Thanks for All the Fish!

20 months ago, something important happened. I was kidnapped and transported to the UK, and forced to walk to school every day, at nearly just-above-zero temperatures. Somehow I was expected to survive with just a bank account, 40kg of meticulously packed luggage and a warm room located 10 minutes from school.

On my first day of forced imprisonment, I found out I had bigger problems. I had to walk for minutes between classes. Classrooms were not made of gold-plated steel or ivory. We were expected to study. The school did not provide chefs from Italy. The school did not provide food at all. There were no massage sessions. The indoor swimming pool was non-existant.

I was appalled.

But something miraculous happened.

I enjoyed myself while I was there.

And 18 months after I began, I managed to survive! In fact, I thrived in the UK. To me, those months in Cambridge doing A-Levels were exhilaratingly fun and interesting. So I’d like to say my thanks to some people:

To the teachers of Abbey College, you are the greatest set of teachers I have ever had the pleasure of sitting down and learning from. Whereas when some teachers teach the information goes straight from the board to the notebook without ever passing through either brain*, when you guys teach I always understand and memorise things until the day before the exam. To Helen, Tanya, Chris, Darren, Heather, Stuart, Ross, Boz, Richard and Sue in particular, thank you for bearing with me for the many hours I was in your class, making sure I don’t fall asleep in class (well, usually), teaching beyond the syllabus, marking tons of exam papers and for being caring, concerned teachers. I couldn’t have done it without you. :)

To Andrew, thanks for introducing me to Doctor Who. And board games. Oh, and making sure I was never able to ever think I was good at maths.

To Julian, thank you for… um… doing whatever it is you do. And board games also, I guess.

To my brother, thank you for doing the laundry sometimes.

To my sister, thanks…?

Penultimately but not least, to all my friends, thank you very, very much. There’s so many of you and I don’t want to single anyone out (and if I listed all of you I’d definitely miss one out), so to all my friends I am grateful for the stupid things we did together; the homework and notes we suffered through; the silly nights spent together; the odd conversations held at staircases; the times we ran to classes; the many, many “Good luck”s exchanged; the cooking nights at Jiann Lee’s my house; the milkshakes; the informal LAN’s; the let’s-chat-while-unlocking-our-bicycle-and-standing-awkwardly-in-the-cold chats; the May Ball; the charity event; the long walks; the short walks; the food shopping trips; Nando’s; NANDO’s; the terrible games of pool; playing Shadow Hunters, Settler’s of Catan, and the many other board games; that night when you pumped me full of alcohol; for letting me sleep on your couch and leech your internet; and for being generally the best friends one could ask for.

Last but still not least, to my parents, thank you for caring! You’re always there (even if you’re not wanted :p) to make sure I’m doing well. Thank you for working hard to make sure I have the best in education and life, and for making sure I grew up to be a responsible, smart, excellent, hardworking, humble, caring, interesting, handsome, amazi- (ok I’ll stop now) young man. You’re the best parents a boy could ever ask for. I love you two! :D **

 

Those were 18 months not easily forgotten.

 

* Ok, I stole this from the Cambridge Study Guide.

** You’re welcome.

Restart

By now you may know that I’m living in Cambridge. Cambridge, UK. That’s 10512 kilometers away…

I’m studying A-Levels, doing Mathematics, Further Mathematics, Physics and Economics. To make it clearer, I’m doing: Maths, More Maths, Scientific Maths and Maths About Money. You can probably guess my favourite subject.

Now I’ve been here for just over two weeks. I”ll talk more about life in Cambridge next time, but for now, let’s rewind to the 1st of January, New Year’s Day, which is also the day I left KL for good. There was the numerous, numerous goodbyes before this. Some were nice goodbyes, and some were very, very sad goodbyes…

But anyways, that day my parents and I left from the LCCT on AirAsia. I know many of you think, “AirAsia?! That cheap-lak plane? Aiyo, so uncomfortable… how you survive?” and probably “AirAsia sucks!” as well. And in a way, you’re right… they take off from a small, hot (not much air-con) airport, they charge you for everything (including water), they only let 15kg of luggage (MAS does 20kg, and 30kg for students)… but when you buy AirAsia XL, it’s all worth it. Really. Take a look:

That's my mother :) (I must put a smiley face or else...)
These seats also recline to become a bed. Awesome.

The flight took 8 hours, mostly spending my time fiddling around with the MacBook. The airport was Stansted Airport in London. Stansted is to Heathrow what LCCT is to KLIA, except Stansted actually looks really, really nice.

Anyways when I walked out of the airport, I experienced my first ever winter! It’s hard to des- actually, no, it’s easy to describe:

COLD

We slept in the Radisson Hotel, right next to the airport. The three minute walk is really easy, except for the fact that:

  1. It was cold.
  2. We had to carry 9 bags of luggage between the three of us.
  3. It was really cold.

Cars around the airport.
Signboards.

The Radisson hotel is… (click!)

The next day was Saturday, so my dad rented a car (\o/) to drive us to Cambridge. But the best part of the morning was seeing this:

Never before have I seen such a skyline...

As for the car:

Car frost! I love winter!

Interestingly, most cars in the UK are manual. Imagine that! A first-world country where (I think) automatic cars are not the most popular.

We drove about 20 minutes to Cambridge, thanks to the nifty little gadget called GPS. If GPS wasn’t invented, the world would be pretty lost.

Eyes on the road, eyes on the road, looking like a fool with your eyes on the road. (I kid, I kid)
Thank you GPS-thingy!

Finally we arrive in Cambridge. My accomodation is a small apartment called Purbeck House. I’ll post much more about this next time.

After I settled down a little, and after my mum made a full appraisal of the room (she is very good at doing that, in fact, I think all mothers are good at that), we drove to the city centre of Cambridge. There’s a supermarket called Sainsbury were we bought tons and tons of foodstuff. When we piled them all on the cashier, I remember this conversation with the man behind us:

Man: Dear God, that is a lot of food. Do you have a big family?
Me: Oh, no. I just moved in here, I’m living on my own.
Man: Oh.

I think we bought: bread, cup noodles, plastic utensils which looked like metal, plates, cups, sharp knife, water kettle (the electric ones), chocolate, chocolate, chocolate, biscuits, dish cleaning liquid, detergent, tea towels, containers, soup powder, hand soap, tissue paper, toothpaste, toothbrushes, hot chocolate powder, shower gel, shampoo, paper plates…

Ok I can’t remember everything. But there’s a good half of what I bought.

Once we transferred everything into the car, we ate some Spanish food nearby, nearby being the key word because somehow, the temperature dropped ever more. I can’t exactly remember what it was we ate, but it was pretty delicious. And then it snowed.

You can't see the snow very well... unless you click on the picture!

It’s my first time seeing snow! I ran out and let the snow fall on me for about 10 seconds. Then we walked quickly to the car because it was cold. Snow is awesome if it wasn’t freezing.

I think I spent the rest of the day doing nothing in my room…. oh I remember. I was admiring my 4MBps internet connection in my room. :D My parents went off to the Doubletree Hotel in Cambridge to sleep.

Sunday was spent the same way, except we did more walking around town. They bought me a new pillow too :/

Monday was the first day of school… I’ll leave the schooling stuff to a new post. That day my parents went off to London for their “holiday” which they spent looking at property. Fun.

Skip two days of school. On Thursday they came back, and before they took their flight home, we ate at a Peking restaurant called “Peking Restaurant”. I know, it’s a catchy, original name.

That's the last meal we had :(

And then they went home… and I was all alone in the UK.

That’s the fun part of course :P