Friday, December 31, 2010

Dedicated to You, Yes, You

Yeah, it’s the end of the year again and considering one of my New Year’s resolution is to blog more frequently, I should start now and make good on it.

2010 has been one crazy year for me. It has been full of ups and downs, twists and turns but looking back, it happened the way it did for a reason.

I could write this whole post about the amazing things which have happened this year. God has really been so good to me, although I know I do not deserve it at all. But as I was thinking for the whole night, what made 2010 special was all the people God brought into my life. There were new ones, there were old ones, there were old ones made new and new ones made old. It’s pretty lengthy, so do look for your name in here. For all of you who walked into my heart this year and left footprints, this is for you.

5 Budians ‘09

We’ve left school a year ago but to me, you were always, always close to my heart. I’ve never had such amazing classmates who’ve became such dear friends to me at the same time. I’ve really missed all of you and for all the times we had together. And I’m so glad that whenever we get to meet up, it feels as comfortable as always. With you guys, I could let my guard down and just be who I am. Thank you for reminding me who Tze Quan is. =) Thank you for reminding me not to change because I am loved just the way I am. I am forever grateful that no matter what happened throughout the year as we went our separate ways, we could always come back and it would be like we never left. ‘Not everyone is prominent, but everyone is significant’. With you all, I knew I counted for something and that I had a group of people who will always be there for me. Thank you Sam, Puteri, Hui Ting, Sarah-Ann, Sarah Liau, Pei Qi, Jian Shen, Aaron, De Ming, Nick, Ling Ben, Syn, Suba, Yan Chi and everyone of you 5 Budians who were there for me when I needed reminding of who I am. And Sarah-Ann, I appreciate every one of your long texts you sent me during NS. =)

Freak and Ass

I told you two before that if my year was made into a TV series, you two would probably only make guest star appearances despite the huge role you’ve played in my year. Thank you for always, always being my sisters to laugh with me and lend me your shoulders when I needed a cry. Being with you two again reminded me of who I was, that I didn’t need anyone else to make me feel like I matter. I had the both of you to double the joy and half the sorrow. I miss you two very very much but I am eternally thankful that even though we’re apart, we’re never really apart. After all, true friendship is not about being inseparable, it’s about being separated but nothing changes. We’ll prove those who say that high school friendship ends in college wrong. I may not have biological sisters, but I have you and that’s the very best God has given me. I hope we’ll last and that I was and will be a rock for both of you to rely on as well. I love you two very much. =)

NS friends

T.R.A.G. =) I always thank God for NS because I met you three, proving that when He sends us to a test, He also gives us the means to ace it. I had the three of you to keep me accountable and, ‘It well may be that we will never meet again in this lifetime, so let me say before we part, so much of me, is what I learned from you, you’ll be with me, like a handprint on my heart’. De Ming you deserve special mention because you were here too. =) It would’ve been even harder without your wisdom handling all those company disunity problems. Selva you too. Thank you for helping me to cope with it during NS. I’m glad we had NS because I finally got to know you. I’m very touched and I’ll do my very best to live up to your expectations. I won’t let you down! ZHENG LING! WOMAN! Good thing we didn’t break the bed with you hopping on it every night to talk, talk, talk until we oversleep the next morning and can’t get up for PT. I got to learn just how amazing you are and no regrets going NS at all because how else would I have found someone like you? =) Kieran, Emman, Chong, Kah Fong, Sabob, Soon, Baby Soon ( =P ), Tall Shaun, Short Sean, Black Nic, White Nic (HAHAHAHAHAHA), Tommy, Silas and everyone else from CF too. And my dormmates! Who says race is a boundary? RUBBISH. BOSS! Ni utk u. Bila I dengar balik penjelasan u pasal baju pt u yg basah, selalu tergelak cam org giler ajer. =P Dengar lagu kantoi pun camtu. Aduh la boss. =P Bangga I tau bila u kata I kawan cina u yg pertama. I rindu u sgt sgt sgt dan I janji takkan lupa u sampai bila-bila. Kalau dtg sini telefon tau?

Form 6 =)

You all showed me that you don’t need years to have such chemistry and rich friendships. It can happen anywhere, anytime and in no time at all. Though I only had the opportunity to be with you all for a short month and a half, I already gained so much from all of you. Shiels, from the very first day I sat behind you, we knew we were going to be friends. It doesn’t only happen in books! Soo Yin, I admire your sporting-ness and your initiative. Plus I like the way you talk. HAHA! Xiao Xi, for your forth willingness to share your life story and the reason behind the dream of being a doctor, thank you. Wei Wen you blur blur girl. =) But when we’re all together, there’s always laughter with you around. OON-HUI! We go waaaay back la woman. I know you’ll do great in Form 6. I never told you this before but I have always admired how reliable and trustworthy you are. DREE! To go back to the place where so many joyous memories are stored with one of my bestest friends in the world is just one of God’s miracles. =) MING RUI MING RUI MING RUI!!! You are undoubtedly one of the people I thank God the MOST for. Although we could only stay awhile, we both know there’s going to be a special bond between us, didn’t we? =) Thank you for the calls when we were both in new worlds and starting over AGAIN. Facebook predicted so let’s see it through ya hamster? Aaron! Gosh I miss you walking me home. Can you teach more guys to be gentlemen? The books very heavy lo... HAHA! Robyn a.k.a Penguin, thank you for giving me much laughter. I still can’t dance Sorry Sorry so that one you’ll probably have to teach me again yeh. =P I thank God I got to see you during the Worship Conference too. And you’re right, it reminded me too that I must treasure the friendship we have. Adrian, gosh, I’ve known you years. Haha! I’m glad we got to be proper classmates, if only for a little while. All the best you guys for STPM next year and Ming Rui for matric. We all get our 4A’s and do whatever we dream of doing, aite? =)

Church buddies

We all Budak Gereja kan? (Jon, Hanrick, this means church kiddos aite? =P ) Nicole, you are without question my longest and closest friend I have in church. For the times you called me while I was in NS, thank you. It meant very much to me to know I was still part of NSt even though physically I wasn’t ablt to be there. I always got your back, any time, in anything because I know you’ll be there for me as well. Kate, I hope next year will be a much better one because we have a lot to talk about, don’t we? Thank you for listening to that looooong story and you too, know that I’ll always be here to listen and I’ll never judge you for your decision. Rachel Rose! Thank you for taking over cell so willingly and so wonderfully. You are AWESOME woman. Plus, you actually dreamt I got the scholarship which was very very amazing. It’s a pity you had to leave for Tronoh just as we were getting to know each other better but I’m very happy and proud of you for your scholarship. =) Zara! I've watch you grow by leaps and bounds. I'm very proud of you. Debbie, you too. Thank you for really rising up and taking the challenge. You've been a tremendous blessing to me. For all my cell girls, again and again you inspire me to keep the faith and keep running the race. =) Aaron! My best friend! HAHA! For all the laughter and the tummy aches you gave me from it. And I’m very sorry about the water balloon. HAHAHAHA! You have been an amazing friend to me, and you were always there to listen when I needed to unload. And cheer me up because you always make me realise that there’s more to enjoy about life when there’re tears in my eyes because of laughter instead of sadness. =) Jon! You too! Your company is such a comfort to me, all the time. I really love your spirit and how you’re always so positive. It makes me optimistic as well. I’m looking forward to us jamming soon. Thank you for being there for me too. I’ll treasure the moments we have left before you fly off. Hanrick, partner in crime? Haha! Thank you for understanding and it was good to have someone to share the dilemma with. You still owe me badass yo. I’ll be coming Couz more often next year. So save a seat for me ya? LEO! It’s been awesome serving with you, working with the album, being on for worship for main service. Just well, go easy on the potpourri next time ok? =) CALEB YOU MIA FELLA! You know I think you’re an amazing musician and jamming with you is always, always, always a joy. I learn a lot from you in the band and you’re another one of those people who will always put me in a good mood, no matter what. Shen! My sifu, thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve alongside you. Please teach me jazz chords. =) Keith kor, thank you for your wisdom and the advice. Thank you for looking out for me too. =) You’re always someone I look up to. Ivan, thank you. For all the leaders and for Ps Dan and Auntie Ann, thank you for guiding me and being a part of a family I am so privileged to be in. All of you remind me that being in the family of God is the greatest gift He gave us. The friendship, the laughter, the moments we share show me over and over again then I can never leave the Kingdom of God. I love you all very much.

College mates

For my classmates, we got 6 more years together. =) Let’s make them count. Fiona, thank you for our many emo-talk sessions. Who knew the random drawing would end up in both of us being so similar in nature being roommates as well? Jane, I’m looking forward to all our classes especially with our first successful result-faking physics practical. =P I’m bringing food next time, I’m becoming hungry like you. HAHA! Yen Jing, for those midnight girl talk times, gosh, we all really can talk about ANYTHING don’t we? =P Wan Xin, wah you so responsible I also paiseh la beside you. Eldest sister hor, when we go India, I know who’ll be the one telling us to CLEAN OUR ROOMS. Haha! Hsiang Ling, I do hope I get to spend more time with you because you and Mummy will be leaving us sooner. Chien Wei, thank you for always helping me send me back. =) Both of us mia from house 2 but I think we still count as honorary members of the house right, right? (Be nice the rest of you. HAHA!) MUUUUMMMMYYY!!! You’re so lovable and I feel so comfortable around you. I failed during Tron but I will be back to try again! MUAHAHAHAHA! =P Though I heard you stayed awake for Despicable Me. HAH! I TOLD YOU IT’S GOOD! Ab, you come under here too. I’m very very very glad there’ll be another Seafieldian together for the whole of our MBBS programme. Whenever we have the urge to reminisce, we’re covered for the next 6 years. =)

Special Mention

For those of you who helped me through those very, very dark days. Jas and Dree I’ve mentioned. =) For the Bliss and the pillow slamming moments. Hui Ting for the unexpected meeting during the Worship Conference. For sharing your heart and what you went through helped me so much more than I can ever say. You’re right, the most beautiful of rainbows come after the heaviest of storms. You were one of those rainbows. =) Mira, I don’t know how I could’ve ever done it without you. =) No matter what happens, yes, we’ll always be friends. Because at the end of the day, losing someone I’ve known for most of my life is never worth it. Selva, for NS. =) I’m sure I wasn’t the easiest to handle but you were there anyway. Darren, thank you for all the comfort you gave. And there were many of them. Haha! I really appreciate all the kindness you’ve shown me. =) James, for putting up with my many disappearances, I hoped I have explained fully. Thank you for staying a good friend to me. It means very much to me.

And you

If you see this. Thank you. For the moments we shared. The year was what it was because of you. ‘Who can say if I’ve been changed for the better, but because I knew you, I have been changed for good’. I wish you every happiness. Goodbye.

Writing this makes me so overwhelmed and thankful to God for everything He has done for me in my life this year. I thought I only had a few things to say but it turned out that this was just one way for Him to show me the richness of the friendships I had this year. Thank you, all of you, for making my year so special. =)

Happy New Year 2011.

P.S If you want to leave a comment, can you do me a favour? Comment under this post and not put it in my cbox? Thanks! =)

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Not Enough Rocks

Show me a man with a broken spirit and I’ll show you a man who is eaten up with bitterness.

If there’s one thing that saps a person’s strength more than anything else, it’s bitterness. As long as we walk this earth, we’re going to be offended, blindsided, betrayed, wounded. It’s common notion that everyone hurts. We are united not so much by our joys, but by our sorrows. And life is not life without them.

The problem with bitterness is that once it takes root in us, it becomes very difficult to be released from it. And it eats us from the inside out. We fail to see the beauty of the other things around, preferring to dwell in our misery. Bitterness is also something we want to nurse. We WANT to have a reason to be angry, to rant, to hate the person who caused us so much grief. We WANT to resent the situation the person put us in. We WANT to believe that everything looks dark because of them. We WANT bitterness, period.

But guess what?

The ironic thing is, while you are tossing and turning in bed at night in your heartache, the person who hurt you is probably having a good night’s sleep.

So ask yourself, who’s the one suffering then?

Me, yes, me.

And the only way I’ll ever be able to be free from it is this – forgive.

I know what many people say about forgiving and forgetting. To be honest, I find it very difficult to completely forget the hurt done. For me, forgiving and forgetting are on opposite sides of the coin. You can’t have one without losing the sight of the other. To forget would mean it never mattered to me and forgetting would mean I would make the same mistakes. I wouldn’t want to forget because that would mean I would do it all over again. To forgive would be me being able to remember, but I don’t feel the pang of resentment anymore. Which is why I cannot fathom how God can both forgive and remember our sins no more. But that’s another story altogether. =)

We could hang to our bitterness. It’ll be so easy.

Hating someone is always easier than letting go. But where would that lead us?

A story is told that Leonardo da Vinci painted ‘The Lord’s Supper’ when living in Milan. Before he could paint the thirteen figures, it was necessary to find men who could serve as models. Each model had to have a face that expressed da Vinci’s vision of the particular man he would represent. Needless to say, this proved to be a tedious task – to find just the right face.

One Sunday, as da Vinci was at the cathedral for mass, he saw a young man in the choir who looked like da Vinci’s idea of how Jesus must have looked. He had the features of love, tenderness, caring, innocence, compassion, and kindness. Arrangements were made for the young man, Pietri Bandinelli, to sit as the model for the Lord.

Years went by, and the painting was still not complete. Da Vinci could not find just the right face for Judas. He was looking for a man whose face was streaked with despair, wickedness, greed, bitterness and sin.

Ten years later after starting the picture, he found a man in prison whose face wore all the qualities of Judas for which he had been searching. Consent was given for the prisoner to pose, and he sat as the model for Judas. Leonardo worked feverishly for days. But as the work went on, he noticed certain changes taking place in the prisoner. His face seemed filled with tension and his bloodshot eyes were filled with horror as he gaped at the likeness of himself painted on the canvas.

One day, Leonardo sensed the man’s uneasiness so greatly that he stopped painting and asked, “What seems to trouble you so much?” The man buried his face in his hands and was convulsed with sobs. After a long time, he raised his head and inquired, “Don’t you remember me? Years ago I was your model for the Lord Jesus”.

Bitterness is the root of the downfall of men. As the saying goes, a wounded tiger is the most dangerous. A hurting heart is the most vindictive.

I choose not to be bitter.

In Forrest Gump, Forrest's friend Jenny had endured a childhood of abuse and neglect at the hands of her father. In one scene, Forrest and Jenny visit her old house, and Forrest watches as Jenny throws stone after stone at the weather-beaten old house which held so many painful memories for her. When Jenny finally quits throwing rocks and began to cry, Forrest said, "Sometimes there just aren't enough rocks."

There just aren’t enough rocks to fling at the person who has hurt us. But even more so, there just aren’t enough rocks to hurl at ourselves. Morrie from Tuesdays with Morrie says, ‘Forgive everyone everything now. Not everyone has the chance to wait’. He wasn’t only talking about the other person. He also meant our own selves.

We... need to forgive ourselves... For all the things we didn't do. All the things we should have done. You can't get stuck on the regrets of what should have happened. ~Tuesdays with Morrie~

At the end of the day, when everything is over, why should I still be bitter? Why should I let it kill me inside? Why should I still hurt?

For what?

And so, I’ll forgive you.

But more importantly, I’ll forgive myself.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The 'Tick' Story.

Once again, I apologise for not updating my blog as often as I’d like. I wish I could say that I was busy (which I was but that’s not the only reason) but truth be told, I didn’t have much inspiration to write anything. Haha! The lack of impetus due to the lack of English lessons has gotten to me. But now I have too much to share. I’ll take it slow then.

It’s a Sunday morning and my brother and I spent it attacking my dog and searching for ticks in her. She has a MASSIVE amount of them! It accumulated because *ahem* I haven’t been bathing her often. But as we were performing this ‘minor surgical procedure’ requiring the skilled hands of the surgeon (my brother) and an anaesthetic (me holding Melody still while blowing into her face), something struck me.

How many of us have ‘ticks’ on us? Parasites that we have allowed into our lives to drain us of the time, energy, even money on things which aren’t important?

I know I have. Far too many actually.

For too long I’ve let them take root in my life when I should have taken them out a long time ago. The problem is ticks hate it when you try to take them out. ESPECIALLY when they’ve engorged themselves silly on my poor dog. You pull them out and they scamper all around the dog and squishing them is pretty disgusting too. Sometimes it’s easier to leave them in because after awhile, you cease to notice them as parasites but just assume they’re part of your life, ‘For better or for worse’.

In that sense, taking out the ‘ticks’ in our life is never easy. It’s painful. (My poor dog yelped when we pulled them out). It requires the strength of the will and the courage of the heart. Strength of the will not only to recognise the ‘ticks’ but to decide and carry out its removal. Courage of the heart to then stand firm on the decision.

The worse part of ticks is if you don’t fully remove them, the head still remains in the wound and the dog will have a bad infection. Which is why my brother and I keep squinting at the ticks we removed to make sure the head is out as well.

I guess that is true in the sense of our parasites too. Sometimes my courage falters and I didn’t remove the ‘tick’ fully. Sadly, I end up making mistakes far worse than before.

What are the ‘ticks’ in your life? Most of the time, we already know what they are but for some reason or another, we want to keep them in. For me, if there’s one thing I learnt about these pests, it is sometimes it’s good to turn around and go back to the beginning when you’re hopelessly lost trying to move forward. When too many doors have closed, when it becomes too difficult, it could be God trying to tell you that, ‘Hey, it’s time to let go’.

And so I will let go of these ‘ticks’. Painful as it is, sometimes the best place to be is right at the beginning again to start over.

Friday, August 13, 2010

My Role Model is Patch Adams

Any aspiring young student who has taken an interest in becoming a doctor will be greeted with two responses – extreme admiration or extreme admonishment. I received both simultaneously when I expressed my wish to become a doctor. Admonishment because medicine is an arduous path – one which requires many years of study and a lot of money. Admonishment because being a doctor would mean sacrificing ‘me time’ for others. Admonishment because being a doctor is just plain difficult.

However, what made me continue to stick to this dream of mine? For me, the conviction lies strongly in what I watched in the 1998 movie, ‘Patch Adams’. In the climax of the show, Adams was to attend a hearing where it will be decided whether he can graduate from medical school. His final speech left a deep impact on me. He said, ‘You treat a disease, you win, you lose. You treat a person, I guarantee you, you'll win, no matter what the outcome.’

I aspire to be a doctor with a difference. I can say that it is my right to get the healthcare that I deserve but at the same time, what is my responsibility to ensure that such healthcare exists? The world, our country is in need of doctors with an excellent spirit. Doctors who treat their patients, not their diseases. Excellence does not equate to perfection. There are no perfect doctors, only excellent ones. But what does it mean to be excellent? To be an excellent doctor, it does not necessarily mean healing everyone who walks into my practice. Being an excellent doctor is one who is able to lift up the human spirit even in the midst of sickness.

As for me, that is the kind of doctor I want to be. The kind of doctor who upholds the Hippocrates Oath, primum non nocere – First do no harm. Harm not necessarily meaning physical harm but also the emotional wellbeing of patients. The kind of doctor who will seek to improve the quality of life, not just delaying death. The kind of doctor who will always bring hope to everyone who walk through the door.

P.S I found this somewhere in my computer as I was deleting all the junk I have there. I'll probably edit this when I have more time later. =) But my next post would be around this subject.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

A Risk Worth Taking

Yes, I know it has been ages but one thing led to another and before I knew it, it was 3 months since I last posted here. The thought of abandoning this blog has occurred but then again, after much thought, I decided against it. So, this is to tie up the loose ends and to provide the conclusion to what happened after the JPA interview.

In other words, here’s to closure.

To provide a prelude to the story, let’s just say I took a huge risk in taking an additional 3 subjects towards the end of my Form 4 year. I thought taking 10 was bad but after taking 13, 10 seemed like a walk in the park. What with the change of grading system to A+ barely a month before SPM, the risk seemed even more daunting. However, there was nowhere to go but ahead and thank God, I got 12 A+ and 1 A. As such, I applied for JPA scholarship.

The wait for the results were endless. One day merged to the next with no sense of separation. I ended up registering for Form 6 because the results were still not released by then. It honestly felt like in some ways, I had never left. It’s true that the best thing about going back to my old school is that everything is familiar. Yet at the same time, that’s the worst thing too. My heart wasn’t there yet because of some many unfinished things and as such, I had a difficult time committing fully to the situation I was in.

After 2 weeks in school, the results were released. And I did not get it. Was I disappointed? I definitely was. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t angry. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t cry. But there was nothing I could do besides appealing. Even then, I didn’t dare put too much hope into it any longer. By then, I was afraid to hope because I was afraid of being rejected all over again.

So I went ahead with Form 6, throwing myself into it because now, it was all or nothing. The only way I was going to be a doctor was if I do well to do it locally. But over time, I had amazing friends that I had the privilege of meeting. It was funny how fast we clicked together and being around them made Form 6 bearable, pleasurable even.

In fact, I was with all of them when the results for the appeal came out. This time, I got it. Let me tell you, this is one of the very few times I’m unable to put into words how I felt. I was just so thankful that God gave this amazing blessing that the feeling just overwhelmed me.

But it was a bittersweet. I was leaving my friends behind, people who I’ve come to love and enjoy being around with. It was difficult and I ended up crying harder compared to when I didn’t get it.

Now I’m doing my A-levels in Management and Science University bound for India to do medicine. It’s a new chapter of my life for me and one I’m looking forward to embarking. I just thank God for giving me this opportunity to chase my dreams and become a doctor. Even though it hasn't been easy living in a hostel, I would do all of it because He has opened the door wide open for me. It would be crazy not to go all out running through it now.

So to all of you who will be reading this sometime next year and are planning to apply for JPA scholarship, all the best! It’s not going to be easy that’s certain, so I just have this to say. Don’t take the scholarship as Plan A. The saddest part for me to go through was the remarks I got when I chose to enter Form 6. Yes, I chose and willingly entered Form 6 by my own decision. Because for me, Form 6 was never plan B. It was always THE plan.

But don’t let other people discourage you from applying and trying anyway! Especially for you who want to do medicine. I had so many people telling me, 'I told you so' after I didn't get the scholarship the first round. But it's ok! It’s a risk but it’s a risk worth taking. After all, to love is to risk not being loved in return. To hope is to risk pain. To try is to risk failure. But risks must be taken because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

How My JPA Interview Went

I’m indefinitely grateful for all those forums and blogs who wrote and explained in great detail what to expect for the JPA interview. Because of that, I feel that I should share about my experience in my interview for the benefit of those who will be going for it next year and the years to come. So yeah, I hope this helps. Haha!

I found out about my interview date on the 29th of March. Everything is online these days so likewise, I checked via the JPA website, esila. I got the 5th of April, which is the first day of the interviews. Whether that is a good thing or not, I wasn’t quite sure but well, at least mine will be over quick.

Or so I thought.

The journey though only spanning one week is tough. First, you need to prepare a whole lot of documents to be shown and certified. That meant trips to school. Out of 5 schooling days then, I returned to school for 4 days. There was always something which needed to be signed and verified by the school heads. Not only that, you have to attach all your certificates from Form 4 and Form 5, all the time hoping that this will be enough to give you as much co-curriculum marks as possible. NOTE: FOR THOSE WHO WENT NATIONAL SERVICE, BE SURE THAT THIS IS THE FIRST ONE OF YOUR STACK OF CERTIFICATES. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT. While I was still in camp, my camp commandant told us that this would give us the maximum 10 merit points for JPA interview. I’m not sure what the merit points mean; but if you have that certificate, treat it like gold. You also have to take an online personality quiz. It’s not difficult – it’s all YES/NO questions.

Oh, and of course looking for appropriate clothes. I just borrowed my friend’s baju kurung and made sure I had covered shoes. You can wear formal outfit too but I heard that baju kurung is the safest. With my clear folder filled, all I could do was pray and pray for favourable interviewers and topics. With that, I went to sleep.

I arrived at Putrajaya around 7.15 in the morning and in the lobby, there are whiteboards up with lists of names pasted on it. What I needed to do was to check for my name to determine which panel I am in. I was put in Panel 3 and my name was all the way at the bottom. I knew we had to enter in groups of 5 and judging by the dismal position of my name, I knew I was going to be the last group to enter. I hope the prospect of lunch will make the interviewers more sympathetic to us. Haha!

I got to meet quite a number of my schoolmates and even those I met in National Service. It was there I found out that they more or less arranged the interviews according to the course you choose. For example, Monday and Tuesday are for medicine, dentistry and pharmacy. I’ve yet to hear of anyone applying for veterinarian science. The first interview in my panel went in at about 8.20 leaving the rest of us to our own devices. Word of advice, DON’T VIEW OTHER PEOPLE’S FILES. You’ll start feeling rather inadequate. Haha!

Anyway, I did say my group was going to be the last to enter. And I forgot to bring a book. Those who know me would know that this is very unlike me. So I suggest you should pack in some form of entertainment to keep your hands and mind busy especially if you, like me have to wait for 4 hours before they call my group in. I was surfing the net with my phone while waiting. Not bad, the wifi signal is really strong.

Alas! My turn came. I was supposed to be the second to speak but because someone from the previous group didn’t turn up (for all you know, could be one of the 30 who got the Prime Minister scholarship) the first person of my group went in earlier. This makes me the first to speak. I’m not sure again, if that’s a good thing but well, at least nobody will have said any of my points. Before you enter, you have to submit the photocopied documents to the clerk as well as your entire file. My guess is this is where they take your co-curriculum marks.

My interview began at 12. My group now only had 4 people; two malay girls, one indian boy and me. We greeted the interviewers and they told us to take a seat. All my interviewers were ladies, two malays and one indian. I was really glad when I found out that all my interviewers were ladies because that solved the awkward question of whether I should shake their hands or not. In NS, I realise that guys don’t shake the girls’ hands. I made that mistake and a lot of people were giving me rather quizzical looks. Anyway, here’s how my interview went.

They asked us to introduce ourselves in BM. This is quite standard but they didn’t really want a very long one. In fact, they just told us they wanted our name, our school, what class we are applying for and which country we would preferably like to study in. Apparently they need to fill up some documents. So ok, that was pretty easy. All of the people in my group applied for medicine with two wanting to go to UK (I’m one of them) and another two to Ireland.

Next, the group discussion. One of the interviewers explained to us that JPA sends them a list of questions to ask. The question they gave us was, ‘Do you think private healthcare insurance is an option for the government to reduce costs’? They gave us 5 minutes to discuss. So ok, we did. Once again, I’m not sure about this but I heard that they will evaluate you not only during your presentation but during your discussion time as well. I just tried to work with my group to understand first, what is private healthcare insurance and then will it really reduce costs? We agreed that yes, it does reduce costs but how? That was where we tried to come up with our respective points. Let me just say this, THINK FAST. There really is no time for us to even hear each other’s points before the interviewers told us that time’s up.

Surprisingly, our interviewers told us to answer this in BM which was something we were not prepared for. After all, the question was given to us in English. They then asked who would like to speak first. I raised my hand and started . I said (well, more or less), ‘Saya setuju bahawa insurans perubatan daripada syarikat swasta mampu membantu kerajaan mengurangkan kos. Hal ini adalah kerana bagi mereka yang mampu, mereka akan membeli insurans tersebut dan mendapat rawatan daripada hospital swasta. Ini akan mengurangkan beban tanggungan kerajaan kerana hanya mereka yang tidak berkemampuan untuk membeli insurans tersebut akan ke hospital kerajaan. Sekali gus, wang kerajaan dapat dijimatkan dan digunakan untuk mereka yang memerlukan bantuan kerajaan untuk mendapat rawatan dan perubatan. Sekarang saya akan memberi peluang kepada *the second girl’s name* untuk menerangkan secare lebih lanjut tentang topik ini’ Whether that was enough, I don’t know but they didn’t pry further into my answers or ask any more questions to prompt me to speak which looks pretty ok, I guess.

Remember though to speak in the language they ask you to speak in, no bahasa rojak. And also, try to be clear about what your point is. Like in all essays, remember to have a point, elaboration and then example. I mean, at least the interviewers will be able to understand what you’re trying to say. I learnt this from debate and sure hope it’s applicable here. =)

After all of us have spoken, the Indian lady asked us all a question. It wasn’t a group discussion but we were to answer the same question individually. And this is why you should NOT over-prepare for the interview. She asked us a simple enough question, ‘Who has a facebook account?’ We all grinned sheepishly and said yes. I mean, I was on facebook just before entering the room. Haha! She went on to say, ‘We all do but now I want you to discuss, not the advantages but the DISADVANTAGES OF FACEBOOK’. Hahaha! I felt like laughing because this is such a random question which has nothing to do with medicine really. We were given about a minute to think and we were to answer in English. They also told us that they will choose the order in which we will speak.

The second girl is now the first to speak. She said about how facebook misleads people as we can put up false information about ourselves. Next was the Indian boy. He said about how facebook leads to laziness and addiction and we don’t do anything else but stare at it. He shared about his experience and got the interviewers attention as they start asking him questions about his ‘addiction’. Next was the other malay girl and she said that facebook leads to unhealthy lifestyle because they don’t exercise when all they do is stare at facebook. And me, now I’m the last to speak. Hahaha!

Ok, I’m really really REALLY thankful that just before my interview, I was rereading all my blog posts. And this facebook topic actually falls under something I wrote quite some time ago here: So basically, what I said was, ‘Well, for me, the disadvantage of facebook is we have lost the ability to communicate with one another on a face-to-face level. I agree with what *the second girl’s name* said about how we can misrepresent ourselves on facebook. This obviously means we are not having a relationship with that person because the information we receive is not even real! I also agree with what *the Indian boy’s name* and *other malay girl’s name* said about how it makes us lazy. It’s true that we have become lazy to keep and maintain our friendships with facebook. For us, the only effort we will make is to just write on each other’s walls. We have lost one of the most important skills as humans – face-to-face communication. I acknowledge that facebook is important as for me; it’s one of the only ways I get to keep in touch with my friends from NS, many of which are from Sabah and Sarawak. However, it still stands that the disadvantage of facebook is the breakdown of face-to-face communication’. Phew... And they didn’t ask any questions throughout the whole thing. Not so sure again, if that’s a good thing but yeah, that’s how mine went.

After that, they asked us about our family background as again, they needed to fill in some forms. And then went on to extra curriculum activities. Mine had some problem because of the lack of sports. This drew their attention and they asked me why I wasn’t involved. I explained that I used to take part in track events but only for Sports Day. Moreover, I had a lot of other responsibilities such as being a Deputy Head Girl, Vice President of Christian Fellowship and a debator. It’s not easy to cope so I had to prioritize. And apparently, the deputy head girl was not in my application! Gah, thank God they asked me this question or it would have been submitted as it is. They corrected my application and then moved on to ‘Reality Check’.

Basically, they had to put in a lot of disclaimers such as the chances of us getting the scholarship is very, very slim and they will look into a whole lot of aspects such as social welfare. They just wanted to make sure that we are aware that this is an application, which means we are opening up ourselves to be rejected. And not get too disappointed about it. So get ready a plan B if this one does not work out.

At the very end of the interview, they asked us whether we would come back to Malaysia after our studies. BE HONEST. Seriously, because they WILL shoot you if you aren’t. So I said, ‘Well it true that money is a big deciding factor in choosing a job, as any econs student will tell you. But at the end of the day, you have to ask yourself what goes more than money? For me, it’s the values I’ve been brought up with and one of it is gratitude. I guess, a more fitting saying would be I can’t bite the hand which feeds me. So yes, I will come back’. Don’t get discouraged if they laugh and say, 'They all say that!' because well, it’s true. Everyone will say that but if it really comes from your heart, they can't penalise you for it. Like I said, BE HONEST because somewhere along the line, the interviewer had to stop a candidate and ask, ‘Are you just saying this because you think that’s what we want to hear?’ Yes, OUCH. And it’s ok to say you want to study overseas, just make sure you know why. Thankfully, they didn’t ask us why and that ends the session of them questioning us.

After that, the interview became a Q&A session instead. Haha! Seriously, they allowed us to ask any question we wanted and so we did. If this happens, ask questions! Never mind if it sounds ridiculous, as long as it is remotely related to the scholarship, just ask. You never know if they’re evaluating you. I didn’t know either but I just asked some questions too.

And then it ended! We shook hands with the interviewers and left the room. My ordeal lasted exactly one hour. To tell you the truth, I guess it wasn’t as bad as I thought. Now, all that’s left is to pray very hard that God will open this door. =)

I hope my experience helps!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Where's Your Flag? [Introduction]

Yes, I know it has been AGES since I blogged. It has just been a crazy quarter of the year for me this 2010. As you would have probably realized by now (due to the sad lack of updates), I was in National Service for the first 2 months and 1 week of the year. Then I had my SPM results and working stint in a hospital for a week. So NOW, I’m finally, finally free to update this to prove that, ‘NO, THIS BLOG IS NOT DEAD’.

The problem with going away for so long is that I just have too much to write. I have just too much to say because I experienced so much. That was partly also the reason why I procrastinated blogging about my NS experience until now. It was information overload that whenever I start typing, I end up pressing the backspace button and the little red ‘X’ at the top right hand corner.

But the again, I realize if I don’t get moving on it, I’ll NEVER do it. So here goes.

One of the defining moments of NS is this – OUR COMPANY FLAG ALWAYS WENT MISSING. No, seriously. The thing is, we’re supposed to keep our flag with us at all times. Yes, even when we’re sleeping. Under no circumstances were we to ask someone else to take care of it for us. It was our responsibility and we were not even allowed to pass it to our Officer-in-Charge of our company.

But in a typical funny-now-but-not-so-funny-then moment, we handed it over to a trainer. That’s right. We HANDED IT OVER. You would think we learnt our lesson after writing 50 lines on how we will take care of our flag the same way we take care of out life but I beg to differ. The second time we lost it, it was because it was left in the guys’ dorm. This time, we had 125 lines. We felt like we were in pre-school again. The third time was classic, we just walked off and left it there in the hall. This time, the trainers hid our flag and we had to hunt for it while everyone else were collecting their handphones for the last time of camp. That’s right. WE LOST OUR FLAG WHEN THERE WAS ONLY 2 DAYS LEFT OF CAMP!!!

Even though I was frustrated beyond belief due to this, looking back, there are a lot of lessons to be drawn from these incidents. And a lot of parallels can be drawn to our character and life as a whole.

What is a flag?

A flag is a piece of fabric, often flown from a pole or mast, generally used symbolically for signaling or identification.

The key word here is this – IDENTIFICATION.

Throughout camp, I came to realize that our flag wasn’t just a piece of cloth. It was more than that. It symbolized our unity, our spirit, our determination, our character and our core values. It represented who we are and whenever anyone saw it, they knew that this flag was Alpha’s.

In the same way, we carry a flag with us in life too. Well, obviously we don’t lug around a piece of cloth and wave it wherever we go. The flag we carry about is not physically visible, but it is apparent in the way we lead our lives. After all, what it that people will remember us by?


That’s the flag we bring around. It represents who we are and whenever anyone sees it, they know whom it belongs to.

So from the three incidents where we lost our flags, I could draw three lessons.

First, that there are always people around and circumstances that will arise to steal your identity and corrupt your character. And sometimes, they don’t need to do it by force. We will willingly give in.

Second, there are also times when it is a collective responsibility to uphold what we believe in. One individual’s action will affect the whole team.

And third, if we are not careful, we will make the same mistake over and over again and compromising ourselves for the same vice.

So yes, I’ll divide this post into three sections because it will kill my eyes (and yours) if I were to put this in one MEGA post.

And Sarah-Ann, I will finish what I start. =)

Friday, January 1, 2010

Triple P's - Priorities, Principles, Perspective (Part 4)

It certainly has been a long time since I’ve updated my blog. I meant to write as soon as I finished SPM (Note, I finished on the 15th of December, not on the 8th like the majority of the other SPM-ers) but church events rolled one after another and the next thing I knew, it’s 2010!

Which then made me think, what do I write as the first post of the year? I was having a serious case of writer’s block (try writing Christmas cards, it drains the lust for writing out of anyone) and so decided to look through my old posts to see if I left anything unfinished. And guess what? I did! So this is my last one to finish up the Triple P’s – Priorities, Principles and Perspective series.

But then again, I didn’t really have anything to write about perspective. Until just now when I was sitting in my dad’s car on my way to my grandma’s.

There are two kinds of people in a moving car – drivers and passengers. Up till now, I am STILL a passenger because of the sad lack of driving license. I love being a passenger though. I get to daydream, blast my ipod and block all other noises out and laugh at funny shaped cars on the road. I get to sleep when I’m bored; sms because I have both hands free, play the PSP if my brother allows me too.... Basically, I’m just there to have fun – I’m there to go for a ride.

As much as I look forward to being able to drive, being a driver is very different from being a passenger. It’s not that the ride won’t be fun (FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT!!!) – it’s just that ‘fun’ isn’t the goal anymore. I’m going to have to think about where I’m going and about the safety of the passengers in the car with me. It may mean I can’t do whatever I want at any moment. Especially since my brother just looked over my shoulder and said, “Yeah jie, sms-ing while driving makes you six times as likely to crash”. Yes ah boi, I know. I’m responsible for getting to the destination. After all, I’m a driver now.

In life, we can choose to have the perspective of a Passenger or of a Driver. Being a driver is all about responsibility, of ownership. Unfortunately, many of us prefer to remain as passengers. When things go wrong, we go tend to point on fingers on everyone but ourselves. Example….

I wasn’t supposed to fail! It’s that darn teacher who failed me on purpose!

If only my parents…

If only my friends did this instead of that…


Ok, I’m joking about the last one. =)

The fact is, how will you see 2010? As a passenger, out to just ‘enjoy yet another year’ and refusing to take responsibility for anything and everything? Or as a driver, to realize that this year is entrusted to us to make the best out of it?

When we start taking responsibility for our life, that’s when we truly start living. When we start realizing that if it has to be, it has to be me, that’s when our life will start to count for something. Let’s not play the Cookie Jar game. You know, where we say, ‘Who stole the cookie from the cookie jar? Who me? Yes you! Couldn’t be! Then who?!’ Exactly, then who?

Take responsibility for our actions.

*Few things disturb other people more than someone who fails to take responsibility for their actions. This explains the feeling most Americans had during the Monica Lewinski scandal 1998. President Clinton had told everyone that he had not had sex with the White House intern. In August of 1998, he was forced to admit that he had engaged in sexual activity with her. This was enough to trouble some. However, the alarming point came when he gave his five-minute speech, confessing the whole thing. The majority of people were disappointed in the speech. A reporter examined the speech and uncovered why they felt the way they did:

Total number of words he used in the speech: 549 words

Number of words devoted to self-justification: 134 words

Number of words devoted to regret for actions: 4 words

Number of words devoted to attack the prosecutor: 180 words

Number of words devoted to saying it’s time to move on: 137 words

Number of words devoted to apology: NONE

It’s not about the mistakes we make this year, it’s about the integrity we exhibit when we take responsibility for them.

And that’s one of my challenge for the year. Will you make it yours too?

*Taken from Habitudes by Tim Elmore