“Sometimes I ask myself, how much farther will I have to go?”

Entrance to the Batu Caves from the stationPigeonsGolden Statue

{Three more pictures under the cut}

On Saturday I went to check out the Batu Caves. I was interested as I’ve never been to a Hindu site of worship before, and it was free. The journey was long and dull from KL Sentral. Once there I followed the crowds to the main stairwell and the big golden statue, and started up the steps. Typical of stairways in Malaysia the stairs were dirty, narrow, uneven and frankly terrifying. I clung to the chipped, peeling balustrade and clutched at my maxi skirt and stopped at every landing. It was worth it once I got to the top though-  the views were brilliant and the caves themselves were huge and fairly impressive. There were two temples,  to get the second you have to brave even more narrow, uneven steps that are also wet which is great ‘fun’, and numerous statues tucked away into the cave walls. I was fascinated by the statues and by the formation of the caves themselves. However the visit was over very quickly, and I was very hot the whole time,and I did not enjoy those stairs which makes me wonder how worth it  it was to go. Oh but on the way back to the station I bought some sort of traditional sweets they were selling on the roadside and they were delicious. The best was bright pink and tasted like  crumbly, cake like coconut ice (and how typical of my sweet toothed self, to be on a mission to try Malaysian snack foods and sweets but remaining ignorant about Malaysian food…) On Sunday I headed out into KL again- to mid valley to pick up last minute packing supplies and get my hair cut. After I got my hair cut I went to the platform and crouched down, typically the train time was changing to an even later time every time I looked, and gazed at my surroundings and it hit me this is the last time. I didn’t feel sad, but I did start to feel anxious and it started to sink in that soon, everything would be shifting, changing, again and am I ready? What comes next, anyway? How will things have changed once I get back to the UK? What comes next? Although I recognise the importance of change, I still cannot help but feel nervous when faced with it.

Since then I’ve been busy trying to sort out the mess that is my room, not leaving campus and these last few days in Malaysia have passed as such, uneventfully like that. I wonder if I’ve made the most of my time here, compare myself to other people, then I think that “experience” is not something that can be quantised. I’m terribly excited to be going to Japan soon. Of course, before I get there I have to finish off my packing. It’s an endless, frustrating task. I’ve been nearly finished since Monday and although in retrospect I was laughably optimistic I was never lying, I really thought I was coming close, but then I’d discover another pile of papers to sort, another bunch of clothes to pack. Currently my suitcase is 5kg overweight and this is awkward, I can barely carry the thing, and maybe a bit embarrassing (again, I wonder about other people. I wonder what my dad is going to make of it.) But I figure its only RM60 to get that kind of excess to Japan and I’d much rather pay than sort out any more bloody paperwork (aka yes, I’m keeping my notes. I do not have the willpower to sort out/discard anymore.) I’ve done enough. I really am nearly finished with it all now (for real!), and then I have to check out of halls and wait for the taxi to come to take me to the airport one last time. I’m nervous, excited, worried, thrilled about Japan. I’m not sad about leaving Malaysia to get there, but I will say it is strange.

Petronas Twin Towers
KLCC Suria and fountains in front of it
I did go into KL on Sunday as planned . It’s really cool how unlike in the UK where everything dies down on a Sunday, here in Malaysia there is no significance to Sunday and its as bustling as any other day. I arrived in KL in the late afternoon, bought myself an ice blended from juice works because I’m hopelessly addicted, then managed to escape the mall much more easily than I thought- I just had to head to the aquarium, then turn off before I ended up there. I emerged into bright light and stifling humidity, a stark change from the cool, air conditioned mall but thankfully I had my ice blended to keep me cool. I began walking with the little idea of where I was going, and again, in a stroke of luck found myself exactly where I wanted to be- standing by the lake that lies in front KLCC Suria, the Petronas towers looming overhead. I had a wander around the lake and took a bunch of pictures. I did venture a little ways into the park but although very green, very clean and altogether nice it was still just a park and my ice blended had melted and I was getting hot so I headed back into the mall, up and around and up the escalators towards the top floor and the massive kinokuniya bookstore there.

I had hoped to buy a Japanese hiking map there and even worked up the courage to inquire after it, but this only resulted in a very awkward encounter with the man who worked there who seemed slightly confused by my request, and in the end they did not have it anyway, or anything similar. I spent some more time after that, lingering, soaking in the atmosphere of a large bookstore- and oh, I love the Japanese section in kinokuniya. I looked at the language learning section which made it hit home just how terrible I am at Japanese even after all this time. Then I moved to ogle the pretty and unique selection of magazines and  catalogues- I really wanted to get this miffy catalogue which came with stickers and a tote as I’m a huge miffy fan and there are no miffy goods in the UK but alas, it was too expensive. I eventually found myself in the English Japanese learning section and spent an unfortunate time umming and ahhing over various phrase books and pocket dictionaries before settling on a couple that I can take along to Japan in the vain hope it will make some difference to not starving. (On that note- it is so annoying how so many travel guides and phrase books do not include kanji and kana, effectively making them useless within Japan. Like, I like knowing that is the bus stop to go to or food to try- but its hardly like I’m going to be able to search out the romaji,I need to play match the kanji!) After that I headed all the way back down and around and down to the ground floor- I will always remember leaning over the side and looking down whilst on the escalator going from the 4th floor to the 3rd, seeing all the elevators going up and down below me and all the people packed on them. These huge, expansive malls crammed with people and stores (so many designer, and high end at that. Man, the brand names here. It must be wonderful shopping here if you have money to spend) are nothing like you get in the UK. Although I’m an online shopper at heart, I do still find them very impressive. (The air conditioning helps, of course.)

My last stop was uniqlo which surprised me by how expensive it was.  I did manage to buy one t shirt, although it was not as cotton rich as I hoped it was a lovely color and the cheapest one I could find. I need a nice, loose mens t shirt for hiking in japan, you see. I only have one currently. So anyway, I left then, popping into mid valley on the way back to pick up a couple of things from daiso (the mid valley one is even more cramped and confusing than the sungei wang one. I did not know that was possible ) (and yes I know- kinokuniya, uniqlo, daiso…there was a definite theme to my shopping) Then came back to find power restored as it should which thank everything.

Since then I’ve spent a whole lot of time sleeping and lazing around and avoiding organizing my shit so I can pack it. I did make some attempts to sort through the mounds of paper I have lying around, but it got overwhelming and I stopped. I’m trying not to beat myself up over this. I do still have a few days left, after all.

“And I don’t want to be the kind that says the wrong way.”

→ I’m currently sat writing this in public. It’s more than a little nerve-wracking but then my laptop needs charging and the plugs aren’t working in halls. Yes, lights and air con are thankfully OK but not a single plug in my room works. I discovered this yesterday the hard way- when I stepped into the shower and found it was cold. Having already conditioned my hair I had no choice but to endure a long shower as I attempted to wash my hair in the icy water. As anyone who does not use shampoo knows – you need hot water to make it work. Washing your hair in cold water? Just leaves the hair looking lanky and gross. Last night I ended up sat in the same public place when my laptop died and it was not too bad- I ate grilled chicken and naan bread smothered in garlic sauce as I read, and then I bumped into a friend and we sat chatting for a bit. But I was still hoping that the plugs would be working today. They are not. Of course there are no emails about planned maintenance, and as it’s the weekend there is no one I can go report this to. I know its not just my room as the girl down the hall- who I do not know, making this quite awkward- knocked on my door in order to ask if my plugs were working, and so I assume hers weren’t too. Essentially, the whole situation is ridiculous but there is quite literally nothing can be done. Typical of life in student halls, to be honest.

→ Exams finished this week on Thursday. Neither my mathematics nor my electronic engineering exams went well. For mathematics I managed to stay very calm and level headed, but that did not change the fact that the paper was asking us to differentiate tan and integrate sec and I have not done this since high school. That was the first question. The second question was alright- actually,  more than that. There was a part of that question that I’d attempted in the past years and been unable to do, but something clicked during the exam and I totally got it. I completed the whole question and I understood it. It was amazing. Then the last question. At first glance, I thought it was OK. I went into it confidently and got the first part done, then I reached the second part and realized it was not as similar to the past year as I had expected and that I had no idea what to do. I did not get anxious or panic, but that did not stop my mind from going blank. I decided to attempt another question- the way the exam is set up is that there are 4 questions and you get marks for the best 3. Usually I just pick 3 to answer, but this time I attempted them all. In the end out of all four I only managed to do one completely, the first was just method and the last two were half done. It was not good. After that I had to cram for electronic engineering but I admit, I did feel reasonably confident about it. I was worried but not too worried about it. I should have been. This exam was weird. There were questions stuff we had not even been taught. I could manage to answer all the questions, bar a few at the back. But I did not leave that exam feeling as confident as I wanted to.

To say I am worried about this all is an understatement, but I’m trying not to let it hang over me. After my last exam on Thursday I bought a huge bar of chocolate and then just sat down to wallow in misery so that I could get over it. And I am OK now. I will be OK. I just want to enjoy my time now, here in Malaysia and in Japan. I’m trying to eat better, catch up on sleep and relax. What is done is done and I tried so hopefully… hopefully…

→ I’m really lucky that my exams are so soon , actually. Most people I talk to only finish on the 27th of May. But now I have a whole week to get myself organized for moving and Japan, to relax and oh yes, to go out into KL as much as possible! On Friday I went out to Midvalley for a little while and it was glorious to get out of my room and to not be stuck in the library. I had a delicious ice blended from boost and then mostly window shopped, before grabbing a handful of groceries. Then Saturday was Saturday. I spent most if it asleep or reading. Today I’m probably heading out to KLLC. I did think about going out for big touristy day today but in truth I’m tired and cannot be bothered, and will wait until next week before I attempt it. I admit I am probably also putting it off as I find KL difficult to navigate and very pedestrian unfriendly, and there is no way I am getting into a taxi by myself. So as much as I want to go to certain places, I’m unsure of how to get there. And yes, I do feel self conscious on my own in KL. Not all the time but…sometimes. People can stare. Well, today I’ll make baby steps towards my goal and I shall go for a walk around KLCC  park, take some pictures of the towers, get some shopping done and come back. Hopefully it shall be relaxing and manageable as a day. Exams really have left me feeling drained.

“Will the moon understand my loneliness? Wonder if the stars understand my scars.”

Yesterday actually turned out to be a lovely day. I had one lecture in the afternoon, so I slept in and took my time to get ready. Once I got to lecture my friend told me he’d pick me up later, which was very helpful, then went off before I could ask him to be just a little bit more specific. I managed to get his attention after the lecture and he told me he’ll pick me up in 15 minutes. Ok, so I was no expecting such a small time frame. I rushed back to halls and threw everything into my handbag and only just noticed he’d texted me that he was already there. 5 minutes early. Typical. I rushed out and met him outside halls and then we drove to the mall. We chatted the whole way and it wasn’t awkward, you know. It was actually quite nice. i mean, I did say some things that made me go fuck self, really but not as bad I can get. Nothing mortifying. At the mall we went and ate supper- subway sandwiches, and he bought us these Chinese sesame snacks which were very tasty. The one had a peanut filling, and the other had something called lotus(?) in them. I have no idea what that is. Poor guy could not explain in English either XD We finished just on time for the movie. By this time I was nervous…because he kept telling me we were going to see a horror movie, after I told him I’d watch anything but horror. Oh I knew he was joking, but I wasn’t quite sure. Thankfully, It turned out to be a action movie. He seemed greatly amused at my relief. ¬__¬ It was a terrible movie, but in a fun way. We giggled and whispered to each other throughout which only made it more entertaining. Its also really weird and interesting that in this country they blank out the audio every time a character swears, which makes for an intriguing movie experience!

Once the movie was over, my friend drove me back to halls, and we still talked and I was actually still managing to not make a fool of myself.

I think though… I think I’m more socially awkward when you first meet me. If you get through the initial “did she really just say what I thought she said?” and bouts of uncomfortable silence as you wait for me to respond, and don’t make a HUGE DEAL of the fact that I am shy, then its actually ok. It’s just, most people don’t get past the shyness, or make a huge deal out of and make me feel even more uncomfortable than I already probably am. (seriously, if someone is shy don’t draw attention to it, please? it’s like saying well, this is awkward and effectively making it more so) There are so few people who will stick around. Who will make an effort to get past and to accept the silences, the offishness and the awkwardness, and see the other parts of my personality. I’d like to think that I am more than just shy and awkward, that underneath that there is something worth getting to know. :( But there are few who will take my personality just as it is, and accept it.   I cannot believe this person seems to have.

Anyway, I had a lovely time. You know , this was the first time I went outside of uni with someone I met at uni? And it wasn’t nerve wracking. I came back and I wasn’t exhausted, just really relaxed and happy, because I had been exactly myself. That sounds weird, but I have such trouble trusting people that I am constantly putting up walls, getting anxious, and I rarely relax and be myself. I always look forward to seeing my sister or my best friend, as they have always been the only ones that I can let my guard down around, and that is such a fucking relief you know. it feels so wonderful jut to be myself for even a few hours and not to have to worry about it. in this case, not have to worry too much. I’m not entirely trusting this person yet. Really, it makes me terrified to think I am beginning to trust them, because I don’t want to. I want to put my walls back up and stay hidden behind them, always. I have been hurt before, and I don’t want to be hurt again. And it also makes me so, so sad that I’d have to make someone I would sorta call a friend here. Although I sometimes think to myself I’m ready to leave Malaysia, sometimes I do think I don’t want to leave. I’m conflicted, basically. There are definitely some things I will miss about here. I have begun to feel slightly settled here.

That’s the thing about studying abroad for a year. It is that you go for a year, which gives you the safety of a return ticket, but you are going for a year, which gives you plenty of time to settle, then having to leave just as you think to yourself, yeah, I’m doing OK here. And I do miss things about the UK. When I get frustrated or down its reassuring to think about going back. But at the same time I don’t like the UK. I’ve never felt like I fit there. It’s never felt right. It’s not my home and I’ve never thought of it such. I don’t know. Maybe when I go back the time away will have uncovered some fondness for the country?

Its just, more than that,I am dreading going to university for third year back in the UK. I did not make any friends in first year, and by third year everyone will be in pretty solid friendship groups. Where am I going to fit in? I did not fit in the first time, after all. I’m too shy, I don’t drink and I don’t go clubbing and in the UK if you don’t do those things, making friends becomes infinitely harder. Almost too hard to bother. I have a huge group project next year and I worry. Who will I be with? Will I get on with them? It’s wierd. I have been in a different university every single year for the past three years, and now I am returning to the same one as first year. Just.. it makes me nervous.

And I do feel sad that I’m probably never going to see, or speak to, these friends I’ve begin to make here ever again. :( I want to onto onto these friendships somehow, even though I’m not sure if they are actually friendships, if I’m not making a big deal out of nothing (as I tend to do, admiteddly). I don’t know. Just, I had so much fun yesterday. And studying in the libary. Sitting whispering to each other in lectures. All these small things I’ve never had in my foundation or first year of uni. All these tiny little social interactions that I did not think I needed or would enjoy, but I do. I do.

It’s always on my mind now. Just two months to go. I cannot believe how quickly the time is going. I’m starting to get really scared. About my last bunch of exams, about going to Japan, and finally, going back to the UK. It’s just happening so quickly.

“There’s an innocence I possess. But you, you keep snatching it away, even from the smallest openings”

The past week has been a particularly stressful one, despite having a lot of free time deadlines are beginning to pile up, and exam time tables have even been released which means I’ve had to start getting serious about revision. That is, I am going to have to. Last week I was preoccupied with a particularly awful maths coursework due on Thursday.

I’d been good and started it when it was issued, weeks ago, but every time I sat down to it I became lost and confused. I literally could not do it. This meant that by Wednesday I still had not completed a single question. Thus, I found myself sat in the library with my friend for the majority of Wednesday afternoon, struggling through it together. We did as much as we could, then went home. I took a break then sat down to work on it some more, found the stupid error that was messing up everything, and then redid most of it all over again. At 1am I was lying awake and reading, when my friend texted me. I offered to help him. So he came by my halls and we sat and discussed it for a little bit. That was awkward. I was bare faced, with wet newly washed hair and in my pajamas. Thankfully in the time it took for him to drive here I had managed to get dressed at least, but I still wonder at the fact that he drove all the way here for my work. Well, in the end  I completed my maths coursework about an hour before the deadline and by skipping all my lectures on Thursday. A job well done, clearly. Honestly, by the end I was near crying with frustration. I wanted to do better this semester, but I am still struggling. It’s not like I am not trying to be good and getting things done- its just  cannot do it. I spend hours struggling with just a handful of questions, or reading through notes that might as well as be in Russian for all I understand them. That is why I am so, so grateful for this friend. It is so good to have support from someone. But it’s so frustrating that I had to find someone like that here, when I have so little time here. :/

After the stress of Thursday, I was badly in need of a break. In a lucky coincidence my lecture was cancelled on Friday so off I went to KL to shop. I’d given myself a generous budget for the day and was quite excited. Naturally, the day would go terrifically wrong.

{Lengthy post under the cut}