see you again someday, my friend

Every morning when I wake up, the first thing I do is to check my phone. The usual…Whatsapp, LINE, Facebook, etc. Social media has indeed made the world a little smaller; news reaches us a lot faster. Except, I really didn’t want to wake up to this piece of sad news.

I wish it were some cruel joke or rumour that we sometimes see being passed around on Facebook. But no, the source of the news is credible. Days ago, I was still commenting on an article that you posted about Tesco making a blunder. And now, you are gone.

I remember you being an advocate of social media and its uses in the modern world for PR and communications. As much as you were a teacher, you were also keen to learn from your students. I saw the twinkle in your eye when you viewed our presentations for an assignment. I imagined that you were amazed at what some of your students could do.

You were more than a TA and mentor to me; you were a friend. When I graduated and went to say goodbye, you sat me down and talked to me about my future plans for education. Despite your wish that I consider going to grad school, you respected my decision that I was not ready yet, and that I wanted to go home and settle down with work and family. When you became a Professor, you were kind enough to keep reminding me that your promise of writing me a letter of recommendation for grad school still stood. When I decided to stop working, I wrote to you about it and you respected my decision. You have always respected my decisions in life (education) and work. Thank you so much.

If I have one regret, that would be that I’ll never have the chance to show you around my home. I have been hoping that one day you will stop by Singapore and I can let you taste all the good food we have here.

Life is indeed too precious and time waits for no one.

I will miss you, my friend. I will especially miss writing to you every Christmas.

Rest in peace, Owen Kulemeka. Till we meet again someday.

alma mater returns

I got my first birthday present of 2014 in the form of watching Alma Mater return to her pedestal via the very cool Alma Cam. She was taken down in 2012 for restoration.

After years of braving the rain and snow, she had obtained a shade of green. This was how she looked like when I graduated.

I began checking out Alma Cam on the morning of 9 April, but due to the time difference, all I saw were drunk people passing by. At about 7pm (8am there), I got excited coz I noticed someone taking measurements. The action only began around 9.30pm (10.30am there).

Note: I didn’t think of taking screen shots earlier, so I only grabbed some when they were beginning to return her to her pedestal.

Prepping to lift her…

And she’s in the air!

Putting her down gently…

I couldn’t watch the final adjustments coz it was already midnight and I had to turn in. I suppose there was some sort of ceremony as there is supposed to be a time capsule put in her to be opened in 10 year’s time.

And here’s what I saw this morning…

Alma’s back in business with a nice bronze shade!

mpms 2012

I can’t believe it’s already been one year since Most Promising Minority. It was and will always be a great memory. One year ago, I was sitting around in the library trying to figure out my statistics homework when I checked my email and got that surprise. I never thought a rather ordinary nobody like me would get it because 1) I wasn’t someone really active in clubs and held posts; 2) I was an international student and it was open only to U.S. residents. Thinking back now, perhaps I was really something. Steve told me to think about it: I am one of the 50 students chosen nationally, plus I’m an international student which is very rare. I like to think that I got it because I stood out from the rest. Everyone was either into account management/planning or creative, but I was into the facts and figures. Anyway, at the end of the day, it made me feel like I actually owned it. It was my hard work and doing that got me the award.

I want to share this video from the AAF website with everyone. Whatever is said in it is true. It IS a chance in a lifetime and you WILL meet great people.

I may not be holding the coolest advertising job on the planet now, but MPMS really opened my eyes to what was out there. It showed me that getting the award was just the first step, I had to put in a lot of effort and hard work to make things happen especially since there were 49 other great students out there. It made me discover a lot about my strengths and abilities. It taught me to reach out for what I want in life based on my capabilities. I met great people and made friends who inspired and encouraged me to keep doing my best.

Now, that greatness has to be passed down. The 2012 awardees have been announced. You guys deserve it because you went out all the way to get it whether it be in studies or activities. You deserve it because you knew you could make a difference whether it be in the advertising industry, in your studies, or in your activities. You deserve it because you bothered to try hard enough. Congrats! Have fun in New York. Learn all you can while you’re there.

remembering my professor

I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. To think that I heard of the news from a friend’s Facebook status. It truly sucks to be so far away…

I know how people say 人老病死, death is a natural thing when you’re old, but I couldn’t believe that Prof. Goodman was gone. I never got to say goodbye before I left USA because he was in Tokyo. His last words to me was just an email to say he wouldn’t be able to meet me because he was in Tokyo. My only hope now is that he enjoyed the cookies I left as a thank you gift.

Prof. Goodman was a teacher I looked up to and someone I could never thank enough. He was a wise and patient man. I remembered the time when I went to tell him I was having problems understanding the material for EALC464. Although I never said it, I was toying with the idea of dropping the class in my mind. I am glad I didn’t drop the class in the end for I wouldn’t have learnt perseverance. He assured me that even though other students seemed to be speaking up in class a lot, like me, they were probably having trouble with the material too. He encouraged me to ask questions no matter how stupid I thought they were because someone else in the room was probably thinking the same and did not dare ask it. So, by speaking up, I was actually helping my classmates too.

His class was definitely not an easy class. He did not have slides to copy notes from and his handouts were minimal. You made your own notes as the class discussed the text. I bet most students (especially Singaporean students) would have complained, but hey, it is a senior level class and his class emphasized on actual learning and not spoon-feeding. It was definitely for own good.

I admit I’m not someone who is full of ideas or particularly good in any area. My good grades come from perseverance and a willingness to learn. I went to Prof. Goodman about my final paper topic. Together we explored possible topics and finally he mentioned about combining my major with the class for a topic to write on. I finally settled on writing a paper about poster advertisements for Japanese theater. My hard work eventually paid off and I earned an A for the class. To think that months ago I was on the brink of dropping the class. I couldn’t thank Prof. Goodman enough for his patience and encouragement.

The next time I needed his help was to write me a letter of recommendation for AAF’s Most Promising Minority award. Although I will never know the contents of the letter or whether it even helped me get the award, I am still grateful that he wrote that letter for me. No matter what, it probably said good things about me that I don’t think I even am.

Prof. Goodman, who would have known that you’ll be gone so soon? I was still thinking that some day we would meet again maybe in Japan or even USA so I can say the thank you and goodbye I never said in person when I graduated. However, I believe that you left with no regrets for you knew your students had learnt well and they would go out into the world to do great things.

Lastly, thank you and goodbye. I will miss you.

a week of self-discovery

Last week, I travelled to New York for AAF Most Promising Minority 2011. It was a 3-day award ceremony + professional seminars + recruitment fair. While many would say that they received valuable lessons about the advertising industry. I would say that this trip was one of self-discovery.

On the last day of the program, a top executive from Leo Burnett asked us “what is one thing you learned during your time here?” Students who stood up to answer the question mainly referred it back to the industry or the friends they made. As usual, I didn’t have the guts to stand up and answer the question, but I gathered all the courage I had to approach him after the panel discussion.

In my mind, I was wondering whether it was the right thing to do — revealing my weakness to a potential employer, but somehow I knew I had to do it. Besides, he seemed like a really nice person…a genuine person. I told him that my answer to his question was simply how I discovered that I could overcome my fear and talk to people. Being an introvert, I fear presentations and feel rather uncomfortable in social situations with a lot of unfamiliar people.

In fact, I did A LOT of talking during the 3 days, especially during the recruitment fair. Usually I would navigate a career fair, picking up lots of flyers, but not talking much to anyone. However, on this occasion, I told myself I had to do it now or never. I couldn’t possibly keep going on like this forever. Some time in my professional life, I would need to talk to people, face clients, give presentations, etc.

During the award ceremony, each of us had to go up on stage to receive our award and then announce to a room full of people (which included top executives from the industry) our 15-word tagline. While many other students had profound, philosophical taglines, mine was well…the simple truth. I feared going up on stage to say my line. I was shaking inside, but I conquered my fear and delivered my tagline well. So well that many students later recalled that I was the girl who loved research.

How did I do it? How did I find the courage to overcome my fear? I simply put skills I learnt in the Emotional Intelligence class to good use. Instead of engaging in negative thoughts, I told myself that I could do it, that I had rehearsed and prepared myself.

Anyway, back to the executive from Leo Burnett. If I had the choice of employer, he would be someone I would really want to work for. He was really nice, patiently listening to what I had to say then encouraging and sharing with me that his son is also an introvert who overcame his fears too. Later, I learnt from Steve (our advisor) that during their dinner together, he mentioned that he was impressed by my honesty. No, I wasn’t out to be a boot-licker. All I wanted was to let him know how I felt. Really, that was all. Nevertheless, I was glad to know that he thought well of me.

There are many people you meet in your life who make an impact and whom you will never forget. He is one person. There are more from this one week in New York. I cannot thank them enough for giving me a few minutes of their time…giving me the opportunity to show who I really am and for believing that I am good enough and I can make it.

And if you’re curious what my tagline is: “(I’m a) future advertising researcher who loves crunching numbers to build the best campaigns out there.”

my life is officially screwed

All the coffee I downed just to stay awake has gone to waste. My life is officially screwed by the stats exam. Almost panicked and blanked out. Told myself to calm down and think, but ran out of time to think logically. To think that I was half confident that it would go ok since I did one practice exam paper and it was easy. How many times must I screw myself over before I realise that preparation for an exam must be done way in advance? The little voice in my head is nagging at me. It says “You suck at time management.”


how far would we go to obey?

A few weeks back, we were talking about social influence in Social Psychology class. We touched on the topic of obedience where my TA talked about an experiment devised a long time ago by Milgram. It was an experiment where a volunteer was assigned the teacher role and the other person was assigned the learner role. The teacher and learner sat in separate rooms. The teacher was supposed to “teach” the learner a set of words. The learner was supposed to remember those words and responded to the teacher’s questions. If the learner answered incorrectly, the teacher administered an electric shock and increased the voltage each time. The voltage ranged from 0-450mv. Of course, 450mv was fatal. What the teacher didn’t know was that he/she wasn’t really administering any electric shocks. He/she would hear recorded groans and screams. Whenever the teacher felt uncomfortable and wanted to stop the experiment, the experimenter would not say “no,” but would say that the experiment required the volunteer to continue. What the experimenters wanted to know was the level of obedience to authority of the volunteer in the face of evil. The volunteer “knew” that the electric shocks were fatal. The experimenter did not disallow the volunteer to stop the experiment, he merely said that the experiment required the volunteer to continue. Shockingly, 65% of the volunteers continued all the way to the fatal 450mv. This experiment was later disallowed and labeled as unethical. However, it was done again in 2009. This is only the first part of the full clip. To watch the full clip, go to YouTube.

The end of the clip has the most impact as the experimenter talks about the experiment. I swear that if you ever did something like this (whether you’re the experimenter or volunteer), you’ll just become disillusioned with life and people. I also think the level of obedience depends on the age of the volunteer and how much it differs with the experimenter. The younger the volunteer and the larger the age gap, the more obedient the volunteer is. That scares me a lot as this would be true for all kids in school. Although they have the knowledge of right and wrong, they also fear and respect their elders which would often trump their knowledge in these situations.

summer in chambana

The first week of Summer classes has ended. Each session is definitely longer than the usual, but they aren’t that bad. There may be some really dry stuff to go through, but overall it is quite ok. I would have preferred to take a statistics class and a psychology class instead of two psychology classes. That way, I could have a balance of memory/thinking work and calculation work. But the statistics class was cancelled due to low signup, so I really don’t have a choice.

The weather in Chambana has been pretty crazy. Heat wave, then heavy rain, then sun again. Some days it can get so hot (like Singapore hot, except it’s not that humid). Those days make me feel really lethargic.

And then you think, what can of life can little towns like Champaign and Urbana possibly have? Wouldn’t spending summer here be totally boring? Not so. There have been fairs going on to get the community together. Deary and I went to Taste of C-U and we wanted to go to Strawberry Jam, but it rained heavily that day, so we decided against it.

We also spent a day at Six Flags Great America. Ok, that’s not in Chambana…but it was AWESOME. My first time going to a water park. Yea, I’m so sua ku that I’ve never been to Fantasy Island and now it’s gone. We didn’t have enough time to finish both the water park and theme park, so we’ll probably go back sometime later. Hehe, we got the annual pass, so it’s “free” admission.

Before I sign off, here’s something really cute I bought a few days ago in the local campus bookstore:

Yup, Hello Kitty tees for my school. Woohoo!

singapore has come to chambana

After almost a week of being back home in hot and humid Singapore, I arrived back to an equally hot Chambana. No kidding, we’re having a heat wave here. The days can get up to 31 degrees celsius. Deary and I have been trying to survive on opened windows and a small fan. So far we have been successful despite my many complaints that it’s just TOO hot. Well, until we caved in tonight and turned on the air-con for a short while.

And of course…

Last semester’s results:

ADV400 – A
ADV450 – A-
ADV483 – A-
EALC464 – A
JAPN204 – A-

Total GPA = 3.78
Cumulative GPA = 3.73

*sigh* I missed the A for ADV450 by 4 points. If only I had studied a little harder for the first exam… Such is life. JAPN204 was hard. I can only blame myself for not having the guts to speak up more in class. On a happier note, I’m glad I did well for EALC464. It sure was a tough class.

Oh, by the way, I updated the page of links. 🙂