Category Archives: Life of a European

Life bigger than that

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Education above all else

Offbrown 2005

Yes, since I can remember that was my motto. I believed that academic success or pursuing individual goals meant everything. Parents, girlfriends or even social networking can wait; they all DONT provide guaranteed success but a double degree from NUS DOES?  My personality was intertwined with academic success that I was just not perceptive to anything else; everything else came second and then you came along.

Surprisingly, you were everything I didn’t expect; we didn’t even speak the same language much less communicate on the same plane. I can remember my popular lingo and intellectual charm just never worked on you. My core competences were brushed aside and I had to use an unfamiliar set of skills. And to be frank that just wasn’t an arena I was ever good at.

While most insisted that I work hard and be the best I can be, you always implored that I relax and take it slow; “work will wait but life wont”; it made me realized that all my life I was about getting to that destination I dreamed of since I was 15 and never took a step back to enjoy the journey.

End of the day, honestly I always had the strength and determination to reach my goals and all I needed was someone to keep me human, make me live in the present and to remind me what I was missing.

Now, I am pushed to do something I knew would only be eventual. Most of them tell me that this is the best thing to do; for you. F&^K, Why am I this hopeless when it comes to women!

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Szántódpuszta: The Great MisAdventure

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“Let’s just get down across the lake and take the Ferry”

You and I, we always manage to undertake the most crazy endeavors. And at that time, we had no idea that this single statement was gonna lead us to place that we would never forget.

Getting off the station, we knew…. Knew that this town was not like the other few towns around Lake Balaton. This was different, not in a good or bad way but rather in a unique /novel way. I can remember getting off the train to look around for other backpackers trying to observe their surroundings. There was no1, not a single soul had gotten off this station. Maybe, it was just that time of the day…..plus the train we were on was never thronged with people to begin with.

Reasoning to ourselves that this was the right decision, we continued our journey towards the Station office to buy our return tickets to Budapest after returning from Tihany. Only to discover that the station consisted of one employee who of course didn’t speak English.

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That’s what we got after talking to him for more than 20 minutes.

Having left the station, we headed towards the Lake past, what we hoped would be the town of Szántódpuszta …. 30 seconds from the Station, we saw a tiny coffee shop and decided to grab a snack. As we entered, a gent in his late 30s welcomed us with a half-ass smile. Ofc, it took T only a few seconds to realize that this was actually the Station master. But then again, its not like we were ever able to distinct between most Hungarian men. Giving the benefit of the doubt, we continued towards the town. The “embracing” town composed of two building, city hall (presumably) and a school. The City hall had a quotation vividly inscribed “The hülye egyik sem megbocsát sem elfelejt ; a naiv megbocsát és elfelejt ; a bölcs megbocsát de nem elfelejt” (“The stupid neither forgive nor forget; the naive forgive and forget; the wise forgive but do not forget“). As T was browsing through his pockets, he noticed that the name of coffee shop matched the name under the quote. Coincidentally, this matched the name of the school as well.

Could it be that there is one person running/living this town. Even before this thought could slip out of my mind, the City hall door opened only to give way to our station master/coffee owner/teacher/major/god knows what. In a state of panic, both of us just ran!

For the Third

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I have always believed that in my life all you need is 3 good friends. Of course, I have no real reason why its 3 but so far its worked perfectly fine. Well, for 23 years I have had only 2 (had 3 but I did the ultimate mistake of dating a good friend).

The third was anything but what I would have contemplated to fit into this group. Yet, honestly over the last few months we have become closer than brothers. I have shared more things with him and gone through even more shit than I have with anyone else before (ofc excluding the other 2). If there is a moment to ever violate Article 77, last night was it. I have said farewell to so many people over the years and nothing has ever been this hard. Sometimes, I wonder how did I ever get so close to a total stranger over the last few months. And then I remember:

  • You literally carried me back on your shoulders so many nights when even you were too drunk to stand
  • Listen (tolerated) to all the bullshit both emotional (specially when i get drunk) and intellectual.
  • Enlighten me by example how to drink, dance and sing. Oh and cook too
  • Jumped in whenever the situation required it. Whether its to just stop me from passing out or not drinking enough
  • Best travel bud ever. From vienna to solvenia or just around hungary itself. The things we did and shit we saw- Good times
  • Just tolerate me: I know I can be really hard to live with. Yet, every single time you somehow managed.
  • Rescued me from the financial crisis. Paid for everything and never asked when or if you can get that money back.
  • Quite simply, the selflessness and honesty you showed awed me to the core.

I can go on all day with this list but really what I wanted to say was:

Hyvästit Ystäväni

I will truly miss you

What awaits in Singapore

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So, after this looong holiday I am finally going back to Singapore. These are a few things I am looking forward to;

1. Meeting two of my ‘close’ friends. Honestly, I have missed those long conversations I use to have either in the Arts Canteen or at the Hostel. Sadly, Intellectual discussions over a cup of coffee are not really an european thing and I have missed it so much.

2. Working at Burger King. Yeah, I know I shouldn’t even say this but making a 290g Whopper within 45 secs and random rattles with Eddie always make my day.

3. Cutting down on the drinking & stop smoking. As long as I stay in a europe I am only gonna set myself up for some painful terminal cancer. I am so looking forward to going back and enjoying some Green Tea and alcohol consumption is only twice or thrice a year.

4. The gym. Sadly, I have exercised as much as I have studied. It would be nice to hit the gym and enjoy that kaya toast set afterwards.

5. School & Constant Mugging & Stress – For almost 99%, this a bad thing to look forward to but I fall into that 1%. I can’t wait to get up at 8am to ran to the library to get the ‘V’ seat, read the zillion recommended readings, make professional muggers and have heated arguments with other law students in the library staircase.

6. Pupillage application. I have waited this for 2 years and finally it is here. And, if all goes well I would one step closer.

7. Chili Crabs at Newton, Tom Yam at Lau Pa Sat, Chicken Rice  at Raffles Place and Sugar cane at Bukit Timah Market. Can’t wait to get my hands on them.

Of course, if there is one thing I would miss about Budapest – the people. But, that’s a whole different post in itself.

ERASMUS

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European Region Action Scheme for the Mobility of University Students, a programme that had a number of specific objectives:

  1. to improve the quality and to increase the volume of student and teaching staff mobility throughout Europe, so as to achieve at least 3 million student and teacher exchanges by 2012
  2. to improve the quality and increase the amount of multilateral cooperation between higher education institutions in Europe
  3. to improve and increase cooperation between higher education institutions and enterprises
  4. to spread innovation and new pedagogic practice and supports between universities in Europe

Apart from the student mobility mentioned in the first objective, which is the most visible and “iconic” element in the programme, support is also given to developing closer links between university faculties.

BUT

Really what is ERAMUS all about:

1. Getting drunk every night and experiencing a different culture by ‘getting it on’ with another nationality.

2. Skipping class because:

a. All you have to do is pass the exams

b. Too hangover from the previous night

c. Traveling in another country

3. Trying as many different nightclubs, alcohol and partners as possible. It is all about building up a story that you can tell your male friends in the future over drinks.

4. Retaking exams several times because the first time you were either hangover from the previous night or didn’t study due all the drinking and traveling.

So, why do universities still insist that their students take part in ERAMUS. Maybe, behind of this drinking & traveling, we actually learn something. For me, this is what I have learned over the last 4 months:

1. Life is bigger than your own little circle. We try to draw boundaries so we feel comfortable and able to understand what is going around us. Sadly, the real world has no boundaries and if you can get down with that then your success is always gonna be limited.

2. Women – Yes, my narrow perceptions of women were proven wrong over the last few months. Its sad, how Asian women have lost perspective of love and family and replaced it with career and money. At least now I know that if I do ever get married, it is gonna be a westerner or at least someone with that kinda of personality.

3. I am smarter than I thought. Yes, its my ego at play again but after studying in Budapest with Germans, Americans, Scandinavians etc, I have realized that end of the day when it comes to academics I am just freaking good. Ask any ERAMUS student about Sami and they would tell you about how much he was drunk the before night and went just crazy but showed up for the 9am class the next day and made every other student feel stupid in class.

Same Old Habits

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I think that I am cursed when it comes to this. Every single time, when I fall I fall into the same trap no matter how hard I try.

Its the second time, only the second time but still the second freaking time. I knew this, I experienced it before, I hated this but blindly I walked into it again. I would love to say to myself that this time its different but who am I kidding. Honestly, I dn’t need this not now and not after everything that has passed….

But…………….. its impossible to say no to something that has given you a sense of purpose.

What have I done to deserve this ?

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Sometimes, I wonder what have I done to deserve this ? Maybe, its God way of paying back for everything I had to go through growing up. Maybe, my Guardian Angel who had being slacking the last 22 years decided to finally pay attention. Maybe, its just plain Karma – but why now and why like this…..

All I know that, I am speechless and feel like I am on top of the world. And the saying is true “one moment of happiness can wipe out an eternity of sadness”. Its just that you have to find that one moment of happiness. And today, I did 🙂

Besides that Italy was just freaking amazingly and these are some of my favorite moments:

ColosseoFlorence DomeVenice-RalitabridgeVatican Sqaure