Reminiscing

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Hi all!

I hope you’re all doing well, but I thought I would pen down my thoughts regarding my study career, now that it has officially come to an end.

Growing up, I’ve always been the quintessential Asian kid. Fairly good grades, well-behaved. Sure, there were bouts of rebellion when I was 9 when my grades plummeted to a B (I still did ok, mind you, just not an A). At the primary school level, B was simply frowned upon. It equated to a poor performance in most households. At that time, a good secondary school was determined by the entry score needed to enter. The higher it was, the better. That means aiming for an A or A*. Canning and late nights supervision, kick started my journey to be self-independent in learning.

In secondary school, my day started at 6.3o am to get ready for school. School officially begun at 7.30 am and would last till 2 or 3 pm, with a 30 mins recess. This was in the lower years. In the upper years, classes ended around 4 pm (sometimes 5 pm). Recess was typically a mad-rush affair. If classes ate into recess by 10 to 15 mins, there was no point going for lunch cause you’ll only have time to walk to and fro from the canteen. This happened most of the time from mid to year end when teachers try to complete the syllabus. After classes, there would be CCA, thrice a week. Practices started immediately after class and ended around 6.3o pm. At night, was homework time. Holidays (about 3 weeks) were seen as more “free” time for CCA and a never-ending stack of homework to be completed.

Following O levels, was JC. JC was definitely the most enriching period in my life. I made the closest bunch of friends I have right now. I was at the fittest point in my life due to the mandatory (and intense) PE, lol. There were up and downs, but JC was memorable and heart-warming.

In uni, lectures took a 360 turn. It took some getting used to. Textbooks, journal articles and my laptop became very good buddies. From RICE to OCIP to 7DOH, they were all activities where precious memories were made. I’ve made some modular choices where I chose not to pursue my interest, in the attempt to raise my CAP. Not my proudest moment. Despite my interest in microbio, I realised I’m unable to pursue it as a long term career in the lab. I’ve doubted my initial attempt to pursue my honours year, as well as, my degree choice. I’ve experienced the shittiest point in my student life because a prof decides to bring in the political game to a module that holds 16 MCs, which literally decides my fate to graduate. I’ve never been so disgusted with myself – the hypocrite game. Late nights, early mornings, daily stress build-up, fear, tears and anger, my last year was an emotional uphill. It was a battle to survive, both mentally and physically. I don’t think I’ve ever felt as much relief in my life as compared to the submission of my FYP. Literally, one of the bleakest moment in my existence (not life, because there’s no life in your final year).

The end of my last paper marked the official end to my student career. No more exams, no more lectures…it’s a bitter-sweet feeling. I can’t help feeling lost. The next phase in life is to seek for a job, which is a head-dive into the unknown. But till the next post, bye.

Of black & whites

Hi guys!

It’s been a horribly long and busy past few months (and weeks). But I thought I would share some photos I took at different places the past month (or so) before they become just an image stored on my computer. Recently, I’ve been loving the soft, translucent and perhaps somewhat flat style of black and white images. They are scenes that have passed but represented a moment in my life when I desperately needed a breather from work. To those who are super stress out, I hope you’ll be able to capture a scene in your life that would give you as much comfort as these do.

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Image 1 | Image 2: East Coast Park, Singapore

Image 3 | Image 4 | Image 5: Coney Island, Singapore

Image 6 | Image 7 | Image 8: Christmas fair at Gardens by the Bay, Singapore

One more week and I’m off to Vietnam for a short getaway! I honestly can’t wait to get myself some pho. Can’t wait, but till the next post, bye!

Rounding up: 2nd last semester of school

Hi all!

It’s been a while since I’ve last rambled and I thought I should do one…er now?! Haha. I want to summarize my experience in FYP (so far) so that I can look back and hopefully pat myself on the back and say “You’ve made it!”

Basically I’m in my final year in uni and I’m majoring in life science. A rough idea of how the school system works: you must do a final year project (FYP) and take up 3 modules each semester. This number is the minimum if you’ve not overload in the earlier semesters.

So I actually started working on a project in the lab with a prof in June. Mind you, this was actually during my school holiday (which started in May). Most people start way earlier then that so while I’m not late, I’m not early either. It was tough. In the first month alone, I was going to school 7 days a week. On the weekdays, I’ll start work from 8.30am (that’s when my access to the lab starts) and end earliest 6pm, latest around 9pm. On the weekends (Saturday and Sunday), I’ll be dragging my butt down to lab in the early morning and ending around 2pm. Lunch break (if any) was a quick chow down in 10 minutes. Mind you, I live about 2 hours from school. So it takes me a total of about 4 hours to commute back-and-forth.

I remembered when I first started, I met up with a friend for lunch who had started her project 2 weeks earlier. I remembered looking at her saying you looked so tired. She said yah, 2 weeks in and you’ll feel like you’ve aged a thousand years. Truer words have never been spoken. I’ve never felt so distant from the world. My days and thoughts were always revolving about my project.

I was wearing out as the days went by in the first month. I was thrown under the table to start growing 30 plus samples after the first 2 weeks (1st week was just settling the administrative stuff).  So I had to start planning my timeline for when I want to conduct my experiments and monitoring the growth of my culture. Things took a downturn when I kept failing to get sufficient bacteria to even properly start conducting my experiments. It was discouraging. Troubleshooting (i.e growing more plates) didn’t seem to work as well.

During this period, a close friend of mine was opting to graduate instead of progressing to the 4th year (i.e honours year). I knew I would not be doing research in the future. My troubles in the lab also seemed to deter me further from it. My mentor was also not helping matters when she was already celebrating and planning out her leave before her contract ended. So I would be left alone to do the project without any guidance (if needed). The stress started to eye-ball and one day it burst. I broke down at home and started taking action to opt to graduate. Graduation has never seem so attractive.

When I mentioned it to my mentor, I was psyched to stay. So I aimlessly went into the second month of lab. I grew more depressed as the days went by. I’ll be silently tearing in bed or on the train journey to school. School was a nightmare and I had developed a psychological dread and pain to even go to it. I was losing my mind. Already suffering from a lost in appetite in the middle of May, I lost close to 7kg by mid-June. It was scary. My health was suffering. So I thought enough was enough. The thought of graduating returned. I started speaking to the other lab workers and people around me about the working world. I applied to jobs and went to my first interview the next day. Perhaps it was the company I interviewed at but suddenly graduating was scary. The working world was cut-throat cruel.

I felt like I was standing on a tightrope. To fall or not to fall, that’s the question. Should I persist on and go crazy or should I take a leap of faith and graduate. At the same time, my friends was persuading me to switch project instead. I couldn’t fathom the thought of even going from one wet lab to another. Wet lab scared me. So I search for professors where I’ll be in a dry lab. I managed to find one.

A new problem arose. This new project was as not science as they come. I wouldn’t score well. I’ve heard tales on how even those who were working on bioinformatics project could only score a maximum grade of B+ because these students were not working in a wet lab (i.e doing things like pcr, western blot etc.). What about mine then? It was even less science then bioinformatics and more social science like psychology. What would my maximum grade be? A B-, a C+ for 16 modular credits?! My CAP is gonna fall like crazy. I was fearful of my future. It seemed so bleak and I couldn’t even venture to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

But I knew I cannot continue working on the old project any longer. I would go stir crazy before I can every graduate. I’m not kidding. So I took a leap of faith and joined the new project I’m currently working on.

Is there stress? Yes, but a different source of stress. Do I wish I had stayed on with my old project, sometimes when the current one seems aimless and not so wow. But hey life goes on. I’ve made the decision I should at least face the music (let’s hope it’s not too bad)! I still have to survive in society and let’s be honest results do matter at the end of the day. The   Honours class I graduate with affects my job prospect, even more so now that most companies I’m interested in are having a headcount freeze. Singapore is still a pretty pragmatic society.

There’re days when I just wanna heck it all, but fear is something that stymies and hold me back. I want to chase my passion for photography, to break free of the monotony of my life. For what is life when it’s stagnant. To be content but never satisfied. To be safe and never to chase. Fear, is a never-ending emotion which waits in the dark. A sitting lion, waiting for the right moment to pounce on its prey. But it’s there and it is real. And I hope, come next year, I’ll have the opportunity to work in a company  I’m truly happy in. To not the dread the passing of each day. Because the simplest pleasure in life is to pass each day with a smile.

I’m gonna end this post now to go back to studying my finals and lets hope I survive through to the next semester. To all the students in their final year or facing exams right now, let’s stay strong together. We’ll weather through this stormy sea.

Bye!