Saturday, January 23, 2010

Jeffrey Archer

Imagine this. You went back to college. Took the flight, therefore your luggage must be minimum. Brought one half-read book to read since the bag is already crammed with textbooks and underpants. To your surprise, the book is finished in four days. Your other books will only arrive on the weekend. Sounds like a crisis?

It was one to me. Fortunately my housemate had a book to lend - The Prodigal Daughter by Jeffrey Archer. Jeffrey Archer is one of those names alongside John Grisham and Sophie Kinsella (just to name a few) that keep popping out from the book store's shelves, but I never even consider buying. I steer clear of chick-lit (which explains Kinsella) and politics turn me off. The Prodigal Daughter is laden with issues of American politics and the system, which I'm embarrassed to admit still eludes my understanding (Democrats? Republicans? What's the difference? And what's a Senate?). Still, I must say it is one of the best books I've ever read. Truly. And because I like it so much, the same housemate then brought A Prisoner of Birth, also by Jeffrey Archer. Another one goes into my Best Books Ever Read list, even when I'm still reading. And I am now a huge Jeffrey Archer fan.

I don't consider myself a book critic. A self-profess book junkie is more accurate (though my archive is not very big). My english is hardly good enough for me to comment on the language, but I like the fact that reading those two particular books didn't require the assistance of the dictionary every five pages or so (like Jane Eyre).The plot moves at a fast enough pace, not too slow like Lord of the Rings (especially the Return of the King). The protagonist - be it the intelligent daughter who wants to be the President or the young father trying to clear his name from a crime he did not commit - has a certain draw that makes you cheer him/her on to win. However, the ultimate page-turning factor has got to be the twists and turns in the plot (and there are numerous). I find it hard to put the books down and I have to restrain myself from exclaiming "What??" or "Yes!" when I'm reading in class. I even almost did a celebratory dance when one of the court battles resulted in a victory for the good guys. My housemate warned me that the final courtroom battle will cause some involuntary shrieks and exclamations. I better not read that in class.

If you haven't yet read one of his books, go and buy one. Don't borrow, because you will want to read it again.

I'm now off to find out what Danny plans for Gerald Payne.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Hmm?? Oh...

That's pretty much the only thing that came from me while listening to my two classmates discussing about their applications to further their studies overseas. Those two remarks are just the simplified version of what I was really thinking at the time:

IELTS? You already did that?
British Council? Where's that?
Credit transfer? What's that?
How did you people know these things??
I'm hopeless!!

I have the same desire to study in the UK. But I'm ignorant enough not to think that I might actually have to put so much effort (besides getting good results) just to qualify. What was I thinking? Did I really think that by just getting As (and a few B+) I will magically be flown off to some high-profile varsity in Britain? Did it never crossed my mind that I have to start preparing now? Now I'm really frustrated with myself.

And that's not all. Those researches and tests that they did (or are about to do) are just to apply for a place. Which means, funding is another process altogether. And my friend Miss A said you have to do some serious work to get a scholarship. Essays, tests, not to mention all sorts of other pre-requisites.


I don't have any siblings studying abroad like my two friends there. And unlike them, I don't have enough financial resources to go anywhere should I not get a scholarship. I don't even know what kind of scholarships there are available for me, and how to apply.

Worst of all, I have no idea what I should do first. Should I do a research on the available varsities first? Or focus on getting the funding? If I do manage to find a sponsor, will it determine where I would go? Or do I have to be accepted from a university first, then only will they consider my application? Or is it the other way round? Do I have to get a sponsor before I can be accepted anywhere?

According to Miss A, some universities require the students to send in documents to prove that they can afford to pay the fees (which can be up to £11,000 per year) and I don't see how I could do that. But can I get a scholarship if I have not yet apply for any universities? The same questions remain.

I will now find some clue on what actually can I do to be one step (or even half step) closer to what I failed to get last time. This is the time to get even with some of my high school friends who got to go everywhere around the globe when I had to stay put (curse you, Sejarah). Of course I see the silver lining that is my friends here in the Malay community, but I would like to see other people and other places. But then again, don't we all?

All in all, I don't keep my hopes up too high. I'm afraid that I might no be able to face failure again.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Turning the leaf

I never made any new year's resolutions because I don't think they are effective. I mean, if you want to change something about yourself, or set a new goal or something, couldn't you start immediately and not wait for the new year?

Having said that, I do have some new missions (more like wishes) I recently made. Not because of the new year, mind you, but because of this new phase I've gone through. Besides, I'm entering my last semester.

In no particular order:
  • Get a scholarship for my degree program.
  • Get a better haircut.
  • Be better on the violin. Hopefully I'll be able to do the vibrato thingy finally (I thought it would be developed naturally over the years, but no such luck).
  • Get an electric violin (I don't care if it's in the near or distant future)
  • Study photography more intently.
  • Get a new digital camera. Or at least get the old one fixed.
  • Buy the Keane EP that's coming out in May =D
  • Be more helpful around the house.
  • Be less annoying (and that's harder than I thought).
  • Be more organized.