in a nutshell

2011 has been an overwhelmingly eventful year, but I can’t speak for it as a whole year, because my mood has varied wildly from one month to the next. I daresay the second term of my first year improved significantly, but by then I was already sunk, and I’ll be honest and say that even farewell was mostly dominated by a single force. Regret is not fitting with my philosophy – but sometimes I wonder if I took a wrong turn in those first few months at Pearson somehow, and I’ve missed out on the point of Pearson, even now, having started on an entirely wrong note, but –  I don’t see how I could or would have chosen otherwise, given how I was, then, all bright-eyed and nervous and out-of-place. I don’t regret a thing. And I like how I’ve turned out; in that fortunate way, I am quite fond of myself, warts and all (figuratively, right). But I always doubt that I’ve met Pearson’s purpose, though I’ll be hard-pressed to identify it, if asked.

One thing I’m sure of in Pearson is that I’ve taken charge of my learning more than I’ve ever, before, the whole independent-learning in my old schools in Singapore notwithstanding. This is primarily a change in mindset, because I’ve done a host of independent projects before, but there was always a certain level of security in the school’s reputation for excellence that turns anticipation into expectation, almost. There just didn’t seem like a way one could fail, especially if one followed the signposted way. Coming here … partly it was the drop in academic expectations, which made me realize acutely how much academic achievement was almost taken for granted to be desirable and of paramount importance back home, and partly it was the decrease in resources, whether class time or teaching or notes, and partly it was the increased leisure time, which gave me so much more space to read and research and read and revise. This has been best and frankly, quite amazing for philosophy, because I would never have been able to pursue it to such a degree in Singapore. But in most other academics, I think my progress has been retarded, somewhat, especially for history, because firstly, the curriculum is repeated; it also struck me, to my slight horror, that where before I had been doing extra reading for interest, now I was simply reading to fulfil class requirements, and I’d actually been reading less history than before, which is quite distressing. Same goes for literature too, I suppose, though I’m making up for that by reading a lot more. French is definitely a plus, just the fact of the lessons itself.

The other benefits, changes, adjustments are far more subtle and different to enumerate. I can always say perspective, of course, but – I sometimes feel as though the greatest benefit I’ve derived from Pearson is not necessarily attributable to its intrinsic purpose and intentions, but an inadvertent effect of its organization, in this case, the dramatic increase in available time and the people I’ve met. The things that I’ve proud of having done are small, almost selfish: cooking, regular gym attendance, reading, talking to people – things that come closer to building me into who I think is a better person, but it’s been predominantly self-improvement. That makes me uneasy.

Back to the more mundane, second year so far has actually been a significant improvement over the first, in spite of my intense initial angst and ennui, and the sneaking suspicion, even last year, that second year is just going to be more of the same. But it hasn’t been, and all things considered, I enjoy it a lot, lot more, and partly that is due to the people I’ve found and kept around me. But if anything, Pearson has also taught me that I need my space and quiet and time, and I am not one to lose myself frivolously or easily, and I cannot live in a school and be an excited person 24/7, which is a little disappointing but valuable information, ultimately.

My plans for 2012 are well-intentioned, naturally. There are the usual reminders, like go to the gym five times a week, eat a reasonable amount (also of vegetables), read more, sleep less, call home, do your laundry, don’t buy useless shit. Then there is a new one, which is about making my fourth and last term amazing and epic and Worth It, at the end of it all, whatever that will mean in June, December, at the ten-year reunion. I want to make the last term count, and I think what will help is the prospect of university, because I am so, so excited to start university and living on my own and cooking and having my own room (ish, perhaps) and working and travelling and budgeting, but that anticipation is great fuel to drive me through the next five months, living recklessly high and fast. But until then.

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