Saturday, May 17, 2008

Revealing That EXCLUSIVE Letter

Not anyone can have the privilege to receive such a letter. Only a selected few out of an entire intake of students will get it. The letter contains an EXCLUSIVE invitation to a society whose members includes US President Jummy Carter and author John Grisham. (Psst, enough clues already?)
Well, a clue is found in this picture...

Can't get it still? An even more obvious clue...

I think most of you would have gotten it by now. Even if not, I'm gonna reveal the answer now!
Woots! I'm offically a member of Phi Kappa Phi! Only the top 10% of the cohort will receive the invitation to be inducted into the society, which recognises those who have received academic excellence. I'm kinda surprised and honoured. I don't know if I really deserved this but I kinda felt that working so hard for this degree really paid off.
During my Poly days, I could hardly get good grades as our grades were kinda dependent if the lecturers like our work or not, which is totally subjective and objective. During Poly, no matter how hard I tried, I never got the grades I hoped for. Since I have the chance to prove myself wrong, I tried hard and worked hard and I'm glad that I got rewarded. But receiving this letter also adds on unexpected pressure to perform even better and at least to maintain the current performance. This means that I feel even more pressured to perform for the last 3 modules that I am doing here.

During the wellness classes, I tried so damn hard to claim whatever bonus and extra credit points as possible that I felt that I was desperate. To me, it seems that every single point mattered as it would divide a A from a A-. During the Environmental Science classes last week I was also trying to do my best for the worksheets and try to score as much "in-class" points as possible. Usually back in Singapore, I would also try my best, but this time round, I felt that there is an added pressure to perform since I was a member of Phi Kappa Phi, one of the top students in class. I felt that I became more competitive. Sigh, dunno if this is a good thing or not...

Weekend adventures coming right up!
20:09 OK time

Thursday, May 15, 2008

I Treat You, You Treat Me...

I can't help feeling that all our lecturers here are darlings, especially the older ones who want to make us feel at home and treat us as though as we are their own children. Last Sunday, Dr Winn hosted us at his place. And on Wednesday week 2, Dr Olsen, our Behavioral Science lecturer treated us to Strawberry Shortcakes during our lunch break!

And thus, we decided to host Dr Winn at the guys' room and cooked up a meal for him on Thursday.

Revealing of the EXCLUSIVE letter coming right up!
07:50 OK time...

Tornado Hits Again!

After an eventful weekend, week 2 of classes then started. This week we had a module called Personal Lifestyle. It is more of a wellness, P.E kinda module and yes, we did whatever that needs to be done to complete an IPPT.
Our lecturer was Dr Slatham. She has a young cute daughter with loveable-pinchable cheeks (she showed us her photo once). She is also very cool, spunky and taught us in a very fun way. Instead of plain lecturing and lecturing into details, she would get us to do labs, a kinda workshop thingy where we would go to the computer lab or open up the textbook to give reports or act out skits. She gives me this very "garang woman" kinda feel.

On the 2nd day of lectures, after the morning IPPT workout and doing bench presses (I can lift an amazing 55lbs), we went to a fitness center. 2 classes went in total but our lecturer did not go. Over here, there were basketball courts, many gym equipment, a swimming pool, whirlpool and suana. We wanted to go to the whirlpool, but as there was lighting and the whirlpool is situated beside the glass walls of the place, they decided to close the facility for a while. So, while waiting for the whirlpool to open, I decided to try the suana out.
Shiok lah! I haven't had the feeling of wet hot air landing on my skin since I came here. Not that I miss Singapore's weather extremely, but that little humidity and warmth came at the right time when I'm damn sick of the cold dry weather here, especially when the scab in my nose builds up bigger and faster. The scab cleared in Singapore after a week is half of the scab here clear in 3-4 days. Also, the skin in my nostrils are cracking up due to the weather and there is slight bleeding. Now, if only there is a moisturizer for the nose... K, too much information already...
So the bus drove us to the Asian Market to do little shopping after the fitness center trip. Then, the tornado warning siren came on. The lecturer of the other class sprung out of the bus and ran towards the supermarket. Meanwhile, the bus driver switched on the radio to listen to the weather alert. The lecturer then ran back towards the bus and was on the phone, saying that her house is in the path of the tornado or something. I was then kinda hoping to see the tornado but at the same time hoping not to see it because I'm in a bus, not in a building where I can find somewhere to hide!
As the bus pulled into school, my class had to switch to the other bus as the bus we were on had to pick up another class at another building (there were a total of 4 classes on this trip). For the first time in my life, I ran in a storm. The wind was damn strong and the rain was pouring down so heavily. Running one bus length like took forever, with the wind blowing against me, I felt I almost flew backwards. Lifting my legs to run was tough too.
On the other bus, there was good news (or not so good news) on the weather alert. The storm is changing direction and moving away from where we are and so the not so good news is that we can't be storm chasers. Besides that, the shopping trip scheduled for after class is also cancelled for safety reasons. Apparently, the storm is moving towards that direction... But we did reach the hotel safely!

More of week 2 coming right up!
00:18 OK time...

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Wonderful Dinner At End Of Week 1

On Sunday night, our dear Values and Culture lecturer Dr Harbor Winn hosted dinner for us at his house. He came over to fetch us to his place from our hotel and because there were too many of us, he had to make 2 trips.

At the end of the dinner, both he and his wife drove us back. He also took a chance to make a detour round some places around school to show us where we can walk out to have lunch. So sweet right?

Week 2 coming right up!
23:20 OK time...

End Of 1st Module And SHOPPING!!!

Friday finally arrives and it was only half day. Class tradition, last day of module, TAKE PICTURE!!!Dunno why I close my eyes lah...
So the rest of Friday, I slacked at the hotel, tried to update my blog as much as possible. ;-)

Saturday, the school arranged for us to go to Dallas, Texas to an Outlet Mall for SHOPPING!!! Damn excited because it is my first shopping trip after coming to the US! We set off at 7.30am from the hotel as the mall was 3 hours away.
Along the way, we stopped at a petrol kiosk which has a funny name, but it is damn cute lah...

I was busy shopping and shopping and did not manage to take any photos. But I did managed to take pics of what I bought bought when I got back to the hotel...

Don't ask me how much I spent in total. I refuse to calculate till I get back to Singapore...

Wonderful dinner coming right up!
18:37 OK time...

Monday, May 12, 2008

Day 4 - I Almost DIED At The Hands Of Mr. Tornado...

It was a damn long day and I felt I almost died over and over again on Day 4 of my first module of my on-campus residency here in Oklahoma. I can't find much words to describe what happened, so this post will be filled with photos as a picture paints a thousand words.

Dr K brought us to the Wichita Mountains. We set off really early in the morning. The bus picked us up at the hotel at 7.30am.

We then went to Mount. Scott, which is one of the peaks at Wichita Mountains.

Besides the whole day hike which was a tad tiring, when we got back to the hotel, it seemed that everything was just like any other day, washing up, having dinner, preparing for the next day, etc. I was watching tv and then the program was disrupted abruptly. A weather update came on. There were loads of details and it seemed gibberish to me. What caught my attention was the word "tornado". My lecturers have warned us before that the period we were coming over is the tornado season. But I did not expect to meet Mr. Tornado so early into the trip.
My classmate Dan then called my room. We decided to stay in our rooms while the rest of our roomies went out for dinner or for a smoke. He asked if I heard a siren and what was the siren about. I suspected it was a tornado warning siren because of the weather update that disrupted my tv program.
When the next weather update that again disrupted my tv program came on, I listened to it more carefully. There were reports of golf-ball-sized hails in some parts of Oklahoma and it seemed that there might be a chance that a tornado will hit Oklahoma City, the city I'm in. The tornado alert was on for about an hour, but it kept prolonging and prolonging and through the weather updates, it seemed closer and closer.
By this time, some of Dan's and my roomies were back already. Will aka Uncle, Dan's roomie, called my room. He was on the phone with Felicia and told her to go up to see the storm. Before he could finish what he needed to say (actually he wanted us to bring the dishwashing liquid up lor), Fel hung up the phone and told me about seeing the storm. I grabbed my phone and we went out of the room. Ad our room was beside the laundry room, we, being so damn excited, told everyone in the laundry room to see the storm. The next moment, you will see 10-ish people running out of the laundry room, down the corridor, squeezing into a lift, knocking on the guys' room door, running past the living room and into their balcony with Will looking shocked and standing by the door. When we reached the balcony and saw nothing, Fel and I asked Will, what storm. When we knew it was a false alarm, Fel and me just stood there laughing and laughing till we both squatted down. So damn freaking paiseh lah!
But I was damn tired already and needed sleep. It did not help that I'm sleeping the closest to the windows and in any chance of a tornado, windows should be avoided at all costs. I was excited and kinda scared. Excited because I've never seen a tornado before and kinda scared because I don't think I should meet one. So I went to bed, hoping the tornado will change course and not suck me out of my room window.
About an hour later, Fel came into the bedroom and shouted "Jasmine, wake up! Hailstorm!" When I could finally open my eyes, she has already ran out of the room. I was too sleepy to venture out to the lobby or upstairs to the guys' room to take a look, instead, I opened up the curtains and took a look. The thunder was loud and the wind was strong. My windows were vibrating!
I was actually kinda scared. Lucky for me, the tornado did not come on full force. If it did, I might have been sucked out of the window while sleeping. Given that I always sleep soundly, as evident in my reaction when Fel came into the room, I don't think I could have made it to the shelter in time.

Shopping coming right up!
19:47 OK time...

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Field Trip!!!

Dr. K brought us to 2 places on Day 2 of classes that tourists may not even choose to go. Initially I was thinking why I had to go to these places as they are of no interest to me. We went because it was part of our curriculum. So, I ventured into an oil well and a lake.

The day started with a lady from OERB (Oklahoma Energy Resource Board) telling us briefly what OERB is all about and a history of the oil and gas industry in OK. At this point, I started to lighten up, thinking that this field trip might be interesting after all.
We first went to an oil site, where oil is still being pumped out. As we turned around, we saw a house that was build on the remains of a drilling derrick.These places are managed by OERB which will help conserve the oil being pumped and help restore the site of the house into a flat ground.
We then drove down to the Oklahoma History Center where the Devon Energy Oil and Gas Park is housed. Over here, we learnt of the history of the oil industry in Oklahoma and saw equipment of the old days which have all turned rusty.

Some pics of the Park...

We then went for lunch at the famous Route 66! The restaurant is called Pops. I wasn't that hungry and plus the servings here are GIANTIC HUMONGOUS-LY BIG, I opt for a soup and salad. It's not very expensive, about USD8 including tax and tips.

After the interesting morning and lunch, the afternoon was kinda boring and tiring... We went to Arcadia Lake to learn about nature and what the lake is for. We saw loads and loads of plants but no animals. We went along a trail, but because it was sunny and warm, a few of us were commenting how come it's like never-ending. Never really took pictures because it was so damn boring to me lor... Anyway, here's a general view of the lake.

Day 2 just went past like that. And so did Day 3, went by with me trying damn freaking hard not to fall asleep in class...

Interesting Day 4 coming right up!
22:45 OK time...

Monday, May 05, 2008

First Week, First Day

Lessons will be planned as such that each module will take up 4 and a half days, which means we get a half day on Friday. This is also reflect on the 9 3.5 hours sessions that we do in Singapore.
This week, we did Environmental Science. As how the lessons have gone and completed, this module seems like a much cheem-er version of Geography.

We got to meet our lecturer, Dr. Kruschwitz. We call her Dr. K. She is a fine old lady, speaks slowly and at times seems like mumbling to herself, or rather, I find it hard to pay attention because of the way and tone she speaks. Plus, the small classroom which is so cozy, it really makes one want to fall asleep. So, for 2 and a hlaf days (2 days we went on field trips), I was pratically spacing out, only gathering attention when worksheets need to be done. Honestly, when the worksheets were passed out, it was only when I start to pay attention.
Luckily the field trips were on Day 2 and Day 4 of lessons, spacing out the actual sit-in classes. I don't think I would have survived if they were placed together.

And so, Day 1 passed by just as normal. Day 2 was the happening one!

Day 2 of 1st week of lessons coming right up!
22:42 OK time...

Check-In, Orientation & Briefing, The EXCLUSIVE Letter...

The school had handed taxi vouchers for our transportation from the airport to the hotel, Marriott Residence Inn Bricktown. Found this really cute on the cab..

The doll just keep bobbing and dancing around.

My roomie cum classmate had actually checked into the room first and waited till I came. I unpacked a bit and we went out for dinner while the rest stayed back to relax a little in the room. After dinner, we did a little grocery shopping at the HUGE Walmart Supercenter and went back to the hotel to rest.
It's not really a hotel per se, more like a service apartment of sorts. Initially, 5 of us had paid for 2 bedrooms and 2 baths at another Residence Inn, however, due to unexpected happenings (heard that there was a fire), we were moved to this one at Bricktown instead. Since this is apparently slightly more expensive than the original one as it was nearer to the town area, we were put into a 1-bedroom suite with 1 bath just like everyone else, who on the overall, paid lesser for the rooms since they had opt for a 1 bedroom and 1 bath in the beginning.
I felt ripped off. I got something lower in value with what I had paid for. So I spoke to the school staff who is in charge of our on-campus residency and now, he is checking with the sales person of our "original" accomodation to see what can be worked out.

The next day was orientation and briefing. We had our daily complementary breakfast at the breakfast area and chilled out there till 11am where the briefing was taking place. Got to know an interesting fact that this state of Oklahoma forbids people to walk on the streets with alcohol in their hands and all alcohol has to be consumed indoors.
We were then brought to school where we got our textbooks and took measurements for our graduation cap and gown. At the end of the briefing in school, me and 3 other students received an EXCLUSIVE letter. What is it? Keep y'all in suspense for a while till the end of the coming week! Hehe...
Meanwhile, back in Singapore, my sister told me that MDIS sent a reminder letter telling me to pay up for the last installment for my course by a certain date. If I fail to comply, I would deem to have dropped out of course. Hmm, with the exclusive letter in hand, how would I have deem to have dropped out of course?! Anyway...
The bus then took us to Walmart Supercenter. It was the same one as the one I went the night before, but today, it was more of a marketing trip, as the night before was a toiletries trip. The 7 of us plan to cook rather than eat out everyday. Here's a pic of the Walmart, see how HUGE it is! It's many times larger than Giant or Carrefour lor!

After Walmart, we went to the Asian Market. There, I really felt like home. We found chili sauce, Maggi seasoning and such there. We then went back to the hotel to prepare for the 1st day of school.

1st few days of school coming right up!
17:56 OK time...

Domestic Flights...

From LA to OK, we would have to transit in Minneapolis.

The check in for the domestic flight was smooth. We printed out our boarding passes using an automated machine and the staff helped us attached the stickers for the bags. we then had to move our bags to a scanning area where the TSA officers put the bags in one by one for scanning. We did not have to wait as our bags were in queue.
We proceeded on to the gates. Again, the security checks took a while. We had to put our laptop, carry-on bags, shoes and all electronic devices into separate trays for scanning. The officers were strict but not rude and gave proper clear and direct instructions on what to do. We then went for our toilet breaks and had a little breakfast before boarding the plane.

During the beginning of the flight shortly after take-off, the captain did say that we would see snow. Well, we did not pay attention and started to ask each other what did the captain say. Upon touch-down, when the snow started touching the windows as ice bits (think roughly grained ice kachang sort of ice bits), we, or rather I, was squealing "snow, snow!"
Yah lah, I sua ku k, never seen snow k... But it was really beautiful. Wasn't able to take any pictures as the snow fall was very very light. We we ran through the transit area from one end to another to catch the connecting flight (touched-down late), I kept looking out of the window. How I wish I would be able to stand there forever to look at the snow.

As we boarded the connecting flight, there was a little open air space between the plane and the platform. I stood there for a few seconds, looked up and felt the snow fall onto my face. I wish I could stand there forever lor! But there was a long queue behind and I did not want to hold up the queue. Finally! After 20-something years in my life, I've seen and felt snow!

If the plane for the domestic flight from LA to Minneapolis was small, the connecting flight from Minneapolis to OK is so so much smaller. In total, the trip including transit time to Oklahoma took about a little more than a day. I was damn tired upon reaching OK.

An interesting thing I found about OK airport was that the baggage claim area was open to all. Anyone could have access to your baggage. There were some people sitting around the conveyor belts (called carousels here) waiting for their friends and relatives.

Check-in to hotel and orientation day details coming right up!
11:57 OK time...

Friday, May 02, 2008

The LONG Flight From Singapore To Los Angeles

Cathay Pacific CX716 took me and 10 others from Singapore to Hong Kong. Singapore's security check was smooth, with a big sign telling you to separate your laptop and bag containing the liquids, creams and aerosols from your carry-on luggage, giving you ample time to prepare yourself and not hold up the queue.
It was a flight with old furnishing, probably because it is a short haul flight. There was some fault with the in-flight entertainment system, thus, we had to choose from the program lineup for the flights from Hong Kong to Singapore. The flight was smooth overall and dinner, well, just taste like all normal in-flight foods.

At Hong Kong airport, we kinda got confused because the in-flight entertainment system says that the transit area is W2, but there's only either E2 or W1. In the end, we proceeded to W1 as the gate was within that area.
HK airport was freaking huge lor. When I watched the TVB serial 冲上云霄, I kinda knew it was big, but what I didn't knew was that it was BIG. We were kinda rushing after the toilet breaks and smoking breaks by the 11 of us. We took travelator after travelator to reach our gate. Finally when we did, there was a LONG queue. Everyone was waiting to board. To speed things up, the ground crew had to check the boarding passes and passports instead walking through the queue and stamp to certify that they had indeed check already, while at the boarding gate, the staff quickly took the boarding passes to scan and confirmed that the passenger did indeed board the plane.
When we stepped in, there was another queue. It was a queue for security checks right before you board the plane. There we are, in another queue, scrambling to open up the zips of our bags and taking out the bag of liquids, creams and areosols because there was no signage informing us that we had to do so. The bag of liquids was examined carefully, the officers looked into every single one of them, reading the labels and making sure that they do not exceed the safety requirement.
After passing the security checks, we had to board the plane immediately. But as blur as I am without proper instructions, I was looking around for an entrance to board the plane. Finally an officer started speaking in heavily accented English, which I did not understand. I "huh-ed" and he said "checked?". I replied in Cantonese "check zor". Then he told me to enter the plane, and pointed me in the right direction.

Onboard Cathay Pacific CX880, the in-flight entertainment system was so so much better! The screen is more stable without jumps nor rendering lines seen. There was so much more selection of games and shows.
But, the seats do not fully recline, instead, seats slide forward and the seat backs slide down, while the head rest follow suit. The head rest was at a better height for me compared to the earlier flight, but it was tough finding a good position to sleep because the seats do not recline. In the end, I found a not too bad position, slump-ing sideways all the way down to the seat with the pillow placed at where the armrest meets the seat, with my head on the pillow instead of the headrest. The longest I managed to keep my eyes shut in this postion was one and a half hours, but I slept no more than 4 hours in total. It wasn't deep sleep at all too. I could keep hearing the humming of the plane engine and could feel the plane move when riding through rough air currents.
The stewardess were all not so friendly, they are only friendly to Hong Kong-ers. They were all smiles to the HK people, while to the rest, their face remain solemn and talk to you as if they are relunctant to handle your request.
Throughout the time I was awake, I entertained myself with games, an episode of F.R.I.E.N.D.S, an episode of Diamond Club (a Taiwanese variety show) and Juno!
Dinner was good, braised pork with potatoes. But breakfast, sigh, made a wrong choice. It was a choice between rice rolls and omelette. I chose omelette. If I knew rice rolls was cheong fun, I would have taken that lor...

Finally touched down at LA airport. At the customs clearance, the queue was so so long. Call it bad timing, as we joined the queue, they diverted the queue and the people behind us actually cleared customs first. So we waited and waited, seeing people joining our queue, got diverted to another and then got through customs first. We were not directed to join the other queues and thus had to stay put. In my mind I was wondering if it was pure coincidence or not as only the non-yellow skin were diverted.
Got through the customs very smoothly. The officers had a little chat with me and asked where I was going to study and how long I'll be here. He also asked what time is my connecting flight, and I told him 6am. He asked if I'm going to sleep at the airport, and I told him I want a quick breakfast before boarding the plane and he laughed. Honestly, I was hungry lor. But he was damn nice! He warned me not to venture out as it was dangerous and to stay in the airport.
At the conveyor belt, staff were helping us offload the luggages from the belt and placing them on the ground. When I saw my pink luggage, I wana cry sia. It was so dirty lor...

We then proceeded to the departure level and had McDonald's. Not that we want to, but we were hungry and there wasn't any other food. Here at Macs, I got my first lesson of learning how to buy food. Whatever the price is displayed, it is not the nett price; these are prices before any tax is included.
After breakfast, we took the airport shuttle to Terminal 2 where our domestic flight is located. We were early but it was good to sit around and relax for a while, while some of us repacked our luggage so as not to exceed the maximum weightage for our luggage. While some of us decided to feel at home...


Domestic flight details coming right up!
07:58 OK time...

Brief Update

Hola from America!!!

Sorry for not producing updates sooner. I'm well and fine in America, Oklahoma City although a weather report has just interrupted a tv program and issued a tornado warning. I'm currently 13 hours behind Singapore time, but will still be updating using SG time.

Did not sleep much on the flights to OK, was buying groceries and essential stuff and much settling down and unpacking, attending classes later, I'm short of sleep...
Sheepishly, I do admit, I'm still in the midst of catching up with my beauty sleep. But I promise full entries will be done asap.