Marvel

Here’s my favorite quote from Captain America:

“A strong man who has known power all his life lose respect for that power, but a weak man knows the value of strength, and knows compassion.”

And Spiderman Homecoming:

Peter Parker: I’m nothing without the suit.
Tony Stark: The more you shouldn’t have it.

How true. The things we hold onto most tightly are the exact things we should let go. Because if not, it becomes an unhealthy idol, the more we can’t live without it, the more danger we put ourselves to, let ourselves and our worth be defined by it.

I realize I can learn so much from Marvel. Thor used to think he’s nothing without his hammer. The more he shouldn’t have it, because it actually hurts him. After it has been taken away from him, how much true potential within him was uncovered?

And Doctor Strange:

Ancient One: Arrogance and fear still keep you from learning the simplest and most significant lesson of all.
Strange: Which is?
Ancient One: It is not about you.

but really at heart, Doctor Strange is about losing one of the things that define you (in this case, his work) and this sense of salvation when you embark on a journey to rediscover yourself.

Forget self-pity and panic and pride. What will be your mission now?

Something that I always ask myself whenever I fall.

Of hope and dreams

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All these magnificence led me to pray for you at St Paul’s. I know you will say, “I don’t need this prayer, it’s alright.” But you need it. In fact, my prayers have taken you all around the world. I hope his angels will guard and protect you. I hope you know my love and care — however imperfect it might be — in your darkest days. I pray that if God thinks I’m the best woman to love you then one day He will give us His blessing. Otherwise, I pray that He gives us someone that loves us as much as He does.

Ends of the earth

This morning I awoke having had the best sleep of my life. That’s great because before I slept I prayed to God for a good sleep. I think I am immune to jet lag. My jet lag, if of any existence at all, is cured now. However, I have chapped, dry lips, lips that are unable to adapt to the dry weather after a humid British summer.

This morning, I did what needs to be done, and ordinary life begins again. Opened my fridge, and apart from some bad food, there was nothing in it at all. Threw out the expired foodstuffs. Drew up a grocery list. Did my laundry. Scrubbed my shoes. Glad to see my Nikes back again, my Nikes which I missed for one month. Swapped my Oyster card for an Opal card.

Civilian life

1.02am.

I should be sleeping now. I had just braved 14 hours of flight, a 2-hour transit, then another 7 hours of flight again. I am physically exhausted, unwell, and hungry. With the girl beside me on the airplane coughing like mad, I am not quite sure if I had caught the flu. I should be sleeping now, but my first night back in Sydney after more than a month of being on the European roads has led me to feel emotionally overwhelmed, and this would be the perfect time to blog.

I’ve had 2 crying fits so far. One on the airplane back to Sydney, another here, in my room. I feel like I’m supposed to come home from my travels and to feel like I’m home, but instead, I came to Sydney, and I’m having a hard time figuring out if this feels like home. I have met my parents briefly on the transit in Singapore, mainly to pass them souvenirs, and I was gone in a moment. Funny how traveling from one side of the world to the other side can make me so emotional. Different time zones, currencies, weather forecasts, accents…it’s complicated, troublesome, yet…a mark of freedom. A blessing.

The month flew by fast. I enjoyed myself, and was very busy every day, and hence felt like I did not have the time and energy to digest my adventures while I was there. Now, when it’s over, it’s almost like everything came crashing down at once, every emotion, every thought, memory, sense, and I find myself struggling to unpack my thoughts.

One of my most vivid memory was that in Leicester Square. It was a fine evening, and Katerina and I were passing by, just to see a crowd of people surrounding a street basker. He was good—like really good. Holding an acoustic guitar, he sang to Ed Sheeran’s ‘Perfect’, the melody enveloping the whole place and setting the perfect mood. Kate and I stood still, and listened like the others, because he was so good. The streets look after it had just rained. It was beautiful.

On the plane, I heard it again. I close my eyes, and I could instantly picture the scene in my mind, I was instantly transported back to Leicester Square. Tears streamed down my eyes. It wasn’t just because I was sad to leave—not so simple. I couldn’t exactly place my hands on why. I was immensely grateful to God, I think it was that London has been my dream for the longest time (about 10 years) and the realization that I have been there just comes down on me all at once. Then I pictured future me, years down the road, looking at photos and reliving the memories. I wonder how I would have felt. Would I feel like how I felt when I relived Japan pictures? Langkawi pictures? I wasn’t that attached to those places. Would the memory feel fresh in my mind, or distant? I had prayed that my memories stay vivid.

Another thought that made me cry was the concept of time. Hostels, luggage, accents, coach trips, London underground—all these things only occur once. Isn’t it weird? Time passes in a linear way, when that moment is gone, it is gone forever, and new memories grow stronger in replace of old ones. There can be only one flower there at one point, one moment, one accent, that particular flavor in borough market, that particular note echoing in Queen’s Theatre. Even if I went back to London again and did the same things again, it won’t be the same.

I started to think about the near future—the time when I must return to Singapore. I have been so used to being on the road, having personal space, living alone…I’m not sure if I can adjust back to the sheltered life of a Singaporean kid living with parents anymore. I had my own bank statements, my own days planned, my own curfew, own dinners taken care of, own friends, own documents to sign and no one to account to. With independence comes great power. Not that I ever exploited that power, but this independent lifestyle of mine is about to come to an end and it is my biggest fear.

The past month felt like I’m having a gypsy life, jumping from one city to the next, with no plans, no itinerary, just going. It is not a holiday. It is being ON THE GO. I thought of a Sherlock parallel that brings tears to my eyes…I felt like John, John Watson adjusting to civilian life. John had been in military service in Afghanistan, and since I am so attached to the series, I never thought it would impact me this way.

Going back to Singapore felt like adjusting to normal, civilian life again. Returning to one state and adjusting—I have to bear in mind that it is a closure of one chapter of my story and the opening of the next…doesn’t mean it is not going to be beautiful. Because heck, just when I thought my life had ended in February this year, a lovely European chapter unfolded before my very eyes…

Poetry in Motion

Want to take this time to blog about the two films I’ve seen while on the plane—Call Me By Your Name and The Greatest Showman. One is a musical, the other is almost poetry in motion…but both had awesome soundtracks. They left me stunned, my hours on the plane wasn’t wasted at all, in fact, it was spent in ultimate bliss in appreciation of good films.

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“The noblest art is that of making others happy.”
—The Greatest Showman, PT Barnum

This was my favourite scene out of the whole movie: the dancing on the rooftop scene. I particularly liked the development of the story between Charity and Barnum, because their whole love story was told. From their childhood times to falling in love, building a family, then building a career. It doesn’t just tell a very cheesy cliche love story, it shows the very practical side of family life and the most common hardships and issues that affect marriages: financial status. I love how the story also focuses on marriage as Barnum struggles to build a career for himself. I am always a firm believer that a silent, supporting woman behind a man’s back can make a huge difference when it comes to his career.

My favourite song is Tightrope because of that. I truly relate to how Charity feels, and I think in many ways, Charity and I are very alike. Both of us don’t mind following a man with humble beginnings; I don’t think I need a man that’s already successful. But sadly, many men think that they have to be successful before they have the right to marry. Barnum wasn’t born with a silver spoon, hence always felt the need to prove himself. It started off masked as an excuse that he wanted to provide a better life for his kids and family, but it shows that the heart is deceitful and he is still not satisfied, that he just wants the show to be successful internationally so he can prove himself to the world and to Charity’s parents. I know because having been through a somewhat similar experience, knew someone who gave up on something potentially beautiful simply because he let ambition overtake his loved ones. I never blamed him, but just wished I had the chance to tell him what Charity said to Barnum.

Barnum: “I wanted to be more than I was.”
Charity: “I never wanted anything than the man I fell in love with.” 

Some people long for a life that is simple and planned. Some people long for safety, control, hate uncertainty. I never minded walking the tightrope with my loved ones, as long as I’m with them. Charity risked everything just to be with him, and eventually, Barnum learns that that most important thing is friendship, love, and work that he adores. It is not profit, money, or fame or power or getting invited to parties. I think this is a very important aspect of work that we have to keep in mind, especially people like us in the creative business. We don’t have a corporate ladder to climb, but we do have lots of content creation and putting our content we need a certain fame in order to be a successful artist, musician, painter, designer, whatever.

This gave me another reason to like the musical: it shows me very meaningful insights into start-up businesses. For a start, I was so inspired. He started and created a show from scratch. One of his greatest strengths is being able to persuade others – usually those high profile names – to work and collaborate with him. He gets that in on his idea and sells it well. The circus troupe, opera singer, Phillip…He demonstrated a vision that drew them in. He led them to believe in the same vision he had. The first step is to identify your vision and be very clear on what you want. He also sees others strengths clearly and how it would help his career. Then he acts on it accordingly, asking them to help him out.

Home Again reminds me of the two sides of me: the side of me when I’m on the road livin a gypsy-like, carefree life, and the other side when I’m home again: the family and hometown that has always kept me grounded. I guess, for now, I’m on the former.

CALL ME BY YOUR NAME

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“Is it better to speak or to die?”

The most beautiful moment, I find, on CMBYN would be the scene where Elio’s mum tells him a story, where a handsome young knight is in love with a princess. He was so humbled and speechless by his desire that he’s unable to bring up the subject of love. I knew someone who kept quiet about love for a few years. It wasn’t easy, but sometimes the most beautiful of feelings we don’t talk about. CMBYN’s sex scene was absolutely beautiful. I love how Oliver was very quiet about this whole thing, especially his feelings, that Elio didn’t even know he left hints. The part where Elio questioned him “When?? When did you leave hints?” was so cute. I feel like Elio, always the one who gets busted first.

Also, can I just say the place where they filmed was so pretty! The scenery is so nice in Northern Italy. I also love the motif of books in the film. Both of them read a lot. I don’t know why but because of that I am so determined to find a reading spot in my university, in this beautiful European summer, and sit down by the lake or something with a good book. A reading spot where I can retreat to read on stressful days.

“I like reading too, but I don’t tell anyone. I think people who read are kind of secretive. They hide who they really are.

I love Elio’s family life. His parents are so so supportive. My family has always brought out the worst version of me (in my opinion, even though my worst version isn’t that worse haha) but I feel slightly more frustrated when I’m with them. Not because I don’t love them, but that’s just the dynamics of it I guess. I have to start praying about this now hahahah. I need someone who brings out the best in me, and since family is the most important basis of all relationships, I think home is not a place for negative energy at all. My parents are amazing, awesome people, and I love them, and they’ve worked incredibly hard to provide for me. However, I also realise it is this time that I am away from home for the longest that I am also being the best version of myself. I have matured in ways I did not expect, and sometimes, I forget that side of the old me even existed.

Anyway, I realise I also desperately needed soundtracks for CMBYN and The Greatest Showman. Quick.

Orientation day

1st July 2018—Sunday

Ever since I’ve decided to document my exchange using these blog posts, I have never regretted it. So many things happen every single day that there’s so much to write about, I am almost afraid my memory would fail me if I delay for even another day!!!

Today has been an amazing day. Yesterday I was only feeling anxious about traveling and not having any friends, but today I made so many new friends! They’re such awesome people and coming from all over the world—Hungary, Brazil, Belarus…

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I’ll type up this quick blog post and then go grab dinner. I didn’t have dinner yesterday because I wasn’t feeling too well; just two bananas and a piece of pizza, then I went to bed. It’s funny how it’s 10.40pm now and I am still not hungry yet. In Australia when it’s like winter, I get hungry at like 5pm! The sun has just set in the UK, and I’m not hungry on long days like these anyway. My hunger always had nothing to do with what I ate before but more about the timing.

Ok wait, let me go grab it, I’ll be back.


I got the chicken pasta that I’ve got earlier on at Tesco’s from the fridge. Tesco is awesome, it has cheaper groceries heeee. Each time I visit something I am mentally psychoed into thinking its cheap when in fact it is in British pounds and I forgot to convert it back to AUD. We had gone grocery shopping earlier when we were in the city. It was a mini supermart, nothing fancy really, but we’re going to go to the bigger marts tomorrow!

Today began with a welcome brunch by the school and an introduction.

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“Guys, I hope you know where’s Norwich, England isn’t all about London!” haha. 

The student representatives were so helpful and friendly! Brunch was great. We were introduced to our student representative leaders over brunch and as I made my way into the dining area and sat down, I deliberately chose to sit with a different group of friends from my usual circle. Not because I liked putting myself out of my comfort zone but because I felt like I need to meet more people so that I can actually have travel buddies, the anxiety is almost killing me in my room last night. HAHHAA. As a result, I got to meet really awesome people!! I met this really nice girl who loves photography as much as I do, she and her friend from Romania; and another girl from Japan! I told her I went to Japan before and we talked and stuff. Plus another girl from Croatia, my dream location since forever. There are also so many familiar faces that I’ve seen from yesterday which I wanted to talk to!

We bonded after breakfast which was pastries, breakfast rolls, great coffee, fruit juice, tea, etc. It was great! Then it was the briefing and they gave us not only campus tips, but Norfolk tips for traveling around the city and also tips for greater England (how to get to different states, etc). Everyone’s just so lovely and helpful and nice! We played a game of bingo afterward and that was my favourite. Met so many people all at once, it’s almost like a game of speed friendship. I usually dislike bingo because it’s so basic, but I took a look down at my card and it says, “Recite a line from Shakespeare” and “been to the UK before” and I think it’s the most British bingo I have ever seen.

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LOOKS FAMILIAR??? THE FILMING LOCATION FOR THE AVENGERS AGE OF ULTRON FILM!!!! I can’t believe it, my exchange University is actually the filming location for the Avengers age of ultra film??? Plus Chris Evans has been here!!

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We’re going to have a movie night on Wednesday and they’re going to be screening this very movie too!

 

After brunch was the campus tour. The weather was lovely, sunny with an average summer temperature of 18-20 degrees Celcius. It isn’t burning hot at all. So so perfect. We walked around campus, learning about the buildings and facilities and wow, the campus looks massive!

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After the campus tour, I grabbed my camera and we all headed to the city. Here are some pics!

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Norwich city seems small, but I am so surprised. The city was really cool and beyond my expectations! Norwich is more of a medieval, countryside place so I didn’t expect the city to have so many shops, packed together on every street, and they have everything ranging from local small businesses to big, global brands like Jack Wills and H&M. I think there were about 4-5 huge malls. There are also lots of quaint little cafes and boutiques along narrow alleyways, those are my favorite. The cafes are so unique and according to my sources, sell the best coffee. The alleyways are exactly what I’ve seen in movies, dotted with little-cobbled pavements and each boutique has its own design and style. (it’s like Singapore’s haji lane, but bigger and with more streets). The good thing is everything is within walking distance! Including the malls. I’ve got a monthly bus pass too so it’s not too troublesome to get around.

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The best part is, almost every shop has a summer sale going on!!! We were so tempted to go in and buy stuff, but we were led by student ambassadors who won’t stop for a second because it’s just a really quick tour to give us an overview of the city, so I don’t know if this is a good or bad thing, since I am pretty sure our money would be sucked away pretty fast if we actually did stop.

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I passed by this really hugeee & cool TV & Movie store where they sell posters, merchandise and everything related!!! It got me so hyped up because I saw Thor Ragnorok posters stuck on its huge front doors and window panes. I could literally faint that IS PARADISE!! Thor and thor ragnarok are my fave movies and besides that I’m sure I can find other gold stuff like Sherlock and Doctor Strange inside. Besides Marvel, they also have Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Hunger Games, Game of Thrones, anything and everything you can think of!!! My friend and I wanted to jump in straightaway of course, but our group moved quickly so we decided we would come back again.

 

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There are also a lot of cathedrals and castles, famous for its rich history and architecture.

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By the way, the pigeons in the city were massive and fat and there’s a lot of them. They are my absolute nightmare!!! They walk in flocks, and act like they’re all high and mighty. I have already mentally prepared myself when I came here, yet I still ducked in fear whenever one of them swooped over my head. As usual, this act of mine never fails to crack my friends up.

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Food all day was provided. This brunch was provided, and lunch was provided after as well. I was so so happy. Lunch was at this hotel in the city called Maids Head Hotel, serving really great main course and desserts, it almost looked too good to be true.

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We were led into a really beautiful dining room.

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I ordered the Dedham Vale beef rump, but they didn’t have it at the moment so they served me the Norfolk turkey breast which tastes just as good!!! Yum.

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This really special desert down here! Don’t know what it’s called but its actually hot strawberry jam with ice cream on top so you have to eat it really fast before the ice cream melts (very quicky indeed)! A perfect blend of hot and cold.

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After we’re done we headed out to the city again. To my dismay, the movie shop I’ve been raving about in my mind closed already. What a pity!!! I was so surprised because it’s only about 4.30pm! Shops close early about 3.30-4.30pm on Sundays. And I thought Australia’s 5-6pm was considered early! Ugh, I must visit it next time.

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And oh! The houses here are an absolute gem. They are so pretty, I wonder how much they cost and what can I do in my life to live in one of them.

Then we headed off to a pub to watch World Cup! We went as a big group, and that was such a great bonding time. We walked we laughed as we wondered how on earth are we going to get a table for all 13 of us.

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Andddddd Russia won! Unbelievable!!! It was such an exciting match, with extra time because of the draw and then Spain losing out at the last minute.

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We then sat outside in the wonderful summer weather and talked about cultures and stuff. We’re all international students, and I couldn’t wish for a better group of friends. Also, many of us are born in a different country than the one we currently live in so we do have a lot to share. One of them’s born in Brazil, lives in Malaysia; and another born in the UK, lives in Australia; and I’m born in Singapore, lives in Australia. So……yeah we do have very interesting conversations!! We talked about how we didn’t like how some foreigners force their own culture down the throats of locals when they move. For example, they told the locals how to cook rice in a certain way, or even complain about the country. I mean if you really want to complain you could have just stayed in your own country. I think it’s good to introduce your culture to your international friends but its always not very nice to force your culture down their throats. There is a fine line between introducing/sharing and forcing but anyways, the main point is to respect and appreciate the culture of the country you are currently in.

My friends told me to cook chicken rendang or bakkutteh for the international food night, a night where we all bring a dish from our home country to share with others. Gosh, I’m SO BAD at cooking. Please help me hahahhaha I wish my mum was here.

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It was a great day!! Although I wished I had more photographs of myself taken. I wanted to skip today for London but I’m glad I did not. My friends from Singapore are in London, and they’ve asked me to go over to visit the museums with them. I was so tempted to take a day trip, let me tell you. But I didn’t go because I’m having orientation on Monday and I didn’t wanna miss it. I was, and still am, so anxious to explore London! I have been dreaming of the city since I was a kid, could I not? To be honest, not a day goes by in Norwich where I don’t think of London. Here I am sitting in my dorm, thinking of London. HAHAHHA. It better be good.

Catch ya later!

Missed opportunity

A quick post again before I head off to bed. I never thought I’ll say this, but my mood has already been affected by the earlier incident where I was unable to meet Zaf at the airport. It was further affected when I started feeling sick on the 3-hour bus journey from London to Norwich; and finally, plummeted to a lower spirit when my friends started talking about their post-exchange trip plans and the regret of not extending my trip began to sink in.

Days are long in the UK. The sun sets about 9-10pm. It is now summer, a far cry from the Aussie winter that I have left behind. However, the moonlit night stills give me so much comfort as I am typing this. I have checked into my university’s accommodation, and my window faces the moon directly, which I love, because I can watch the moon as I fall into a deep slumber.

I have always wondered if I am the sort of person to be affected by jet-lag. I found out the answer today. Turns out I’m not! I’m perfectly fine. Not tired, not sore. My body clock has always been quite flexible.

My bedroom is perfect. It is just the perfect size, I wouldn’t want it to be too big either. The bed is sooooo soft!!! Also, this is the first time in my life where I would sleep on a single bed. I have always been spoiled with queen/king sized beds I don’t know why. Not that I would go out of my way to get it, it just happens. It’s now 1.25am, and I have finally finished all my unpacking. I’m the kind of person who likes to unpack all at one-shot and prefers not to do my packing in segments. It was looking pretty bare and empty when I arrived, but now I’ve decorated it with fairy lights, put up my assessories, I even bought my pillow covers from home. Those pink ones that I bring wherever in the world I go. I made it a rule. To make anywhere feel like home ehehe. After I’m done, I stand back to admire my work, looking around the room that will be mine for some time.

However, I have begun to feel lonely. This isn’t how an exchange is supposed to feel like. I am feeling anxious. I wanted this to be a fulfilling and fruitful experience. Given that today is only the first day, I think I should give it a chance.

I thought about why I might be feeling lonely. It isn’t that I missed home, I have been faraway from home for too long, I know: it’s the lack of familiar interaction in a foreign country. If I had met Zaf at the airport, or if I had known I am going to meet Sin Ming tomorrow in London, I might not feel so terrible after all. My current new friends I’ve just made seem like awesome people, but sharing happiest moments with familiar faces always cheers me up.

Zaf’s miss at the Heathrow airport got to me. I was made to leave the airport for Norwich just as her plane landed. She almost got to me, I asked her to run. I remember. She sent me her live location via Whatsapp, and I sent her mine too, with both of us realizing we’re barely a few miles away from each other. “Do we have to go now?” I asked. “Yes, now.” the student representative’s tone tells me there’s no time for a delay. My coach bus was waiting, along with all my friends already sitting inside, prepped. I began to step away from the airport: glancing back occasionally hoping a familiar face might catch up with me. Still nothing. I’ll remember this moment forever: because that’s when I realize Zaf’s such an important friend to me. It’s not the same meeting back in Singapore again. It’s something about seeing a familiar face on foreign ground that touches me. So close yet so far.

To make things worse, Lucas texted me giving me an unconfirmed reply to our promised plans to travel together. I hate things like this, hanging, uncertain. I hate people backing out on me. But most of all, I’m scared, not of traveling alone, but the thought of my limited time here. That made me feel uncomfortable. I am anxious that I can’t cover most good destinations on time, I feared that I would waste time, I feared that I would not make full use of my trip, where flight tickets are so expensive it’s better to cover most cities in one-shot so that I don’t come back unnecessarily again.

I was supposed to go to London tomorrow but I don’t think I can go now. There, bring my hopes up just to crush it again. I have orientations tomorrow, and I am sick. My stomach was churning during the bus ride to Norwich. I think I might have gastric flu. It happened so suddenly, almost like cramps, until it got worse and I started to suspect whether it was something I ate at Caffe Nero. On the tour bus, I heard this girl sitting diagonally across me ask another girl beside her if she watched Sherlock. I didn’t mean to eavesdrop, but I think they were on the topic of London. I wanted to scream yes, yes I do and I am a huge fan and I want to go to London, but I was too shy to do so. Instead, I close my eyes and their conversations died shortly after because the other girl did not watch Sherlock. 

We’ll see, maybe tomorrow.

Thanksgiving today: smooth clearing of customs, smooth VISA procedure, no missing luggage, safe and pleasant flight.
Disappointments: Lucas’ response, Unable to meet Zaf

I just want to travel to London with like-minded people like me and overcome my greatest fear of wasting this trip to the UK. Besides London, I have thought of Paris and Windsor but have no other states in mind. Any ideas?