I really should’ve gotten down to this earlier, so here goes.
It’s been a good first year of university. Since June last year life has been pretty much excellent, slowly clearing my remaining off days and leave, going to Taiwan and eventually attaining the long awaited status of civillian once more. And I don’t know about others, but ORD-ing? It was one of the best days of my life. This is not to say I didn’t enjoy some bits of NS. I did, towards the end when we were the most senior, when there wasn’t much left to do except for waiting for time to pass. Those days were good. Aside from that though, I didn’t really enjoy my NS experience. Which is why I looked forward to finishing my service so much. No longer did I have to live with the annoyance of being responsible for someone else’s mistakes, getting unreasonable and undeserved punishment, having my movement restricted and being told directly by someone higher-ranking what I could and couldn’t do, where I could and couldn’t go. No longer was I being owned by a body of authority which was given control of most aspects of my life by virtue of the authority vested in them by the law. No more. I am free. And freedom is sweet.
The short time I had between ORD and leaving Singapore for UK was packed with meet-ups, saying farewell to friends and family before embarking on a journey to a new place to begin a proper life once more. Life in UK was, in a word, liberating. Sure, I kept to myself a lot at the start, didn’t make too many friends in hall but I was fine with that. After being deprived of freedom for so long, the kind of life I led in UK was one that I loved. Doing whatever I want, whenever I want, managing things at my own pace… It was pretty good. And when I got to know more people from hall, life became even better. While I may have drifted in between groups of friends, it was never so lonely that it got unbearable. We got closer, eating meals, celebrating birthdays and going out together. It was a lot like forming our own little family. In fact, I never really got homesick (except for local food, if that counts). I wonder if I should feel guilty for that? It was also nice to have our own little TP Law community in UK. Then there was football on saturdays too, I loved it. I was also fortunate enough that Zilin had several London flights within the first two months I arrived in UK. I had a courier and a friend to hang out with. In a sense, I was never alone.
School was… interesting. After a year, I am profoundly grateful for the grounding I received in TP, without it I think I would have struggled. The PBL techniques we learnt were massively helpful. I am also very aware that perhaps I should’ve worked harder back then. Ah well. What’s happened has happened, and I can’t change it. I guess that’s why it’s called hindsight. I was pleasantly surprised at the number of Singaporeans in school, and also pleasantly surprised by a few other things about school. I kept a low profile though, and I plan on continuing to do so. No reason not to, not yet at least.
Oh, and the best thing was probably the football. I watched 4 games this academic year- one league cup, one FA cup, one Champions League and one Premier League game. It helps that Arsenal is only 2 stops away from my hall.
The league cup match was my first ever live game and I was so excited. David N’Gog scored first, then Park (!) and Arshavin won it. It was exciting because I got to watch Ryo (he is lightning quick, you need to watch it to believe it) and I even saw Park make the first of his 2 appearances this season and I saw him score what was probably the only goal he will score in his Arsenal career (if you can call it that, lol).
The champions league game was one that I deliberated for a while whether to watch or not. I mainly wanted to watch because Dortmund were in town, aside from watching Arsenal I could watch the likes of Hummels, Kagawa and Gotze. A magical run from Song led to a cross and a mighty header from skipper RvP. Then a corner, flick-on from TV5 to the skipper again who smashed home another. Kagawa got one at the end, a consolation. Gotze, disappointingly, was subbed halfway due to injury. Bender got injured to in that game. A nice match, Song’s run was unbelievable.
The next match, oh that was one of my favourites. In fact I think it was the 2nd favourite match I attended this year. Arsenal vs Leeds, FA cup. I bought the ticket before I flew back in December, way before the transfer window opened. And when it did, oh god, I would never expect what came next. Arsenal loaned Thierry Henry and brought him to the Leeds game. It was nervy, we couldn’t make the breakthrough and everyone was chanting his name. Wenger then brought him on. The reaction was amazing as the crowd watched the Return of the King. And it couldn’t be scripted any better. In the last few minutes, a through ball from Song, a perfectly timed run from TH14, body opened up and you know what always comes next- goal. It was so emotional. I teared a bit at the game, I’m not even joking.
And the last match I watched was the best one. My first North London Derby. We were absolutely in the shitter at that time, I decided to go to the Tollington for a pre-match drink. Had like 4 beers mind, and went in. Thank goodness for the beers. We gave 2 early goals to the spuds, sloppy ones at that. Still, the crowd was positive and there was a feeling that we were creating the better chances. If we could nick one before halftime, i thought, we would have a chance. What came next will live forever in my memory. Bakary Sagna rose up highest to attack the ball at a corner at the clock end and powered home a bullet header. Shortly after, the skipper got the ball on his left boot and curled home the equaliser. And that, was game on. I went crazy, the girl sitting next to me went crazy, hugs all round. After half-time, we came out roaring. Tomas Rosicky scored his first goal after god knows how long, Theo dinked one over Friedel and slotted home another. 0-2 down, staring at a potential 13 point gap between 3rd and 4th, the boys showed their class and utterly annihilated the scum. Even the middle aged fans nex to me went crazy, hugs all round again. The well of emotion was unbelievable. I think that is probably the most memorable event for me in the whole of this school year. Brilliant.
So, life has been okay. Let’s hope for another good one next year, eh?