004: i’m not going home… not really

I can hear the rain pitter-pattering against the roof of my flat.

I have been so, so incredibly sad this last week. It’s the end of my first year at university, and that day does not come too often. I feel like people on the Internet are sick by now of my penchant for tears and nostalgia and using the Internet for catharsis, but I have always been more articulate on the keyboard of a computer than I have out loud.

I was incredibly excited to come to university. I thought of it as my chance to re-invent myself. Did I need re-inventing nine months ago? I’m not too sure. But I feel that whatever I have re-invented, it is for the best. I have laughed and cried and coughed my way through my first year of hacking away at an English Literature degree, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I am not going to lie; despite all the flack that English Literature students get, it is a difficult degree. You have to really, really love what you are studying. You have to be genuinely passionate about the Iliad, or Spenser’s Faerie Queene, or Foucault’s queer theory or Nabokov’s Lolita. And not just as texts – you have to tear the books apart and patch them back together cobbled with secondary criticism and formal sentence structure. By God, it is difficult. I applaud all my fellow English Lit-ers for surviving this year, but it’s only going to get harder from here. I am terrified and excited, as I think I am about everything by default at this point in my life, for my second year modules. From nineteenth-century English literature to texts written after 9/11, I’ll have to work my absolute hardest to understand and analyse.

My first day at Warwick University

Despite being ridiculously excited about my academic future, my mood is also tempered with a form of grief. I despise moving away from places with every single atom of my body. What can I say? I am a sentimental wreck, and I have made my room on Warwick’s campus my home for nine whole months. And it is my home, no one else’s. I have my posters up on the walls, and memories that linger like cobwebs in every corner. Leaving it forever for someone else to move into has been such an overwhelming experience, and I am not looking forward to this repeating again next year, and again the next. I will cherish my International House memories, and I am glad to know my soon-not-flatmates.

Gifts I got from my flatmates for Christmas

The friends I am saddest to leave, however, are mostly from my course. But it is not in my classes in which we bonded. Oh, people of the Internet still involved in academia, I feel that it should be a truth universally acknowledged that you gain so much more from being out of the classroom than in it. I have made such good friends this year as we have sipped hot chocolate together, stressed out over vaguely-worded assignments together, danced to cheesy music together… A few of us were crazy enough to attempt to create our own society, a feat that as of yet has not been confirmed to be successful. But watch this space. We’ll make it happen.

The still unofficial Jane Austen society on its first big social

I’ve written for our university newspaper, the Boar, many times, and I’ve been published four times – three in the Lifestyle section, one in the Music section. I intend to keep it up. There is nothing like seeing your name in print, as a person who has always enjoyed writing – I have also contributed to a student-created online magazine called Cobalt, which again I intend to continue! I’ve also had the pleasure of hosting my own radio show, Cinema Christine on the university’s radio station, RaW 1251AM. For one hour at 10 AM every Wednesday, I geeked out harder than I ever had before talking about films with a plethora of fellow (admittedly mostly English Literature) students, and it was lovely to trade trivia and chuckles every week. Hopefully I’ll continue to further my student radio experience next year as well.

On the radio

This post cannot be posted without my mentioning Warwick Glee, the main outlet for one of my other loves, singing. As performance team member for this academic year I have seen the good, the bad, and the ugly of this society and I love it to bits. There are talented, wonderful people in Warwick Glee, and if nothing else they are accepting of all – a trait, I think, that goes under-appreciated not only in other societies but in life itself. Glee has taught me a lot of things this year, and they are lessons I will take with me into my next year, especially in my new executive position as publicity officer for the poetry slamming society.

Backstage at the One World Week concert

And, of course, I have gotten to know my big sister not only as my big sister but as a friend and a human being. She is an incredibly strong, brave and hard-working person, and with her job with the Beans Group I know her future is a bright one. I refuse to get too sentimental about her here, otherwise I’d never stop.

My sister the beautiful, me the fish

I don’t know what else to say. For someone usually ridiculously garrulous I feel muted here. How could I possibly try to take on the Herculean task of putting my entire first year and all the emotions and memories that have come with it into a silly little blog post?

Well, I’ve tried my best. And I will simply endeavour to continue that, too.

With a whole lot of love and a pinch of early nostalgia,

Christine

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003: only eighteen

Today is the 1st of September, which means there are twenty-three days until I embark on my university adventure. I’m looking forward to the many new opportunities university will bring, but I’m especially excited for any opportunities I might get to perform. People who’ve known me during my Shrewsbury days know very well how much I like singing, and that I have even tried my hand at songwriting a little (despite the fact that I cannot for the life of me read any notes, unless I go really, really slowly and use the “FACE” and “All Cows Eat Grass” methods… oops?). It felt right, therefore, to include that somewhere on this blog of mine, because singing is a very big part of who I am as a person.

My current YouTube channel is slytherchris19, and right now it’s full of random covers and performances I’ve done, but hopefully it will have videos of better quality soon. My most recent video is a recording of me performing my original song, ‘Only Eighteen’, at a Shrewsbury International School event called ‘Fusion’ (and here it is below for your viewing pleasure).

I also have another ‘Fusion’ performance on there, again of an original song of mine called ‘Less Than Three (<3)’, and it was the first time I had ever performed a song I had written in public before, so that was a huge milestone for me. What really warms my heart as a songwriter is when people come up to me and say that they were able to relate to my song, because it just feels nice knowing I could articulate those feelings well enough for people to recognise them and feel empathy for them (so you can watch that below too, if you wish).

But what people may not know is that I have a secondary channel that has one video on there – a cover of Taylor Swift’s ‘We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together’, produced and arranged by Yuri Wong, owner of The Factory Music Studio (click the name to go to his studio’s Facebook page!). I performed and recorded that right before I turned seventeen, and being in an actual recording studio and singing into professional recording equipment made me super, super nervous. Regardless, I hope to get more ‘professional-looking’ covers up there at some point… in my life… but in the meantime, you can check out the already existing video below.

Alright, that’s pretty much all I wanted to mention today. My next post is going to be about another one of my loves – food. So watch this space!

I would leave you a musical goodbye but instead I’ll just leave a whole lot of love,
Christine

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002: it’s just the rainy season

I’ve been delaying this blog post for a long time, probably because in my own way, I am in denial as a form of grief. What have I lost, I hear you ask?

Well, about a week ago, I officially left my home of nine years: Bangkok, Thailand.

What a surreal experience it was, sitting on the airplane and knowing that my life in Bangkok is for all intents and purposes over. Thailand, commonly known as the land of smiles, has treated me so well. I have had a fantastic education at Shrewsbury International School there, culminating in my recent acceptance into the University of Warwick to read English Literature. But while my new adventure is just beginning, I thought I’d take a look back at this adventure that has just ended. It’s had its ups and downs but hey, that’s just how life is.

My family and I before my high school graduation ceremony.

The first day I stepped onto Thai soil as its resident in December 2005, I was a naïve little girl with a fantastical imagination and an unparalleled enthusiasm. Oh, and my family nearly got into a car accident. I suppose you could say our Bangkok life started off with a screech as opposed to a bang, as the car accident involved a bus trying to squeeze its way past our own vehicle in the midst of the infamous Bangkok traffic. Luckily, no one was hurt, but I remember seeing the red scratch of the bus’ paint against the gold door of our car and wondering vaguely if I should’ve taken it as a sign of foreboding.

My first birthday in Bangkok.

My first birthday in Bangkok.

I needn’t have worried so much. Upon my arrival at Shrewsbury International School, bedecked in pigtails and a too-long green and blue plaid school skirt, I quickly made friends with various people. A very good friend of mine, Aishah, enjoys recounting the way I bounded up to her on her first day in school and essentially attacked her with endless questions seemingly all in one excited breath! Another great memory of mine involves running around the school courtyard with my friends, pretending to be magical fairies with the power of our active imaginations.

How young and tiny we were. Me, with my friends Aishah, Khanittha and Praew.

How young and tiny we were. Me, with my friends Aishah, Khanittha and Praew.

But everyone has to grow up eventually, and the start of that period of my life began with my transition into the senior part of school. Being thrown into a world without carpeted classrooms and with end of year exams threw me for a loop, and I had my struggles with adjusting to an environment where I couldn’t just float around aimlessly and still get good grades. Yes, it came as a shock that I actually had to put in effort to reap reward, but as I progressed through my high school career it was a lesson I slowly learned.

Sports Day 2011 with me bedecked in red, my house colour.

Before I knew it, I was sitting my externally examined examinations in preparation for *gasp* the adult world! Or, well, at least university. But the mere realisation that I simply was not a child anymore? I honestly think it still hasn’t really sunken in. I’m the baby of my family, after all, and I’m used to being considered a little kid. And yet somehow now I find myself having graduated high school after experiencing my fair share of heartaches and mistakes, and just today I was accepted into university. It’s absolutely mind blowing. And while perhaps I had a few run-ins with the worse side of life, there are still many memories I will look back on with fondness. My English classes in Year 12 and 13, full of heated discussion and raucous laughter, were probably one of the best parts of my Bangkok experience, and my brilliant English teachers spurred me on to read English Literature at university. I made friends, I lost friends, but I know I will miss the people that changed my life in their own way for better or worse.

Shrewsbury International School’s graduating class of 2013 singing ‘You’ve Got a Friend in Me’. I am third from right.

So what now?

You know what? I don’t really know. I mean, I do have a path laid out for me leading to the University of Warwick, but I do not know what lies in store ahead (well, no one does, really, but still). I feel like Dorothy in the moment she first placed her ruby red slippers against the yellow brick road – unsure, a little scared, and yet excited for my new journey.

I suppose I’ll end it with a few more pictures, a sense of excited trepidation, and a huge amount of gratitude for the city I called my home. I’ll see you, Bangkok. Thanks for having me.

With a whole lot of love and a smile,
Christine

Me in my last high school musical, ‘The Bubble’. This was one of the most harrowing and yet enjoyable experiences of my life, and it made my senior year truly amazing.

Me hugging one of my longest friends. It’s scary to think that there is a chance we may never see each other again, but I suppose that’s how life goes.

We are on our way.

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001: being marianne dashwood.

I am officially finished with my high school experience, and what a week it’s been. In the same week, I’ve performed at my last school event, participated in my high school graduation ceremony and (as a surprise twist in the strange amalgamation of bizarre and awkward moments that I call my life) won prom queen. I think it would be safe to say that this week, and the weeks leading up to it, have been a giant roller-coaster ride of emotions for little ol’ me.

In the English lesson where I started studying Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen, my teacher compared me to Marianne Dashwood, and from that moment on I’ve seriously taken this comparison to heart in the best way possible. In fact, there is a specific line in the introductory description of Marianne in the book that does seem to fit me to a T:

Marianne’s abilities were, in many respects, quite equal to Elinor’s. She was sensible and clever; but eager in everything: her sorrows, her joys, could have no moderation. She was generous, amiable, interesting: she was everything but prudent.

Yes, much like Marianne Dashwood, my sorrows, my joys, can have no moderation. I’m the kind of girl that not only wears her heart on her sleeve, but has it metaphorically tattooed on her shoulder in glowing neon red for the world to see. So I suppose it doesn’t come as much of a surprise that the past week has really taken its toll on my feelings..

There have been many sad moments in the past week for me, many moments where my eyes have filled with tears and my heart heavy with sorrow. For instance, I had to say goodbye to my favourite teachers in the world, my English teachers, and that moment in their office where they wished me luck for the future and hugged me was truly one of the most bittersweet moments of my entire life so far. They’ve truly been an inspiration to me, especially in terms of furthering my love for literature but also just generally as incredible and kind mentors. I also wrote and sang a song about graduating at a school event, and that was pretty cathartic too; I’ve been so deeply involved in the performance arts aspect of my school and now that’s over I feel a little aimless, I have to say.

But of course, with the lows also come the highs, and boy, has the past week been full of highs too. There is nothing like the thrill of not tripping on your graduation gown after receiving your high school diploma, especially if you’re a total klutz like me, or the sudden intense explosion of camaraderie that infects everyone in the graduating class (seriously, I think I’ve been over-hugged in the past couple of days, if that’s even a thing. Can that even be a thing? I think so). And, of course, like I said above I did win prom queen. The sheer shock value of that moment washed over me like a tidal wave, I must admit. I clearly remember turning to the closest person and literally saying, “Did they just say my name? Me? Really?” and pointing at myself with what must have been an expression of pure disbelief mixed with a tinge of fear and a side of astonishment (shaken, not stirred). Because things like that don’t tend to happen to introverted, cheesy, coffee-loving almost-nerds like me, and yet… there I was, putting on a sash and tiara. Funny how life works, sometimes.

I don’t quite know where I was going with this blog post. I think this was just a way to update the Internet on what’s been happening in my life, and what I’ve been feeling, and my loving being compared to Marianne Dashwood all at once. And isn’t that what blogs are for? (Okay, maybe not that third one for some people…)

I’ll leave you with a couple of pictures and a whole lot of love,
Christine

My family and I at my graduation ceremony.

My family and I at my graduation ceremony.

My English class (and one of my English teachers).

My English class (and one of my English teachers).

My prom date and I.

My prom date and I.

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000: it’s all my sister’s fault.

Starting yet another blog was not something I ever expected to be doing. My previous attempts (read: my glittery, pre-pubescent abuse of various blogging platforms) have all gone down in flames, despite the love of writing that has been an integral part of my personality from a very early age. The main reason for the creation of this WordPress account and this introductory blog post? My older sister, Brenda (and you can find her here).

“But Christine!” you may ask. “What does your sister have to do with anything? Surely your choice of creating a blog was a decision of your own volition?”

The short answer? Nope.

The long answer? I’ve always wanted to have an outlet for my philosophies in progress, my various thoughts and interests and thoughts about those interests, but I’ve never been able to own a blog for long without dissolving into typical teenager-y posts that try too hard to give off the impression that I am a ‘deep’ person with ‘deep’ opinions. Let’s just get that fact straight: I’m not, and this blog is not likely going to lead anyone to be inspired in any way. I don’t intend on writing for anyone else on this blog: this will just be me, expressing and more importantly exploring various topics or thoughts. And the involvement of my sister in all this is through the creation of her blog very recently, and my reading it and thinking, “Hey, I could do that too,” and her subsequent encouragement.

So if this blog ends up devolving into yet another adolescent collection of rants and ‘Dear Diary’-esque posts? It’s all my sister’s fault.

And now that you’re all aware of that? I think it’s about time I start planning my first official post. Here goes nothing…

Christine

P.S. Click here for my ‘About Me’ page.

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