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#79 (Important) Notes for Your Graduation Day

August 9, 2011

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Graduation day can reduce you to a one-woman-about-to-meltdown jitters…or not. Supposedly the oh-so-magical day you have been waiting for since….kindergarten, the ultimate milestone in your young adult life, and of course, for a lot of us, finally an occasion for our parents to be truely proud of our achievements (i.e. They now know that despite all the detention slips that they have signed, mid-morning calls from a chagrined headmaster and months on end of not hearing from you after you have left for college, their efforts of putting you through nearly a decade of education have finally paid off.) Yet, it can be a totally annoying and I-just-want-to-get-it-over-and-done-with day for many, especially if you already have a job lined up, or an amazing 3-month postgrad vacation awaiting you.

The pressure of having to host your over-doting parents, sometimes our lovely siblings will come along, and for some even the grandparents are thrown into the mix. It might also mean that your boymanfriend will finally meet your parents (if he hasn’t already presented himself yet). And if your personal PR executive didn’t preempt this, an impromptu jovial run-in between his folks (if his are coming) and your folks may materialise to your ill-concealed horror.

On top of this, there are also some style and beauty contingencies to take care of! I may never have been a good student at note-taking, but here are some handy notes for a stress-free graduation day.

1. Find out who are coming as your guests, and plan accordingly.

Make sure you find out how many people are coming so you can accommodate them. Usually, if there is limited vacancy for the ceremony, you will be given two tickets for your parents. If anyone else has expressed interest to come, either hustle for some extra tickets (time to recoup all the favours you have done to your classmates, friends and dorm mates!) or let them know that they might have to wait until the ceremony is over.

2. Weather-proof your style.

I know, graduation is hardly a fashion parade. But you will be surprised the amount of dough people, especially girls, are willing to shell out just to make sure they look picture perfect for all the Kodak moments awaiting them. If you are graduating in a city with a humid climate, be sure that your makeup is sweat and shine-proof, and wear something light and airy under your gown so you won’t be sweating buckets. And get yourself an easy and manageable hairdo that won’t get squashed by your cap. That means, forget the slick chignons and let your hair down in soft curls or flat-ironed strands!

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#78 I’m Back, and (Un)fortunately… Graduating

August 5, 2011

Note: I wrote this a little over a month ago, not wanting to jinx it because I was a little worried I might not graduate. But now that I have, donned the cap and gown, smiling so much for graduation pictures that my cheeks began to feel sore, the burden that I have carried for almost twenty years of my life as a student is finally lifted off my mind (literally)…

Sitting in a Starbucks cafe, in central London. An exceptionally sunny day, especially for this city known and loved by many for its gloomy demeanour. To me, London’s not London when the sun is out. And incidentally, I felt a little more than out-of-sync of my usual rhythm — the fact that I am finally graduating has finally started to sink in.

To check the results of my final final exams, I logged onto my university’s account, perhaps for the very last time after the final throes of my academic career, with a mixed sense of apprehension and unfeelingness sinking in the pits of my hot chocolate-laden stomach. Looks like I managed to scrape through the last required elective I was supposed to do (silently cursing myself for letting this one slip). The fact that I didn’t make my desired class of honours, by a pretty long shot really, completely obliterated the joys of getting an A+ in French. Yet, strangely, I experienced a sense of…nonchalance and relief. Nonchalance from not feeling the pain of my non-successes in academic life, and relief that I am walking out of four years of being a non-compliant student.

Looking back, it was amusing to the point of ludricrousness that I ever set out to live an ultimate college experience. Because… in retrospect now to say, there really isn’t any ONE ultimate experience, every experience is different and in the end, so what about the college experience?

I was expecting a huge wave of nostalgia to wash over me dramatically, so much so that I would feel sick to the stomach with regret for all the things I wish I did and didn’t do, and reminiscence of all the beautiful memories….. —-CUT— No, there wasn’t any of that drama. I somewhat wish I somehow did, but no, there was no stirrings, no invoking of any special emotions. It felt as humdrum, and perhaps even less exhilarating, as when I leave a shopping mall at the end of a long spree. Maybe I haven’t don my graduation gown yet, but I guess I am not the super enthusiastic type of student either.

Wait a minute! Before you start bashing me about me being ungrateful to the institution and education, and all the people who have helped me in one way or another during my academic life… I am thankful to everyone who have made my days in college smoother, easier, less torturous, more meaningful than it would have otherwise not been. I am grateful to my professors for trying in vain to educate, sometimes successful but mostly only manage to disseminate; my classmates for not choosing me last as their teammate in projects and being a listening ear when I needed to complain about lectures and assignments and whatnots.

There were moments in my university life that I truly cherished and enjoyed, especially when I was studying abroad and particularly in the sophomore and junior year, when I have outgrown the awkward freshman year and not yet entered the landmines of senior year. Classes I took that I really liked — transport geography, a field trip module in Hong Kong, modules about tourism and travel… Okay, so I have always been a lunch-is-my-favourite-subject kind of kid but still, there were intellectual moments that I relished.

Really, I’m just saying. It’s over… Curtain call. Standing ovation optional. Let’s move on…. to the scary part.

The post graduate life. Thank goodness there’s Dustin Hoffman to make me feel a little better about myself.

#77 Seven Deadly Signs of Thesis Fatigue

February 9, 2011

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I guess I needed a break from the stress of trying to rush my honours thesis out with a little more than 2 weeks left to go. As the deadline looms ahead of me ominously, I began to desperately make some sense of what I am writing — you know that feeling, after a while you don’t know what you are writing about! — and scrambling for every little piece of extra information to fill in a gap here and there. I don’t know about you but this thesis business is frankly driving me insane.

Fret not, at least scores of university students are undergoing this (ahem) rite of passage to academic hell fulfilment in this trying period of time. But, how do you know when you’re about to pass out? Maybe you only have less than 137 minutes left to run out and get your 15th dose of Starbucks coffee before your kneels buckle and white froth start to spew from the corners of your lips!

Here are the seven major signs that you’re SICK of writing, but sorry, you have to keep going anyway.

7. You are looking at how many % you can afford to lose if/when you miss the deadline.

And you think losing 5% isn’t all that bad. Perhaps.

6. You consider forgoing an entire chapter. Or even two!
Hopefully no-one will notice.

5. Everything else looks so appealing to do.
*stares out of the window at guy clearing garbage in torrential rain* Hmm…

4. The joints in your fingers are swollen from typing. But not as swollen as your eyelids.
Sleep beckons with more finesse than ever.

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#76 No Interviews Yet? All Is Not Lost

November 23, 2010

The strange, eerily empty inbox, devoid of responses from the million of emails you sent with your resume and cover letter attached.

Your cellphone not ringing off its nonexistent hook either, nor are you in any pressing need to shop for interview-appropriate clothes.

No wonder you are so desperate you might just kiss a waiter hoping he would magically transform into your Prince Charming.

Why are some of your friends discussing about potential job offers with an enthusiastic lilt in their voices, their eyes shining with hope despite the depressing period of final exams looming right ahead? Some of us, like me, are already down the chute in Exam Hell. You realised, in acute horror no less, than you are faced with the very real problem that your predecessors who graduated one year ahead of you (and those ahead of them too) experienced. *Horror movie soundtrack plays* The possibility of…unemployment??

Okay, maybe you won’t be sitting on your couch playing Wii, which would be bordering on disrepair considering the way you would have utterly abused it in your times of destitution, nor painting your toes repeatedly because you have nothing to do. But surely all of us once had or still have lofty ambitions and beautifully painted dreams of that highly coveted cushy position in a skyscraper office right in the heart of the city. We want to wear a matching suit ordered from Banana Republic, clutching our designer coffee in one hand and a stylish document case in another, stepping out of the train (yeah public transport is cool because we are earth-loving) with nary a strand of a perfectly coiffed French twist out of place…as we breeze into the spacious lobby where everyone greets each other with a classy peck on the cheek and tilt of the hat.

Nein, nein, nein, nein, nein! I will burst your reverie into smithereens now before great expectations lead to suicidal disappointment. Well, unless of course you are that stellar intern queen, with ten internship notches on your belt and poised to sail into a posh office, albeit as an assistant editor or a human resource executive, of a brand-name company. Good for you, but we hate you.

All is not lost, ma cherie… Et non, you don’t necessarily need to be a Priceless-esque gold digger to get by. (Read on!)

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#75 Newfound love: Freelance Whales

November 22, 2010

No, rest assured I’m NOT referring to the latest environmental activist group nor a recreation club created by marine biology majors!

Freelance Whales is an indie pop/folk indie band hailing from Queens, New York, that makes their music using a mishmash of strange, unorthodox instruments like the harmonium, banjo and glockenspiel. (I didn’t even KNOW a glockenspiel exists before I stumbled upon their page.)

A quick trip to wikipedia identifies the glockenspiel as:

“a percussion instrument, composed of a set of tuned keys arranged in the fashion of the keyboard of a piano…similar to the xylophone….(but while) the xylophone’s bars are made of wood, the glockenspiel’s are metal plates or tubes, thus making it a metallophone. (Plus)…it’s usually smaller and higher in pitch.

(Okay mystery solved.)

So this band consists of really adorable band members…and the best part is that their music is even more so! If you are a consistent indie lover, enjoying music with the likes of Death Cab for Cutie (before it got un-indiefied), the New Pornographers and Regina Spektor, you will most likely find this agreeable to your ears.

My personal favourite is a tie between Hannah (Youtube) and Generator ^ 2nd Floor… They have many other equally agreeable tunes too! Check out Starring, Enzymes and Generator ^ 1st Floor for starters. ♥

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#74 Gear Your Brain Up for Finals Week

November 17, 2010

Finals week is rolling around, just as the golden brown leaves are falling (not here, sadly) and the monsoon winds are sweeping us off our feet. Swap out those precious suede loafers with waterproof boots, put on your comfy hoodie and huddle in your room, so we can all desperately devour the piles of readings we have always meant to start on but still look spanking new as the final examinations loom ominously in the very very near future.

Even though most of us do not have the luxury to dine out at decent restaurants, or have our very personal sous chef, yeah the life of a poor college student, and now that we have to bury our heads in books and papers, it doesn’t mean we should throw our healthy diets out of the window. In fact, all the more we should pamper our taste buds, treat our bodies like holy temples and feed ourselves healthy wholesome brain food in preparation for the battlefield also known as the evil exam hall.

Eat up your greens!

I am a great fan of vegetables. They are refreshing, full of vitamins and antioxidants and everything you need to fuel your brain up for the impending battle! Not only are they good for the brain, veggies give your hair a shiny sheen and help clear up your complexion of all the stress acne! Just what you need to be both smart and sparkly when you walk into that exam hall! Reach for raisins and almonds for a study break snack; enjoy stir-fry bak choy with mushrooms and hoisin sauce with rice for lunch; and have a tomato, ham and cheese (with lots of lettuce and onions!) for a light dinner.

Drink up!

Water not only increases your energy but soothes your jangled nerves from all the exam stress! Stay away from alcohol now…even though all that studying just makes me want to reach for an ice-cold refreshing beer in the sometimes stifling afternoon heat. Gulp down loads of water, because it’s like gasoline for your brain and body, and drinking all that coffee to help you stay awake is only going to dehydrate you more! (‘Cause coffee is a diuretic). Try not to have sugary drinks because having a ‘sugar high’ can only make you more annoyed, stressed out, irritable and worst of all, sleepy! Best bets are fresh orange, tomato and carrot juices, flavoured milk (because plain old milk is for five-year olds :p) and our trusty plain water!

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#73 How To Impress A College Guy

November 17, 2010

The search statistics that led people to my blog seem to indicate a substantial amount of college students, presumably girls, hunting for information on how to impress a college guy. To add to the overwhelming literature already available on the Internet, and to sprinkle a little satirical flavour of my own, welcome to the Absolut College Girl’s version. Tread with caution.

Before we begin, understand this point: College guys are complicated. They seem so straightforward and simple-minded, especially if you have watched them through sober eyes, drunken boy playing beer pong, backflipping into the pool from the roof of the guesthouse, trying to buy you a drink at closing time just because all his friends have gone to get some “action”… But really, the one worth catching is way more multi-faceted than you think. Not that I’m suggesting that he might be afflicted with bipolar disorder and/or a tendency to exhibit split personalities. They are often compelled by the pressures that come from the boy-to-man transition to commit things they all claim they didn’t do. (“I swear!”)

That said, it’s really very straightforward to impress a decent college guy. I mean, if you have been watching TV, oh I sure hope you have, you would know! Why scour all over the Internet for tips? The hardest part is actually performing them, because every other college girl has probably printed out a list of must-dos a week before freshman year and gotten them down to pat. But for the benefit of those who require a recap, get ready to start googling.

#1 Dress your personality. Dress like you MEAN it.
Ask yourself, which aspect of your personality do you want to channel? Preppy? Look to Blair Waldorf circa Gossip Girl Season 1 and 2 for inspiration. Sexy in an understated way? Glam up the Rachel Berry look in GLEE. That means, please, no sloppy t-shirts, jogging shorts, sweatpants, that sort of frumpy things.

The key is knowing what fits your style and body. College Fashion regularly updates their site with fresh ideas that are up to date and relevant to the college girl’s budget.

#2 Express yourself.
I don’t mean asking tons of questions during lecture time. (That will only put a bullseye on your back and make you the professor’s pet.) Pipe up when you have something meaningful to say. If you constantly find yourself with nothing to contribute towards the collective intellectual, you need to study harder. Join a study group. Steal a star student’s quote, for beginners, but work your way up. Let you voice be heard. Not only will you impress that one guy, you will impress many, and best of all, your professor.

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