Time passes in a blink of an eye. It has been more than 3 months since I touched down on Washington Dulles International Airport in United Airline 804. Mother nature greeted my arrival in US through a series of unconventional happenings: Virginia Earthquake, Hurricane Irene, Early October Snow and coming worst winter of the year.
Last week was my best of time in US.
I celebrated my 1st ever American Thanksgiving with Joey’s family at Eastern Shore, Maryland -A place I call it as 世外桃源 in Chinese, or A utopian land of peace and happiness away from the turmoil of the world. This wonderful place comes close to my definition of Shangri-la.
Urban planning is my passion because the quality of a city decides the quality of living. I am grateful to have spent most of my time in the nation’s capital – Washington D.C. and visited the financial, cultural of the world – New York City, twice. Yes, they are amazing cities.
However, the countrysides of Easton and Oxford amazed me even more. Trust me, the bewildering array of skyscrapers can never beat the lush greenery, farms, natural bay and starry sky which give you a deep satisfying sense of calmness, peacefulness and serene pleasure.
The first sentence of John Denvor’s <Country Home, Take Me Home> - ”Almost Heaven”, concludes my impression towards this US’s countryside. I am very sure it is one of the best countrysides in the states.
So, where exactly is it? Easton is located an hour and half drive away from Washington D.C.
Joey’s house is at Easton but we stayed at his grandpa’s house at Oxford which is 10 minutes drive away.
Eastern Shore of Maryland is connected to Western Shore of Maryland (Annapolis and beyond) by the beautiful 4.3 miles Chesapeake Bay Bridge.
The original span completed in 1952 and was the world’s longest continuous over-water steel structure. The parallel span was added in 1973. This sexy architecture stands majestically across the Chesapeake Bay, the largest estuary of the United States. The Chesapeake Bay was the site of major wars such as Battle of the Chesapeake and War of 1812 centuries ago. The toll fare is $4 eastbound. It works the same way as Penang Bridge - you only have to pay driving into the island. The classy 50's architecture that withstands the course of seasonal change.
Wind Mill and the green. Geese flying above the farms in a rainy day. All the scenes in my childhood bedtime stories were right in front of me! Hello Poldy! Mum used to teach me English with this story book when I was 4, 5 years old. It was a story of Poldy the scarecrow comes alive and travels around the world. Maybe this is the reason why I love the farm so much… Country road, take me home…
Joey and I cycled to the inner part of Easton and saw someone hunting with guns. Joey speaks an impeccable London accent! He is a matured and wonderful guy who knows what he wants in life. Enjoyed his accompany so much throughout the Thanksgiving break. I was totally mesmerized by the tranquility of this place. When the sky turns pink.
This small town played a very important role in War of 1812 – where US fought with the British Empires. The US smartly hanging lanterns and lights on the trees beyond the town, and avoided the bombings of the British. Nice pier at St. Michaels.
Easton is a charming small town with 15,000 population at Talbot County. It is the home of many famous people like Dick Cheney and also Charles Thornton, the world renowned engineer who worked on Petronas Twin Towers and Taipei 101. Gun is legally sold in US. David vs Ben at Easton! These 2 boys are really adorable!
Oxford Fire Station was built by Joey’s father own company. Peaceful town. I don’t describe too much on these pictures because they already tell the stories. Few steps away from Joey’s grandparents’s house. Greenery and the bay. Crystal clear water. During summer time it is a popular swimming spot.
Annapolis – the capital of Maryland, is among the oldest cities in US. It was once a temporary capital for the nation. Visited United States Naval Academy. Downtown Annapolis. City hall of Annapolis. More than 2 centuries ago, George Washington delivered his resignation speech in this room.
Eastern shore is a wonderful place. However, my stay at this place could never be so joyful without Joey’s family – people matters. I came to US alone and explored this new land independently. It is here at Easton I feel very much at home. G for greatness – G for the Gardners. Joey's dad & mom - Mr and Mrs Gardner. They are awesome people with big and warm hearts – definitely a role model parents whom I respect a lot. I enjoyed my stay here at Easton tremendously. It was perhaps my best moment in the states. Thank you so much for all the good foods, care and love! We share same interest on The Carpenters songs too – and it was how their love story begun.
We had a sumptuous lunch at Annapolis Yacht Club with Joey’s grandparents. Joey’s grandpa – Mr. Bright was the CEO of Mid American Energy. Friends at Midwest, his company supplies electricity and gas to your place! Mrs. Bright is a very thoughtful woman and tells good stories. I wish I have chance to visit Mount Kearsarge at New Hampshire one day!
Joey had a reunion with high school friends. From left Kayla, Keats, Ben, Taira and Joey. Joey is a terrific swimmer. He won so many championships and keep on winning! Go Joey! Joey’s beautiful sister – Amy, her boyfriend Alex… and also black cat Simon. Ben & David! They are cute boys and always with so much energy! Ben is a good swimmer too. Actually he was featured on the newspapers for winning swimming comptition. He draws very well too! Learnt to cook “Pumpkin Pie” from Joey.
Mrs. Bright in action – preparing the mouthwatering Turkey. Mr Gardner in action. Wine and sparking juice. It’s time for Thanksgiving Dinner! Turkey, ham, broccoli, mashed potatoes, rice, green beans – my best dinner in the states! Joey's relatives Emily & John came for Thanksgiving Dinner too! Thanksgiving is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November in US. It is the 2nd most important celebration, if not as important as Christmas. It is a season of giving thanks, appreciation and also reunion.
This was a wonderful thanksgiving for me. Thank you.
Mrs. Gardner left it to his husband for this challenging shoot! Haha! The happy Gardner’s family! And also this little Prince David… who brings so many laughter to the family!
By: Wilson Beh (UGRAD 2011-2012)
OK, its November 15th and I still haven’t done a post on Homecoming, my trips and Halloween. I know that I owe alot to this blog but these days has been so hectic. So what brought me to blog today? Well it has been quite a crappy day. I messed up my experiment today at the lab and I feel so bad because one experiment takes days to do and I just messed up this one that uses 10x the amount I usually use. To kill my guilt and crappy feeling, I munched on a chocolate chunk cookie from Starbucks just now and now i will blog. Why blog? Because blogging makes me edit my photos and what’s with photos? Because it snaps down the happy moments of your life. Thus I hope to gain some positivity from the happy memories and continue writing my 40%-grade review paper.
I choose to blog on this mainly because the photos are lesser and easier for me to edit. Haha! This happened on a Saturday evening – November 5th. It was a social event for the Mizzou Hydrogen Car Team. Our super former marine team member – Marcus invited all of us to his farm somewhere a few miles out of Columbia to chill and have fun for the night. Tim fetched me, Kristina and Carlos in the evening and we headed off to the suburbs. This was my first time going to a farm and gosh, the scenery is so Be-au-ti-fullllll!!!!
When we reached there, Marcus and Andy had started to brew beer. Marcus is the Vice-president of Mizzou’s Fermentation Sciences Club (sounds so ‘chun’ right, but it actually means you brew beer. LOL) That day they brewed Harpoon’s Winter Warmer (do not ask me what is it, i also don’t know. haha) All I know is, the final color looks like stout, other than the usual grains used in beer brewing, Andy added some green pellets (that smelt like fish food) and that’s it.
So while the guys are killing their curiosity in beer brewing, me and Kristina headed out to snap some shots on the farm.
So, if its a chill out night, there must be food! I was introduced to Chili (not the red chilly, but beef, beans type of chili), Sloppy Joe (chili on bread), ‘some type of biscuit that tastes like sour cream but is very good’, Haystack (made of chow mein noodles dipped in butterscotch), vegetable dip and the most famous American hot dog.
Well, Marcus’ place is really huge. The workshop itself can be a studio apartment. Beside this workshop is his house. A standalone house on a farm. If you are here to see for yourself, it would be your ideal retirement home.
So, here is beer brewing part 2. Just for your information, beer brewing takes up 4 to 5 hours for the whole process and the beer has to be fermented for 3 weeks before being consumed.
Now, the highlight of my trip to the farm! POTATO GUN! Potato guns are a very American thingy. As you might already know, Americans have their own garage and workshop and they build their own stuff. A potato gun is usually made of PVC pipes and the purpose of it? The name says it all – fire a potato! How the mechanism works? I don’t know but what i now is there is the ignition top where you put in hair spray, press it and doosh! Your potato shoots off!
I tried a few times to get my potato gun working. You have to work fast as the hair spray can leak very easily and sometimes your potato does not fit that nicely. I think i tried like 4 times before i managed to fire my potato. Thanks to Tim!
Other than potato gun, i learned about Beerpong. Its a game but I haven’t played it before. Haha! We left quite early because we were already there for about 6 hours, so I missed out the game part.
Lastly, we tried the beer. it is still alcohol-free so its not considered beer. Lol. Anyway, what i wanted to say that it tastes really good and Kristina said ‘Why beer doesn’t taste like this? This should be the beer for girls.’ haha.
By: Yu Ping (UGRAD 2011-2012)
It's a rainy Monday night and I'm sitting on my bed, thinking about a lot of things. This is the week of Thanksgiving, I'll be having holidays from Wednesday and classes end the week after next. Time sure flies when you're having fun. Been traveling a lot this month, a new place every weekend. First the Bahamas, then St Augustine, which is the oldest city in the US, then last weekend to Key West, the most southern point of continental US, and this weekend I will be going to Orlando.
Funny thing is, a year ago, I would never have thought that a year into the future, I'll be here, doing what I'm doing. I saw myself as a third year student in UM, going through the same old routine of studying. Who would have thought that I would come all the way to the US? I came here all by myself, but made a lot of really great friends on the way.
So this will officially be my first Thanksgiving ever. And in the spirit of true Thanksgiving, this year I'm thankful for many things.
1. The obstacles that I had to face: they have made me stronger.
In spite of everything, I am truly grateful for the lessons that those obstacles have taught me. Because in truth, I know that the finer moments in life are those that happen in the midst of great unhappiness and pain. It is only in these moments, propelled by discomfort that you learn to step out from your ruts and start becoming stronger. Trials make you stronger and they give you determination. Life throws you challenges once in awhile-they are not supposed to paralyze you, they're supposed to make you discover who you really are. Thank you, for proving me wrong. I AM strong enough.
2. My family.
Always supportive, always encouraging. I would never have been who I am today without their constant support and love. Come to think of it, I would also never have pushed myself to try harder without having two smart elder brothers who did well in everything. I had some pretty big shoes to fill and I knew it, and that made me work even harder. Growing up with that kind of mentality puts you under a lot of pressure, and it makes you believe that being average just isn't good enough. Somehow I'm glad that I grew up in that environment, because some of their ambitiousness and drive caught on to me. Call me "kiasu" all you want, but I do believe that some level of kiasuness is necessary to work towards your goal.
Family- at times they irritate you so much with their demands and noise, but at the end of the day, you know that they are the ones that stood by your side the whole time. There's something so great about waking up and knowing that in another part of the world, your family is praying for you to be safe and to have a great day. I miss them so much !
New friends, old friends. Good friends who've seen me at my worst and yet have chosen to remain a part of my life. The ones that appear mysteriously out of nowhere to give me a hug when I'm feeling down. The friends that have shared with me a part of their life and want to be a part of mine. The old friends that pick me up when I fall down and those that are brutally honest.
4. The opportunity to study abroad.
The days here have been more than amazing, and every day I open the doors to something new and learn something different about life and people. I am truly thankful for the chance to be here, to have gotten the UGRAD scholarship so my one year here is fully sponsored. Knowing that you got here on your own accord has a different feeling than knowing you got here on your parent's money. I would never have enjoyed my trip here as much knowing that my parents have to work hard for each cent I spend abroad. Studying here has also given me a whole new perspective on life. Through talking to people from all over the world, I have come to realize that there are a lot of things that I don't know, and there is a much bigger world from the one I grew up in. I am grateful for the opportunity to be in this country, because despite everything, it IS one of the free-est countries in the world. There is nothing quite like the experience of seeing things from multiple points of view and being able to make decisions by yourself instead of being told what to do.
Sunset at Mallory Square, Key West , Florida.
The last two trips within Florida has made me realize what a privilege it is to study here. I don't think I could have been happier in any other state. First of all, the weather is wonderful. Sunny and breezy, perfect for traveling. It suits me because I love nature and I like looking at beautiful views. When faced with sights like this, it's hard for you NOT to pause and enjoy life.
5. I'm thankful that although I'm loving my time in America, I still feel that strong sense of belonging to Malaysia. America shows you a lot of things, the good ones and the bad. I think in seeing the bad side of America, I realize how growing up in Malaysia is an advantage, and it makes me cling on to my values and beliefs even stronger.There really is no place quite like home. More importantly, there is no FOOD quite like home.
6. I'm thankful to God- for coming through when I needed Him to and for showing me that prayers does work wonders. Sometimes, when God closes a door, He not only opens a window but knocks the whole wall down so you stare with amazement at the plans He has for you. All you need is a little faith.
It's been a crazy year, but I have so much to be thankful for.
Happy Thanksgiving, people!
By: Nasha Lee (UGRAD 2011-2012)
Calling undergraduates from all colleges/universities in Malaysia...
THE APPLICATION FOR 2012-2013 GLOBAL UGRAD EXCHANGE PROGRAM IS STILL OPEN!!!!!!
If you don't know what this exchange program is all about...start browsing our website and check out all the amazing journeys that our past & current UGRADers are experiencing! This is definitely an experience of a lifetime not to be missed! =)
Don't miss out your chance this year! Deadline is 9 Dec 2011. Make sure you've got all your documents ready as the deadline is approaching soon!
P.S. If you have a dream, give it a chance to happen!!
So this is a long overdue blog update, but just thought I'd share a bit about my traveling experience. I realize that I haven't been updating my blog in a long time. Truth is, I've just been so caught up with classes and homework and the multitude of assignments that take up a whole big chunk of my time. The good thing is that I'm starting to like the American education system a lot more now; where more emphasis is placed on continuous assessment rather than exams. I find that I learn a lot more through actually doing work week after week than just cramming for finals. The stuff I learn also gets embedded in my memory much more effectively than the short time marathon cramming I usually do for classes in UM. Bad thing about this system though, is that my ability to memorize decreases significantly. Oh well, life IS all about trade offs isn't it?
Anyway back to the reason for this blog post. To share about my travel experience in New York ! I was there from the 6th to the 10th of October, representing Florida Gulf Coast University for the Columbia Model United Nations Conference in New York. Honestly I didn't think that I would go back to New York that soon, because I was there in May attending my brother's graduation from NYU, but as fate would have it, I joined the Model United Nations Club and heard that they were going to have a conference in Tallahassee (which I went to ) as well as one in Columbia University, New York, tried out for the conference in Columbia, and managed to get selected.
How MUN works is it's basically a simulation of the United Nations and participants role-play as diplomats representing a nation or an NGO or a specific person in a simulated session of a committee of the United Nations. You have to do research on a particular country and take on the role of a diplomat, debate and develop solutions to world problems. It's a really cool way to learn about the world, current events , international relations and problems that the United Nations have to deal with.
So this was my first time in Columbia University. I really liked the vibrant campus life : there was always something to see , activities going on around you and there was just something about the buildings that makes you want to stare at it. Because the university is one of the oldest in the States, the design of the buildings are a lot different than the ones you expect to see today, and there's a lot of history surrounding it. (Not to mention, those buildings are in a lot of major movies as well ! )
We arrived New York on Thursday noon and took the subway to the Hotel which was about 10 blocks from Columbia University, and registered for the conference. There were university students from countries like Bangladesh, UAE, Canada and from all around the US participating in this conference. We were in the committee with the topic "Ending the 30 years war : Peace of Westphalia, 1645." which in short was about the 30 years war in Europe between major forces in Europe that revolved around religious issues. Sometime during the conference, I looked at my partner Hadiza (from Niger, NOT Nigeria, she says) who by the way was awesome company because we were in a double delegation, and told her how funny it was that I'm from Malaysia, she's from Africa and we're representing an American university in a European committee. Talk about globalization !
This trip was a good one. Although I didn't really have much time in New York because the conference was for 4 days and I was there for only 5 days, I managed to go to a lot of places and met up with friends.
Was in times square twice, the first day with Hadiza and Rhiana and we shopped in Forever 21 which was awesome because it had 4 storeys and was open till 2 am ! The 2nd time on Saturday evening where I met Johan from France who studies at FGCU as well, and Chase, my brother's friend. Ayesha and Hadiqa (my two crazy pakistani girl friends who brings out the craziness in me) joined us later and then I met Wilson (fellow Malaysian UGRADer ) .Wanted to go to the Wax Museum but it was too late =(
Fulfilled my secret fantasy of watching the New York skyline from the Empire State Building on Saturday night ! The wait was worth it. When I reached the 86th floor, I could literally see people standing in awe and amazement at the sight of the lights below. I could see why people always have romantic rendezvous at the top of the empire state building and why so many guys propose to their girlfriends there, the views were amazing. Stayed there for awhile and met Wilson and his friend Trang from Vietnam at Korea town and then met my cousin Amanda for dinner at this secret hidden Korean place that had great food.The place was so hidden that I couldn't even describe where it was to my friends.
After dinner we walked along the Brooklyn bridge till around 2 am. Actually Ayesha, Hadiqa and Johan were walking on the bridge, I walked with Taha for 30 minutes to find a toilet because apparently there are no public toilets in NY for some reason (I know, right?), and by the time we got back to the bridge every one was tired and wanted to go back to sleep. So I traveled an hour to the Bridge and another hour back just to take a long walk to the toilets. Haha. Being international tourists with incredibly thick faces who didn't care what people thought about us, we fell asleep lying down on the Subway. Wholesome New York experience, indeed.
We also went to Grand Central Terminal and had cupcakes from Magnolia's bakery, walked along 5th avenue and saw a parade, witnessed the protests in Wall Street and went to the Ground Zero Memorial, a memorial to honor victims of the September 11 attack. Coincidentally this is also the 10th year anniversary of the attacks.
Tiring though it was, I had a wonderful trip with friends and the awesome MUN people. Would never have been able to be here if it were not for the UGRAD program. I've been here for less than 3 months and already I'm having so many memorable experiences ! This is really the best chance to get out of your comfort zone and to learn about the world (yes, you don't just learn about the US), to do the things you've always wanted to do and to travel. So if you're thinking of applying for this program ( I know you are), why not take a chance and try it? I've had some people tell me " No, I'll never get selected, I'm not good enough". Well , you never know until you try right? Every accomplishment was once considered impossible. Even Thomas Edison's teachers said he was "too stupid to learn anything". He was fired from his first two jobs for being "non-productive." As an inventor, Edison made 1000 unsuccessful attempts at inventing the light bulb. When a reporter asked, " How did it feel to fail 1000 times?" Edison replied, "I didn't fail 1000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1000 steps."
That's determination- the ability to pick yourself up and try till you accomplish something. Who cares if you fall down the first few times. What matters is the end product. So apply !
Just so you know, lately, I have a new hobby, it's traveling ! And with each travel I realize how true it is that the best time to travel is when you're young. You give yourselves opportunities to grow: you realize how much you don't know about the world. It teaches you to live your adventures, and when you look back in years to come, you'll remember how you felt when you saw the Eiffel Tower, or when the views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge took your breath away. You will be forced to make choices, to get rid of your fears , to immerse yourself in the local culture. You'll learn that the world is not what you imagined it to be, that people are not as kind and as good to you as your friends around you. Traveling allows you to embrace reality.
And so I've lined up a whole lot of traveling before I return to Malaysia.Am saving up my allowance from World Learning every month so I can cover more places. I just got back from the Bahamas (will probably blog about that soon) and will be traveling to Key West and Orlando in the next couple of weeks.
Can't wait to see what the world has to offer !
By: Nasha Lee (UGRAD 2011-2012)
This is gonna be my first ever post written on a bus.
After 2 hectic weeks with 4 exams, finally I can get a grasp of fresh air and getaway to New York City.
Outside, the beautiful sunset turns the sky into a glowing orange colored picture. It is spectacular.
I am taking Bolt Bus (bus version for Air Asia) and it costs me $40 ($27 + $13) for a round trip. The price is pretty cheap and if I were to buy It 2 weeks earlier it would cost even cheaper. It takes 4.5 hour to reach New York from Washington DC – the journey is just like travelling from Penang to Kuala Lumpur. The only difference is I enjoy the ride a lot as Bolt Bus provides free Wi-Fi and power plug.
“Death is life best invention” – posted by Heng How on his Facebook is my favorite status of the day. Steve Jobs left an indelible mark in the world of consumer electronics and at the same time putting me into lots of thoughts. Last time in year 2008, it was Uncle Choo’s death which changed my perception towards “life”.
“Life is only once, live without regret” is the principal I have been upholding strongly. Of course, as a human being, there are times I question about myself and uncertain of tomorrow. But life is a strange thing, life itself is already a miracle – what we need to do is make a wish and believe in it.
Recalling back the first day I entered university and all circumstances that took place subsequently, they did not just happen – it was all well plotted in an unconscious way. Everything happened to us was shaped by our belief and action. Most importantly, every dot counts and at the end of the day – all will be connected. Amazing, isn’t? Hometown friends, new friends made at KMPP, USM, AIESEC, events that I took part all are interconnected in different ways.
I told myself on the first day stepping into USM:” Hey, I must go exchange to overseas at least for a semester to learn and see different things!” Now, I’m here at USA for Global Undergraduate Exchange Program. I think I am lucky and feel very grateful to be here.
It’s been 6 weeks since I left Malaysia – and until now I have not met any other Malaysian here at my area. Yes there are many Malaysians at DC but we are yet to meet.
This experiment is totally something new to me but I find it to be challengingly fun.
I am meeting new people, learning different cultures and seeing the beautiful city every day. Besides, I am learning to know myself more – and keep asking what I really want to do in this life.
If you check my Facebook profile or blog introduction you might get some ideas. But I am still looking and still asking.
Sorry if you think it’s too philosophical – it is just some thoughts on the journey to Big Apple.
By: Wilson Beh (UGRAD 2011-2012)
The best part of Washington DC is its historic buildings which preserve the past and offer a fascinating glimpse into the changes in architecture and daily American life since the independence.
This is probably the only city in US which makes you feel as if in Europe.
I attended Girl Power – A Photo Gallery Exhibition at the USAID Knowledge Services Center, Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center. It was an invitation by colleagues of World Learning at the Department of States.
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is the federal government agency primarily responsible for administering civilian foreign aid created by President John F. Kennedy in 1961.
USAID’s stated goals include providing “economic, development and humanitarian assistance around the world in support of the foreign policy goals of the United States“. It operates in Sub-Saharan Africa; Asia and the Near East, Latin America and the Caribbean, Europe, and Eurasia.
10×10 is a feature film and a digital action campaign launched by an award-winning team of former ABC News journalists. Their message is simple: Educating girls in the developing world will bring about transformational change.
The 10×10 film tells the stories of 10 girls from 10 countries.
10×10 partners with forward-thinking corporations (such as Intel), NGOs (such as World Vision), celebrities, policy leaders, and concerned citizens to build a global grassroots and transmedia movement well in advance of the film’s release.
I talked to Lauren Mitte, the Project Manager of 10×10 from New York. She is so passionate in this cause and wants to use film technology to showcase to the entire world.
I met Global Water Resource Sustainability Manager from the Coca Cola company too. It is good to see big corporations like this spend a huge amount of money in social projects. Kathy, who works in USAID for 18 years truly broaden my eyes on why USAID is so important.
So, what’s the issue?
Inequality in gender is still very serious in many countries. Young girls do not live as they deserved.
Girls in Nepal do not have an easy path to getting an education. Basic literacy for girls is almost hall of that for boys (35% for girls vs 63$ for boys). With more than half of the country surviving on less than a dollar a day, girls provide desperately needed labor both inside and outside the home.
10×10 is working with a new NGO called Pink Bike to provide girls in need with bicycle. With this simple intervention, the education that was simply out of reach for ten of thousands of girls, is now a real possibility.
“Life without an education is like a book with blank paper.” – Purnima, 15, Nepal.
“I feel unsafe everywhere. I don’t even feel safe sitting here.” – Kitana, lives in a refugee camp in Haiti.
While many of us are contemplating whether to buy a new iPhone 4S or planning a trip in the coming holiday; there are so many people suffering from illiteracy in the world you live.
While many of us are complaining of our studies and heavy assignments, there are so many people out there – all their dream is just to get an education.
Through education, there is a chance – a chance to escape from poverty and change the destiny of an entire family even the community.
In India, only 11% of girls get college education.
In Cambodia, 4 out of 5 girls drop out of school when they turn 13.
In Nigeria, 60% of school drop out are girls.
Most of they succumb to child marriage, prostitution and die young.
But we can give them hope. We can make a change in their life. But how?
To me, it is about living our life to the fullest and be the person we aspire to be. Maximize our potential, lead a good life with people we care and give back to this society. It doesn’t need to be a “big” or “glamorous” thing – it can be as simple as making someone lives a little bit better because of your presence.
To know about the young girls’ stories and see how can you help them?
Just click here http://10x10act.org/take-action/
By: Wilson Beh (UGRAD 2011-2012)
One preference I put in Global UGRAD Program application was to study at urban area. This is because I simply love to see city planning and learn how the quality of a city affects standard of living.
When I first got to know I’m placed in Marymount University at Arlington, Virginia; I was like… where the hell is this?
But after few weeks staying here, I feel so grateful to be here.
Yes, Arlington was voted as the no. 2 best city in America by Bloomberg Businessweek.
It is not hard to understand why.
It is a well-planned city at Washington Metropolitan Area with efficient public transportation.
Of course, Washington DC is not New York City but your weekend can never be boring here.
I have tried a number of different cupcakes at US. But so far this is the best I have ever tasted.
Appreciation from the crew of Air Force One… erm… wait a minute… does this mean President Obama tasted it as well?
By: Wilson Beh (UGRAD 2011-2012)
Hello peeps! Welcome to my second blog post ever. I know it has been more than a month since my last post but yes, busy YuPing is lazy. oops! So, as promised, here are pictures of my room when I first arrived and now!
I actually wanted to let you all see a picture of my roommate’s bed but then i forgot to edit the photo and put it into sequence so i think i’ll put it in another post when I do a post of her. :-p
Here I would like to give some credits to my Billy (the extremely cute little dog on the bed). He has always made me feel warm at night. He is small but he accompanied me all the way from Kuala Lumpur and I hand-carried him on flight. :-)
Well, this time i included parts of my roommate’s openet (It is not exactly a closet so is it a openet? Forgive my lame jokes… my ex-roomie would understand it perfectly. Hah!) Well, not only my clothes increased, my roommate’s one increased too because the weather is getting cold and a girl’s clothes shall never decrease. Agree girls? Hehe.
Making it room sweet room
When i first came here, the thought of decorating my room has never occurred to me. Firstly, I have never ever decorated my room. Secondly, I have never done any such thing throughout my last 4 years in college and has never seen anyone do so.
Then when I opened my room door on the night of August 14th, 2011 I was so amazed at the pictures of the Eiffel tower, Audrey Hepburn and the Golden Gate bridge skyline. On top of that, I saw a Mizzou pillow, Mizzou flag (its a triangular flag), mini Truman together with very matching pink and black faux fur pillows and comforter sets. Not to mention, there was also a fur carpet. I also managed to see the guys room and oh my goodness… It was everything Mizzou from the blanket to the decorations on the wall, pillowcase, name it and you have it! Of course, there were guys that put up posters as well but you will not enter a room not seeing a Mizzou thing.
So, there was a poster sale on the third week of classes and I got my posters! And i purposely choose those that I am able to bring back Malaysia. Hehe. (I mean in terms of texture and size) During the poster sale, I was lost in deciding what to buy again and in the end, i choose the posters according to my liking and theme.
Before coming to US, I purposely printed some pictures and brought them. Not all are up there but its mostly of my friends and family. Malaysian UGRADers, can you see the Taiping tree??? I attend yoga and pilates classes and they are called TigerX classes. They have other types of classes such as knockout, pump, tabata, zumba, hip-hop, cycling etc. 7 days a week in 3 different studios in the recreation centre which is just 5 minutes away from my room and the classes repeat from Mon-Fri. Awesome right? Then ‘HOURS’ is the dining hall opening hours. We have 7 dining halls and i get 17 meals/week. So far i only used 75 meals for this semester and I’m growing fat. Sigh~
This is the sad view when I put up the blinds during the day. One thing seniors told me, Mizzou has been doing construction and renovations every year. So its a common sight. Rich huh? And I think they are expanding the hospital. Yeah, I stay near the Student Health Centre and Hospital…
Interesting fact time! The homecoming tradition of high schools and colleges in the United States started in Mizzou! Believe it or not… I didn’t believe it at first too. Haha! To those Malaysians who would like to know what it homecoming, it is the first home football game after the away games. To make it clearer, let’s say the first week of semester, the Missouri Tigers play Ohio Miami here in Mizzou – we are the host. Then they leave to play Oklahoma and Kansas state in Oklahome and Kansas respectively. Next Saturday (Oct 15th) they will play Iowa State in Mizzou and this is the homecoming game. Understand? It basically means we are welcoming home our football team after being away.
According to history, this celebration of homecoming started right here in the University of Missouri exactly 100 years ago and ever since then the tradition spread all over the states and even high schools have homecoming celebrations. It is always during the fall semester (Oct) and this weekend was my roommate’s high school’s homecoming and Missouri Science & Tech Rolla’s homecoming. So what will happen during homecoming? Well I heard there will be a float parade, parties and things described in one word called ‘celebrations’. I’ll update you all on this when I attend the homecoming game next weekend.
I’ll also try to make a post focusing on all the 3 cities i have visited recently – Jefferson City, Kansas City and St Louis.
Bye and have a great week!
By: Yu Ping (UGRAD 2011-2012)
I've finally completed one of the more "zesty" targets in my "to-do list" to the United States: visiting Dian Shah, a former academician at UM who's under the BrightSparks program in completion of her SJD in (I quote from her FB page) "Human Rights, Comparative Constitutional Law and Design in Divided Societies" at Duke University. Though we crossed minds for only a semester in her Torts classes, I can firmly say that we miss her personally as much as her jocular Justin Bieber buffoonery.
On a seperate note, I think our batch is pretty lucky to have experienced both Dian's and Zokhri's youthful injection into the classroom atmosphere. Juniors this year: unlucky you! Haha!
Anyway, I arrived at Durham, North Carolina in the evening of October 29. (after a delightfully Dracula-ish Halloween party the night before!) Had dinner at an Indian restaurant with her and 2 graduate students from Taiwan and Palestine. Question: what happens when 4 "self-professed intellectuals" sit together at the dining table? Answer: We enter into geeky talks on constitutional design, first-past-the-post elections, representative democracy and the Palestine-Israel conflict. Scram off "cool" people who'd talk about the Kardashians or Paranormal Activity 3, cuz we had a great time nonetheless! (secretly hoping that I didn't embarrassed myself naked with my limited knowledge on international affairs) And boy oh boy, the conversation would have been spicier than a potful of Chicken Tika Masala if the Israeli prosecutor attended!
The next day, we proceeded to the town of Old Salem, which is still dotted with historical buildings dating back to the early years of the United States. Beyond the ancient brick buildings, something more fascinating lies in the annals of history. The Moravian church community treated the African-American slaves as equals, way long before the Civil Rights movement came into play. Both whites and blacks were buried together in a plot called God's Acre and attended church in unison. Sadly, external pressure forced segregation nonetheless. As I listened to the caretaker's stories at the St. Philips African Moravian Church, I'm deeply moved that, at least some time ago, people were able to see the light - and judge each other not according to the color of their skin, but as equals before God's eyes.
I just adore these dresses worn a long time ago by early settlers. Speaking of which, I'm continuously fascinated in the history of the American Revolution and Civil War. Heck, I even bought a copy of the original American Constitution as a souvenier. And I swear to God, I almost bought a Confederate soldier headgear!
See my lunch above? According to Dian, it's typical Southern cuisine and I find it delicious. (finally, fresh eggs sunny side up!) By the way, people from the Southern states have a peculiar slang compared to the Midwest - hmmm...something like how George Bush utter his words. Typical cowboy-ish material, I would say.
And I love pumpkins, because it's Halloween! And when Halloween arrives, you get to see......
Adorable, chubby and insanely creative kids going trick or treating! The street of Old Salem was full with parents and children participating in this annual tradition. I'm amazed at the extent parents would invest, invent and make-up their kids - it's such a heart-warming family affair. Being a Star Wars fan, I was thrilled to spot several Jedis, Darth Vader and even General Grievous!
I got a day off by myself to walk around the Duke University campus. I just love being in an environment surrounded by ancient monuments, century-old chapels and well-preserved sculptures of the past. I'm in awe at how people hundreds of years ago possess the technology to construct these marvelous architectures. You really have to see it yourself to experience it. And, lucky as I can be, I got to see the "Occupy" movement in the US sweeping to Duke! Now, this is what I call democracy. Even luckier, there was a 31% discount at the gift shop for Halloween!
The Sarah P. Duke Gardens is probably the most beautiful, elaborate and ambitious landscaping project I've ever been to. Of fountains, giant lakes, bridges, the vast biodiversity of fauna and an even richer array of plants - it almost felt like heaven. My grandma would have insisted on building a cottage to live here! It took me almost 2 hours to explore the massive gardens.
Did I mention that Duke has always been among the top teams in NCAA basketball? A trip to their basketball museum and you'd be shocked at the extent the university goes in honoring their players. Looking at the trophies, medals and hall of fame, I thought only professional sports teams would achieve such a feat! And they have this almost fanatical worship to Duke's legendary basketball coach: simply by the name of Coach K. Besides having a basketball court named after him, he's also the United States Olympics basketball coach. What a man!!!
My final day in North Carolina: a stroll up Chapel Hill and the University of North Carolina. It has an equally beautiful campus like Duke and you could almost go berserk with the camera. UNC has this fierce MU-MC rivalry with Duke University in basketball. In fact, Michael Jordan was once a UNC college basketball player before going to the Chicago Bulls!
I loved my time at Durham a lot. Between the places I visited, there are always those "little" moments that matter: political discussions over a Thai dinner, sharing law faculty stories in the Mitsubishi Lancer, sitting in a class with Professor Horowitz on Fijian and Northern Ireland elections and not forgetting Eric playing his "toys". (as well as his willingness to accommodate a fellow Malaysian)
And so, before I end, I would just like to clarify that we (or at least, Dian) are not as geeky as I portrayed. There's just so many adventures and passions beyond the classroom that strikes a chord. After all, from Dian's own words: "Most academicians are hippies". And to a certain extent, I find it to be quite true and refreshing indeed.
Here's a toast to her and many more exciting years in academia ahead.
From the ONLY country that celebrates Thanksgiving and treats Halloween so seriously, The United States of America.
By: Lim Wei Jiet (UGRAD 2011-2012)