Category Archives: Pondering

It has been a while, Singapore

Yesterday, I presented my first presentation of graduate school and it was quite a blast. Both for me and my classmates. I had a lot of fun presenting and my classmates had a good laugh.

The project was a contemporary applications presentation, where I was supposed to find a contemporary application topic in my everyday life and relate it to the learning theories that I’ve learnt in class. I decided to do something close to my heart and presented on “Re-learning to live in NYC”, in which I talked about all the things I’ve learnt since moving here. I related learning theories to: why I made those  mistakes in the first place and had the class in stitches. I used social cultural theories, behaviorism and social cognitive theories.

After the class, I got “fist bumps” from my classmate and remarks of “You killed it.”  Which was very interesting because my peers’ reaction would be very different had I presented a similar topic in Singapore. A visiting lecturer, who was sitting in class to observe my professor, told me that I should consider writing a memoir or join UCB (Upright Citizen’s Brigade), which is some comedy training centre. I was thinking to myself, really? Was it that hilarious? I’m only reciting stories/misconceptions I had when I first moved here!

Nonetheless, I really enjoyed what I did. Now I’m thinking, I really need to find a thesis topic that’s closely related to what I did today! Because, one must try to do things, that makes the heart smile!

Happy Tuesday everyone! I hope you had as good of a start to the week as I did!

Oh why the title? I realized that I left Singapore officially in 2013, which wasn’t all that long really, but somehow my current life now seems to overshadow all that I left behind. In essence, it isn’t such a bad thing because it means I am making the most out of my time here and embracing THE NOW.

Going back to school was one of the best decisions I’ve made since coming here! I’m learning a lot not only in terms of content material but also learning a lot through observing the people around me. I am not just making friends with tech people (thru Kris)  or migrant housewives or sojourned Singaporeans. I feel like I’m finally getting to know real Americans in my own domains!

Just for good measure

*fist bumps* from my left hand to my right hand!

On a side note, we called Kris’s gramma the other day and she told me, “Oh, why do you want to go back to school?, what about making babies?, I would like to see my great grandkids, I’m not getting younger you know!.”

She’s adorable! Once you’re 90+ you can pretty much get away with saying anything!

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Changing Perspectives – Adaptation

When I first moved here, I met one of Kris’s friend who never failed to ask me, “So how Charlene, isn’t New York City the greatest ever.” Back then, I didn’t feel like it was the greatest city at all. I had just moved away from my family and friends, I left a stable job, I knew zero people in this city and Kris was at work all day. I didn’t know what to do with all this free time, I felt really lonely inside, and everything felt uncomfortably foreign. I couldn’t give him the answer he wanted and I didn’t want to lie either, so I just smiled and shrugged.

 

Circa Summer 2014 and now Manhattan feels like home. Our apartment – a sanctuary that we both have built together with love and the growing bonds of our marriage. I felt this very strongly during a recent visit to Singapore, the past couple of times I left the country (Singapore) I would be sad and felt this deep sinking feeling in my heart and throat. This time, I found myself excited to go back to NYC, excited to start school and excited to be home. A home — where I have been painstakingly caring for, rearranging, decorating and filling with little stuff that meant something to us, a welcoming respite from the urban jungle in which we lived in. Don’t get me wrong, I still miss family, friends and truly enjoyed spending time in Singapore but I also feel that now I have a family/home in New York. I have found my way in this seemingly unfriendly and cut throat city, carved out a space that belonged to me and rekindled a ‘relationship’ with myself. Emotionally I am so much stronger and happier now; far more comfortable than I have been in a long time. I feel confident of my abilities to be alone, to thrive in a new city. I like making new friends, but I’m also very happy to be eating, reading, exercising or even partaking in any activity that traditionally involved more people -by myself and truly enjoying the solitude. The comfort of my new found independence is truly liberating.

 

I’m hoping that the new direction (grad school) I’m taking in my life will challenge me enough to grow into a better person. More importantly, I hope to find a vocation that allows me a deeper sense of purpose, something that allows me to make my surroundings and the people I interact with happier. My goal is to make education an accessible privilege to all and for it to better bridge socio-economic divides. I’m not sure what or how I’m going to do it, but I’m going to try to get there.

 

In short, I am proud to say that I have *ahem” crossed over that uneasy (and necessary, if I may) transitional bridge of international migration and look forward to more exciting adventures here and everywhere my our heart desires.  (I have a partner in crime now, so I can’t leave him behind :P)

Poetry

Last night in class the lecturer read this wonderful poem by Edna St Vincent.

“What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why”

What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why,
I have forgotten, and what arms have lain
Under my head till morning; but the rain
Is full of ghosts to-night, that tap and sigh
Upon the glass and listen for reply;
And in my heart there stirs a quiet pain,
For unremembered lads that not again
Will turn to me at midnight with a cry.

Thus in the winter stands the lonely tree,
Nor knows what birds have vanished one by one,
Yet knows its boughs more silent than before:
I cannot say what loves have come and gone;
I only know that summer sang in me
A little while, that in me sings no more

I have always loved sad songs and sad poems . I think they tug at the heart strings and gives a depth of emotion that only experience can bring. A tinge of regret, a hazed memory of the past and a low sigh at the passing thought.

More importantly, I love poems because they are subjective and hence affords the possibility of free interpretation.

My other half claims that sadness has depth but no breath. Which to me means something and almost nothing at all because his favorite poem is

Ozymandias

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
`My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!’
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away”.

Which essentially to him means: “In the grand scheme of things, we’re nothing at all”.

Yet he claims he’s an agnostic.

Thoughts?