Singapore / Updates

twenty-five days

1. Went to what I (charmingly, I hope) like to think as the first event of my university life yesterday night. There are many more Singaporeans at Oxford than I realized (though it was expected, of course), and studying a variety of courses. There are six PPE freshers, as far as I have been able to ascertain, and many historians, according to the grapevine, and I met more than a few E&M students.

It all promises to be very exciting, of course. Touched base with my Singaporean second year in my college, which was excellent, and also reassuring, because she was very much in love with St Anne’s! She’s also vice-capt of rowing (a plus) and very, very into food (a huge plus) and extremely friendly. Chatted with a few people, participated in a few embarrassing videos (I had two guys climb a tree for me, and then I proposed to one of them … don’t even ask), none of which will ever make their way onto FB, hopefully, and tried my hand at a very intense, mentally-taxing card game (high society?) for around an hour after midnight.

It was a conscious effort to be cheerful and outgoing and chatty (to annoying levels, no doubt) that night. Alcohol would have helped, but I’m glad I/the gathering/the rest of the people did not need it. There was something familiar and faintly comforting about the setting: a chalet, Singaporeans, card games, soft drinks. (Someone laughed when I said ‘pop’ the other day.) The atmosphere was very earnest, and very well-meaning, and none of the seniors really seemed changed by their British experience, not as much as I feel like I have been by my Canadian one. (I suppose a large part of how I’m judging that is the lack of … wildness in the gathering.) But perhaps my change is all internal and not evident to others, either, and most probably, people behave different in Oxford. In the meantime, preliminary evaluation makes OUMSSA out to be a safe refuge in the years ahead, or at least the first few wobbly weeks and months.

Went to the supermarket today with my mom and looked at some electrical appliances. There was a 3-in-1 breakfast maker (very intriguing), and a multi-purpose cooker with a normal pot and a grill pan underneath that. My mom assures me she has crockery and utensils and linens in her … stockpile. I must keep reminding myself that I am not actually being domesticated at university. Cushion throws and a full kitchen are very, very far away in my future. Very likely, despite my (seeming) abundance of free time at university, my life will still be very disorganized and typically university-student-esque.

Speaking of free time, I have tentatively established my schedule to be, currently … maximum three hours of tutorials a week. All lectures are, apparently, optional, or at least, skippable. Another interesting fact I found out: PPEists are the hardest parties at my college ! The imminent irony?

This goes without saying, of course, but everyone was so lovely and frighteningly normal, in that, if you don’t think about it, you can forget that they’re all going to Oxford, which, you know, is Oxford. Apparently, the top Geography student in the level was there (and a Singaporean). But if there’s one thing Pearson has acclimatized me to, it’s to being around brilliant people? To an extent, of course. But it’s a relief to not have to consider that, and Singaporeans are generally modest and unassuming to a fault, too, so it’s even easier. Which brings me to the other thing that was a relief: not to have to navigate the potentially awkward, so where are you going to university? conversation – which is probably not awkward for anyone else but it is for me, and I don’t really like answering that question.

2. Lunch today was very extravagant. My mom, my brother and I spent over a hundred bucks on assorted sushi. Decent enough, but very satisfying. Then for dinner, I had breaded ebi with a great chili crab mayo sauce, and a Chocolate Monkey. That is, for all you plebeians, chocolate liqueur, banana liqueur, a whole banana, chocolate syrup or something, blended with ice. Might have been a cherry in it, too. Basically a chocolate banana milkshake with an added kick.

3. First windsurfing afternoon after almost three weeks, I say shamefacedly, yesterday as well (timed to maximize my contact lens usage, I admit), and it was great, though I tired about twenty minutes earlier than I usually do. I also did my first tack! Very inexpertly and clumsily, but it was done, regardless.

4. I have ambitions for the next twenty-five days, I do. It starts with gym tomorrow morning (we’ll see how that goes …), and then at least three sessions of windsurfing this week. Then I need to get a new EZ link (bus) card, so I can leave my credit card at home; I’ve painfully resolved to not make any more discretionary clothes purchases for the rest of my time in Singapore. I’ll have enough opportunities to spend, anyway, regrettably, with all the university shopping.

Then my readings (who can forget all the math assignments!!), and keeping up with friends, and writing letters.

5. It’s getting a little hard to keep track of all my thoughts. There are so many ideas I am torn between.

4 thoughts on “twenty-five days

  1. Whilst there are really only three tutorials a week that you have to attend, you have to prepare for them, which might take up to 8 hours per tutorial per week. Lectures aren’t also that optional compared to those in other courses – at least the Economics lectures aren’t – I learnt that the hard way.

  2. Thank you for the information! I knew it wasn’t going to be that relaxed … :P It’s alright, though; I told my parents about the three tutorials, and they were like, so why are we paying these exorbitant fees??

  3. I think it’s very, very cheap for what I got out of it! The level of academic attention cannot be found anywhere else (but er, Cambridge) plus it really changed who I am at a rather fundamental level. As I touched down home after my first term I realised I no longer see Singapore, and the world, like I used to.

  4. That’s fantastic to hear. I’m so, so, so incredibly excited to be there, trust me (to the extent that I’m doing the economics pre-reading list math assignments now …). Also, I’ve taken the liberty of adding you on FB (at least, I hope it’s the right person), and I’d be very interested in hearing how you see Singapore/the world now as opposed to how you did before, if you have the time!

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