When I look at the Stars

So here I am in my room, just back from a meeting with my adviser, eating Double Stuf Oreo, missing an orientation talk because I can’t be arsed to attend it.

Double Stuf Oreo from the United States tastes different from Double Stuf Oreo from Malaysia, and I definitely like Malaysia’s better (the ones from US actually taste.. artificial?)

Anyway. Guess what I did last night?

Went star-gazing! Saw shooting stars (note the ‘s’)!

It was pretty amazing. The night before that we went to the observatory, which is a super rare chance because I heard it opens only about twice a semester, and through the humongous telescope saw Jupiter, and a couple other things I have no idea what they were. Really nice!

So appetite whetted, we decided last night to go star gazing at the golf course a short walk away.

So. Damn. Amazing.

We laid blankets / towels on the grass and slept on top of them, and when you’re on your back and you look up at the sky, the sky sort of looks like a breathtakingly beautiful dome.

We could even see the Milky Way! It was amazingly beautiful. I mean, have we ever ever ever seen the Milky Way in KL? I think not!

This astronomy buff kept going, “Wow, would never see this where I come from!” You can basically tell that he is super amazed. Pretty much everyone was, too.

(I used “amazing” so many times! I have got to expand my vocabulary!)

It was super cold though, and when I was walking back to my dorm I was practically shivering from inside out, it was that cold. (But then again I was the only one feeling that cold. Bad news: it’s still only summer, and it goes WELL below zero degrees Celsius in the winter!)

I have this friend who, like me, has never seen a shooting star before, and we thought it would be like in the movies, you know, the shooting star sweeps across the sky, almost in slow motion, with an exaggeratedly long tail trailing behind.

Only it wasn’t like that. They were fast, and you couldn’t even really make a wish on it. So basically throughout the night there were shouts of, “Oh! There THERE! Did you see it?” and of, “AHH I missed it!!”

Like I said, super nice. It would’ve been amazing if this was the sky I saw with the DT8 back in Morib though. Maybe then there wouldn’t be so many bored people singing out of tune LOL. (Joking!)

Surely, the stars and constellations at night is one of the most beautiful sights evarrrr. You feel so tiny and insignificant, yet at the same time you feel so… inspired? Like you want to go out and DO SOMETHING.

And you’d never guess what I did three nights ago!

I danced! (I suck at dancing, a fact that is made obvious when someone tried to get us to dance for an LKT farewell performance and I got so frustrated and pissed. But then again, it was a tremendously stupid pop dance to begin with.)

The college shuttled us to this actual barn nearby for what they called the Barn Dance. Everyone of us got a bandana, and it was really good fun!

We did square dancing and stuff, and they taught us simple steps (which is good for people like me who have no sense of rhythm). By the time it was over, people were panting and sweating like pigs leaky faucets. Pretty good workout loh, I’d say.

I had such such a good time, but err there are abviously a few slightly uncomfortable moments, like when we’re switching partners and you grab the hand of the person next in line and realize that it is completely wet and sticky from sweat. Then you look up at the guy (and believe me, being a tiny Asian I have to look up to people a lot more than they have to at me), and realize that he is completely drenched in sweat.

You can imagine how bad it stunk in the bus on the way back to college.

* * * * *

I want to pick up French in Grinnell, so I’ve no intention of continuing with Chinese, but I was advised to do a Chinese placement test to see where I stand and which class I could be put in, in case I want to take a Chinese course and they’re no longer doing placement tests.

So I thought, what the heck, okay la just go take the test only la.

I went, and when I entered the room where people were taking the test I was feeling a bit misplaced. Everyone was American, and the only Chinese were the ones from America who have taken mandarin classes in high school.

Then I looked at the test paper, and knew knew knew I was totally in the wrong place!

They had questions like ” 你和你的妈妈谁比较高?” and ” 你在 Grinnell College 的第一顿饭是在那里吃的?” and things like that. I was looking around the room to see how people were doing, which probably made me look like I had no idea and was stumped.

So after that we waited to start our oral test, and we started talking. It’s super interesting loh, to hear Americans speak chinese with that American slang. (Actually, I was trying to keep from laughing when they say random chinese phrases in their ang moh slang. Not in the mean way la, but they were so adorable you cannot keep from smiling!)

You know, when I introduce myself and say my name, the typical respons from Americans is, “Wait, say that again?” and then they repeat until they get it right.

With these mandarin-speaking Americans, it was actually pretty interesting. They caught my name pretty fast, and were like, “Wait, what is it in chinese? Is that in pinyin?” So I told them my chinese name, which you guys know is 翠 la. Suddenly they were looking at each other, and were like, “Isn’t that crispy?! Why would your parents name you Crispy!!

It was hilarious la really!

(In case you’re wondering, 翠 means jade la, and 燕 means swallow, so literally translated my name would mean “Jade Swallow”, which I think is a super nice name! During international pre-orientation we had to go around in groups introducing ourselves, and explain what our names mean. A lot of people went, “Oh my name’s XXX, it doesn’t really mean anything though” or, “I don’t really know what my name means”. I was so glad I knew what my name meant!)

Anyway. They placed me in the advanced chinese course (it’d be super embarrassing if I get placed in entry level okay!), but it isn’t saying much because this American Chinese I was talking to who is kind of good in mandarin, but not super native-speaker type good, and wrote a lot of pinyin in her written test because she couldn’t remember the words and also made up a few words along the way, was placed in the advanced level class too.

Still. I love chinese, I’d love to be able to write romantic chinese like a lot of my friends can do, but this is probably not the place to learn it.

Classes start Thursday. Why am I not particularly enthusiastic about classes starting?

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