Here’s to the end of freshman year and more travels!

I started summer break about a week ago. This term’s finals drained me for real. I’m beginning to get really sick of studying… of rote learning. Memorizing for exams or for any other purposes usually delights me more than the assessments that require you to wreck your brains out doing critical thinking. But not now. Getting a bad grade for a critical thinking course doesn’t bother me anymore, that I can’t catch up with the rest and I’m on my own pace of… figuring something out!

This semester passed really quickly. I’m over being a freshman! I didn’t get to really know more people than I’d have expected myself to take the initiative to do so. I thought this awkward front of mine would get me to converse more comfortably with other people because that’d mean I’m being real and not hiding anything behind a cool and calm facade. I’m always being told off by my parents for not acting like peers of my age or even a couple of years younger than I am. Whenever I try to explain to them about this denial mode I’m in, the topic gets slapped down like a buzzing fly. Then I’d try to comfort myself that there’re the people whom I’ve seen on the television and in their personal life being all quirky and weird (probably because it’s expected of them)… and yet, it’s still possible for them to win in life with that sort of childish-like attitude. It’s OK to get overwhelmed and enthusiastic about things, like… karaoke, right?

I got a 12-weeks internship at MSF, which is great news for me (!) but not an extremely impressive piece to my family who sees it as one of the vacation jobs I took up. It’s some place I’d like to explore very much before… either feeling all determined about what I’d want to do after school OR being thrown back into the maze to look for an alternative that interests me. I really hope this works out! The thing is, I cringe alittle interacting with people, asking appropriate questions to get to know them better, forging relationships and all that. I did consider that maybe working with people on a job  like this (social worker, counselor) would be the least suitable. Perhaps if I want to help people, I was told that I could fix things and work something out that requires as minimal contact with human beings as possible. I don’t know. Maybe I’ll see interaction on the job differently. My previous working experience did overcome my fear of phone calls and hearing my own voice in a recording and perhaps over a mic (hoping that’s the case)?

3 days ago this week, I went to Batam island in Indonesia, with my Dad and Granny. Some interesting sights I feel obliged to share about this trip: people in coffee shops clapped for attention (sometimes it gets alittle confusing when there’re performers on stage), smoking in malls and hotel lobbies, people love their food fried (yes?) which is delightful to my palate ^^ and I’ve talked about this particular incident so many times to people around me but they didn’t think it was true at all – I saw a rat ran across on top of a ceiling pipe in a mall. It had steady scurries, that appears very cartoony to me because you don’t see that in real-life. Where could it be scurrying to? One of those square tunnels connected to the fans, like the ones in Toy Story?

Dad brought us to meet some of his friends there and they guided us around the vicinity. From that, I made a new friend along the way – a friend whom I didn’t talked to her much because I tried to think that it was due to a language barrier we had. I would not want to sound creepy to talk about her in a post like this but since it’s in a good way and there’s no identity revealed, I suppose I could talk about it. She drove us around and at that point, Dad was in a disbelief because he’d never been drove around by a 19-year-old, perhaps 20 now (which is no astonishment to people these days). He’d been astonished because I don’t have a driving license and I’d never talked to him about plans of getting one. Yes sure, I’d be getting a driving license anyway at some point of my life even though I have no intention to do so because it’s unusual to not know how to drive? I was like the child in this crowd. I couldn’t assimilate in their conversations. I’d been looking around the place to distract myself by observing my surroundings. There’d be a lot to talk about to say that she’s the kind of child every parent would be proud of. For me, even as someone who envies her (which I don’t mean trying to be like her), I think she is really nice, polite, accepting and there’s little-no pretentiousness in her being nice to her mother, even outside of us meeting them. The way I’ve been treating my parents isn’t something I’m very proud of and maybe alittle ashamed of. Some of it is attributed to the expectations they have of me and others attributed to my attitude towards them when they ask something of me and how much care and concern I’ve showed to them.

Travelling is something people can love it to death doing it even when they don’t do it very often. It only takes 1 trip out of your country to fall in love with this. You don’t need to go very far. It’s seeing everything around you with a fresh pair of eyes. The grass is always greener on the other side. As a tourist, you’re open to everything. For instance, you’re accepting towards a culture as backward in comparison to modernity and probably residing in a rundown cabin or a straw hut with water streaming through the broken roof on rainy days in a couple of days before leaving the place back home. Being a citizen of the place exudes a different outlook, even as a new resident who just moved in to become a citizen. I’ve always, always wondered how other people abroad see Singapore when they come over. I never understood why they’d travel ten over hours to somewhere expensive where they’d spend so much on things and especially experiences that aren’t that fancy and novel. City life and skyscrapers aren’t uncommon sightings. My impression is… Europe for architecture and the arts, USA for Hollywood, Asia (as a whole) for exotic food, culture (?), nature. It’ll take awhile for me to form impressions from the media, books and hopefully travels, on other parts of the world! I’ve said this before: I want to be able to explore my home country with the eyes of a tourist. Someday, I would like to travel to another country, reside there for awhile, maybe 3 months or longer, and then come back here. I want to learn a new language, which means conversing with it among the local people there in a decent amount! I want to feel homesick for once and regain a newfound novelty (probably not the best word to use after “newfound”) and curiosity one could only get when they’re travelling.

I dug up an old private post for a quote from a book I read, Tuscan Holiday, which I think it is perfectly-timed to share in a post like this one.

And I thought again about how travel – how being in an unfamiliar place , surrounded by unfamiliar faces and languages not your own – changes so much about a person at the moment and, sometimes, forever after.

It’s that travel is both disconcerting and liberating, if done outside of the tightly controlled, slightly anemic tradition of planned tours. You experience a sense of dislocation, a heightened-awareness of possible lives other than the one you are currently living; you live in anticipation of something unpredictable about to happen, something you both fear and desire.