“I believe that she smiled in self-defense, using the open vulnerability of her smile as a shield, the way a puppy bares its neck to a stronger dog.”

Kuala Lumpur
Kuala Lumpur
Kuala Lumpur
Kuala Lumpur - twin towers

On Saturday I went into Kuala Lumpur for the first time. The university had organised a tour for the new international students, and it was cheap and I sort of have to socialise, even though it makes me feel tired, so I dragged myself out of bed and I went. Besides, i had been wanting to go into the city, and I am at a loss as how the trains work here to try and get there myself!

The bus journey was quite long,spent chatting amongst the acquaintances i have made here. We stopped in Putrajaya first. The sun was intense, almost blinding, and it was hot as I explored, taking many photos of everything because it was all so pretty. I had also never seen a Mosque before this and it was magnificent. i did not go in though, for i did not feel like taking of my shoes or donning a pale pink robe so i slipped away when no one was looking and walked until  i bumped into the person i had been sitting next to on the bus. we spent some time just chatting before we all of us piled back on the bus and headed into kl. KL has certain things that reminded me of Singapore, but they are not alike. I’m not sure if I was expecting them to be more or less similiar?

Anyway, we first stopped at the KL tower for lunch at the revolving restaurant. I definitely ate too much, piling my plate high with delicious food, and even higher with delicate, attractive looking cakes. I ate, ate some more, wondered around the place taking pictures, ate some more, stole some food from someone else to eat even more and in the end felt quite sick. Serves me right, really. It was just all so nice. :/ We unfortunately did’t have time to explore more of the tower, for we had to be back on the bus and to our next destination- the cocoa boutique. This was a random stop, and slightly unwelcome when we were all full to the brim. If they had brought us there when were hungry we may have been enthusiastic but as it was i took all the chocolate samples and bought nothing, and left early with a couple if friends to walk around the rest of the Malaysia tourist center. I did see a giant chocolate dragon there though, so. Not a complete waste of time? Then we were dragged to a photo spot to take picture in front of the twin towers. then, finally, finally, it was to the mid valley mall and shopping time! Except I had to hunt through supermarkets trying to find washing powder I was not allergic to (I’m allergic to biological…) which took much longer than I thought, because even KL doesn’t have it! A panicked text conversation with my father I managed to settle on some plant based stuff. though its worrying and unexpected that they don’t seem to have non bio here. hoping the plant stuff works :/

in the end I only had time to nip into watsons and allow myself to be coaxed into buying a foundation by an overly friendly sales girl. The girls in watsons/gaurdian/makeup stores are so clingy. But I found that in a lot of shops in Singapore as well as here. The girls will hang by as you browse and even when you tell them when you are browsing they will still stand by your shoulder, watching, trying to give you sales talk. Its like, back off, I am just browsing! I was in the mood to be coaxed into purchasing though, and happily accepted this girls guidance. I have a feeling I will spending a lot of time in watsons, and a lot of money, in the future. :|

I ended up rushing back to the bus but I thankfully made it on time. Tired out fro the long day, the long week, i quietly listened to music and stared out the window, ignoring everyone and thing. The next day, I took a long, much needed lie in and then spent the day lazily, working through my chores slowly, leisurely walking into campus to get food, just taking it all slow, talking to no one, keeping to myself, trying to prepare myself for Monday.

Because today, all too soon, was my first day of second year. I woke up feeling reasonably relaxed, but at around 8.40am realized I had a 9am lecture and things started to go wrong from there. I left my room at 9am and raced to the classroom, only to find myself lost, only to race to another classroom, only to realize it was the wrong one, to race to another classroom and finally, I was nearly 30 minutes late. Thankfully it was not an important lecture, just admin type stuff, and I now know my way around campus reasonably well after running around it like a mad thing. The first lecture was dull and it was hard to concentrate after a long, lazy summer and I was glad when it ended an hour early. I went back to my room to freshen up and finish getting ready for the day before my next lecture. I sat down at the back of the lecture hall as I did. One of the boys came up and said hello and I turned, startled, expecting to see someone behind me, but there was no one there, and he started to talk to me, and then he asked me to go sit down next to him and his friends.

It was unexpected, to say the least, but I grabbed the opportunity and then stumbled through conversations with him, feeling awkward, not really sure what to say. After the long lecture, an actual lecture this time which was quite overwhelming second thing on a Monday morning just back after summer break, he asked me to join him for lunch and even though I badly wanted to say no and run in the other direction, I nodded. Then, he bought me lunch. That was just strange. I felt like a fool holding out the money to the guy at the stall only to be told it had been paid for, and slightly flustered. I am not used to such random kindness, and I couldn’t help become even more nervous, almost panicked. “What does he want from me?” I couldn’t help but think. I don’t trust in people being kind just for the sake of being kind. We ate and then parted, I bumped into my other friend and hung with her until my other tutorial, which contained nothing important and was very dull, and then finally it was my last lecture of the day where I again bumped into the guy before and we chatted some more and i honestly have no idea what I said and this bugs me. When the lecturer failed to turn up we left the room and he took me to the library and helped me print my notes- and it continued to be very strange how nice he was- and then we got drinks and he invited me to play pool with him and his friends and I…said no.

I know. I should have been desperate and clingy and shameless and said yes, but I had been nervous and on edge all day for various reasons and I gave into my desire to turn tail and run. Besides, the little voice reminded me, he was only being polite, he didn’t really want me there. I was filled with doubt, and I was scared, so I ran. I am hoping he doesn’t feel annoyed, and that he will still be friendly, because he was the only one to approach me. I thought that everyone would be very cliquey and keep to themselves, so I was grateful that someone reached out, as I was at a loss as to where to begin to integrate myself into this group. its second year after all, everyone has already had a year to make friends. Also- not only am I one of less than 10 girls this year, but also the only Caucasian. To say i stand out is an understatement.

I am slightly terrified of what will happen tomorrow.

Recorded Butterflies

Hello from Malaysia! I am currently writing this sitting in my room on campus. My suitcase lies on the floor still unpacked, and my shelves are crammed with cleaning supplies I still haven’t gotten round to using. I am avoiding cleaning and long showers and even going to bed as there are many, many spiders lurking in various nooks in my room. The past two days have been hectic and it is very weird to think that I have not spent a longer time here. Not because i feel settled or anything. Oh no, it feels like  am on a very strange holiday and I will be going home soon, like this is not quite real.

Moving day came quickly.  I was pretty unorganised despite my packing list which proved quite useless when I realised my suitcase was hopelessly overweight. I ended up leaving behind most of everything. The flight was long and exhausting, but the seat in the middle of my row was fortunately free the entire time,and the guy sitting at the last seat was pretty nice. Eventually I was in Singapore, gawking at the huge, shiny airport, in a state of excitement and nervousness for being there. How to even begin talking about what I did in Singapore? It was only a few days but my friend and I did  and experienced so much in that time. Things that stand out? I think the bus journey to the hotel and stepping into the hotel for the first time, just staring at it all in amazement that I was actually there, and later window shopping in orchard road and making my first in store laneige and etude house purchases, eating curry udon that was too hot at nearly midnight whilst sitting overlooking the river at clarke quay, messing about in the long bar with my friend as we drunk or slings . There are so many good memories.And it was a good few days to have fun and ease into Asia-  to have that time in Singapore to get over jet lag (I spent my first day in Singapore in bed, fighting dizziness and nausea and exhaustion but by the next day I was cool) and to adjust to the heat (the humidity, too. cannot forget that lovely sticky, sweaty feeling) and to experience this side of the world as a tourist first. not everything was perfect, of course.  I was still taking my antibiotics and it was annoying to remember to take them. there were also a couple of moments where things were a little tense between my friend and I, and a few times when i did something awkward which was embarrassing but thankfully our friendship survived. overall, it was a great trip.

Then it was on to Malaysia. The flight was only about 30 minutes, but there was no one from the university to meet us at the airport so we had to wait for 2 hours for them to come, without anything to eat or drink and our baggage unclaimed. Eventually they came and we went through immigration and found our baggage lying unattended by the belt. Both my friend and I were furious. The university has not been particularly organised about this whole affair, and this ws the icing on the cake. We did make it to the campus eventually and got checked in to our accommodation.

From then on its been quite hectic. The days aren’t busy but there is so much to take in that every day is quite exhausting. It’s really quite different here. The weather is hot as hell, my room is filled with creatures I am terrified of, the food is ridiculously cheap but overwhelming in its sheer unfamiliarity. the drinks here are good though. There is this one shop that sells fresh juice blended with ice, which is heavenly and I’m helplessly addicted. I also tried bubble tea the other day, and it was nice but a little too sweet and milky to have an entire glass of. I am trying to be open minded and to try things, but it really is so hard to know just what to try and the portions are so large and its so hot that you barely even want to eat! Went to subway today and it was wonderful. The breaks for western food no matter how crappy it is are really so lovely, and I am not sure if I should feel embarrassed about this. I’m just not used to Asian food!

I’m also starting to understand why groups of international students always stick to each other in the UK- as these past few days me and the other students from the UK have been getting to know each other, and sticking close to each other. I’m pleased to know people though, although in truth it is thanks to my friend I came with that I know these people. :/ We’ve been out grocery shopping together and today we visited the town close to the university and were embarrassing tourists while trailing around the malls. its a small campus so we bump into each other frequently, and generally we gather together to have drinks or eat at the food courts. Everyone is quite nice and it is OK to hang around them, but at the same time it is so nerve wracking  going through this process of making new acquaintances all over again. This is my third time already and I still cannot make small talk!  I am surprised by how much  I am enjoying myself despite this, every one really is quite nice and very  friendly, although i am very tired. it is exhausting being around people so often, and overwhelming trying to settle in and trying to get everything done that needs to be done in regards to admin type things. as i said, everything is very hectic and the days feel long, even though they seem to be passing quickly.

I don’t miss home just yet, thankfully. Instead I somewhat superficially am longing for the things i left behind- the books i still wanted to read, the foundation i thought i could buy here but can’t, my collection of nail polishes,  my  favourite bed sheets even. these are the little things that made up my life back there, and the absence of them is what really makes me so feel so far away. So far i’ve skyped my family often, and i text my dad all the time, so it doesn’t feel bad yet that i cannot see them. adjusting to the time difference is a little weird, when i call my dad and he is about to have supper while i’m about to go to bed!

overall I am really just trying to settle into this place, trying to find some routine and trying to do things and eat things that might make me uncomfortable because I want to enjoy my time here. because thats always what makes one feel settled isn’t it? knowing people and knowing where to go, what to eat, thinking of my crappy room in halls as home. I really want to start to feel more settled here, and for it to sink in already that I am living here. Most of all I hope I enjoy this.

Spending all my time

Todays entry will be a list because I am tired and do not feel well and therefore don’t want to think about how to link these random things together-

– About 3 weeks ago I noticed a speck of dirt on my leg. Thinking nothing of it I went to brush it off. Only to find that it was hard to the touch and embedded in my leg. Upon further inspection I realised it was a tick lodged in my leg. (Well, technically I didn’t know until afterwards when I googled it that it was a tick. I’ve never seen one before!) I panicked and tried to remove it myself, but in the end my sister had to pull it out. I think when I tried to remove it I must have squished it because a week ago the bite site became red and itchy. I was feeling fine but with Malaysia coming up so soon I went to the doctors anyway. One doctors appointment later, and a weeks worth of antibiotics that have made me feel ill, it has gotten worse and it turns out, I potentially have mild Lyme disease. D: What are the chances of that?! I now have two weeks of new, stronger antibiotics to take that will finish one day before I leave the country.

I really do not need this right now.

Also, it does not inspire confidence in me that the doctor I went to today sat for a good 5 minutes flicking through a medical manual, and then blatantly googled my symptoms in front of me. Thankfully, after googling myself I find she has given me the recommended medicine for the treatment of Lyme disease…

– I have now have two weeks to go before I leave the country. I did a test pack on Saturday and was made to realize just how little 20kgs+7kgs(main+hand luggage) is. I kept trying to pack everything and had to spend some time trying on my clothes, really  thinking about whether it was comfortable enough, suitable for hot weather, versatile etc. I gave myself the rule that if something did not match with at least three of the basic items I am definitely taking (plain camisoles, t shirts, cardigans) then it had to go. I still have too much stuff though. Before I actually physically tried to pack I thought space would be the issue but my suitcase is half empty and I struggled to pack it properly because i simple did not have enough clothing items to add padding. Packing is very stressful when its a holiday. When its for 10 months it is even worse. I just want all my things with me! But I have no weight at all. Also, it is weird packing only summer clothes for a year. Although I am glad I don’t have to mess about trying to fit in sweaters or jackets.Ah, and I have almost finished my packing list. Which is another thing I can soon strike off the list! (there is still a fairly small amount of things being crossed off the list)

– I really need to meet up with my friend and discuss what she is packing so we can ~compare~. Which even if Iam feeling not so great should be OK. However it is also her 21st birthday party this weekend. Yeah, I know.  I have to go because it is her 21st but I am wondering how on earth I will get through it.  I am praying that my new antibiotics won’t make me feel as terrible as the current ones, although it seems they may make me feel similar or worse. I am also praying that the potential Lyme disease stays potential and symptoms apart from the red ring rash don’t suddenly appear. please, please just let it heal and heal soon.

– I still haven’t finished file sorting on my computer.

– I started to scan in my university notes. There is nothing quite so dull, even with a feeder scanner to make it easy.  I also came to realize that I remember absolutely nothing from first year. I cannot C program anymore, I never got communications engineering and the little I did understand is now gone,  and most likely I’ll struggle in practical labs too. (I always struggle in practical labs, but I seem to get worse as time goes by. :/) I came to the obvious and belated realisation that actually, I am not just moving abroad in two weeks, but starting second year in two weeks too. This is terrifying in itself, without the added complications of adjusting to a new climate and new place etc. I worked up the courage to look at the modules  for next year which added to my fear. I cannot afford to fail this year but I really wonder how things will work out now. I had gotten into a comfortable routine at uni last year, but obviously I will not be able to replicate that. I struggled first year and second year can only be worse and I won’t have the support of my dad, and I’ll be coping with the change of moving, and in all honesty, I really am not looking forward to having to study again. Too much free time has made me very lazy :/

“We are all going forward. None of us are going back”

Well, all letters have come through now. I actually did get a single en-suite room, which resulted in me letting out a rather embarrassing shriek of joy when I found out. My father thought I had won the lottery or something equally epic. No, I just somehow ended up with what I wanted and never expected to get. I was surprised and slightly ecstatic to end up with my first choice of room. Even luckier, I am right next door to my close friend, who is also going to study abroad this year at the same university. With the letters also came the next wave of paperwork and I filled out what I hope is the last of the forms today. The hotel has also been booked, as well as the flights from Singapore to Malaysia.

I am not sure I have mentioned this before but my friend and I are taking a small trip to Singapore before heading onto Malaysia. We booked the flights to Singapore a while ago to ensure we get out to Asia, as there are many flights from Singapore to Malaysia, whereas the flights to Singapore were starting to book out and therefore increase in price. This makes me sound really organized but it was originally my friends idea. I am grateful for her of thinking of this, as it turned out to be a fantastic idea. We’ve got the flights we want, the hotel room we want, and will be spending 4 nights in Singapore to get some travelling done early, and at the same time adjust to Asia as tourists first. It all fell into place with surprising ease, which was a relief. I am greatly looking forward to passing out in a hotel room after the long flight, instead of having to deal with checking into campus. I am also growing very excited about visiting Singapore. I have been flicking through the single guidebook I own and writing itineraries in my head. I am actually rather excited to travel again. Although, I am praying that my friend and I don’t end up arguing, or annoying each other somehow during the 17 hours of travelling and the 5 days spent together thereafter. I hope it ends up being fun.

Apart from that, I am still spending my time trying to prepare. I am feeling better about packing in one aspect- books. I grew to dislike reading on my smartphone, as the screen was just too small to read for long periods of time comfortably, and it eats up battery life. I came to realise I should use my netbook for my reading, therefore I installed calibre and kindle for the desktop. With these on my little netbook I can safely say I feel a bit more confident about leaving my books behind and relying on ebooks for the next year. In the end during term time I don’t tend to read that much so if I could just have a few books on hand it would be fine. The only real drawback is how expensive ebooks are and how limited they are in some way. A lot of the books I want to read are quite old and don’t have digital formats, so I have been carefully reading reviews to find some books to load up for the year and almost every time I find a book I wish to read, the price is something I just cannot afford. I am watching the sales very carefully. I’m sure I’ll find something in the end.

I am still not making much progress with anything else. I did rewrite my to do list and made it more attractive…which is procrastination at its finest right. :/

But with everything booked and paperwork filled I think I can start to feel more optimistic. If I just steadily do a little bit each day it should be OK.

Dilly Dally Down

This summer (and lets use that term loosely, as it is cold and rainy) is proving to be very boring. The sort of boring that leads to the feeling that any small action is just far too much effort aka extreme laziness, listlessness and I cannot think of another “l” word to make it a solid trio. I am never going to be able to return to the usual routine at this rate. I have already forgotten what morning looks like. I could and should be spending my time more productively. I could read, or study Japanese, or go over the topics from my first year at university to prepare for second year! So many things and I just can’t bring myself to care. There is also the matter of moving abroad. I’m torn between wanting this summer to go quicker, so I can stop being so flippin bored, and wanting it to slow down already because currently I am moving abroad in one month and 10 days.

Yes, I am counting down. Of course I would when the time between now and then is becoming increasingly shorter and yet I have not crossed a single thing off my “to do list.” When I started this list at the beginning of the month it had two items, but as I gradually added more items on as they came to me the list grew and is now nearly 20 items long. And it seems that as the list grows, my reluctance to deal with it does too.

I have

– been spending hours sorting files on my computer to prepare for making backups. However it is taking longer than I’d like and I am far from done. I am in phase three of owning a computerbehold, the dinosaur. Seven years of endless crap that hasn’t ever been sorted before because I haven’t every needed to. Which is an excuse to cover up the fact I am terrible at throwing things out in real life and it seems I have problems letting go of meaningless digital crap too.  I am likely to become one of those people you see on TV,  crushed under the weight of every single thing they have ever owned, their bodies only found days later after extensive searches.  I like to attach meaning to things, like to think that there may be a day when I’ll need them again, and what if I cannot find them? What do you do with your digital files- how do you decide what to keep and delete? I’m hoping I’ll become annoyed enough to just press shift+delete on it all and deal with the horror of what I have done afterwards. Likely I will get over it pretty quickly once real life starts off and I forget all about it because it really isn’t that important.

(Why? Why when I know this can I still not press “delete”?)

– started a packing list. I attempted to make categories, and to list every little item big and small. But it got too much and so I stopped and now don’t like to look at it. Cutting down all my belongings to a mere 20kg of stuff is proving even more difficult than I thought, and I never imagined it to be an easy task. I am not looking forward to leaving behind most of my clothes, skincare, makeup, and books. Pretty much everything, really. I know I can buy things over there but I don’t know when I’ll be able to go shopping, and how my money situation will be, and it makes me sad to think about all the money already spent on these things just to have them sitting unused for a year (in the case of skincare and makeup, possibly expiring)

That is about all I have done. Pathetic, isn’t it? I have things to organise with banking and I need to decide what baggage to take. And there’s more.  Meanwhile, I am still slightly terrified and more than a little nervous. My thoughts constantly cycle back round to all my little worries about the whole thing. What will I eat over there? What are the supermarkets like? How will I cope with the weather? Will I need to use chopsticks at any point? (I can’t D:) How will I cope with all the insects? (Cockroaches and mosquitoes D: D: D: ) There is much to worry about, because it’s another unfortunate part of my personality to get worked up over small things.

University is also being slow releasing information which is annoying. I still haven’t received a certain important letter from them, and they haven’t said anything about accommodation. This is at the top of my current worries and I’m especially pissed that we’ve not heard anything. I need to stop getting my hopes up about an en-suite and instead start fretting about what to do when the bathroom is all the way down the corridor (this year the bathroom was right next door so it was perfectly OK to step across in a towel. I don’t think wondering down a corridor so poorly dressed is a good idea. Not to mention I had a sink in my room to do my facial skin care at night which I won’t have there so where will I do there? AHH) Also, the prices vary for all the accommodation types and I need to start budgeting (ah, another thing for the list. gdi)

So, yes. Very worried about lots of little things right now. I am spending my days file sorting (and lets use that term loosely as it mostly me discovering new love for things long forgotten about and finding reasons to keep them) interspersed with watching dramas. It’s really not enough distraction.