Thursday, April 27, 2006

Ah, leaving for home in less than 24 hours' time.
Mixed feelings here, I know I'll miss Ann Arbor a great deal. It's strange, I was raring to go home like nothing else in December for winter break- but now... now, it's different. The elation is muted. Although I'm definitely looking forward to seeing everyone at home, there're just so many things here that I'll miss, and I can't even begin to list them all. But definitely a great part of what I'll dreadfully miss about Michigan is the people, the friends and teammates especially. Well, thankfully I'll be back in four months' time so it's not as though I'm leaving for good. Man, if I'm already feeling like that, could you possibly imagine how I'd feel after graduating from UMich? Nah, not the time to think about that right now. Anyway, on to happier things! Really looking forward to seeing you guys back in Singapore! Jio me out okay. Hahaha! Give me a call or text me at my usual SG no.!

And packing is a bloody bitch. Sian.

Monday, April 24, 2006

It's been a while, hasn't it?

Anyway life is pretty sweet now that I'm 3/4ths done with exams and only have World Politics left on Wednesday. After having gotten through today without much mishap I'm feeling much better about myself and the rest of the week. Two papers today- German and Great Books, with only an hour separating them both, so it was pretty hectic as you can possibly imagine. Somehow I've grown to appreciate the laid-back, casual attitude most people adopt here, which manifests itself in even the most unexpected forms. Like during the German exam today, the course coordinator (he's a great guy called Hartmut who has a penchant for the oddest T-shirts ever) brought along a huge box of snacks- Fig Newtons, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, cookies, etc, and passed them out during the exam itself. I think that was a gesture that was much appreciated by most of the students, and somehow, albeit in a small way, it's a demonstration of how much more flexible and accommodating the system here is as compared to back home. Somehow, I just don't see the professors in the local universities passing out Pocky sticks and Hello Panda biscuits to the students during examinations.

And on a totally unrelated note, I was climbing the stairs up to my room in South Quad (SQuad) and it suddenly struck me that I hadn't seen an escalator in a substantial amount of time. Which immediately brought to mind what Bill Bryson related in his book on small-town America- I can't remember exactly, but he narrated how he could buy postcards of backcountry farmers "grasping the handrails on moving walkways bravely", which were astutely captioned "I rode the escalator at the Town Mall!". Ah, the joys of (relatively) suburban America.

Home in a couple days! Does anyone want a workout partner? Only bother letting me know if you're willing to be as hardcore as me. Hahaha.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

She said I don’t know if I’ve ever been good enough
I’m a little bit rusty, and I think my head is caving in
And I don’t know if I’ve ever really been loved
By the hand that’s touched me, well I feel like something gonna give
And I’m a little bit angry, well

This ain’t over, no not here, not while I still need you
You don’t owe me, we might change
Yeah we just might feel good

I wanna push you around, I will, I will
I wanna push you down, I will, I will
I wanna take you for granted
I will

She said I don’t know why you ever would lie to me
Like I’m a little untrusting when I think that the truth is
Gonna hurt ya
And I don’t why you couldn’t just stay with me
You couldn’t stand to be near me
When my face don’t seem to want to shine cuz it’s a little bit dirty well

Don’t just stand there, say nice things to me
I’ve been cheated, I’ve been wronged, and you
You don’t know me, I can’t change
I won’t do anything at all

Oh but don’t bowl me over
Just wait a minute well it kinda fell apart, things get so
Crazy, crazy
Don’t rush this, baby
Matchbox Twenty :: Push

Monday, April 17, 2006

The sides of my shins have been scraped raw after water practice today, and my hands are torn apart. Practice was good even though the sun was in my eyes half the time and I couldn't see shit but I guess there's nothing much to be seen when you're involved in a sport where you're not supposed to be able to see where you're headed. If you can actually see where you're going it only means that you're rowing in the wrong direction and had better do something about it quickly. Today's training reinforced just exactly how much of an entire-body workout rowing is, because if you think about it you're basically doing an endless series of squats and crunches in a seated position over the course of 2,000 meters just so you can coax your twelve-foot-long wooden attachment into propeling you forward as quickly as possible. Of course at the same time you have to keep the boat "set" (or stabilised), if not half of the rowers will have their oars four feet above the water while the other half will be frantically trying to rescue their oars from the clutches of the lake. Sometimes this process repeats itself to no end which is positively unsettling (pun fully intended). But at least we're all so much better especially if you look at how much we've improved since last Fall when we first started out. I haven't yet popped out of my shoes which I'm eternally grateful for. The experience of popping out of your shoes is pretty nasty particularly because it always occurs when you're least expecting it. Like you'll be focusing so hard on your stroke and feathering the blade (turning the blade parallel to the water surface to minimize air resistance) and all of a sudden you dig the blade in too deep and whoosh you find yourself in the lap of the perplexed rower behind you. Thankfully for me I haven't ended up in anyone's lap outside my will yet but that's only because I'm always rowing starboard in the bow seat (that's the last seat in the boat), and so there's no one behind me. But that only means that when I pop out (which used to happen far too often for my liking) I am faced with a very immediate danger of flying out of the boat entirely, and to be truthful I'd much prefer being in someone's lap than watching the 7 rowers + 1 coxswain row past me (remember, they can't see where they're headed, they'll only know once they go past...) Okay I don't know why I'm blogging about this when I have a Comms exam tomorrow which would be in my best interest to study for.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

It's not the best idea in the world to fling yourself wholeheartedly into a vigorous weights session after not having come within a couple meters of iron in a while. There's that odd quivering sensation that tells me that I am going to have a ton of fun attempting to get out of bed tomorrow morning. Since everyone is tapering for crew we've ceased doing weights- instead we do a 15-station circuit once a week- the way I see it, it's more of an injury-prevention workout. You know, with resistance bands and Bosu balls and newfangled core thingamajigs. But of course you shouldn't underestimate them, especially the resistance bands. Whew you'd never think an innocuous-looking, brightly-colored piece of elastic tubing could make you sink to your knees in submission but try doing band pull-aparts or striding across the room with the tubing wrapped around your ankles and see if you aren't drenched in perspiration when it's time to head to the next station. Anyway come to think of it I don't know why I disliked the gym at the IMSB (Intramural Sports Building) at first and preferred the one at the CCRB (Central Campus Recreational Building) because now I swear by the former and hardly ever go to the latter. And there are more meatheads at the CCRB to boot, I don't know why, maybe the IM building is too far for them and perhaps they're afraid that by trudging the extra distance it'll be too much cardio and that'll deplete precious nutrients which could be otherwise used for muscle growth. But the meatheads are really funny sometimes, there's this guy who's perpetually plugged into his iPod when he's working out and he'll start belting out off-key tunes in between sets, which really irks me but I don't want to say anything for fear of being thwacked by a stack of 45-pound plates. And there's this hairy Polish guy (well I don't know if he's really Polish but he was wearing a torn Polska singlet so maybe he is) and he makes a ton of noise while he's at the weights, you know, those typical rugger grunts and overexaggerated exhalations and all. Man, you really see all sorts at the gym. It's so funny, especially when they start preening and flexing in front of the mirror when they think no one is looking (come to think of it, it should be when they think people are looking) and I have to silently hold back my laughter. Okay tomorrow is going to be one hell of a sore day, I can just feel it right now, not good since there's morning erg to boot. Oh well.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The RJC Geography Students of 2004!

Good times, those...

Oh, irony of ironies. The invitation mailed out to me in recognition of "great scholastic achievements" has two spelling errors in the very first sentence.

Dear Michigan Student-Athlete,

In recognition of your great scholastic achievements, you have been
awarded the Univeristy of Michigan Athletic Academic Acheivement Award. To be recognized and receive your award, The University of Michigan
Department of Intercollegiate Athletics and the Academic Success Program
cordially invites you to the 2006 Academic Achievement Awards Reception
on Tuesday, April 11, 2006 in the Michigan Union Ballroom. Please plan
to arrive promptly at 7:15 p.m. Please email Ruquel McKinnie at if you are not able to attend. Thanks and

Maher Mark Salah
Director of Student-Athlete Development
Academic Advisor
University of Michigan Athletics


Well, I suppose I should be grateful for an Athletic Academic Acheivement Award bestowed on me by the Univeristy of Michigan, nonetheless.


So here's the classes I've registered to take in Fall 2006:
GERMAN 205 Conversation
POLSCI 354 Governments & Politics of Southeast Asia
POLSCI 369 International Economic Relations
ECON 401 Intermediate Microeconomic Theory
ECON 404 Statistics for Economists
and hopefully, since application for writing positions only open in Summer,
POLSCI 290 Practicum for the Michigan Journal of Political Science

Looks like I've got an interesting semester ahead! Finally I'm departing the realm of concentration prerequisites, which entail 100-level courses, and entering uncharted territory where the courses are all 300-level or higher. For the life of me I'm interested to see how I'll fare in Economics, having spent much of my second year in RJC either: 1. snoozing facedown in the crook of my arm during Mr S's riveting econ tutorials, 2. busying myself with last-minute homework during lectures in chilly LT4, or 3. occupying myself with alternative activities entirely unrelated to 1 and 2, (like going to Ghim Moh for tau huay and tang yuan), having applied the concepts of opportunity cost and cost-benefit analysis in deciding to do so. See, at least elementary concepts come in handy! Ha. Well at least I faithfully attended every (okay, perhaps I exaggerate, but more than I'd have cared to) Economics 'S' paper lecture, even though I had absolutely no inkling of what was been taught in class. Given my admirable track record, I'm pretty convinced next semester will be a blast, especially since Economics in the US is reputed to be heavy on the mathematics and less so on writing... Oh how I am going to enjoy myself.

Okay, enough with the tongue-in-cheek rambling. Truth be told, I'm looking forward to the two Political Science courses I'll be taking. It surprises me how much I'm enjoying Polsci, because although I knew I'd probably appreciate it, I didn't think I'd like it THAT much. And it'll be good to take the course in SEA politics since that's a topic which is close to home and therefore somewhat more applicable than other courses... like Comm 101 which I'm taking now, and gradually discovered through the course of the term that it focused exclusively on the American media, which happens to be somewhat removed from what I foresee as the nature of my job in future.

No time on my schedule for a full 4-credit second-year college level German course next semester, so I'll have to settle for a conversation course in the meantime. Perhaps it's a blessing in disguise, as my intention of learning German is mainly for communication and utilitarian purposes, rather than possessing a scholarly objective in mind. But I hope to take German 231 in the subsequent semester, if time allows.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

10,000 miles from home and so I'm pretty detached from things occurring in Singapore. Like it dawned upon me when I was blog-surfing that it's no longer Singapore Idol which is the source of the idle starstruck chatter of kids back home- it's now Campus Superstar. And I'm pretty certain that it's been so for the longest time now, just that I've only just realized. It's not something particularly crucial which I need to know, so that's fine. I'm just unable to comprehend society's fascination with reality TV. Especially in Singapore, where there's a serious dearth of true talent compared to places like the US.

"Reality shows are hybridized programs which appeal to postmodern sensitivities, causing viewers’ eyes to glaze over at the hypnotically tempting prospect of instant gratification."
-- an excerpt from my communications studies research paper on the impact of reality TV on society today.

Don't people have better things to do? Well, perhaps not.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Midwest Festival 2006 was hosted by UMich yesterday! It's a yearly event where the SSAs from various colleges in midwest America congregate at the host university for a day of sports, games and basically just catching up with people you haven't seen in a while. And of course there's the everpresent opportunity to get to know other Singaporeans from these schools as well. The turnout was pretty decent, with Singaporeans from UIUC, Carnegie Mellon, Wisconsin-Madison, Indiana-Bloomington, Michigan State (ha!), Purdue, Northwestern, and Minnesota visiting Ann Arbor. We congregated at Trotter House for an evening of entertainment following a day of games at Pioneer High School and Fuller Field. There was karaoke, a spectacular dance performance by some UMich people (including dearest Wilson Liu, lol), and I was glad I managed to meet Tracy and Joanne after such an incredibly long time! It was great catching up with them. Although I definitely wish we had had more time to spend, because the length of the travel time somewhat shortened their stays here. It was nice, nonetheless.

Argh I'm kind of sick of dorm food. I think I'll have Subway tonight instead.