Thursday, May 12, 2011

left behind

ever since end of March, every once in a while, I would get this strangely familiar, sinking feeling of being left behind. since coming to Osaka 4 years ago, a certain group of people have become part of my life, a part that I have perhaps taken for granted. they are the other foreign students who entered Osaka Uni at the same time as me, and graduated at the same time.

only difference is, most of them left after graduation.

the ones who stayed in Japan, almost invariably chose to go to Tokyo Uni. the Korean gang went home to be drafted into the army. a close friend from Singapore went home to work in the government. before I knew it, my social circle has suddenly, abruptly shrunk.

and it's not the end of the story. at least two more people will leave Japan by middle of the year, one whom I've known since the days of studying Japanese in Tokyo, another with whom I've built up a sort of distant yet tangible friendship from frequent meetings at the shabby school gym.

so yeah, come summer, I'll be feeling REALLY alone. can't help thinking that if I hadn't failed those grad school applications, I'll be the one saying goodbye and leaving everyone in Japan behind. it's selfish, I know, but given the choice I'd rather have things that way.

I'm tired of being left behind....

Thursday, November 18, 2010

working hard

just a quick note while im waiting for the post office to re-deliver a package from home before i head to the lab....

so this year, i've been kind of quiet and absent from the online scene. its too distracting and time-consuming, and god knows i've been busy. lab life and work, entrance exams for masters here, GRE and applications for graduate school overseas, and that project that dominated my mind throughout the first three quarters of the year - iGEM.

so i'm back from boston (since last thursday, actually). for all our efforts this year ('our' = mine, n the 4 third-year juniors working hard in the lab; the other members were sort of sleeping till the last moment, but that's japanese customs for u - juniors work, seniors sit back n reap the rewards), we only got a bronze medal. no, not the 'third place; 2nd runner-up' bronze; its the lowest-tiered consolation prize, awarded to teams who fulfilled the most minimum of criteria for participation. 2 steps down from last year, where we got gold, at least.

anyway, during the long plane flights, something sort of just fell into place in my head, a lesson that i have been slowly picking up throughout this year that i realized clearly for the first time.

throughout my high school, japanese language course n early university years, i had always been afraid of trying hard. afraid of working hard towards a goal without any guarantee that i will succeed. afraid of what people might think if i let them know about my lofty ambitions as contrasted with my limited abilities.

so i just realized. since attending iGEM last autumn n getting a clear vision of my future path (or at least, the path i wanted to take) for the first time, i had been working hard. working hard to get good grades to save my borderline GPA, working hard to get my professor's approval so that he will write me a good recommendation, working hard for good scores in GRE; and working hard in iGEM this year.

in retrospect, iGEM had nothing to do with my university application. i admit it, i was secretly hoping to talk to some professors there in MIT, score a few brownie points for my application; but we ended up being so busy with overdue preparation for the presentation that that was out of the question.

so in iGEM, i tried hard but sort of failed. and it doesnt feel too good. my question is this: is trying hard the main point in itself, or do the results matter more? we learn, improve and develop personally when striving to achieve something; but if it all comes down to nothing, was the arduous journey worth it?

'the things we regret most in life are those we did not do'. i hope that applies to reaching out for our dreams, no matter how far out of reach, too.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

probably the last post

ah well, life doesnt always go the way we want it to. and this blog is one proof of that.

the second last entry, posted somewhere around the new year, promised a new start to this blog... as well as a new start to my life. dunno bout the latter, but the former sure fell far short of expectations. the last post was supposed to be a 'temporary placeholder' while promising great blogging things to come. that certainly didnt come to pass.

anyway, the reason im here is, as usual, because of insomnia. i always do stuff like blogging, facebooking (as in non-mafia wars facebooking), photo uploading etc when im either too free n dont really have anything interesting to report on, or when once in a long while i get struck with sleeplessness n decide to turn on my computer after an hour or two of tossing n turning. guess when things r really happening i get too busy, tired or confused to write about them coherently n thus end up postponing indefinitely. anyway, tonight the japanese sake i drank seems to have robbed me of the ability to sleep, the complete opposite of what alcohol usually does to me. so here i am.

a brief update on whats been happening since beginning of this semester. sorry, not gonna go further back even tho last year was arguably THE year that changed me the most. first off, i got 'assigned' (for lack of a better word; even tho we got to list out our choices n i did get my first choice) to a lab, supposed to be Bioresource Lab of the bioengineering faculty but actually focuses on Metabolomics n Analytical Chemistry. got off on the wrong foot with the professor and as a result had to cancel my plans to visit sis's graduation ceremony n trip around the US in apr/may. things seem to have been mended somewhat, can only hope he's gonna keep his end of the bargain n write me a good recommendation for my graduate school application.

throughout the last few months if u ask what ive been doing, i cant really answer very well. on one hand nothing 'spectacular' or 'special' happened; i basically follow a routine of going to lab, doing research n the like, heading off to the gym after 'core time' is over, then spending the rest of the evening in the library. sometimes i go back to the lab for more reading. yup, my research involves lots of article reading n minimal experiments. i like having to think a lot; i just miss doing stuff that involves cell cultures, genes, live organisms n the like (my lab is mostly about chromatography, mass spectrometry etc... chemistry stuff).

anyway, so lab takes up a large part of my life nowadays. another thing that occupies a lot of my 'functional time' is iGEM. short for International Genetically Engineered Machines, its a competition held annually at MIT around november; last year i participated, got a TON of experience not just in research but also in interacting with my japanese teammates as well as getting a glimpse of life over there in the US; the jamboree, the main event held at MIT itself, was a hugely enlightening experience tho also immensely humbling as it brought me to full realization of how far ive been lagging behind other people of my age. so... yeah... meetings, reading articles, attending a workshop in Taiwan, wiki editing.... iGEM's been taking up a large part of my life too.

4th year bioengineering majors basically dont have classes. i have one this semester - Quantum Science. sounds grand doesnt it? its actually extremely basic stuff, totally walk-in-the-park compared to E&E majors' Quantum Mechanics; n the reason im taking it in 4th year is becuz i failed it in the 2nd year. apart from that, lab n lib all the time.

next week shall be the last week we r 'required' to go to the lab. after that its a month-long study break for the entrance exams which come end of august. somewhere around that time im also planning to take the GRE, so i'll b studying double-hard (dont really have to study THAT hard for entrance exam, but then the content is probably similar to what will come out in GRE Biochemistry which im planning to take to supplement my less-than-stellar undergrad results). already tho, it seems like quite a few events have been lined up for summer... i'll hopefully revisit this blog to write about them in the near future (2, 3 months later? :P)

anyway, whats the point of this blog, one might ask? i doubt people read this anymore. my fault, maybe, for not keeping this updated. i guess ive sort of grown detached from my 'online social life' which served to connect me with the people back home n my ex-japanese coursemates who r now mostly in universities around tokyo. i'd like to blame it on my hectic life, but in reality it isnt really that hectic at all. its just dull, dragging, wearisome and tiring in its repetitive, predictable way.

so i guess nobody's gonna stumble across this for a while. i suppose the reason im writing this (besides giving me a way to talk myself to sleep) is because. i need a record, a log, a snapshot of my life. something tells me this year's gonna pass by far too quickly, with many of these little dull things that engage me just enough to tire me out without being special enough to be memorable. so maybe around this time next year i'll be looking back upon this year and wondering what happened with it, where it went. blog posts like this, while seemingly random, disorganized and pointless, can actually serve as anchors for my memory. so hello there, future self.

ok, feeling the beginnings of drowsiness creeping up on me now, its time to turn off the PC, close my eyes n wait for the Sandman. adios.

ps. sorry im not good with photos, blogs with photos take a bit of planning n i tend not to do that with my posts.... i just fire up blogger n spill everything that passes thru my mind on nights like these.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

minor setback

ok i know ive promised myself to start blogging today, but due to 1) there being nothing much to blog about (at least that comes to mind) n 2) a hiking appointment at 7.30am tmr morning plus a primary sch gathering in the evening which i dont wanna look too much like a zombie at, ive decided to drop another one of my famous blogging postponements into this slot.

oh ya, i prob shud blog about the primary sch reunion! there'll b lots of ppl i havent met for YEARS. havent actually hung out wif most of the guys frm sum sun even during my time in clhs, not to mention the girls... there'll b a whole lot of unfamiliar-yet-strangely-familiar faces at the gathering for sure! lets see how well i do at reconnecting wif all those ppl.....

Monday, February 15, 2010

a new year.... time for a new beginning?

maybe its time i started blogging again. as soon as i get some inspiration. and free time at night WITHOUT being dead tired.

of course, theres also figuring out the solution to my classic problem of not knowing where/how to pick up again after leaving the blog for so long.

seriously, does anyone wanna read my blog anyway? is there any meaning in posting when nobody's gonna see them anyway?

mmmm.... this kind of monologue is kinda fun tho. n besides i suppose this blog's main audience shall be my future self.

so ok, tmr. i'll start blogging again tmr! よっしゃ!!

Monday, June 15, 2009

blog post? not quite....

i NEED to start blogging again.... too many things happening, time flying by too fast.... i dont want this year to go by without making some record of it......

this week theres no lab experiment, apparently the sensei in charge of the current experiment (biophysics) went off to hawaii with his whole lab staff for a 'conference'.... so suddenly theres like a huge block of free time opened up in the afternoons. should b able 2 catch up on sum of those studying, n completing other tasks. well, theoretically at least.....

need to find a reason to change my password..... this one's been around far too long.....

well mebbe i'll find some time to write a proper post tmr in the library.... thats where i expect to spend this week' afternoons as opposed to the lab. tho the idea of coming straight home after morning classes to spend a warm, sunny afternoon in my room, doesnt sound so bad..... NO! i must persevere, i MUST get things done while theres time! lol

there wont b any shortage of 'warm, sunny afternoons' when mid-summer rolls along by.... even tho i'll b spending 3-4 days a week at sch working on that iGEM project...