June 27, 2019

Term 3: Final Year

Oh, how time flies! It seemed like just last week that I was writing the last blog post about looking forward to Term 3 and graduation season, and here we are already. This term, I have not only studied for exams, but it has also seen me confirm my post-graduation plans, both for my career and leisure.


While I have been through 2 previous exam seasons at Warwick, this year has been significantly different (read: tougher). Having to prepare for 7 exams, all of which were harder than the modules in previous years was challenging enough - but the various changes in timetabling took it to the next level. Regardless, I worked on setting out a clear study plan with allowance for changes, and that helped me cope. This exam season has not only challenged me to work more efficiently, it has also taught me to surround myself with the right company. Especially in final year, many of my friends took different modules from me, so I decided to study with other peers who were more talented academically, and that helped me keep myself on track. I am thankful for these study mates as it reminded me that I was not alone amidst this exam season. Ultimately, the exam season came, and just like that it ended - voilà, I was finally done with exams!


During the exam season, I also continued to focus on my job applications, as I wanted to have concrete post-summer plans. I am elated to say that I have been offered a job in London, at one of the firms I most wanted to work with. I am thankful for all the friends and seniors who have helped in any way by giving advice, or looking over my cover letters. More than anything, the moral support that I have had has been monumental, and I look forward to doing the same for my juniors. There is now the whole excitement of looking forward to living in London, which is a dream come true for me! Now, my biggest worry is where to travel with my family after graduation ceremony - an entirely different set of problems than before.


My time in Warwick has been an absolutely blessed one, and I cannot be more grateful for the scholarship which has given me this opportunity to make my university experience the best one that I could ask for. I have had laughter, made tons of new friends/ memories, and even had tough times, but when all is said and done, it has definitely been an unforgettable and unique experience. To think that I have now joined the ranks of the alumni of The University of Warwick gives me great pride and joy, and I cannot think of a better way to end my Undergraduate experience. Till next time!


March 18, 2019

Term 2: Final Year

The saying goes, 'in a blink of an eye', and that is exactly how I would describe this spring term. In the past 3 months, besides focusing on academics and career plans, I found the time to travel and spend time with friends new and old, and all around had the best end to an academic term I could ask for.


In December, I was fortunate enough to get the chance to visit the city of ROme, as well as Naples (the birth place of pizza!). Being a massive foodie myself, I chose to go with friends who appreciated food as much as I did - it turned out to be one of the best experiences in my life to date. Rome boasted so much beautiful architecture, and Naples simply was home to the best pizza that money could buy. One commonality between both Rome and Naples was the kindness that our Airbnb hosts showed us. In Rome, Luca, an architecture academic at the University of Rome, was more than happy to put aside his work and check in on us or just chat with us about our day - he chatted with us for a couple of hours the first time he met us and and we did not even notice time pass by. In Naples, Jeanette redefined hospitality for us from start to finish. From accompanying us to the supermarket (even though she was in a hurry to get home to have dinner with her family), to negotiating with the pizzeria to get us our order earlier than others and giving us a mini tour of the area, she practically treated us like family. The lesson I took away from this, an impactful one, was that who you are does not matter so much as how you treat the people around you.

Throughout the term, I was also fortunate enough to be able to reconnect with friends, both new and old.

Since I attended Warwick's MNight last year, I decided to expand my cultural exposure by attending the MNight in Leeds instead this year. It was such a great experience to watch friends perform with their heart and soul. While watching the show, I found myself appreciating the effort put into the show so much more because of my involvement in the Warwick Singapore Society production for the past two years, both on stage and offstage. Without it, I doubt I would have recognized the beautiful nuances of the play, and for this I am thankful.

Further down the term, I took the chance to attend a close friend's birthday at a Michelin-starred restaurant in London. Between the ambience of the private dining room, the staff who waited on us hand and foot, and most importantly the exquisitely prepared dishes, Dinner by Heston proved to be quite the fine dining experience, especially since it was my first. The famous tipsy cake (a dessert cake with spit roast pineapple) and the triple cooked chips did not disappoint, and I would definitely go back for just those dishes, if nothing else.

Most importantly, I was happy to host a couple of close friends who were on exchange in UK/Germany and who came to visit me! I first met these friends through either JC/National Service, and it was nice to see all of them come back to visit. It made me think deeply about the quality of friendships that I forge in university as well. The networks I build here will definitely be beneficial for me in the future, because where else can I find people who are interested in extremely different things, yet be on perfectly amiable terms with all of them? If I ever needed to know more about a wide variety of subjects, my friends from university would naturally be the ones I would go to, and this has inspired me to continue building strong networks.

I mentioned earlier that I had the best academic term I could ask for. With a grand CNY celebration, a second visit to the scenic city of Barcelona to indulge in its food and people, and most recently the screening of Army Daze 2 by the Warwick Singapore Society, how could I describe it otherwise? Not only am I determined to not take this rich experience for granted, I am also determined to make the most of whatever time I have left in university and enjoy the peaceful campus/student life. This spring, I am truly looking forward to taking a break from the hectic pace, and then consolidating my knowledge for the summer exams. While it has been a busy yet fulfilling term, I welcome this break with open arms and am eagerly looking forward to graduation!


December 09, 2018

Term 1: Final Year!

Term 1 of my final year has been one of the toughest ones I've had to go through, simply in terms of balancing academic workload and non-academic commitments, including job applications. Yet I cannot help but be grateful for the challenges that have come my way - as cliche as it may sound, I truly believe that that diamonds are only created under pressure. Through every experience I have only learnt and sharpened my problem-solving/time-management/critical thinking skills.

The first obstacle that I had to face (and currently am still facing) is the job application process. After answering countless motivational questions and taking various data interpretation/logic and reasoning tests, it can be very draining to have to go through the same process for each firm that I apply to. It definitely does not get better when the rejections come pouring in, sometimes even within minutes of having completed tests and video interviews. However, one thing that this has taught me is to persist, and to focus on working within my circle of influence, rather than worrying about the things outside of my circle of influence. It has also taught me that the outcome of situations is 20% based on what actually happens, and 80% based on how I respond to the situation. These push me to focus and do better every time. As I continue to apply for jobs, both in London and in Singapore, this will be at the back of my mind.

The next set of obstacles that I have had to face came from my sole non-academic commitment, AIESEC. At the start of the academic term, I had to organize a recruitment drive, complete with an assessment centre, in order to cherry-pick the students who we thought would best fit into and contribute to the organization. This in itself was pretty stressful, but this had to happen while 3 of my 4 Vice-Presidents had stepped down, for various reasons. It took a lot of willpower and determination to scramble together a new team (releasing applications, encouraging current members to step up and take on leadership positions within my team, interviewing, and then finally selecting them!), guide them throughout their transition process to learn about their roles, AND to carry out a successful recruitment and onboarding process.


My new team and I!

My whole Local Committee at a Halloween Party!

However, bit by bit, we managed to introduce some structure into our teams, and set some basic rules for us all to follow such that our teams function effectively. It got to the point where I also managed to find a successor for my own position as Local Committee President. We even had such a huge member base that we did a Christmas dinner with a Secret Santa gift exchange - nothing could have made me feel warmer that night than knowing that this community was built by my own effort and by my very own team.

My successor, Iwani!

AIESEC Warwick 18.19 Christmas Dinner, with alumni too!

Throughout this whole process, the one thought that has kept me going is the fact that if I was not able to deal with this scale of problems at this stage, how would I be able to deal with larger, more complex problems in the workplace? This experience has taught me so much more about personal management and team management than I would have thought possible, and I could not be more thankful.

Of course, my term has not only been full of obstacles - I've managed to build closer relationships with many more groups of friends! Over the reading week break, I travelled with a bunch of friends to Amsterdam, to attend my first-ever music festival. Amsterdam is a beautiful country, and I was glad to have had the opportunity to explore it with my friends in a chill setting.

Outside our beautiful accommodation in Amsterdam, Netherlands!


Halloween and Christmas were also both great opportunities to bond with my housemates - all of us dressed up as inmates escaped from prison, complete with cuffs and masks! We also managed to cook a massive Christmas roast - we enjoyed a wide selection of dishes, including roast vegetables, cauliflower and cheese, and a variety of roast meats.

My housemates and I on Halloween!

Christmas dinner with up to 6 courses! All on the table at once though.


I was also in the UK while my family celebrated Deepavali back home. So I grabbed a bunch of friends who missed home as much as I did and cooked a massive Deepavali feast.

An aubergine-coconut milk dish!

Tofu Sambal - a classic which never fails to hit the right spots!

Gobi Manchurian!

And of course, what feast is complete without dessert? This is Payasam, a South Indian dessert with vermicelli, and cardamom flavoured milk.


Although it has been one of my toughest terms at Warwick, I believe strongly in playing as hard as I work - as I type this paragraph, I am sitting in the balcony of my Airbnb in Marsaskala, Malta, enjoying the cool 17-degree breeze while sipping on a mojito, and of course, munching on some authentic Italian pizza. I love travelling, and everytime I get the opportunity to do so and wind down, I am greatly thankful for the opportunities that have been offered to me and the challenges that I have had to overcome to be where I am and to be who I am today. It has truly been a great start to my final year at Warwick, and I cannot wait to be home with my family for Christmas!


October 23, 2018

Summer 2018!

So much has happened since I last updated my blog. Besides sitting for my penultimate year exams, I got work experience in the form of summer internships, and also travelled to a couple of places. This summer was rather unique as I spent time not only back home with friends and family, but also in London, and that was quite the experience! It was also a summer of many firsts for me.


Firstly, I did a month-long internship with Tolaram Group at their HQ in Singapore, under the Group Finance Manager, Sampada. Truly a global conglomerate, they manage 19 brands and have business in 75 companies, ranging from industries like FMCG, real estate, textiles, and even financial services. This was a truly enriching experience, as it was my first work experience besides army and teaching tuition to younger kids, and also one that was a lot more aligned with my career plans. The bulk of the work I did with Tolaram Group came from learning how to analyze the accounts of Tolaram group's subsidiary companies, and it was fascinating to see the things that I learn in university being employed practically in the working world.

The brains behind the Finance team at Tolaram Group

Tickets to the Arsenal vs PSG match!

However, it was not all work and no play - beyond doing birthday celebrations every last Friday of the month, Tolaram Group also invited everyone to watch a football match live (Arsenal vs PSG) as a company cohesion event. As it was my first time ever watching a match, you can only imagine how excited I was to attend with my colleagues. Needless to say, we had a great time and it was definitely an event to remember!

My next internship was in London, with Quacquarelli Symonds (QS), an education technology company. They are known globally for releasing the annual QS university rankings, something that I myself referred to extensively while deciding which university to apply to. As such, it felt really satisfying to do an internship with them - in my time there, I understood what other services they provide, besides just having a platform for rankings. As a company that is committed to helping motivated people achieve their fullest potential through educational achievement and career mobility, I can entirely relate to their mission and as such, it was highly meaningful to have worked there. The bulk of the work I did came from producing a business development report regarding the restructuring of their sales divisions, and the subsequent ramifications to the company. Being personally mentored by the COO of the company, Peter MacDonald, was an eye-opening experience as I got the unique opportunity of shadowing him at meetings with other heads of departments as well as the CEO. For a company with a massive annual revenue of £20 million, I expected much more of a hierarchical structure, but that was not my experience when I was there, and I am really thankful for that. I can safely say that everyone in my team (and even those in other teams) took it upon themselves to welcome me and make me feel at home during my month at QS.

Photo with QS Colleagues


Across both internships, I believe that what I learnt and applied the most was how important it was to work in a team - I realized that even if one person in a team slips up, someone else in the team is usually there to pick up the slack. by building this atmosphere of encouragement, there is no leaving anybody behind and everyone grows and develops together. It was also beautiful to see that employers cared for the employees beyond just whatever work is done in the office, and instead took the effort to bond with each other outside of office hours. Furthermore, it was enlightening to speak to people who were very far into their careers, and to hear their piece on how I should approach my own career. It was also insightful to hear from them what they would have done differently, given a choice - it forced me to question and reconsider my own career plans.


My brother also graduated this summer from National University of Singapore (NUS), obtaining a Bachelor's degree in Pharmacy! My family and I could not be more proud of him for blazing the trail when it comes to education, and in more ways than one, he has been a role-model figure to me as well.

My brother and I at his graduation ceremony!

When I attended his graduation ceremony, and listened to him talk about his career plans, it inspired me to get my own plans in shape too. It was also an excellent exercise in visualizing my own graduation ceremony, and how I want to feel when I get there.

I have also been fortunate enough to get the opportunity to travel quite a bit this past year. Visiting friends in new places has always been an exciting prospect for me, and this time, I visited Bath and Bristol in the UK. In Bath, besides the beautiful old buildings, we also visited the eponymous Bath Spa - with 8 different rooms and different effects in each one of them, it was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience. In Bristol, we visited the Clifton Suspension bridge - situated 75m above ground, it was built in 1864, and still stands sturdy as a toll bridge, an incredible feat, and an iconic sign native to Bristol.

The Clifton Suspension Bridge in all its glory


Right before the academic term began, I also attended the Summer President's Meeting (SPM) in Glasgow, Scotland, in the capacity of Local Committee President of AIESEC in Warwick. This was amazing as it gave me the opportunity to catch up with my buddies from other universities who have gone through the same obstacles as me over summer - ultimately it gave me an avenue to release stress and reflect on my experience.

LCP (Deltas) buddies!

Recently, Iffah, Hayati and myself were also invited for a photoshoot by the Warwick Scholars' Programme for the official website - there could not have been a better way to mark this milestone, the end of second year. I'm really excited to have Jade with us in the next photoshoot.

Official Photoshoot for the Warwick Scholars


Now that I'm back at Warwick for my third, and final year, I find myself reflecting a lot more on my time in the UK - I've made tons of new friends, gained a new perspective towards higher education abroad, and also managed to expand my worldview (and of course, tick some items off the bucket list) through travelling! But I've also learnt a lot about my own strengths, weaknesses, likes and dislikes, and that has been an invaluable experience.

Dinner with Warwick Singapore Scholars!

Within the first few days of being back at Warwick, Iffah, Hayati and myself arranged to meet Jade for a quick dinner amidst settling back into our routines. While it was a quick dinner, it felt so satisfying to catch up and hear the interesting stories that everyone had to share from their summer! I also find myself looking upon the younger scholars with much pride and reminiscence when I hear their thrilling plans for the year ahead - having been in their shoes before, I'm more than happy to help give advice and tips as and when necessary.


That being said, I am definitely looking forward to making the most of my last year at university - I cannot wait to see how this year will unfold, and what new experiences this year will bring me.


April 12, 2018

Spring Term!

This spring term, I have been challenged to stretch my capacity further than I ever have been before, and still it has been one of the most enjoyable terms yet.


My first challenge was coming to terms with my new position in AIESEC as Local Committee President, on 1 February 2018. Having to face an entirely new set of challenges and working with a new team, I called for a team trip to Brighton. Doubling as a bonding-planning trip, it was the first trip for all of us and Brighton did not disappoint - we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves! I could not be prouder to have chosen and to lead a team of such capable individuals – we are definitely looking forward to what we can achieve together for the rest of our term.

brighton_pier.jpg

planning_trip_dinner.jpg


Furthermore, the presidents of the other AIESEC entities in the UK have been extremely encouraging and supportive of one another, and I am grateful for such a group of people. With time, it has been rather easy to see that going through a similar set of challenges with very different perspectives and action steps can yield a totally different set of results, and I am thankful that I am able to capitalize on their knowledge and experience as well. While we get along extremely well (all 20 if us), the only downside is that our only touchpoints are at National Conferences and National President’s Summits, where we share our thoughts, concerns, successes and failures!

deltas.jpg


The next major challenge was to ensure that the Singsoc Annual Production ran on smoothly, and that none of the behind the scenes administrative work was compromised. As much as everyone had their own busy schedules, it was extremely heartwarming to see all members of the cast and crew pull out all stops to ensure that we put up a show that we can be proud of. From organizing meetings just to memorize lines to prop suggestions, I’m happy to say that the cast truly supported each other and enjoyed themselves - one of my main aims for them this year. On the day of production, a cast member, Joshua, came up to me and said something that meant a lot to me: “Chandra, I honestly think I am going to miss being a part of production. What else am I supposed to do on Tuesday and Thursday evenings at 7pm?”. Same sentiments here, Josh.

Production



“Those Who Can’t, Teach” is a uniquely Singaporean play about the challenges faced in being a teacher as well as a student, and questions the audience as to what it truly means to teach. Centred around quality education, an issue that I sincerely believe in, it was certainly intriguing, emotional, and entertaining all at once, and I am proud to have produced it in my capacity as Cultural Officer for Warwick Singapore Society.

post_production_pics.jpg

post_production_pics_2.jpg


Along the same vein, I also attended the annual Malaysian Night (abbreviated as MNight), and it was truly a feast for the eyes. With cultural dances, talented singers, and even a modern element of rap, the play inculcated a highly futuristic theme and posed questions about national identity and friendship, which brought the audience through a thought-provoking journey.

MNight


However, wanting to make the most of the halfway mark of my university experience, I also attended other events as a delegate – first of which was the Warwick ASEAN Conference 2018. With numerous high-profile speakers, such as Dr. Sophal Ear (Associate Professor of Diplomacy and World Affairs at Occidental College, Los Angeles) and HE Ms Foo Chi Hsia (Singapore High Commissioner to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland), it was interesting to see their perspective on the ASEAN region in terms of economics and politics. I was also fortunate enough to land a spot in the case study lunch workshop with Maybank, informally pitching a business idea over lunch. Being the largest student run conference on ASEAN in Europe, it attracted students from all over UK, and it was nice to catch up with some friends who attended the conference too!

Xavier and I!


TEDxWarwick 2018 was another event that I attended, listening to speakers on a wide range of topics, including self-confidence and image issues (Harnaam Kaur, the first lady in the world to have a full beard), gender inequality (Avivah Wittenberg-Cox, a CEO of a leading global gender consultancy firm), and many more! As always, the content brought up was great food for thought and I am excited for next year’s event!

After having been through this gruelling term, I am looking forward to the spring break – as I write this, I am at a café in Lisbon with a group of friends. I cannot wait for the rest of the break. Till then.


January 17, 2018

Term 1 again!

Back in Warwick for yet another year! Starting Term 1 for the second time, I felt a slight sense of nostalgia as I saw the freshers scurrying around to get their administrative issues settled and get used to university life. I'd be lying if I said I didn't miss the hustle and bustle of living on campus, with something or another happening every single day. But living in an off-campus (Canley) accommodation has its own perks too: from having dinner with housemates, to inviting people over for potluck parties and visiting other houses once in a while, it's another experience altogether that I wouldn't replace with living on campus.

Within the first couple of weeks back, we had the Scholar's Welcome Reception at the Oculus. While it was great to meet the other international scholars along with Iffah and Hayati, the real highlight of the night for me was listening to a Warwick Scholars alumni who was invited down. Zeenat Islam, currently a highly successful barrister, was sharing with us her experiences in Warwick as well as her journey after she graduated (she's currently working on the Grenfell Tower Inquiry). Seeing her satisfaction at fulfilling her dreams was inspiring as it reminded me of my own. It also reminded me that dreams do come true, but only when coupled with hardwork and determination.

The rest of my autumn term was spent focusing on juggling academics as well as my societal commitments. First of which was AIESEC - as a Vice President, I had to assist with the recruitment of new members as well as the multiple other activities throughout the term. In the middle of the term, I re-evaluated my priorities as well and after thinking long and hard, I decided to run in the elections for the Local Committee President of AIESEC in Warwick - being elected as the President after a gruelling selection process (in which I was running against a highly worthy opponent) was highly rewarding. As grateful as I am for this experience, it has taught me to truly appreciate the support system that was there for me at every step, and to give back to those who need it more by helping them grow as people.

With regards to Singsoc, work has begun on production and rehearsals. While initially it was a challenge, we managed to source for solutions to the problems we faced and decided on the next course of action! Now that rehearsals are in full swing, everything is in motion and I'm really glad to see that our efforts are paying off and that we see a production being formed in its entirety, a beautiful thing.

While it might have been a challenge to balance both AIESEC and Singsoc commitments alongside academics, I ensured that it did not hinder me from enjoying my term at Warwick. Having never celebrated Halloween in previous years, I decided to make a change this year and dress up for a halloween party.

jigsaw_halloween.png Jigsaw original

The similarity is uncanny, I know. I would not have done this if not for friends who were naturals with face paint and volunteered to help me out. Coupled with a wig, some red contact lenses and dark clothes, it was a great way to celebrate Halloween for the first time ever! This December I also spent winter in the UK. While I missed home tremendously, I managed to visit the Christmas markets in Birmingham, Newcastle and London and and absorb some of the Christmas cheer. The warm company of friends in these places always left me satisfied and ready to face the next cold day.


However, it was not all gloom and doom - I made plans to travel to France, Geneva and Ireland with friends for a short period, just to experience the beauty of these different places. My journey to Tignes, France was on a skiing trip with Singsoc! Although it was my first time skiing and I had to cope with the steep learning curve, I can honestly say that it was the best experience of my life. The accommodation was great, the food was better, and of course I'd be lying if I said my time out on the slopes with friends was not the absolute best experience.

ski selfieski trip solo pic

Geneva, famous for its chocolate fondues and precision luxury watchmakers, did nothing but appease my appetite, both for good food and for beautiful architecture. It was also in Geneva that I saw snow fall for the first time in my life. I will never forget how ethereal an experience it was to be standing there amidst all that soft snow falling all around me and being speechless at the beauty of it all.

geneva

In Ireland, I visited Dominic, a friend from JC, and went on a roadtrip with him to various locations in Dublin and Belfast as well as the Causeway Coastal Route!

ireland

We even decided to watch the musical "Aladdin" at the SSE Arena in Belfast and had bought tickets. However, as time went by, we came to realize that it was not a musical but a pantomime instead, and a highly entertaining one at that too! It was truly a journey full of joy and laughter. Being here for New Year's Eve, I also decided to spend it with the other Singaporeans who were also on campus, and it was truly a sumptuous dinner and a fulfilling evening.

Taking some time out to reflect on 2017, it is crystal clear that I have been given the opportunity of a lifetime in being able to study in the UK and to experience all these amazing things, as well as to teach and learn from those around me. The experiences and the people that have been a huge part of my personal development this year have given me more motivation to be better and to do better. Looking forward in the spirit of New Year's Resolutions, I want to show my appreciation more to the people around me. On this note, I shall end this blog post and look forward to a great time in Term 2.


October 22, 2017

Summer 2017

After a long first year at Warwick, I returned home ready to spend quality time with family. At the same time, I wanted to make the most of my summer.

Technology is known to be the future in numerous industries (especially so in finance) - thus, I decided to learn coding as I believed it would be a useful skill. So I took up an online coding class called CS50: Introduction to Computer Science. As it was a self-paced course, I had the freedom to plan my classes around my meet-ups with relatives and friends and that was really convenient for me. At the same time, I attended a couple of supplementary coding classes organised by General Assembly, an organization which aims to bridge the global gap in education and in-demand skills that employers are looking for. I found this a lot easier to digest than CS50 as I was able to ask questions and clear up my doubts as and when they popped up. It also challenged me to consider various viewpoints of my classmates, and even managed to network with students currently studying in NTU! Overall, it was good fun, and although I do not see the practical application of my (very limited) understanding of coding, I feel that I should continue building on my knowledge throughout the year and it will come in handy soon.

Across the summer, I also went for a few personal investment courses held at the SGX building, which offered advice on how to plan out my future finances/investments, especially in terms of real-estate and certain financial instruments. While they were highly basic (and in most cases, introductory) courses, what I took away from those courses is that it is never too early to start planning for the future.

The scholarship dinner this summer was also a great way to reconnect with the trustees as well as meet current/new contributors to my scholarship. While it was a great experience to go up on stage and share all the interesting things that I have done in my first year, it was even better to network with an interesting set of professionals from extremely different backgrounds (think a Senior Commodities Trader and a Director of Education at NTU) and listen to their opinions and advice on various issues. Overall it was good to know that there are so many people who are supporting us as scholars and said so many kind words - it gave me motivation to do even better!

I also had a couple of friends from Indonesia and Lithuania visit me on internships in /holidays to Singapore. While it was nice to meet my own Singaporean friends, it was refreshing to have friends from Warwick come visit me as well!

While I did not manage to get an internship this summer in the field I'm interested in, I believe I took the time to take a step back to re-evaluate my priorities as well as mentally prepare for the year ahead. Now that I'm back in Warwick, it's heartwarming to meet up with friends who have had various experiences over summer and to hear their stories. Living off-campus (Canley) also seems to be less hectic than I expected it to be. It also helps that many friends are living nearby ie a few minutes' walk. Overall, I'm looking forward to the experiences that 2nd year has in store for me!


August 12, 2017

Term 3 / Year 1 Round UP: part 2

Soon after, I felt daring enough to try a solo trip after two group trips and I booked tickets for Spain. From the onset, I was extra cautious and planned out every single detail of my trip so as to ensure I would not waste any time. I made it a point to visit every place that Barcelona was famous for, the highlight of which was the Basilica la Sagrada Familia. Designed by Gaudí, it was truly breathtaking even though unfinished, and left me thinking. Firstly, about the fact that my money was well-spent, and also that it was a very peaceful place and truly embodied the atmosphere that I would expect in a church (although it was made accessible to tourists).

Basilica la sagrada familia
This picture barely depicts the beauty of the Basilica la Sagrada Familia in real life.
Spanish flag
View of the highly dense city that is Barcelona, atop Montjuïc Castle, with the Spanish colours flying high in the foreground. Probably my favourite picture.

Thereafter, aching to do something absolutely adventurous, I took a 3 hour bus ride up to Andorra, a country located in the Pyrhenees mountains, and sandwiched by Spain and France. I expected much from Andorra and it absolutely did not disappoint. From the start to end, I was constantly greeted with smiles and natural greenery. My main purpose in heading there was to scale Pic de Coma Pedrosa, the highest mountain in Andorra, standing at a height of 2943m. I was not confident at all, but my Airbnb host, Gabriel, was extremely friendly and offered to accompany me on my hike up.

Gabriel and me!!
Gabriel, your friendly neighbourhood Airbnb host. He even prepared sandwiches for us to snack on, without asking! Such hospitality is common in Andorra.

While I would love to say that I managed to reach the top of the mountain, the sad truth is that we were a bit slow and had to head down before the sun set and we lost visibility. But we didn’t turn around before reaching the Refugee Hut, an intermediate resting area built and catered for hikers who were caught in inclement weather. It was well-stocked with water and food, displaying the welfare that the citizens in Andorra display for each other.

Refuge de Coma Pedrosa
2260m doesn’t sound so bad, doesn’t it? This was at the Refugee Hut.

Overall, I must say that my trip to Barcelona and Andorra was an ideal first solo trip experience! Really enjoyed it and might visit again if possible.

Back in Warwick, I pulled together a couple of flatmates with a common interest in watching musicals – we then made plans to watch a full day of musicals in London! This was a lot more exhilarating than expected. ‘Wicked’ at the Apollo Theatre in the afternoon, a short break and then ‘Mamma Mia’ at the Novello Theatre in the evening – truly a treat for our eyes and ears. The idea of taking a fascinating childhood tale and one of my favourite artistes, and putting them them into a musical, and then watching them both was absolutely amazing.

Wicked:Mama Mia @ London
Selfie outside the Apollo Theatre!

We enjoyed the experience so much that we would have stayed another day and watched another two, if only our wallets allowed. Even on the train back to Coventry, we were already making plans for another musical day-out! Hopefully that happens soon.

However, good things must always come to an end, and the first year was over in a blink of an eye. Looking back, I am proud to say that I have definitely made the most of my first year at Warwick. I was able to meet new people, travel to places I’ve only dreamt of, learn so many new things about myself and those around me, all while studying abroad! Suffice it to say, not many people can say that they have had this experience, and for this I am truly grateful. Summer will be over soon, and by then I will be recharged and ready to take on Year 2!


Term 3/ Year 1 Round–Up: Part 1

The spring holidays and the whole of Term 3 disappeared in the blink of an eye. Although most of my time was spent studying, I managed to take a break and go on a couple of short trips to surrounding countries.

During the spring break, I visited Bulgaria and Greece with a couple of friends, and it was a great experience travelling with new friends! This was especially fun because it was actually two separate groups (My future housemates, and my AIESEC buddies) to whom I was the only mutual friend. and it felt wonderful letting my friends know each other.

group pic bulgaria
The 7 of us who went on the trip to Bulgaria (Sofia) and Greece (Athens, Santorini)! Great memories.

This trip was memorable as I have always wanted to travel to the nearby European countries since reaching UK, but was not courageous enough to do it on my own. Going with a group of friends was a fantastic idea because we helped each other through the whole experience and we all enjoy each other’s company.

Housemates sofia
With housemates atop the Vitosha Mountains in Sofia, Bulgaria
AIESEC pic santorini
With AIESEC buddies in Santorini, Greece

The best part about travelling with this group was that I learnt a lot more about them in the one week we were together than in the couple of months that we had interacted throughout first year. Through the planning phase, times of stress during the trip itself, I felt like I was able to understand them better.

Thinking in Athens
Deep in thought. Not sure what I was thinking about. Athens, Greece


After the spring break, Term 3 began: it soon morphed into exam season, in which the main problem on my mind was not to wonder which restaurant to eat at, but instead it became finding a suitable study spot which was not overcrowded with other students eager to get some revision in. It was an intense 5 weeks in which I really took stock of what I had learnt. While it was gruelling to condense so much revision into a short period of time, I felt like it was possible to pull through because I had great coursemates who were willing to share and teach what they knew (and vice versa, of course).

Summertime sadness
Although it was a tough period, I was greeted by beautiful cotton candy skies like this once in a while from the convenience of my room

This breathed new meaning to the phrase ‘getting through it together’, and it also made me realize the importance of having different groups of friends with different strengths and weakness, so as to leverage on them.

As soon as the exams ended, the travel bug bit me once again and I couldn’t wait to make plans again. So I grabbed a couple of friends from Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Indonesia and we planned a short getaway to Scotland.


Group Pic Edinburgh
This was us at the top of Arthur’s Peak in Edinburgh, Scotland. Some of us found the hike harder than others, so it was quite some time till all of us were up here for the picture.

With exam stress taken off our minds, we were truly able to enjoy ourselves, going on tours of the Royal Edinburgh Museum, Edinburgh Castle, the Scottish Whisky preparation process, and even The Elephant House, where J.K. Rowling was said to have visited multiple times to get inspiration for the Harry Potter series.

Arthur's peak
Amazing view of Edinburgh atop Arthur’s Peak.
Bagpipes
Streetside bagpipes busker. He put up a great show, and not only because I love the regal sound of the bagpipes.

For all its quirks, I absolutely loved Edinburgh and would definitely visit again someday.

On the way back to Warwick, we stopped over at Liverpool to visit the Beatles’ Museum as well as take a boat ride from Albert Dock. While I wasn’t exactly the biggest Beatles fan, my friends enjoyed the experience thoroughly and it was great fun to see them so excited about something and to try and feel their joy. While Liverpool was a quiet little town with a very windy situation, there was a peaceful atmosphere about it and I truly appreciated that!

Liverpool

Boat ride around Albert Dock, Liverpool.


Continued in Part 2...


April 18, 2017

Term 2 Round–Up

After winter, this term has been an absolute joy - as we experienced the transition from winter to spring. However, there have been a number of memorable events as well, which I'd love to recap.

Firstly, I was involved in a number of conferences, both as a participant and as an organizer/facilitator. Youth Speak Forum 2017 is AIESEC Warwick's annual flagship event, in which there were keynote speeches by internationally recognized academic personnel, a panel discussion, workshops by sponsors, and many more! Warwick Train the Trainers Conference 2017 (Warwick TtT 2017) is another one of AIESEC Warwick's annual training conferences, whereby students within the AIESEC network from all over the UK learn how to deliver effective public speeches and presentations, thereby qualifying them as a trainer. Having had to solve many problems and coordinate with people displaying different work styles, I learnt much about (the highly clichéd) the power of a team and critical problem-solving skills. The memories made were great, the experience was challenging and eye-opening, but I believe that the skills I picked up from these 2 conferences will go a long way for me.

y conference team for AIESEC Warwick

My conference team for AIESEC Warwick’s ‘Youth Speak Forum: Leaders of the 21st Century

My conference team for AIESEC Warwick Train the Trainers

My conference team for AIESEC Warwick Train the Trainers’ Conference 2017

Having been elected as the Vice President for Finance of AIESEC Warwick 17.18, I attended the National Strategic Conference 2017 (NSC 2017) to learn more about my role and how to perform my duties effectively. I also managed to network with those currently holding the position within other entities in the AIESEC UK network. This conference was also an awards ceremony for the outgoing leadership team within each AIESEC UK entity, and my direct predecessor won the award for best Finance structure amongst all the entities within the whole of AIESEC UK - leaving me with huge shoes to fill.

The incoming Executive Board of AIESEC Warwick 17.18, including the Entity President for 16.17, Timothy Yeo (3rd from left)

The incoming Executive Board of AIESEC Warwick 17.18, including the Entity President for 16.17, Timothy Yeo (3rd from left)

While extremely tiring and at times stressful, I believe that these experiences have built me into a leader with stronger character, while at the same time making me self-aware of my own strengths and weaknesses. At this point, I have a better idea of what my job scope entails, and I feel really excited to take on this role as a challenge next year!

Next up, the most interesting thing that happened to me in Term 2: the annual Singapore Society drama production. Thought-provokingly titled Bumiputera, the production this year was special because it was entirely student-run, including the writing of the script, which differentiated it from the previous years' productions. I was really proud to be a part of the cast for this production as it was my first time stepping out of my comfort zone and getting involved in a professional production of this scale.

The cast: Iffah, Jodie, Serena, myself, Jeremy, and Okky

The cast: Iffah, Jodie, Serena, myself, Jeremy, and Okky

We first started the whole process with auditions back in Term 1, and then team-building/self-expression exercises while Edward, the playwright, brushed up the final touches on the storyline. In Term 2, we moved on to script reading and a thorough breakdown of the characters' roles in the whole play. It was definitely a confusing period for us as cast, because almost all of us (with the exception of Iffah) had no prior theatre experience. Only 2 weeks prior to the show, we did our first full-run, realizing a number of flaws in our acting styles, the storyline as well as our character backgrounds.

THE classic dressing room selfie

THE classic dressing room selfie

It was only then that the cast decided to be proactive by coming up with a list of suggestions on how to make the storyline clearer to the audience - this was taken and implemented in good faith by the directors and as they say, the rest is history: the production turned out to be a stunning success. Many still came up to us after the show and said they didn't understand the whole idea behind the story completely, but they made it clear that they appreciated the effort and emotion delivered with every line, which was heartwarming.

Looking back, I'd like to thank my fellow cast for the initiative and time put into making this a success. But more importantly, I'm really grateful to my producer (Ching Yi) as well as my directors (Dominic Nah, Edward Eng, and Ang Kia Yee) for always being so supportive and encouraging of our efforts during every rehearsal. Never once did they show anger or disdain at our performance, no matter how disappointing or discouraging it was, and never once did they show any sign of demotivation no matter what obstacles came their way. For that I truly applaud them, and I'm most definitely glad to have worked with them.

Row 1 (from left to right): Stage Manager Alex Zhong, Assistant Director Ang Kia Yee, Co-Director Dominic Nah, Main Director & Playwright Edward Eng, Assistant Producer Joshua Ting. Producer Ching Yi is in Row 2 (second from right)

Row 1 (from left to right): Stage Manager Alex Zhong, Assistant Director Ang Kia Yee, Co-Director Dominic Nah, Main Director & Playwright Edward Eng, Assistant Producer Joshua Ting.
Row 2 (second from right): Producer Ching Yi

While it was a tough process, I can safely say that I took away a few things from this experience: I now understand theatre a lot better (which will help me in my role as Cultural Officer of Singsoc ie Producer for next year's production), and I also know my capability to be stretched in terms of time-management. This will always be a special experience to me and 10 or 20 years down the road, I am very sure I will look back and smile at the memories made. For those interested (and also for my future reference), links to 2017 Singsoc Production: Bumiputera are below.

Part 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EY7Qh_w6lnI
Part 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KVAtlCs7c68
Part 3: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5tWyyNDPxBY
Part 4: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pdzttlODPjU
Part 5: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eKyMlSG--BQ

A fierce face to match my sharp outfit.

A fierce face to match my sharp outfit.

Overall, this term has gone by quickly, so much so that I have rarely had time to take a breather. There were times where I questioned my ability to cope with it all, and whether I had bitten off more than I could chew, but I persevered through. Now, I believe that I am much more capable now than I was at the beginning of Term 2. At the same time, I can't begin to express just how thankful I am for all the opportunities given to me, the inspiring people I've met, and the humbling experiences I've been through.

And thus, the end of Term 2 leaves me grateful for whatever has come, and hungry to conquer whatever comes next ie the summer exams. Till next time.


September 2019

Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa Su
Aug |  Today  |
                  1
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30                  

Search this blog

Galleries

Blog archive

Loading…
RSS2.0 Atom
Not signed in
Sign in

Powered by BlogBuilder
© MMXIX