Category Archives: 18-month college summary

7. Farewells

Classes ended after October 2 to give ways to the November 2015 A-Level exams, so we took class photos in classes. For the sessions with Ms Amy we went few steps more to snap at the grassy area in the new building.

Guy's gang with Ms. Amy
Guy’s gang with Ms. Amy

This was quickly followed by the class outing, with almost full attendance:

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The shop owner will be thankful for this RM584 revenue

Thew, as sentimental as ever, said (albeit half-joking), “oh no this is our last day!”, only for us to retort with a grimace and “shut up.”

Tokens of souvenir+final outing

Saturday, November 7: the day after most of our friends completed their A2 (no thanks to Econs paper 3 held 5 days later). I accepted the invitation by Mei Yan, Qi Yao and Thew to look for token of appreciation to teachers: a ‘yearbook’ for Ms. Amy. A few days later we surveyed gifts for give other teachers.

The final ‘date’ with Ms. Amy was fixed on the Friday before the week we were supposed to move out. Few of us in-charge of the book for Ms. Amy collected the writings of most classmates, realizing that there were still ample spaces left and we had to do something: we collected our photos with her, wrote extra quotes for her and mimicked her catchphrases as jokes. Sufficed to say, we did this past the midnight but it paid off when we saw Ms. Amy’s excitation and her continual desire to read that in front of us!

We ended up in a singing room for a few hours.

Done with outings, so take a snap under the Christmas tree
Done with outing, so take a snap under the Christmas tree

A few of us stayed in Ms. Amy’s office and Kingsley’s lab after the outing, with yet another god-knows-how-long series of conversation and hugs with both teachers. I remembered Ms. Amy’s word in-between: “you guys have graduated and now there are things I can let you know”, the phrase that we wanted to listen during our interrogation back then, but not the time when she invoked the parting feeling for another time.

Another final outing with Mr. Junior Lee to somewhere 20 minutes drive away, where we ended the session with tummies at the edge of bursting (thanks to the aromatic pork trotter!)

Moving out

The last day of exam itself saw a few peers talking about moving out, with Maxis leading the crowd by departing the day after that.

The rule clearly stated that we had to move out by December 3. I chose this very last date to facilitate my meetings with Mr. Leonard over application essays and utilizing library facilities to the fullest. Thinking that staying longer at my college would ease the pain of separation, I was proven wrong: poignance dominated my emotions as I sent people off one-by-one.

The first to send off was Chang Yu on the very next morning after my last paper at Aeroline terminal, which I ‘deluded’ my tear glands by saying “don’t worry we can still see him on the CIE Award Ceremony”. Same went for sending Thew a week later, after I returned from a trip to Penang with friends. (Thew actually chose to remain for an extra day just for the date with Ms. Amy).

The following week was replete of news of “xxx has checked out”, and this farewell season culminated on weekends (Nov 28/29) when I sent off Jean on Saturday, then Mei Yan, Hong Bin and Qi Yao on Sunday. The words before they left shall be remembered–Jean: let’s cherish our eccentricity; Qi Yao: good luck in everything, Anzo.

4 days down the line, and my parents were here, waiting to transport my belongings to my home sweet home. I moved my things for a few times, knowing that these will be the last moments I could travel along the residence walkway.

Moved out, before locking the door. My room had never been so tidy.
Moved out, before locking the door. My room had never been so tidy.

Goodbye Sunway, and hello home!

Closing remarks

A-level wasn’t easy, but fortunately along these arduous journey there were so many awesome friends to weather the storm with me. At this borderline between teenage and adulthood, I truly learned how a mini community looked like, and how I should interact with different traits of people around me.

It’s incredible to think that I only talked about academics in post #0 and #1, yet could produce such a handful of work here. This is a concrete evidence that A-Level life isn’t just about study; it’s about living with others while busily committing to your work.

I shall end this post (and end this series) with a token of gratitude. Thank you everyone who appeared in this 18 months. πŸ™‚

 

6. Places

–Finally something not about people…phew!

–Sometimes I need a moment of solitary.

–When even a place can capture your heart…that’s why

New building

Our college is notorious for “having construction all the time” (which held true from Day One to the last day I returned for post-graduation meet up). The grand project that had been undergoing since my orientation day was the new building, done in March 2015.

Sunway new building
Photo taken from the internet

As much as I loathed the construction noise, debris and nauseating odor that had been haunting me throughout my studies, I must say that this behemoth was impressive. Alas, this building was meant for university (not pre-U) classes. But this advent of new building was enough to fascinate me.

For a few times I behaved like a child and walked through the whole new building. At times I ascended from the Ground Floor and exercised for 3 minutes before reaching the 12th, then explored every floor to see the classrooms and labs tailored for Bachelor students. At times I simply lingered around the foyer with that hotel-style ambience, only to realize that there was one thing lacking that prevented myself from ‘being’ inside a hotel: the holiday mood. Sometimes we took our exam at the 10th floor, and adrenaline had always rushed in me when I knew that the venue was exactly the new building. When I looked across the building before our exams, the college building (a.k.a. old building) that contained our Pre-U classrooms just looked inferior.

The library

The three-story library was itself available for visit on the day of the opening, so not visiting it on the day itself can be the biggest regret in life. The two upper floors were mainly study areas, circulation counters, newspaper area, CD area and some computers. What amused me was the basement, with numerous meeting rooms like the 5 discussion rooms and a few training rooms besides what a library typically contains (i.e. shelves of books, computers, seats, photocopying services). The commodious basement area eventually became my haven of escape when I decided to stay with only myself.

The proximity of the library at Monash University or the residential study area from my dorm used to settle me down in these areas during exam periods, because they were nearer. But I found this new library extremely difficult to pass up, and would sometimes sacrifice my extra mile for it (and for the larger variety of food beside the campus). Besides settling down in the basement area to begin my day with exam preparation, I occasionally took the advantage of this space by rambling around the area whenever I became bored of my books, and unwound my mind with the picturesque scenery of a fountain located outside the library. It’s truly a privilege to take a short break from the books without going far from the place that you’re supposed to stay.

Sunway library
Another photo from the Internet

The dichotomy of thoughts then came to play as I wanted to have a moment of privacy, yet didn’t want to feel alone in my journey of study. Luckily, this could be easily resolved whenever there were close peers around me, engrossed in their own silent academic soliloquy as I did.

The lake

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This is another haven of escape during ordinary weekends when I felt the need for exercising: the gym and the swimming pool in my residence alone no longer satisfied me.

Since the day I learned this as an option (thanks to a group of friends) to maintain my physical vitality, I had already longed for the next visit to this lake. It was best to have those friends to extend their invitations again, but sometimes I did call them for this blissful jog whenever I felt like doing so. These jogging experiences were best complemented with breakfast at a Mamak shop nearby, during which gaining extra calories no longer made us guilty.

The beauty of this jog wasn’t just the sense of tranquility of being away from hustle and bustle of daily schedule; it’s also a mini-adventure. Had there been better time to explore the world around us? I doubt so. Sometimes we just have to relish ourselves in what’s offered by the nature, and for me that’s truly enjoyable.

5. Pseudo-grad

A. Music please

“Musicians”. The word in Kingsley’s email that captivated me in the invitation to be part of the performing team for the Graduation Night 2015 in June. Looks fine, given my ability in music-performing. What about preparations for AS exams then?

Stuck. Then I consulted Kingsley. He asked my musical qualification and quickly assured me that I would be fine. I later took home the audition pieces like “O You Beautiful Doll” whose technical complexity nearly freaked me out. After half-screwing them during the audition, I told Adeline (person-in-charge and Kingsley’s past student) that I used two-hours to practiced everything and she went “ah you will be fine; the actual pieces weren’t going to be that brutal.” Here came the six keyboard players, two of whom played the percussion, and two guitarists (Kingsley and Mr. Leonard).

Meet the musicians: Ying Cheng, Jia Yun, Andrew, Jin Hui, Anzo, Kingsley, Cecelia, Joseph
Meet the musicians: Ying Cheng, Jia Yun, Andrew, Jin Hui, Anzo, Kingsley, Cecelia, Joseph. Mr. Leonard didn’t show up. πŸ˜›

Pieces

Program overview:
El Choclo, to be played upon the arrival of VVIPs
Negaraku, Malaysia national anthem
Abrazar la Aventura (Embrace the Adventure), a delightful Samba&the theme song
A-Level Revel, a pompous Tango on the superiority of A-Levels
Dejenos Partidos (Party song), a Salsa
Dawn of a Great New Day, an inspiring Bossa NovvaTeenage Hardships, a Cha-cha
Amor Negado (Love denied), a melancholic Rumba
Abrazar la Aventura (reprise to the end)

Kingsley chose to compose pieces in Latin, which consumed everyone’s energy like nobody else.

We started our rehearsals in mid May: rather late compared to our counterparts in dancing and singing. Thankfully, that’s when my AS was practically over (I mean, Physics 2 and Econs 2, the most demanding papers, were over.) That’s also the time, though, when my musical workload piled up as Adeline added intricate running-note passages into my manuscript for later pieces like Rumba and Cha-cha. This added shackles to our striving of perfect accuracy, and that’s not all. Instruction of looking at conductor (i.e. Adeline) highlighted the need for a reference to synchronize our rhythm, and setting the keyboard in advance to manipulate instrumental sound was necessary to run the music in medley form. As I had only involved in solo performance before that, it took me some time to pick up these new skills.

We had no choice but to gradually develop a penchant for sneaking into the lab well before rehearsal sessions to play with the music on keyboard (and to mingle with other performers).

Five days before the performance, the synchronization need expanded to a larger scale as we had our first joint rehearsal with dancers and singers. “We will restart the whole repertoire should there be any glaring mistake in between, and before we could run the whole program smoothly we had to continue our practice, even though the midnight befell,” the producers warned us. Fortunately, we survived the grim reminder, having ‘restarted’ our progam only once. On the morning of the performing day itself Kingsley granted us his approbation on the running through of our program, and we were released at 45 minutes earlier than stated time.

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First time seeing this as we transported our musical instruments and equipment for stage setting-up: hello the giant elevator!

B. The ceremony

We have the tradition of holding the graduation ceremony in June, so July intake students had to attend the ceremony in semester 2. This explains the pseudo part of the post title: we attended our graduation, received our ‘graduation scrolls’ and awards for the night, only to realize that there was still a semester to go after that. We had no choice but to mark the calendar:
Date: 11 June 2015
Time: 5:30pm-9:30pm
Venue: Sunway Hotel and Spa

No award suspense on the day, but Ms. Amy did held my heart in the middle in the air when she texted “congratulations” to me mysteriously. Only a few hours later did Mr. Junior Lee cleared my question mark:
“Congratulations for winning the Valedictorian award.”
I held my wide-opened mouth, overwhelmed with surprise. Then I conversed with Ms Amy again and in the end she said “be sure to buy me a meal :P”. I could feel my face blushing even though that was Whatsapp conversation.

The first agenda was our performance as described in A. “This is the last time for us to enjoy this music,” I told myself. I promised myself to do the best, for Kingsley, for Adeline, for my fellow musicians, for my comrades in the performing team, and also for the audience. 15 minutes passed like whirlwind, and feel of accomplishment flooded me as I played the performance recordings. (Kudos to everyone in the team!)

Then went the usual procedure: speech by VVIPs, serving of food, token of appreciation to ALSTAR committee (a.k.a. A-Levels Student Council or ALSCO), giving out of ‘graduation scrolls’ according to classes, presentation of awards, with some other performances interspersing in between.

My winning the “Grand Prize of The Day” meant that I had to give a speech, which had already been fine-tuned by Mr. Leonard. But my whole meta-state of composure was fazed as Kingsley (my mentor) concluded his introduction to me with “his catchphrase is “o* t** f****”, [disclaimer: this isn’t at all vulgar, just funny]: clarion chanting of this exact phrase continued as I ascended the stage. I had no choice but to reinforce my eccentricity by reiterating “testing 1 2 3,” before the real business.

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After the ceremony was the time for us to take photos, as always! (A long post, so I will close it with pictures)

selfie queen Ms Amy
selfie queen Ms Amy
My dearest 8
My dearest 8
My parents and I
My parents and I
Finally a photo with Yi Kye before he left Sunway
Finally a photo with Yi Kye, who graduated from his A2 then

4. First semester business, and friendship thereafter

A.L.S.T.A.R. All-star. A-Levels Student Ambassador.

Heard of it during the orientation, but didn’t really care due to my preoccupation with my piano practice until I found out that my friends were organizing a motley of activities.

“This is awesome.”

Just like how Beatrice felt as she declared allegiance to Dauntless faction in Divergent, I felt it a great deal as I wrote down my name to join the club.

The next event was the appreciation dinner for the older batch of committee. It’s probably not a good idea to join as I didn’t help organizing it, but I paid the fee nevertheless on the premise of ‘nerd escaping’ after hibernating myself at the piano area for weeks (and that’s a day after my piano exam!)

The real fun, however, came after I found my group members (or simply, ‘groupmates’.)

The ‘Kedah’ gang

Intended to be naughty and add some fun for Yi Kye’s birthday celebration; that’s why I approached one boy (Ye Ang) from SMJK Sin Min (Yi Kye’s ex-classmate) when the Emcee asked us to form our own groups of 10. But this couldn’t get us extremely inclusive as there were 11 of us. Luckily, our ‘abnormal’ plan was granted exception and we named ourselves “Square Root 121.” (LOL)

The night itself we executed our birthday plan. The next week we engaged ourselves in a welcome program; it turned out that we finished last in the mock-monopoly game.

September was the period when the relationship among members reached another high end: we started discussing about theΒ  food carnival a month later and met at the housing unit beside mine. That’s the magical moment when I realized 6 of the guys in that unit were in the group, with two others being our supervisors πŸ˜› I then enjoyed crossing to their unit so much just for the sake of visiting them (including the blackout night). Likewise, some girls in our group stayed together too, and we were privileged to be able to use their facilities for a test run in concocting marshmallow and honeydew sago. Later, these girls (with their facilities) collaborated with Xue Heng (with his cooking skills) in making aglio olio spaghetti (so we helped out and enjoyed the exquisite cuisine!)

Charity+committee (not me)

The appreciation dinner aforementioned saw Xue Heng, some classmates and some other friends appointed as part of committee member of July 2014 cohort. However, little did I know that the interwoven relation between my group and these people could add most of them into my acquaintance list, just like how I knew many people in my A-Level batch. πŸ˜›

Wanted to wait for Xue Heng to go for groceries after Food Carnival, but ended up infiltrated the committee in this photo. Luckily I'm not the only one
Wanted to wait for Xue Heng to go for groceries after Food Carnival, but ended up infiltrated (uhm, invited by) the committee into this photo. Luckily I’m not the only one

October was the climactic period for both the normal the exco members, replete of activities like Food Carnival and “orphanage visit+spending our night at Puchong Water Park.” The latter happened to have majority of the participants from the committee, but I joined it anyway (so treated like a guest by those ‘bosses’ :P).

The reason why the visit was worth a note was simple. I was considered lucky to handle a docile child who could easily obey my instructions, although staying close to him, providing him warmth and making him happy at all times challenged me. But I felt the difficulty (vicariously) others encountered when their children couldn’t behave themselves, and those patrons had to clean the mess for them. This shadowed the imposing challenge of parental job ahead of us, and the dilapidated orphanage (whose leaked roof caused internal ‘downpour’ during rain) served best to remind us how grateful we should be to live without concerning about our needs. Meanwhile, my observation substantiated my conjecture that the workload of these committee is innumerable and deserves a salute from other members. I was therefore honored to hold this opportunity to mingle with these people whom I’ve only heard from Xue Heng or Jean, hitherto. Not forgetting to thank Jerry who saved me from drowning during water sports activity, too.

Finally bytes and bits (when my presence was felt)

The final event was the Leadership Camp done in early January 2015 for the next batch of students. Here’s what Mr. Vice President (VP) consigned to me during the Real Life Monopoly:
Given the interest rate of loans, calculate the amount of money owned/owed by each group in the Monopoly game.

That people could simply walk in to settle debt or borrow money while the interest calculation was running complicated the calculation, but thanks to the excel file given I sorted things out quite quickly and produced a final spreadsheet shortly after the end of the game.

Knowing that excel skills were all I needed to handle this job, the VP still expressed gratitude “on behalf of the committee to me” for my successful help. I was glad, though, that my long-striving for systematic processing of data had worked out.

That’s definitely a happy ending for me! To wrap up everything, I’m thankful to befriend these awesome folks in my first semester.

3. Wonders of 12A (classmates)

Because of my IMO fantasy I didn’t know which class I belonged to, until Maxis Jaisi (not to be confused with the telecommunication company LOL) handed me the timetable for me to assimilate myself gradually into their society.

The first semester saw several disjoint cliques in our class, and the relationship wasn’t that close. That said, there was occasion when we met together, thanks to Ms. Thanam for her Deepavali open house!

Few guys surrounded by girls
Few guys surrounded by girls and a teacher

Come semester 2, things changed.

The ‘makan’ session

It’s a one-hour lunch break, which tore few classmates and me between the orange shop located at the corner of the shop lot (nicknamed Orange) and a food court located somewhere further (named Rock Cafe). It’s therefore normal to hear these conversation:

Qi Yao: “Let’s go Orange as we had gone to Rock yesterday.”

Alan (in his usual ‘gangster’-like tone) : “Orange again?!”

(Dudes, because of you two our strides were interrupted at the junction 😑).

Notably, Ms. Amy was with us most of those lunch sessions: this sporting nature distinguished her from some other teachers. In the second week after the orientation itself she already invited for lunch session together. Subsequently, it became the habit of few of us to ask her “let’s ‘makan’ ” after her class with us.

Lunch at Orange. It shouldn't come as surprise as I claimed that Ms Amy was with us most of the sessions
Lunch at Orange.

There were some other choices like the Garlic Chicken Rice store, but it was usually full of people and we found ourselves insufficient patience and tolerance to wait for orders and seating. Sometimes we did went lavishly for After Black and My Burger Lab just to say “RM20 well spent” 😹.

Mish Mash! (It shouldn't be a surprise when Ms Amy were there for many lunch sessions! :D)
Mish Mash! (Infiltrated by some guys from other classes :O)

The essence of these innumerable lunch sessions was the chatting time we spent together: gossiping among ourselves, lamenting our frustrations, and discussing formal topics (like university applications). To summarize the conversations, we had Maxis’ maverick speeches, Qi Yao’s relentless quibbling of petty issues, Thew’s sentimental talks, Ying Cheng’s carefree opinions, Zhi Yang’s pithy points, Jean straight-and-direct retorts and Mei Yan’s mirthful rhapsodizing. The scant time we had in college was mainly devoted for studying, and lunch break, therefore, was the sole avenue for us to exchange our views with these people of similar interests.

July SS15 (the area Taylor’s College is located in) adventure

That was the good old time when the official taxi booking app (MyTeksi) offered limitless promotion, where we spontaneously said “let’s go SS15 for lunch”, even with the tight constraint of an hour. Few shops were impossible to pass up at that moment: Mr. Rice and “Bak Kut Teh” shops across the main roads.

On taxi with girls. Fortunate or not, I had to face it. 😏
On taxi with girls. Fortunate or not, I had to face it. 😏

Make no mistake, July/August was also an IELTS-intensive period for us for some reason, and Fridays were the results-release days. It turned out that IDP (an IELTS exam centre) was located there for us just to see how we and our classmates did. Results of friends were what we cared for, but more interesting was their photo on the results slip (whereby mine showed an “I don’t give a f***” apperance :P).

NUTSSSSSSS-when pictures were the best to describe everything

To summarize NUTS session:
1. When we just finished exams
2. Birthday celebrations
3. When we felt like having it, like going for movie (booooooo for lunacy)

I shall note that Ms Amy was with us sometimes when she’s free, which served as the compensation of the ruthless curtail of our usual lunch session due to time constraint: they usually ended with “what the heck it’s time for me to go into class again?”

Nandos after AS mock! Physics paper screwed us up, really
Nandos after AS mock! Physics paper screwed us up, really😭

The following Karaoke was worth mentioning: a time when Maxis showed-case his EDM passion, when Mei Yan impressed us with her voice and when Chee Hao enlightened me about his love for Cantonese songs.

Karaoke for six hours after Nandos!
Karaoke for six hours after Nandos!
A birthday lunch when we were late for class after that :O (oops and when Jean had her teeth black thanks to her squid ink pasta)
A birthday lunch after which we were late for class :O (oops and when Jean had her teeth black thanks to her squid ink pasta)
Happy birthday Alan!
Happy birthday Alan!
Maxis' way of wishing Thew happy birthday
Maxis’ unique way of wishing Thew happy birthday
Invaded a unit for birthday celebration, and bleary-eyed the next day. Fate.
Invaded a unit for birthday celebration, and bleary-eyed the next day. Fate.

(Looks like we had a playful A-Levels, but nah. Group 12 contributed well for the A-Level results for our batch).

2. Maniacs (uh, I mean, housemates)

The unit A03-04 inhabited 8 guys who collectively achieved 32A*s (maximum possible) in the November 2015 examination. Each of them achieved at least 91% in each subject at AS level back in June 2015. Their excellence was further proven when 6 of them won at least a prize in the Cambridge Learner Awards in June 2015 AS exam, and 3 of them went on to win another awards in the November 2015 A2 exam. Ultimately, on the whole they outplayed most other friends in university applications as there are MIT, Princeton, Cambridge and Oxford offer holders in this apartment.

Shut up. Are we so desperate that we need these achievements to define us? Make no mistake, we named ourselves “s*x maniacs” in our whatsapp group because of the topics that we will refrain from utter a single word anywhere except in the closed space A03-04, where we would discuss, banter and retort over it without leaving out any single phrase.

Introducing the eight from left to right: Chang Yu (the dentist), Yi Heng (the tall), Hou Yong (the cool), Anzo (the floor), Hong Bin (the chill), Zeno (the amorous) ,Brian (the chef), Xue Heng (the witty)
Introducing the eight from left to right: Chang Yu (the nice), Yi Heng (the dry), Hou Yong (the cool), Anzo (the floor), Hong Bin (the chill), Zeno (the creative) ,Brian (the chef), Xue Heng (the witty)

(For brevity only initials will be used later)

Complementing these illegitimate topics were the sweet memories where we had together:

Food paradise A03-04

We had the most unkempt dining table, full of food, sometimes obscuring us to find even a spot to place our plates. But this highlighted both our sharing of food, and our habit of cooking, thanks to the inspiration of Brian (and XH for cooking soup for us). A few of us started making meals for ourselves concurrently; occasionally we walked to the shopping complex (Pyramid) to gather ingredients and prepare for our dinner together. What’s happening next was the most memorable ones: chatting and gossiping like nobody’s business for god-knows-how-long.

The most successful cooking story was the ‘oily’ creation of garlic and onion oil. Here, I shall proudly acclaim myself as the inspirational source for onion oil for making the first bottle (after ‘learning’ from mum) and teaching the others to make it. HB, meanwhile, was the ‘pioneer’ of garlic oil by discovering that 7.5 minutes of cooking in microwave was the ideal duration in a hard way: at the 9th minutes during the fist attempt he burned the garlic and the awful stink in the kitchen lingered for a few days. We subsequently felt the family care when some of them replenished the oil from time to time.

Birthdays!!!

As foolish as it sounds, I only understood birthday celebration as a mandatory act among housemates after attending college.

Excerpts as below:

HB and HY (Jan 22/Jan 24, joint celebration) : nothing much, except a three-week delay by us organizers

Anzo (May 4) : see this

Zeno (June 29) : Our VIP was caught up with a phone call in his room when he was called, so we had to spray insecticide into his room to force him out (+1 for the prankster spirit!)

Brian (Jan 1) and YH (Sept 25) : sorry, but nothing special.

Left two: CY and XH (Aug 4/Aug 18), but thanks to Zeno (the one who thought of pranks) and the fact that they had birthdays two days apart, we’d better prank them.

Here were the instructions received by our two personas of the day:
CY: “Hey we gonna celebrate XH’s birthday, so please hold his cake for him later.”
XH: same instruction, except change of name.

Time’s up, CY was lurking at the sofa area, preparing to throw the surprise to XH as he walked out from his room. They met, and went “Happy birthd..WHAT????” , with XH almost toppled the cake in his hand. The other six of us simply enjoyed the parody πŸ˜›

The most successful prank ever!

Another random photo during the celebration (sorry Brian)

Outings (or rather, adventure)

Not all 8, but a few of us did explore beyond the rather limited Sunway city, most of which involved traveling via taxi (thanks to the generous promotion code that allows almost free rides) to places around Taylor’s College for great and inexpensive food. Sometimes, we utilized this chance to meet our friends there.

But there was some instance when Zeno and I went far to KLCC with two other friends for a symphony:

In front of Petronas Twin Tower!
In front of Petronas Twin Tower!

OK sometimes we weren’t that adventurous, so this could be just walking for 15 minutes to Rock Cafe, but it was definitely a good avenue to escape from the boredom of textbooks.

Ripped our wallets at Morganfields (Sunway Pyramid) before heading to watch Sinister at Sunway TGV.
Ripped our wallets at Morganfields (Sunway Pyramid) before heading to watch Sinister at TGV.

It’s definitely a waste for us not to have a group gatherings before we graduated, so we decided on that holy Thursday: the last day on which all of us can meet together.

The final reunion lunch before the last A-level paper for the dudes
The final reunion lunch before the last A-level paper for the dudes

The following trivia should make good end to the post! πŸ˜€

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1. Classes, teachers

I finally stepped into the classes after 6 months of academic hiatus, eager to find out who my teachers were (having heard of some of them when I returned from IMO). Getting into regular schedule? Daunting and refreshing at the same time.

Long story short, (just in case you don’t feel like reading the long posts below) the lessons we students learned from the teachers and the syllabus isn’t just the textbook knowledge, but also some take-home value that could accompany us for the whole life. To name a few: the need for completeness in presentation (maths/physics), the need for accommodating opposing points of view (econs) and the need for exploring materials beyond the textbook.

Physics

Anzo with physics teacher, Kingsley
Anzo with physics teacher/mentor, Kingsley

“Always 25 due to law of relativity, because I’ moving virtually at the speed of light,” this top joke of him highlighted his eccentric nature, which gave him these inspiration of academic jokes. He turned out to be my mentor as well, so I stayed with him outside the academic hours, for university application purposes or for the graduation performance (described in post 5 of the series).

Kingsley is a meticulous teacher in nature; together with his expertise in this subject this makes him present his topics in a very complete in precise manner. In particular, in writing definitions one always hear him saying “this quantity/adjective is for this object, so please don’t mixed up”, or “don’t use the wrong verb or you will be penalized”. It also became his habit of bringing us a step further by discussing some applications of a particular topic in real life, saying that he “anticipates this coming in the exam”. It turned out that his passion for this subject translated into high expectation on students, whereby he kept reminding us to “ditch the high school mentality” and “give more commitment to my subject”. Occasionally one can hear him expressing frustrations on students’ attitude.

To see him, just go to the second Physics lab (not his staff-room!) because he’s always there. Just address him as “Kingsley” because he made it clear on not adding any salutation for him on Day 1 of classes. He added that “this is not the way to show your respect; treating my work seriously is.” Be sure to spare an hour with him if you were to talk about something he’s passionate for, like Science and Music! πŸ˜›

Math/Further Math

First is the teacher who handled our applied section, Ms. Amy.

Luckily I'm still taller than her, by the slightest inch
Luckily I’m still taller than her, by the slightest inch

She gained the reputation as “teaching at the speed of bullet train” when her introduction to the class on Day 1 was minimal, then gave a ‘diagnostic test’ after that (well I missed that part so I just reproduced what people have said.) Her key feature in teaching is the strict delineation of mandatory steps that we had to write in exam, so any sit-in guest will probably remember “if you write this, you will get 1 mark…” Again, her dedication transformed unreservedly into her desire for students to success: she expressed her paranoia when the class did badly in one of her class tests.

We had two pure math teacher: Ms. Ann (first sem) and Mr. Senior Lee (second/third sem) as the former was transferred to degree program. Being a teacher of ALSTAR/ALSCO(see post #4), Ms. Ann turned herself sporting in her own way by asking for an “ice-breaking session” on Day 1. Sociable with her always-smiling face, she could punish you on test papers even with slightest typo like <= in lieu of <. Farewell to 2014 and came to 2015; so did we bid goodbye to Ms. Ann and said hello to Mr. Lee. They have two characteristics in common: many practices for students, and instant marking (and returning) of our scripts.

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Class photo with Ms. Ann (5th from left, standing in the front row)
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Class photo with Mr. Lee (on my left)

Econs

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Group photo with Ms. Thanam (4th from right)

Giving notes in terms of powerpoint slides and explaining the exact notes before the class, that was her: Ms. Thanam. It’s not unusual to see her linking our text to past year questions to relate her teaching, and students should distinguish those topics that she emphasize strongly (like merit goods vs public goods and marginal revenue product) because these were hot topics in exams (by her careful analysis).

But what’s distinctive of her class was the avenue of expressing our thoughts freely: something I had never experienced in high school. Our pioneer was Maxis Jaisi, whose knowledge in further readings led him to tell the class on the flaws of each theory (he once whined about how kinked demand curve was still presented in textbook despite being debunked by economists). Subsequently, others like Jean, Qi Yao and I gradually joined him in doing that (albeit more gently). To be fair, though, it’s Maxis and Qi Yao who debated the most due to conflicting ideas.

Classical example of debate: Maxis on the left and Qi Yao on the right
Classical example of debate: Maxis on the left and Qi Yao on the right

Also not forgetting the presentation we had done under her surveillance: first on several essay topics that had come out in actual exams, and the other one on current economy of different countries. These not only substantially liberated the freedom of speech in class, but also enlightened the class with knowledge outside the textbook: through preparation of presentation materials and listening to the class. (I started off with Grexit and its background, a hot topic of the time. The subsequent presentations by classmates became what I anticipated in classes).

Finally, not to forget teachers like Mr. Junior Lee (another Further math teacher who handles pure math section), who offered workshop for students in May, and Mr. Leonard, who screens through the language of our personal statement to the universities in UK. The combination of these teachers did a great way in making our college life awesome!

0. The new beginning

Going to Sunway. I told myself when I won my Bursary on 20th March 2014 with my 10A+ in SPM. The following months until June saw the preliminary preparation as my mother made a checklist on what to bring there. “Buckets, clips, mini-drawer,…” she burbled. The arrangement on my part continued as I received instructions from MoE to submit the contracts and from the college for move-in details and several orientation programmes. It’s 27th June and my family had a farewell dinner for me, and hey, I’m in Sunway!

Zeno, Xue Heng (both Chung Ling guys), Chang Yu (a friend of Xue Heng from Baling) and I travelled southwards to Sunway Monash Residence for check-in the next day, but I sneaked in and out of the residence, back and forth, to alternate between attending final IMO training and important orientation in Sunway (that’s when I walked from Sunway Pyramid to where I stay, and explored the holy residence with its facilities like 7-11 and swimming pool). Off I went for the IMO fantasy until it ended on the 14th.

The real study life began on the 16th after joining the movie-watching bandwagon by Xue Heng on the 15th, a holiday.

A-levels, a program that daunted a lot of students that my father persuaded me to opt for low-hanging fruits like Australian/Canadian matriculation before I secured my Bursary. Some words from teachers and friends really substantiated these:
Zeno: “Go swim like crazy during orientation days. No more time for this when classes commence.”
Mr. Wong during a seminar: “You chose the challenge of A-Levels and not other courses in this college. Think of how much are you going to commit for yourself to excel.”
Mr. Leonard: “You poor souls struggling the A-Levels when others could form their own bands.”
My dad: “Stop dwelling on your glistening accomplishments in SPM and IMO. Get to your study right now.”

Indeed, we were always reminded to strive for the best: by our parents who asked us to manage time wisely and control any excessive outings; by our teachers who kept reiterating the importance of spending time on our academics after classes; by the MoE which insisted we shouldn’t get anything worse than a B to maintain our scholarship status; most importantly, by ourselves to aim for the handful of prestigious university offers to continue being sponsored abroad. What’s more when people around me were scholars of god-know-how-pro-they-were, often talking about their plans in succeeding these aims.

These weren’t the only challenge. In fact, another obstacle impending was adapting the new environment. This comprised the excitement of knowing and understanding new people and new cultures; the other part, however, was the difficult change stemming from the separation from my family for the first time, which prompted my household independence and academic self-discipline to another level.

Am I ready for this? “Yes,” I told myself as I walked to my first class on the 16th July, because I had to.