what i’ve done in the 8 months or so in my “second gap year” : a Report

note: i can't believe i didn't publish this in 2018 lololol. i decided to not edit it (thus the present tense). well i went to Singapore and Indonesia after this post and read a few more books. that's about it.

It’s been 259 days since I came home from almost a year of being more than 10000km away, submerged in a completely different climate, culture, and language.

I was asked multiple times since: “Are you working or studying?”

I answered: “Neither.”

So from the persona I portray on social medias, people assume that I’m doing nothing, aka wasting my time and squandering my dad’s money (uh yes, I’m kinda a spoiled brat) and just having fun. Some people also thought that I stopped studying to travel (that’s a great idea actually except my wanderlust isn’t that big).

Well, I’m not trying to prove you wrong but I’m gonna remind myself about what I’ve actually done; this is a self-reflection and welcome to part of my world.


I have visited four Malaysian cities: Penang, Kampar, Ipoh, Malacca; and four countries: Australia, Japan, China, Hong Kong. I wasn’t home for approximately 43 days. Don’t ask me for my favourite city/country.

I met some very cool and nice people from everywhere in the world, and managed to engage in deep conversations with several of them. In contrast, there are Malaysians with whom I could not get over an exchange of formalities, even if we’ve known each other for ages.

I am trying to run a business to help people save time deciding what to wear, and mostly am broke because of this. It’s not really working because I made it hard to even decide what to buy. Well, I gotta learn. And I’m getting help. So wish me luck. And also please like the page on Facebook and follow it on Instagram, that would be much much much appreciated and thanks in advance! Oh yeah, my friends get a special discount code; ask and you shall receive.

I read 26 books (and actively reading two books) and also a bunch of articles. Mostly about philosophy and business, stuff completely unrelated to what I would be studying because why not.

I kinda learnt to read Hiragana and Katakana, two of the Japanese scripts. I’m determined to learn the language but…nah…I’m lazy. The same thing happened with French although with French, the pronunciation is still screwing me up.

I sent way too many postcards and festival cards that I think I can write a pretty accurate review of postal services of the countries I’ve been to. I definitely have enough knowledge of the postal products to work at a Malaysian post office.

I missed seven birthday bashes and am about to miss an eighth one…I am forever sorry.

I was briefly obsessed with rhythmic gymnastics and spent four full days camping at the stadium and then randomly getting an invitation to attend the gala dinner. Oh it was fun and disastrous.

I got a tattoo.

I spent a lot of time with my dad and my grandmother, and I think that’s something I will cherish in the future. My brother? He doesn’t want to spend time with me. But he said that he would buy me a PS4 controller and a game I want so I can play. Yay.

I started going to mental health therapy. I’m still not comfortable to disclose the details openly but I might tell you about it privately.

I watched a lot of films and TV and I also read about good films and good TV so I know what a good motion picture should be like but unfortunately most of what is on a screen is crap.

I somehow still manage to German. I’m super glad that I met (a lot of) Germans in Australia.

I gained a better appreciation for art, whether in the form of words, audios, visuals, and whatever.

I lost about 5kg. I’m not entirely sure how that happened and also I’m feeling more positive about my body image. Also, never ever call someone fat, you don’t know the full story.

I got an invitation to do the entrance exam at my dream university in Switzerland but ultimately had to decline it because…I don’t want to say. The university was the main reason why I acquired the German language. It’s a tough decision emotionally to let go of this dream, but oh, #life.

I learnt to make peace with the fact that, no matter how close two persons were; either platonically or romantically; things can change and it only requires the decisions of one side to make that change and unfortunately I am most of the time on the receiving end.

I kept in touch (or tried to keep in touch) with friends who are in about eight different time zones. The worst difference I’ve ever experienced was 17 hours…damn. Time zone differences is very weird but the best thing is always having someone to talk to no matter what time it is. It’s also amazing how I talk more to some friends who are hundreds of nautical miles away than some friends who stay a few minutes away in the same city.

I befriended a person who shares the same surname as me! She’s the first person I know with that surname who isn’t family (our surname, 管 , is very rare). How cool right!!!

I cold-emailed and cold-tweeted at people I find interesting, normally with no response, so I might be better at dealing at rejections now, however…

I shared a brief correspondence with some people in Hollywood.

I was rejected by the school in Germany where I’ll be studying in and spent two weeks in Japan checking my email inbox every day for a reply from my appeal. 12 hours after landing home from Tokyo, I got accepted after making a 10 minutes phone call. I wish I could give credit to my persuading skills but the truth is, they misconverted my grades before.

I started this blog.


I could not be happier to say that I’m going to Germany next month to start the next chapter of my life; the past two years were definitely wonderful interludes.

2019 reflections + 2020 resolutions

threw a spontaneous NYE party with seven other friends and thought it would be fun to compile “best of” lists. that list is only for us to know, heh. then we did some reflections then some resolutions. after that we played games and got drunk. i don’t get how 10 persons managed to use 18 mugs/glasses but also i used three different ones for different beverages (wow).


2019 REFLECTIONS

(got these questions online while i was planning for the party, please pardon the sequence that doesn’t make sense)

an unexpected surprise last year: that i won a scholarship despite horrible academics results in the previous semester. however, the scholarship is awarded to students who engage themselves socially, a lot. hah.

best advice i heard last year: watch your mouth.

best thing i learned last year: to execute some basic life functions with my left hand. i still brush my teeth and eat with my left hand.

one word to describe last year: dramatic.

biggest regret last year: i fucked up something.

an unexpected obstacle last year: broken right arm and completely-torn right knee ligament at the same time.

best place i visited last year: Verona, Italy.

most excited for this this year: ironically but honestly, university.

most challenging thing last year: at one point after my accident, i had problems with my physical health, mental health (had anxiety and depression), emotional health, with some people i hold dear, with exam stress because i was very far behind classes because i missed a lot of classes due to poor mental and physical conditions, with a new job as a student research assistant at a university institute, and i had to manage a student association. i was literally operating with a broken arm, broken ligament, broken brain, and broken heart, at the same time. somehow i pulled through…

most grateful for last year: …thanks to friends who stuck around.

most inspiring person i met last year: will it be very narcissistic to nominate myself for this? cos i would actually be very impressed and inspired if i met someone who went through those shits like me; because despite having a terrible time most of the semester, the semester ended as if nothing bad happened. omitting the (extremely) negative aspects, i actually had a great semester, well, academically. and financially. this might be material for another blog post that ive been trying to work on.

my biggest achievement of 2019: having written the best paper in an exam; also, best grade to date!

funniest moment of the year: there probably were a lot cos i do a lot of dumb things/ do a lot of things dumbly but the one that came to my mind was the moment when i was on the operation theatre for my RIGHT arm surgery, alone and scared, and they nearly operated my left arm cos that was stated on the document.

place i want to visit this year: Poland. Turkey.

best moment of the year: couldn’t decide…


2020 RESOLUTIONS

these are quite vague because i need my privacy.

  • journal every day.
  • save money; get my finances straight.
  • be physically and mentally fit enough to go to the moon.
  • listen to a podcast every week.
  • spend more time alone.
  • eat my ego.
  • finish reading the books on the shelf.
  • not destroy the left side of my body.
  • try to churn out at least one blog post per month. a real post, not a reading journal. very unrealistic in the first three months because of exams…

    PS: HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Lessons Learnt While Making (and Losing) Friends

  1. First impressions don’t really matter. Think about this: once you made a good impression; either by dressing up or acting like you normally wouldn’t, you’re gonna struggle a lot to preserve that image of you.
  2. Don’t expect people to treat you the same way as you treat them.
  3. You will meet new humans and you might have less time for the old ones, but keep in touch not just by seeing each other on social medias; initiate personal contact with them.
  4. People grow apart. According to Dunbar’s number, which is 150, that’s the average number of stable social relationships we can handle at one time. That means that, as you move on to next chapters in your life, the people in your direct vicinity change too and the names on the list of 150 change. Some names would be removed and replaced by new names. And that’s okay.
  5. People are generally nice and friendly, even if there is a language barrier.
  6. “It doesn’t degrade you when others treat you poorly; it degrades them.” – Ryan Holiday
  7. Knowing just a few words/phrases in someone’s native language can easily make someone’s day. However, do not know too many or else it might convey the impression that you actually speak the language, which of course makes someone’s day even more, but then you’d have to put on a poker face because you absolutely understood nothing when they spoke more and that someone’s day would then be a teeny bit ruined.
  8. It’s possible to love platonically.
  9. It’s easier to make new friends when you’re alone…even easier if your new friend was also alone. Loners attract. That’s kwy’s Friendship Law.
  10. Despite the amount of friends I have (ya i admit that i’m quite sociable) I think it’s very important to be able to be alone, being the company of yourself. Though I have failed to execute this well at the time of finishing the draft.
  11. Do not text someone you care when you’re in the company of someone else you care. Two things here; you should respect the company; and because you might not be focusing completely on both parties, you might sound rude
  12. Trust your intuitions about someone you just met. Bad vibes always turns out to be true in some way. Protect yourself.
  13. You really only need a few friends that truly care about you and support you. Quality > quantity.
  14. When asking for advice:  people will impose their reality on you and tell you stuff based on very different mindsets. So only ask for advice from people with whom you’d trade places with.
  15. Never take advantage of your friends in any regard. Or make them feel taken advantage of.
  16. Everyone has boundaries that might be very different from yours; physically, emotionally, mentally.
  17. Dropping someone off will always be hard, no matter how much that someone has wronged you.
  18. Envy shouldn’t exist in a friendship; you should be genuinely happy for a your friends’  achievements.

Mental Disability vs Physical Disability

raw thoughts on this topic. feeling slightly better after almost-breakdowns today. hoping for a better tomorrow.


i loved writing. not just text producing, but actual writing by hand. there’s just something very soothing about transferring ink from pen and graphite from pencil to paper (i prefer the latter). i don’t have the best penmanship, there’s nothing unique about it other than it being very tiny at times; at least i don’t write cursive, but that’s for another day. anyway, that’s why i like to write cards; i really like practising the craft.

i am right-handed and i broke my right arm. the hand has been immobile since because of the splint. i am currently physically-disabled. so i have to learn to use my left hand in activities like brushing my teeth, using chopsticks, and writing. i’ve been practicing to write since day 2 and maybe i’ve made good progress cos people said things like “wow you write real good, it’s legible”; i think they’re too kind. i started out optimistic because this is an opportunity to train to be ambidextrous. but it didn’t escalate that quickly.

i stopped playing badminton intensively after my favourite player retired early because her knee ligament was torn and she could not regain her level of play. now i know what it’s like to have a torn knee ligament: it’s hard to straighten the leg and i couldn’t bend the leg completely. i go out with a crutch. i get offered seats. passersby give me pitiful glances.


i also suffer now and then from panic attacks and have experienced what it feels like to be depressed and i had mild suicidal thoughts before. ya, deep down i’m kinda screwed up. i know exactly when did i fall into this dark hole and though i know what’s it like outside the hole and how to crawl out of it, i’m still stuck inside. it’s worse now cos the stronger half of my limbs aren’t functioning. i guess i’ll stay here for a little while longer.

back to the question i posed on Instagram:

not surprisingly, most people think that a mental disability sucks more than a physical one. i would think so too, if i weren’t so handicapped now. as someone who has been affected in both ways to the point where i ceased to function as a normal human being, i think i am quite qualified to answer this.

i’ve been pondering upon this for a few weeks now. to me the question boiled down to something like:

what is worse? theoretically being able to do something but for some reason not do it or being theoretically unable to do something and thus not do it?

gotta thank French for this epiphany; merci for the existence of pouvoir and savoir.

i decided that it’s worse to be unable to do things because you simply cannot.


do you know how depressing it is:

to concentrate real hard on writing and it still happens slowly and comes out ugly?

to loathe writing when a long sentence is encountered? this is an understatement because after 3 weeks, i am officially avoiding writing. because i’m that incompetent.

to look at the mess at home and not being able to tidy it up as i wanted to?

to require assistance in basic tasks? i’m a burden to the people around me.

to despise walking?

to not be able to shower properly? i’m a dirtbag.

to realise that, without help, i couldn’t survive? what is self-sufficiency; seems like a million light years away.


however i must say that it’s definitely easier to recover from physical illnesses because of medical advances and people can actually help with it (surgeries, care, etc). although there are also drugs for mental illnesses (i’m never administered any btw), in the end the patient is the only one who could help themselves, no external interference will be extremely helpful.

take care, everybody. life is too short to be disabled.

one day i would die in such a dumb way that you couldn’t feel sad for me cos it’s so ridiculous

In 4 days I’ve managed to do some very dumb (but luckily pretty minor) things that could demonstrate my skills in being so clumsy that one day i would die in such a dumb way that you couldn’t feel sad for me cos it’s so ridiculous.


  • So I’ve cut fingers with a knife twice in two months now, that makes it an average of once per month. It’s not a very shallow cut and some flesh is missing and there was an amount of blood but ya im still alive. Handicap-level was quite high though I cut my left hand cos I could barely shower and do dishes without feeling pain and coincidentally i was smart enough to host parties at my place so i had to make my guests wash the plates, #BestHostEver .

 

  • I choked while showering. Don’t ask me how.
  • I sprained my ankle very badly this morning cos i wanted to wake up to kill the alarm clock but somehow i twisted my ankle. While being half conscious. I think it was because my legs were numb beforehand so my leg isn’t correctly aligned? And I panicked because of that annoying alarm so boom, I’m jumping around my house on my other good foot. Handicap level is mega high cos i can barely move without feeling pain at the swollen fat ankle.

First update came just two days after i published the original. i really am gonna kill myself soon am i? It’s Thursday and I haven’t left my residence since Monday night because of the sprained ankle. However, I’m feeling a lot of love from my friends; neighbours helping me buy stuff from the city and checking on me, friends coming over to study with me and accompanying me, and generally a lot of kind messages and tips on healing my ankle.  Life is great. Okay not really cos there’s snow outside and i really wanna have a real snowball fight but i can barely run.

  • the reason why i’ve been reluctant to leave my home is because i’d have to put on shoes cos it’s cold outside (at home in Malaysia it’s perfectly fine with slippers) but my classmate and i saw people building a snowwoman (we know it’s a woman because she has long hair. sorry i don’t have a picture) so i had to go out. In slippers.  My extremities were so frozen that it hurt for a long while even when I got into the warmness of my house. so yeah. DUMB. But also, because of the freezing cold, i walked more normally in the snow cos my feet were numb.

 i broke an arm and a knee ligament playing badminton indoors

 

 


This post will be updated as I gather more convincing proofs that one day i would have a tearless funeral.

Grieving

It’s a strong word. It’s a strong verb. It’s a strong emotion.


I haven’t grieved for a long time; I’ve also never grieved the loss of a friend. I don’t know what to feel, or rather, I don’t know what I am feeling.

I don’t think my brain has completely registered it. Maybe it understood it for a while when there were tears streaming down my eyes while I was trying to study how to measure temperature. I didn’t exactly learn how to because it’s in German, the language that brought us together.

It’s been more than a year since we last saw each other in person, though we did do video calls with the others in Australia and Hong Kong this year. I will miss the random phone calls when I was in Göttingen, in Selangor, and in Osaka. I don’t think anyone else has ever tried to reach me at so many places.


I’m sorry for not texting you that often, especially since we started university, how was your university life actually? I’ve only managed to hear a little about it from other people’s mouths. I wish I talked to you personally instead.

I thought we had time. After all, we were supposed to have a Goethe reunion at some point right? And we’re all in Europe, a small continent, where it takes just over three hours to fly from one end to another end.


I cannot imagine how the others who were much closer to you are coping; I’m suffering. I had company the days before and couldn’t mourn properly. Tonight is dedicated to that.

It is strange.

I think, subconsciously, I believe that you’re gone. Yet consciously, my brain couldn’t grasp that concept. Alas, sometimes I couldn’t believe that my mom’s gone too, haha. Why are we alive if we would die anyway? What’s the purpose of life then?


I didn’t care enough to decipher your Instagram bio, but now I want to know. Maybe I’d write a computer program to find the answer. I hope you’re laughing in heavens at how much trouble this little beer lady will be going through.

How do I find your Spotify playlist that has the MAINSTREAM songs we listen to?

I’m drinking mead, aka honey wine, and I’m under alcohol influence but I also have to do the dishes myself later.


Brandenburger Tor, it’s been a week since I last texted you, why don’t you reply?

cos i had a bad day

though i actually don’t feel that bad but it’s actually bad. why am i so optimistic. anyway it’s late so this is gonna be a listicle.


BAD THINGS THAT HAPPENED TODAY (November 12, 2018):

  • Belgian train delays en route back to Aachen. The trains were never on time anyway.
  • my bolster broke open and most of its inner organs came out while i washed it in the washing machine. i am so sad. the bolster has been with me for almost 15 years i think. i’m gonna be a surgeon and sew the wound. but tomorrow.
  • i bought a cork board to better organise my stuff and i also bought Sugru for that matter but the board was too heavy and i spent 30 minutes trying to fix it on my wall and ultimately gave up which is shitty cos there are now stains on my wall and an unhanged cork board.
  • i didn’t get a cheese cloth to sieve my honey oat vodka so i had to do it manually by hand. for a longgggg time. feeling so dumb.
  • a bus driver got out of his bus to scold me cos apparently i was cycling to close to the bus.
  • i normally look forward to receiving letters in the mail but today i got one that notifies me that i have to pay some taxes. worse thing is, they didn’t even spell my full name out and got my gender wrong. how dare they ask me for money if they don’t even respect my basic identity.
  • freaking drying machine didn’t work
  • i accidentally locked myself out of the room while returning some stuff to a friend. the problem could be easily solved cos i know the caretaker well. but. there is always a but. BUT lazy ass me has the habit of leaving my key in the keyhole so i don’t misplace them anywhere else in the room so my key was left in the keyhole and the replacement key wouldn’t work. that’s why the caretaker had to pry open my door (he did it in less than 30 seconds) and i have to pay a fine tomorrow.

ON THE BRIGHT SIDE:

  • i had a great weekend in Belgium though i spent too much money and calories.
  • i managed to do some home improvement stuff
  • i did rock-climbing!! it was soooooooo funnnnnnn i can’t wait to go again
  • i handed in my homework on time
  • i have great friends!!!