that’s fantastic, for I want to finish up this semester and just go back for a while and relieve myself of all these burdens at least for a slight period of time. 

It’s funny, for every since I was young I have dreamt of studying abroad. I imagined a pretty dorm room and a picturesque campus, as well as wonderful activities and hall life. In a sense, I am living the dream right now (albeit not as picturesque at the moment) but people forget that living abroad encompasses doing one’s own dishes, cooking for oneself and taking care of someone (yourself) who has never been truly independent before. As I was brought up with two working parents and a helper that took care of us kids, I had rarely lifted a finger to do anything, especially laundry. Oh, don’t get me started. If your course requires you to do things out in the field, say, collect samples or pick piglets up and tip sheep your clothes get dirty. Fast. And it really kinda sucks, because every single wash costs $3, which isn’t cheap. It can buy me a nice plate of chicken rice back at home for goodness sake. 

Living abroad also makes me think of how different it might’ve been if I had remained in Singapore. Whilst incredibly liberating, it also makes me think about how isolated I am from others my age. I don’t have the opportunity to mingle as much with young people at home. To be honest, I suppose we only need a handful of good friends, and that is enough. Just musing about how, when I return eventually, socialising would be rather difficult with work and family being the priority. No hall life, no university experience with my peers, and again, rather isolated. This is not to say that I’m lonely, but it would have been nice to have had the experience; I have chosen a very different path. 

I have two papers this coming week, which I feel rather confident for if I would put in the time to memorise things. I also have my animal handling examination, which I am clearly nervous for. I just want (need) to pass, please. Animals please be good. I’m not too worried about pigs and horses (pray that 10 years of being bullied by horses and ponies alike has given me the confidence to handle them with firmness and grace) but sheep and cows aye, I’m nervous. They didn’t bring the sheep born in 2016 out previously, which means that we had to tip the 2015 ones and those born before. And it wasn’t working for me because certain tips require you to literally lift a 30kg sheep up and frankly speaking when you are 42kg that doesn’t happen easily. I know that I am able to and that I can but it gets exhausting working with animals so fearful of humans and flighty. 

I went for a nice run around the lake today. It felt wonderful. Whilst most of the time finals and important exams leave me extremely stressed out, I feel quite relaxed this time round. It feels like my hard work for my mid semesters and lab reports has paid off. Sure, one lab report might only be worth 4.17%. But when you have 6 added up, I feel like all my hours spent doing each individual report up to an acceptable standard has paid off. The same goes for studying for the mid semester tests and all. 41.5/42, can you imagine! But at the same time I have slacked off as well – this isn’t my best. I figured if I just did what was required in a short time and got the marks it would suffice as well. Not the greatest attitude, but I’ll work on it next year. 

Retaining GPA 4.0, here I come!