Mar 31, 2017

The American (Education) Dream

Hello people!!! *echoes into an empty web space*

I am half-wrecked by A Level trials. Whenever I exit the examination hall, one sentence runs through my mind, "You're a dishonour to your family."

Only some of the time, which happens really rarely, I would say, "May, your effort for the past three months is worthwhile."

Anyway, that is not really the intention of me writing this post. I need a space to properly channel the remains of my euphoria for me to function normally (which is to continue studying for the remaining of my trials). So I'm going to talk about a part of my life journey that had been difficult but very rewarding: US applications.

All my friends know I'm the 'US-over-UK' girl. I guess my face always lights up whenever I talk about US education, especially when the person I'm talking to is not familiar with it. I'm like, "Come, allow me to show you what US education can offer!"

I've always wanted to study in the US. There's this brief moment when I thought of studying in the UK because I like the old, classic, Victorian, Gothic British architecture but that was all and that was when I didn't know the difference between a standard British education and a standard American education.

Along the way, through months and years of trying to find what I want to study in the future, I kinda decided to study physics-related things and also philosophy, religion, language but there's no possible way to do that all at once in a degree. Then the US education came... the glorious Core curriculum. *confetti drops*

I also really like the idea of not having to declare my major as soon as I enter a US university because I have no idea whether I really wanna do physics for my whole life. The idea of becoming a physicist is cool but very vague at the same time. So, US education allows me to try it first and if I find myself leaning towards some other fields, I can change!

Doing A Levels and pursuing US colleges can be a little difficult. I had to divide my time for SATs, A Levels, UK personal statement, US personal statement and supplementary essays and of course, other extra-curricular activities! There was this one week when SAT subjects tests, PAT (Oxford Physics Aptitude Test) and Diwali were on the same week and I was glad I didn't die from that. And there was also another week when I had my SAT the day right after I finished my semester exams. I am very lucky to have my family, friends and teachers who have been supporting me during those times, before those times and after those times (now).

I wrote tonnes of essays because I applied to 8 colleges. I was super scared I didn't get into any so that was why I applied to a lot of universities (YK university list is crazy!). Three months after I sent all my applications, the decisions are now out! During those three months, I seriously couldn't have a night without worrying about my US decisions. I tried really hard to open my heart for a UK education because I would probably get rejected by all the US universities and I don't want to get demotivated just because I couldn't go to where I've always wanted to study. I tried to get that Imperial vibes but no man, I still cannot think of being in a university studying physics all the time. I will go crazy! (My wise friend commented, "But I thought that's what you have to do if you want to become a physicist?" I returned a meek smile.)

I guess all the worries now end here. I am rejected by 5 of the universities I applied but seriously, with all my heart, I am grateful to say that I am too happy with my acceptances to feel sad for my rejections. And I know surely that no one reads my blog, or very little, so I don't have to think much of containing my happiness hahaha

I receive admissions to the Class of 2021 of UC Los Angeles, UC Berkeley and University of Chicago!!! *screams infinitely*

I expected 8 rejections so this really, my God, makes me happy. I can't express in words how grateful I am. Really, I am really really grateful. I probably will head to UChicago because I have a soft spot for how quirky it is (best proof: click here and don't forget to read all the past prompts!). My UChicago essays were written from my heart (eww haha) with touches of creativity and boldness. I just don't know why but UChicago seems so similar to Permata, except that it's bigger, more diverse, more challenging and all the 'more's. UChicago is, in fact, in my 'impossible' list so when I received a 'congratulations' e-mail, oh God that moment.. *speechless*

I should also express my gratitude to all the UK universities which accepted me. So, thank you Imperial, UCL, King's College London and Edinburgh.

God, I can feel myself getting breathless and my stomach performing somersaults whenever I think about all these acceptances. So much had happened. A little more before I face my real A Levels and graduate from KY. Now, I just hope the best for everybody. For all my YK and KY friends, I hope we can all satisfy our universities' and sponsors' requirements. We have come this far, so let's do this! 

Mar 22, 2017

some Latin words

Fiat lux
Let there be light.

Crescat scientia; vita excolatur
Let knowledge grow from more to more; and so be human life enriched.

Feb 9, 2017

Probabilities Within Red Packets

As much as I want to live in the present, I would always find myself hovering over the memories of my past or dreaming of the infinite probabilities of how my future would be. Fortunately, I have kinda tied a beautiful knot to the memories of Permata and have moved on to face the fact that I am in a place very different from Permata. By the end of 2016, I have discovered that there is no point to compare KY to Permata; it is incomparable and if I insist on doing so, I'll end up killing myself by abandoning my current responsibilities: A Levels.

When I stopped comparing, that was when I find the warmth of KY friends which I had overlooked for the past year. The rigidity and intensity of A Levels drown me but friends and families save me from sinking. And perhaps I should thank myself too for developing this final mentality which now serves as an invaluable gift from living life.

Okay, so that was about the past. I thought I would have readily set myself to live in the present. But nah, A LEVELS.

I am living in the present but most of the times, the purpose is for the future. I find myself doing past year papers not because I need to do it now, but because it is a part of preparation for my imminent A Level exams. To be frank, I changed quite a lot of my old habits (that includes napping!) to maximise my efficiency to study. To give a quantitative evidence, the amount of past year papers I have done for the past month exceeds the past year papers I have willingly (excluding the ones given by teachers as homework) done for my entire life! I can imagine the old me laughing at how hard I am working now but sod it, I have to pass YK's requirements. I can't bear to see my parents paying YK a freaking huge sum of money for my failures.

Actually I wanted to talk about this year's Chinese New Year celebration... but apparently, I have deviated quite far, though not irrelevant.

As usual, I don't really look forward to CNY. The smell of new clothes on first two or three days of CNY and the stacks of dishes to wash haunt me since forever. Of course, when I was a kid those were all that mattered to develop an aversion. But this year, I have been wondering if this year's CNY will be the last before studying in the overseas for four long years.

Most probably, 'yes' but there's also a quite huge probability saying 'no'. No one can tell the future.

When my far relatives whom I could only meet during CNY said, "Bye, see you next year!", I waved back, replied, "Yeap, see you!" and only whispered, "...when I see you."

There are many traditions and rituals that are only done during CNY and when I was performing them this year, a fleeting melancholic feeling overcame me every time. The thoughts of 'I might be missing this next year', 'I might be having my reunion dinner not just at a huge distance, but also time difference, away from my family' and 'Should I eat more then, so that I could spend more time lavishing the company before lacking it for four years?'.

I did feel stupid to think of this but my mind keeps taking account of the future, even when it is perceiving the present. One good thing about this is that I ended up viewing CNY in a significantly more positive way. It undeniably brings families together.

Fortunately, I managed to join 初九 (9th day of CNY) celebration this year. It is usually celebrated by Hokkien Chinese and I had been missing it so many times because it always falls on weekdays. This year it fell on a weekend and since my college is on the way from my aunt's house to my grandparents' house, she picked me up on last Friday evening and voila, I got to celebrate 初九! Ah Ma (grandmother) was pretty happy I could make it this time as she said, "Wah Ah May, it's good that you finally get to come back for 初九!"

As expected, the preparation for 初九 was endless. The celebration must only start at 12 midnight, so automatically the whole day had been spent to finish up all the necessities. I seriously could not remember the last time I celebrated 初九, possibly when my age was only one digit, so everything was pretty new to me. As the quite 'old' Soo grandchildren, my sister and I spent most of the day walking, be it around the kitchen carrying chairs or outside the house cleaning the porch. It was super tiring but it was nothing compared to the amount of work the elders did.

When the clouds started to darken, relatives and neighbours (probably about 40-50 people?) began to flood into our house. Chatters and laughters spread around the house as everyone waited for the clock to tick twelve. The midnight came and there was a brief silence when everyone (almost) simultaneously knelt down to pray. You should have seen the amount of joss sticks!

After a considerate period of firework show, eating began! That was when all the 'what if's started to cross this little brain of mine again as I observed people taking food while I fanned flies away from the food. The sight of a small girl sneakily pinching a huge pau, a couple happily munching their food, a cousin surprisingly discovered a nice delicacy, a relative graciously asking if I had eaten and et cetera made me appreciate my trip home, even if I would miss it again for the next few years.

If I teared up for goodbyes, it is usually when I leave my grandparents or when I see my mother cries. But this time, it was the first time I shed tears when my cousins left.