Summer Crushes

You know, I don’t crush easily.

Sure, there’s always been someone I’ve had my eye on for a while. I’ve heard about them, sometimes met them, sometimes just hearing about them from other people. But there’s no intimate close relationship, is there? It’s sort of unreciprocated, always just out of reach, and anyways you’re not really my type.

But you, Jane, oh, you seem different.

Let’s back up. We had dinner today. Ok,not dinner, just a date. It’s not my fault! You said we’d just have refreshments, something light, so I had dinner just before. I never expected you to make dinner! I really felt bad not being able to eat much of the food you prepared. I guess it wasn’t the best start between us. I was slightly late, out of breath after cycling, not looking my best. Ahh look at me, I’m rambling.

Anyways! Dinner! I loved the little mini-pies, and the chocolate brownies. You really know what I like, that’s for sure. And the wine. That was pretty good.

Ok, this is getting awkward. Shall we just be honest? Suck up all the awkwardness, let’s just talk. Get it all out there.

You’re quite unlike everyone else. There’s the hot ones, like Meryl and Morgan, who are just so popular. They’re rich, they’re famous, they lead the glamorous Hollywood life. And of course they attract guys like fleas. But I have a feeling that that’s not the kind of life I’d want to live. Keeping up with you 24/7, never resting, always trying to please you with more money, more money, more money. I’m not that kind of guy, probably.

Then there’s ones like you. Perhaps I’m just naive, and you’re one of them. But you seem so much more laid-back. There’s less pressure, you’re not chasing obscene amounts of wealth and fame like the others (though you do agree with me that having lots of money is always a good thing). We click pretty well too, if you don’t mind me saying. Maths, economics, computer stuff, we like it for its own sake and for its applications, and that’s pretty appealing to me.

I’m not really saying anything, am I? The crux is this: you don’t pretend. Or at least, I don’t think you do. The others, they say they love intelligence over style, smarts over looks, etc., but is this really true? Perhaps, perhaps not, but I think when you say it, you mean it.

That’s why this blog post is up. My own insecurities. I know you like your London guys. And wow, are those Londoners smooth. They have so much experience in wooing people like you. Like the people at LSE; they’re groomed from day one to make you like them. They have the smarts, the skills, the knowledge on how you behave. And how do I compete with them way back here in Cambridge? I’m hardly the best guy in Cambridge either. How do I make you notice me…

Then there’s the fact you’re local to London. You told me you were born in New York, but you’re in London now. And that means that no matter what happens, after being in cities like that, you’d never come to Malaysia, would you? I love London, it appeals to me like no other city does. But I’m from Malaysia, and I’m really, really comfortable back home. Do I really want to have a long-distance relationship like this? Some people can do it, I’m not sure I can. Although it is really, really tempting. I don’t mean any offense (hmm, that statement is almost always false), but you Westerners are just more appealing than Malaysians. I won’t elaborate. This is a public post, and I don’t want to offend anyone, but if you are offended, I think you’ll realise that what I’m saying is true.

This whole thing is a new game to me. Getting out there, meeting people, having dates like this. Really, this is the first time I’ve been so bold as go approach you, instead of waiting for someone to take interest in me. And I really liked it. So despite everything I’ve said up there, no matter how much I complain, I really do like you, and I want to meet again soon.

So Jane Street, please read my CV and cover letter and let me know if I can intern there over summer. Thanks.

-Jiann Meng

Testimonials and Inner Voices

ASA is the company that helped me get into Abbey College Cambridge. For some reason they thought it’d be a good idea to ask me to write a testimonial for them. Me, possibly the squarest, most boring and least creative person to exist in the known universe. Well, I said yes, and promptly forgot to write anything for three weeks until just now. Since I’ve been having a rather nice day where I managed to do a good deal of work, I decided listen to my annoying inner voice which had been going, “You need to finish that testimonial. It’ll only take five minutes. Come on, do it instead of surfing Reddit! You’re too lazy and you procrastinate too much… for the past three weeks.

Five minutes later, I finished and sent it off. Then the voice came back, “You haven’t updated your blog for a month! Get to it!” And to appease him (her? it?) I decided to copy-paste the testimonial here.

What I like most about Abbey College were the teachers. They work very hard to ensure that all students work to their best of their capabilities. Not only do they teach the syllabus thoroughly and clearly, they also encourage us to work beyond our textbooks. Apart from teaching, the Abbey staff are also extremely brilliant at helping us students navigate through the university admissions maze that is UCAS. I was given great support on constructing my personal statement, and the college organised mock interviews to ensure I’d be ready for my Cambridge interview.

The other great part of Abbey College are the students. Students from all over the world come to Abbey, giving it a uniquely international feel. The students are generally very friendly as well, and are great fun to talk to. I personally had a great group of friends with which I could discuss certain topics we were studying, or just as easily talk about the most inane conversation topics. And practically everyone is staying near other students, I never felt lonely or bored in Cambridge.

Speaking of Cambridge, the city itself is an amazing place to be in. Cambridge is quiet enough that you can study without interruption, but there’s plenty of things to do if you need to go out. The school itself is located far to close to many good restaurants, which unfortunately meant I gained a lot of weight early on. There’s also a cinema and bowling alley barely five minutes from Abbey, and the city centre with its infinite number of shops is a good place to spend your weekend (and money!). And of course, Cambridge University is tantalisingly close, which makes great motivation.

“Now start writing about your experience at Cambridge!”

Too lazy, I’ll do it some other time.

“NO! You procrastinate too much and you keep wasting time…”

Malaysian Night

The event: Malaysian Night at the University of Cambridge. What is it? As far as I know, Malaysian Night is a great excuse to produce a play which reflects (and makes fun of) Malaysian culture. Also, its a good way to find how many Malaysians like to watch plays.

This past Saturday started like most Saturdays: wake up at 11 am, stare drowsily at my iPhone and hit snooze. Go back to sleep but don’t actually sleep; instead, think about the meaning of life, the purpose of existence, a new Sentry-heavy Protoss build against Terran, food, how much time I’m wasting thinking about things in bed, and the universe in general. Also customary is the willingness to skip breakfast to enjoy a better blunch (if brunch is between breakfast and lunch, then blunch is between brunch and lunch).

I spent the rest of the afternoon finishing all my economics homework so I wouldn’t have to rush it on Sunday night playing Starcraft 2.

By about 5pm a bunch of us (10? or thereabouts) were at Yippee Noodle Bar ordering noodles (and the odd rice) to eat. Yippee noodles are delicious, give them a try. Then we went to Christ’s College for the play. All we were told when we got in was to follow the white signs to the theatre; our large group of brilliant future minds got lost twice. At last we found the theatre and sat down…

All of us. Some are hiding :/ Picture by Stephanie Cheng.

 

While waiting for the show to start I was also wondering what the CUMaS meant. Cambridge University Malaysia Society? Then why bother putting a lower case ‘a’ in the acrony- oh. I see.

Seeing as the website, facebook page, ticket and programme book all had zero information on the play’s story, the only thing which allowed me to guess the story was the title, “What Are Friends For”. I had some ideas:

  • A touching story about how friendship connects people. The value of friendship in our lives.
  • Dramatic comedy about friends in Malaysia.
  • Explosions and aliens.

I was pretty sure that the first idea would be the actual play, but that most of the male population would enjoy the third option.

Anyways, the play happened to be about four friends from high school who went their separate ways for college. It starts off with them reuniting during their summer holidays in Malaysia. Then inject drama, relationships, and comedy into the story.

And the result is a surprisingly good story about these friends and their lives. The writers managed to interweave four storylines (the friendship, and three of the main characters families) together without making people confused. At the same time, the story is surprisingly realisticly told, and it truly made me feel that the events could have (and definitely does) happen in real life. Parents controlling their kids’ lives, trust among friends, broken families, troubled childhoods; it’s all there and I enjoyed every moment of the story.

Some highlights (paraphrased from memory):

  • Mrs. Lim: “That boy ah, studying at that university with an animal inside ah- what’s it called? Cowford ah?”
    Sue Ann: “…”
    Sue Ann: “He’s studying in Oxford.”
    Crowd: *uproarious laughter*
    Sue Ann: “It’s almost as good as Cambridge. *pinches fingers in the air* Almost.
  • Any scene which involved Ashvin and Sue Ann alone. This will single-handedly raise girls’ expectations on how guys should compliment them.
  • The hilarious breaking-the-fourth-wall Facebook monologue which was brilliant. Absolutely brilliant writing which is impossible to replicate here.
  • The final conflict scene where the main characters meet and end up screaming, shouting and accusing each other. Great scene.
  • Cute, young boy on stage who couldn’t stop laughing and made everyone’s hearts go “AWWWWWWWwwwwwwwwww sho cuuuutte” for the three minutes he was on.

After the show (which sadly, will never be shown again :[ ), we stood outside for a while taking pictures (blegh). Then we began the slow, long walk back to my house. Over the course of the 40-minute walk (which should have taken 20 minutes), we rejected Pizza Hut, were slurred by a drunken hobo, a relationship was revealed (taking the number of relationships in our group from 3.5 to 4. :p ) and most sane people went back to their houses. But about 11 of the 25 actually made it to the house. We played football (on the PS3), played poker (without actual money) and played a drinking/confession game (without any alcohol).

._.

But in the end, after knowing a little more of each other and knowing a few new magic tricks, everyone left by 2am. I went to sleep happily after enjoying the awesome day and the charming parting smile :)

[blackbirdpie url=”http://twitter.com/#!/jiannmeng/status/46766994795663360″]

Cambridge Offer: A Simple Analysis

Here are the exact conditions of my offer to Trinity College, University of Cambridge.

  • A*AA in A-levels, excluding Economics.
  • Grade S in both STEP Paper 2 and Paper 3.

Let’s analyse:

For A-levels, I already have an A* in Mathematics so that’s in the bag. For Further Maths, I must score an average of 80% in 6 papers (called modules) out of 9 that I’m taking. (Not exactly; I already have a 97% in Further Pure 1, so the average I need for the remaining papers is slightly lower, plus I can rearrange my Mechanics 1 or 2 paper into the Further Maths grade instead of Maths if needed.)

For Physics, I currently have 295/300, or 98.33%. To get an A (80%), I need another 185/300 in A2, or 61.67%. This should not be difficult.

For Economics, I could fail it and it wouldn’t matter in terms of my offer. I’d lose all my pride though.

The STEP papers are something else. Whereas all the above are achievable (I would even dare call it… “easy”), STEP papers are… difficult. An example is in order:

STEP Paper 2 2009 Question 1

Two curves have equations x4 + y4 = u and xy = v , where u and v are positive constants. State the equations of the lines of symmetry of each curve.
The curves intersect at the distinct points A, B, C and D (taken anticlockwise from A). The coordinates of A are (α,β), where α > β > 0. Write down, in terms of α and β, the coordinates of B, C and D.
Show that the quadrilateral ABCD is a rectangle and find its area in terms of u and v only. Verify that, for the case u = 81 and v = 4, the area is 14.

There are 13 questions for each paper. 8 are pure mathematics (like the one above), 2 are probability and statistics questions, and 3 are mechanics questions. They will mark your best 6 answers to any questions, with up to 20 marks per question. In general, to get an S, I will need to answer five questions fully and a sixth partially in STEP 2, and four questions fully in STEP 3. To give you an idea of how difficult this is, the above question (and the whole of STEP 2) can be answered using only knowledge from the Mathematics A-Level subject, whereas STEP 3 requires Further Mathematics knowledge. Technically, if you’ve done your SPM Further Maths, you have enough knowledge to answer the question above. Good luck.

My entire focus for the next six months is to study sufficiently to achieve an A* in all subjects, and spending the rest of my studying time on STEP. It should be pretty fun.

Fun Fact: The full name of Trinity College is: The College of the Holy and Undivided Trinity.