Oh woah 2022

Remember my previous post when I said 2020 gotta be the worst year yet?
I spoke too early. 2021 gotta be the worst year of my entire life LOL. I wish I am exaggerating.
So many crazy things happened. Glad I actually made it out alive.
More update in other posts, still trying to recover from 2021.

Bbye.

December 2020

SHN at Parkroyal Kitchener Road

Went back to Singapore for almost a month for some personal matters, it wasn’t planned and it’s wasn’t for any joyous occasion. Still, I’ll like to note down some experiences, thoughts, and emotions that went through during my journey to and back of Singapore from United States.

Took a morning flight back to Singapore and was surprised by the number of people still travelling in this pandemic, I guess life just goes on, though some people are really dressed in protective gear from head to toe. Can’t blame them tho. We got to layover at Japan, Narita, and honestly we were a little excited – it’s the nearest thing to getting to travel to Japan. However, there were only some stores open, welp better than nothing.

Stay Home Notice with ParkRoyal @ Kitchener Road

Of course we have to serve the Stay Home Notice (SHN) of 14 days in a dedicated hotel. Luckily we left Singapore in late 2018 so we don’t have to fork out the $2000/pax for the mandatory staycation.

Not sure about other hotels, but we were given one of this each to use for the 14 days.
They didn’t even provide detergent.

After collecting our bagages, we were ushered to corner of the airport to register where we waited for a bus that took us to our hotels. We don’t have options as to where we want to stay, I think there’s a rotation system within the dedicated hotels and different batches of flights are brought to different hotels. Some people got Swiss Hotel and some Ritz Carlton but we got ParkRoyal Kitchener ): Welp.

Ok before I start ranting here’s a list of things you better have with you just in case your hotel doesn’t provide – mine provided only the bare necessities.

  • Shampoo and body wash – You’re gonna stay in the same place for 2 weeks, and you have no idea what shampoo they provide you with which may suck and dry your hair out. Luckily Singapore have super developed delivery services like Grab and Food panda that delivers groceries too, so the biggest problem you’ll face.
  • Detergent (Dishwasher and Laundry) – I’m not even exaggerating. ParkRoyal gave us a set of utensils each and want us to use it for 14 days, no problem with that, very environmentally friendly , very much kudos. But can they at least provide dishwasher with it ??? We had our family members sent us some, but we forgot to ask for sponge and used hands to wash it throughout lolol. Yes, hotel not AirBnB, so no washing machine. Yes hotel have laundry services, but ParkRoyal was charging 5 pieces for $20 dollars ?! You bet our cheap ass got our family to send us detergent and washed our clothes in the basin lolol. That’s also when I kind of appreciates Idaho’s dry weather, NOTHING DRIES IN SINGAPORE, ESPECIALLY NOT IN A POORLY VENTILATED HOTEL ROOM. I heard Swiss Hotel provided free laundry services tho, welp.
  • Lots of entertainment – Don’t forget your HDMI cable. Thankfully we brought along our Switch and its dork, computer, books, my studies, hard disks, and a HDMI cable. These kept us very entertained with me almost completing Hyrule Warriors and we binged watched Alice in Borderland and Sweet Home. 14 weeks felt more like 5 days for me. You might even want to bring along a yoga mat if possible.

I think that’s about it. Oh, you should download Grab and FoodPanda too! They can deliver food to the hotel and the staff will bring your orders to your room.

Aisle outside of SHN rooms
Little tables outside the SHN rooms where meals and stuff were placed on.
Our room was 2132.

3 meals were served daily without fail (though I’m pretty sure they forgotten about us on the 3rd day and we starved till I called front desk asking for food). This is FREAKING fattening, the foods were fine, but the consistency of it plus the constant orders coming from grab and endless bubble tea I’m currently the heaviest I’ve ever been my whole life. Yes, became fat before I was released back into wild. Very sad.

Omg so much dust and hair on the floor I cannot.
Imagine the amount of dust 2 person accumulates in a unventilated room for 14 days.
I promise you it’s 100x worse than pictured.

We were ushered in to our rooms after close to 3 hours wait in the hotel lobby after a near 24 hours flight journey. The lifts were key operated where only the staff can bypass the control panel and bring us up. We were not issued any keycards, meaning if we were to leave the rooms, we can’t re-enter – discouraging us to leave our rooms. Of course no one was allowed in to our rooms, just imagine how dirty and messy a room can be with 2 weeks without cleaning supplies. We had to eat on our beds because there was only 1 wall facing desk. However they will provide you with extra sheets and duvet cover when requested, so that’s what we did and we changed our sheets ourselves.

OH YA, if you’re a smoker, sucks to be you. You won’t be able to smoke cause there’s no balcony and there wasn’t any option for us to choose a smoking room for this hotel. Some other hotels have balcony tho, so it’s really up to luck.

First day breakfast.
Foods were served in bento boxes.

We had to do the Covid swb test on the 11th day of our stay which is mandatory for all travellers coming into Singapore. We had to pay for the test ourselves but got a pleasant surprise that the test was $128 instead of the reported $200. It was my first time doing the test, wasn’t as terrible for me I just teared a little. It’ll probably be worse for people with sinus issues.

That’s all I can remember for now, will update if I remember anything else.

After the 14 days SHN we had 11 days to do whatever we want before we head back to Singapore. Yup, spent more days in the hotel that actually be back Singapore, welp. Anyway, you bet I made the fullest use of it LOL. In the 11 days, I finished the government issued Singapore Re-discovery Voucher and went to USS, Sanrio Characters Island Lights, Gardens By The Bay, and Zoo (in pouring rain). HAHAH. Had a lot of fun and met most of my friends that I wanted to meet. It was a tiny blessing amongst all the chaos of 2020. Will spare you the details of a Singaporean touring Singapore.

OH AND I GOT TO WATCH 2 MOVIES IN THE THEATRE!!

Got to experience the trace together app, and having to ‘check-in’ everywhere and making detours to the monitored entries and exits, even though social distance were hardly practiced. Quite an experience I should say, to see how the entire country adapted to a pandemic, and how we successfully keep it under control proving that it is very possible if people cooperate. (Can’t say the same for every country) Also not forgetting the sacrifices and hard working-ness of the front liners and delivery persons that allowed the rest of the population to rest easy which I feel is very commemorable.

On the 2nd of January, we took the first flight back to United States > Narita > San Fran > Boise.

Even though we took the pre-departure Covid test, no one from any side of the immigration requested for our Covid results. Japan not asking for it is kinda understandable since we are just passing, Singapore too since we are leaving the country. I’ve tried not to ask what U.S. is doing since Trump. No state required quarantine for Idaho too. So here we are, back in our U.S. home and trying to unpack as much as we can and slip into our normal routine before December 2020. Time to get my shit together for a final sprint for my final year here.

See you next post.

P.S. Omg why is Covid not gone yet. 2020 gotta be the worst year ever for me. Can’t wait for this thing to be over and people can live their lives.

There’s no place like home.

It feels surreal to be back in Singapore after 2 years. Everything looks and feels the same, the people are the same, the roads are the same, the shops are the same.
What truly feels weirdest of all is I can’t remember much or feel much of the 2 years in United States. Maybe I have not yet tried to recall too much, maybe I’m still taking in the fact I’m in Singapore right now, or maybe there’s just nothing there I feel attached to.

SOAS-UOL Distance Learning (Update)

Experience with SAOS UOL distance learning

I first posted about my experience with SOAS-UOL here.

It’s been 3 modules since the start of my SOAS-UOL distance learning journey, and I’m in the middle of the 4th module. I’m currently pursuing MSc International Business Management which requires 6 completed module, so I’m about 1/2 done and hope to finish it by the end of next year (2021).

Each modules consists of 2 assignments and 1 3 hours written unseen paper (Sept-Oct yearly) as assessment, the 3 hours paper are supposedly taken at a local examination centre which you have to arrange for yourself. You’ll have to pay a fee at the examination centre but nothing SOAS/UOL as examinations fee are included in tuition. This year, however, is different due to COVID. With a lot of places in lock down and a lot of establishment ordered to close or work from home, our examinations were online. *yay*

It’s better for 3 reasons.
Firstly, it’s free, no examination centre fee to pay if you do it at home.
Secondly, the originally 3 hours paper is now “48 hours” to cater the possibilities of technical difficulties some students might face.
Thirdly, IT’S OPEN BOOK!! Hellyeah.

I would had have to drive for an hour to the examination local, if not for the exams moving online. I doubt it’ll be online next year, I’m just glad 3 of 6 paper where open book.

But do take note of these downsides:
– SUPER easy to be distracted by other task or people while taking the exams at home.
– You bet I took the full 48 hours to come up with my answers, with the extra time and it being open book, I tried my very best to squeeze whatever piece of information and examples in to the words limits.
– Papers will be run through turnitin and check for plagiarism, with it being open book, extra effort is need to not lift everything from your sources.

Let’s share some experience and thoughts of studying with SOAS-UOL thus far.

Ooo woah knowledge

Even though there’s no lectures or classes, reading really does make you learn. Especially for such qualitative modules. Even though some topics were thought before, but after learning it again together with all the new insight about the industry I got along the way since University, it does offer need perspective/views/knowledge.
There is no end to learning in this ever changing world!

Consistency is the key I lost

It’s not easy balancing life, work, and studies all at the same time. The lockdown did make it better, but I’m too easily distracted. Always doing something else, starting something new. Studying seems daunting as compared to all other shiny new stuff. BUT, I promise I’ll put in more effort for this current module and the coming ones, just 3 more and I’m done.

There’s 2 2500 words assignment at the 4th and 8th week of a module. You’ll want to slowly pace yourself and be consistent so when the assignment due dates come you don’t to be like me and burn candle at both ends to complete it before the dateline. Is it difficult? … If know what you’re reading and understand the questions it should be perfectly manageable. However, the citation and the vastness of amount of readings and websites you have to go through to finish can be a bit intimidating, start early.

Choosing modules, anything but maths.

I’m not a maths person. Never have been, I don’t want to say I’ll never will be, but I can’t maths and it’s challenging for me to understand it. I only know what is needed to get me this far.

THAT IS WHY I am avoiding any calculation modules at all cost. I know it will take way more effort and time than what’s worth to understand a calculation based module. I avoided account modules too, as there are ‘set of rules’ you need to follow. Unlike qualitative modules where most of it are really common sense and you can’t get case studies and example all around you.

Over COVID, so many things are forced to change, for the better or worse. Education institution that depends heavily on foreign enrollment are severely affected, which includes SOAS-UOL. Look how back it is for SOAS-UOL. A few of my course mates and I are worried that the school will go bankrupt before we are able to graduate. Although I feel SOAS can still hold the fort for one or two more years, but it’ll be stupid to tell people we graduate from a school that no longer exist. If you are considering SOAS-UOL, you might want to hold it for a year or two

Looking forward to the end of the courses, which will free up a whole chunk of time for me to do other things.

See you next post.

Stay Home One Piece

I’ve been mostly at home for AT LEAST the past 4 months.
And that’s how long I’ve been continuously busy for. I feel like my tasks are like water, when somewhere frees space up, the rest just flows and take up the space.
It’s not like I don’t have time to do other things, it’s just that I don’t feel more ‘relaxed’ with the extra time. More stuff just keeps coming up. I am grateful though. I really hate days with nothing to do.

AND IT IS NOT HELPING that I am absolutely hooked on One Piece.
Come on, at this ripe old age of 25 I thought I should be over it, I’ve put it off for years. Cuz I know this crazy anime is 900 freaking plus episodes long and on going, and I know I am the relentless binge watching crazy person that will flip my life around just to finish a series if it’s good enough. That is exactly what I did, and I am not at all proud.

I am wayyyy behind my studies and procrastinating a lot of my work and projects to an extend that all I do is eat sleep On Piece, and let me repeat I am not at all proud. I’ve been on it for 2 going 3 months and I’m only at episode 773 (?!), and I’m still a few hundred episodes short from complete. I probably need another 1/2 a month to be up to date. I am looking forward to it cause I really need my life back!

That being said, One Piece is amazing hehe. As someone that can pretty much guess most of the plot before it actually airs for other shows (cause only THAT many things can happen where the plot is going), One Piece surprising even after hundreds of episodes can delivery plot twits and surprises that I didn’t expect. It also develops all its main and even side characters so well that A LOT of other shows and anime don’t bother to. (Ok, that’s probably why it has 900 over episodes and counting.) It’s a nice anime to start if you have hella lots of time and dedication.

Well this is about it for this post. A tiny peek into my boring life.
Hope you’re doing well random person.

See you next post.

Independence

Cherry Blossom
String held up by constant stress : interestingasfuck
A string kept upright by tension.

You know before this I typed a very long post which I keep going in rounds and rounds trying to find a point in what I was trying to bring across. Then I realised, what I was trying to say is that I don’t have anyone to look up to. One paragraph is enough then.

Spending money in USA.

Youtrip

The sole reason of earning money is to spend it.

Before coming over to United States, I was under the impression that everything is very cheap, and that the living expenses is much lower, or as I was told. After being here for about 1.5 years, I would like to ask those people that told me that U.S. have low living expenses to this – WHERE? HOW? Other than the cars, which honestly are cheap here (To be fair, comparing to Singapore, car from where ever other than, are cheap.) I don’t really find the things here cheap. Ok, the car and outlet/brand shoppings.

Groceries are all in USD, the prices showed all does not include state taxes which ranges from states to states. The variety of things we can buy are limited. (Lame example – nail clippers: You can get 10000 different designs and 10000 different colours if nail clippers from Taobao for 1/5 of the price here where you can maybe find like 4 designs.)

The restaurants here are even more ridiculous, other than fast food, normal restaurants can cost up to 50 USD for 2 person per meal. 50 USD-60 USD after tax which are not included in stated prices and 15-20% of tips. 60 USD is almost 85 SGD! Plus it’s not even any fancy food. Ridiculous.

I truly don’t think the living expenses here are lower than Singapore. There are many people in poverty here in United States too. Many times you can see people asking for help on the local community Facebook groups. Good thing is that people are generally helpful to those who are in need.

Actually, not everything are expensive. Shopping here can be ridiculously cheap. For brands like Nike, Adidas, Champion, Reebok, New Balance, Calvin Klein, and more, you can find apparels that’s lower than 20 SGD?! Nike and Adidas shoes can cost as low as 30 USD?! Sometimes things are so cheap you feel compelled to buy it. Premium outlets of U.S. brands are even more ridiculous. Lower end designer bags (Coach/Kate Spade/ Tory Burch/ Michael Kors) can have up to 70-80% discount off original retail prices. The next time you see someone selling these brands at ridiculously low price on Carousell and claiming them to be genuine. They probably are.

But of course, there will come a time where I think “hey that’s enough clothes, even if it’s this cheap.” – But today is not that day.

Oh man I can go on and on.

My initial objective of this post is to share HOW we convert our SGDs to USDs for spendings here. Ok lemme start.

All our income are in Singapore Dollars, cause our bosses are Singaporean, which causes a problem. US shops don’t take Singapore Dollars in-exchange for goods and services. When we just arrived in US, we used DBS’s multi-currency account to convert our money from SGD to USD. Which really isn’t very economical. Bank exchange rates are notoriously bad, we lose a lot when we convert larger amount over. Seeing that we live here, we have to transfer a lot and frequent. So I explored other options.

Thank god I applied for YouTrip before coming over here.

YouTrip (previously partnering with Ez-link) is Singapore’s first digital bank. I applied it out of curiosity and because I’m someone that will not miss out of free stuff. This card is so useful and convenient!

The rates are currently the best too!

Lazy crop.

The difference might seem minute, but accumulated overtime, you’re really getting a huge difference in money thrown into the sea.

Plus it has so many other currencies available. I use it to pay for my SOAS UOL school fees too, which is in Pounds. Plus if I am in Singapore, I confirm plus chop use it to pay for my monthly Taobao loots (I used to just use DBS’s exchange rate – thinking ‘aiya taobao stuff already so cheap, give them the extra loh’.). How I wish I have this card during Uni days too so that I can pay it with this card. The bank’s exchange rates are really daylight robbery.

All these extra money means more shopping. Which is what I am gonna do right now. Thank you for your attention, nice pal, see you next post.

oVertone tryout on my stubborn hair.

oVertone Extreme Blue
Hello

Sup guys.

For those around me, you’ve probably seen my new hair colour.
It’s a Teal/Bluish color. An almost opposite from my previous striking orange. I’ve concluded I look better in cool colours.

To answer some questions – yes I’m very free. Changing hair colours every few months. My rationale is that since I have no corporations to report to now, and since I’m not too old yet, why not try out some daring hair colours before I go back to Singapore. There’s a wife here that used to be a hairstylist in Singapore. She now provides hair cut and styling services out of her house. Which is cool, cause American’s may really lack Asian hairstyle/texture experience. Plus she charges me really low for the service she provide. About 1/3 price of what I would have been charged in Singapore.

If you are experienced with hair colouring, you’ll know blue is a colour that don’t have must holding power on hair. Meaning it fades very easily and quickly with a few hair wash. Red, on the other hand, has the most holding power, once it ‘seeps’ into your hair, evening bleaching it will not get it out completely.

Blue fades into green. To maintain this colour will take a lot of hard work, luckily I don’t really care that much, but I’ll still like the colour to hold for as long as possible. So I researched ways to refresh the color, and I found oVertone. Got it online after some considerations (the price mainly) and decided to try it out!

Disclaimer
Before I start the review, you should know:
– I have extremely THICK BLACK hair, thick in the sense of each strand, and the volume of of all my hair.
– Asian hair.
– Very stubborn hair – takes A LOT of bleaching to get light colour.

The colour of my hair before.

I tried out the ‘Daily Conditioner’ first.

It’s suppose to be used like a normal hair conditioner, and it’s suppose to ‘refresh’ the hair colour.

Honestly the darkest of it gave me a shock, I was expecting something more ‘milky’.
Yikes. I know.
Here’s the result after using it after purple shampoo and leaving it on wet hair for ~10 minutes.

YES! NO DAMN DIFFERENCE.
This is also the first time I’m seeing how bad my hair ends are, when the photo was taken. There was virtually no visible difference. D: Sed.

So I tried the other method they suggested for more obvious result, applying it on dry hair.

Note: For my amount of hair, the daily conditioner is really very little. Probably can last me 1 month MAX.

Sorry for the dirty mirror, I’ve wiped it since.

This was after applying the daily conditioner on my dry hair for AT LEAST 1 hour and after washing, but still there was no difference. Meh.

MY HAIR IS SUPER DUPER STUBBORN.

Actually, there is ONE difference. The inner side of my hair.

Look how purpleish it is!

Look, there’s a little blue there that wasn’t there before. The purple is new too. It used to be red on the part that’s purple before I dyed my hair teal. The red that cannot be bleached away mixed with the blue and became purple. Not hating it.

Conclusion
If you have thick stubborn hair like me, the daily conditioner probably will not make any difference for you. It’ll probably work if your hair was very light blond to begin with.

Together with the daily conditioner, I’ve also bought the colouring conditioner in the same colour – extreme blue. I have yet to try that yet, will update here once I’ve tried it. Stay tuned!

SOAS-UOL Distance Learning

SOAS-UOL

Before I started my Masters I searched high and low for more information about this school and the programmes it provides, but I just can’t find anything! So here I am, sharing about SOAS-UOL MSc programme distant learning, hoping it’ll help some clueless soul in the future. I’ll like as much information as possible if I’m gonna fork out so much money to self torture.

Favourite part of the start of school year has always been getting new school books.

For the curious souls, this is what I’m studying right now. This programme requires me to complete 2 core modules and 4 electives, so 6 modules in total. I can also choose to take up dissertation I’ll have to use one module for it and another modules for ‘Research Methods’. That means I’ll have to give up 2 modules on new learnings, no thanks, plus, too much work really.

Assessments

SOAS-UOL Distance Learning assesses us through 2 methods. Each module will consist of 2 assignments with combined weightage of 30%, and one 3 hours written paper (70%) in September-October, we can take the papers at a local exam centre.
For those who know me, I studied in SIM-UOL which they have 100% weightage on their May examination which was SUPER stressful. Failing by 1 even 1 mark means you’ll have to retake another year. There however is a pro for 100% examinations, what I used to do was skip all the class and assignments (since no marks) and just study like made when exams are near. I still graduated on time, but highly not recommended.
So now SOAS-UOL requires assignments to be submitted and graded every 4 weeks into the module, which also means, not being on track of studies gives me a HUGE disadvantaged. I started my assignment 1 seven days before the due date, and I scored 58/100 while my classmates (at least the ones I know) got 70. Lol. I’m 15 days away for my assignment 2 due date, but here I am, blogging.

Readings

AKA things I have to study/read for the modules. I am currently only 1 module into the course. 1 module of SIM-UOL BSc Business Management was about level 40/100 (personal opinion) of things that need to read, SOAS-UOL MSc International Business Administration is about 75-80/100.

THERE’S HELLA LOTS OF THING TO FRIGGIN READ FOR JUST ONE MOD WTF.

1 Module of MSc is like 4 freaking modules of Uni. I’m nearing the end of my first module and I’ve only completed 20% of what I’m REQUIRED to read and understanding not adding those extra good to know stuff. Ded.
It’s definitely a lot more intensive than I imagined, I thought it would be similar to my university, it is, but there’s really a lot more compulsory readings. A few of my classmates are working and doing this course, so working and studying is definitely possible. You just really need very good time management. Which I completely lacks, wish me good luck.

Price

1 Module is £1680, which translates to around S$3000. I need to complete 6 modules in total. S$3000*6=S$1800. Which includes all the reading materials and assessment fees, but excludes local exam centre fees (dependable on exam centre). No accounting inflation, exchange rates fluctuation yaadaa daa. YES. It’s very cheap for a Masters. Plus SOAS is under UOL which is NOT totally not recognised in Singapore. Worth it or not you decide. For me, it’s best of all world, the modules they provide, distant learning + written exams, qualification and experience they need.
Many MSc require at least a few year or relevant working experiences or a first class/ second class upper degree which I both lack.
Sometimes I think about how each module can buy me a new Macbook and I die a little inside.

Overall

Overall it really helps me to kill time (A LOT of it) here while on WX’s 3 years deployment. I can finish the course in 2 years based on their maximum 4 modules per year limit. It helps me satisfy my hunger for knowledge and there’s really no losing in learning new things.

That’s about it, my next module will start in April. See you next post!

#COVID19

What a time to be alive.

I remember the last virus outbreak (very serious one) was SARS, I was Primary 1 or 2.
Everyone in school was given a digital thermometer, we have to bring it to school every day, and our form teacher would come to class first thing everyday to conduct a class temperature taking. Anyone with a fever would be sent back home. It was fun for everyone, some every learnt to rub the metal tip of the thermometer against our clothes to ‘fake a fever’. This continued for a few weeks and then suddenly we don’t have to anymore. I was too young to know of the severity of a pandemic, I don’t think I even know what that was.

Fast forward almost 20 years (damn) we have the Coronavirus 2019. Now that I’m grown, and know stuff, everything seems more ‘real’ to me. Now that we have internet and the Social Media, everything is reported instantaneously, people makes memes and jokes about the virus online. It’s a very different experience than SARS in 2002. Which is better I think, people with internet access gets to know about the virus way before it reaches them, giving them time to prepare. Unfortunately people starts hoarding stuff. Shame.

Why toilet paper though? What can people do with so much of it?

All these things that are happening really makes me appreciate the importance of Total Defence in Singapore. I suddenly have memories of those day in Pri/Sec schools where we do emergency drills and were rationed nothing but potatoes for recess. All for us to understand how things can be when disaster strikes. Really, what makes up a country are its people, and if the people of a country are not dependable, the country’s a goner.

While researching the Total Defence, I learnt that there’s now one more national defence on top of the original 5 (Civil, Psychological, Economical, Military, and Social defence) there’s a new one! Digital defence, which I feel is completely relevant. I like how it is acknowledged, especially important for this digital age.

As a curious soul, a tiny part of me is grateful of all these happening during my lifetime so I can witness and see how things lay out. Then I realise this is a thought only the fortunate can afford to think and how unfair and cruel this thought is to those who experienced pain and loss to the virus.

I hope after this we all come out stronger, and may we never forget.