Our Sunset Over the Castle on the Hill

We only decided to go to Ed Sheeran’s Manchester show a week before the show itself. Over dinner. We got our tickets from Twickets and on the 24th of May, after our IP law paper, Ee Min, Yee Lin, Ash, Jia Yang, CC and I headed for Etihad Stadium.

Getting to the stadium proved to be an issue in itself at first. Manchester Metrolink had special security measures for an event day as big as Ed Sheeran’s concert apparently, and it took us about an hour of waiting time just to get on a tram, and we eventually only did so by forcefully squeezing our way into the absolutely jam-packed carriages. It was a highly uncomfortable 20-minute ride and you could see everyone audibly gasp for air the moment the tram doors opened upon arrival at Etihad.

Ed’s entrance onto the stage was…to be honest, quite befitting of his super humble character. No fanfare or anything fancy like that. He appeared, got on stage, and immediately started singing. A man who gets straight to the point.

Just gonna outright admit that the songs of his that I was most familiar with were entirely from his + album from eons ago, a distant phase of my life. It reminded me of driving in my car after freshly acquiring my license for the first time at 17, and gushing about his music with Irfan back in college. It felt quite surreal, like a clashing of worlds.

But I’m glad I got to make new memories to associate with his newer songs, in his actual literal presence at that.

Michelle’s People I’ve Watched Live List, updated:

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Subject: a list of precedents, for your perusal

for someone who strongly abhors the very concept of change, by the cruel mechanics of fate or some poetic universal shit like that, you somehow find yourself hit by wave after wave of impending and inevitable change.

and at this crucial junction of your life, here is a reminder to yourself why, based on these very precedents of your own history, you will eventually be okay.

it seems way too far away now, but you entered secondary school alone. none of your friends from primary school ended up in the same school as you did. and despite the initial struggles you had, you still graduated fine. you were okay.

no one from your secondary school went to the same college as you did, either. you were luckier this time, and had a few old friends that you managed to reconnect with, 400km away from home. you made new friends too. it was one of the best periods of your life. you were okay.

university in manchester started out similarly rocky. you found yourself in intimidatingly foreign waters at first, but three years later, you’ve built a home away from home, together with all the friends you’ve made here. you were okay. you are okay.

in two months, another huge change will befall upon you again, a change that requires you to pack up three years’ worth of possessions and memories, and start a new life yet again in yet another huge city, away from the friends that you’ve made here yet again. but at this point, this change is no longer unique to you anymore. you are a hypothesis that has been proven through timely experiments conducted throughout your whole life, and that is why, your honour, based on the precedents listed above, it is only natural that the conclusion that the jury has come to is: you will be okay.

suddenly got picnic

it happened mere minutes after i finished typing up my previous blogpost. i was in the learning commons, attempting to concentrate on studying about UK constitutional reforms but continuously failing to focus amidst the heat and its consequent drowsiness. and so, hopping on the summer bandwagon, i impulsively texted the group chat, “lets go for a picnic”. you don’t usually get such nice weather in manchester and i was already counting down my days. due to its suddenness that came out of nowhere sans pre-plans, i was not expecting a lot of affirmative answers but one turned into two, two turned into three, and in the end there were seven of my friends in total who was on board my impulsive idea and minutes after sending off my first text, i found myself creating a whatsapp group and planning an impromptu picnic outside the learning commons that very evening.

i packed up my things and was literally running out of the learning commons in excitement. went home to grab my faithful JBL GO and a deck of cards in case anyone wanted to play bridge. met up with yee lin and ash and then rumin and lionel at turing tap to get pizzas and chicken wings. there weren’t as many people on the field anymore when we were there, so we chose a relatively shady spot and started to buka puasa, together with bubble milk teas brought by wilson. ee min and cc joined us too a bit later on.

the whole time, my heart was bursting with so much gratitude and love.

in itself, i was already an incredibly massive fan of spontaneity. add on to that my friends’ unconditional agreements to indulge me in my whimsical needs (a picnic? at 7pm? on a thursday? my friends made me realise it’s more likely than you think). it only lasted for two hours, and ended up with us hopping from foot to foot in cold because once the sun had set the temperature began to drop drastically, but i was so, so happy, and so, so grateful. grateful for the relationships that i have established with the friends i’ve made here for the past three years, grateful for the freedom and mobility that comes so easily within reach here in manchester, grateful for being able to make great memories like this that i will cherish forever and ever and ever.

the summer effect

there is no reason for me to hate summer.

it’s 26ºC in manchester today. for the past two nights, i have woken up in the morning sweating even with the window open. some time during this week, the mancunian weather just suddenly decided to do a 180º from its previous season renewals of The Beast from the East to a sudden pop-up of Coachella right in the middle of my campus.

not that i’m complaining. there is no reason for me to hate summer, after all.

but for the past two years, i have subconsciously come to associate summer with bad feelings of reluctant leaving. the lengthening of daytime hours and the rise in temperature are elements that have accompanied the impending arrival of an expiry date of my time in manchester, and this year, it’s for good.

contrary to my initial plans of staying back in manchester to do the BPTC, i’ve decided to go back to malaysia to take the CLP instead. making this decision felt like a break-up decision (lol); i really didn’t want to, but i felt like it was the only right thing for me to do, and thus i should do it. and so, even though ultimately i was the sole decision-maker in this aspect, i was very anguished over it for quite a long time. still am, but since i also have no plans to make a change to my decision, i can only focus on the path i’d set ahead for myself and be optimistic about it. there is no right or wrong decision in life after all, only compromises. like janice said, every choice can be the right choice with the right perspective. and with all things considered, it would not be the most terrible thing for my third year to be my last year here. and i plan to maintain it that way. as it is, i want to be excited for an expansion of horizons and comfort zones, as i always have been repeating to myself, on here and in my own mind.

i want to make this year’s summer in the UK the best one yet, before i bid farewell to this place that i’ve come to call a home.

After Two Years, London

When I told some of my friends that I hadn’t been to London in two years, the most common response I’d gotten was surprise, and I can understand as much, what with London being the place where everything happens compared to Manchester. And so, this Easter break, I took the chance to travel down south for a couple of days and stayed over at Janice’s, and I’m really glad I did because I found myself falling in love with London all over again.

My relationship with the city of London is somewhat a complicated one. My first time in London, back in 2013, was love at first sight. Of course, it was my first time in UK itself, so it was difficult not to be in awe of literally everything in a foreign country. But fast forward two years later during my first year of uni, my phone got stolen on Oxford Street and I was intimidated by the bustling crowds of the city, and that was when London turned into more of a foe than a friend in my mind’s eye.

This time was different. It felt like I was revisiting a whole new place all over again. And technically I was, seeing as how different a person I am compared to who I was two, five years ago.

   

    

    

    

Frankly, my trip to London this Easter can easily be confused for one to Japan instead, not that it’s something I would complain. From the first day of visiting the arcade to play taiko drums and Hatsune Miku songs on the Groove Coaster (apparently the only single one machine of this game in the whole of Europe is right here in London oh wow), to queuing in the rain to enter the exclusive Isle of Dogs exhibition at 180 The Strand, to visiting Japan Centre three times in the span of two days (each time with different company at that), and ultimately, to feasting on Japanese food and desserts for literally every meal I had in London, it was really fun and interesting to be so immersed for those couple of days within a subculture in the melting cultural pot that is London.

And of course, what is a place if not for its people? Special shoutout to Janice, Karu, Yi Jing, Rumin, and Lionel for being great company while I was there, and for making London feel like an already familiar friend to me, even after these two years.

I’ll see you real soon again, London. またね, ロンドン。

i’m just protecting my soul

sam "i know my songs are very depressing, BUT" smith, everyone

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Michelle’s People I’ve Watched Live List, updated:

existential five a.m.

i was hit with news of a potential drastic change in future plans this week that made my stomach drop in dread each time i think about it. and that was when i realised that maybe i’ve been immersed too high up among hedonistic clouds of freedom and recklessness for too long that something like this proved to be a rude awakening (read: crashing).

i didn’t like it. i don’t like it. i really, really don’t like it. i’m not prepared to leave, to return to a relatively more restricted environment, when i feel like there’s still a lot for me to discover out there, so many more people for me to meet. now that i’ve had a taste of how huge the world can be and how many possibilities and opportunities are actually within reach, i’m too afraid of having this wide, wide sky snatched away from under my nose and watch as i’m unnaturally forced back into a restricted mould of narrow-mindedness and a suffocating culture of limitations. i’m afraid of reverting back into a despicable version of myself filled with fear, anxiety and low self-esteem. it took me so long to crawl out into this skin that i’m currently comfortable and happy with, and i’m deathly terrified of losing all of this all over again.

but most importantly, i’m afraid of people that i’ve grown to love becoming mere memories, untouched and unreachable. which is ironic because this fear has followed me since years ago and is ultimately inevitable, a noble feat lost to the cruel and relentless passage of time.