Things I Will Miss

1) Watching the sun setting at 4pm in the winter and at 10pm in the summer, and having sleep disrupted by the sun shining at 4am in the summer.

2) The unpredictable weather: checking weather forecasts before going out, wearing layers of clothing, feeling cold and wet, and having the ‘Beast from the East’ in March and a heatwave in May.

3) The absence of the sound of an airconditioner or a fan, and finding just the right temperature by adjusting the heater or the open window.

4) Waking up to the view of my room in my bed, the poster of a bird on my right, my messy table and drawer, my phone charging beside my bed, the lights shining through the blinds.

5) Walking to the bus stop and waiting for the irregular bus 50 – sometimes chasing it – showing my student pass and thanking the bus driver.

6) Having grocery trips to Tesco, Morrisons, Lidl, W.H. Lung and Asda with a grocery bag and sometimes trolley.

7) Doing laundry with said trolley.

8) The smell of fresh pastries wafting from Lidl, Aldi and Morrisons; and buying them for a cheap price. Especially those baked cookies that are as huge as my face. And muffins. Yum. Buying crumpets and brownies occasionally as a treat too. Double yum.

9) Hearing “You okay/ you alright?” from cashiers/store staffs, and responding with a casual “yeah” and never knowing what would happen if I said “no, I’m not okay.”

10) Having £3 meal deals, stuffing the medium box with so much pasta it could burst, and always having the Nomadic Oats Chocolate yogurt as snack.

11) The excitement of app notifications of free coffee from Costa and Cafe Nero, free pizzas from Dominoes, free cakes from Patisserie Valerie, free doughnuts from Krispy Kreme, and £3 Bella Italia pizza/pasta.

12) Online shopping for everything and student discounts everywhere by just using the all powerful Unidays app/student card, and receiving notifications of parcels arriving at reception.

13) £2.50 for a tub of Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Fudge ice cream / Haagen Dazs ice cream.

14) Watching £4 Monday movies at Vue, the Printworks, with a vanilla/oreo milkshake.

15) Having Burger King after church almost every Sunday.

16) Random conversations with strangers in the bus/ in a queue, and with immigration officers, including one who has the same birthday as me.

17) Listening to people busking in the streets of Arndale/Piccadily Gardens, and the sound of screeching wheels and impatient honking of trams.

18) The sudden blaring siren sounds from ambulances departing from/arriving at the Manchester Royal Infirmary (MRI) across the junction from our street.

19) Music coming through Victoria Baths next door whenever there is an event.

20) The feeling of immense comfort and relief when reaching our yellow, humble abode after tiring trips/ miserable weather.

P/S: 21) Doing most of the above while third-wheeling AnZhoula and annoying the heck out of them. Thks fr th Mmrs.

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Very British Things Pt.2

I think I know better now that I can’t be bothered to write a post that re-caps the past year because it’s very time-consuming and perhaps more suitable for a personal journal than a blog.

Things that are less time-consuming and more amusing (at least to me) to write would be, for example, the every day British culture. Or in this particular case, Mancunian culture?

So on Thursday when we came back from Switzerland to good old Manchester, the immigration security guard ushered us into the Non-EU line and said “Ni Hao!” to us, and followed it up with a “or is it ‘Apa Khabar’?” and I was laughing in disbelief while Zhou responded more appropriately to him.

When we reached the immigration officers there was a line that was particularly slow due to the chattiness of the officer and I had the premonition that I was gonna be headed that line and sure enough, Zhou was done faster than the lady being held up chatting on the slow line and Angela went after Zhou, and I had go after the lady.

Now this is not very typical of me at all, but my attempt at not being rude ended up being a conversation about the details of my course and my recent vacation to Switzerland, including how we got stuck in Zermatt without a train to lower ground. Meanwhile, two other persons have come and gone after Angela on the other line. It was more amusing than annoying to me, really, and he ended the conversation with a ‘welcome back’ which felt nice and homey. Also, you never know, maybe he was just being really thorough with the background checking so I may as well oblige.

I feel like writing a post on my trips to Edinburgh and Switzerland but I’m not sure if I have enough diligence and willpower to do so… so here’s one for the amusement. Happy belated new year! …if there’s such a thing.

Very British Things

So the Brits are well known to be very polite, and eventhough I have British cousins I didn’t expect the level of politeness to be so… over the top. I mean, I thought it was very polite of my cousins to say ‘please’ all the time (usually for second helpings of food lol) but now I’m starting to wonder if they were being sarcastic sometimes. Tell me you weren’t, Kev.

Anyway, there were three instances that happened in a day where I was left feeling… kinda flattered but stunned?

1) Was heading down from my flat to get to the reception to collect my parcel, and bumped into this guy carrying a very heavy-looking vacuum cleaner, so I just helped keep the elevator doors opened (like anybody else would, seeing as his hands were occupied) and he said, appreciatively, “ah, thank you so much”. No problem at all. When we reached the exit doors, I again, held them open ahead of him and he said “thank you so much, you’re a star“, …I just didn’t know what to reply so I didn’t.

2) Reached the reception, and requested for my parcel and provided identification, whereby the receptionist, Sharon (oh yes, we are on first name basis), chatted to me about how she has a Malaysian friend and remembers that her friend also has both English and Chinese names like me, and she proceeded to tell me “you have a beautiful name“. I managed to reply “oh, thank you” with my best flattered face and left the reception confused as to which name of mine she was referring to.

3) Tried to use the live chat feature for my mobile operator to find out why my mobile data isn’t working and as Sheeba, an employee, started asking me the basics like my phone number and the model of my phone, which I answered, she replied: “That’s a very nice phone 🙂“. Yes with a smiley lol. Because my mobile data wasn’t working well, I unintentionally left the chat halfway through her questions with my problem unresolved. I did feel like it was quite rude of me and tried to reconnect but to no avail. Oh well.

I would have very much liked to respond in a way that showed my appreciation, but I was just caught off guard most of the time, that I didn’t know how to.  I did manage to compliment someone on how young she looked (when she said she was working, not studying, like I assumed) and she was genuinely flattered. I might be getting the hang of this. Just working on how to respond. Will keep you keep updated on my progress the next time.

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The Manchester Town Hall, captured during the Food and Drink Festival

Fighting for Joy

You know the emo lonely feeling that you get even when you’re surrounded by people? I’m getting that a lot lately.

It’s not that I don’t enjoy being in Manchester, there’s just something about being in a new place, having to make new friends while missing the ones back home… that makes you feel that way. The past me will want to smack present me if I even whisper the word ‘homesick’, and I thought I was, but I think I’m just merely missing people back home, not necessarily the place. It kinda got to a point where I just wanna stay home and not socialize anymore. The rainy weather didn’t help. Also the time zone difference didn’t help. At all.

Today I went to church, and again the message spoke to me. This happens very frequently, even when He wants to use me to accomplish something. The signs are usually fairly obvious. I feel like God knows how much of a blur and an escapist I am, and He’s just making sure I hear Him loud and clear. Today’s message was about how fighting for joy is a daily battle. I quote from the sermon: “Maybe for you, fighting for joy today means saying ‘hi, how are you?’ to someone”. Sigh. Okay God.

I was reminded of my own ‘preaching’ not long ago on how we should invest in others no matter what it costs us… and I’m not practising it at all. I went to all these events with my classmates and attending church activities without being emotionally there most of the time.

My point is… it is easy to fall into the trap of passively going through life and activities, and numbing yourself to it all. But the fight for joy is a conscious effort, and well, I need to be reminded everyday so here’s this post. Eventhough this is for myself, I hope it makes sense and is also encouraging to you.

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I took this photo myself. Imagine how awkward I look behind the scenes with my left hand extending to take this selfie but trying not to look like I’m taking a selfie. #ruiningitforyou

So. 

We’ve arrived safe and sound, without so much of a glitch as I initially thought we would. Well the visa delay was a big one but I was ready to accept the fact that I wasn’t gonna go after all, then suddenly I had to mentally prepare myself to leave, all over again. But God has His own timing, I suppose. Was once again put in a position where I could not do anything except wait patiently – which is a humbling, yet strangely calming experience for me.

Was just glad to touch the ground and not move after the 24 hour journey. I puked at the first transit at the Abu Dhabi Airport (don’t worry it was not until I was inside a toilet). After arriving at the accomodation, I thought to myself that being able to sleep in a soft, flat,  and unmoving surface is such a blessing I take for granted – I wouldn’t leave it if it weren’t for classes and all.

I guess I just wanna thank God for all the little blessings along the way… and promise to try and make the most out of it. After all, it is my ‘dream’ right…? Sigh. I know, “what is there to complain right now, you spoiled brat?” Nope, nothing at all.

Going back to the update, the Airbnb is great, the university is great, the lecturer is amazing, and my new friends are all Malaysians. Lol. It’s just purely some invisible gender separation thing in class… all the Malaysians are girls, btw.

I miss everybody back home… I hope you’re doing well and wish I packed you in my luggage with me. ❤