goodbye loughborough

jumping timelines
wrote these months ago, time to pin them upon this virtual tapestry
Monday, January 20, 2014 6:34 AM
My last days in Loughborough have ended this chapter of my life perfectly. I will always, always remember it. Such a bittersweet feeling, saying goodbye. 
But I laughed so, so much it’s like we were drunk people shrieking and stumbling on the streets, laughing
One of those moments where you’re laughing so hard you’re gasping for air
Drunk, high 
On the infinite light-heartedness of that moment
I was happy
I love moments like this because I think that even when I look back I’ll still laugh hard at that memory, like laughing at a memory of you laughing

When we first sat under the autumn tree
When it was time to leave

My present self misses this very much
Picnic night – it must have been one of the fun(niest) moments of my life
around the bright full moon was a circular ring of light – it was amazing and when we googled it was some sort of PHENOMENAAAAAA


such a useful duvet this has been hehehhee

ugh, the ‘pearls’ we tried to cook…… miserably failed

specially bought these MR HAPPY SOCCER BALLS YOGURT!!!!!

so there we were, lying on the duvet in the middle of the field on a winter night, under the moonlit night
we lifted the other end of the duvet to cover ourselves in the freezing night
at one point i was laughing so hard at the thought that we were, well, sleeping on a duvet and using it to cover ourselves, in the middle of the field – it was so hilarious i wonder if we’d do this in the day
knowing us we just might HAHHAHA
isn’t this incredibly romantic? i remember Helen commented. Yeah, i would love to do this with my future boyfriend *we giggled*
omg, i was so so happy :’))))
We thought back to the first night we met, spinning on that field
Star-gazing and just talking and talking and suddenly it was 1+am
Where did time go?
I wrote a cheesy post in late November about our meeting that night, which I titled ‘explosion’ (yes, cheesy):
‘if i had a word to describe tonight:
fireworks; magic
at that point, i decided to pause my Grey’s Anatomy (that I had spent the whole noon crying over), and walk down to collect my laundry
and then we met. And then the sun had set and it was midnight and we were walking in the large rugby fields, and we sat down at the slightly damp grass and looked at the orange skies in the distance, and we looked up and saw stars peeking from behind the clouds, 
and we linked arms and walked home, 
and then it was 2
How is it that sometimes a connection is so quickly formed between some people, and for others it just never happens? How does that work? The complementary vibes? They call it “clicking”, “same frequency”, “similar vibes” – how does that work, does our body release tendrils which we then seek to find a similar other? 
– In a matter of a single minute, and that to me is amazing
Happy Helen, Helen who loves the skies and vintage markets and polaroid cameras and beautiful things, Helen who goes to the library, Helen who gets lost while wandering the streets at night
Tonight we’re both happy, and we both feel lucky, because we found each other 🙂 I don’t know how things will go, but tonight was lovely, and it is a night we both will remember. ‘

Truly, truly thankful to have shared our friendship :’) Late night conversations in my room, fretting about life problems, giggling, taking pictures, talking to funny strangers, following strangers home (LOLLLL), getting drunk, splitting at the pathway between our blocks, linking arms in the cold, listening to music late at night, getting lost (me), pizzas, pumpkin carving, london trip, seriously, seriously, seriously, I’ve been so happy :’)

we’re such horrible kidssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss pls pardon our youthful ignorance
Tuesday, December 10, 2013 6:05 PM
Laura, one of my favorite people in Loughborough. Me and the Spanish kids, we are so absolutely clueless in class it’s hilarious. People move to the seats and turn on the computers and we stare at each other, with no idea what to do. And I can speak English, gosh I know for me it’s no excuse. But I actually love the times where we look at each other with a knowing glance, then burst out giggling helplessly because we have no fucking clue what Keely is going on about. LOL.
After-class coffee on Tuesdays. Talking about things, about Spain, about Singapore, about school, about family

And now when I read back I still remember that feeling I got when I stumbled home, my mind was in a half-blur because everything happened so quick, but this was the day that shaped the rest of my Loughborough ‘life’ so to speak. 
The thing about virtual connections is that… the separation never really feels eternal. A part of me (80%) is almost absolutely certain that Helen and I will see each other again, sometime in the next 10 years. And that this does not end here. 🙂
With flights and virtual connections it’s hard to feel like the ties are completely severed, communication remains instantaneous if you really want to, much unlike the past where snail-mail might take months, and a visit might take years and lots of hard work. I wonder how the people of that time felt when they were saying Goodbye and moving forth to somewhere 14 hours away? That ‘last goodbye’, last hug, ‘lasts’ of everything about a person – the possibility of receiving updates about people is so much harder, the separation hits so much closer
I’m sad that I’m leaving, but I’m so, so happy and thankful for what we shared, because what we share as students cannot be replicated in the later years, I think. Meeting someone from School holds a special significance, it feels like we met when we were in the process of growing up, and so when we meet each other again years later, we feel like we watched each other grow
Someday we’ll see each other again. 🙂

I love this so, so SO much it’s absolutely gorgeous and I’ve been eyeing Rob Ryan for so long, I was disappointed that I couldn’t get to his shop but I actually own something by him today :’) Thank you so much helen
bye telford

the last of my posts on exchange :'(

i remain struck with that pang of longing every now and then. will always be thankful for this one beautiful chapter in my life.

final sunset in loughborough

21 jan 2013
ILO ILO on the plane

Very laudable use of silence in the film – how poignant silence can be, how silence in itself speaks of a turmoil of emotions

I am home, and I have missed you, these thoughts unwittingly creeping up on my mind as the plane was set to land. ‘Welcome to Singapore’, an overhead voice calls out. Singaporean, I scrawled these words on the landing card, the written words holding more meaning to me than before. 

flashback catalonia

Suddenly recalled what Paco said.
i caught sight of a flimpsy news article, carefully trimmed at its edge, and placed neatly within the transparent slip of a file. He opened and showed it to me – there was a man’s photograph beaming proudly; i knew it was him. It looked like some celebratory news of sorts, bold headline in Spanish, an important man in the newspaper. ‘That’s me,’ he grinned proudly. He had won some prize back then.
The news article had pen marks that circled and underlined particular words. I peered closer. ‘Let me tell you a story,’ he said. ‘When I won this prize, I told my dad and he said nothing. He didn’t hug me, he didn’t celebrate, he didn’t say much at all.’
‘I thought he didn’t care about it.’
‘When my father passed away last year, I found this news article in his room. Kept neatly in a file. That was when I realized for the first time so many years on, that he was actually proud of me. He was proud of his son.’
He beamed.

Post-exchange blues oozing out right about… now

photo by cher

I can’t hold it in anymore – I miss exchange so sorely, so very much. 😥

I tell myself to be forward-looking, to not dwell too much upon the nostalgic past because I don’t want to compromise on the present in lamenting overwhelmingly upon the beautiful days. But awhile ago I caught sight of a line by Plath: “I fell into bed again this morning, begging for sleep, withdrawing into the dark, warm, fetid escape from action, from responsibility” How much these words speak to me!

Those colder days where I snuggled under the covers at ease (my precious duvet!) being able to wake up with no urgency at all. I would lie awake in the mornings, dawdle for abit (or longer), and get up only when I wanted to. In these heavier times now, I am filled with a deep sense of longing to take flight again, to leave and prance around in foreign lands with a wonderment and awe of everything that’s due to happen. Ah, that sweet, temporal escape from routine and reality…

For now, though, I’m stuck behind the assignments and the deadlines and the laptop with the erratic trackpad. I know, I know, it pretty much ends next Friday, just a little short s t r e t c h now.

Whenever I walk into the supermarket and look at the bananas and grapes I just think so fondly of the Loughborough Town Hall and the lovely Fruits Lady who gave me apricots and the blueberries and raspberries and grapes – I never knew the NTUC grapes were so expensive in comparison!!! Sigh. 
When will I return to (rather, recreate another of) that chapter of my life again? I can’t help but wonder. 

Three Kings Day!

All I knew was that people were following the beats of the drums – somewhat reminiscent of the pied piper – children were holding lanterns and you could hear the festive excitement in the air. Everyone was following the parade and they were singing some song I did not understand. The girona – quiet, almost deserted Girona I thought I’d seen just afew hours ago was now so lively, so filled with some sort of magical hush of excitement.

A Girona tradition: collect all 3 stamps and the 3 kings will visit you!!!! :’)

And then there was this man dressed in red and children and adults had all these adorable handmade cards and they were surrounding him and giving him and slotting then into the mailbox he had slung around his shoulders

 letters to the kings :’) Their parents write it with them the night before so they can ‘mail’ it to the kings, and the kings would know what they want :’)

 handmade lanterns made of eggshell cartons and empty bottles

Spoke to a random man and he told me about the lanterns and the stamps – the lights from the lanterns as a form of welcome to the festival and the stamps to collect all 3 meant the kings would come to your house!! But you had to be on your best behavior throughout the year, of course

 Such tender kind eyes – if i were a kid I’d believe him too 😥

 ‘Have you been a good child this year?’


It was an amazing day, it felt magical and I was incredibly excited and happy to have been here
I wished there was someone here with me to witness the festival, but I know this is a compromise in solo travel so I’ll keep these in my memories 🙂


Girona – another city I felt so readily acquainted with
and one of the most beautiful cities I’ve been
The day:
Bought a train ticket to girona, I had to wait for an hour and a half but I didn’t mind. I thought I’d walk around the streets for abit. Bought this horrid cup of sangria that was way too alcoholic for a morning and tasted nothing like the sangria I remembered, couldn’t finish that whole cup right there so I filled it in my bottle anyway. HAHA

Went to a tidbit shop because I love going to supermarkets of the sorts in other countries, just to see what kind of biscuits and candies they offered.
The man asked me what I wanted, and asked me where I’m from. Singapore, rich country, he nodded. I laughed and said the rich were rich but the poor can slip through the cracks. That was how we began.

It was one of those conversations that sent my heart pumping with excitement as I wanted to know everything, everything he thought because it was SO interesting. Some people are so intelligent and filled with such interesting and thought-provoking perspectives I hope he knows I meant that when I said that before I left. He was a political studies major in Pakistan before coming over to Spain (Catalonia) 25 years ago, he came without a word of Spanish but now he’s even more fluent than his own language. Urdu, English, Spanish, Catalonian and some Spanish dialect I cannot remember. He said he hasn’t spoken English for such a long, long long time now and he very clearly misses it. I asked him so many questions about Spain, this whole thing about the Catalonian identity and independence – language, problem resolutions and mindsets, cultures- Madrid. History of independence. World history, how we used to have only 50 countries and then with the world wars each split into more. Each country had their own reasons for desiring independence, be it religion, language, culture, problems, each country desired to be their own. It really blows me away to learn about THIS side of a country so touristic, to hear something so local. It just reminded me of Italy, how I had absolutely no idea of the whole north-south thing and suddenly I realised it’s like this in Spain as well. Apparently next year with voting Barcelona (Catalonia) wanted to not be a part of Spain. So strange to me, because Barcelona has always, always been “Spain” to me and yet to them they only saw themselves as Catalonian. Borders, countries, construction of political differences. It’s SO interesting I could spend the whole day just chatting with him about politics and political boundaries and “true histories” because he was clearly a knowledgable man (who under unfortunate circumstances, I felt, was now working in this minimart- I felt was a pity)

How colonial masters continue to control the colonized, “puppets” and “independence” and granted independence vs true independence

Unfortunately my train was due to arrive soon and I had to leave. I said a quick and reluctant goodbye because I knew I had so much more I could learn from him, and ran to the train station. So here I am, safely on the train now.

The thing is, this stranger is one of the reasons why my trip to Barcelona will be memorable. Strangers are mostly the reasons why my trips are memorable. What makes me happy is knowing that I made his day too, because I know this is probably the most English he’s spoken in years, having a conversation like that. The world is an amazing place filled with amazing people and amazing stories and I don’t want to forget that.

I feel like travel is about meeting beautiful people and carrying their stories with me back home.

Mondo nuovo
Museu del cinema

Second favourite museum to date, after Utrecht’s

Barcelona / Touristy / Picture-spam

I thought I had enough of cathedrals but this, this really blew me away. Architectural ingenuity of Gaudi
I loved the integration of nature (advent of modernism as I later found)

dude tapped me on the shoulder and asked me to take a picture of him
Oversized macaronis – part of the Kings Day decor – I would have walked by without a second glance
Thursday, January 9, 2014 

My time with Paco taught me SO much, about modernism and Gaudi and even how to appreciate art. Romanic styles, Gothic and neo-classic – how to identify the buildings associated with it. We walked around the city and looked at the Roman remains of the old city walls, and for the first time I kind of realized the historical importance of these structures…? And could picture it – the colonization, the old city gate, the expansion of the city thereafter, and that’s why the streets are different in different parts of the city. Some narrow, some broad. This side of the buildings dull and sooty (remnants from the train), the other brightly colored.

I must say that this was one of the BEST and most meaningful CS experiences for me because I truly, truly learnt and truly got a very local perspective and guide and FOOD and cultural view. I had my reservations initially, and I don’t deny I was apprehensive and slightly worried. But I had 2 options – pick a hostel and probably roam around touristy places alone, or stay with a local and guarantee minimal interaction. None of the girls / students of Barcelona accepted 😥 (impending exams, i think) and I got an offer, so I went ahead despite that weighing apprehension.

I think one of the things I seek to do this year is to not see age as a barrier / border / restriction in any way. Age can create a distance (understandably) in friendships but at the same time why should it? I’ve always found it hard to befriend people who have a distinct age gap from myself but I feel like age shouldn’t be a constraint anymore. Think Harold and Maude, my favorite film! All the more reasons for this. I feel a little awkward initially but I’m working on this – age should NOT be a barrier to friendship and I hope I keep that in my mind.

Catalonian independence movement. I did notice the flag earlier, but now I know why there’s a blue star, and then I start seeing it everywhere. The ‘independence’ banner I saw at Girona now makes more sense. The graffitti.
It just stuns me that I have, with ALL my life associated Barcelona with Spain, and it never occurred to me otherwise – that they might not like it (??)
I could sense the strong Catalonian identity that emerges from Paco’s words, the ‘us’ vs ‘them’, and I wonder where / how they got this sense of identity. Nationhood, borders and constructed boundaries. How interesting, how fascinating!
What makes one feel so strongly as ‘one’???
What makes a nation a nation, what makes them want independence and how do they see themselves as ‘different’?

Hinda was a Somalian in Canada – talked about… guns (heh), TIPPING CULTURE (dude, 50% tip is craaaazy to me….), US vs Canada, crazy -40 degrees weather (because of the wind), Montreal’s first language as French (never knew!!), edu/healthcare, the whole notion of sexual relations, global warming (!!),