Day #11 – Why I commemorate Remebrance Day, not celebrate Veterans Day

So today marks the 99th anniversary of  World War I Armistice on November 11th, 1918 at 11 am (the eleventh month, eleventh day, eleventh hour).

Since I don’t have a way with words, I’ll be including bits of War Poems here and there which I have always found to be incredibly powerful in humanizing the war and honoring those who lost their lives.

“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:

Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning,

We will remember them.”

~ Robert Laurence Binyon, For The Fallen

And here is something that has always bugged me about how the USA treats the day ever since I moved to Hong Kong.

Growing up as a kid in the USA, it was seen as a very celebratory holiday.

Flags fly high (well more than they usually do, which is saying a lot considering USA schools have a flag in every classroom for the pledge of allegiance – something else that is weird about the USA if you think about it too much), discounts for veteran are given for everything and there is a general patriotic sense in the air as you celebrate the heroes fighting for our rights abroad.

There are parades, there are picnics, basically, it is a bit like a toned down 4th of July was more “soldier-ified”

I never realized the significance of that date. November 11th.

You could make the excuse that I was too young to know then, after all, I was 12 when I left.

But that excuse rings hollow.

It’s because I never had a reason to wonder. It’s a holiday to celebrate our troops, what else would it be for?

And now that I do know the importance of the date, the way the USA celebrates what should be a sacred, hallowed day feels….

Sinister to say the least.

Actually no, it’s downright disturbing.

In Hong Kong (and more former/current commonwealth countries), it is a day where you remember those who lost their lives and say “Lest we forget”

Lest we forget the devastating path of destruction conflict leaves behind in its wake.

Lest we forget the human cost of war, not just of our fellow countrymen, but of all of mankind.

Lest we forget the dangers of excessive patriotism and blind faith in those in command.

My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.
~Wilfred Owens

Poppies are worn to symbolize the ones in Flanders Fields.

In class, you read war poems by Siegfried Sassoon, Rudyard Kipling, Edward Thomas, John McCrae…

Two minutes of silence were observed at 11am in the morning for reflection.

In essence, Veterans Day disturbs me so much because it reminds me a bit of District 2 in the Hunger Games. If you have built up a culture where the military is glorified to the point that the cost of conflict is forgotten, then you get people so eager to leap at the chance to fight, instead of sit down and sort through a slower, yet longer lasting diplomatic option.

So today, I will commemorate those who lost their lives, rather than celebrate the troops fighting wars.

I’ll probably catch some flack from people who think I’m disrespecting our troops by saying that, but I believe war should always be the last option, the worst case scenario, rather than something overtly celebrated and glorified.

I just hope more people in the future (especially to my fellow Americans out there, whether you are still stateside or live abroad like me) understand the significance of Novmber 11th and choose to see it as a sombering reminder of our past.

Because those who fail to learn from history, are doomed to repeat it.

poppy_field_1_28470946719029

-Rebecca


P.S.

Prepare for complete tonal whiplash:

I will make up a post for yesterday at a later date, was busy yesterday… busy procrastinating that is, did all the Common core essay stuff today. Will likely skip tomorrows post as well, since I have a lab due tomorrow.

Also not sure if this post is over 500 words but I’m over the time limit anyways. Will make the post look nicer at a later date. etc etc. See you on Monday if I can’t find time to post tomorrow.

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Day #9 – An Angry Letter of Complaint to a Bee (of all things)…

Dear Ingeborg “Apidae” Trunchbull the Bee,

Yes, I know that isn’t your real name.

In fact, since you are just a bee that lives around Centennial Garden I don’t even need to make one up for you.

But I’m doing so anyway to make me sound less crazy when I am personifying and writing a letter to a freaking insect.

Ingeborg by the way because it was the most random girl name I could think of starting with an “I” (since I assume you are a worker bee which are all female, and the letter to stand in for Insect, just because). Apidae for the taxonomical family you are in (along with all other bee species).

As for Trunchbull… well I needed a last name and your threatening buzzing around in my hair reminded me of Agatha Trunchbull’s words (clip from the 1996 movie) from Matilda by Ronald Dahl.

matilda_and_the_trunchbull_by_piano_kun-d309n7n
Thanks, GreenGlassesGirl from DeviantArt! 🙂

Anyways…

Hi! I’m Rebecca.

You know, that girl who shows up in Centennial Gardens a lot to help give recorded feedback about friend’s spoken English for a school project?

The one you keep following for no good reason?

Yeah.

Hi. I’m not happy right and want to talk, Ingeborg.

Please… sit. (or hover menacingly, I don’t care as long as you listen)

I’m not sure WHY you keep chasing me in particular, maybe it is my hair scrunchies that you keep mistaking for flowers or the new shampoo I’m using or whatever,

But please:

For the love of all things holy…

STOP IT!

This is nearly the 4th day in a row now.

And its always me specifically.

Not the person I’m tutoring, not the other students near me, heck not even the dozen or so other people milling around the park at any given time!

No, it’s always ME.

And you have some weird obsession with my hair.

I get it.

You are a vital part of our world’s ecosystem and have a job to do so you don’t starve over the coming winter months.

Maybe you are behind on nectar collection and need to work overtime.

Or maybe I’m giving you too much credit.

Maybe you just want to imitate Barry B. Benson from the Bee Movie (2007) by falling in love with a female human, accidentally altering the world’s ecological balance, before stealing a party float, hijacking a plain and saving the world’s flowers.

Or I’m galactic royalty and you are acknowledging it like I’m Jupiter Jones in Jupiter Ascending (2015).

But today…. TODAY….

Today was the last bloody straw.

Today, you held my freaking laptop hostage to get my attention.

Bee
Caught in the act!

You forced me and my Tutee to relocate to the stairwell of Hoi Oh Chow to continue our recording (which is much louder than the gardens).

Heck, you showed up at Happy Park today to annoy me while I walked around different booths learning about service opportunities.

Don’t you dare deny it! I’ve got a good half dozen witnesses!

Like that’s not even part of Centennial Campus!

What the HECK, Ingie??

(unless it was one of your friends/sisters in which case, tell her to stop as well)

So yeah.

If I haven’t made this abundantly clear by now….

Piss off, Ingeborg Trunchbull the Bee!

Stop chasing me around and messing with my hair, or… or… [Insert statement here that a bee would find threatening]!

Ha!

Signed with (heavily sarcastic) love,

Rebecca

Day #7 – “Don’t I know you from somewhere?” – A story about how human memory can be an amazing yet fickle thing!

A cool story about something that happened today!

Let me set the scene…

So I had just finished eating lunch with one of my friends (since I have an hour break between a common core tutorial I have with her and an English Peer Tutoring session) and was putting my tray away when I feel a tap on my shoulder.

The following conversation ensues (I can’t remember it word for word but this is the general gist of it).

I’ll be R, she will be G (not going to give her real name but let’s call her… Ginny because Harry Potter :P)


~Set in an HKU restaurant~

G: “Sorry this might be a bit weird but I’m sure I know you from somewhere… did you go to a CityU mooting workshop or CUHK’s summer institute or something like that during the summer?”

Side note: I didn’t even know what a “mooting” was (it’s is a mock courtroom trial) until I googled it just now. This becomes relevant later on…

R:  “You mean the previous summer? Or a few summers ago? No, I’ve never been to CityU, though I went to a CUHK medicine clinical attachment program a few years back?”

G: “No it isn’t that. Huh… you aren’t a freshman right?”

R: “Yeah, wait… what did you say your name was again?” (slightly surprised she new since most people think I’m a freshman, plus my brain is registering her as someone I know, rather than a complete stranger I have never seen before)

G: “Ginny”

R: “Okay, yeah I definitely remember your face from somewhere as well, plus that name just sounds too familiar”

G: “What faculty are you in?”

R: “Science, majoring in Ecology & Biodiversity. We are in different faculties though I think, you are studying something like Law right?”

G: “Wait, how did you know that? I don’t think I mentioned that earlier”

Note: she technically did hint toward it with “mooting” but since I didn’t know what that was at the time, I was just as surprised as she was that I “guessed” right –

R: “I don’t know, just felt it was something related to that subject… Maybe we are in the same common core class?”

G: “What do you take this year?”

R: “CCST____, about scientific revolutions and…”

G: “Nope, it’s not that… and we aren’t in the same faculty or year so it couldn’t have been a general requirement or a freshman meet up sort of thing”

R: “Yeah… huh. Because I’m really sure I’ve seen you before, you look really familiar to me”

G: “Yeah I know right? This is so weird…”

R: “Well see you around I guess, need to go tutor some people now!”

~End Scene~


So after I finish tutoring two people (went really well) and leave, my brain immediately jumps back to trying to solve this enigma.

Doubt begins to set in.

Maybe she just looks like someone else I know, that is always a possibility.

But no, that just doesn’t feel right; maybe she’s changed her glasses or hairstyle, but I’m sure I have seen her before, like over 80% positive.

Besides, I knew what faculty she was in before she told me, and her name and face are so familiar… but I just can’t place it!

At this point, I’m slowly regretting not getting her phone number in case I do actually know her and have just forgotten for some reason.

Wait… maybe…

Yup.

Her number is already my contact list!

Okay, so we have established that we have met and exchanged phone numbers at some point.

We are getting somewhere with this mystery!

Anyways, after a few back and forth WhatsApp messages (where I gave her my number since she switched phones – see! Having a nearly 5-year-old Samsung Galaxy Note 2 does have it advantages :P) we just start listing things:

Secondary schools we went to, Summer programs we did, university clubs, Extra curricular, IBDP…

Everything, anything we can think of where we met a lot of people within the past few years

After a while…It finally hits us!

We were in the same St. John Ambulance First Aid Class!

Suddenly a torrent of information comes flooding back to me (it genuinely felt like something out of a movie, like where a person with amnesia gets their memories back)

Big, general things like our instructor’s name and the names of other classmates to random little things like that fake CPR dummy we made with someone’s ipad, a backpack and a pillow we made during a practice we had outside of the formal lessons.

Something about 30 MONTHS or 2.5 YEARS AGO, that lasted maybe 24 hours over 5 or so days and my brain STILL remembered subconsciously recognized that she looked familiar, even if I couldn’t consciously recall where I met her.

What is crazy about it was that our minds were both dancing around the answer the whole time.

We knew was something that:

  • Happened during the summer break
  • A few years back, when we were in secondary school
  • Vaguely related to one of our (intended at the time) university majors
  • Had an academic element to it
  • Was something that involved group work

 


So yeah the human brain is amazing, and Hong Kong is a pretty freaking awesome place to study since it is small enough where crazy stuff like that can happen!

That’s all for now, DFTBA!

-Rebecca

~~~~~~~~~~

P.S. Thinking about writing less starting tomorrow until Sunday since I have a few deadlines coming up. I’ll aim for 200 words tomorrow and make up the extra on the weekends. I’ll confirm tomorrow.

Day #4 – HKU’s Info Day 2017!

Note to anyone arriving at my blog from google or other sources, I do not speak on behalf of anyone at HKU except for myself, I am just a student who goes to HKU and wants to talk a little bit about it for the sake of completing an arbitrary writing task I set myself for November.

With that out of the way, hope you enjoy the post 🙂


So yeah, today I helped out today as an Equal Opportunity Student in a booth explaining the EOU, handing out fliers, chatting with people etc. It was a lot of fun but man there were a ton of people!

Here are some random thoughts I had throughout the day:

  1. I am bloody terrible at giving directions to places on campus.

Sorry for anyone who became even more lost because of me today. There is a reason that even as a Year 2 student I keep a campus map in my folder along with my weekly and daily schedule.

Though in my defense, HKU’s campus is not a flat, level campus like most places, it is built on a slant at 3 distinct elevations or zones, so while two buildings look like they are right next to each other, you usually must go up or down some escalators/elevators/stairs reach a walkway or street before you can get to another part, then you take another set of stairs/escalators/elevators to get to your building.

This is made trickier by the fact that the buildings weren’t built at the same time (some date back to the school’s founding in 1911, while others are brand new from 2012 you can read about the main ones here, though it misses out on a dozen or so other buildings), so they connect in weird ways.

(like the library extension is down 2 escalators to the right of the library’s main entrance which juts out and attaches to the 3rd floor of the main building and is a staircase away from the ground floor of Kadoorie science building)

info day map

 

  1. How the heck do you explain “dem beat” to a non-local student?

So being the resident sorta-local, sorta-not student means that I’m often the person people go to when they have questions about HKU life.

And for the life of me, I still can’t find quite the right words to describe this (from what I can tell) uniquely Hong Kong phenomenon. It’s a bit like “chur” or “hei”, sure I can try my best to explain it, but until you really experience, no adjective feels quite right.

(for the lost: chur = that slightly overwhelming, annoying, nagging and stressful feeling you when you are stuck with a group mate that won’t do anything, or you have a bunch of busy work for a class that is worth just enough to care about but you are running out of time to do it. It’s not full-on panic, but it requires a change of plan and more effort on your part. Basically the word for that “Ughhhh…. Really? This now?” emotion. Hei is the opposite of that, relaxed, chill, not-a-care-in-the-world, mellow emotion)

The official translation for “dem beat” they usually use is “cheering competition” but it’s not like a cheerleading routine or dancing competition (that’s Mass Dance which shows up later in the year), it’s more like a New Zealand Haka combined with a Stepping dance but far less professional (think pep rally level of quality), where the goal is to motivate your hall before a competition or event, with members of a hall wearing the same t-shirt and chanting in unison.

For those of you who have never experienced this mildly impressive display of HK culture, may I present HKU’s 2017 info day “dem beat” competition, cutesy of the  university’s Facebook page (since it was taken from a live broadcast the video is a bit shaky and of poor quality)

 

  1. They have definitely upped their intro speech, branding and presentation game from when I visited info day several years ago!

I mean just look at some of this stuff, they even had a vending machine making custom sticky notes for people! (I’ll post more stuff here tomorrow since I have already written a ton and am running out of time)

infoday-website-banner

  1. Huh, I wonder if the Science Faculty has any traditions I don’t know about

So the EOU booth was in KK Leung building, and the other ambassador I was handing out fliers kept remarking on how I would walk through the center doorway, rather than the left or right-hand side one.

Turns out in his faculty (business) there is a superstition that if you walk through the center one you fail your exams (a bit like how you aren’t supposed to walk through the center doorway in a temple because it will bring bad luck). Got me thinking, I know there are quite a few hall traditions and HKU has Superpass (something else I might post about in the future) but I can’t think of any at the moment that is exclusive to Science.

  1. I have become the one who knocks hands out fliers to people….

Normally, people (including me) just walk by when someone tries to hand them a flyer. Today, I became the flyer-giver (we eventually figured out that if you give a souvenir with the flyer or hold up a sign directing them to the booth with free hot chocolate people will be more willing to take it)

This post is getting a bit long (that’s an understatement, its at nearly 1000 words o.O I’ve turned in papers with less content than this post), so I’ll end here for now (but will return tomorrow to edit a bit and add photos)

Until then, DFTBA!

-Rebecca

Day #3 – Thoughts from Centennial Campus Garden

It’s day 3 and I’m already struggling to come up with random subject matter that makes interesting posts. Starting early today though, since yesterday’s one fell flat, probably because I posted so late in the day and only a few minutes before midnight.

Sitting in HKU’s Centennial Garden right now, since the weather is really nice today, not too sunny not too windy, just right. Listening to “80 Millionen” by Max Giesinger (with earbuds since I don’t want to disrupt the quiet and I’m not a jerk) to learn German since I need to sing a part of it in next Tuesday German’s lesson.

Why singing?

Because it is a good way of learning a language at normal talking speed, exposes you to a bit of the culture and it is a fun way of expanding one’s vocabulary.

And besides, where else are you going to learn the word “Wahrscheinlichkeitsrechnung” or Probability calculation in everyday life? 😛

But yeah, just took a quick photo of my surrounding area to put into this blog post, just to give you an idea of how lovely the garden is today.

20171103_133946

It is one of my favorite places on HKU campus since it is an oasis of calm just a few steps away from the hubbub of the busy campus or the controlled chaos of the city. Just a quiet little patch of green where you can sit or stroll around absorbed in your own thoughts, practice for a speech or get some work done without distractions.

Plus its one of those quiet but not too quiet places that’s perfect for recording things (the stairwell of Hoi Oh Chow and the place behind the old halls near the Faculty of Science buildings are other places that are good for this as well).

Also, it has surprisingly decent wifi, probably because of how near it is to Centennial Campus. XD

Which reminds me, I actually had a weird assignment in my freshman year about the garden, where I had to estimate the weight (well guestimate since we weren’t allowed to look stuff up) of everything in the garden to calculate the possibility of the garden collapsing due to extreme amounts of rain.

Yeah it was a bit weird (the class was SCNC1111 – Scientific Methods and Reasoning, which I don’t mind mentioning since all science majors have to take the class anyways (note the course code is different from the SCNC1112 that I tutor, I did pretty poorly in 1111 (in fact I did worse in that class compared to Cantonese) but did really well in 1112.

~ Break for a bit as I go tutor a friend English (well more like record a thing) ~

Finished tutoring (and being stalked by a very enthusiastic bee presumably thought my reddish-purple scrunchy (scrunchie?) was a flower or something.


yeah, now sitting near the fiction section in the Hong Kong Central Library right now. Returned a few books and now I really want to get a head start on history (both classes) but can’t think of a topic at the moment (and like an idiot left all of my history papers at home), so will probably switch over to a different assignment for now – most likely the Common core stuff since that is coming up.

Also need to sort out exchange stuff…. So yeah lots to do, but already I am digging my heels in because my brain feels like the deadline is too far away to start panicking and wants to take a break from midterms/studying not realizing that, you know, that stuff was more than a week ago at this point so I really don’t have an excuse….

 

How many words am I at? I feel like I have typed a lot already…? Oh wow, 620+ words! Well, that is more than enough 😀

I’ll be helping out tomorrow at HKU’s info day, so my post will likely be shorter and about HKU, but we will see what tomorrow brings.

Off to do some actual work now! Until then!

-Rebecca

Day #2 – A Simmering Pot, A Procrastinating Student

Oh, by the way, got back my WWII history essay back today.

Yeah, REALLY should not have procrastinated on it. Comments noted the numerous grammatical and careless errors like lacking punctuation and several run-on sentences etc things that could have been prevented had I actually spent a reasonable time on it instead of procrastinating til the last minute…

The score wasn’t like devastating or anything, but I KNOW I could have done much better on it than I did and my class grade definitely took a hit since it was worth 30% of my grade. Arghhh. Feel a bit sorry for my professor for having to read through that slog of an essay to be honest, since I will admit, yeah it was bad… anyways

We will wait and see how I did on the Ecology midterm, but hopefully a great score there will make up for my poor one here. (actually, that would make a good future post, how to remember scientific names. Ill think about it)

Ummm….. huh. Well I am running out of time since it is 11:30pm right now (completely forgot about this challenge til now) so here goes nothing!


I’m going to do a daily post prompt now since I was going to write another post about why afternoon classes are awesome but ran out of things to say and it needs more editing to reach the 500 word count.

-Skip to here people arriving from the daily prompt page-

Today’s (that is November 2nd, 2017) daily post theme is… *drumroll for the people arriving to this blog from a different place*

Simmer!

Which is an interesting word when you think about it. Not full on panic boiling but not still and calm water either. Just bubbling away on the back burner without notice.

In a weird way, it is a bit of a metaphor for how small issues slowly develop into large problems.

Both things on a large scale like climate change (which I can’t believe is an issue up to debate in today’s political discourse) or on the personal scale like delaying starting a midterm essay.

At the same time though, the opposite can be true as well.

A little small spark that grows and gains momentum, that works toward a cause, slowly, until the pot simmers over and real change can occur.

A watched pot may not boil, but turn your back on it, and that small simmer may prove to be more powerful than you first thought.

(wow that was a contrived A.F. metaphor 😛 I tried and it is late at night)

Unrelated side note:

I’ve always wondered about those silly “As seen on TV” Ad that used to be aired on TV about that plastic container you make microwaved pasta in. How did they get that effect of the pot to boil over consistently? Like I don’t think that a producer would want to have boiling water so close to the “clumsy actor people”, plus pots don’t really foam over like that in real life when simmering things.

Perhaps they used like soap or something to get that effect? Especially since those clips are always in black and white, so there could be a bit more movie magic involved than I first thought.

But yeah, where was I?

I am feeling a bit like a simmering pot at the moment. I can feel the incoming “boil” with all my final exams and big essays where everything is worth 50%-70% of my final grade on the horizon, but I haven’t brought myself to turn off the stove yet…

Hope this doesn’t blow up in my face….

So there! A few hundred words about a random daily post word, adding up to my 500 word limit. Whoop!

That is all for now, see you tomorrow!

-Rebecca

A Very Belated Update…

So its already the end of October and I still haven’t gotten around to making that October goal post yet…

The punny goal name I was thinking of was “Braving and Overcoming Obstacles in October” or Booo!👻 for short ( in honor of Halloween of course) but:

a) that is super cheesy.., like wow…

&

b) it turns out that I spent so much of my time overcoming said obstacles (ie mountains of midterms, EOSA things, tutoring intensity, first ecology field course etc) that I never really got around to making that goal post in the first place

So this monthly goal update post is more of a “Task Completed, (though with mixed success)! Moving on”


Now normally around this time I would be planning for Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month) – aka where you attempt to write 50,000 words in November (1,667 words a day) in a quantity over quality, zeroth draft just get it on paper kind of novel writing.

But honestly? I’ve got bigger fish to fry, mainly with exchange preparations and final exam preparations.

I know November is a bit early to start, especially for me, but I really need to tackle these tough classes now before they overwhelm me in December.

Specifically Biochem…

So instead this will be a bit like Fall Post a Day blog challenge, with a post a day about what I am doing/learned/studying etc, though upping the anty to 500 words a day for a total of over 15,000 by the end of the month.

👩‍⚖️🎓Rules to make this more official:📝📚

  1.  500 words a day for each day of November
    1. There is no regulation about where I write to meet the word count, provided it is not required for class work – i.e. if I write 500 words for my official website/cv page, that counts, but notes or lab reports for classes don’t
  2. Posts don’t need to be well edited, just typed out and published
  3. Topics can be chosen ahead of time and partially typed out as long as at least 100 words were written on the day the post is published.
  4. Quotes and the like don’t count in the word count – aka I can’t just post a poem as my 500 words since that I kinda plagiarism and cheating

So yeah, the theme (subject? target?)  for November is “Study Notes! Part revision, Part writing, All in preparation for December”

… Yeah not really good with coming up with names for these things, but hey practicality over style is more important on this front.

so that is all for now! See you in November

-Rebecca