Blessings are stars; let’s get counting

Friday, January 9, 2015

I was in a wonderful mood the whole of today as we wrapped up the LSE100 course with our final exam and after a delicious Korean lunch at a hidden gem I am tempted to keep secret, a few friends and I headed to Somerset House for some ice skating as part of the Aerobics social event.

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It’s common to hear that you have fewer friends as you grow older. Whilst still blessed to be in university with the opportunity to meet new, wonderful people at every corner, it isn’t surprising though that as adults, holding onto friendships don’t come by as easily. Gone are the days of being able to show up in school after being MIA for two months over the holidays, and being able to resume conversations, jokes, and share stories without needing to justify where you’ve been. Nowadays, friendships require effort. People talk about how you have to put time and care and thought into your friendships and whilst I agree to an extent, I do miss the days of casual friendships where one can call just to say hi, or nudge on MSN for a chat that didn’t require much effort to start or carry on.

Accidental friendships are the best kinds, when you forget that you didn’t know each other before and over time, you forget what meeting each other was like because you just can’t imagine not being friends. There is a tipping point from being acquaintances to becoming friends and it’s such a glorious, magical blessing when the balance shifts. clip_image003

I was clearing out the pictures in my phone because their beauty is too much for the meagre storage of my iPhone to handle (too many selfies duh) and realized just how many wonderful memories were made by having wonderful friends to enhance my year.

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Being a Committee Member in the LSESU Malaysia Club meant that at least an hour of every week was spent discussing matters related to the club. It meant hours on the computer working on posters or banners, but it also meant working with a great team that was generous with their gratitude (I get a thank you after every poster and that’s just for doing my job!) and tactful with their criticism. It was a supportive environment and I am so privileged to have been a part of it. Most of us, myself included, have officially stepped down from our roles but I think once you become a part of something, like being a Prefect or Debate Society Committee Member, you never truly step away from the responsibility and pride you feel with the club.

In that vein, I’m really looking forward to what the new committee has in store for LSE! clip_image003[1]

I am also privileged with friends to see the world with!

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Whether that means exploring London..

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Exploring KL..

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Or just exploring the world together..

It means that you have a group of people that you’re learning with, growing with, and exploring with. Being able to experience wonder with someone else is an amazing thing. And of course, friends take pictures for you when you’re travelling.. and true friends know your angle. clip_image008

I was lucky this year to get the opportunity to do a lot of learning with friends in the previous term.

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Andrea, and Joyce, and I represented LSE at the Finals of the Taylor Wessing Commercial Challenge. Ultimately coming second, I learned so much from them about presentation styles and efficient working. Coming from 3 different countries from South East Asia, we dubbed ourselves the LAWgic SEAkers (LOLOLOL PLS LAUGH WE ARE FUNNY) and pitched to partners of the firm on a technology deal.

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We also tried our hand at the Allen & Overy Think! Challenge, and obtained third place for that. This one was loads of fun because you’re meant to go in unprepared to handle a case study with common sense. Great stuff! clip_image011

I was lucky to have friends who literally went the distance and took the time to meet up.

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Like Alvin who came by train to London and gave a ring for a quick meet-up..

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And like Chien Teng who flew across oceans, and took the time to meet up with us! And it is very exciting being able to see a friend you haven’t seen in a while, reminisce, and learn more about what they’re up to. Pride is an understatement when I hear the things my friends get up to! And it’s probably how fans of Youtube artists feel when their star makes it big. Like ‘Hey! I knew you were amazing a long long time ago before the world validated you! I’m glad everyone else is finally seeing it.”

If we aren’t consciously making an effort to be grateful, it’s easy for everyday beauty to (for lack of a better word) fade into normalcy. And that’s squandering a huge opportunity to be happy.

And if that means being excited about a grumpy study buddy on the tube..

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(Don’t be fooled by the smile, he’s a Grinch on a normal basis clip_image011[1])

And being happy about having lunch together with your housemates..

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Or if you actually do go on adventures by cycling around London with your siblings..

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Or clubbing with your childhood friends..

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And/Or going fishing with them..

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Being silly..

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And even having fun learning about Christ together..

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(At our church’s weekend away.)

Then yeah! Sign me up for perpetual excitement because it’s a wonderful way to live. clip_image021

I’m so grateful I have people around me who make my daily events so special, and my special events so meaningful.

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Birthday celebration!

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Birthday #2

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And Christmas!

I babble too much so a collage on Instagram just wouldn’t have sufficed! If you made it all the way to the end of this post, yay you! clip_image003[2] *sprinkles thanks over you*

And for an element of accountability, I’ve put up my New Year’s Resolutions for the year! Haha, they sound pretty similar to the previous year’s, but hey, people have lifetime goals okay! One year at a time. clip_image003[3]

2015 Resolutions!

1. Travel to 5 new places
2. Update my blog regularly
3. Reach 1000 followers on Instagram (Yes, this is a legit goal! Will elaborate more if it actually happens)
4. Learn Mandarin (ie put effort into it!)
5. Daily devotion
6. Learn to cook! - food diary them!
7. Do something meaningful
8. Try something new
9. Make use of LSE better - speak to my teachers, read library books, whatever.
10. No phones at the dinner table - unless relevant or necessary
11. Regularly sleep by 1am
12. Save money!
13. Read a book a month?

Signing off,

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The festive residents of the Pink Panther! clip_image003[4]

Here we go again.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The time around New Year’s Day is often a time for contemplation and pseudo-philosophy especially so on this blog, where I take the time out every year to share my hopes for the coming year and my pride for the past. And I guess blog-wise it won’t differ much this year, but rather than spend the night with the usual church service + fireworks combo our family does every year, I spent this one in bed at my flat in London, sniffling away a flu that came and left and came again, having just bid goodbye to most of my family who came to visit over Christmas, and looking forward to a quiet night in with some very precious people.

Personally, 2014 was a wonderful year for me. I learned loads, did loads, and loved loads, but it was also a year of devastating tragedy for many others and as awful as it is to count our blessings in light of the misfortunes of others, it is often only then that we cherish what’s important. Last year, I told myself to see beauty in everything, even when the ugly was there and the year went by wonderfully, so I hope to carry this on for the year.

I spent the year blogging a lot less and I suppose it is fitting, considering the death of blogging and the rise of short-form social media (with Dayre, Instagram, Twitter, etc), but I’m glad that I have this space because it’s interesting to go back and see the kind of priorities I had the year before.

Apparently, I’m all about food this year! This is to the point that after the summer holidays, when I got greeted at uni by a friend, her first remark upon meeting me was ‘You must’ve had a good summer! You’ve been eating loads!” Understandably, offensive mode switched on and I immediately responded with fire in my eyes and venom on my tongue: “WHY? HUH!? DO I LOOK FAT!?!” But no, fortunately (for her) it turns out she just read my food-centric blog posts over the holidays and the dragon within me happily resumed sleeping. Smile with tongue out 

I guess this is partly because lifestyle blogging just isn’t a thing anymore. People aren’t interested in lives they don’t know unless you’re a celebrity, particularly attractive/fashionable, or if you’re a mom with pink hair and an adorable son. And it’s sad cause this means there’s a lot less people wanting to write. There aren’t as many relatable blogs to read anymore. The days of Cheesie and FourFeetNine sharing funny anecdotes about their dating lives/travel lives/talking rubbish lives have been replaced with posts on breast feeding and baby strollers. WHICH IS PERFECTLY FINE, of course, but I guess for someone who knows so much about these online personalities, it feels as though they’ve outgrown readers like myself. Crying face 

But, I digress.

To be honest, over the year, so many things happened that I forgot I had resolutions to begin with, but looking back to last year’s post served as a good reminder of what I would’ve liked to do.

Well, how did that go?

2014’s (forgotten) resolutions

1. Finish reading the Bible – I wish I could say this happened, but I wasn’t disciplined enough. Still, this year marked commitments to the church that I’m really glad I took. For the first time in my life, I started attending MidWeek small groups and it’s been so great with helping me get to know God, myself, and my relationship with Him better. So whilst I couldn’t finish reading the Bible, I’m taking the time to learn more about Jesus which is pretty cool. Smile 

2. Exercise at least once a week – ✓ I remember starting January with passionate, burning motivation for this resolution lololol, but as the months went by, my weekly ‘jogs’ (which were really walks filled with spurts of jogs) tapered into nothing. But surprisingly enough, I’m ending 2014 able to claim that I am exercising at least once a week! Thanks to Monday Salsa classes and Tuesday Aerobics classes over the new term, I’ve been getting that heart pumping and blood flowing from more than just walking up a flight of stairs. Smile with tongue out 

3. Travel to at least 5 different places – ✓ I’m surprised at how well 
these resolutions have been working out for me considering that I’ve forgotten them. But over the year, I did manage to visit 5 new places!

a) Sabah, Malaysia

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Pulau Sapi – Clearest seawater I’ve ever seen.

For the first time ever, I made it to East Malaysia and got the chance to experience a bit of Sabah and it was glorious. It was such an enjoyable trip with my mother as we headed to Keningau for a week-long mission trip, and then extended our stay to soak in Sabah’s blue skies, sandy beaches, and clear waters.

b)  Amsterdam, Netherlands

After my first year exams, I flew to Amsterdam with some friends. It was a really fun trip and notable highlights include watching Passenger live and having amazing Dutch pancakes! Smile with tongue out 

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“Only miss the sun when it starts to snow, only know you love her when you let her go..”

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With some of the dream team! Open-mouthed smile 

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c) Budapest, Hungary

I was hungry for some Hungary hyuk hyuk hyuk and a few of us Malaysians flew to Budapest for the summer holidays! It was a nation with beautiful architecture, cheap food, and great memories.

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If you ever find yourself in Budapest, Michelin-starred Onyx is not one to be missed!

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Everything from its decor to its service felt tasteful and delicate, whilst its dishes were simple, presented well, and delicious. We didn’t have to eat vegetables in foam form, or have to guess if our dessert was a main meal. Easily one of the best meal experiences I’ve had. The exchange rate was very favourable too with a 3 course meal costing about 30 pounds a head, which was reasonable for the service and food!

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My starter of asparagus came with this ham and cheese sandwich… strange, but yummy!

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Tatare! One of my favourites to eat. Texture and flavour like sashimi, but stronger and in yummier bits.

IMG_8353Cast of characters of Budapest ‘14.

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Not my dish! But pretty, no?

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Best mango icecream I’ve ever had. Smile 

We were at Budapest for about 3 relaxing days where a large portion of it was spent watching the sunset and loving life.

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Glorious sunset – no filter required!

d) Prague, Czech Republic

The trip was followed by a train ride to Prague where we went to czech out the beautiful gothic architecture hyuk hyuk hyuk and in my case, be dazzled to tears of joy by the beauty of this country. I literally burst out in sobs of happiness as I watched the sun set across the Danube.

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NOT SO HAPPY NOW, HUH TIFFANY.

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There was definitely a lot more to do in Prague than Budapest. We got a taste of the insane with Tim Burton’s exhibition..

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A taste of sardine by crowding with other tourists..

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And a taste of syok sendiri. Winking smile 

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I was very lucky to be able to visit these places with my best friends. 

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And we were even luckier to be accompanied by great guys who were game enough to colour coordinate outfits with us! :’)

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As well as join us in taking embarrassing photos. Smile with tongue out 

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We had excellent meals in Prague as well thanks to Celine’s excellent TripAdvisor hunting skills and it was one of the most well-coordinated trips I’ve ever been on. Open-mouthed smile 

e) Oxford, England

Although it isn’t a new country, I did manage to drop by Oxford by car for a quick visit when my family was around. It was really.. a very quick visit.

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We ate Nando’s, drove around the university, and left. Smile with tongue out 

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I’ll be back!

4. Quota of 5 soft drinks a year –
Totally forgot about this resolution but because I started the year insisting that I didn’t want fizzy drinks, I just eventually stopped craving them and now am really uninterested. So.. although I don’t know if I stuck to my quota of 5 (which is highly unlikely!), I probably won’t have that many soft drinks anymore so.. resolution worked?

5. Finish knitting something else – No.. Just no. I’m not even sure if I remember how to knit. Smile with tongue out 


6. Get first class in some of my essays – Sniff… Nope. Shall put more effort in it this year!

7. Become more proficient in another language – After years of avoiding it and after months of contemplation, I have finally signed up for Mandarin classes. So whilst I’ve yet to be proficient, I am actually doing something about it! So.. progress!

8. Drink 2 litres of water a day – Just like the soft drinks resolution, I totally forgot about this one. However, a month of intense water intake led to a water-drinking habit that’s much improved in comparison to previous years. I guess if I start the year right, everything just falls into place! Open-mouthed smile You’ll end up doing what you want to do in the year, and sometimes, you just end up doing what you’re meant to.

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Heh?

So, that’s that for 2014!

It was probably one of the best years I’ve ever had and I’m looking forward to the rest of 2015!

As for my resolutions this year… Let’s just start with blogging more, shall we?

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