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The Story So Far

November 19, 2011 Leave a comment

So it’s been awhile since I last updated. Few months to be more exact. I guess everytime I’ve had the time to write I had nothing to write, and the time when I’ve had something to write I’ve had no time. Today, however, I need to make some time to pen down some stuff.Let’s start with Oxford. 6 weeks in, two more to go before we close up one term. I must say, it has been an enjoyable, fruitful, yet painful and labourous journey so far. Having 9-5/6 days is not the best for the soul, especially if you consider the fact that every night and day is spent on thinking and finishing up assignments and me11111111141eting deadlines. So definitely it hasn’t been easy. Nevertheless, the fact that new friends are being made, new things are being learned and new places are being discovered more than makes up for it. Lots can be said about Oxford and the UK culture.

For starters, people here are much friendlier than back home – drivers stop for you to cross, strangers smile when you make eye contact with them on the street, and everyone seems to love to give way. We shouldn’t, though, take things for granted. Two weeks ago one of my coursemates had his laptop stolen. Last week someone was murdered in East Oxford (News article: http://www.cherwell.org/news/town/2011/11/11/murder-in-east-oxford). So things aren’t all that happy winky hunky dory rosy posy over here.

Next, many people think that the tertiary education system over in this part of the world is a lot more laid back and easy going compared to Singapore, Malaysia and other Asian countries. I am here to tell you that this is true… to some extent. Let me elaborate. So back in Singapore, we had assignments that we have to hand in, on top of tutorial sheets, not to mention the fact that we had to catch up on our lecture material considering some lecturers are simply not good enough teachers. Over here, it’s no different. Well, it’s slightly different. Tutorial sheets and assignments are one in the same. Handing in our solutions are optional as they didn’t count toward our final grade, but of course if you don’t hand it in, I suppose it doesn’t reflect well on you. If you did, however, try to do every single problem in every single tutorial sheet, you will (as the Brits will say) lit’rally have no time to breathe. Of course, I believe the undergrads are not as burdened with this as the MSc students. Frankly, I truly think that people who have not been in this course do not really understand what we’re going through at the moment. My MCR Secretary has always told us to take some time off and visit places, enjoy Oxford while you’re here because there’s hardly any other place like it (well to be fair, there is only ONE other place like this, but you get my point). But she definitely has no idea what we’re going through. In fact, during Graduate Open Day this week we went up to our course booth to have a chat with our course organiser, and she, half-jokingly said, “I have no idea why people would like to sign up for a year of hell.” I say half-jokingly, because on one hand, it was a joke. On the other hand, it is true. Heh.

It hasn’t been all that bad though. The transition from pure to applied maths has been, surprisingly, a smoother experience than I thought, and I must say I have my lecturers and friends to thank for that. They have been really supportive for the past seven weeks and it has been tough and unfamiliar at times, but I’ve pulled through most of it so far. Having said that, I can’t wait for this term to end and the holidays to come because seriously, I think I speak on behalf of all of us when I say that we ALL deserve a nice long break, which, unfortunately won’t come even this winter. But a few days off is still alright though!

Many people have asked me where and what I’d do after all this is done. My straight and honest answer to them – I have absolutely no idea. But as Sue has said, “just go with da flow”. It doesn’t mean that I have no plans though. It’s just that they have been very general and non-specific, partially because no one can really tell what happens in the future. You make your plans, but whether it turns out or not is another thing. In the long term though, I know what I want to do (and I thank Tarantino for reminding me of this again) – teaching. Perhaps one of my motivations come from the fact that I think the education system back home is utter rubbish and a joke to the world. Teachers are not glorified, but viewed as last resorts when all else fails. As Jack Black once said, “those who can’t do, teach. Those that can’t teach, teach gym.” Sad to say, that is sort of the situation in Malaysia. Being a teacher isn’t encouraged, partly because the government doesn’t even pay you well enough.

Hence teachers here aren’t good. This leads to students who fail to realise their full potential, if they don’t seek external help. Seeing this somehow created the desire in me to want to be someone who can actually play a major role in the development of a person, not just intellectually, but in terms of character as well. Contrary to popular belief, the role of a teacher is not easy. Not only does a teacher teach and educate, a teacher also serves as a role model for one’s students – someone to look up to, someone to emulate, someone who leaves a significant impact on them at some point in their lives. In the future, I’d like to be that person, someone whom people can count on.

But that’s in the long term. Currently, I’d like to do something else, preferably in the industry, to gain some experience, especially in dealing with people, and to do things I enjoy. People ask if I’ll ever return to Singapore or Malaysia again, and my answer to them is, “We will see.” Of course, what happens depend on many things – if we know what they are, we won’t be thinking or worrying about it anymore, now will we? Until then.

Falcon, OUT~

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