we’ve all been through that phase. that phase where you have a long stretch of free time coming up so you start planning for and anticipating a huge list of projects to start on, tv shows to watch, books to read. but the irony of actually preferring to do nothing when the time comes prevails over any residual motivation cultivated right from the start, leading to long lulls of idle periods that do more harm than good.
it’s already september, five days before i’m flying back to the uk and all i’ve done since coming back from hokkaido is watch death note movies, read chihayafuru manga, and worry. about what? anything, really, that one can think about. i was already generally a very fearful person, but now that i have ostensibly zero obligations and commitments, my paranoia and anxiety latches onto anything it can get its slimy tentacles on, gripping hard and never letting go. which means that i literally had nothing better to do than to let my fears run wild even as i sat on my sofa, unmoving, binge watching anime episodes into oblivion. it’s terrible, and frankly, it makes no sense, because how can one even weave something out of nothing and ruminate on it into existence (even if it’s a questionable existence)? which then ultimately leads to a familiar apprehension that being at home has been stressing me out more than when i was in uni, another T-shaped block in this tetris-like complex formation of my festering idle thoughts.
the funniest part about this is, i’ve been through this before, twice. i know this state of idleness all too well. literally hello darkness, my old friend. and just like that period of seven months after i finished spm and nine months after i finished a-levels, once again, i found myself staring into the void of an infinite abyss, watching my thoughts spiral deeper into the depths of impossible outcomes with each second.
bring on year three, i guess.
I’m going to Hokkaido in two days, and that’s my only motivation to finally post these long overdue photos of the trips I’ve been on during my second year of uni.
I. FRANCE: PARIS
II. SWITZERLAND: ZURICH & LUZERN
III. GERMANY: MUNICH, FUSSEN & STUTTGART
IV. HUNGARY: BUDAPEST, SLOVAKIA: BRATISLAVA
V. CROATIA: ZADAR, SPLIT & DUBROVNIK
At the end of the second day of the event, Shun, in front of everyone else, asked, “Are you gonna write about MSTC on your blog?”
There was no doubt about that. And so here I am.
One very glaring observation one usually makes when they find out that I’m a law student on the organising committee of a technology conference is, “But why? This is completely unrelated to your course.” Sure, my initial motivation to sign up to be a part of MSTC despite being a non-STEM student was largely attributed to my fear of boredom and stagnancy, having been freshly relieved of my scriptwriter position from MNight, but since way back in high school, I disliked the notion of simply sticking rigidly to what you’re supposed to know and do and be satisfied with that, just like how I hated making SPM the centre of my universe for a year in spite of what my teachers indoctrinated within me.
I’m going to be honest and just say it outright: I didn’t expect to enjoy MSTC as much as I did. After all, this was my first marketing stint, and as a mere ambassador, the involvement that I felt was required of me wasn’t very substantial. But a lot of unexpected things happened, and I emerged from both event days feeling like I’d put in as much as effort as I could to contribute towards the marketing department without any regrets, something valuable that I’d learned from MNight. I felt that highly treasured feeling of gratification again, the moment we wrapped up and could finally conclude that, yes, MSTC 2017 was a success. It’s such an addictive feeling, gratification, and I don’t think I will ever tire of it in my constant pursuit of contentment in putting my effort into making something work, a rhetoric to counter my perpetual self-doubt of ever being or doing anything worthwhile.
And of course, making new friends is always a good outcome to achieve out of anything. Even more so when you’re lucky enough to work with someone so compatible from day one (looking at you, HW).
TL;DR, MSTC was a good learning curve for me and was the only thing sustaining and fuelling me throughout this stressful week. A huge thank you and congratulations to everyone who had worked hard and believed in MSTC enough to make it the success that it was.
I’m currently sitting in the incredibly high-ceilinged living room of this super posh and fancy apartment, the night view of KL city from the 36th floor clear and sparkling in my peripheral vision. This is certainly a peculiar situation I’m in, a peculiar emotion I’m feeling, because no one is here and for the past four days, I have associated this place with my friends, trippy music playing through a boombox over the sound of laughter, and conversations late into the night.
But now there’s only me, a heavy heart, and a trove of wonderful memories spanned over the past few days.
Thank you everyone for the past week, it always makes me so surreally happy to see everyone again. No matter how much time has passed, there is no denying that you guys are the best things to have happened in my life and for that, I will always be eternally grateful.
It’s been five years since I graduated from high school; five years is the amount of time I spent in high school itself. It feels like a lifetime away, and the person that I used to be seem like a wholly different person altogether now.
But there is no denying how grateful I feel whenever I reunite with these girls: schoolmates whom I spent recess exchanging lunchboxes with at the small stone tables next to the teachers’ staff room, classmates whom I hid under the tables with during accounting classes to discuss about recent pop culture updates, friends whom I drove out to Domino’s with on the day of our graduation because I just had my licence and the world was our oyster.
Selamat hari raya girls, I’ll see you again next raya 🌸
The day before I left Manchester, I met up with Mako one last time before she graduated from Manchester for good and returned to Japan, and then at night, I had a farewell dinner of sorts with my friends at Pearl City (it’s almost like a tradition now). Farewells have always made me sad, because saying goodbye means leaving and leaving means a period of time of not seeing each other again.
But by far the biggest farewell that I said was to Manchester itself, after I boarded a 14-hour flight back to Malaysia after having spent nine months at a place I was beginning to call my home.
And that peculiarity that arises whenever you’re separated from a comfort that you’ve always known for a long time manifested for the first week when I was home, when I spent a great amount of time intently wondering and analysing the contrast between the instantaneous relief and joy that surfaced upon coming home last year and this year’s weird jigsaw piece that didn’t seem to fit no matter how hard I tried.
I found myself constantly wishing I was back in Manchester where freedom came more freely and there was never a lack of things to do, friends to meet. Nine months of relative liberation suddenly felt like it’d come to an abrupt end and this made me upset. Which made me even more upset because I wasn’t supposed to be upset upon coming home! It simply didn’t add up. I felt weird in my own skin. It was a pretty confusing week.
In the end, there was only one logical conclusion that I could come to to explain my unfamiliarity with home (which is supposed to be the very definition of familiarity): an increased attachment with my life in Manchester made a different living environment even more alienable, and the growth that I’d experience over the past year meant that my response to coming home would be more prominently distinctive from last year.
Of course, despite this, home is and probably will always be, a routine that you can’t really fall far from no matter how far you wander away from it. Two weeks later, my restlessness has died down, and while this indicates that I’ve managed to settle down at home, unfortunately it has also brought with it an idle listlessness that makes me not want to do anything at all other than watch anime and play 3DS games.
But maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe it’s good to drop off the radar once in a while.
Once again, I find myself sitting on my bed in front of a semi-empty room filled with boxes and bags of stuff that belong to a mixture of my friends, prepping myself physically and mentally to embark on a 17-hour flight back to Malaysia the next day. But this time, I have to say that leaving doesn’t sound so enticing anymore. This time, I feel the reluctance a little bit more now.
Rumin said that if I feel reluctant to go home, it can only mean that Manchester has also become a home to me. And she’s right. It has.
This year, my second year of uni, honestly whizzed past in a flash. They say time flies when you’re having fun, or when you’re busy, and for me, it was a combination of both. From the very beginning of my second year, I was determined to make this year a fulfilling one, by filling it up with anything and everything that I could lay my figurative hands upon. And as a result, I was constantly busy, while having fun with my friends at the same time.
Which led to: this. This is it. This is the Settling Down I’d wished so hard for during the whole of my first year. And it’s kind of a shame that I only just realised this at the end of my second year when I only have a year left here. Just when things are really starting to take off, the end of it all looms imminently. Always. It’s always been like this.
But what else is there to do but to be even more determined to make my last year the best one?
Thanks for a great ride this year, Manchester. I’ll see you in a bit.