Tuesday, May 03, 2005

I think I haven't changed much since RI days.

When i say that, I'm referring to the fact that I tend to take myself too seriously sometimes. Sometimes, things just aren't as complicated as my mind is, so i really should learn to relax and let loose! It makes life a lot easier and gives more breathing space!

I didn't know it was Rachel's bday today! Was awoken by the sounds of happy birthday whilst in slumber land....as i stumbled over next door, I found myself in a big party, mainly the Malaysian gang. Malaysian's seem so united!

Got my ticket fixed at Qantas today! Yes! I'm going home on the 15th of June!!! Thats barely 6 weeks to go! I think the whole office on Collins St is just overstaffed. The staff to customer ratio in there was like 10 to 1. Talk about competitiveness! I realise here in Aussie land they are less focused on trimming excesses and retrenching staff compared to back home.

Was talking to Lucienne at the bday celebration next door a moment ago. He's from Brunei and was really interested about the stuff we do in the army, esp because we go to Brunei for training. What he then said really struck me. He feels that going through the army really makes one a real man. I'm surprised that there are actually non-Singaporean guys out there who think like that! I've heard that a couple of times from girls before, but seldom from guys. Maybe its because of the male ego factor. But yea...to think of it...we are pretty proud of the fact that we've gone through 2 years of rigorous training. It kind of "beat" us into shape real quick, I must say. We've dealt with really serious stuff like live rounds, grenades, claymore mines, and were thrown into leadership situations where the whole platoon's well being depended on me. Will never forget being the platoon commander of the trench digging exercise. Coming to iHouse after 2 years of these tough experiences, we can't help but feel that we have somewhat grown a bit old for some of these "JC-like" activities.

Hi all! I know i really haven't been blogging much and updating u people since my arrival in Melbourne. Here's some of my diary entries of my first few days of life down under!

17 Feb 2005.

Haha….went out with a Jap girl tonight. How smooth of me. She came to the dining hall at about 715 in the evening and they stopped serving dinner. So she asked me how she could get stuff to eat and I offered to take her to town to get food!

Of course, its rather awkward to be seen one on one with her so I got some friends to come along. Good decision. We had a lot of fun walking round town, shopping at safeway supermarket and visiting college square. My new Japanese friend is quite an open minded, pleasant, and

18 Feb 2005 Friday

Today’s like my 4th day in Melbourne and I feel like I’ve done so much already. Met so many new people from all over the world, though its really a challenge to remember all their names, learning to speak the lingo of the locals, finding my way round town, and checking out all the places in the city.

Popped my Aunty Florence’s place in the morning and saw Aunty Lillian and my 2 cousins for the first time in years! How they’ve grown! Joshua looks very much like his dad now. It was nice tasting the home cooked food that grandma cooked. Hokkien noodles, reminds me of the healthy and nutritious food at home.

Took a nice pleasant stroll down to the uni for the afternoon brief and enrollment. There are so many med students from Malaysia! Unbelievable! Among the international students, there are probably less than 5 caucasians. The aussies have yet to show up though. When I first walked into the lecture theatre, I felt as if I had somehow stepped into NUS!

Met some of the med students from Singapore. The girls are really childish, like kids….goodness me! So unlike the Jap girl I went out with last night. Sometimes I think its safer to mix around Singapore / Malaysian girls, but then again its always interesting when you go around with a foreigner and its really exciting cos there’s so much to discover and learn. Its just like at the dinner tables. The most cozy thing is of course to sit with the Singaporeans and Malaysians but you don’t learn much by doing that. When you talk to the Caucasians, the talk tends to be more superficial as you try to find common ground. However, it’s a great learning experience as to try to find their focus of the conversation. Mentally, you feel that its more stimulating. I’m not discounting Asians, of course, but I think one of the reasons you pay so much to study abroad is to get exposure to a myriad of cultures.

Had coffee at L’Intro Café at Swanston Street with some medfac seniors and freshers. Met a Russian girl studying med here. She’s really conscientious. Started showing us all her notes and stuff. The American guy looks really old. He got a basic degree in the US, then studied in the UK, before finally coming to Melb to do postgrad medicine. Another postgrad student rushed off halfway cos his wife was expecting!

I think its really disgusting to see how some Asians try so hard to align themselves with the Caucasians. The worst people are not the Caucasians who seem snooty, but the Asians who love to suck up to the Caucasians and thumb their noses on their own Asians. Sounds ridiculous but I’ve seem such people! The bloody Qantas ground manager is a prime example.

I’m glad I didn’t stay at Trinity College. Its more expensive, the rooms are smaller, and lunch is not provided. Worst of all, there are hardly any Asians around. On the first day, Jia Wei said he was the only asian at his dining table. The only common topic he could find with them was about an Australian footballer playing in the UK.

20th Feb 2005

Another long day! The intercultural communication seminars in the morning were pretty meaningful I guess. It addressed many of the issues head on. Its great that they are aware of the differences btw the races and bring in out into the open for discussion. Here’s something really funny I took away:

The qualities of an ideal manager

The humility of the French
The generosity of the Dutch
The charm of the German
The punctuality of the Spanish
The efficiency of the Russian
The candour of the Japanese
The compassion of the English
The diplomatic finesse of the Isrealis
The team spirit of the Arabs
The joie de vivre of the Swiss
The patience and mastery of language of the Americans

Its nice of them but I guess the differences will always be there and it takes a great effort to reach out and not everyone has the willingness or energy to do it all the time. Its tiring business. Some Americans don’t even bother. Such certainly reflects the unilateral approach America takes to the world in foreign policy.

Went to Savers to buy rubbishy looking clothes for the evening’s dag night. Got a sissy looking pink dress since cross dressing’s allowed. On the way there talked to 2 o’weekers Sarah and Charrisa. They seem alright.

Dag night was cool. Everyone came dressed in crap looking clothes. Took many pictures with some of my new friends. Guess what! Ms X was so sporting, when I asked her for a picture, she actually pretended to blow a kiss to my cheek! WTF! Jon will be insanely jealous when he sees the pic. Sometimes I wonder if I’m sending the wrong signals to the other girls. Like I appear so comfortable and chummy with so many different girls, I wonder what they think. That picture must have looked pretty scandalous! Everyone was watching by the sides! I can’t really care less, really.

Its weired dancing without first drinking. You are so alert and aware of your surroundings you are so much more inhibited. There weren’t disco lights. This is the first time I see an ang moh club scene. Wow. Some of the Americans can really dance. Especially the big size American girl. She loves to do exotic dances with another girl in the centre of a circle of guys.

Its been a week. I’m still in the process of discovering and accepting many of the things happening around me. So many of my values and beliefs challenged, and so many yet to be proven through.

21 Feb 2005 Monday

Cocktail party tonight! Wooh hoo! More dancing with alcohol this time! It started off as a formal occasion with everyone coming down in formal shirts and ties, and the ladies in their evening gowns. Drinks were going cheap.

It was nice standing around and socializing. Inevitably, with everyone so well dressed, a photo taking frenzy went off. Reminds me of prom night. Talked to the yankie guy Justin and what started off as a casual conversation drifted into American foreign politics! How weired! Such a heavy going conversation at a social setting! But I really admire the way some of these yankie guys can yak on and on about stuff and their voice seems to be so resonant compared to Asian voices. Is there something different about the structure of our voice boxes?

There's this Jap girl who looks really gorgeous when she makes up. She’s got the sophisticated Jap look. Her working bf in Japan can probably support her maintenance fees! Haha!

Had a great chat with Raymond. I can click with that guy. He’s pretty down to earth too and is like me in many ways. We have similar views and outlooks on some of the various issues that are pertinent to us now. Sometimes I think its great to trust people more and open up faster. That way, u’ll find ur good friends sooner.

22 Feb 2005 Tuesday

Yet another great day! Tonight we had bush dance. It’s a traditional aussie thing and it’s a lot of funny steps and actions and dancing around in a circle. Got a few girls to the dance floor. They were rather shy…! Erina’s got this really adorable look when she smiles shyly and looks away. So cute! She still has the girlish charm!

Went to the uni for dean’s welcome too. Medfac seems to have quite a good mix of students from Australia and various Asian nations. Met a girl who migrated to Brisbane when she was 2. Bloody hell…all these Asians migrate to Australia than enjoy cheap fees. These Asians who grew up here tend to have a more natural accent. But then again, its hard to find the identity in them. Are they Malaysians, Singaporeans, or Australians?

Had an expensive lunch on campus! $6.20 for fish and rice and $2.60 for a bottle of Lipton lemon tea!

We were also introduced to our tutors in the evening. Interesting mix of people. There’s even a physics PhD guy from Iran! Our medicine tutor seems like a nice and sensible guy.
Met an aussie farm boy over dinner. His family owns about 8000 sheep and he says shearing them isn’t the most fun thing to do. They live in a quiet town and Melbourne is a new experience to him. I think the aussies who come from the rural areas are actually quite nice and humble. Sometimes one should take the initiative and bear the burden of reaching out and trying to understand the other party. Coming from a rural setting, they probably don’t know much about Asians. When I talk to them, I sense a kind of genuine feeling in them. Heather’s pretty ok too. I was kind of mistaken, cos I always have the perception that pretty and popular girls are a bunch of stuck up bitches that only talk to and hang out with cool people. Like some people in JC.