Closing my eyes and carefully straining my earlobes to listen to every sound around me; out of the window of the Engineering Library I am in was the sound of heavy machinery, the monotonous block of typing sound of the Chinese girl beside me and the mumbling of the Arabs in the discussion table a few feet away. I wander off in my dreams…
I have been leaving this ‘Passionate’ blog for quite a while now, not blogging on the umpteen travel adventures I have had during my 7 month stay in the US which makes me feel kinda bad. I still write my journals though, from time to time in various locations from classrooms to a coffee shop to the bench at the park. If you know me well enough, you will know that I value the moment of peace and solitude very much despite the crazy character that most of you might have seen from me before.
I like to be left alone yet I always feel insecure. I hate being lonely yet I am reserved. All these contradictions always makes me reflect on the person I am now – on how I have improved in terms of relationships. And God no, its not the ‘relationship’ you are thinking of. Its the family and friendship relations that I have learned to value when I first left home 5 years ago. Yes, it has been 5 years.
From the ups and downs I had in college with my roommates, from not having a close confidant nor any girl friends to the people around me now. I think I have learned the right ‘blend’ of friendship. Though I still have so much to improve on, hopefully I’ll have a bunch of ‘ji mui’ when that time comes? Haha.
Ok, let’s stop dwelling too much in the past and have a look at the present. 7 months here and I have traveled all that i can, definitely replacing the ‘travel dreams’ that i had drooled for 17 years. So I’ll share this part of my blog to my travel buddies – 2 unique and special people that I have met and bonded through this passion to travel.
When I first met Wilson more than a year ago at MACEE for the Global UGRAD interview, I had just came out from an argument with my dad on the phone. If you have known my past, you would know that I am quite a failed Penangnite. Now meeting someone that is from the same hometown at a point where I just dread of thinking of that place just sucks as bad as having an egg drop on your head right before an interview. Not to mention, my stereotyping of Chinese-ed people at that time. His usual networking attitude prompts up as I sat down on the couch and he started introducing and asking questions. To recall what he asked, I can’t remember but as he had told me before he asked me 3 questions and I only replied 1. To me, my thinking was ‘Why in the world would I need to talk to you? I am just here for my interview and that’s it. It not necessarily you will get the program nor I would see you again.’ A few weeks later, the nominated list came out and when I saw the list on the Global UGRAD Malaysia group – Beh Wei Chean was right below my name on the nominated year-long program. F***. That was the first thing I thought of. Of all people that I met during my interview at MACEE (I met about 6 -7 people) this guy is going on the same program with me for a year despite the number of year long participants being reduced to 3. How ‘lucky’ can that be? It was not because I hated him. It was because the first confrontation with him wasn’t good at all and the least I expect from a conversation with people was my hometown.
So what progressed later on in a nutshell would be going on a trip together with the rest of the alumni, pre-departure orientation and also the visa interview at the US embassy. Now, I know that it was impossible for me to travel alone during my winter break and the 3 year-long participants have agreed to travel together. I didn’t have quite a good feeling knowing that I would be travelling with him for a month and he would definitely think the same of me too (it would be obvious from our first meeting that i showed a sense of dislike towards him). But what to do? You want to travel and save money at the same time, so I just told myself ‘we’ll get on with it somehow, if he can be selected for a year long program; maybe he isn’t that bad…’ and so, I did the planning for the winter break and distributed the tour itinerary to the rest to work on. I did the planning for Seattle and Wilson was in charge of San Diego and Las Vegas.
I would have to admit that in the first week, things didn’t go as smoothly as planned. There were some beneath the line struggle in taking charge of things when we were in South Dakota which was still fine as we give and take, taking turns. The major event that happened was in Seattle. As I have mentioned, I was in charge of planning for Seattle and one thing about me is that, when I am in charge of that thing, I particularly dislike HATE it when people try to interfere in what I am supposed to do. I can accept other people’s decisions or certain taking-charge situations only if I am sick (if i am the lead), unable to do so or when it is YOUR turn to take charge. In sum, I am willing to be a follower when I am supposed to be one. I would not mention here what is that particular event that happened in Seattle but the summary of the story was he tried to take charge of it and I straightaway refuted that in front of the shop owner. I could see his face turning black the moment I said that but I kept my feet on the ground. I had wanted to do this. Other parts of the trip, I do not care but Seattle was my heart and soul in planning – I just had to say it.
Now if you are thinking that Seattle didn’t go well, you are wrong. Though I am quite a person that remembers things in detail, if you talk nicely to me after that; I won’t bear a grudge towards you. We had fun at Mulkiteo, Tulalip (too-laa-leep) and climbing Kerry Park singing Feliz Navidad on the slope.
Our next part of the trip was San Francisco and the tour guide for that trip was Nasha (her story will come later on). There was a similar situation in SF. However, as I have held my principles not taking charge when i am the follower, I stayed true to it and I let him do whatever he wanted as long as Nasha is fine with it. He could sense that a similar ‘lose face’ thing would happen and actually hinted it to me a day before the situation. In fact, even if he hadn’t mentioned that, I would have let him take up that part. It was his turn anyway.
That was the last ‘unhappy’ confrontation (if you consider that as one) of me and Wilson. In return, of the 22 days of travelling with him, I have seen another totally different side of him. He has this energy that not every person has. His passion and enthusiasm together with his caring attitude gives me a hats-off to him. In the days when our trip was ending, what I have seen has made me realize that I was indeed very wrong to stereotype him in the first place which I apologize now. To those reading this, if you haven’t met this amazing person; don’t worry because if ever a small-eyed 5’9 Chinese guy comes to introduce himself to you and greets you so warmly with a good sense of charisma, you have met him and you will never regret knowing him.
Filipino??? John and Mac, if you are reading this, I am not referring to any of you. Don’t worry. haha. The last person would be none other than my dearest Nasha. Knowing her was a great pleasure. My first impression on her was really good and we never had any arguments even till now. So why Filipino? Well, she was mistaken to be a Filipino more than once during our trip so the Filipino joke has been on her ever since.
If you have never met me before, try meeting Nasha or vice versa. You will find us pretty similar. Honestly, I have never met someone that similar to me before. Here are the similarities that I could think of :
1. Fashion sense (same blazer, same parka, same hoodie, same sneakers and maybe a same Kate Spade bag?)
2. Tam-chiak (the eating capabilities we have will certainly surprise you)
3. We are products of tiger moms, making us value our upbringing alot and sharing stories of the ’harshness’ we went through
4. Appreciation of religion (its rare enough to find a Malaysian Catholic chinese girl on a same program for the same duration)
5. Value of friendship (somehow, we tend to appreciate friendship alot and we do put in a lot of effort in showing our appreciation and gratitude)
6. Siao siao ah… (we laugh very hard and embarrass ourselves alot making our presence very significant. Do not be surprised to see two different looking Asian girls in the same outfit laughing crazily or singing in the metro)
Despite all these similarities, one thing fortunate is we do not have the same taste of guys. So, I think we won’t fight over a guy? haha.
Nasha has been a close confidant of mine. I’m so glad i found another maid-of-honor candidate. (sounds as though i’m gonna get married soon right, but nah, not in the next few years as I can see) So to this dear bestie i have, thank you to our God for meeting us. Thank you again for every moment we have spent having fun, the pillow talks, the embarrassing moments, the laughter and joy we share. Looking forward to seeing you again in May for the last part of our adventure before heading home!
By: YuPing (UGRAD 2011/2012)