It has been a period of changes for me. New faces, new places and new rhythm of life. During a period of change, life can be anything that you want it to be. I think what I have been really working on this year is to be more self-aware of my own needs and wants. For example, I know that I don’t like to be bored so I wouldn’t be able to do everything I want and meet everyone I want to meet in one week and stay at home and do little in the next week. So I make a deal with myself that I will meet a maximum of 2 friends per week and I will limit myself to do one expensive activity per month. I am also trying to meet more strangers and trying to gain perspectives from interacting with them. I try to ask more, listen more and assume less. Right now I am also working on communicating difficult topics effectively. It is a struggle for me to balance between the “nice card” and the “important, more realistic card”.
I spent the first part of January with the girls from Hangzhou. I can’t wait to see them again! On New Year Day, we went to Santa Claus Village and here is a happy picture of us crossing the Arctic Circle. It is funny how we visited Santa Park a few days ago and it was only when we were about to leave that we realized that there is a Santa Claus Village and a Santa Park in Rovaniemi. We actually intended to go to Santa Claus Village but somehow ended up at Santa Park. Oh well, at least now we can say that we have been to both Santa Claus-inspired tourist attractions. We also went to Kemi and took the Sampo Icebreaker cruise. I really like the trip in Kemi and the frozen sea. Words cannot quite capture my emotions when I first saw how the ship broke the ice and the floating ice sheets broke apart. In Finland, I felt so small and insignificant in this world. I also felt that I am still quite ignorant – there are so many things and ways of life that I do not yet know of. My way of life is simply a way of life and not the way of life. “I can open your eyes/ take you wonder by wonder.”
I went to climb the Bukit Timah Hill for the first time in my life with Kurinchi. It is barely a hill with a summit of 163.63 m so we got that quite quickly. This day was also significant because it was the first time I drove to pick up a friend to go to somewhere together. Kurinchi said that she felt safe in my car so that was good! We were lazing on the grass at the summit when we saw dark clouds coming in our direction. So we made the decision to leave in another 5 minutes. That was not the smartest move because the heavy rain came so quickly. Thank god for the little huts dotted along the trails and thank god for the umbrella in my bag.
Chinese New Year this year was different because my paternal grandmother passed away last year. For so many years, there was an intense schedule that we always followed but this year, we had too much idle time and we did not quite know what to do especially on the first day of Chinese New Year. Changes are inevitable in life; we just need time to find a new normal. On the second day of Chinese New Year, we were invited to one of my distant uncle’s house and I hung out with my second cousins, Amandas and Christine, there. It is funny how we probably saw one another every year during Chinese New Year but we only got to know one another in London 2 years ago. And I realize that because I know some of my cousins now, I actually don’t dread Chinese New Year gatherings because it’s a good time to catch up with them. 🙂
Ministry of Adventure organised a free hiking event on a Sunday from Marsiling to Beauty World. We walked for almost 4 hours and it was nice to walk through the wilder, less manicured areas of Singapore that I have never been before. Another case in point: I used to think that Singapore doesn’t have hiking trails and the wild outdoors but in fact, Singapore has unkempt areas that are open to public. It was my ignorance that led to the unfair judgment. I need to be more mindful of that. There was a part of the trail that we had to walk on abandoned pipelines in Marsiling and that was quite fun. Through this hiking trip, I also met some folks and had nice conversations with them – the retiree who goes on free walks every weekend, the young girl who studies IT in Singapore polytechnic and the girl from Estonia who was on a visit to Singapore from Taiwan (where she was doing her exchange program). The weather was nice but as it rained the night before, some parts were rather muddy. But I guess the mud is part of the fun too.
Singyee came back for a short holiday from Japan. We went to Sembawang for her favourite white bee hoon on a Friday afternoon and coincidentally, we met my ex-colleagues there! Her brother and his girlfriend also joined us for lunch. After lunch, we went to ORTO and did some fishing. Her brother was actually quite an expert at fishing so he taught us how to fish. It was my first time fishing so I was quite bad at it. There were so many fishes who ate my bait and swam around without me even realizing what had happened. The guy next to us caught an alligator gar and we were rather in awe. Coming to ORTO also opened my eyes to another way of life in Singapore.
The last 6 weeks at NIE were rather intense with many sessions of micro-teaching. On this day, we had our last Math lesson with Dr Yap before practicum. I really enjoyed her Math lessons and I hope that I will be a patient, nurturing teacher who doesn’t give up on her students. Here is where our paths diverge and we all embark on our own journeys. I hope that everyone will have a very fruitful and meaningful practicum. Until our paths cross again in May!
Dawn came back to Singapore briefly as a guest performer for one of the performance during the NUS Arts Festival. It has been almost 1.5 years since we last met. Just as what Dawn has pointed out, I have become more stressed and less jovial. I want to laugh more, I have to make a point to laugh more. This was my first time watching her perform. I must say this little girl is really good with the violin; I didn’t know that a person could make so many different sounds with the violin. Her “Amazing Grace” solo was just so beautiful. We met almost a week after her performance for afternoon tea and we went up to ION Sky and had a bird eye view of this city that we call home. Some things are not perfect and some people don’t practise what they preach. Even so, no matter how much grievances we have against some things and some people, I hope we continue to keep the smiles on our faces because life itself is a gift.
Shufen came to Singapore for a visit one weekend and we watched Coldplay’s concert. Coldplay was so good and their performance was so electrifying. I would want to watch their concert again. We were given wristbands that changed colours at different time points and it was just so beautiful and colourful. It was funny how Shufen ended up watching a range of performances during her time in Singapore – Coldplay’s rock style, a small string ensemble performance by university students at National Gallery, Angklung performance by primary school children and a bagpipe performance by the Northland King’s Pipe Band. We also went to the zoo on Sunday and she was quite smitten by the polar bear. Can’t wait to see her again at the later part of the year in China!