Beginning Again

Beginning Again

I’m not trying to be dramatic, living/studying abroad is, basically, beginning a new life.

In Marhsfield, MA

I learned this the hard way during my exchange to the United States under KL-YES in 2015 straight out of secondary school. It was only 5 months long, that’s just long enough to be an experience, right? 5 months is not long enough to truly feel like you’re coming home as you approach your host family’s house everyday. 5 months is not long enough to make an impact on your individual or the relationships you forge. 5 months is not long enough to justify the feeling of leaving more than a place behind you, to leave a life behind, as you board the plane home.

And yet it was much, much more than enough.

In those short 5 months, I learned to depend on myself, to immerse myself completely in order to make the most of my brief time in the US, made friends and family whom I still talk to and think of everyday. It was a life, in every sense. I had all the components of what one would usually constitute of a 17-year-old’s life: family, friends, school. I had a life.

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Soon to be: Bristol

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Come September, I will be a University of Bristol Law student. And it scares me more than I can describe. The process of beginning a new life for myself, overseas in a completely foreign environment knowing no one in my year, is arduous and testing.  I will be alone. Perhaps, in time, I will look behind and find (as I have once before) that this period of being utterly independent will be the most formative of the years to come. Truly, to be alone, is the ultimate test of one’s mettle: whether you will give up and sink or try harder to swim against the crushing currents the realization of being on your own.

I have rarely slept before two in the morning this recent week since confirming my decision entertaining my fears.  The fear of having to live alone without the comfort of my parents and home cooked food. The fear of having to make friends all over again. The fears go on, and on. But the most insidious one of them all, by far, is the fear of disappointing my parents.

Of course, there are parts to look forward to. As much as I’ve heard of them, I’m afraid I’ll have to discover them on my own. And what scares me the most is that I won’t.

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The beautiful Law faculty

What I’ve Learned as a NEET

What I’ve Learned as a NEET

NEET: Not in Education, Employment, or Training

Waking at past 11 in the morning is not for me.

This status used to be a dream for me. The last proper break I can recall having from school was when I was 12 and waiting for secondary school to start. The summer breaks of the ages 13, 14, and 16 were spent studying on the following year’s syllabus while the longer break I had at ages 15 and 17 were spent on work and pre-orientation camps and embassy visits for my exchange student experience respectively. Even during my exchange program, I was expected to maintain good grades in school and participate in extra-curricular activities. Upon returning, I had a week’s break before diving right back into “serious” school at A-Levels college.

Now, I am on my fifth month on break since graduating from A-Levels last year. And it. Is. Driving. Me. Crazy.

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Where boredom drives me

I Know, I’m Such A Nerd

Well, I suppose I can’t exactly say that considering I was working five days a week until March and a little in April before and after a week-long trip to crash on my friend’s couch in Melbourne, Australia. Which makes me an even bigger nerd, doesn’t it, considering I’ve only been on a proper lazy break for 11 days now (beginning May 1st)?

It was wonderful at first. I got to watch any movie I wanted at any time of day and I finally got around to the 15 books on my to-read list (6-7 down – if this doesn’t scream bookworm I don’t know what does). It was the most free I had been for a while. I stayed up later and later, and I woke up later and later.

I couldn’t stand it.

Waking up to see the bright afternoon light streaming through your windows is the most disheartening thing for me to wake up to. Half the day wasted, half the day that could have been spent doing something productive, like writing another five blog posts or reading fifty more pages of the book I’m currently halfway through.

I used to envy those who got the green light from their family to take some gaps off from education here and there, and then the very few I was aware of who hadn’t read a textbook since secondary school ended but that sentiment has completely changed even in this short period of time. I find myself losing more and more motivation for continuing my university studies (for the record, I have always known I wanted to go to university and am not doing it on the whim of simply having a degree to get the job), getting less and less thirsty for education. The thought of dragging my ass back into the pressure of assignments and examinations scares me even now, it’s no wonder some people don’t want to go back to school at all even when they started out intending to.

TLDR

Being a Lays potato crisp on my Fella couch is just not for me. September, come soon! (Or not so soon… coming up next)

Friends and Getting Older

Friends and Getting Older

During the transition from primary school to secondary school, I clung hard to the idea – to the hope – that my group of friends would stay intact, that we would be a family forever (corny words for corny thoughts at a corny period of time). Being an insecure pre-teen, I left the security that I should have given myself in the hands of the social situation I was in at the time, trusting that it would remain a stable factor as I made my way into secondary school and the new experiences it would bring. I had grand expectations of the lasting bonds our friendships would become: teenage years together, adulthood together.

Of course, reality being what it is (thank God), things didn’t turn out that way. As the different people, schedules, and schools acted as the building bricks to the silence in our conversations and the gaps in our meetings, we drifted apart as naturally as the leaves fall from branches in autumn when the winter frost sets in. We found new friends, and for me, I found new ways to feel like I belonged.

Secondary school landed me with the widest and largest number of circles yet. Throughout the five years in secondary school, the circles only grew in size and number and by the end of my last year, it was difficult to renew the sense of being outcast, a role I had experienced playing (in my own head, in hindsight) numerous times during those formative years (as any pretentious emo teen would). Friends came and went, and I learned to tell the difference between those who meant to stick to their promises and those who didn’t; between those who were good for you as a person, and those who were too busy talking up castles in the air to improve you.

More sure of who I was, the idea of yet another change became more palatable as graduation from the government school system rolled around. I was “experienced” now, after all. Nevertheless, I couldn’t help but feel a little doomed as the chapter on secondary school closed. In my head, sitcom-like montages were playing on repeat, the familiar feeling of wanting to cling onto something, to feel like I was finally a part of something meaningful, returning. Could I be certain? Of course not. Did I want to be? Of course.

“The most beautiful discovery true friends make is that they can grow separately without growing apart.”

It surprises me now who I still talk to, who still talks to me, who I still wish to talk to, and whose conversations are long overdue. I think the biggest lie about friendships is that those who have been with you the longest, are also those who you will want to stay. I’m proud to boast of the old friends I have today (most of them friendships reaching their 8th or 12th anniversary), but I’m also glad of the friendships I have left to shine in the memory of the past rather than wither in the dissonance between us in the present.

The thought of letting go is hard, but when you realise that you are only holding on to ideals and fears rather than something real, you can loosen your grip and smile at the fleeting thoughts that come by every once in a while.