Thursday, September 29, 2011

Soooo… nothing much has happened during the past few days except that I’ve completed my thesis draft and sent it to my supervisor. This frees my time up and will allow me to spend more time with people who are important to my life (yes, you know who you are, otouto, Maxwell and Pudaruth). The past week has been by far one of the busiest weeks of my life. Aside from voluntarily officiating an event, I’ve also been to two youth events; the integration charity and a party organised for the youth in the church I go to. Me and Aaron, another youth leader, managed to walk a new kid to the event, and he seemed to really enjoy himself despite the fact that it was a Christian gathering. Will try and convince him to come more often and perhaps attend our Sunday service if he isn’t too inundated by the intricacies of daily life.

Sometimes I sit back and think of how far I’ve gone since I first started living in the UK. It was a gloomy, lonely night when I got onto the plane and departed from Kuala Lumpur International Airport, to a new life in a new country where I was suddenly supposed to know EVERYTHING about independence and providing for myself.  Fast forward four years and two universities, and now I’m placed in a quiet little city near the coast of the East of England. I must admit though, before I actually stepped foot in Norwich I was dubious about the amount of friends I would make, and thought that my masters would consist of me just spending half the year in my room (half the year going to lectures, of course…), sitting for exams, and then leaving to seek greener pastures in London/ rest of Europe. How things have changed. I’m sure I don’t really need to re-mention all the amazing friends I’ve made over my time here as well as finding a family in Proclaimers church under the capable ministry of Tom Rawls. It will be a very sad day when I (hopefully not) leave Norwich.

Over the past few days I’ve sort of gotten to terms with my job situation. While I’ll exhaust all opportunities in my effort to stay in Norwich, I’ve accepted that if the time comes and I haven’t found a job in the area, I’ll go to London and create a new life there. This doesn’t mean that I’ll forget everyone here. Thomas (both of you), rest assured that you will always be my best friends and I’ll always come to see you whenever I get the chance. All those nights spent eating curries that nearly defeat us, along with cibainess (Maxwell) and those days spent in church just talking about random things, me teasing you relentlessly (otouto). These memories will remain forever engraved in my mind. Just sayin’, if you happen to stumble across this blog (I link quite explicitly on my Facebook wall), just know that you will forever be in my heart.

Okay, let’s cut all that sentimental emo crap. I had a relatively eventful week, with the downer being that my bike suddenly decided to hate me and snap its brakes and puncture a tyre. An angel was definitely watching over me on Monday; I had such a close brush with death in the form nearly being sandwiched by a truck and a car that merely thinking about it makes my heart pound again with the revelation of all the things I haven’t done in my life yet forever remaining unfulfilled because of a single brake wire. To top that up, I lost all of my saves in Deus Ex: Human Revolution, and will have to start all over again! So all in all, Monday just wasn’t a day which I care to relive ever again in my life.

Tuesday was a little better though, boosted significantly by nearly completing my dissertation draft and having an opportunity to get some exercise as well as spend some quality-time swimming with otouto and his dad, Dave.  Otouto's got a good swimming form, but I think he needs to push himself slightly more to up his fitness level; he’s in shape at the moment but can do so much better, methinks. I really had a good time swimming my laps like I used to do so such a long time ago it seems now. After spending approximately an hour in the swimming pool we decided to call it a night and head home. All was good except for the fact that I had forgotten to eat before swimming and got stricken by the worst case of gastric when I arrived home later that night. Quite a successful day, I think you’ll find. I might join them on a more frequent basis depending on my schedule, if they’ll accept my intrusion. Plus, I really had fun swimming in the heated pool, and I’m sure that if you’ve ever been to my condominium in Kuala Lumpur, you’ll know immediately that this is a relief from the freezing pool that I have back home.

On Wednesday, I finally submitted my thesis draft to my supervisor. Am due to meet him on Friday; hopefully he’ll have read enough of it to get the gist of the whole idea. I’m actually really excited for myself. I’m approaching a transitional period in my life which I know will be much more significant than all others; forget leaving home to go to university, forget my internships. What I do in the next few months will determine where I pave my career path for the next five years. Will I travel half the world doing short-term projects? Will I stay in an office all day long working my way up the ranks? Ideally, I’d like a job where half of my time is spent outside the office, but I realise that sometimes your dream job won’t come immediately unless I’m really lucky and manage to secure a position somewhere in a development consultancy firm with a really good package.  By the way, I’m looking for intelligent people who are able to offer valuable feedback on my dissertation. Just need you to read the first three chapters and the conclusion and then tell me if you understand what the whole thing is about. If you have some spare time over the next week, please let me know as soon as possible before I submit my final piece on the 4th of October.  

Also, I have managed to secure a good part-time job with a local security firm which will offer me a good rate for doing doorwork. That’s right; I’m back in black, and ready to resume my bouncing duties. I just hope I won’t have to break any more wrists and knees (in self-defence) before I move on to a fulltime job. Anyway, just thought I’d update you guys (right now the statistics on my blog show that there 50 unique visitors to the site. That’s quite enough really; don’t want everyone knowing the bits and bobs of my life) with this little snippet, before I catch my beauty sleep and awaken to a brand new day. Carpe diem!

P.S. "otouto" means "little brother" in Japanese. Used as an affectionate term by an older male to a younger male who's close to them.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Hello there!

Hi guys,

It’s been a long time since I’ve graced the keyboard with my fingers. So many things have happened in my life over the past six months that I haven’t really had time to update this little (not so) secret corner of mine. Sometimes I quail to think of how many people have access to my personal thoughts and the intricacies of my daily life; it certainly is a bit of a nerve-racking experience sitting behind my keyboard pouring out my heart into the internet.  Nevertheless,

Picture of the day:

This was taken after I came back from work today; it was a long day working near the city centre followed by volunteering at a local youth charity. The kids loved my uniform; they thought I worked for the police but I very quickly corrected them. So here I am sat in front of the pc, alternating between typing out my thesis, typing this out and listening to movie soundtracks by John Powell (has anyone realized that the OST for “Paycheck” really brings out the mood in you?”.

However, as much as I would like to proclaim that all is well and that I’m having a really carefree time in Norwich, I can’t. There are extenuating problems with my visa and I’m not sure whether I’ll be able to stay in this country for long. Basically, the university issued me a wrong Certificate of Acceptance of Studies (CAS; bit of a mouthful) letter, stating that my course would end on the 1st of September; the correct date is on the 30th of the month. This meant that the UK Border Agency (UKBA) issued me a visa which ends on the 1st of November. At first, I thought this would not be a problem. However, I found out not too long ago that my results would come out on the 15th of November: a full two weeks after my visa is due to expire. This means that I will not be able to apply for my Post-Study Work (PSW) visa because I need my results to affect the process. So… here I’m placed in a situation where I’ve been doubly screwed by the university AND the UKBA. I guess the most frustrating thing about this whole situation is that no one can help me sort this problem out; the university cannot reissue a CAS and the UKBA can only work with the (incorrect) information that they have been given. They will not change their ruling for a small-fry immigrant like me. There have been a couple of instances when I’ve felt like just giving up and going home. Even asylum-seekers and chavs get better treatment than the aspiring foreign-skilled worker.

However, it has become clear to me that I must not throw in the towel. Over the past year, I’ve been very involved in the youth sector, volunteering with a mentorship program for asylum-seekers and taking part in the youth section in my local church. It seems slightly bizarre for this to happen, but instead of me becoming really close to my mentee who I parted ways with after the six-month program, I’ve become almost inseparable from one of the youth in church. Very strange. I never thought that someone else let alone a child (a very intelligent one though…) would share exactly the same interests as me, and be as witty as Michael McIntyre on a good day. Okay, maybe not that last part about Michael McIntyre, but enough of the sop for now. I think the main thing that’s compelling me to remain in Norwich is the pleasure of seeing this child develop into the great person that he truly is inside. He takes on a timid demeanor when meeting strangers, and often hangs about in the background, but when people who understand him (friends/family) engage in conversation, his eyes light up and suddenly you see a different person. Thomas Maxwell, if you’re reading this, you know EXACTLY who I’m talking about as he’s your twin. I’ve been trying really hard to bring out this character in him by taking the initiative to organize university lecture sit-ins and attempting to invite him to events that would really boost his communicative and social skills, but nothing seems to be working at the moment. He is really such a wonderful person and I see him really going far in life in both education and profession. I will never give up though; if you’ve met me in person I’m sure you can testify as to my determination and steadfast focus on an objective. I’m sure one day he’ll come round to discussing things other than just computer games and funny but obscure videos on YouTube. I just hope that he finds out what he wants to do soonish because I can’t guarantee that I’ll be able to stay for long. I sure hope I made a difference in his life though.

To be honest, I’m scared. I’m scared that I won’t be able to continue to enjoy the life that I’ve gotten used to in this country.  I’m terrified that all of this will end and I’ll go back to my mundane life in Malaysia. Don’t get me wrong; I love my country and all my people. But it’s different in my case. I don’t think I could ever settle down with an Asian-cultured girl. Years spent in the international school system have geared me toward the European/British way of living and I don’t think I ever could be happy anywhere else. What I’m most afraid of is leaving everyone I’ve ever made important in my life here, and retiring to my old life back in Malaysia. I’m afraid that I won’t be able to pay my brother’s medical school fees, and that all these years of education are going to be wasted on me if I can’t get a job.  I’m absolutely petrified. But I know that in spite of my uncertainties, there are other people that are depending on me and that there are other things that must take priority over this. I will do my very best not to disappoint, and hope that you will trust and believe in me.

I was trawling Facebook (as usual), and discovered that Katelyn had gotten engaged to her high-school sweetheart, Eric! Unfortunately I found out a few hours slightly too late and missed out on being one of the first people to congratulate her. I’m really happy that such a close friend of mine has discovered true happiness and her perfect partner, and while I don’t think I’ll realistically be able to make it to the wedding, I’ll definitely send a gift to take my place! It’s been such an honour meeting you, Katelyn. I wish you the best in your marriage and your life. We should keep in touch;  you never know, there might be the slight off-chance that I’ll be in California on a random business trip (if I’m that lucky!).

This year has been an interesting year to say the least. I’ve been all the way up in the Prime Minister’s office in Malaysia to all the way down working a gritty nightclub in Norwich. Moving to Norfolk after spending three years in Manchester was definitely a choice that I do not regret making. I’ve met so many wonderful people in Norwich; even more so than in Manchester over the period of less than a year, and have made a few more friends for life. You know who I’m talking about don’t you, Raj, Aneel, Harbi, Tom and Katelyn?

But anyway, the time has come for me to sign off and try to get some rest; the whole day tomorrow will be spent volunteering. I don’t even think I’ll have time to work on my thesis. It’s nearly complete… just need to add the conclusion and references as well as a table of contents. I’ll be sending drafts to selected people to read over the next few weeks. Btw, my word count is exactly 1337!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Chai Latte at The Forum and the Left Hand of God

Woke at 2:45 in the afternoon after receiving a text from Kirsty inviting me for a meet up in The Forum for a coffee and also to return her books that she left behind yesterday after dinner. Yes, 1445 hours. I did however get to sleep at about 0700 hours, having spent most of the night reading novels. I’ve been going to The Millennium Library quite often to borrow books for casual and professional reading. So far I’ve almost read the whole of the Andy McNab and Chris Ryan military series that they have written. They both used to be in the same SAS squad which got ambushed in the early 90s in the Middle-East, and were the only two to survive (as far as I can recall). It was a quick bath (I used the shower gel that Harbi bought for me) and an equally brief teeth brushing and then a brisk walk to The Forum. I ended up arriving about twenty minutes late, but we managed to have a good chat for about an hour and a half.
The Forum in its glory.

The ceiling caught my eye

Outside view

It’s always nice meeting new people; I find that my life is vibrantly coloured by my closest friends, and I make new ones everywhere I go no matter what I am doing. Kirsty used to work in the charity sector. She worked in the British Skin Foundation (which according to her inside scoop has approximately SIX full-time staff working on projects in the whole of the UK!), but wanted a more meaningful insight and experience in working with street children. She also was acquainted with Laura Hillier, who I used to volunteer with in Manchester. It’s funny how small the world is; one moment you’re laughing it up in Manchester drinking copious amounts of white wine with Laura and getting slightly tipsy and another moment you’re sat on the opposite end of the country chatting with someone about her! I think I am starting to become a believer of the theory of the “six degrees of separation”: the theory that everyone on this planet is connected somehow or another by six steps of friendship (friend of a friend e.g.). At first I was slightly dubious about it, but compelling evidence is starting to arise.
The church directly facing The Forum

After our rather long conversation which involved the makings of a plan to go bowling on Thursday with the usual suspects, I decided to head to the library to return my war books and borrow some more! This time however I chanced by the graphic novels section and randomly picked up a comic. It just so happened to be a graphic adaptation of “Prototype”, a computer game that I used to play back home in Malaysia. Of course, it went without saying that I immediately clutched it to my breast and borrowed it in addition to two other books from McNab as well as a book called “The Left Hand of God”.
Behold: the Millennium Library!

“The Left Hand of God” is a fantasy story involving a young lad of fourteen years who has been brought up in the vilest of conditions; in a religious sect where Christianity is twisted to become a horrible conviction. The people who you would normally call “pastors” or “deacons” or “priests” in real life were called “Redeemers” in the story. They absolutely reeked of depravity; torturing and hitting the boys for even the slightest mistake and feeding them loathsome food made out of random body parts and fats of animals. Anyway, this kid called Cale escapes from the Redeemers and saves a damsel in distress (classic!), and goes about learning for the first time what it is like to trust someone, to live in society and to carry one’s self in an appropriate manner. The story however is rather dark in essence; the writer encroaches on elements of death, violence, sex and the perverted aspect of human nature. Definitely not for under-18s, unless you feel somewhat curious in your young life and would like to know more about torture in the olden days of bows and swords.

Anyway, enough of the book reviews; Katelyn has missed her flight after the poor excuse of British transportation made it so that she arrived considerably late… too late as a matter of fact; by the time she arrived, getting on the flight was about as likely as me writing a dissertation in 20 minutes. So, off she headed back to Norwich. I managed to invite her for dinner tomorrow along with her new friends Ikki and Derald. I’m thinking maybe curry chicken (I won’t be so brash to say “Malaysian curry” for fear of being called out by Derald who is also a Malaysian).

The worst thing happened to me when I returned home. I was thinking of a lovely bolognaise for dinner,  and of course went about buying the suitable ingredients from Tesco. Imagine my great dismay when I returned home and found out that I had bought everything to the dot except for the chopped tomatoes! It was another trip to Tesco in a grump and a brisk self-checkout. At least I left the kettle on boil when I left, so it wasn’t a total waste of productivity.

The facial products that Harbi has purchased me have worked absolute wonders on my skin; already my acne is starting to go down and previously stubborn cysts have started draining. I know, I know… I really shouldn’t be talking about my face as a guy much less so my pus-ridden cysts, so I won’t dwell too much on that. But I will say thanks Harbi, and hopefully see you in London should transportation prove efficient enough for me to make a safe trip without delays or derailments!

The security firm I work with has not offered me any new shifts as of two weeks ago at Knowhere. They must be really full on staff at the moment, or maybe I’m just a crap doorman! I’m fine with both though; as much as I like arguing my point with surprising thick-headed people and drunken students, I find that I have more pressing things to attend to such as the family I have in Norwich. I received two emails from my future course conveners for next term; surprise surprise, we have preliminary readings to do during the holidays! Am I glad we start on the 17th of January so I can have a look through all of them to ascertain as to whether I’m really suited for the courses I have chosen (Contemporary World Development, Conflict Peace and Security and Industrialisation and Development). Actually, the only module I can change my mind on is Conflict, Peace and Security; the other two are compulsory modules, so I guess I’ll have to grit my teeth and get to them if I find out I don’t flow with them. I’m sure I will however; I have enjoyed all my modules so far including Governance, Democracy and Development (although I’m not too sure how I did in the essay but would be very happy with a pass).  

Lo and behold, it’s three in the morning, and I don’t feel sleep whatsoever. Looks like I’ll be going to bed at seven again. I hope I get up in time to procure the necessary ingredients from Sainsbury for tomorrow’s feast. No worries though; I’ll have other late night stragglers for company and I have my novels!

And finally, I leave you with something I painstakingly created last night:
My Bike Ride down Avenue Road two months ago.

Stay safe,

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Goodbye 2010 (Part 2)

I had an absolutely fantastic night on Friday! Got up at about one in the afternoon and proceeded to waste the day away by watching TV shows on my computer until a terrible sense of realization hit me; I had provided my Manchester student ID instead of my UEA ID when submitting my three pieces of coursework on Wednesday. Mini Heart Attack! I hastily pulled on some clothes (outer clothing  mind you; I’m not a naturist) and cycled with great fervor to campus, where I raced to the teaching office in the Arts Building; all three floors up and announced my spectacular mistake to Penelope Thimbleby seated at the teaching office reception desk. It turned out that she was just about to email me inquiring as to the strange number that I had written on my submission sheet. An overwhelming sense of relief flooded me. The papers had been collected and the pertinent adjustments made to the ID discrepancy. It was then when I received a phone call from Harbi Jama, who enquired as to my availability at half six; he was having a pre-drinks session at his place before heading to the city centre for the ball. I said I would come, but my hunger started gnawing at me big-time so I returned home and cooked myself some nice pasta bolognaise. By the time I had finished eating, it was already ten minutes past six. There was no way I was going to walk there in time to make myself comfortable, have some beverages and then catch a cab back to square one: the city centre (I live very close). I decided to take a nice bath and then dress up and make my way to Assembly House where the event was being held. I arrived in good time, and bumped into Aneel Piryani as I was taking a photo of the place. 

Behold: Assembly House in its Glory!

Sparking Chandeliers inside!

Along with a gothic-style candlestand!

I could not have chosen a better place to hold the End of Term Ball: truly a beautiful place with Victorian-esque pillars and high ceilings. We entered the venue and grabbed our welcome drink of Buck’s fizz (a combination of sparkling wine and orange juice for the uninformed) at which time Katelyn turned up, wearing stockings with snow boots which I found quite absurd. She was also carrying a backpack, which had her bridesmaid shoes in them (mind you, they’re EIGHT years old), and rushed to change into them after we pointed her in the direction of the lavatory/bathroom/restroom/watercloset/toilet/loo/e.g. 

I would have to say I enjoyed myself thoroughly during the party, especially when Adetola showed up wearing a flashy white African outfit with an equally gaudy golden hat! I actually stole that hat for about half an hour, photobombing and dancing with it perched precariously at an angle. Am yet to find photos of myself in precarious situations! We took turns pushing each other into the centre of the dance floor and watching them squirm in discomfort and embarrassment before breaking out into a random dance of flailing limbs finally ending with a long-suffering leer at the person who pushed them in. This continued in the same vein until I remembered that I had to go and see Ikki (my Japanese friend whom I met during the first term in UEA) in the Bell Hotel. So I excused myself and off I went, trudging along the icy footpaths, slipping and sliding all the way to the venue. The atmosphere was pleasant enough when I arrived, and I spent the next 30 minutes congratulating him and chit-chatting with the rest of his friends (who happen to make up a large part of the South-East Asian Society’s Committee). It was then when I met a fellow Malaysian by the name of Derald, who was studying Actuarial Science after spending a year in INTO. He knew Johnathan Beechey too, which I found quite amazing (which I really shouldn’t because he does Acturial Science too). It’s funny how small the world is. One moment you’re sitting at a mamak stall in Kuala Lumpur sipping teh ais (iced milk tea), eating roti canai (Malaysian style bread) enjoying the air-conditioner while complaining about the heat, and another moment you’re sitting in a nice warm lounge ten thousand kilometers away in a foreign country, while snowflakes gently flutter down outside the window conversing casually with a fellow Malaysian about winter plans. Brings about a sense of euphoria, methinks. 

We made plans to meet at his place for sushi dinner on Saturday, and then we went our separate ways; Ikki’s gang heading for Mercy and myself in the direction of the Dev Ball to complete our merrymaking. Everything was as I had left it; Raj was still dancing in his nice grey Cambridge suit and Harbi had ditched his cummerbund for higher dancing efficiency. Eventually, the fun ended at about half eleven, and I went outside slightly ahead of everyone to catch some fresh air with Aneel. Suddenly, mischief struck me. I made two absolute monsters of snowballs and lay in wait for the next person I knew brave enough to leave Assembly House. It happened to be Adetola, and I pelted him twice successively, ran around like a headless chicken trying to avoid his revenge, made peace with each other, and subsequently made the decision to ambush Raj as he came out. It was a success; we assailed him with a flurry of snowballs, and Ade took the opportunity to sneak up behind him and rub snow into his hair, which brought about screams of rage from said victim and a chase across the snow-covered lawn. I would gladly have done that over and over again just to hear his scream! 

Just before I shaped the two gigantic snowballs

Frozen Fountain

We went to a club called Mustard, and got free shots of Vodka but didn’t spend too much time there. After that, Harbi and Raj really wanted to go to Havana but I was a bit reluctant as the security company I work for has a contract with the club and I know some of the staff there. I decided to go and grab a bite to eat at a Kebab shop down Prince of Wales Road, and Katelyn as well as Camille decided to join me. We had to pass Havana to get to the Kebab shop so we decided to stick with the main group and say our goodbyes there. However as luck would have it, Adetola got refused entry because he hadn’t brought his passport with him, and Raj, being in a somewhat inebriated state, tried to argue incessantly with the doorman, who I recognized as one of my colleagues! He looked over at me; we made eye contact and smiled at each other. It was then when I decided to talk to Raj and tell him to calm down before he got himself into trouble. There were also two police officers patrolling the street as well, getting up and personal with drunken people and I really didn’t want poor Raj to get on the wrong side of the law! I ended up asking Harbi if he could take care of Raj while three of us headed to Prince of Wales. 

After a satiating meal of a Donner Kebab and a side order of chips, we decided to head home. A brief moment of panic was observed as Camille spotted her bus and ran toward it, only to have it leave her in a wake of ice-chippings as it pulled away without a shred of consideration for a young lady stuck at a bus stop at about two in the morning. Katelyn walked out of her way just so that she could have more time to talk with us which I thought was pretty sweet, but we parted right outside Marks and Spencer’s. I then walked Camille to her bus stop and we spent the next twenty minutes waiting for the next bus and talking about random things. Then it was off home and a nice sleep in bed. 

Dinner at Ikki’s
After a very fulfilling slumber, I woke at approximately twelve in the afternoon and proceeded to spend the next three hours watching TV shows and reading books in bed. It was only when the sky started turning blue that I thought it would be good if I actually got up and freshened up before dinner at Ikki’s place. I texted Harbi and Katelyn but decided not to contact Raj as he probably had a hangover from hell and would be working on his essays (poor fellow!). Harbi was burnt out after work and couldn’t make it so it was just me and Katelyn. I met her at the Forum at about six in the evening and we proceeded to Ikki’s place. We got a bit lost; my GPS simply refused to work, and we ended up going round in circles until we finally arrived at his house on Bury road. 
Derald, Faisal and Anya (L to R)

Side profile of Ikki engrossed in his monopoly!

The sushi was absolutely fantastic! I regret that I forgot to take pictures of the food; so engrossed was I in consuming it. I must have eaten my weight in food that night; had so many sushi rolls and Japanese radishes and Chinese bread (mantou) followed by ice-cream for dessert; it’s amazing that he didn’t ask us for any cash! We played monopoly deal, which is basically a playing-card version of monopoly, and many laughs were had. We stayed till about midnight, and I decided that we had better make a move lest we overstay our welcome. It was a nice trudge back to Mary Chapman court, where I said goodbye to Katelyn for the year 2010 and a idyllic walk back home. 

I woke at about two in the afternoon today; so fatigued was I after staying up till six in the morning reading a novel. I readied myself for church, and just managed to catch the bus after saying bye to Harbi in his workplace. He gave me a Christmas present of a nice facial cleanser, moisturizer and shower gel! Thanks to him, I will be able to enjoy many acne free months. And also, it’s not the gift but the thought that counts J.
Today’s sermon was about how our relationship with God is that which requires maintenance, such as a normal relationship with another person. Pastor Tom Rawls was on the ball as usual, delivering a vibrant and motivating message. After the service, I was milling about in the foyer when I got invited to spend Christmas Day at a family’s house. I found that extremely generous and selfless of them because what person would simply invite a complete stranger over to their place to spend the day? And to top it off, Pastor Rawls himself came up to me and further invited me to his place on Boxing Day! I have to admit I was very touched by this gesture of thoughtfulness and compassion, and will never forget it.  It’s my first Christmas away from home and I think I’ve mentioned it to a lot of people; John Lee I think must have gone and spread the word. Thanks to him I get to spend Christmas with lovely company and good food!
I'll just leave this here Mr Novak

I think this term’s passed very quickly; it seems only a few weeks ago when I stepped out of the train into Norwich rail station, into a whole new world of possibilities. After twelve weeks, I feel as though I have done everything but comprehend the subject of what International Development truly is. Applications to internships, jobs and placements are the norm of my life now as well as spending copious hours in the library doing readings for seminars and lectures. Now it’s going to be 2011 in a little over a week, and I’ve made so many great friends (some I would even call family). I’ve also managed to purchase cheap tickets to Reading to see my uncle and cousins who I haven’t spent enough time with ever since I came to the UK. Looks like we’ll be spending New Year's Eve together!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

2010!! Part 1

No photo of the day for this post.
Despite the fact that I have enjoyed three very memorable years in Manchester and made so many friends for life, I am compelled to say that these past three MONTHS have been absolute heaven for me in Norwich. I have not looked back since I left Manchester, and even though I still miss everyone there especially my Wing Tsun partners and my mentee Bradley, I am finding Norwichian life extremely relevant to my interests! I have made a few good friends from the US, Northampton, Nigeria and London/Kenya and I am so glad that I chose UEA as a perfect base to do my Masters. Term one has been challenging, and it’s probably not going to let up in Term Two, but I say bring it on! These past three weeks have been spent huddled in a special corner in the library, working fervently on my readings and subsequent essays; the lack of a personal computer meant that I had to do my first essay on university computers, which had the atrocious Internet Explorer installed on it, which INSISTED on hanging the computer every time I chanced upon a PDF file. However, this was soon circumvented by the timely assistance of Christopher Portway who suggested that I install Firefox in the U:\ drive, which worked. Fortunately, my new charger arrived, and I popped down to The Forum (Norwich Central Library) yesterday to do my last essay, and plugged in my laptop as well as my phone charger. Was working solidly for two hours, when a librarian walked by and happened to glance at my various electronic appliances plugged into the electrical sockets by my feet. She came up to me and told me that I had to disconnect it immediately for fear of catastrophic failure and explosion! I very patiently, trying not to laugh, explained to her that I felt at no risk from an adapter that I had purchased 4 days ago, and that my phone charger was unlikely to blow up. However, she was adamant! She insisted that I took these appliances and got them PAT-ed (Portable Appliance Test) for $3 each. I got annoyed and said that there was no way I was going to pay for my phone charger to be tested, promptly packed up and left. I appreciate that the United Kingdom has health and safety procedures put into place to stop idiots from possibly self-harming, but I could not help feeling that today, somehow these rules had made a joke out of the system.  I left in a huff and completed the rest of the essay at home, eventually going to bed at about six in the morning. I woke up at about eleven, mucked about in the house playing computer games and then tried to access my web print at about 2pm, only to find out with panic that it simply would not respond.  Flustered, I rang the university, who told me that there was a 24 hour deadline extension due to the fact that the IT system was down. I was overcome by relief, and am sat here now typing this post, in the hope that I will finish it before I need to go at half four to meet my mentoring supervisor. The UEA website and webmail are still down; what a day for it to occur! But enough about university for the time being; I have done my best and do not wish to bore you with any more Tales of UEA. 

Christmas is nearly upon us! I really hope that the gifts that I purchased on eBay for a few special people. The youth section of the church is running a Secret Santa occasion, and I really hope that the gift that I purchased for my secret… recipient (?) comes on time from a different continent. I know it’s going to be really, really obvious who sent it them when they open the present, but meh. I am seriously considering taking the next train up to Manchester and spending Christmas with my friends there; everyone in Norwich seems to be going away and I don’t fancy spending Christmas and New Years on my own. Yi Xuan Woo and Fariq are all returning to Kuala Lumpur, so much for a meeting in London, Ben Bradley will probably be busy at work so don’t want to bother him, Thomas Maxwell got girlfriend (sic) lor. It seems that the only people available for spending time with are Chun Wai Sin, Kit Perry, the Aus and the Rusties (If the oldest dog returns from the Navy in time). Plans for hiking up Snowdon in the wake of Boxing Day are being set in motion and I hope they are engendered in due time; I would not like to think that all my winter equipment (balaclava, hat, microfleece, waterproofs, etc) have been purchased in vain. As a matter of fact, I think I’d better go order some winter gloves because my leather gloves are just not cutting it in this weather. And also someone let out the tires in my bike again! I wonder who is doing this, and praise the lord that I have a hand pump in my possession, lest I miss all my essay submission deadlines for hindrance of cycling to campus. The snow was good, but unfortunately only lasted two weeks. I would have liked to see some more white, and I don’t mean skin colour.  Hopefully this year we’ll have a White Christmas, although that will probably mean that I won’t be able to cycle as fast as I would like to. 

I really, really hope that I get a positive reply from the Overseas Development Institute regarding my application for a two year fellowship. I sent off my application with the scrutiny and subsequent approval of Dr Ed Anderson; a job in this organization would bring me absolute buckets of joy. The ODI is an independent commission on international development and humanitarian aid. What it does is review policies that international bodies undergo and give its best suggestions about poverty alleviation and sustainable development. It does a lot of work in developing countries. The Fellowship  (of the Ring, NOT!) I applied to basically gives me two years work in a developing country of their choice (I’m not really too fussed; as long as I get the pay and more importantly experience, I would be delighted to go to any hole in the Earth). However, now is not the time to worry! I shall be sending off job applications and internship applications to various international bodies in the hope that perhaps one will see imperfect me as a suitable candidate for their program. Hope for Latvia is still very much on my books; I am hoping to slot in perhaps a 2-3 week voluntary expedition in order to gather information for my dissertation and ultimately experience.  

Right, I think I’ll be off now. I need to be at the mentoring workshop for 5pm, and it takes 15 minutes to get there. I might continue later at night, but adios for now.