Happy Chinese New Year From Cambridge!

Feb 19, 2015 in , , , , 0 thoughts

This year is the first time celebrating away from home, and it's actually not too bad. My dad flew here, so I'm with my family to celebrate, and that's the most important part. :) We had lunch (British/Mexican food... quite nice, actually - I'm not craving Chinese food yet), and managed to watch the CCTV celebrations! My dad brought goodies from home too, so my tummy is nice and happy (also getting fatter, but hey...). :)

It's strange being away from home largely because the atmosphere isn't there - there are no decorations, no music, no red everywhere (and no ang pau either, heh). And of course, I'm not with my relatives, who make the celebrations that much more fun (and noisy).

The one thing I'm not missing though, is the weather! My fingers go numb whenever I go out, but I'd rather have numb fingers than sweat the whole day, haha.

Since I'm blogging, I should probably update you on what is going on.

First, I am now in Week 5 (I think - I just remember when my supervision days are...). Two essays due this week, and work isn't too bad right now because I did some work early over the Christmas holidays and one of my supervisions got switched over... My essays have been improving, which is nice, but I have a way to go before I get to where I want to be.

Over the last weekend, we went to Oxford! We rented a car and my dad drove. Amazingly enough, we didn't get lost. Once we were there, a friend kindly spared us his time and took us around. Oxford is quite pretty, and those who like London would probably prefer it. There are parts of it that reminded me of Beijing... It feels much more commercialized than Cambridge. The architecture is, of course, very beautiful, and in some ways more distinct than Cambridge. Overall though, I must say that I still love Cambridge. There is much more green here, and the majority of colleges have sprawling gardens. The general pace of Cambridge itself feels much more calm (the academic side is a different monster altogether though), and it just feels right. Still, I definitely wouldn't mind visiting Oxford again - it was quite a lovely trip. I went down the alley by the church CS Lewis used to go to, and saw the doorway and the lamppost. Definitely a fangirl moment, before I was struck with awe. There are so many beautiful bits and pieces here with really wonderful and interesting history.

These past few weeks, I have also been working on my shop, Openquote Designs, again! I have a new range of products: printable planners! I think they are a great way to keep organized, and they're fun for me to design as well. So far, I have a few kits, including a financial planner, full wedding planner, and wedding budget planner (as a mini-kit branched off from the full suite), along with individual planners, such as daily planners, Get Stuff Done lists, expense trackersmenu planners, and quite a number of others. Sales have been positive, and I'm praying that this will take off! I am currently working on an Etsy kit just for Etsy sellers, which I'm aiming to develop into a small business kit soon, while looking into a possibility of launching a website for Openquote Designs. If you want to get organized and be more productive, be sure to check out my printable planners! I'll try to do some freebies soon too.

That's it from me for now - I have to finish an essay for Civil and read for a supervision. Til next time!

End of First Term, Last Page of 2014

Jan 1, 2015 in , , , 0 thoughts

It's been a long and yet very short first term (and part of my holidays). Since my last update, I finally turned legal (and so did Hazel, as she got a proper dog tag around the same time), and my friends were awesome enough to come over and surprise me with a celebration and two cakes. <3 I was really touched by that (and a little bit *_*).

It has only grown colder since I arrived, as expected. What I didn't expect was for my fingers to grow used to being numb whenever I go outside, but they happily have, though that does no favors  for my bloodstream (and it takes a really long time to defrost). The beautiful golden leaves that adorned the whole wall near my place have since fallen off, with most of them flying off due to a very gusty win on a particular day when those on bicycles had a hard time cycling in a straight line.

Looking back, I suppose the main thing I have learned is that I need to improve my time management skills. This term has been filled with some fun times, but also plenty of late nights. I somehow never went too far in the AM during my college days, but very nearly pulled an all-nighter during my first term here.

A lot of my first term has just been getting into the swing of things - figuring out a routine, pondering about my subjects, and trying to finish all of my reading on time (and attempt to squeeze in a little bit of studying at the same time).

One of the most fun things I did this term was join ICMS. During Induction Week, I got to work with a fabulous team of people and we had lots of fun working on our project, and finally meet in London.

Holidays started a few weeks ago, but I'll make a separate post later about my first break! In the meantime, my annual summary:

January. I started the year off with something of a cold, but it meant that the year could only go up from there! During the early days of the month, I got the email I had been waiting for - my Cambridge acceptance letter, and started freaking out about meeting my offer. AS results coming out made that a little bit easier, since I got more than what I expected.

February. Long story short: lots of studying, though I did have a very nice Chinese New Year with my family.

March. Scholarship interview.

April. Trial exams, which drove me quite nuts. I got the scholarship!

May. I got the call that I got two awards for AS. Continued freaking out about A2.

June. A2 finally finished, and I got a nice long break! I also went for the BNM pre-departure program, which was quite fun, and started reading from my new reading list (that they sent even before exams finished...).

July. Just enjoyed time in Malaysia and visited a few nice places.

August. KDU farewell ceremony. Went on a trip to Penang, during which A2 results came out (during lunch). I breathed a huge sigh of relief (and really started to think about what to pack, hm).

September. Generally, more of trying to enjoy my last days home for a while, and lots of squeezing Hazel.

October. First days in Cambridge!

November. More attempts to get into the Cambridge life. I also turned 18! My dad and uncle went for my A2 award ceremony (I got Top In The World for History).

December. Spent Christmas in Hamburg with my parents and best friend (who also visited me with her parents in Cambridge!), and visited London too.

A rather long post was also made here about the first half of the year.

This year has been an incredible year for me, and I am so grateful for all that God has blessed me with. As we step into the new year, I can only continue to pray that He will continue to help me. <3

First Days In Cambridge

Nov 5, 2014 in , , 0 thoughts

Hello again. I am finally writing from Cambridge. I have been here for just over a month (though it will be the end of my third week tomorrow...), and it's been amazing so far. The picture above is taken from my College, Peterhouse - that's our crest and flag. Then there's the College itself...

Well, that's one small part of it anyway. Peterhouse is the smallest, but not that small... It is also the oldest, which makes for a very interesting place as a whole. The people there are queuing up for dinner.

In the first few days, I had some freshers' events to go to, and my parents and I went around a bit. We didn't do too many tourist-y things, but my parents did go punting!

Sometime in between this, I had my matriculation, which basically formally accepts us as a Member of our College. The ceremony was very ceremonious (yes, very descriptive of me), with lots of tradition. The morning part was in our dining hall (one of only two in the University that is lit solely by candles - no, we do not have electric lights there), and since it was raining and there was a taxi mishap, so I rushed there in the rain... in my gown. It wasn't very pleasant, but I found it really funny. The main part of the ceremony was later in the afternoon though, and the special part was when we went into the Combination Room individually and signed our names onto a very large, thick, old book with all the names of the members, and were welcomed into the College and congratulated by the Master. In that moment, it really hit me, that wow, after all this time of waiting, wishing, hoping, and praying, I was finally a Petrean (also, as our Dean reminded us, it is a wonderfully gender-neutral term). It was the college I applied to, and I'm wonderfully blessed to finally be a part of it.

Then, of course, were the matriculation pictures. It was raining the whole day, but God wonderfully stopped the rain long enough for the pictures!

We had our individual pictures too, but I only have a hard copy (for once). Wearing the gown is both awesome and terrible. It's really troublesome on one hand, but on the other, the flappy sleeves are fun, and it just feels nice and traditional and cool (even though mine fits horribly on me). My College mum did warn me... Sigh.

Lectures have been fine so far. The lecture halls are quite large, and the Faculty of Law is a very modern building. It's basically all glass from the outside. The acoustics are generally good, though for some reason no one knows, when one person coughs, another five will follow suit. That doesn't help much.

In my first year, I have four subjects, which have been okay so far. My supervisions have been interesting, and I had a really nice one today. Lots of questions, lots of discussion.

The weather has been cold - sunny sometimes, but cold. I measure the temperature by the numbness in my fingers... Been okay so far though. There isn't usually heavy rain here - it's generally just light drizzle and droplets.

That's it from me for now. I'll leave you with a few pictures.

Special bonus: one of my mom's first few selfies. Isn't she beautiful? <3

Almost There

Sep 29, 2014 in , , , 0 thoughts

The hours I have left here are ticking away, but more importantly, so are the minutes until I begin a new adventure.

It's so strange, exciting, and scary at the same time. This isn't the first time I've moved to a new place and country, but it feels like it. The first time happened so quickly that I didn't really have time to realize what was going on. Now I'm supposed to be more prepared, but I'm also a bit more overwhelmed.

Whatever it is though, I am infinitely blessed to have this opportunity, and also parents who are so supportive. They've made so much of this possible with their love. <3

There are so many things I'm prepared and unprepared for. Some important things really should have been done already, but are not, and for some reason I'm fine with that and not particularly worried. I suppose this is called going by faith. Some things do concern me, but it's also nice to know that God has planned everything out already, just as He always has. Still, as humans, we can't help but worry, but that's just part of the whole process.

Freshers' week is going to be crazy - my calendar is packed already, and I'm still trying to figure out which events to go to for... and I just realized that "squash" does not always refer to the sport there... and there may be cows very near me. I wonder if I can pet them. Yesterday, I got my new UK number, yay. It's relatively easy to remember, and it's a little similar to my current one, so that's good.

Some of my friends are there already, haha. Some have been traveling around the UK and just got into Cambridge, whilst some just arrived in the country.

Hazel is going on an adventure of her own too. She'll be staying with my aunt and uncle, and while my heart breaks that I can't have her with me for now, I'm glad that she will be with them. My uncle is going to get a bike with a basket and put her in it and cycle around... oh dear. That will be the ride of her life.

Perhaps what is making this a little (or a lot) harder is that I don't know when I will be back. No matter what, this is still where I was born and grew up. I really want to come back for part of summer next year, but everyone has been telling me not to. Go travel, they say... I seriously want to do that, but summer is also 4 months long! I could visit all the popular spots in Europe (though I'd rather go for some quainter ones too), and still have time to come back. And if I do stay there the whole time, I have no idea where I'm actually going to stay...

Oddly enough, I'm rather excited to see my desk and set it up. I actually had a conversation with my College about it, hm. I also have this thing about stationery, and I am disproportionately excited about using my highlighters again. I got my favorite ones and a pack of new ones too, haha.

Well, I have to sign off now. The next time I blog will probably be from there, so see you guys soon!


Sep 23, 2014 in , , , 0 thoughts

Just over a week until I head to the UK. The countdown (and packing frenzy) begins...

I've been having fun these past few weeks. There was a CUMaS Freshers' Camp and Dinner, where I met some of my seniors and the freshers who will be going with me. There aren't a lot of freshers for Law, haha. I have a nice number of Engineering friends though! My whole CUMaS family is comprised of Engineering students except me, haha.

A few weeks ago, I also met Ms Sathya and Ms Hema again, and I enjoyed getting to know them better. :)

Also been doing stuff for CollegeLAH. We had an interview last week (and one tomorrow), and an Oxbridge workshop in Taylor's Subang Jaya.

It's so strange to think how, in a very short period of time, I won't be here anymore. I'll be in a faraway place I have never visited meeting new people, and some old friends too. It's a really strange feeling, perhaps because for the longest time, I wasn't sure if this day would ever really come, or if it was all some unfounded dream. But here I am, trying to fit everything into my luggage. I just discovered the baggage limit is different from what I previously thought, oh dear. My friend asked if I have never flown before, sigh. Yes, but not for this long!

I finished the last law book on my reading list (my own, not Cambridge's - I couldn't find most of the books on that one) yesterday, is now I'm on to The Adventures of Huckleberry Hinn. I've been journaling too. My old one finished, so I have a new one now. New journal for new adventures...

Last night, my parents and I went to KL for steamboat because the weather was good, and it was lovely...

These few weeks, I received letters from my College parents too! They seem like really nice people, so I'm excited to meet them too. :) One of the letters came with the largest stamp I have ever seen...

Well, that's it from me for tonight. I'll update again soon!

Sample IELTS Academic Essays - Writing Component

Sep 1, 2014 in , , 0 thoughts

Hey all. Here are two of my IELTS essays for the writing component of the academic version of the test, as promised. There is one sample for Part 1, and one for Part 2. They were graded 8.5 out of 9.0 by a person who doesn't give 9.0. No mistakes that are apparent.

Just sharing as some of my friends have been asking for samples, and I hope they help! You can download these essays as PDFs HERE (the preview below shows one of them).

For the writing component, just be straightforward, and remember the word count. Have good structure, and logical points. They don't have to be brilliant, but they must make sense. Proper grammar is a must, of course, and make sure you answer the question (not what you wish they had asked).

One More Month

Aug 28, 2014 in , , 0 thoughts

It's been three weeks since my last post, and one month before I fly off.

Yes, I met my offer - praise God. I'm pleased as a whole with my results - parts rather surprised me. Perhaps the story of how I checked my results will interest you more, however. It all started one sunny morning... Okay, scratch that. It was a sunny day, but that beginning is too cliche. Long story short, I freaked out at 9AM because I checked the paper with the password and link (or rather, a picture of it), and somehow came to the conclusion that results were already released. They were not.

At 1PM, I sat not so calmly at a lunch place with my parents and grandparents. We were told results were supposed to be out at 2PM, but I was told they may be out at 1PM. I decided not to check yet since we were having lunch. Then I decided to give it a shot at about 1:05PM. Guess what was already up? Yup, results. A friend of mine checked at 1:01PM though - how accurate. I remember not being able to check mine last year because "l" and "1" (one) looked too similar in the username... Oh dear. I don't think my grandparents knew how to react - it was a good thing there weren't too many people in the restaurant then.

My mom and I have been shopping since then (and before - oops). The other day, we bought a mini rice cooker! It's pink and it's adorable, hehe. The guy there thought they ran out of pink so I was going to wait, but he called a short while later to say he found one somewhere... Later found out that a friend of mine bought the exact same one, heh. Great minds think alike.

Early last week, I met some friends, including a senior who helped me get through A2 and very patiently helped me with various questions when I thought my brain would combust.

Last week, KDU also had the farewell party/award ceremony for my batch. It was nice seeing my coursemates and lecturers again. :)

Some of my friends <3

History class, missing two again. We're all starting uni these two months! 3 of us are doing Law.
I saw all of my lecturers except Mr Thiru because he wasn't there, haha. One of my lecturers told me to have fun. <3 Bumped into some of my juniors before the event, including someone who is taking my exact subject combination. All I can say is to do your best, pray hard, and enjoy your time in KDU. It's an interesting, lovely place to be. Also, I'll be posting some study help stuff, including sample IELTS essays these few weeks as I go through my hard drives as some of my friends and juniors have been asking for the material.

Since this will probably be my last post about KDU as my college, I wanted to say thank you to Mr Kow and the wonderful people in the maintenance department. They really helped with making the facilities accessible for me and future students who are wheelchair-users. I also loved the tables they made specially for me. :)

Now all that's left is to pick up my A-Level certificate, and that will be that.

It's hard to forget that I'll be leaving in a month, what with visa applications and daily emails with forms to fill. I feel happy that I do have a month though - a friend of mine flew off yesterday after deciding a week earlier to go; another only has two weeks left. With the time I have left, I've been squeezing my baby Hazel daily (I'm writing a Hazel Guide now... my lovely aunt will be taking her in), and took her for a walk this morning, though she will probably insist that she took me out for a walk. Then there are the friends to catch up with, and the food to eat...

There are lots of other exciting things too. I got involved in CollegeLAH before it launched, and it's a website for students by students on things like university and scholarship applications, which I wish had been around when I was going through the process. Well, that's why we're doing it now. Because of this, we went for an interview and after that, happily took pictures. Our moms complained we were weird. Ah well.

The second girl from the left is now my CUMaS sister, haha. Her name is Kai Song, and we've known each other for quite a while, so this will be fun. :) I was assigned to a family of engineers, hmm.

I've been looking at lists of societies, and have yet to find the Food Tasting Society, HMM. It was in the prospectus... Perhaps it's on a different part of the website. I found out that we're given pigeonholes, not letterboxes, and that we're given anti-virus for our computers.

UCAS has been sending me all sorts of oddities, including SIM cards. It's a normal thing, but can be rather bewildering trying to decide which mobile carrier to sign up for when you don't know what is what. I think I know which one I'm going to use though.

Sometime last week, I went to get a vaccination from our family doctor. Before that, however, I got a pretty pink balloon. My doctor laughed at my balloon and asked why I needed to bring it that day. Oh dear. There was nothing wrong with my balloon! I took it for Hazel (says the girl who happily twirled it around the whole afternoon in childish bliss). The only problem is that Hazel didn't like it... I think she was pleased when it popped. I, however, was not.

Well, that's it from me for now. I'll update again soon.

New Pretty Pictures

Aug 3, 2014 in , 0 thoughts

It's the weekend again! This week has just been relaxing with my family and my uncle and aunt, who are with us until next week. We've been doing lots of eating, of course. When we meet, we can't just sit around and talk. Eating is a must. This week, they also got me a new camera as a present from them, which makes me a very happy girl. I've been looking for one for quite a while, haha. We eventually settled on the Sony Alpha 5000, which suits our needs. It's easy to hold, which my mom likes (she's the chief photographer in the family), and the picture quality is good, which I like. It's really wonderful, and I've been having lots of fun figuring out how to take the best photos. So, thank you to my lovely aunt and uncle. :) They've been very supportive of me since I was little! They're absolutely awesome people.

My uncle helped me set it up. In our family, my uncle is the hardware guy, and I'm the software person. Don't we work well together? We were excited to play with it, then realized it had to be charged for 310 minutes first, HAHA. That was delayed until teatime then... Took lots of random shots (some of Hazel too, of course), and tweaked around with the settings, which was fun. We're going to have more fun taking pretty pictures, hehe.

We took it out for its first outing yesterday, which was the CUMaS outreach in Sunway University. I was a volunteer this year, which felt slightly odd and yet nice, since I was an audience member a year ago... Now I'm on the other side. While I was there, I met an old Niexter friend of mine, Kai Song, and a few of the other freshers. It was awesome getting to meet them!

From left to right: Andrew, Jia Min, Kenny, me, Kai Song, and Allysha, who is also doing law

I also saw Livia again! She's my senior who really helped me with my application. It was rather interesting, because that was the exact same place we met last year...

With Ms Chee, the awesome KDU A Level program leader. I just realized we were blue, which is KDU's color, HAHA. What nice coordination.

It was funny sometimes because there were lots of familiar faces, and the thing was that I've seen a lot of them around on facebook, but never actually met them! Most of them are my seniors, and I really hope I get to see more of them in the future.

Well, that's it from me for now. I shall update again soon.

Quick Post

Jul 30, 2014 in , 0 thoughts

My aunt and uncle are here from Bangkok, so we've been busy with them. They came over last Friday, and they're staying for a while, so we get to take them to all the yummy places around town (and outside). It's been fun so far! My uncle has a rather long list of food he misses... Which, very happily for me, coincides with the list of food I'm quite sure I will miss in a few months. I still remember the food I missed when I was in the U.S., hmm. I had a very sleepy food spree the moment I touched down back home. That will probably happen again in the not-too-distant future.

My grandparents also happened to be in town, so we met them too over the weekend, along with some other relatives. Both sides got along quite well!

On a related note, I also finally downloaded Viber (redownloaded, rather), and got my cousin in Australia to download it too, haha. I was her first call. :p We made a deal involving plane tickets, hoodies, and waffles.

Between spending time with my lovely family and reading (did I mention that the university sent me a rather long reading list during my exams a few months ago?), I've also been working on my shop. It isn't where I would like it to be yet, but I'm trying my best on it. If you would like to, you can visit it here. I made a new mega chevron paper pack today too! There are six different chevron patterns in four colors each, making for a total of 24 fun different designs! They're only $4 for the whole pack. :)

United States History Timeline

Jul 20, 2014 in , , , , , , 0 thoughts

At the end of last year (right after AS, hence the very long exam season), I took two SAT Subject Tests: U.S. History, and Literature. I chose Literature for obvious reasons, and U.S. History because I thought it would be interesting, and it was a subject I could study on my own. That particular adventure led to my expedition to Kinokuniya one early morning, and on another occasion, excited squeals when I saw the only copy of a SAT U.S. History book sitting there, waiting for me to bring it home to devour (no, not that violently - my books remained in good condition).

Anyway, I made some notes while studying, namely in the form of a timeline, and I wanted to share it with you. I didn't have much time to study, so I focused on being as concise as possible. Here's a preview of the first page:

That's the first page of my American history timeline out of eight. You may download it by clicking the above image, or by clicking here (it's a PDF file on Google Drive).

As you can see, I condensed some four hundred years of history into 8 pages, and it really helped me study. This timeline starts from 1400, and ends in 2008 with the election of Barack Obama. I didn't place too much focus on the pre-1700 exploration years because that would have made it rather long, and may have become confusing. Speaking objectively in terms of the SAT test itself, even though they may ask specific questions on exploration (such as which explorers came from which countries, etc), there won't be too many of such questions.

Since time was not on my side, what I did was follow a useful tip from one of the guidebooks, which is, in my own words, to study not so much the individual events (though I did memorize many of those, which are included here), but chunks of history. For example, I included the general eras, such as the years of the Abolitionist Movement, and it is quite easy, once one knows the characteristics of this period, to tell what events are likely to have happened during those years.

Since I'm posting the timeline, I should probably share a couple of tips on studying for the SAT U.S. History specifically at the same time. These are from various books and guides, along with some of my own. Here they are:

  • There's no need to memorize specific dates, as you probably won't be asked "on which date was the Battle of Bunker Hill fought?"; that being said, however, you may need to know the order of certain events, particularly battles. For example: Lexington and Concord --> Bunker Hill --> Saratoga --> Monmouth --> Charleston. They could just ask you to order three of them, or perhaps five, but they shouldn't ask when one occurred specifically (from my experience, anyway).
  • If you're short on study time, focus more on associations than specific facts. For example, if you know a certain president was very much concerned with social reforms or advocated a particular movement, you don't have to memorize his specific policies to remember them.
  • Use the weird, quirky things! There are some facts of U.S. history that I remember learning many years ago, simply because they were weird and interesting. The 1930s saw the Great Depression after the post-WWI boom, and it was during this time that people complained about Hoovervilles. What were they? Hoovervilles were shanty towns that were characteristic of this economic downturn - people called them that because they blamed then-President Herbert Hoover for their suffering. So, by remembering "Hoovervilles," you already know who was president when the Depression took place, and how the people felt about him, thus implying that he wasn't doing a very good job (in their opinion, anyway). This relates back to what I said about focusing on associations.
  • Again with the weird things. If you find something easy to remember, just keep it in your brain. One practice question I did asked who the first female pilot to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean was, and I happened to remember that, for some reason (answer: Amelia Earhart). College Board does tend to ask some seemingly random questions like that. That said, don't sweat the small stuff. Better to focus on what you can remember and is important than freak out over what you can't get into your head, and may not come out anyway.
  • Google "APUSH." Besides being easy to remember (ah-push... ay-push? hmm), it stands for AP (Advanced Placement) U.S. History. The AP is different from the SAT in terms of testing style, so don't bother with test-specific stuff, but you may be able to find useful history facts and flashcards.

Having said all that about test prep, I also have to mention that the subject itself is an interesting one, and well worth studying. It's easy to get stressed out when trying to remember every other relevant fact of an entire nation's history, but American history is actually exciting, if you can look past just the SAT scores. It was the American Revolution of the late 18th century that partially inspired the French Revolution of 1789, and it is things like the Monroe Doctrine of 1823 that shaped the American attitude towards other countries. I got rather excited when I got to write two lit essays this year that related to American history, and had very nerdy fun with it... heh.

So, if you are currently preparing for the SAT Subject Test: United States History, or if you just plain want to have a quick overview of American history, you can download my timeline here. I hope it helps! :)