Tuesday, July 28, 2009


Attending functions and events aren't exactly the easiest things for those who are not used to speaking to random strangers. It is almost a nightmare for those who have problems switching topics almost very quickly and probably touching on almost every single topic you can ever think of. Try switching from cars to economics to politics to other hobbies like golfing, travelling, gaming or even simply talking about hotels and tourist destinations around the world. Talk about education and the world top university rankings, and talk about the largest banks, finance firms, accounting firms, and maybe try recalling the most recent corporate takeover or merger that took the world by surprise. Yes, it is a really daunting task, especially for those who never quite took an interest in all the above topics.

Well, it is probably natural to expect that such things seem to occur not very frequently, unless you happen to be the child of a really rich parent, or happen to know too many people involved with these groups of people. But such scenes with ties and suits and champagne glasses don't necessarily happen with the same settings and outfits. They can really occur just about anywhere, even in school. Simple gatherings for big groups of people often require you to make an effort to join a random conversation and quickly grasp what is going on in the conversation.

Networking. What a nightmare.

And just when you think that having to conjure story after story to keep the conversation going (and make yourself look like a well-read and experienced guy/girl) is the most difficult part, you are wrong. You need to learn to give the perfect smile and, more importantly, the perfectly-timed laughter. No loud, roaring laughter, but short, timed laughter that makes you look like you can be humorous yet still portray a mature image. What a headache. Now we all can understand why the corporate world and the playing grounds for the socialites are so dangerous and treacherous to roam around. One wrong judgement, comment, gesture or even laughter can cost you your reputation (and the next rung on your social and career ladders).

So maybe we should just stay away from such events and be happy hanging on to the rung we are currently on. But for those who are more adventurous and ambitious, perhaps picking up more 'PR skills' and improving on your charm-factor would seem to be the only way to help yourself up the next rung. After all, who climbs the ladders with pure hard work? The hard workers are kept doing their hard work while those who can talk can stand in front and lead with their 'leadership skills'. "Let us not get too involved with whether or not 'leadership skills' are simply all about charming others with a 'vision' which any other half-genius can probably think of."

So, what about those who attend such events with a wide smile? How genuine are those smiles and laughter? How real are these people other than their physical presence? Sometimes, I catch myself giving not-so-sincere smiles when I attend little gatherings. I feel guilty thinking back and realising how insincere and fake I was that particular night. Then, I realise that perhaps that's the way to behave if you want to be 'warm' and 'polite'.

Headache again.

Is this why the corporate world isn't for everyone, and more so for those who want to remain true to not only themselves but the people around them? Are most of the people at these functions enjoying themselves or are they there to merely fufil their obligations in attending suchs functions and 'giving face' to the organisers, and how many of them are merely acting throughout the entire night?

Maybe all these are the sacrifices you have to make to be seated at the same table as the tycoon next door and the minister 3 blocks away. Or hopefully, this is just a totally cynical perspective on dinners and functions. I really hope so. But even if it is true that all these are nothing but a group of part-time actors gathering every other month, why wouldn't you spend some time acting to get onto the next rung? Afterall, the only way you can live a life of luxury through acting is via Hollywood, and down here do don't need to be an A-lister - just have a pleasant-looking face, a warm smile, and a nice laugh.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Round four.

So, forth semester. Nothing new this time I guess. Just trying to reorganize myself and get myself used to having lessons at different times and days. Well, more hours this time but packed into three days. Whenever someone asks about my schedule and I reply that I have a 3-day week, their jaws drop like they've just seen Barney prance across in pink tutus. Yes, 3 days sounds good, but 3 days does not mean you do not need to do work at home, and neither does it mean you don't have to give a damn about school, it just means you have longer days when you have to be in school for lessons.

I hope I have made it clear to everyone who asked that having 12 hours of lessons a week does not mean you have the remaining ( 7x24-12 = ) 156 hours to play. It means you have 12 hours in school, and a huge chunk more for assignments, revision, readings, and the likes. No, its not tough as hell, but neither is it easy-peasy that distinctions knock on your doors and await you to invite them in for tea.

It was my intention to come here to study and experience a different life. I guess I have had my share of a 'different' life, albeit one that is still pretty much Asian. Well, to be really frank, even though half the people I see on the streets are Asian, no was is the culture here close to what you'd get in Singapore. And that, I suppose, is what gives students the varied experience when they study overseas. Culture - both in terms of school life and also outside academia.

Okay, so here I am, at the start of Round Four. The first three have been relatively rewarding, and I guess this should too. More activities in school which aren't all about textbooks and lecture notes, and hopefully a more rewarding education outside of school. More habits to pick up, and also more skills to learn (and yes, I will once again attempt to find time for driving - really no good excuse now that I have more off-days).

Okay, enough for today. End of Day 1 of Round Four. It's already the end of July, and I'll be back again by the end of November. Never felt far away from home; guess it isn't easy to understand why.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Melbourne again.

Back again in this place. Yeah, doesn't sound like I enjoyed the trip back. Well, I can't seem to get myself into the sleep-mode, and something is lingering on my mind. Something not exactly pleasant, but not exactly sad. And like what my friend said, it's similar to 'booking in to camp'. I guess that's pretty right.

And to make things worse, I forgot the alarm clock. Look, it's not that I want to make a big fuss over the clock, but somehow it does add up. Like, everything does now.

Well, maybe I will try to get this anxiety off my mind by lying in bed and hopefully my already-tired mind will just switch off without having me to force it to go to sleep.

I haven't exactly packed my bag for tomorrow. See how screwed up this is? Sigh.

Sunday, July 19, 2009


The holidays are coming to an end. I'll be leaving again in less than a week, and this time it's hitting me pretty hard. I guess it's the whole thing about dreading school and stuff, and also because this holiday isn't exactly long enough. (Then again, which holiday was ever long enough?)

Didn't do too much during this trip back, barely met up with my friends. I guess everyone else is just busy and have their own stuff to deal with. Well I guess it's good too since I get to stay home and rest, and sort of spend time at home with my parents.

I feel pretty bad when I stay at home because I mostly end up hiding in my room, tapping away on my laptop. I mean, there is the occasional television programme to catch, but I still don't feel as if I'm spending time with my mom. Perhaps I can only give myself a pat on the back for tying to have more dinners at home or out with them. And I guess I should try to spend less nights out, not only for my own health, but also because it probably sucks as a parent to have to wait for your child to return home, and usually falling asleep before he does. Sigh, not exactly a nice thing to do.

I really don't know why I dread going back to Melbourne so much. The thought of another stressful semester mixed with the guilt of not spending sufficient time with my family seems to add up to a greater whole. And I guess there are many other smaller factors that are hiding somewhere in my mind. Not just the coming semester, but also the period after this coming semester ends. So much uncertainty, far more to worry about.

I still have to admit that this is a good little break from work. I mean, no thoughts of tutorials or assignments or exams for the entire 4 weeks. Definitely something I needed. But then again, I cannot agree that I have had a wonderful or enjoyable holiday, especially with so much random thoughts going on in my mind everyday. No, it's not a bad thing, but it just meant that I did not have time to sit down and not think about anything and enjoy myself. I'm supposed to be able to enjoy myself in the next break, but that's probably going to (and, ironically, hopefully) be filled with work and internship. Supposedly for the better good and long-term goals.

I just want my time, far away from the worries of life, far away from the thoughts of having to conform to the needs of society and everything else. I don't need to be far away from the buzz of the city, and in fact I'd love to sit down in a cafe and watch the city, but as an observer, a passive bystander who does not have a role to play, or any form of responsibility. There, only the taste of my drink, the air, and what I observe matter, and only on a superficial level.

So where did my holiday go. Nowhere, I suppose. Only that I never quite found it myself.