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More than a year…

13 Jun

That’s how long it’s been since I last posted anything here.

There’s so many things I could talk about. I could also lament on about how I wish I were more consistent in my journalling online.

That said, I’ve not neglected my writing, I’ve simply taken it off the virtual platform, returning to the comfort of paper and pens (arguably an excuse for me to spend money on more pens, paper, notebook, stickers, washi tape, the list goes on…).

However, coming back to WordPress is refreshing. While I sieve through my thoughts and type them on my keyboard, I find myself unconsciously rewriting and rewording them. In other words, I’m really thinking through my thoughts; a sort of exercise for my brain, perhaps.

So, my year plus plus in a glance?

  1. Finished my contract with the JET Programme in Japan
  2. Hosted family and friends in the last month before I was due to leave – lots of eating and fun times
  3. Returned 2 weeks before my wedding
  4. Did a ton of DIY in those 2 weeks
  6. Honeymoon-ed in Copenhagen & Norway – a memorable trip filled with lots of nature, food, and adventure
  7. Lived in Singapore for 4 months
  8. Learnt Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur for 3 months with the husband – best couple bonding time ever
  9. Relocated to Malaysia because of husband’s work
  11. Living life as a housewife – completely new experience for this workaholic

Once year is a pretty decent amount of time for a variety of things to take place. But I think that the past time that I’ve had has been particularly eventful. Getting married, moving, and owning a puppy are all proving to be very life-changing.

I’m sure there’s a lot more to come and I hope I’ll continue to regard each day with joy and a determination to give my best!


Of Packing and Homes.

15 May

Since my last post on Boston, I’ve been wanting to give equal attention to New York and Montreal. However, in a mad rush of things, upon my arrival back to Vancouver, I’ve been caught up with packing.

Packing, of itself, may seem like a simple process of shoving things into boxes. However, friends who’ve observed me packing for Germany can be my witness, I have a tendency to pack and label my boxes accordingly. To make matter more complicated, this time, I have additional factors on my list as I separate my stuff into categories.

These categories include:

1. Stuff that I’m leaving in Singapore for my sister who starts her first-year experience in UBC in September

2. Stuff that I’m packing to bring with me to Japan

3. Stuff that I’m bringing back to Singapore

4. Stuff that I’m bringing back to Singapore to be shipped to Japan, via air or a visiting friend, at a later date

Some find packing a calming and luxurious activity.

Personally, I often find myself getting sentimental and teary-eyed. These events could be triggered, maybe by  an old t-shirt that I got at a youth camp some 10 years ago. Or by a bus ticket which I received when I met the nicest bus driver ever in Vancouver. Or by nail polishes that a past student gave to me when she returned to Korea…

Today, I rummaged through cards and letters – if you want to test the prowess of your tears, this is a sure winner.


These letters date back to as early as 2008.

As I paged through each envelope; some beautifully decorated, some humourous, with others bordering on offensive (like ‘aunty joy’ :p), it was as if I was swept through a myriad of memories, reliving key moments in my life, all in the mere hour or so it took to read through everything.

These memories made up what once was my home. Some would argue that it still is.

Regularly I’ve contemplated the idea of a ‘home’. I have written earlier posts about it, and have come up with the conclusion that home is wherever I am. In other words, I make the effort to create a home at each geographical location I am placed in by building up relationships, exploring places, partaking of food and experiences with others, thereby creating new memories.

Idealistic, maybe, but it is the only way I can reconcile the fact that I’ve moved so many times, am still on the move, and will probably continue to be ever-moving for a long while more.

If I really take the time to think about things (especially now that I can afford that time, with the lack of impending responsibilities and what-not), deep inside I’m conflicted between wanting to explore life, going on adventure after adventure, and wanting stability.

As I close the chapter of my life as a student at UBC and move to the next chapter, I can’t help but wonder if I will ever return to Singapore. This question, an honest question, eventually leads me to the conclusion that as I continue to put my trust and faith in a good God who’s plans are higher than mine, it is there that I will find stability.

Stability will be found no where else, not in a location, not in a person, and not even in a pug (sadly).

As of now, I am excited for the next immediate plans of working and living in Japan. When that chapter comes to an end, I will be looking forward to the next.

Maybe it will call for me to be in Singapore, maybe it won’t.

Each letter, reminds me of a person, which reminds me of an experience or experiences, which reminds me of my time in Singapore. Though I don’t see myself returning for good any time soon, and though I can sometimes feel anxious about the day that I might or might not return to SG for good, I know that the time I spent in Singapore, both the good and the bad, the relationships and the experiences, all remind me of God’s goodness and grace (:

In a not too far-off future, I look forward to a day, similar to today’s, where surrounded by boxes, I’d find myself sitting in a mess of cards and letters from those in Singapore and those in Vancouver, and I’d once again reminisce the goodness and grace of the One whose plans are beyond my wildest dreams or imagination.


Milestones (not endorsed by restaurant of the same name)

9 Apr

Friend: “It’s the last two days of school!”

Me: “Nah, it doesn’t matter much to me anyway. I still have papers and finals. Until those are done, I don’t feel as if its over yet.”

Part of that burst of pessimism, from yours truly, stems in the fear of celebrating perceived successes too early. There’s always the nagging thought at the back of my mind that likes to whisper, “life is gonna turn around and bite you in the butt, just when you least expect it. Be on guard, be on guard.”

The other part of it is further away from pessimism, and closely connected with the concept of ‘saving the best for the last’.

It’s like when you eat a sunny side egg, and you work your way around the yolk. Carefully and intentionally scraping at the sides for every piece of egg white around it. Then, the finalé; when you pop that yolk of perfection, in all its wholeness, into your mouth, biting it as the precious yolk runneth over.

However, now that I think about it. Today marks my last day EVER, going to classes as an undergraduate student. True, I may still have responsibilities and tasks that lie ahead, but its unrealistic to think that there will ever be a day where I can celebrate accomplishing that one big life goal. After all, it’s human nature to reach for greater heights each time.

LIFE IS A JOURNEY – a widely referenced metaphors (information gathered from metaphor class, of course) – as such, that journey will have multiple check points, some more significant than others, but none insignificant.

My conclusion is that I should still celebrate the little milestones in life.

Every little victory is motivation to keep trudging forward.

Shared Experiences

4 Apr

I find that what often gets people entangled in their emotions is the skewed perception that they are the only ones going through an experience. The belief that their situation is unique, and that they are all alone.

Would you not agree?

Think about a time when you were awfully stressed or anxious about a particular thing.

Actually, here’s one.

You’re stressed out over a paper.
You talk to your classmate, “how’s your paper going”.
“Oh, I have no idea where to start”, he goes.
“Me too!” you respond.

Then, what do you feel?

Relief, perhaps? Possibly stemmed in the fact that someone else shares similar emotions that are tormenting you and you’re not alone?

In any case, I choose to believe that I am at a point of my life where I am going through a bout of emotions that is shared by a rather large crowd:

1. The about-to-be-graduates

This category does not require much elaboration. I believe that many are looking forward to being done with their undergraduate degree, so much so that classes seem to be a drag and final papers a chore.

At the same time, stress levels should be pretty low.

Especially if you already have plans after graduation, like a full time job, or an acceptance to do your masters, or the education program (which seems to be the route that many of my fellow English Language majors are on), where your grades don’t seem to hold as much weight as they previously did.

As for those who have nothing planned after, I think you would oscillate between the anticipation of having nothing to do, and the anxiety of having nothing to do.

As for me, I oscillate between ALL those feelings. I kind of have something planned after graduation, but its all relative to other things, which mean I actually don’t have anything planned after graduation. I’m happy to be done, and relishing having no assignments and homework to think about, but also wondering about what my life will look like after exiting UBC.

That brings me to the second category…

2. The anticipating JET candidates

You might or might not already know this, but I applied for the JET (Japan Exchange and Teaching) programme in November 2013. Yes, it was about 5 months ago. It’s a pretty extensive process (oh, you don’t say?) for an assistant language teaching position in Japan. I received an email late January notifying me of my passage to the second stage – The Interview. That took place in February.. and I’ve been waiting since to find out if I will be shortlisted.

The time has finally come, it’s April, when the emails/letters/pigeon mail start to stream in, letting candidates know of their acceptance or rejection.

So, as we enter the month of April… I choose to believe that many, like myself, not only started checking their inboxes/mailboxes/windows, but also googled things like “when do Canadians usually receive their acceptance into the JETprogramme?”

This might actually leave you feeling more anxious, especially when nothing turns up, and when the first link in the search engine directs you right back to the official JETprogramme Canada website.

Not very helpful.

Having said that, I guess this is the beauty of being a part of this process. It is such a long and extensive process, but guess what? Everyone else who applied and got through to the interview round, is having similar feelings. Not just those in Canada, but all around the world.

Oh, the beauty of applying to a large organization.

Thus, the waiting now continues.

The Aftermath

23 Mar

 What does it feel like to be graduating?

“Me, me! Ask me!” 


“I’m graduating in 2 months!”
A soon-to-be graduate can often be on a emotional roller-coaster ride.

On one day she might be excited to finally be done. On another, she might be stressed because there is uncertainty surrounding her future plans. The next, she might be depressed because she feels sure that stepping through the doorway of graduation is only the beginning; the beginning of the trek through life’s mundane messiness.

What does it feel like to be graduating?

Soon-to-be graduate: “Haha..”

Interrogator: “Why?”

Soon-to-be graduate: “…”

A half-empty bag of Old Town Hazelnut coffee.
Stacks of half-used post-it notes.
Piles upon piles of discarded notes.
More notes.
Cheat sheets from ENGL 229A – the course that pushed her in the direction of English Language.

The years, 5 to be precise, of her undergraduate life are coming to a close.

Questions and uncertainty lie ahead of this soon-to-be graduate’s life. She is excited, anxious, and scared.

Excited that she will be receiving a concrete piece of evidence of the accomplishment she spent half a decade on.

Anxious to find out the next direction her life will take.

Scared that her purpose in life will not be found.

Yet, she wills to keep choosing to put one foot in front of the other. Loving where each step, forward or backward, will take her. Enjoying what’s left of her undergraduate experience and looking forward to what the uncertainty will bring.

When time permits she will then set forth to achieve the following:

– piece together the necklace requested of her by her aunt
– create more calligraphy art pieces
– bake
– try out new recipes
– page through all the half-read books
– clear her wardrobe
– sort through her stuff and try to reduce her belongings to 2 luggages for ease of movement

Here’s to the last 12 days of school!

Bumps and Buses

21 Mar

It really annoys me when buses have jerky stops.

Now, why don’t I say, I really love it when buses have smooth stops?

By making the first statement, I am implying the second. However, the first comment that would come out of my mouth with regards to the topic would probably be the former.

Often we don’t realise how comfortable and smooth our bus journey is unless we are confronted with a really bumpy and uncomfortable one.

In light of an unpleasant journey, we make sense of the massive skills a bus driver must have to not make awfully uncomfortable stops. 

Likewise, we don’t seem to appreciate the goodness that we have in life unless we encounter bumps along the way.

Perhaps, another human flaw; the consistent folly of falling into apathetic living till something or someone brings to your life unpleasant bumps and abrupt stops.

Divide and Conquer

14 Sep


If you’re one of those people that creates lists and feels a great sense of accomplishment when each box is checked – I completely relate. With 6 full loads of classes and a part time job, checklists are a way for me to keep on top of things. But to say I’m starting to feel slightly overwhelmed is an understatement (not to mention that my first 2 Saturdays have been completely burnt out by trainings and other unrelated events. Which honestly, I would be way more appreciative of, if I didn’t have this long to do list to face at the end of the day and realise that less than half of it is checked and the weekend is over I know I’m rambling deal with it)

It’s great to have everything that needs to be done in a nice, long, concrete, easy-to-follow list. Wait, what? Easy-to-follow? Easy-to-follow??!!

A long checklist, believe it or not can make you a lot less productive… Let’s say, for example, that I’m working on item A on my checklist, I take my time and all is going fine. I look at my watch and hurry to finish item A so I can start on item B. As I glance to my checklist to see what to start on, I am confronted by my very, very long list… Instead of feeling motivated, I feel overwhelmed. In fact, whilst working on item B, I’m thinking and worrying about item c – v. At the end of the day, less than half of my items have been done. Of those that have been completed, besides the first, I probably would have done less than satisfactorily. The conclusion? I actually ended up doing less than I could have done because of that same checklist that was supposed to save my life.

Before I come off as a silly person who doesn’t like checklists, I actually love them – checklists are almost a part of me. My favourite part is checking that checklist with checks – yes, I did just go crazy with my alliterations. I’m not saying to abandon checklists, rather I’m saying to stay away from allotting too much expectations on yourself in one hour.

Divide and Conquer. Be realistic. Aim to complete, realistically, 2-3 things on your list. Trust me, I can totally understand that it’ll be hard to choose just 2 or 3 things on your list to focus on. But hey, the wise prioritise.

With less on your checklist, you’ll be compelled to give your best to each task. Which do you prefer: 6 completely but shabbily done tasks or 2 completely tasks that you’re proud of and satisfied with?

Yes, I know that time doesn’t seem like it’s on your side, and don’t believe the Nike lies – sometimes ‘just do(ing) it’ is not enough. We have to choose our fights. Come to terms with the fact that we’re only human, we have 24hrs in a day (12-19 hrs dependent on how long lazy you are) just like everyone else, and we have just as much to do as everyone else.

Okay, I’ll stop there. And let’s just say that I’m going to try my best to practice what I preach! Yes, I just wrote a post on something that I’ve not actually implemented in my life, yet. So reliable is this post eh? Of course, I cleverly left this piece of information till the very. Last. Line.

P. S: but guess what, if you try this and it works think of how much more productive you’ll be! Woooo

What Packing Does to You

25 Aug

Packing is like opening a box. A box full of emotions tied to memories that are triggered by seemingly useless pieces of paper or items.

Take for example a binder full of SOCI 100 notes.

Or the stubs from train rides and (truly useless) documents written completely in German where the only words I understand are ‘Frau Joy Tan’.

The magazine covers that I saved from every place I visited in Europe for keepsake.

How about that crisp piece of paper that says ‘Yes, you’ve been accepted!’

A visa for Japan that I never got to use.

And x-ray of my lungs that I got to keep and a huge stack of papers filled with scientific words of medicines and pills and tests and who-knows-what.

The list could go on. I can’t tell if I’m annoyed or enjoying the reminiscing that is taking place. But one thing that I do know is that I’m grateful.

Grateful for the friends I made in that SOCI 100 class where I met the Guildies, who will and always be in my heart known as ‘The Guildies’.


Grateful for the opportunity to roam the streets of Germany as an employee for adidas. Where I survived purely on smiles and nods (since the language escapes me)

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Grateful for the 3 girls who became my travel buddies and friends.


Grateful for the day I accepted my admission into UBC and for the past 3 years in Vancouver.

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photo (6)

Grateful for the experience of excitement that I felt when I found out I was accepted for an exchange to Tokyo University. Though this one kinda makes me sad because I never got to go… However, the excitement will continue to grow till that fateful day when I will finally be able to visit/work/stay in Japan 🙂

Grateful for my health. For love. For family and friends who supported me during that scary and confusing time.

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Over the pulpit, a couple of weeks ago, we were encouraged to not build our lives around just one experience.

In the same way, though I’ve had many significant turning points in my life, I feel like I’m at a place where I want to keep looking ahead; keeping my eyes peeled for the next chapter of my life. I know that I went through a very trying time last year and I will never forget the grace and love that I felt and learnt about. But I do not want to build my life on just that one experience.

I guess, this is just a reminder to me that there’s still more to come 🙂 And yes, I still have lots of packing to do.

If your eyes were a camera…

12 Jul

… Imagine all the candid shots you wouldn’t miss if you didn’t have to fumble with getting a DSLR out of its sleeve, removing its cover, switching is on, setting the functions

… Imagine a snapshot of that amazing view of the skyline of Downtown Vancouver that you could get when you’re paddle boarding at Jericho beach but couldn’t for fear of damaging expensive electronics

… Imagine how much more luggage you could bring on your travels and how much further your stamina could last if you weren’t lugging around the extra bulky item

… Imagine how much less you would fit into the stereotype of an asian if you didn’t have to  make all your friends hold off on eating so you could get sumptuous shots of their food

… Most of all, imagine how much more observant all of us would be. Endlessly looking around, basking in the beauty of the world, never missing that once-in-a-lifetime shot of a friend smiling to herself, or that act of generousity and kindness. Imagine how much more beautiful life would be if we had our eyes open.

Imagine how much more appreciative of life we would be, if our eyes were a camera.

A Post Long Overdue

9 Mar

Since my return to Vancouver, I’ve been wanting to blog for the longest time about my interactions with and feelings towards the nation of Singapore. This seemingly “random” post is also in response to an article I read this morning (I rant about that here). Though I was not born in Singapore, I held citizenship till a couple of years ago when I came to Vancouver to further my studies in 2009. After going back to Singapore for a significant amount of time last year… I do have to say that I feel more of a foreigner than a Singaporean. This might be a seemingly redundant line to some readers, I am a Canadian Citizen after all.

What I don’t think I will ever be able to convey in words is, I’ve always felt Singaporean at heart (another contrary statement).

For one, I may be an English Language major, but I love Singlish. I love how I’ve grown up with a crowd that loves to coin and create phrases that become vernacular to no one except those in their circle. Things like “zhey” (expression that often goes along with the raising of the eyebrows as if to say something along the lines of “ooo, impressive”), “arrowing” (when you pass on responsibility to someone else or to assign tasks to another person), “fly aeroplane/pang seh” (to turn down a meeting with someone at the last minute, or to not turn up at all). Of course, these are all examples that I of off the top of my head. There are obviously ton more.

FOOD. Yes, who can not love the food. If you ask any Singaporean who is overseas what they miss the most, I can bet you that more than half of them will say “food”. Afterall, Singaporeans are pretty much food junkies.

Family and Friends. I basically spent most of my life growing up in Singapore. My roots are in Singapore. When I visit, none of my days feel boring, because there’s always someone who I could “force” to come out for lunch with me. Or even breakfast, dinner, or supper! Perhaps in part due to the size of the country, meeting up with friends is rarely a difficult task. A simple phone call or text would suffice.

From the bottom of my heart, I can say that I genuinely miss Singapore a lot.

However, I can’t say that my experiences when I last went back were the best. In fact, it was the first time I ever felt like a “foreigner”. Well, I was in Germany before that (being the only asian in the grocery store made it hard for me not to stand out), but this is a whole different feeling. How do I explain it? It’s like, imagine you were a Ariel the Little Mermaid. Your home is in the water, but one day BAM! You grew legs and now you can live on land… But guess what, you try to live in water again.. and it simply won’t work out. I guess for Ariel it’s a little different, because she loved her life on land. But the truth still remains, the sea is her home, and her family is still in the sea….. lol. What a bad analogy, oh wells, off the top of my head guys.

Anyway, being treated like a foreigner sucks. Especially in Singapore, when I feel perfectly Singaporean even though I know I’m not. I’m just going to be brutally honest. It feels like due to a barrage of events, there seems to be some sort of hostility towards foreigners. Be it knowingly or unknowingly, this hostility comes in all forms: from people with “power”, by random passer-bys, or even through innocent jokes amongst friends. Truth is, these feelings of hostility are perfectly understandable.

Singapore does seem to be getting overpopulated. For a person who is short (and I guess, small?), i don’t actually appreciate small and tiny spaces. Congestion and tight areas can get me real agitated.

I know I often jokingly say this, but sometimes I do feel that even though I love Singapore, it doesn’t seem to love me 😦 Having said that, the idea of living in an overly congested and populated country doesn’t hold much of an appeal to me. Yet, starting all over again, and rooting myself in a country where I practically have zero roots besides my birth is an equally difficult task.

So even if my faith and trust in His goodness might waver here and there, I want to constantly remind myself that He will place me in the best place for me to me at the exact right time. Though the future remains uncertain, I want to be no where else, except where He wants me to be.