Singapore / Updates

these streets have too many names for me

This song is gorgeous … and I never knew this was what Paolo Nutini looked like /o\ And he’s Scottish! This is the acoustic version; the album version is here, and it’s smoother and more polished, but, you know, both are evocatively poignant.

I think about leaving all the time now. Understandably, partly because some of my friends have begun leaving; their photos are gorgeous. Partly too because three months is edging closer and closer to intolerably long, and I still have another month to go. What seems to be my occupation for the next month: my reading list, which is blessedly but also worryingly short, and … another internship? Somewhere, somehow, though I’m not sure if it’s advisable at all. I was looking at a dive certification course in the sinfully warm waters of Thailand or Indonesia, but I was reminded that the UK visa application process confiscates your passport for the entire duration, so I might not have enough time to travel, which is regrettable.

Had dinner with that UWC alum heading over to Oxford with me last night. It was good conversation that pretty much went all over the place, but it did jumpstart the beginning of what I can already foresee will be a steadily intensifying bout of nerves regarding … university. Sure, tendrils of anxiety crept in a few days ago, starting from the slow realization that Pearson and UWC had been, if not easy, at least accommodating enough for me to, if not fit in, feel out my own space and feel secure in that. Being an international school (how I despise the connotations of that phrase!) naturally mitigated the undeniable presence of a dominant cultural influence, and I like to think that most of us, if exposed to the media at all, will be to some extent Americanized, such that the pop culture and politics references won’t be too lost on us. I’m not sure about my exposure to the British culture and all, former colony notwithstanding, and I’ll also be entering an ancient institution with scores of traditions (often pointlessly and infamously snobby, as I have heard) as a minority student. Granted, those were, almost masochistically, the reasons for my childlike awe of the place in the first place. While I’m on that, I received the much-awaited reading list yesterday afternoon but the length was almost a disappointment, after all the mingled dread and anticipation. Might be forced to eat my words, but first year PPE looks positively boring, with the focus on microeconomics, economic math (I HAVE FIVE WORKSHEETS TO SUBMIT, and that’s not counting the self-mark exercises, for Freshers’ week), logical methods in philosophy and the technical study of democracy. I predict miserable failure in philosophical logic, but there’s nothing for it, is there? Unavoidable disgrace ):

I confess that the length of the reading list involuntarily inspires mild concern over my college’s focus on PPE  – one of the characteristics of my college I’m already relishing is the fact that it’s clearly quite international, modern and liberal in focus, and even more so in contrast to the rest of Oxford, and I’ve found a few UWC kids as well as international students. Most people also seem to be studying non-PPE courses ranging from Bioengineering to Oriental Studies, so I expect that’ll make for a dynamic campus, if anything. But of course, it means my college doesn’t specialize in PPE!

But all these nerves are forgivable, right? I expect all these thoughts will just intensify and gnaw at me as more and more people begin university abroad, especially my fellow UK-goers.

In any case, what was surprising about the UWC alum’s comments about his own experiences in the US was that it was more negative than I expected, considering the fact that he went to a liberal arts college that generally accepts many international students. ‘Privilege’ was the word that surfaced the most often; I think I would hate to be confronted with that in the UK, but it is almost unavoidable.

Meanwhile, a book has proven surprisingly engrossing: Cherian George’s Singapore: The Air-conditioned Nation (Essays on the Politics of comfort and control, 1990-2000). Tight, interesting and neutral enough summary of Singapore’s political scene for the barely informed (me), while possessing enough style to be a good narrative account; I have no idea how one does that.

Finally, this is what is tiding me through my miserable bout of flu while going through three classes a day. I know, bad idea to eat ice-cream while I’m sick and my voice is like a rusted iron chain rattling. But guys, guys, I have found my favorite ice-cream favor. Dublin Mudslide. Love the mischievous hint of alcohol and the cookie crumble and the coffee ! Two more days to go before another three-day weekend … hopefully my teaching stint ends next week ! It’ll be a mixed blessing if it does, though.

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