Monday, May 23, 2011

Where the Wild Things Are


This movie had been on my movie list for a very long time, for reasons that I might have forgotten. From what I know, my parents would not want to watch this with me as this is what they called ‘children’s movie’ – so, whatever. Truly speaking, this is a movie where you will understand a lot of it if you are a child as a lot of the stories were what the grownups would feel pointless or doesn’t make sense. It shows the main character, being a boy who feels neglected by his mother and his sibling, when his mother was actually having a hard time coping with her own problem. Of course, as a child, we were always not that sensitive towards what problem else could bother one so much. The grownups would have seen his tantrums as inconsiderate and childish, but when you are a child, you don’t understand. I could still remember how I was interrupting my mother’s conversation with others in the hope of getting her distracted so that I could eat the ice cream or chocolate in the fridge. The boy went on a journey, the day he ran away from home – and met monsters, which in the process taught him to look at how to feel for others, compromise and everything. In some sense, it is a journey for him to learn to become a growing kid.

Technically speaking, there’s not much action or magic to expect from this movie. The essence, lies in the content. That reminds me, I should find some time to read the novel where this plot is based upon, by the same name…

Friday, May 20, 2011

Tuesdays with Morrie: Something that Touches Me


I saw this book in bookstore, for many many times. But, I never thought of setting my eyes on it. And near the end of the semester, I get to talk with many people, listening as they told me about how they look at their life in the process of sharing them for my future. Some of them had really interesting life and I appreciate how they are willing to share it with me. I would say, I have no idea since when, people find their ways, intentionally or unintentionally, to tell me things. In process, I find myself keeping secrets of many, giving advice to some when me myself might not even experienced what they had – but at the same time, feeling lucky to have the opportunity to share what they have and to look at things in a very different way. As I went through all these, I started to learn how to keep their information confidential and transform the message in another way to be a mirror to others. And one day, when I was telling my roomie on how she could look at future in another way by giving some examples my professor shared with me, she thought I was telling her fairy tales. After times of assuring her I am telling the truth, she told me she thought I was joking because my encounters were so similar of this (the book). Hence, I added it into my reading list and finished it days ago. It was, indeed, a good read – one that touches my heart, and I truly get what my roomie said.

Yes, just like Mitch, I am so lucky to meet some professors who are willing to give me lessons on life – though not as personal as that. I learned how to treasure a good teacher, after I lose one – one that is quite imminent in my life, the one that gave me my dream as a scientist. I was young at the age of 9, and I did not thought of saying ‘thank you’ to her. I thought I will thank her when I succeed in achieving the dream she gave me, but within months, she disappeared and succumbed to breast cancer. I thought it was okay as I was young, but just as Adolf Hitler’s personal private secretary, Traudl Junge, said ‘Youth is not an excuse for ignorance’, it was – not an excuse, but a lesson to me. This was when I realized some things could not wait. This feeling became exceptionally strong this passed academic year, when I was again, showered with luck of meeting some amazing teachers. But this time, I told myself – never wait. And I am relieved I did thank them, all the time – remembering them. This is how Mitch did. He had almost forgot his teacher, blurred by all those colourful attraction of the real world – forgetting many lessons. When one day, he accidentally heard of his teacher getting ALS – he decided to go back and visit – and that led him to a series of lesson, which enabled him to look at the world differently. The teacher, Morrie Schwartz, gave him ‘lesson’ every Tuesday and in the end, died of his disease – but leaving imprint on his student, Morrie.

I did not spend specifically Tuesday with my professors, I did not spend a specific days with them; but it was already a blessing, to learn from them. Since it was Teachers’ Day, days ago this week, I wish all teachers ‘Happy Teachers’ Day’. Teachers, are those who teach – regardless as an occupation or as a person who teach you. This books is short but nice to read, seriously.

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas: An Irony


The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, a movie which I noticed the ‘pajamas’ not spelled as ‘pyjamas’. If you were to expect any brutal killing or action such as escaping a bomb explosion, tell you what, keep you expectations away. This movie provides another way of looking at the Nazi nationalist propaganda, from the eyes of a child, who see things, at times, more detailed and reasonable than grownups. Besides the movie sees the breakdown of a family as they try to strive through the Nazi regime.

The plot delineated a German family of an SS officer moving to a new location – a new house due to the officer’s transfer to take charge on a ‘labour camp’. The son, Bruno, was upset at first about leaving his friends but as soon as he reached the new house, his curiosity led him towards the backyard and the ‘labour camp’ which he was warned not to go. There, he met Schmuel, one of the prisoner of his age sitting behind a pile. Friendship slowly developed between the two as they see no difference between them and Bruno would sneak food and games over just to spend time with his friend. At home, Bruno and his sister were assigned a tutor, who was actually teaching them by instilling nationalist propaganda. Bruno’s sister was influenced and was very into the propaganda and the ideal of Germans, pasting Nazi posters and even looking up to SS officers. Bruno, on the other hand, observed several contradiction between the beautified ideals of German nationalism and what he saw around – which includes how the Jews in his house was not as bad as described, how it was the Germans who used violence. His mother, upon finding out the labour camp was actually an extermination camp after sawing the black smoke, went into a depraved period of psychological breakdown. The quote ‘We were not supposed to be friends, we were supposed to be enemies’ showed the scene of confusion within Bruno. With a child’s view, it is difficult for him to understand why is there a difference between them. Bruno looked up to his father but at the same time questioned what he did. Once, he saw his father sharing with the other officers, the demoniac nationalist project, a hoax ‘Theresienstadt’ in a room, which showed the camp as a camp giving opportunity and good to the Jews. Believing the film, Bruno was relieved on how great his father had been and ran over to hug him.

However, upon his mother’s worsen condition, his father reckoned it would be best to let the family to stay elsewhere. One day before the date, Bruno went to find Schmuel, who was beaten after Bruno wronged him to avoid punishment. Schmuel’s Pa disappeared. To make up his wrongdoing previously, Bruno decided to sneak into the camp and help him. At the same time, Bruno was excited to experience what he saw on Theresienstadt himself. On that very same day, the SS officer, particularly Bruno’s father, decided to increase the inmates being gassed. Hence, when Bruno dug a hole and went into the camp, in the process, Bruno and Schmuel were sent to the ‘shower room’. Realizing Bruno’s disappearance, the family realized where Bruno had went and ran to seek him. Bruno, however, did not escape the fate, but to hold hands with Schmuel as they were waiting what they feared. The officers poured in the infamous Zyklon B, gassing the chamber. The scene left with the quietened shower room, indicating death of the whole chamber of inmates, including Bruno. His father, was left in the rain, realizing what had happened. The family members, grieved.

Looking at this movie, one might tell the irony of what the father did had actually became the cause of his son’s death. But what else do we saw? We saw in different aspect, how life changes as they reeled around the Nationalist programme. At the same time, one would say, if the family members were influenced enough by the propaganda – wouldn’t this event showed how a Jew could lure the German into death? Is this a conspiracy? This, would led into a real thought on how one shall interpret the message. Of course, generally, we would – look at the bright side, but wouldn’t it be interesting just to look at it from a completely different perspective?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Stalingrad: There’s No Victor in War


Watched this movie while taking breaks from study. Stalingrad, showed us one very lesson we always tell ourselves but serious, how many of us really learn from it? There is, as we always said, no victor in any war. This could be seen in Stalingrad where the setting was on Stalingrad itself, when the Nazi Germans were fighting at the eastern front with the Soviets.

The movie started with the German soldiers enjoying their ‘vacation’ in Italy, having their time before some were called upon assembly to fight at the eastern front. At first, things looked cheerful for them until the battle went on and on. They did occupied buildings but with heavy casualties. In between the movie showed how much the soldiers who had been victorious in their previous battle witnessed and undergone real psychological impact as their comrades were dying, injured or due to the stressful battling survival. In between they learnt something more important than just winning the battle. The buildings were surrounded by the Soviets. In another way, both sides were losing much to casualties. The movie plot was mixed in with several little stories about a forced-prostitute and a young Russian.

Not sure I would want to share all the stories here but this movie had definitely brought me towards the mental of war – the reality. When the commander-in-chiefs were moving their little chess pieces in their headquarters, had they thought of the lives on it? At the same time, even when they do thought about the live, are they supposed to care about the live or the country? Sometimes, it is just not the case of choosing both – but one out of two… And this movie really showed many things that might had been overshadowed about war. If you are into these topics, I recommend you this!

Welcoming HTC Wildfire

Well, unlike my last phone, this time, my old phone is not going into retirement – and I shall remind myself of this point. I have no idea why, but my feelings towards my phone had increased across from c380 to Razr v3xx – both of Motorola. But what I can’t control is how the phone would work for me. As how Sheldon Cooper must have said ‘work FOR me’. Instead of really solving my problems, Razr v3xx had not been fulfilling its responsibilities very well. It usually went to low battery when I need an emergency call or it shuts itself down whenever I need to check something. It had been like that since years and at first it was about the batteries. Believe it or not, I changed the battery twice and before school ends, it totally shuts down on me and I have to go all the way to Sim Lim Square to get a battery for it. So in total, it had left me spending on three batteries and one which actually costs 38 SD! And anyway, it did not turn out well even after I changed the battery…

The weird thing is, the moment I touch down on PIA, it turned out to work well. So I just assume it really gets a little homesick and will hence won’t blame much on it. But for safety purposes, my parents and I reckon it would be better for me to get a safe phone in case I need to call or text in emergency. And this is just around the 3rd anniversary of this second Motorola phone when I get myself a new phone: HTC Wildfire at RM999 – by far the most expensive phone I have. Anyway, I do hope it will work okay and I will find a way not to abandon my Razr V3xx – after all, it is a similar phone with someone I know – just by looking at the phone, it reminds me of something more than a phone see…

And here is one of the photo I found on the net about this new phone of mine – quite beautiful, I would say – and for once, I am not getting Motorola…


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Happy Wesak!


Hello world, Happy Wesak Day to you all! Today, as what I had taken from the temple I went this morning showed, is the day we celebrated the day of birth, enlightenment and death of Buddha. Made myself a half-day vegan and went to temple just now. May today be one of the day you will be enlightened as well Sourire.

Indian Food in Science Park?!

Okay, this actually happened months ago before Sebastian left Singapore for Penang before heading back to Germany. Plus, this lunch was not planned by me (it was Elaine I think) and I was just happened to tag along for food hunting in the midst of school time. And when I heard it would be a walking distance from school in Science Park, my eyes twinkled! What else can we ask for? And it appeared to be a really nice one indeed, not only the environment (which were some aroma that really make me sneeze) and also the food. Satisfying lunch, I would say.

Before the main course, we were served this as appetizer, Masala Poppadom which was recommended. We were given two sauce to eat it with and the crisp was served with spices, onions and garlics – that is really very appetizing:

For main course, we had different types of curry (mutton, chicken and vegetable). These were really good – at least they ARE curry, compared to those sold in somewhere else…:

And to eat with the curry, of course, we get ourselves a basket of nan of different style. These were good as they are warm and nice – and they go nicely with the curry!

After the bread, we had dessert. I had Badam Kheer, the milky thing with rice and almond while one of us had Gajar Halwa, which is carrot, milk and almond. I like Badam Kheer!

Okay, so finally we took a photo together outside the restaurant which has quite a number of decoration to show how much the food is like. The food is nice, I wouldn’t mind to visit it again for another go, seriously.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Life is Wonderful

After the woeful and negative viewpoint of my life at current state, of course, I do realize life was not that bad after all. Things started to get better around Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. What actually happened was quite a bit of drama. I left the house on Monday, for school, in a rather tired mind. First night in new house was hot, sweaty and uneasy – I don’t think I actually slept, or rather, rest my mind. I took the direct bus to school to receive message from my ex-roomate about returning transponders to the office. And yes, I have to return the keys, collect a letter and clear everything I have in the room. It was tiring and finally got to rest in Sharlene’s room by getting a full blast of her cooler while she was reading Silence of the Lambs. For a person who spent most of her time reading medical texts, that is a rare occasion. But anyway, I get to use her laptop to check the location and route to my class dinner and set off while I received a message…

It was 9th of May and Ages of the Mediterranean class had a class dinner organized by our teacher (or professor, if that’s what you call), Dr Fairey. And one of the classmates whom my friend introduced me messaged me to ask if I am going so that we could go together. Alright, since I am not sure where on earth is that place, I said why not. Of everything about reaching punctual and departing early – we were stuck in traffic jams, both train and bus. I met her at Outram Park MRT and took a bus to that place. We asked around, which is so coherent to what I had been doing every time I walk out of NUS. This is a very ‘good’ example of life sciences student life – because you basically contributed your life to life sciences – and you don’t really step out of academic life without any urgent matters. Anyway, lucky that I had done all the scouting activities back in school that I get to spot the place all right. And the first thing I saw when I reached the piazza, I was as though entering somewhere like paradise. Seriously, I would give anything just to spend a whole day here – what’s more when you are living like hell back at the new house?! That’s when I decided to stay as long as I can no matter how. The thing is to find that one small Cappadocia restaurant was not an easy task. In the end it was the friend, whom obviously was a Fairey fangirl, spotted her idol. We walked over and it did not take me long to decide calling her a fangirl since she was so excited with the appearance of her idol, plus all the excitement and ‘cute-describing’ over the journey, and also her reaction talking – these were overwhelming. I had never seen real fangirl in my life – but hers is quite extraordinary overwhelming, haha – should I feel lucky to meet such a person? Anyway, just by looking how people fangirling had done quite something to make me feel lighter after days of dreading in the hell-like house. Things just get better as the dinner started. We get to learn new things, and my symposium group mate joined in and we get to talk all sort of things. Well, of course, some of the topic was not very concerned to me due to them as a whole table of locals – but still, I enjoyed the night. Just to think how I was tied back to Singapore due to bond and financial limit did made me sigh sometimes, but I am sure I am not a person who will be limited by all these – so it would just be a temporary thing.

Anyway, we ended up the day at around 1 am, which is when I received call from my house mate about the Internet is up – and yes, at least I can get my air ticket back from house. Ever since I started to feel so sad about the sad state of the house, I don’t see a purpose of staying back on this lonely island with nothing to do. I did plan to visit interesting historical places in Singapore, take a ride of the legendary train from the station which will be closed down soon, and part of me wished to stay to enjoy the very last moment of my undergraduate life – but meaningless life had really beaten all these – letting me to wish to go home as soon as possible. Anyway, back to the dinner. We ended up forming groups according to staying area to save the taxi fare. Of course, due to my bad Singapore geography knowledge, I just say my address and those people would put me in the right group, ha! Anyway, I ended up with the teacher. I feel so sorry for him if he is not willing to share a cab but since it is set, we just follow suit then. After ensuring all students were on their way back – which included one solidarity girl as I have no idea where she actually stay until no one is with her, we flagged a cab and took the ride back. I won’t say in details about these but what happened next when I reached the house was Singtel was not working! I was trying to call my parents on the issue of going home. I only get through at around two plus and I just decided to buy a ticket which was ridiculously cheaper on Wednesday, don’t ask me why – it just happened to be cheaper that day. Just like my friend laughed at me on msn ‘You are going home tomorrow?!!!’ Haha, yes, booked a ticket right slightly more than 24 hours beforehand and the next day I need to go back hall to collect all my stuff back to this house, pass up the recommendation letter, return all my library books, check out my academic robe size, print out my boarding pass, get furniture for my house and pack! This is way crazier than anything. But the feeling was not as despairing as I thought! With a nice evening spent with really good chat with people, particularly the teacher, and a plan to go home right 24 hours later – things just looked so good no matter how bad they are!

So the following hours, after a short nap – I started my marathon of to-do list, which is, again, limited by travelling time. Anyway, I succeeded in finishing all these and ended up packing back in house at night while enjoying my new table and chair! I get a good dinner that night and On Wednesday, I spent my day in Changi – waiting to go home! Seriously, things just feel like getting better. Of course, I do miss school and wished I can do something about improving my knowledge, especially in terms of research – but at the meantime, looks like I need to be patient and relax while having my vacation and wait for my call…

Friday, May 13, 2011

Free Falling Week

Why free fall? Because my life the previous week was almost like that. Falling down without weight and no resistance? Sort of. If any of you who really listen to me talking to myself, you would have heard me, “Mafer, you had a bad bad week, but no matter, you must undergo these in your life”. As a matter of fact, my life last week was not as tragic as someone fallen sick or I received some really bad news – it was just a turn in my life.

Last Sunday, was supposed to be the last day I am allowed to stay in hall. And there goes my life as a university undergraduate student. Stop being an undergraduate student, stop staying in hall, step into the world of graduation and a real Singapore life – all at the same time. You might think it is a small matter, but to think of all the changes that could happen at the moment happening at the same time hit hard on me. Shifting into new house did not help the situation at all. The house is okay, everything sounds alright and wonderful – but is it? I am to shift to somewhere middle of nowhere, where I need to take an hour bus ride to reach from school, equal long time by train and I would never consider walking there. The nearest and only food stall which sells not more than five variety of food is situated five to ten minutes walk from my house. And wait, when I say it as a house – it is not even a house! It is a HDB, the one that looked square-ish and you don’t really have a roof on top of you. Yes, and the best way to settle your grocery was to take LRT to the nearest mall, which really contain only the most common necessaries. The whole flat did not have any fan and the weather is really depressing. The old cooler I owned barely can reduce the heat by so few at a very limited area. At first, there was not enough furniture for a comfortable living and no Internet to use on. As a summary, the flat is not giving me any home feeling at all. At least now, I realized hall had been playing its role as the home away from home very well.

A sudden stop of life without coursework and exams had really halted my life. I am busy with all the shifting and adapting but it did not really feed my soul. I feel a sudden emptiness. And this actually made the home-less feeling worse. Plus, all I do everyday was correcting and refining my resume and cover letter, sending emails and this was not helped by a rare occasion of reply. Perhaps, it is rare for your employer to reply email unless you are confirmed for interview, but it was nonetheless depressing at times. Yes, the week did not really sounded as though I was caught in a natural disaster or war – but it did feels like a sudden rejection of the previous life… Shall stop and start to talk about something following that in the next post…

P.S. This post sounded like a total crap and rambling – just a collection of feelings unarranged… Sourire

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Joyeux Noël: A Warm History


Right after exam, the desire of watching movie did lurk into my soul and I can’t decide what to watch as I had forgot where did I put my movie list. After checking for some interesting war movie, I remembered about this very movie which I thought of French, history and Christmas: Joyeux Noël. It is based on a true story which happened on 24th December 1914, known as the Christmas Truce during the WWI. Of course, the movie posters did transfer the message quite clearly by displaying the shake of hands and also the leaders of the three regimens of different countries (Scottish, French and German) walking together.


The opening part of the movie had made a very interesting entrance by having three different kids speaking English, French and German, giving speech on their passion towards their own countries and at the same time the distrust of their condemned enemies, showing how mentality of the human had been during that time period, giving a deeper insight of the society of the days. I had posted about that previously and you can refer here.


The movie mixed in with some personal portrayal of certain characters to give more detail upon how the history develops along the line. However, we could see the white feather generation mentality which was portrayed by youngsters who looked at war as an event to prove themselves. Besides, there is a certain people who really thought war will eventually end by Christmas. So when the Great War continued, it was clearly not a short war. Of course, we could, again, see the difference between technologies of the three. While the Germans were using tanks and better guns, the French were obviously lagging behind by still using the old-fashioned gun with knife in front (what is it called?). And yes, this had shown how much advantage the Germans were. However, no matter how much you are better equipped in a battlefield, there is no doubt casualties were inevitable. This occurred to all divisions and this movie focused on the three which met  each other face to face in the no man’s land around Alsace. On the eve of Christmas, however, history unfolded into a warm episode when music had actually melted the situation where they decided on a temporary cease-fire just for Christmas eve. Eventually it ended up with merry and warm Christmas eve, not only with exchange of information but also people stayed together despite religion difference. On Christmas day, they decided to bury all the dead by ‘burying the dead on the day Christ reborn’. The story developed into warm chapters, which would be too long to be explained here. Of course, a lot of things were not understood by third party, which was what happened to them. Their ‘bosses’, of course, did not tolerate with their ‘friendship with the enemy’. However, it is quite a deep insight when the French division leader told his father that he has become a grandfather by knowing from the Germans who occupied French zone that his wife gave birth to a boy. Many of them were then transferred. Some were brainwashed by biased religion leaders to fight and kill. In the very end, before they were transferred, they sang ‘I’m dreaming of home’ which really depicted the emotion of that time…

Frankly speaking, this is a movie about a very short history and may not contain high quality actions – but you could feel a lot by watching it, a good one to plunge yourself into history…

Friday, May 06, 2011

Greek Education: An Understanding

One of the most thrilling experience about taking Ages of the Mediterranean course with Dr Fairey is the opportunity to explore a field which is one of my interest (whoops, I realized I have so many different interest and just saying ‘my interest’ had become nothing more than ‘something I like to do’). Anyway, yes, I get to deepen my understanding towards art. Seriously, I like drawing, I enjoy doing it and I know I can – but I am very bad at theory. Just look at the disproportioned grades I got for practical and theory for arts in school! But in this course, I get to understand them through the perspective of history and also increase my intuition towards art. Hence, now at least I know more about it and I drew this out, muahaha!

Greek Education by ~mafer-seow-wayn on deviantART

Anyway, it is named as Greek Education with an emphasis of my feeling of the joy of one’s experience by learning and also teaching. Notice the right hand of the left most person, it is an inspiration of Socrates in one of the painting I saw. The position of the two listener were positioned to showed different style of learning, showing the various way one could learn. The person lecturing was depicted to show a satisfaction in telling what was in his mind. The insight is something like that, feel free to feel your way through the drawing, Sourire.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Warmonger Poems

This is the opening of the movie of ‘Joyeuc Noel’ and it really touches the heart to understand how history unfolds from that period of time…


French kid:

Enfant, regarde sur ces cartes
Ce point noir qu'il faut effacer
Des tes petits doigts tu l'écartes
En rouge. Il vaut mieux le tracer
Plus tard. Quoique le sort te fasse
Promets moi bien d'aller là bas
Chercher les enfants de l'Alsace
Qui nous tendent leurs petits bras
Puisse en notre chère France
Les rameaux vert de l'espérance
Fleurir par toi, ô cher enfant
Grandis, Grandis. La France attend.

English kid:

To rid the map of every trace
Of Germany and of the Hun
We must exterminate that race
We must not leave a single one
Heed not their children's cries
Best slay all now, the women, too
Or else someday again they'll rise
Which if they're dead,
they cannot do.

German kid:

Ein Feind ist uns'rer, und einer allein.
Schon meisselt er Deutschlands Grabesstein.
Voller Hass ist sein Busen, voller Neid und voll Pein.
Ein Feind ist uns'rer, und einer allein.
Nun hebt der Frevler die meuchelnde Hand.
Sein Name, du kennst ihn, ist England.

L'hymne des fraternises : “I'm dreaming of home”

Watched Joyeux Noel and this song struck me – peace yet suits in the emotion of the movie, nice!


I hear the mountain birds
The sound of rivers singing
A song I’ve often heard
It flows through me now
So clear and so loud
I stand where I am
And forever I’m dreaming of home
I feel so alone, I’m dreaming of home
It’s carried in the air
The breeze of early morning
I see the land so fair
My heart opens wide
There’s sadness inside
I stand where I am
And forever I’m dreaming of home
I feel so alone, I’m dreaming of home
This is no foreign sky
I see no foreign light
But far away am I
From some peaceful land
I’m longing to stand
A hand in my hand
…forever I’m dreaming of home
I feel so alone, I’m dreaming of home

Drawing Cloth

Fluidity of Cloth by ~mafer-seow-wayn on deviantART

After looking at so many nice paintings and the fluidity of cloth in these masterpiece did not fail to awe me. And it is one of my skill weakness in producing such natural in my drawing! Hence, I decide to start pay attention in terms of the life in cloth, to bring out its nature, displaying it to its best. The first thing I need to do is to experiment, try and practice, of course – and here is one practice i made. It is a very random part of cloth though…

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Ending 3rd Year 2nd Semester Officially

As any semester before this, I am now ending my 3rd year 2nd semester of my undergraduate course officially. This, however, is the last semester for this degree and you will have to wait until I attain another degree course to see another post like this.


When I say this semester, my schedule is perfectly normal, it meant I have five modules. But as you look into it, you would have wondered why am I taking so many EU-coded modules rather than LSM-coded. The truth is, thanks to DBS who changed the syllabus days before my final exam last semester, I only need to take one more Life Sciences course and two European Studies. But I ended up doing something else, as you see… Since Life Sciences is my major, I shall start with Life Sciences modules and follow up with my minor, European Studies modules.

LSM3223 Immunology

Now, about this module, I would say I enjoyed it a lot. I am not sure if it is because I know I might not have any chance of studying Immunology in year 4 that I precious this very ‘last lecture’ myself, or I really like it – I would suggest it is a mix. The module taught us on immune response on its process, effects and study of few examples. The whole course is not very heavy but yet not as simple as one thought. I have to admit I might not be doing very well in the test as test were just about how much you are better than others – but I am proud to acknowledge that I understand everything I answered and I know what I am learning! I enjoyed the class not only on its content, but I actually find back the interest of curiosity towards the subject as how I first get in touch with Science. For those who wanted to take this module but fear it to be a boring subject, it is not a dry subject after all! Do not fear if you wish to enjoy the process of learning Sourire. The professors were really brilliant, not as though they could make the whole lecture theatre burst into laughter, but I know their effort in giving lecture with such compact content in such a short period should not be forgotten. Plus, they managed to deliver the message clear and straight, which is a great help to students who is bombarded with such a packed learning schedule. And therefore, we could use the extra time to learn more things outside the lecture, which will in turn helped in my understanding towards the subject. One flaw in this module would be the practical which was simply too few yet not well arranged as we were changing TAs and given TAs which had no idea what they were teaching as well. More often, we ended up discussing and teaching each other among students rather than asking the TA. Some professor reckon the problem and did roam around our bench more often to check on us, but life could be better if the TA was as enthusiastic as us… Of course, don’t get me wrong, the professors are not as strictly-teaching professor type, we did have several funny occasions, one including a professor who entered the wrong lecture theatre and nearly started talking about immunology to a bunch of chemistry student while we were waiting bluntly for his arrival somewhere.

LSM3288 & LSM3289 Advanced UROPS in Life Sciences I & II

Hoho, THIS! THIS is a long story, of course – covering what I had done since last semester. However, I should say, UROPS is just like your life – it has all the emotions, yet when you are finish with it, each moment make you miss them Clignement d'œil. Of course, every student who took this will have different project and supervisor. My project is Expression and Characterization of Novel Toxin Protein from Snake Venom. Due to research etiquette, forgive me for not be able to openly state exact details or publish any document about it. However, to summarize, I am dealing with snake venom protein which I performed protein expression, optimization, purification, refolding and in-vivo toxicity study. From this, I get to learn many things which included techniques such as Ni-NTA, ESI-MS (which is said to be a rare opportunity Rire), RP-HPLC and also many manual experiments. My project stopped at testing the protein on mouse by injection, which gave the opportunity to look at a real animal lab instead of the animal garden I had in secondary and high school. I like this project because I really is learning and I can feel myself growing a lot! Yes, I don’t have a mentor who will ‘hold’ my hand and guide me each step I walk, it is frustrating for a lost student like us – but I supposed this is a trust everyone able to give us, to learn independently. And I should say I grew a long way out of this. It is not just about finding journals or surfing net for information, it is about designing your experiment and also the courage of asking around. After so many years of studying, asking had became so rare in our life when all we could find is already in books or on the net – and this is when I have to find back the true me who keep on wondering about life, questioning the truth. I am very thankful for given such an opportunity to learn, truly. Other than that, working in a lab and near so many scientists, I understand more about Science and its career – etiquette, spirit, politics and so on. There were positive stuff but there were negative ones as well, but no matter how, I am glad I am given a chance to look into all these at such a stage. Nonetheless, it is in this module which I truly realized grades are really not that important after all. When it comes to research, what we needed was not how much and how well you could write in two hours in the exam hall – it requires more than just that to strive through your research career. And I am grateful when I am down, bogged down by certain obstacles, it was a lecture in Why History which led me to see the whole thing differently. Not only that, to realize Chain was actually working on snake venom before working on penicillin seemed to make me cheer up a bit, haha! Of course, Norman Heatley’s spirit will always be with me, thanks to Dr Murfett who introduced such a great figure to our class – Heatley is in my ‘hero’ list now! All in all, I do wish I will continue my passion towards research from this and not just stop here. We will see how my future unfold then… Sourire

EU 2219 Why History? The 20th Century, 1914-1989

Seriously, my impression towards this module before I take it is just so bad – and of course, it is not now! After two interesting European History class experiences, I decided to plunge myself into history just for the sake of my late-blooming interest. And I need two more EU modules to get my minor, thanks to European Studies Department who do not recognize my French for Academic Purposes as fulfilment. So, my initial plan was taking this and another level 2000 EU module. This is the module top in my list at first, but when I look into the course profile – it is empty!!! And I started to hesitate as I wish to learn something out of it, not just a general module where students go to class, laugh and write and walk out and get the modular credits. Jan actually told me the syllabus was a bit with various themes and not like how we got in Europe of Dictators. But for I know I am not a history major and not sure if I can cope in the level 3000 Cold War course, I decided to take this up and see if I should drop it if it is really a module that is aimed just to fulfil the credits – as I what I described  whether if the professor is just ‘教爽’. However, things changed as I followed the course. Yes, we were covering various themes, history from different perspective – which included my interested topics of Nazism and Hitler. Not only that, the lecture was more than just delivering the ideas but learning about life – at least, that is what I got after attending the lecture. The lecturer is just good and tutor is really responsible. This module is taught by the Dr Murfett which I mentioned earlier who taught about the founding of Penicillin. I enjoyed this module very much as it does not only deal with facts but also the discussion of such a wide range of things which has consequences in our life among the class. I am very lucky to know my tutorial group who were really kind and lively! Of course, as it is also a general module for some people, there were comments where it is quite heavy for a general module – but, who cares, seriously, ha! The recommended book list consists of 78 books which I wondered if any of us finished that list – I definitely didn’t but I would like to if I am given enough time Rire. And to see how this module impact on me – just see why I did not drop this module even though its final exam falls on the same day as the EU2223! I decided to take up the challenge for the sake of the interest I have in the module. Crazy, you might say – but that’s what you do as a student! For details of the module, we covered topics like War and Peace (1914-20), The Wall Street Crash & the Great Depression, “It’s the Economy, Stupid!”, Imponderable but Not Inevitable: Warfare in the 20th Century, ULTRA: the Vital Link in Signals Intelligence, Anti-Semitism gone mad: The Final Solution, Dire Age of the Atomic Bomb, A Medical breakthrough: the Discovery of Penicillin, Dateline: Cuba October 1962: The World on the brink… , A Social Revolution: the wild 1960s, Nationalism, Drugs and Sport, The Aids-HIV Crisis, and Ethnic Cleansing. Other than that we had two debate sessions, one which you will be the debating team while another where you participate as the floor. For details on what I did for my debate, refer this post. Other than that, I would like to thank Dr Murfett and Hussain for being such a great educator for this course.

EU2223 Ages of the Mediterranean

How exactly I came about taking this course is just bizarre!!! My initial plan for taking EU modules were Why History and another module called ‘ EU2221 Empires, Colonies and Imperialism’ and perhaps, another alternative of EU2217 European Politics. European politics page sounded very basic and boring, seriously, and that actually put me off from taking it although it might be interesting in truth. But what happened to EU2221?! I planned this timetable last semester and found out this semester before bidding that it is not even in the list! Apparently the European Studies programme did not update their timetable and I was left with finding another EU module to fit in my timetable. Again, taking level 3000 module was not in my mind at that time yet! So, this is the only European History module other than Why History, so I basically was left with this choice. But things changed as I checked out the course outline which included many things which I questioned along my life. Besides, as my eyes glanced at Islamization, it twinkled! To me, it may be the time I repay my debt of not studying properly during my secondary school… The reason of taking this module is really just that simple and funny. And things started to get interesting as the teacher teaching this class is Dr Fairey who was teaching and tutoring me in EU1101e last semester. Nonetheless, by covering millenium of history, this course is quite heavy, given that I am not from any history, christian, mediterranean or european background. Anything this course is, I am not! It was quite tough for me, truly speaking, and I need to put more effort than anyone else in class because of my ‘distant’ to this subject. Ultimate inferiority is unavoidable when compared to others but I guess this is again when the will of learning beats reality. I enjoyed the class to the max. Attending class was none other than one of the best times of the week and an escape from my lab work. Of course, when I say it is best time – it is not what most of us defined as ‘fun’ of playing, go into class and turn on Facebook or whatsoever – my life with this module is more on notes, books, information and learning, learning and learning! I guess, at some point, my wish in fulfilling my promise to study Islamic history properly had made my way so far as well. It became so personal that sometimes I might feel disappointed with my ‘uselessness’ when I did not do as well as expected in it. But I had learned to look at it as a way of learning. From this module, I get to learn what learning is all about, in theory and in practical. Personal experience with this module is just too long for a post like this. The module covers from ancient Greek, classical Greek, Roman Empire, Hellenization, Christianization, Islamic History and Europeanization. The textbook which I bought first hand, had now become worse than a second hand condition – which Papa always regarded as ‘the purpose of book’. So, I am glad I actually put in effort regardless how it might turn out. Throughout the course, we had symposium where we went around four themes and we worked on tesserae: Did Rome Fall? Or Was She Pushed?, Is Islamic Europe an Oxymoron?, What is Love Anyway?, and Is Beauty Truth?. The themes were interesting and we learned even more from it. I did the second topic and you could find out about what I did here.

EU3230 Cold War in Europe, 1945-1991

As I mentioned, level 3000 history module? Wohoho, it is tricky! Yes, so far the only year 3 history module was Europe of Dictators which i took last semester in Dr Kelly’s class. It is a thrilling experience and I enjoyed it since, again, it has something to do with Nazism and Hitler. However, I knew very well how much I am behind a normal history major in terms of knowledge and maturity in writing and analysis. Hence, taking this is always not in my mind. But when the timetable was changed, I thought of finding one module which exam is not on the same day and it was this. Plus, given that it was the same professor who taught this and Why History – Cold War course outline consists more interesting information rather than the empty Why History ones. This is why I was worried whether Why History was a dummy. However, Jan did tell me she didn’t do well in this module but it is interesting. So, my initial plan was to take this and decided to drop either Why History or this. The result was: I did not drop any of them Sourire. Dr Murfett must have did something to the class that I didn’t drop the class? Nope, the class is as normal as ever – but is a very good class. His lecture style is different, of course, from Dr Fairey and Dr Kelly – but I find it another good experience. Not only that, I think it’s because I am now older and on the verge of leaving school, I became so thirsty in terms of absorbing knowledge. Cold War is again another topic which I have no background of. Come back and think about it, except some random information about Nazism, I did not actually has any knowledge about history – this is how backwards I was! Yes, so many of a time, when I didn’t get to read before lecture, I might end up writing notes just by writing spellings of names which I heard, and need to go back to check about it. Wikipedia had become one of the best site for me to have background reading, kudos for it! The class was sometimes lively with some enthusiastic student who ask question. And of course I can’t do that since my knowledge is so meagre that what I asked might be their ‘what? aren’t you supposed to know that in primary school?’ question. I do ask question to the teacher and some group mates. The module covers: A convulsive continent (1917-45) , An iron curtain is drawn down over  Central and Eastern Europe (1945-49), The Tito-Stalin split and its deadly aftermath, The Western response (i) from Morgenthau to Berlin (1943-48) and(ii) The Berlin, Blockade (1948-49), Life after Stalin (1953-56), Khrushchev cuts loose (1955-64), The flowering and withering of the Prague Spring (1968), Ostpolitik: A Trojan horse? (1966-74), Poland exposes the cracks in the Soviet wall (1980-81), Reagan rides into town (1981-88), and Eastern Europe before and after the Gorbachev tsunami (1982-91). As usual, when you are studying something you have no background in, you are learning a lot and this is what happened. Besides, we has two debate sessions: one as debater and another as the floor as well. What I did is listed here. And I am so thankful to have such wonderful group mates seriously. They were real great teachers to me and I actually met Toffa on a bus and we chatted a bit. She actually encouraged me to go for it if I like history and shared his fascination towards the subject with me. I have to admit, that’s one of my best bus ride chat ever!

Looks like I had finished discussing all modules I took this semester. And one thing Suanne told me on how I came about European Studies which I find it true, “looks like there are many miracles happened to let you get your European Studies courses’. Yes, when think of it, it all happened like a miracle. Defining when it start is like defining when Cold War start: maybe the moment I decided to learn French? Yes, and I started to self-learn before I am admitted into NUS and given the letter to apply LPP. And I got LPP for French and then when I realize I am not allowed to go for SEP and realized I can get a minor in European Studies? And then I started to put myself into European History and then I was not allowed to get European of Dictators but I spotted Dr Kelly’s ivle in my first Eu1101E class before he end the class, then I am in history class after hating it for most of my life, then timetable changes and with all the twist and turn, I came through taking all these wonderful courses. What else can I ask for, right? I am already feeling too lucky for being able to realize the wonder of a subject I loathed in this one year, and it changed my life and my perceptions. And with research project which helped me to grow so much and learned so much – if you ask if any regret I have, I would say I wish I could get such a year more than just one year, haha, so greedy! But yes, I shall conclude this year as really really really interesting! Rire

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