Leap Day Update

It’s the 29th!

I would not want to miss the chance of posting something on one of the rarer days of the Gregorian calendar. I’d just like to use this opportunity just to tell all of you about how things have been going for me for the past month.

Coming to terms with the IB

This week is actually the week of my mock exams, the last formal assessment for all of my subjects in the IB Diploma before the final exams which will determine my grades. For those who don’t know, the International Baccalaureate Diploma is a rigorous two-year pre-university programme, with a higher level of difficulty above Britain’s A-Levels and USA’s Advanced Placement due to demands for CAS (Creativity, Action and Service) and Theory of Knowledge on top of 6 choice of subjects. For the past few months, I have become rather disillusioned with the programme for it’s workload and  inability to keep up with my high-grade expectations. This made me feel a strong sense of sadness and even regret to some extent, because I know I could have excelled more easily in A-Levels without the same level of stress and mental breakdown.

Nevertheless this year, I have come to terms with the IB. Although I still think that the IB is unnecessarily complicated and the organisation aims to crush the hopes of students who were fated to take its exams, I realise that the IB was designed this way to set students with a higher intellectual capability apart from everyone else. It was deliberately done this way to create a more competitive playing field for the “elite” of upper-secondary academia,  who would otherwise be doing excellently in A-Levels and other less-demanding courses. I realised that I’m rather fortunate in IB because I am basically 6 first-year university-level courses in subjects I would otherwise have not done if I specialised early in A-Levels. If it were not for IB, I would never have encountered economics as a subject and probably would never consider about doing it as a degree in university. Similarly, I would never have encountered Sylvia Plath and other great works of literature if I had not taken IB, and thus would never have had an interest in poetry. Most importantly I would never had a chance to meet people in my year-group, who are definitely one of the most amazing people I have ever met! Looking back at my choice, I have to admit that despite all the hardship and trouble, the grade and points don’t matter anymore. It’s the experience and the memories I make along the way.

University Worries Are Gone!

Long gone the days of when I stress over the prospects of going to the university I desire. Due to the economic situation of Malaysia beyond my family’s control, any immediate prospect of studying in Europe has been reduced to less than 1% probability. On the bright side, I HAVE been given conditional offers by all five of my university choices in England and Scotland, and yesterday the University of Nottingham had offered me a place conditionally to study in their Malaysian campus. All I need to do now is wait and see if I get any scholarships that could take me into the UK universities, but if not, I will have to go to Nottingham in Malaysia for my undergraduate studies.

The prospect of studiying in Malaysia was surprisingly difficult for me to accept at first, because I really wanted to study abroad and live outside of Malaysia for as long as possible. However, at least that I will be able to meet up with a lot of my old friends who mostly lives in Malaysia. Nottingham Malaysia is also a very good university by world standards, even though the architecture is painfully boring (my biggest pet peeve when I visited there). They have a wide range of club activities which I look forward in joining, plus opportunities for me to continue learning foreign languages. In-Sha-Allah, I fly to Malaysia as soon as I graduate to prepare myself for the university early and meet my friends there.

Poetry

I am currently on hiatus with my poetry writing, and I have not written anything new since January. There is a very good reason for this: I would like to study more variations of poetry first before writing any new ones of my own. I want to be a dynamic writer with the ability to express ideas with using various methods and styles that are known in the world of literature. I also want to diversify the genre of my poetry style from being just dark and depressing to something which expresses all types of emotions, including joy and love. Currently I am reading a book of poetry titled “Leaves of Grass”, by the father of free-verse poetry Walt Whitman. It’s a wonderful read filled with deep meanings, composed of 12 long poems in one small book. A good friend of mine gave it to me as a birthday present. I hope reading this will give me further inspiration on writing new poetry for the near future.

Language Learning: Japanese, Russian or German?

I have come to a point where I have to make an important decision on which language I should prioritise. Currently, I am switching back and forth, juggling the three languages listed above plus Dutch and French, which isn’t particularly useful considering that it makes me forget more often than remember. Upon entering university, I would like to be able to focus only on learning one single language on an intensive basis, but it has to be one which is easy for me to take lessons and practice with other native speakers.

I also have to keep in mind that since my uni is most likely to be Nottingham Malaysia, I would have easier access to Asian language resources than resources to learn Russian or German. The abundance and popularity of anime, manga and Japanese pop culture in general further inceases the availability of tools for me to use to study it. Personally, I have been watching a lot of anime these past few weeks, so my motivation to learn Japanese is significantly greater than any of the other languages. I am also using Duolingo’s English-language learning platform made for Japanese speakers as a roundabout way of picking up the nuances of Japanese grammar, and it is actually really effective. I’ve learned more Japanese than ever before, so I would really like to continue at this rate.