The fortnight was spent in the midst of the summer trip Down Under to a free flow of drinks, sparkly and alcoholic - or so I envisioned. In actual fact, we were being drained by the constant tours around Perth City, Claremont and Freemantle.
I hesitated on returning to matriculation to complete the remaining half of the studies due to personal reasons and the expectation of an extremely stressed environment where nothing will be held back. It was the beginning of one hectic semester and I wasn't sure if I was mentally prepared for it. Mama Carrie wanted to extend the trip until the last second day of the semester break, but I didn't want me to be peppered with exhaustion and jet lag on the orientation day hence the hardcore convincing. It was the right move to return on the night that we did; otherwise, I'm sure more issues would've cropped up, waiting for us to tackle it one at a time.
|En-route to Freemantle, WA|
Just as and when I was finally settling in, the Thaipusam holiday rolled around a day, leaving me both aghast and relieved that I turned up on the first day of class. Attendance were being taken for all classes; something that differed from first semester. While the juniors dealt with the OSSLT Mock Test (the July batch had taken it the previous November) after a crash course exposure, the seniors were left to their own devices to kill the time. I was so accustomed to the "rush forward" life that I had acquired as a junior that I almost died of boredom spanning from the cancellation of classes.
Chinese New Year arrived after the weekend with a week's break thrown into it.
Cookie had his wish; he wanted to be pied, but he never expected Ms. Cara to turn the tables on him.... especially since he was the one who threw the pie at her earlier. Prior to this, he casually mentioned that he wanted me to pie him, if it was possible, but when he was asked to choose from the ballot box, he picked out Ms. Cara's name...
What made the day awkward was being nominated to throw the pie at Ms. Skura in the name of fun. I guess Ammar and Doraemon (Sheehan's nickname for this chap) were really lax on this; instead of asking her to choose a folded paper out of the ballot box, they asked her to shout the name of her choice aloud. My hands were becoming numb and shaky as I threw the plate at her.
If I had aimed with accuracy at her, I think she'll be vexed at me for the entire holiday.... even though she did say that she wouldn't be. Then again, I should've just nominated Kyle or Chester instead - since she's closer to them.
February and March
After the terse introduction to the various lenses that can be used to analyze any literary texts (about eight of them and Life of Pi being the first), we were assigned with the formative and summative assignments that, according to Ms. Skura, will establish a rough sketch for her to gage our progress in class and plan the teaching lessons. I'll admit that I didn't do very well on the formative (essay), but the summative (media analysis on "Still I Rise by Maya Angelou with Harmeet) gave an acceptable balance.
It was straight to business for law. I almost panicked when it involved a presentation with a partner and a chosen article from the United Nations Development of Human Rights (UNDHR). Spending 6 months being faintly acquainted with this document in World Issues didn't exactly prove to be in my advantage, but Krissy and I settled for safer grounds and decided on Article 19.
"Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers." (United Nations)
A week before the mid-term results were announced and PTA meetings were held once again, we were assigned to complete the Political Thinker Essay based on the philosophical ideas we have learnt above. The motive was to pick two contrasting philosophers (welcome back, Rousseau and Locke) and write a full-length essay on them with the inclusion of secondary scholarly journal articles evidences as well.
Life of Pi's Literature Circle - Blue Pool, as we christened our diverse team, with fun memories - almost shook the patience out of me because it kick-started the late nights and, as you may have already known, I'm not the artist of the family. Yes, I can be creative - only in words, not in images and illustrated in my Adobe Illustrator and Audition projects.
The beginning of the ISU and the OSSLT were two days apart after the mid-term semester break and the nerves begin to sweep me in a wave of fear. I wasn't planning on returning for a third semester to retake History and Writer's Craft inasmuch as I wanted to because I've to catch up on university, so if I failed the test by garnering a score of less than 300 (75%), I'm practically screwed.
For that hour of 7.15am on a Thursday morning, the Student Lounge was hyped with activity as I trod in with a half-asleep expression. Waking up that morning was a pain in the neck - with me downing two mugs of coffee, lol! Friends would just shrug, saying that it's not unusual but not uncommon either for me. I was relieved that I caught enough sleep, though, as I saw the effects of a sleep-deprived soul in my classmate. Having to battle a fever and flu is already bad enough, but to concentrate on the test? That's really arduous.
Thank God my final score was in between 325 - 345 (I can't remember the exact number, but it was past the required amount). And so did the aforementioned classmate; he sailed through too.
April and May
Come to think of it, I don't know how I survived the months of April and May without ranting or throwing tantrums at anyone, although I knew I was nearing that borderline edge: just the mere push in the wrong side will send that person cowering in fear. Thank God I was able to isolate and alienate myself from almost everyone and focus on the strangling assignments.... and it was at about the same time that I gambled with my health.
With the Life of Pi essay safely out of the way, it was time to set our sights on the Hamlet unit (the one I felt was the most interesting partly because I've always harbored the interest in English Literature, lol!) and on with the English ISU assignment as well. As soon as the entire nineteen of us were accounted for, Ms. Skura began explaining what the entire unit was about and the relevance of this unit to the upcoming CPU English and Drama Festival. I dreaded it because I didn't have the extra time to catch a meal and recuperate before the final rehearsal as three of us had Period 6 classes and our group agreed that we'd meet again at around 5.30pm to mend the loose ends, confirming all adjustments for the festival.
Let's just say that while some of my friends managed to stay back until our scene, the part where Risatt and I were arguing in our roles lifted the climax and left everyone at the edge of their seats - or so what Dan observed, but credits have to be given to my fellow members: Sufian, Guang Wei, Jia Xin, Carol and Risatt. Like I've mentioned in the heartfelt message on my timeline after arriving home, they all each contributed their part into the success of "Injustice Served".
|Dan thought that was the first climax, but....|
|The actual climax of "Injustice Served" that earned the loudest applause|
Although I should've taken the night off to sleep, I didn't because there were some dangling ends that I needed to seal for the Law ISU Mock Trial Analysis and Journal. I was in such full concentration to complete everything by the eleventh hour, alternating between that, the second draft for the ISU Essay and the Drama Reflections that the hours flew past me in a blink of an eye. I had to yank myself away from the notebook as the clock read 1:12 a.m. and this Blended Learning was an exception: round 2 of the R. v. Beancounter case !
There was no time for relaxation. After being meshed up in a different group for the last English unit, we began the process of filming our separate sections for the documentary before combining it all into one. The finished product varied slightly from the storyboard due to the time constraint on my part as the Critical Media Analysis homework shook the remaining energy out of me; trust me, I was more than dissatisfied with both of the completed video pieces. As my grandmother would note, I was smoking in flames at the intensity of it all.
There were hits and misses about the Media Arts ISU and the International Law Fair. I'll willingly admit that I was exceptionally drained that I just wanted it to be done and dealt with ASAP and I didn't care what methods I used or if the scores took a slight beating. If I strived for the same perfection that I did for the English ISU, I'd have exploded and went bonkers for the entire week. It was something I couldn't risk; the final papers were just around the corner.
My head still reeled from the stress of concurrently managing the Media Arts Festival and the International Law Fair; both were heavily weighted and, if executed well, will contribute to the coursework average, which was what I gambled and lost in some ways, sigh. How my senior coped with both, I am clueless but it was obvious that I was more than relieved when it was all done and dealt with.
But there was no resting on my laurels, though.
The following Monday marked the beginning of our final papers and I needed to revise for the English paper, kicking me into the intense mode for the weekend as I drilled the different lenses and its terminology into my mental psyche (and the different relevant texts from Life of Pi, Hamlet, Pan's Labyrinth and all of the poems that Ms. Skura handed to us in class for Blended Learning Friday) since we needed to connect everything to the chosen quote and lens.
Mind you, I was up at slightly before 6 am on that morning and it didn't help that I was drinking a jug's worth of cappuccino (everything was doubled to increase the effects of caffeine) and bringing a lackluster mug of coffee with me to the exam hall to keep me awake. In that split second, I actually realized that I craved attending Period 1 History class with Mr. G even though I was never fully able to concentrate during the lessons (no thanks to the severe sleep deprivation). I was more than ready to collapse in the ping pong room and sleep after submitting the paper to Ms. Skura but was kept awake by the hunger, lol. Not to mention, I stayed back later than I should for some last-minute legal consultation with Mr. Layng for the upcoming paper.
It was pretty much the same thing for Law a day later except that I was downing cannin instead of caffeine... and if I am remembering things correctly, Sheehan and I took the stairs to the 6th floor while reflecting on the hits and misses for the paper before we went our separate ways. I, on the other hand, caught some slumber on the couch in the Student Lounge to boost the energy level by a tad bit; ran off for some quick lunch (more like burgers, haha; the majority wins) with some of the gang members
|A recycled pic from last June|
Some of my friends paid dearly for it because they decided in the last moment to be in attendance. Plus, if I backed out, it'd be a waste of money and it wasn't exactly transferrable to another person.
It wasn't as pleasant or enjoyable as I wanted it to be due to multiple reasons that I'd rather not share publicly, but if friends were to ask me privately or when we meet up for a round of drinks/lunch, chances are high that I'll spill the beans and leave nothing out of the topic.
Before I could catch my breath, I was whisked off to participate in the graduation ceremony a week later. After the customary speeches by the President, Mr. Lim, and the Canadian High Commissioner to Malaysia, Judith St. George, the graduating students of the 2013 intakes went up onstage, one by one, to receive the "fake diplomas" from the principal of CPU, Mr. Jim Leonard while Pachelbel's Canon in D was solemnly played in the background. (Carol and I had a good giggle over it later.) The actual ones were with appointed lecturers up in the gallery, ready to be collected after the ceremony.
July - August
Just as when I thought that I can finally focus on the next stage in life, which would be the pursuance of a legal degree, my psyche isn't in sync with my heart; the latter kept reflecting on the past year as a Monster while the former wants to force the body to undergo another period of memory catharsis.
With the farewells expressed and spoken (or so I had initially thought and wished), I forced myself to unearth my copy of the yearbook out of its hiding spot and read through the goodbye messages penned by my peers - friends, acquaintance - and my second semester's lecturers. It never failed to bring a smile to my face whenever I flip through the notes because it brought back memories of assisting my acquaintance with the design (considering that I skipped Media Arts on the day that Ms. Eileen taught the students on using Photoshop for the Yearbook pages).
Credits to Artisans Institute of Baking for the image.
It was tough deciding between the double Arts major (that will be followed by a Juris Doctor) in the University of Western Australia and the desired legal degree in Adelaide University because there are friends in both areas and truth be told, I was stuck in a dilemma. I loved Perth not because of its affluence or Oceanside views but the environment there was something that I needed: the sense of familiarity in a new environment where I can. Adelaide, on the contrary, allowed the Carries to save lots of money in my studies as I'd be able to complete my tertiary education 3 years earlier.
But there was a catch, as I later discovered: there were familiar friends in either states.
I slowly weaved my return into the world of creative arts as I needed the verbal escape from the emotions that were strangling me and balanced it with the impromptu cooking/baking experiments. It obviously didn't help that my Whatsapp continuously rang with notifications, signaling unread messages from friends and group chats as well.
September - October
Life pretty much took over at this stage. There's nothing worth reminiscing on.
November didn't start off with as much bang as desired even though it was almost 6 weeks away from Christmas and I should already be preparing for the Advent season. It instead began on a morose mood as the faithful departed were welcomed into the House of the Lord and seated at the main banquet table. Throats began to close up with emotions when the concluding hymns were sung by the choir members and other congregation members alike.
After what seemed like an eternity, I was finally able to settle with the university-related matters (especially when it included a volatile exchange rate and an impatient student), which included me and Mama Carrie being holed up in the Passport Department in Shah Alam. The beauty of not holding a driver's license *inserts sarcasm*. If the expiry of my passport was much later than the convocation for my degree, I'd rather renew it later than now, but I wouldn't be able to have the validity extended if it weren't for the COE either.
Plus, if I delayed the renewal, it'd have meant a delay in everything (and we'll be paying for a pricier flight ticket!!!).
With the passport done and dealt with, I brought forward the appointment for a medical examination at Bangsar South for the student and visitor visas. The new building that houses Life Care Medical Centre is a stark contrast to their former residence in Petaling Jaya; it has more opulence and class to it. I was expecting to be there for more than 2 hours because the medical center I have in mind is somewhat bustling with people who are waiting to see the doctors or to undergo the medical examination/blood test but surprisingly, everything was completed within 90 minutes. Though, I must add that I was a little fearful about the vision test because although my diet consists of loads of Vitamins A and C, I am visually dependent on aids (I'm on contact lenses by day and spectacles by night).
All the hard work and fussy palate translated into a beautiful blood pressure reading... and this is why, my friends, I am particular about my intake of sugar, salt and oil whenever I'm having my meals outside. I don't drive, so I can't be heading home after the law class to take a quick bite of anything I can assemble from the fridge at home and rushing back to campus for the remaining classes. Even if I do, I won't continue it for second semester; it seems easier and, through careful and advance planning on meals, cheaper to stay back; 75 minutes may sound long, but it is not. First semester, I'd have chosen to drive home right after World Issues and drown myself in a much-needed slumber.
Towards the end of the month, I caught up with an overseas-based acquaintance over a short chat in the nearby cafes on that rainy Tuesday afternoon. Well, let's just say that I could've bumped into fellow graduated seniors if I chose to steal a breather at the lounge, but I didn't due to time constraint. I decided to swing by Ms. Skura's Period 6 English class to pass her Christmas gifts (come to think of it, wouldn't that rain more rumors behind my back? *rolls eyes* Meh, what do I care? I've already graduated in the first place), narrowly missing someone.
My best friend and I met in IPC after my weekend routine since she needed to pass me something (or so she said in Whatsapp) and had a short chat about matriculation, life and university. Some of the topics can't be repeated because I am not going to further complicate matters. Before we went our separate ways, she passed me that item and mentioned that it was the perfect birthday gift for me.
I managed to force myself out of the cave that I have lived in since graduation (blame it on the effects of late nights and a hectic schedule) and together with the loyal sidekick, we drove down to One Utama for some shopping - or so we thought. Instead of leaving the mall with the desired items, we ended up returning home with food instead, haha. I guess we should've patronized a couple of stores and see if we could purchase a wardrobe makeover or reproduce the style for the relevant seasons.
Yeah, coming from someone whose fashion style is little to nothing. *rolls eyes*
On the brighter side, we went hopping around the haunts for Christmas and managed to capture an album worth of seasonal pictures. Mama Carrie prefers the ornaments in The Curve whereas I'm leaning more towards the one in IPC, where storytelling and the season is incorporated into the decorations.
Pine cone-inspired tree? Swiper the Fox making a comeback? A sneaky-looking badger? Now, that's what I'm talking about, hehe. The child in me is able to indulge in the environment without standing out as being an outcast or odd. The Curve, on the contrary, made me feel like I was a visitor in Santa's private residence with his loyal snowman and trusty reindeers watching us from a distance - in a good way; I mean... but still.
Christmas Eve was the busiest; the original intention of remaining at home and completing all the online errands fell through when Mama Carrie announced - out of no blue - that she wanted to sink her face into the Ampang Yong Tau Foo dish in New Village. Yikes, and that meant driving down on a part holiday to the city centre where we blew half a day on the road. You'd thought that we'd sprawl on the floor and rest after such an energy-zapping outing, right?
Nope, we instead shelved the plans for the night and headed straight for the Christmas Eve Vigil, which was a good decision.
The Christmas Play was really entertaining; for a split second, the main character left me wondering if it was an acquaintance depicting the role because this person and the one I know on campus spoke and behaved in a similar manner. The Vigil was one of the best, I'll have to add; the choir members consisted of little angels, who were selected through an audition process held months earlier and trained by the choirmaster in 8 weeks.
And left behind in its wake are all the backdated food reviews; yes, all of my friends are having a tough time luring me out for a round of drinks or meals as I'm a fussy eater who's at the mercy of her mother. Trust me, if you have the opportunity to dine with me or speak to my sister, she'll concur that I can be found with my lemons.
tl;dr, It has been one hell of a rollercoaster year for yours truly, one that almost endangered her health in exchange for the life she now has.