I don’t think I will ever learn

 to say goodbye. no matter how many times I do it, I’m never very good at it. The amount of gravity and emotions involved is never quite right. It’s always either too nonchalant or too teary. How do I strike that perfect balance? How many times must I say goodbye to master this skill perfectly?

If I could choose, I’d choose to never say those words ever again. But that’s not gonna happen.

I have been very lucky to have been here, despite of everything. More than the buildings, the attractions, the so called ‘cultural experience’, the most memorable thing that I shall bring home with me is your friendship. 

Between a rock and a hard place

So now that I’m told it’ll be perfectly fine for me to return to Duke early, I’m suddenly unbelievably sad just thinking about leaving my friends here. It has almost been a miracle how quickly I’ve made so many friends here and how awesome they really are. I feel like I’m just getting to know them and now I have to say goodbye. The genuine disappointment I saw on their face when I told them of the possibility of not coming back was quite heartbreaking. And yet I could not dwell too much on the thought too much and had to try my best to focus on my reasons for leaving…because if I really thought for a moment of leaving, I might have broken down into tears right there in the cafeteria. 

Funny how it was so difficult for me to decide whether to come here in the first place. Who would have thought I would be having just as a hard time half year later trying to decide whether to leave or not. My reasons for leaving are good enough. Law school is my top priority, so of course I should go back to Duke and raise my GPA and take lsat prep classes. Intellectually speaking, I wouldn’t really miss anything by leaving. Most of the things I learn here I can learn at Duke, in a much more intense and condensed manner. Even London, I can always come back. The monuments and the city is not going anywhere, nor would they change very much. That leaves my friends, or more precisely, time with them…something I’ll never be able to get back. Sure there’s IM, skype, and the entire internet plus phone for long distance communication, but I think I know quite well by now how far they are from real-time, face-to-face interactions. 

I can imagine my life back at Duke quite well. I’ll be once again stressed about classes on a regular basis. There’ll be loads of papers and reading. I will feel pressure and I will challenged. And I will be back to my old friends (at least most of them). There’ll be LSAT and GRE prep courses, or at least lots of practices. I won’t feel left out when I see tagged pictures of my friends at performances and parties. I’ll be photographing dances again. Ultimately, I’ll have the old life back again, sort of.

But I’ll miss having my own room. I’ll miss having dozens of cafes and restuarants to choose from for lunch. I’ll miss playing bridge every other day. I’ll miss my econ history class, and I’ll miss my philosophy of social science class. I won’t miss the constant traffic conjestion, or the claustrophobic feeling in this city. I won’t miss waiting forever for the elevator every day for class, or having to squeeze through Houghton street every day. But yes, I will miss my life here and especially my friends.

I feel pulled in two directions. My friends back at Duke are telling me how much they miss me and to come back. My friends here are telling me how much they will miss and don’t go. So I’m stuck with yet another hard decision where no matter what I choose, I have to make some sacrifices. In the end, I can’t have everything. That’s life, they say, but that doesn’t make it any easier to swallow.

swing of things

So I went to a hiphop dance audition today. That was fun and interesting. I guess one of the perks being here is I kind of get a fresh start at things. I get the best of both worlds: new opportunities and the curiosities of being a freshman, but with some wisdom and experiences of a junior. But on top of that, I also get the benefit of doing things without having to worry too much about their long term consequences, because well, I won’t be here in the long term. It’s really quite awesome, kinda like summers stretched into a year. You know, people tend to do crazy things in the summer because those warm nights and exotic locales can fool you into thinking that they are more transient and wonderful than anything you’ve ever encountered before. Every moment becomes ridiculously romanticized and people actually live like there’s no tomorrow, or just…summer is short.

But I’ve been there, those crazy summer adventures and whatnot, and I can say I’ve had my fair share of everything that is suppose to experience, both the good and the bad. In a way, I’m glad that I have had those memories, especially the painful ones. It’s better that i have learned the lessons of living abroad on my own and dealing with every sort of inconveniences and surprises while it was still relatively short-termed. 

I wonder if I’m getting a bit desensitized towards traveling. Afterall I have been doing more sightseeing in the past year than I have in all of my life before combined (maybe). And I really just miss staying home and reading a novel, watching movies with friends, you know, trading the exotic and exciting for the warm and cozzy. It’s not really being lazy, at least not completely. I still manage to convince myself to get off my butt and go see new places and stuff, but they just don’t fascinate me as much as before. Maybe I just need a break. So it’s rather a shame, you know, me being in London but not really going anywhere. But I guess that’s more incentive for me to come back to europe in the future, as an American citizen (which will make everything 100x easier). 

On the other hand, I love playing bridge with my singaporean friends. I like snuggling in my bed and trying to read about ontological arguments and god and such, and then predicatably falling asleep after only 10 pages. I still find it a bit strange that I have to go to another floor for showers, but hey, it’s better than battling with the stupid shower system we have on this floor. The weather is actually better than Cleveland, and less crazy than Duke’s. So despite all the rain and such, I don’t mind it as much. I do really need a pair of boots though, somehow it never entered my mind to bring the pair I had from home. Unfortunate. 

Life is getting more busy by the day, but in a good way. I’m currently babysitting a pair of rather cute kids for a Duke alum once a week, it’s a relatively painless way to earn some cash. I’ll also be starting badminton and salsa this week, so that’ll be fun. Probably will take some hiphop class too when they start. Classes are going alright, still need to get books and such. Also, I need more motivation for lsat’s and doing hw when they don’t count XD.

Sleepless in London

It’s another night when Halley inconveniently wakes up past midnight and is unable to fall asleep again until sunrise. Being sick doesn’t help, because now I have more reasons to wake up (i.e. can’t breathe, etc…). Except sleep deprivation is probably not going to help me recover. So…vicious cycle. Hopefully it will end this weekend, because then I will have really stuff to do – as in, classes are finally starting! Yay! (I know I won’t feel this way in a week…but just allow me to fantasize for a moment, k?)

Now onto more exciting things than my unfortunate sleeping patterns and sickness…LONDON and LSE. Well London is pretty much what they tell you…and more. It’s a gigantic city, HUGE. I will be going on a few tours of the city and doing some sightseeing this weekend, and will prob. make serious efforts to see at least one new site every weekend. At that rate, I just might cover the entire city before next summer. Maybe.

And what about LSE? Well, like I’ve told some of you, it’s kinda like Duke + city.

Similarities/Equivalents

  • obsession w/ finance. So Duke minus the premeds and the engineers. 
  • Inferiority complex that comes from being rejected by more prestigious and older schools (Oxbridge vs. hyps)
  • career fair = career fair. both dukies and lse-ers take this beyond seriously. it’s like their fifth class, or more.
  • “work hard, play hard” if I hear that phrase one more time, I might just scream.
Dissimilarities
  • I have to pay for everything here: buses, gym, clubs (yes, I paid 10 pounds to join the badminton club.), printing&copying, etc…
  • 50% international undergrads, 70% overall, 50% asians (most of them singaporeans and malaysians). 
  • dorm is 30min walking distance away from school.
  • there’s no campus…it’s a claustrophobic cluster of buildings and too many people and not enough space. But at least the buildings are close together, which minimizes walking XD.
There’s more that I’ll prob. mention in future posts, but those are the main points for now. So I’m settling alright, minus the problems that I mentioned at the beginning. My heater has finally been fixed, so I’m not freezing in my room anymore. But I think I lost my resident-card…which might be a problem, cuz I’ll need it for breakfast tom. 
Current class selection (it might change in the next month or so…but I’m 90% set on these)
  1. Advanced Economic Analysis
  2. History of Economics: How theories change
  3. Philosophy of Social Sciences
  4. Problems in Analytical philosophy

Arriving in London

a quick note before I crash for the night…

The plane ride was shorter than expected, thanks to a helpful tailwind. Got to Heathrow at around 6:20am, local time, and took a train to central london. Made the mistake of paying 10 extra pounds for a non-stop train when there was a slower, but much cheaper one. Oh well. I had a fun time (by fun, i actually mean quite painful, literally) getting all my luggage around the train station. Had the misfortune of getting a grumpy, ill-humoured old man as my taxi driver. The ride from the station to my dorm took another 10 pounds. 

Commonwealth Hall, where I’m staying, is a decent looking dorm. Better than most of the old west campus dorms, but certainly not as nice as Keohane. My room is…the size of your typical claustrophic single rooms in jarvis, or at Few. But it’s a single, so that’s good. So far the worst thing I’ve encountered here, aside from the not so appetizing English food, is the utterly inexplicable shower system. So basically it’s a little nob that you have to press every minute to keep the water flowing, I’m not exagerrating. Either I’m really stupid and haven’t figured out a better way to work this thing, or whoever designed this piece of shit should have been hit over the head. 

In any case, I’m half unpacked because I’m in desperate need of hangers. So shopping tomorrow morning, and then I’m heading to LSE in the afternoon for our exciting induction. Not really. The important part is I’ll finally see the school. The rest of my week consists of more meetings, inductions, parties, basically a repeat of freshman orientation. Woohoo.

Oh, I also met some craaaazy people here. Just imagine…a dorm with a larger percentage of asians than Duke. Scary, I know.