Macau Chronicles 2012: Part 6

The last section of my trip comes to you not from HK but rather from Macau. To be fair, I was only in Macau for a day but the last week of Hong Kong was boring to the point where there wasn’t really anything fun worth mentioning.

 

I needed to look back through my photos to recall what I actually did in Macau. Most of it was just sight-seeing and to be fair there wasn’t really anything interesting to do in Macau anyway; well on the normal residential side of town. It was good to finally not be in a crowded place. The streets of Macau are mostly paved with stones from the Portuguese who were here…okay don’t ask me about history; but pretty much there was a lot of Portuguese-style architecture there, just as you would find British architecture in Hong Kong.

 

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HK Chronicles 2012: Part 5

Okay so that last post wasn’t that exciting. So this one will focus more on the fun things I did in Hong Kong. Note, I’ll deal with my shopping in a video once I get back to Australia. I didn’t really manage to do that many fun things with people while in Hong Kong; but I did spend a lot of time hanging out with different people while walking the streets of Hong Kong. It was a good change of pace hanging out with different people this time round (well nearly). Sometimes we know it becomes a bit dull being with the same people all the time (especially during the long four month summer break) so it was cool to have been able to do different things with different people.

 

Lan Kwai Fong

Essentially, LKF is the Hong Kong equivalent to King’s Cross, and other seedy places. Well to be honest, it didn’t seem that bad, although to be fair, walking around in a group of ten shouldn’t pose us as a weak target to any other groups of strangers. On the third night I was in Hong Kong I visited the area with a bunch of friends for dinner, and then drinks, and…let’s leave it at that. The place is void of Chinese people and instead was full of foreigners and other English speakers. Most of my relatives (a generation older) felt a bit uneasy when I told them I went there with friends to drink. On the other hands, my cousins asked to make sure I had actually gone haha. Some were a bit more conservative and wanted me to go just to see what it was like. It’s quite a rowdy district, especially late at night. Luckily we all left by 12am. Sadly, there is no good photo I can put up for this section.

 

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Bike Riding

I can’t be bothered tracing back to the exact dates when I did things. On one day I went out to Tai Po and went bike riding with a different set of friends. It wasn’t that special an activity, although to be honest I hadn’t touched a bike like ten years prior to this event. But of course, you don’t forget how to ride a bike that easily so I was fine. Others, who at this point still have not ridden a bike, struggled a bit:

 

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I thought it was interesting that it only took an hour for my friend to get the hang of it; compared to like the many more hours most of us might’ve spent as kids. It just sort of seemed more efficient this way to learn how to ride a bike in an hour at this age, rather than as a kid. I suppose the trade off then is that you don’t get to ride a bike as a kid, something I rarely did anyhow.

 

We rode all the way from the bike hire place down to Sha Tin which was perhaps about 12Km. It was quite a long ride even though it was along a near-straight path most of the time. There were a lot of other cyclists as well, some who were riding for fun in groups of friends or families, and other people who were doing serious training. The quality of he bike and their attire gave us a strong hint on what level they were at. Nothing hat interesting happened along the way; we had to take breaks along the way for our newbie and so our journey took longer than expected. I stacked some kid at some point because I suddenly decided to turn around (didn’t check my blind spot) and he wasn’t very good at braking or keeping his balance. He was fine, not that you could guess without me telling you. We were all very tired by the end of the day because we had to ride the bikes back to return them as well haha (a total of about 25Km).

 

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Ocean Park

The very next day (yes most of us were still quite exhausted), we went to Ocean Park. The last time I went was a good 14+ years ago, so I had pretty much forgotten my experience. We got there heaps early to make the most of the day. We headed to as many rides as we could in the morning before people started coming and making the queues long. It didn’t take long for me to get into the rhythm for roller coasters. Having not been to many amusement parks, one would tend to think that I’m bad with roller coasters, I certainly thought so. But by about the fourth ride, that “dropping” feeling wasn’t that foreign to me, it was a quite pleasant adrenaline rush haha.

 

One new ride they opened this year was the “Hair Raiser”:

 

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Didn’t really manage to capture a good section of the track but it was basic a rollercoaster which would also twist 360 degrees  as it went around those loops as well. We lined up for that one several more times because it was probably the most exhilarating ride of them all. Also went on the vertical drop ride; which was worse than what we expected because the ride faces towards the ocean and so when you try to look down, all you see is the ocean, rather than dry land, which made it all the more scary I suppose? It’s one of those rides where right before you hit the climax you think to yourself: “At the time it seemed like a good idea…” I don’t think anything gets worse than the vertical drop yes?

 

Food was kind of expensive there, as expected, so we all only ate a bit from a McDonald’s stall; it was still cheaper than any corresponding item in Australia. Another random thing to mention is that mainlanders LOVE to push in queues; we all had to wall off a lot to prevent those snobbish people from doing so. And to also think that it was adults who were pushing in, to go on a children’s ride, the sight is somewhat pathetic. I think at the end of the day, some of us are a bit too old to be going on these rides now. Even though it was my first day in a while going on rollercoasters, the thrill died pretty fast and to me, Ocean Park sort of does feel boring enough such that even if I did come again, it would only be to go on the new rides (probably should wait another 14 years again then haha).

 

It was a fun day though, we walked for most of the day, saw nearly all the things they had on display and when on other “scary” rides such as the “Escalator” and the “Cable Car” – man that last one is really scary when it just stops randomly over a big ditch and doesn’t move for a while. Here are some random photos:

 

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HK_0141 HK_0147

 

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I suppose the other fun things I did in Hong Kong were small shopping dates either with friends or with cousins. One last random thing to end on is that I drank on a fair number of nights, mostly with relatives. That is, drinking, not getting drunk (huge difference). One of my uncles said that red wine is pretty cheap in Hong Kong (like $50 HKD a bottle) so most of the alcohol I consumed while in Hong Kong was just wine. I still prefer sake though. Anyhow that will do for now. All of these photos and many others can be found on my Facebook. A little over a week left in Hong Kong now.

HK Chronicles 2012: Part 4

It’s been more than a week since I’ve arrived in Hong Kong and so much has happened that I should probably jot my reflections down before I forget everything. The first three parts were of my travels back in 2009 before university started and since I don’t travel to Hong Kong much, I’d rather just continue the series.

 

This time I’ll be in Hong Kong for just under four weeks (if you checked the front page you would know); it’s my first time travelling by myself and not having my nagging parents with me. I’ll have to admit traveling by myself is totally…fine. Being sheltered by your parents is a bad thing most of the time I reckon and I’m really glad to be able to do what I want in Hong Kong, when I want, where I want, without them interjecting. My parents do call me here and there just to check up on me, and to update me on things I need to do for my relatives on their behalf and if they have things they want me to buy.

 

My main reason for coming to Hong Kong this time round is for shopping. I think I need to update my wardrobe again and from the money I’ve saved up from this year, this was a perfect opportunity to go. There were other favourable factors, such as the extremely high exchange rates favouring the Australian dollar, the fact that I’ll be graduating next year and probably won’t get another chance to go on a holiday, and the $6,000 that the HK government was offering (although sadly I found out that I was not eligible for it). Still this was not going to stop me from trying to enjoy my summer holidays.

 

My strategy this time round was to pack as little as possible and of course to buy everything there. That’s kind of a simple strategy; the only hard thing was forcing myself to buy clothes straight away. It was hard to look and decide what to buy straight away, especially when you haven’t really visited other stores and compared prices. So I bought some clothes to temporarily supplement the clothes I wore to Hong Kong. I think the first two days were rather rough for me. Arriving Tuesday night, I had to quickly set up a Hong Kong SIM (strangely you can still use WhatsApp internationally even with a different SIM), an octopus card, and then to arrange plans for the next morning. The very next day I had to lead a small Bible Study with other church people who were there as well, and then proceeded to go shopping and visit relatives.

 

At the moment I have a decently functioning base of operations at my uncle’s place. My cousin games a lot and so I have ready access to the Internet all the time. My uncle’s place is only a 2 minute walk from the train station which makes travelling very simple. In addition to my laptop, I brought my DSLR, and a compact camera. So unlike last time, I’ll actually be able to blog (when I’m free) and upload photos when I return to my uncle’s place (my poor laptop is struggling to keep up with all the work I need it to do). And then of course there’s Facebook and MSN, but most of you would’ve already seen my activity online anyhow.

 

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Relatives

Okay, time to start reflecting. Visited relatives from my dad’s side on like the second day I was in Hong Kong (the day right after I got off the plane). My uncle, who is quite aged now, was telling me about how important my family was amidst our extended family on my dad’s side. I’ve heard the story many times from my dad and my uncle told me approximately the same thing. He talked about how back in the days, education was a rare thing to come across, and because it was so rare it meant that finding it  was like finding treasure and had to be treated in an appropriate manner. At the time, my dad had managed to secure a position in a university which only catered for several hundred students; it was a very privileged thing to have, my uncle told me. And as such, my dad sort of carried the hope of his family, since his siblings didn’t have as good of an education. Long story short, me and my brother sort of carry that same hope that our relatives have “entrusted” to us because living in Australia provides much more life opportunities than say in Hong Kong. As such, the moral from the adults in the generation above me is that we shouldn’t take education for granted and try our best to study, get good marks, etc. Yes, it’s the same old things that any Asian kid gets told; having my uncle tell his side of the story made me appreciate his values a little more and I suppose I understand more about why our parents value education and study so highly.

 

My cousins tell me how they think it’s amazing that I’m studying a double degree, but in all honesty (and aside from the high school that I attended), studying a double degree is not that rare, nor that great a feat either. I suppose those of you who are only doing a single degree have simply chosen not to do a double degree, it is not beyond your ability. So it’s hard for me, and I suppose many other people, to “value highly” our education in Australia. I value it even less as a Christian because I’m convinced pursuing Christ is much more important than education or getting a job. So I guess I feel a bit bad that I cannot meet not only my parents’ expectations, but also the expectations of my extended family. They’ve sadly placed their hope in a kid who won’t really use the education opportunities he’s been given to their fullest. But I think that should be understandable. For us, we’ve grown up where everyone goes to school, and everyone goes to university; that’s our standard which is much higher than in other countries. But we’ve known no other lifestyle and so we can’t take to heart just how important it is to someone else in another country. Using a “bad” analogy, it’s like “some” students from Kings. I’ve seen some pretty obnoxious kids from that school (I know others who are nice people too) and a lot of us bag them out for their attitude. But technically, they’ve known no other lifestyle so there is some rationale for the way that they act. I guess bringing things back to us Asians, all we can try to do is show some level of intellectual understanding and appreciation for our parents’ values.

 

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Mainlanders

Mention this word to any Hong Kong resident and they’ll show you their racial prejudice against them. In Hong Kong the racial tension is quite strong because a lot of mainlanders flood into Hong Kong to (in a sense) take over all their commodities (mostly goods and accommodation). I don’t quite understand the situation that well since I haven’t really experienced any serious incidents where there was racial tension but it is quite apparent in Hong Kong. I guess other countries feel it too, where it seems that Chinese mainlanders are “invading” the country. Although that in itself is bad, the thing that gets me is their arrogance in foreign countries. In Hong Kong, mainlanders are good at disregarding other people for the simplest things such a honestly lining up in a queue (they love pushing in), or talking in public. I guess I could name several incidents which demonstrate this but that’s not the point of this paragraph.

 

Last Sunday I was asked by another uncle (who’s the head of the ING in Hong Kong) to attend a weeklong finance seminar for Chinese university students. I was told that very few students get selected to come and that it might benefit me since I’m studying something similar. Of course I was reluctant because I didn’t come here to study more, and to make things worse, the whole seminar would be conducted in Mandarin. I had every reason not to go, but since my uncle graciously offered me the chance to come, I suppose I had to show him respect and actually go.

 

I decided to go on Sunday for now just to see what it was about. And in short (my English is steadily getting worse that I’m starting ramble now) the seminar was completely not what I had expected. For UNSW students, the seminar was pretty much on basic FINS1612 stuff (like week 1 lecture material). My uncle presented the seminar (in Mandarin) on how businesses operate (eg: proprietorship, partnership, and corporation). But much to my surprise in thinking that it was all simple stuff, to the other 48 Chinese students (all at different stages in their university degree, including postgraduates) this was first time they’d heard about this. I then I learned that all these students were here because they had an interest in studying finance, but have no prior knowledge about it. The situation for me changed drastically in the afternoon when they started talking about insurance, and my uncle mentioned that I was an Actuarist, and then asked me to tell everyone else about the different types of insurance and how they work. Instantly getting upgraded to be a lecturer for ING had never felt more scary.

 

The one thing I noted by the end of the day was that everyone there was not like the obnoxious and arrogant Chinese students that we might’ve come across in Australia (I know of a few, not by name of course). Rather, these students showed so much humility in the way they valued their opportunity to be able to come to Hong Kong to learn 1612 stuff. It really challenged me to think about our differences. To me, this week long seminar was nothing more than first year uni for me. But to them, it was a chance for them to get into a higher end job, in comparison to what they did before (and to be fair what they had already was okay too – some of them were doing Engineering, others some form of Arts, and still others something related to business, but not so much commerce).

 

They were very keen on practising their English on me (of course), we took photos, and exchanged contact details. I’m still awaiting their e-mails and photos that they took with me haha. But all in all it was a good experience for me to see what some other Chinese students are like. And in addition to the section above about my relatives, I suppose we all should somehow count ourselves lucky to have been raised in a country like Australia with such strong education possibilities (in comparison). Even if we do complain about our high schools and universities, they are all doing better than most other educational institutes in other parts of the world.

 

[Insert photo here if it ever becomes available.]

SMAC Camp ‘11

There is no better time to be doing this than at 4:30am after my long slumber since 9pm. This year our church had a 5 day camp instead of the standard 3 days (or 2 days and a bit really). Likewise our 5-day camp was about 3 full days and two half days; it’s still quite a long camp. I think I’ll condense everything into one post so I’ll keep things brief.

 

This will be different from other posts I’ve ever put up for camp before this time round, the camp was made more for other people rather than for me. That is to say, I was more a contributor to this camp than a consumer. My primary objective for this camp as a youth leader was to look after the youth, get to know them better and to facilitate their learning of God’s Word. So this time round, I think I’ll recount camp from a leaders’ perspective even though it’s easier to do it from a participant’s point of view.

 

Contents

1. Thursday
2. Friday
3. Saturday
4. Sunday
5. Monday

Thursday

I was really exhausted and stressed coming into this camp on Thursday night. I had spent the full day at uni for class and campus ministry; spent the afternoon dealing with the seminar I had to prepare for camp. Our rear guard car (since we were the last ones to arrive on Thursday night) consisted of me, Jacky, Quentin and Athena; all of us were put under the same circumstances of needing to do something intellectually “rewarding” otherwise known as class (or tutoring/study). so we only managed to set off from our homes at 7:00pm-ish. Our first pit stop was Hong Kong de Cafe because we all needed to have dinner. Seemed quite unreasonable for camp to not provide dinner the first night, considering how everyone else was arriving there in the afternoon. We weren’t about to be shaken from having a decent meal. As a result we ended up getting to camp at 10pm, luckily there wasn’t any traffic along the way. Car trips are always a good time to have good conversation.

 

http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=10150170478967362

 

Pretty much went straight to bed as soon as we got there. Sadly I was in the same room as my youth group boys, who were quite energetic for the first night of camp. We probably made the sad mistake of bringing our nerf guns to camp because our boys were messing around with them all night long, well until 12:30am at least. It wasn’t a pleasant first night, also considering how Jie snores. I’m a really light sleeper so it affects me greatly.

 

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Friday

The next morning, things were quite groggy for me. Getting only 4-5 hours for sleep the first night, coupled with roughly the same amount the night before really makes for a bad start to camp. Luckily there’s this thing called coffee for breakfast. I probably wouldn’t have made it past camp without that substance. Can’t remember what we had for breakfast or what we ate for most meals. I think we were really blessed to have Loretta’s parents there cooking for us over those 4-5 days. Few people really would give up their Easter long weekend to cook for a bunch of Asian kids, but we’re really glad that they could help. And as always, Asian parents never go wrong with food; so there was never any fear that the food would be bad or anything. I remember there was a large variety of food served over the days of camp, which is why I can’t remember them all.

 

For the three full days, the general routine of the day was this:

8:00am – Breakfast
9:00am – Morning session
11:00am – Morning tea
11:30am – Bible Study groups
1:00pm – Lunch
3:00pm – Group game
6:00pm – Dinner
7:30pm – Seminar
10:30pm – Lights out

 

Of course there would be some free time between everything thing; most of the free time was in the afternoon. The hard part of all of this is that our free time was spent preparing things for the rest of camp. There wasn’t really any time for me to relax at camp. Today’s free time alone was spent on preparing the seminar for night, I’ll get to that soon.

 

Morning Session

Our morning sessions were chaired by William, who did really well at adopting a charismatic attitude and tone to play out the theme of camp. He pretty well at shouting and making things as formal as he could; though he gradually relaxed to a normal church service tone as the week progressed. Music was done quite simply: one singer (Sharon) and one pianist (Phoebe), quite effective. It’s probably better to cut back on instruments than to put too much personnel into music. Won’t sound as amazing without other instruments but it’s still pretty effective.

 

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All the talks were done by our youth pastor, rather than a guest speaker. And this was kind of disappointing seeing as we always hear from our pastor every week on Sunday. However, it really was difficult finding another speaker who was willing to give up 5 days of their week to go to someone else’s church camp; they would have been giving up their Easter/Anzac long weekend and the chance to relax and spend time with their family. Our pastor gave a series of good talks over the week so we weren’t disappointed at all.

 

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Our topic for camp this year is justification. To save time I won’t really go over what it’s about but it was generally thinking about how justification, and justice, fit into God’s plan for salvation for mankind. All the leaders should have covered it at some point, probably during uni so it was more for the newer Christians to understand what it is about.

 

Bible Study Groups

After our morning sessions we moved into our Bible Study groups. Although I only had about half my usual group there at camp, we have a lot of good constructive discussion, as long as they learn stuff it’s all good. The good thing is that the nerf guns which were the bane of my sleep last night, turned out to be very useful. We used the nerf gun to play Russian Roulette. For those who aren’t familiar with it, we loaded the gun with one foam bullet, and spun it on a table. The person that it points at picks the gun up and shoots himself. If he “dies” then in this context we make them share something they learnt from the talk. So I guess for all you youth leaders out there, consider using this as a way to get your kids to share.

 

Our group stuck to the pre-written studies most of the time, but they also had their own personal questions about the talk, so there were many times where I decided we investigate the question they asked, rather than do the pre-written study. I tend to do that a lot haha, but then our boys had their questions answered and clarified which is more important than teaching them what we’re supposed to teach them.

 

I think my group become more open to answering questions with more complex answers and responses, which showed they were thinking. They started getting used to the way each other thinks so for once we actually had good flowing discussion where everyone was building on each others’ ideas; that was really encouraging to see. Of course some of them still trail off topic here and there, but that’s natural, they’re only year 10-11. I’m proud of the things they asked and the conclusions they were able to reach.

 

Games

Our camp organisers had some interesting group games for everyone to play each day. Just one big game each day. We played in the same teams each day and it gave us a chance to get to know other people better. For the first day we played a giant version of monopoly deal. The interesting changes where that the property cards were changed into people, so everyone had a card of themselves, with a photo that was taken prior to camp, which was placed on a different coloured background, just like the different colours properties. in the original game. All action cards that allowed the stealing of properties involved an extra challenge (physical or mental) before the stealing could take place, which was fair. There is one whacked up video of such a challenge here:

 

http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=10150170963897362

 

The objective of the game was to collect three sets of three (nine cards in total), cose to what the original game’s goal was. The game moved quite slowly but it was pretty fun. I had fun “activating trap cards”. Couldn’t find anything better so just watch this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Wyn1nH8XZ4

 

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To sort of hide this next little section amidst everything else, I think I should also address the behind-the-scenes when it comes to coming up with ideas for these games. I reckon the hardest part in designing games for anything is “balancing issues”. These include rules that not only run the game but also prevent people from finding loop holes in the games; and then you also have scoring issues if the game has a winner and a loser. It really sucks to have good group games spoiled at the end with a simple “But that’s not fair! They cheated!” or something like that, I know I’m a culprit of that haha. But then again, coming up with completely original games is hard enough as is; to make the game perfect in terms of rules and stuff would just take too much effort. Clearly the game above took a lot of effort just from first glance at all the cards and such. It just wouldn’t be worth it spending more effort “balancing” the game; for a Christian camp, that effort would’ve been better spent on improving the important parts of camp (eg: the Bible Studies). But that’s my impression as a leader, and my excuse to not put 110% into games for youth group haha.

 

Night Session

Every night we had a different activity at night. The first two nights were seminars and the last night was a performance night. Anyway, I was really anxious about Friday night’s seminar, mainly because me and Nat were the ones going to run it, and we weren’t exactly ready or finished in time. Well we did, but it was a bit rushed and too much stuff was going round my head with uni and all. Our seminar was on trying to encourage our youth group kids to have more godly conversations at church because they just seem to have a culture of chatting about random stuff and not really using the time wisely to build each other up in Christ.

 

Writing the seminar was extremely difficult for me; I’m not sure how things were on my co-leader’s end. The main problem for me was that I was writing on a topic I wasn’t familiar or sure about. For example, if you’re not a Christian and you don’t believe in Christianity, then obviously it will be hard for you to talk about Christianity. So for our topic of changing the culture of conversation at our church, I was really clueless as to how we would actually achieve it. I literally made up a lot of stuff; I mean, I vaguely had an idea on what I wanted to encourage the youth in but I wasn’t sure of how to best present it. I eventually came up with something I called the “4 C’s of Conversation”, I think I’ll blog it up some time later. Essentially I thought that our conversation should be guided by four criteria (starting with C):

1. Caring
2. Constructive
3. Centered Around the Other Person
4. Continuous

Why are there four? Because I was only able to come up with four. Anyway apart from just that section, we had a few key passages to look at, such as Ephesians 4 and 1 Corinthians 13. We also had a lot of brainstorming sessions which seemed pretty good cos all our kids contributed a lot. And at the end we had some role plays done by the other leaders so the kids could see what was good or bad about each conversation. As something extra, yes Brandon I know I said I would try to base this seminar off of yours, but somehow things turned out like this. One thing led to another and I’m really glad we managed to pull off the seminar, it had me worrying heaps. I think I really do need to sit down and write up more articles for future seminars and what not.

 

I retired on Thursday night after the seminar; well, after another 1.5 hours of watching random anime. There was no snoring that night, which was good for me.

 

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Saturday

Saturday came and went in pretty much the same manner as Friday. The routine was the same, but the conversations were different. Obviously people start to get closer as camp progresses, and you finally see how much they’ve grown at the end of camp. And so, the truly encouraging things from camp are best left till the end of camp. In meantime, here’s what I did in the morning:

 

http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=10150170453327362

 

Memory is starting to get fuzzy now but I remember that our Bible Study group went pretty well again. The boys really enjoyed the Russian Roulette idea of getting people to share what they learnt. For once they all actually stayed awake and concentrated through a 1.5 hour Bible Study; they normally find it hard to do that back at church on a Sunday morning for a 30 minute study.

 

I sadly spent most of this day watching anime in the afternoon for free time. Oh right, the game. This afternoon’s game was a rendition of “Capture the Flag”, combined with some rules from “Fresher”. If you’re familiar with how each game works you’ll sort of get a good picture of how this version was run. It was pretty fun, in terms of the teamwork and the chaos. Everyone got physically tired of course. Again there were “balancing issues” but the game was quite memorable. Don’t really have any good relevant pictures for the game, but seeing as there hasn’t been a photo for more than a thousand words, I think we need at least one photo to balance it out:

 

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As I was saying, I spent the afternoon watching anime. But to try and make good use of the time, I watched anime with a number of the youth. A lot of them are into some form of anime, but I reckon we all need to learn to keep anime in perspective. It’s more than a cartoon as many people would think; it’s an art form that does reveal some rather sensitive emotions and desires that mankind has. So while I can’t say the couple of hours was used in the best way, getting the chance to talk with the youth about what they liked and disliked in anime allows us to work out how people think. Okay fine, I’m just making excuses to watch anime; but it wasn’t as unproductive as watching a movie and not talking. We were all making insightful comments throughout the things we watched. I thought the Clannad movie would’ve been good for the youth who have never watched anything of the sort, but it was a sad disappointment. And of course it’s unreasonable to make them spend (not waste) like hours upon hours of watching the anime series instead. Oh well.

 

At night the second seminar was kind of like the first. And while it seemed a bit redundant there’s always something to be learned. I missed out on the first hour or so, took a break after dinner to recompose myself; lacking energy really takes a toll on everyone’s ability to suppress their negativities, like frustration and stress. Had to do the same thing on Thursday night too, after presenting our seminar. Sat by the lake’s edge for an hour and a bit to just relax and let my thoughts flow. It was nice watching the moon glisten on the surface of the lake and just letting the cool night air blow past. I think I’ve done this every time we had camp at Point Wolstoncroft; just snuck away at night to sit by the edge of the lake, without a care in the world. Yeah, people were looking for me, but so what? Haha. The world doesn’t stop for anyone taking a break, I certainly don’t expect it to stop for me ever.

 

To compensate for a short section on this day, I think I’ll add in a funny “blog post” that one of our youth daringly typed up on my laptop. The context is that she wanted to use my laptop to “blog” though she clearly normally doesn’t. I’ll censor relevant bits that breach privacy, and this is what she ended up with:

 

Hey 😀

This is Bianca *****!! Today I am going to introduce myself as I said before. I’m year 10 at ***** High School. Only cool people go to this school =)

I am now on Jason Tam’s laptop. The mouse is very sensitive. He just asked me if I can touch type. Phoebe is laughing really loud at Jason’s comments. Calvin is shooting a toy gun and Sean is building a rifle?!?!

I am listening to rocketeer on full blast but I can still hear Jason and Phoebe *sigh*

They are arguing about Korean music.

There is a group to my right that is playing a card game. There is Kylie, Natalie, Joy, Kevin x2, Jess, Danny and Jason Yap. Then the next table on the right is Kenny. On my left is some boys playing a board game with miniature statures.

Now I am clueless what to write! Let me ask Jacky. He told me to write about Jason. But he is too boring to write about! 😀

I asked Jacky again. He is thinking and told me write about the lake. I am never going to ask him for advice because he has no imagination. He nearly killed me with foam bullets!!! Time to plan for revenge =)

A chess set is being set up on the table

Jacky once again nearly killed me!!

Phoebe is now making Jacky smell the texta which is supposed to me cherry flavoured.

IM SO BORED !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Jason likes men. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA agreed =) This is no surprise.

Now I g2g because it’s time for fun and games!! I will be back to blog again.

Hi 😀 I’m back!!!

Sorry I had to go again 😀 had the awesomest night of my life!!!

We had a campfire and each group performed a 10 minute long performance. IT was amazing!! Army group did a musical but Pirates ended up winning. They won it fair and square =) CONGRATZ PIRATES!!!

Then we roasted marshmallows and made sandwiches with chocolate coated digestive biscuits

 

Yeah it’s really random and was heaps funny to laugh at. Honestly, I reckon only little girls have the writing style where they suddenly change into ALL CAPITALS FOR THE FUN OF IT! Ironic statement I know, but so is the one about me liking men. At the end of the day, blogging (or writing in journals) is a good thing because it shows how well your thought flow in your mind. The more articulate your words, the more able you are in translating your thoughts into words, and the more freely your thoughts flow in your mind. Will see if we can get her to start or something haha. I know I said to some of you that it would be funny if I tried a rendition on what her typical blog might look like (eg: boy problems) but it would be too mean so I won’t. Instead I’ll see if I can convince her to actually start a real blog.

 

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Sunday

Second last day and the energy levels are starting to drop dangerously. I guess with a longer camp, this is what naturally results. Once again coffee played a fundamental role in keeping me alert for the rest of the day. Again I’ll skip the daily routines and just highlight anything that was different or encouraging. Our Bible Study group did something different today, because I said so. No, I’m kidding. The boys had questions from the talk so we spent the whole time addressing them and discussing about them. That meant we had to jeopardise the Bible Study but had some very fruitful discussion. We went over homosexuality again and whether homosexuals can be saved or not. Moved onto smokers, which was random, but I helped them make it more general (that is, smokers is one example of a larger group of people known as “addicts”, and the real sin behind all of that is addiction, which leads to idolatry). And finally we talked about living as new Christians practically encompassed, like our priorities and out attitude to money and stuff.

 

In the afternoon we had a trivia game, not much can go wrong there. Afterwards we all had to work on a group act for the evening. I think a lot of groups were stressing over a 15 minute act, considering how we were given less than a day to do it. Me and Julz spent most of Saturday night and Sunday afternoon writing up lyrics for our act, which was to be a musical involving ninjas haha. Our two main songs were the “Hallelujah” one from the Shrek movie, and “Breaking Free” from High School Musical. Me and Julz wrote the lyrics for the latter one. Here they are:

 

God’s Grace is Free

Written by Jason Tam and Juliana Chen

 

We’re praying, praising
There’s not a sinner on earth that He can’t reach
We’re believing, that God’s grace is free

You know that God can see us
In a way that’s different from creation’s start
Creating space between us
Till we’re separate hearts

But our faith, it credits us
With righteousness

God’s grace is free
We’re praying, praising
There’s not a sinner on earth that He can’t reach
We’re believing, that God’s grace is free

Can you feel His suffering?
Like a lamb sacrificed to make us whole
Reconciled by his dying
Jesus paid our toll

Rising till it lifts Christ up
So everyone can see

God’s grace is free
We’re praying, praising
There’s not a sinner on earth that He can’t reach
We’re believing, that God’s grace is free
We’re preaching, serving
To live renewed lives to be what God wants us to be
Now’s the time, cos God’s grace is free

More than hope
More than faith
This is truth
This is fate
And His kingdom we see it coming

All for you
All for me
Not by works, or by deeds
Faith in Christ, sets us free

We’re praying, praising
There’s not a sinner on earth that He can’t reach
We’re believing, that God’s grace is free
We’re preaching, serving
To live renewed lives to be what God wants us to be
Now’s the time, cos God’s grace is free

You know that God declares us
Justified so now we’re no longer apart

 

We didn’t really get time to prepare it as a duet by that’s okay.

 

At night all the groups presented their acts. Most groups had singing, most of them are well known songs where the lyrics easily fit into a Christian theme. The uni students would all have had experiences from having to do acts for camps such as MYC. Every group had a very unique act, and as much as I would like to recount them all, I can’t remember them that clearly, I’ll try to grab the footage from other people. One mentionable team was the Navy team (our camp had an army theme remember), and their act was completely made up on the spot. It involved a lot of actions that accentuated the lower half of the body. For example, imagine what “washing the boat” might look like if it was done emphatically. All their actions were funny and none of their act made sense, which was why it was really funny, it was just full of random. Marcus went far enough to make a joke about “sea-men”; and considering that only their team could’ve made such a joke, I more or less applaud them for making it. As for our team’s act, I pretty much put to use as many funny Naruto connotations as I could; our team was the Ninjas.

 

What I really liked about this activity was the way every team bonded when it came to organising the act. We had some quiet people in our team but gradually they opened up and weren’t shy in giving us their opinions. The activity really helped us build up teamwork. It was encouraging to see everyone open up to the whole congregation when they were giving the performance, especially the ones who were bold enough to dance in front of everyone. One of my boys really opened himself up that night, in more than one way too haha. That is, he was really bold in terms of dancing, which caught me completely in shock because he was never like that before. And then later on in the evening he made the mistake of taking off his jacket and ended up topless for a brief moment haha.

 

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Epitome

 

This last section deserves its own section. I said before that the true fruits at camp only start to show towards the end and surely, Sunday night must’ve been the most touching and encouraging night for me. When the night performances ended, and the odd rave party afterwards ended, we all retired to the lodges, not to sleep, but to stay up for conversations. Stuff the lights out thing at 10:30pm, let’s have some serious bonding conversation time. For myself, I literally stayed up all night talking; and I really mean that literally. Starting at about 10pm I chatted with one person for about an hour or so. That was pretty cool because I’ve never really had a serious conversation with them before so it was really cool being given the opportunity to do so. Learning stuff about the other person’s life really is productive because as I had said in my seminar, it allows us to understand the context of the other person, what their feelings are, and how they think and respond to different things we talk about.

 

For all the conversations that happened on that night (which also dragged on to the next day), I would not have traded anything for those moments. But that’s because they are my highlight for camp this year. And yeah, even though none of the actual organised parts of camp were most memorable, that’s how things are in all relationships, you can’t pick and choose and set which moments will be most important. They just come unexpectedly and knock away everything else.

 

Anyway, after that first conversation, people began to retire to bed seeing as it was the last night of camp. But for the same reason, people also stayed up for hours more. I continued to have conversations with a few other guys as the night went on. We just say outside the cabins and chatted quietly about all sorts of issues. Of course it wouldn’t really be a private D&M if I shared what was actually said. Anyway the next conversation went on for…6 hours? I am seriously not kidding, I was actually talking to someone else for a continuous 6 hours. Some people chimed in here and there in first couple of hours but eventually everyone retired to bed around 3am. So this conversation roughly happened from 11pm-5am. Again I assure you, I am not kidding.

 

At 5am we decided to take a break and have some noodles. Apparently we weren’t the only ones who were up at that time. Another person from the other lodge was awake the whole time, so we invited them over to share noodles, though they did not eat. In total there were three of us who stayed up. My 6 hour convo buddy retired at 6am, so me and mystery person #3 carried on and chatted for another 2 hours as we tried to watch the sun rise. Of course it was a cloudy morning so there was no sunrise to see, so we just stood by the lake and chatted. Even a whole night of D&M conversations takes its toll on someone like me. By the end of 9 hours of consecutive hours of talking, this last conversation nearly had me at tears because of what we talked about. Again I won’t share who it was or what we talked about but I definitely learnt something new about that person as well. It wasn’t something bright and it really did mean that it was my responsibility as their leader to follow them up about it. The ones who received lengthy e-mails from me will know who they are.

 

But yeah, who would’ve thought that the most productive time at camp would’ve been the one where we give up all our sleep for. I don’t regret trading away my sleep for all those conversations; I’ve definitely given up my sleep for the last night of camp for less useful things at other camps. This was the most well spent way of giving up sleep. And from a leader’s perspective, this is sort of what our goal has been all along; just being able to get to know our kids better, to listen to their life stories and to encourage them to persevere as Christians through their worries. It really makes me cry tears of joy knowing that we spent so much time for youth group every week and feeling like we didn’t “achieve” anything, but for that one moment at camp, all our time and efforts finally pay off, and we make some relational progress in growing our kids in Christ.

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Monday

Well technically, everything I mentioned above happened on Monday. And that’s always the problem with an endless night at camp; do you classify these things as having happened on Sunday night, or really early Monday morning? Anyhow the day came nonetheless, and as you can see from the photo, it wasn’t going to be the brightest of all days. That’s alright.

 

I think this post has gone on long enough; nothing exceptional happened today. But even though everyone didn’t get much sleep, and the fact that many people started getting sick, today was still a productive day. We had lunch, packed our stuff and left…for Hong Kong de Cafe again haha. There is much to reminisce about camp most definitely, whether as a participant or as a leader; but for now in all my exhaustion I am glad that camp is over because considering all the relationships that were built over camp, camp was not the end of them so there is nothing to be sad about, and nothing to “miss” about camp. Rather, our new stronger relationships with one another have only just begun…

 

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My Planetary Fortress

At long last, after much waiting and suffering, I have finally bought a new computer. Of course I didn’t manage it by myself, I’m simply too unskilled to be able to do such a thing. As such a friend offered to help me build a new PC from scratch. I hear about how it’s better to build a computer from parts that you pick, rather than just buying a pre-assembled one, but then it’s always been too complicated for me and so I was glad I had someone guiding me in what to do.

 

Nevertheless I have been waiting a long time for a new desktop computer. It’s been hard just using my laptop to do everything, the laptop is just horrible at doing all the important things I want to do, and yet somehow I’ve managed to struggle through to today. You’ve all seen pictures of my desk before; here is what it looks like today:

 

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My parents got me this desk because I told them I wanted a new computer. At the end of the day I also needed a larger desk so I could fit everything on it.

 

Me and Brandon went out to get all my computer parts yesterday (Wednesday). There’s actually quite a story for yesterday so here we go. The morning was heaps hot so I showered before leaving the house at 11:30am. Brandon drove his car over to my place and I thought it only to be fair that I drive my car out to Auburn, instead of making him pick me. We had spent a month or two deciding on parts to get. Brandon had a pre-prepared list of parts he thought was suitable; and I was being very conservative and keep swapping parts for cheaper and less powerful alternatives. At the end of the day, all the PC components came to an expected total of $1337 (no, I’m serious, it was the projected total). And then it was $400 for peripheral devices including mouse, keyboard, monitor and speakers.

 

We went to a few places in Auburn and it only took us just over an hour to pick up all the parts. Sadly, many of the parts we had desired were unavailable; but the people there were helpful and offered us similar parts for similar prices. I sure hope they didn’t rip us off. One little mishap that happened a few days ago was that one of the parts I had wanted (the motherboard) was found to have faults, and manufacturers had to call back the product. It took Brandon much time to research into the problem and in the end we got the part anyway, noting that the problem wasn’t as serious as we had anticipated in the first place, there’s a high chance it won’t affect me and even then I’ll still have warranty to get a fixed motherboard once the parts are available (in about 2-4 months time).

 

Fitting everything into the car was harder than I thought, because of the massive boxes and my bad Tetris skills. By 1pm we headed back to Eastwood to have lunch, where we were joined by Nat, who gave us her life story for her whacked up morning. Too long a story, and probably not worth mentioning here. We had a long conversation between the three of us over lunch. By the time it was past 3pm we somehow decided to go to Koorong; it was probably an un-wise thing to do, considering how we still needed to get back to my place to put my computer together, but urgency called for it and we popped by West Ryde afterwards. We picked books and other gifts for upcoming birthdays but even that took a while as it was hard working out which books were suitable, and whether that person owned the book already or not. Ben called Brandon halfway through our shopping trip and was disappointed that we didn’t inform him that we were going to Koorong (it was a last minute decision after all). To add insult to injury, we also failed to get him the book that he wanted. Brandon had picked it up and I thought it was meant to be part of a present to someone; I said it would be a bad gift so he put it back. That’s just the way things are.

 

Around 5pm we left and got back to my place to begin building my computer. Brandon did most to all of the work, I merely screwed down some parts here and there because it was hard to do it by oneself. We had everything assembled within 2 hours or so, and so we just needed to install Windows, and start installing all the drivers for graphics, sound, wireless card, etc. It was a long and arduous process that had Brandon staying at my house for dinner, sort of. My mum was very persistent in inviting him for dinner, considering the fact that it was late, and also considering the fact that it was Chinese New Year’s Eve. My mum kept shoveling food at Brandon and eventually Brandon was “allowed” to go back home haha!

 

After much more installing and testing stuff today, my “Planetary Fortress” is finally ready. If you don’t know what it is, Google it up. What I like about the set up I have is that my laptop acts as a backup computer to deal with minor things that I can’t do simultaneously on my main computer; most of the time it will probably be doubling up as a second monitor for various purposes. I call my laptop now the “Add-on”, as I can swap it in and out when I have to take it to uni.

 

The parts that Brandon got for me are pretty powerful. I don’t think I’ve ever played Starcraft II on the highest graphic settings and still have its “frames per seconds” as over 100 – that’s more than 7 times as fast as my laptop, and even then my laptop is running it on the lowest possible settings, how dismal my life was before getting my new computer. The Windows rating thingy rates my computer at 5.9/7.9, seems a bit weak but in reality, it was only the hard drive disk transfer rate that was slow (at 5.9). All my other parts were rated at 7.4 or 7.9 (out of a possible 7.9). So clearly, the rest of my computer is maxed out, that’s how beast it is! And for only $1.7K it’s a pretty good investment for me in my opinion.

 

Somehow this post became very long so I’m going to end it with some photos. Thanks again to Brandon for all the time he put into researching parts for me, and spending the whole day to pick up the parts and building it for me.

 

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Shine On

This post re-caps my series of events on Wednesday, 12th January 2011. Today some of us CBS people living near the Hills (and some others who did not) were going to spend time with a few people who were about to go back to work for the new year; and so today was kind of the last chance to have some fun with them. We has a bushwalk planned out, followed by a barbeque, and then other random stuff in the afternoon.

We all met up at Nat’s house in the morning, and though it threatened to rain most of the morning, we still decided to go ahead with our bush walk at Cumberland State Forest and we headed there around 12pm. We had lunch first and I helped barbeque up a bunch of meat that Seb and Steph(en) bought. There were spiders around the barbeque, which freaked a lot of the girls out. Most of the guys took this opportunity to exaggerate the fear, and also to capture the moment on camera. During this time, there were people playing the ukulele and others playing Uno.

We finished lunch around 3pm, somehow it went on longer than expected; and we finally went on a short bush walk. Seb continued to sing along to the ukulele, making up lyrics on the spot as he normally does, I’ll upload a 9 min video to Facebook in due time. The walk wasn’t too bad, but due to the moisture a lot of insects and stuff came out. There were webs here and then, and the girls again screamed for their dear life because they were just that scary.

Afterwards we goofed off in the community centre for a while and then went to the shops to get ice cream. We got back to Nat’s place and decided to have 25 inch pizzas from a nearby place (which is only in the Hills). A couple more people came over for dinner and we all shared two large 25 inch pizzas. I guess we must’ve overthought things and in fact it became a struggle for 13 people to finish two of those large pizzas. After the whole group had finished one off we were all pushing our stomachs up a hill. At the end of the night we had to make people take slices of pizza home.

Throughout the night we watched Bride Wars and The Dark Knight, whilst having some interesting conversation, which may or may not include sexist comments and stuff haha. It was a fun day and shows that you can have heaps of fun just doing simple things (even if the pizza was slightly expensive). However, that is not the main point of this post.

SHINee

Oh, no I didn’t?! At the same time that all of this was going on, there were many other people who had gathered in the city to find tickets for a concert to see SHINee. I guess it’s not just any ordinary concert, it was the first time any famous Asian star/group (I believe) has come to Sydney (not Aus) to perform. And so today was actually quite important for the Korean music industry. Today’s concert was to “test the waters” and see how responsive the Australian (or Sydney) people were to Korean music.

As such I had friends (link to a fan’s post below – I know you’re going write one Sharon) who put a lot of energy into getting tickets and then making the most of their opportunity to see their beloved SHINee. From what I gathered on Facebook after I got home, tickets were being donated by UNICEF for a cost of $50, most tickets were handed out beforehand, and at the last minute to the show, people got let in free (probably not to be repeated again). That is a decent cost to see people as famous as SHINee. And judging from hearing of the success of tonight’s concert, there will probably be another one next one; but the tickets might be more expensive next year.

A few people uploaded their videos as soon as they got home, and from what I could see, a lot of people had their cameras out the whole night. But that is to be assumed since it is extremely rare to get something like this in boring Sydney – this was the first major K-Pop ever, right? The Koreans had some expensive cameras flying around as well, so at they decided to capture the moment on film, though I don’t think they’ll use the footage from tonight too extensively; not much point I think.

Well that’s my simple report on something I didn’t even look deeply into; but I will admit I was very interested in going to see SHINee, even if I don’t know what their names are and I only know several songs. I said on my Facebook that I didn’t regret missing out on SHINee to enjoy a day out with friends and I still stand by that statement. Since I’m not familiar with SHINee’s work all that much, I wasn’t too devastated to have missed out on $50 tickets to their concert. The main thing that would’ve got me going was the fact that tickets were relatively cheap (I even had to chance to get free tickets off other friends as well, if I had asked), and so in a sense I had traded away this opportunity for friends, which isn’t a bad thing, don’t get me wrong; somehow I can’t help but feel like sacrifices were made today haha. I didn’t lose much, but rather I gained something more important than watching 5 guys dancing to songs with poorly written English lyrics. “Oh no he didn’t?!”

But of course I would definitely go next year (almost added “again” but then realised I actually didn’t go haha). But yes I won’t miss out on the next opportunity. I just wished the Japanese weren’t as stingy as the Koreans – though I believe Sydney is full of anime sooks who don’t know anything about recent trends in Japan, let alone it’s music industry; it’d be a waste of them bringing bands like “UVERworld” or “the gazette”.

Link to a fangirl’s post will be here when it’s up. Right here

The Break That Isn’t

After a whole day of (trying) to study I’ve finally gotten really bored of it so perhaps now is a good time to re-cap over everything that’s happened since the beginning of this semester, or whenever I left off blogging; which was probably right after MYC, wait that’s the same thing huh?

 

Okay, since this semester started, things changed a bit. My timetable was fairly close to what it was last semester, same days and about the same hours, same amount of breaks. In total I had 19 contact hours, which up to week 7 is now reducible to 12 hours. Funny how I managed to find a way to skip 7 hours a week of lectures. A quick run down of my courses this semester and my thoughts about them, now that I’m halfway through this semester:

 

ACTL2003: My lone Actuarial course for this semester (Stochastic Processes for Actuarial Studies) hasn’t been as strenuous as previous Actuarial courses; I was really glad to achieve a final mark of 77 for my last Actuarial course, which means I did reasonably well for my final exam last semester; thank God for that! This course is perhaps the worst course so far to date in my major. It’s not especially hard, but it sucks in terms of the lecturer, who can’t speak English well, who can’t teach, and who doesn’t help us for exam preparations (he can’t even tell us which chapters of the textbook were going to be in the exams and all). Notable things about him include his “zero”s coming out as “jello” or “jerro” since Koreans (and Japs) don’t distinguish between “L” and “R” sounds; and how he’ll always say “Are you okay with dis one?” at the end of each slide when clearly nobody was since he didn’t teach it articulately enough. To top things off, he’s also my tutor, whereas everyone else gets someone decent who can teach and speak English properly. The only good thing so far from this course is that 100% I got for the mid-sem exam, though it was only worth 10% of our final marks…and also that the average for that test was like 90%+. Yeah, me getting 100% isn’t too hard to believe but it just wasn’t a major achievement this time since the test was really really easy. Stressed over nothing on the day I had the exam >.<”

 

MATH2601: Higher Linear Algebra proves to be perhaps the most interesting subject this semester. The lecturer is really good at keeping us focused (not kidding here). For a female mathematician, she was amazingly articulate when she taught and was even able to crack a few jokes here and there. The lectures are enjoyable because she would often drift away from course material and just start rambling about other funny things, like about the previous lecturer of the course, and about the recent election haha! My tutor for this course is amazingly smart too, though he did mark our test papers a bit harsh. I skip one lecture from this course a week, it’s the only class I have on Thursdays.

 

MATH2931: Higher Linear Models also had a good lecturer, though he teaches quite fast. The class is smaller so it was easier for us to ask questions and stuff. Doubling as our tutor, he was good at relating all the theory to practical stuff we were doing in other courses, so it was easy to pay attention. He has given us a lot of assignment work, long long assignments which aren’t too fun but at least I’m actually focused enough to learn something. The statistics course I did last semester was just way too boring and I was afraid things would be the same this semester, guess not. I skip the lecture on Monday morning because it’s just way too early (9am).

 

COMP1911: Computing 1A is the simplest computing course available and serves as my WAM booster for this semester. This course is so dead easy I haven’t been to a single lecture since the very first one. With 7 contact hours a week alone for this course, it’s asking for an unreasonable amount of time for something so easy. So I now skip all 4 for hours of the lectures. I attend my 1 hour tute and then try and skip out on the 2 hour lab that follows by doing the lab work before it’s due. I’m ashamed that I only got 8.5/10 for my first assignment. Luckily the second assignment (which I’ve already finished) has 2 extra marks that can be used to replace marks previously lost. Now I stand another chance to get back to 100% for this course haha!

 

Apart from uni work, this semester has been quite busy for me. Serving in CBS is beginning to take a fairly serious toll on my energy levels. Running through things I do at uni:

1) Lead Bible Study on Monday
2) Attend CBS talk
3) Attend Core Training Strand
4) Attend Core Theology
5) Meet-up with faculty MTS

That’s a total of 5 hours each week, out of my 6 hours of break a week (now effectively 9 due to skipping all those computing lectures haha). But it definitely is still a busy schedule because this is in conjunction with all my church commitments and with other friends. And then there’s my Saturday job on top of all of that, plus tutoring 2 students weekly. Add it all up and that’s one busy week.

 

Leading a Bible Study at uni has been the new thing for me this semester. It’s slightly daunting since it’s a first for me in a way, leading a Bible Study with uni people that I don’t know, rather than the high school guys I’ve been leading for more than a year and a half. It’s not too bad, I’ve gotten to know my group fairly well over the semester, especially from MYC, so the only hard thing for this is that it’s just another Bible Study that I have to prepare for in addition to the one for youth group on Sunday, twice the workload. But it’s been fun serving alongside Rachel; funny though because there’s little time for communication between me and her and yet when we lead we don’t trip over each other haha. Having a co-leader is also semi-new to me since I’ve been solo-ing for a long time now, even back in the days of Soul Purpose.

 

This is exactly the reason why I haven’t been able to blog as such since semester started. I think I might have started to work a bit harder considering my falling WAM from last semester. So far the marks are pretty good, sitting at 80%+ for two courses and a potential 100% for the other two courses. These currently say nothing about my final mark because the final exams are worth pretty much the entire course: 75% for Actuarial, 70% for Algebra and Linear Models, and 55% for computing. Ignoring the last one, that’s 215% of my 400% of final marks right there in the final exams, more than 2 courses worth of marks are obtained within the span of 6 hours; makes you wonder what all those hours of class time are actually for? Just those 6 hours of exams?

 

Things have been tiring I guess, and it’s made me just a little more lazy for everything that I do, especially with all my commitments. But that’s the natural thing that happens right? With a finite amount of time set out for a certain number of activities, if you add more activities to your list without increase the amount of time that you have, you have no choice but to distribute less time to each activity on average, every activity gets a smaller slice of the “time pie”.

 

What this busy routine has helped me with though is learning (through pressure) how to use my time more effectively. I consider this time I’ve used for blogging as effective since I wouldn’t be able to use it for study anyhow. So at the least, there are some good things coming out of this semester. I cannot wait for the holidays to kick in, so I can enjoy some freedom from a busy week and actually go out and enjoy life with the friends I haven’t seen much over the course of this semester, or this year for that matter.

 

Time may wait for no man but I will definitely wait for it haha!

Commerce Mid-sem Break Social

Rather than jump into a summary of things that happened over this semester, what better to kick off the mid-sem break than with a post describing the events of the first day: one big social gathering with Commerce people.

 

LAN

In the morning, Andy Wong had a last minute idea to go play some LAN at Central’s City Hunter before the official social started. Spent 2 hours playing Left 4 Dead 2. Funny, it was my first time every playing this game, guess I’m just really out of it in terms of gaming. I suppose I can sort of see where the elements of addiction come from; it’s a fairly decent game, nice graphics and all. Jacky kept noobing things up because he was being too trigger happy with a rocket launcher, ah well, first person shooters are probably not his type.

 

The other funny thing that happened while we were playing were these “Wogs” (forgive the racial slang) who were playing DotA like in the area right next to us. You could not believe the amount of noise that came from those people, the amount of commotion over a somewhat slow game such as DotA. Phrases like “Omfg, get the f*** away from the tower” and “Why the f*** is the tower hitting me? Where are the f***ing creeps?!” were iterated multiple times throughout the two hours. From a normal bystander’s view, they were simply loud and annoying. From a gamer’s perspective, they were also very noob at the game. As a DotA player, I find it personally funny that you can get so “into” the game and yet be so bad at it. They were yelling out things that a person who’s played a lot would no longer be frustrated over. I occasionally shot a glance over at their game, most of the time they were yelling because their heroes died, from a lack of teamwork, and from the mere fact that they were bad at the game; and that caused a huge uproar amongst them every single time. There was one particular moment where they finally get a kill. All of them literally jumped up out of their seats and they all cheered and clapped and yelled, the kind of level of excitement you would expect from a patriot during the World Cup when their team scores. All that commotion over a game…

 

Picnic

Promptly after gaming, we joined the rest of our faculty by Town Hall and moved off to Hyde Park for our picnic. The trouble in all of this is the large number of Christians in Commerce; with over 80 people who were going to attend throughout the day, the task of arranging food, activities, and just simply moving people around the city seemed a daunting task. Luckily for the picnic there were only about 40 people who came. We played a number of games that our organisers Ben, Steph, Ellen and Chris had carefully arranged for us. Activities included Chinese whisper-charades, and another one where each team chooses two people at a time to hold a balloon between each other, back to back, move down to a line and then toss a tennis ball into a bucket placed at a fair distance from the line. The games were quite creative.

 

After playing through all the set games we sat down for a short period of time to eat some snacks, have some drinks, and play…Magic cards?! Yeah, somehow the game is making a comeback within our group, probably because of that one-off free cards giveaway that our uni had for a week; the damn promotion just got a lot of people into wanting to play the game again. I guess I am no exception. Then again, I do hope that we all realise that we just want to play with the cards that we already have, and that there is no need to pursue those new cards, and create that perfect deck with cards that we don’t have but would like to obtain through abusing our wallets and such. The game just somewhat changed for our high school group, when instead of treating Magic like a “trading card game”, it became “look at a list of cards, pick the ones you need and buy them game”.

 

Karaoke

After a quick game of Magic, many of us moved off to go karaoke. Others stayed back to hang around the park and others went off to Norita’s. Karaoke was heaps of fun with over 30 people, yeah most of us went karaoke since it is a speciality of our Commerce faculty. We were given 3 rooms between our group, which was a good thing; it allowed us to designate one room as what I call the “fob” room and the other two rooms as English rooms. And for once in karaoke, I did not sing a single English song, I stayed in the fob room for the whole time.

 

Part of the reason that today’s karaoke session was particularly good was that there were a few more people who had similar tastes in music (to me) – subjectively saying that today’s karaoke was good (for me). I managed to catch up on a lot of Jap songs that I haven’t been able to sing due the lack of interest in Jap music from other people that I normally go K with. I was very pleased some new music from K-ON!, Angel Beats and new Korean stuff.

 

The fob room was very unpopular at the beginning of our session but over time, people from the English rooms came in to find out what songs we were singing (not that they would know anyway). Towards the end of our 2.5 hours (we were leaving 30 mins early), more and more people crowded into our room and it become apparent that any common taste our faculty had in non-English music could be found in Korean culture. There was a huge “dance-off” once we hit the SNSD/Kara block. There are a couple of wild videos of us on Facebook (or soon there will be some) where we show our true passion for “those sorts of songs” through epic singing and epic dancing.

 

Have no idea what happened in the other rooms, since I never left my one, but it sounded as if other rooms had just as much fun; perhaps because most of the people were there anyway at the beginning. Sitting through a lot of Chinese music wasn’t too bad, still not my style of music but still is okay to handle once a while haha!

 

Dinner

After Karaoke, we moved off to dinner – some Korean restaurant along Liverpool St. The rest of our group (who didn’t go karaoke) were already there waiting for us. More people came just for dinner so our initial group of 40 expanded. I was surprised the restaurant had a seating capacity that could hold all 60+ of us AND still have a fair amount of space for regular customers.

 

Our table ordered hotpot; we were clearly ripped off by the lack of meat that we got but apart from that, the vegetables did fill us up good. Other tables ordered BBQ stuff and in general everyone had spicy stuff, although they didn’t really order it. It seemed like the cooks just made everything spicy even though the menu didn’t really mention anything about the food being spicy. They also forbid us from having seafood since they decided that it would take forever to serve us all if they had to prepare seafood for everyone; stingy Koreans.

 

We didn’t stay too long for dinner, chatted and played some card games afterwards. Wonder how Monopoly Deal became such a popular game? After dinner we went a short distance to take some group photos and then had ice cream. Not everyone wanted some so we managed to gather 11 of us to share in the biggest thing that the French Riviera had. It was a fairly tall mountain of ice cream for $51, and we probably didn’t need 11 people to finish it but it was quite enjoyable, and difficult to eat considering how it threatened to just tip over at the beginning.

 

Funnily enough, most of the rest of the group just remained outside the entire time we were inside eating dinner. Goes to show how idle our group can be if no-one decides on a concrete thing to do. Some people went home but the rest of them just loitered outside. In fact we continued to loiter outside after finishing our ice cream and it was only after another half hour did we decide to go home. Our bus ride home reminded Nat of a similar bus ride home at night on the same bus but with our youth group kids from RICE a couple of weeks back; there was sort of the same mood of having good conversation with one another on public transport. Yeah I guess those times can also be productive for conversation as well.

 

So all in all it was a long day. How did I ever manage to come up with the energy to blog this all up? And this is merely day 1 of our mid-sem break.

Mid-Year Conference 2010 – Friday

Following on from Thursday, I suppose many of us were determined to enjoy the last night with one another, so in summary, we stayed up all night long. Initially we were all divided in various parts of the campsite, playing games in different rooms with different faculties. Eventually by 12am we had all congregated into a single room. It was completely freezing at the time, but we came across a small group who were playing Ninja Destruction in front of the main hall. They were playing silently, as the name of the game would suggest; also because everyone else was trying to sleep.

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