Sunday, 30 December 2018

2018 Roundup

Here we are, at the end of another year; January 1 and December 31 of 2018 seem like two worlds apart, and well, I guess they are, at least geographically speaking. Time passed by so quickly and my life moved on along, but I'm not quite sure that I have. I just allowed myself to go through the motions and never really paused to reflect and consider what I have been experiencing in the past year, which is why I often find myself feeling... blah rather than a sense of direction and certainty.

I guess, this roundup is me trying to make sense of where I was, where I am, and where I am headed.


For 2018, I made the decision to start a gratitude journal -- a tiny booklet where I'd jot down one thing I am grateful for each day.  

Jan 1: Julie and her gift (Lonely Planet Book) 
Jan 2: Christmas cards from Dhanya, Sue Ann and Joo Lian

It was obviously an easier task in the beginning since it was still winter break, and the snow was still very much welcomed during the post-Christmas season. Besides, I had the whole of January off before I started my 6-credit Spring semester. And so I embarked on a trip that I had dreamt of for the longest time: Arizona.

As a city boy, I never had much affinity with the outdoors and hiking, but the various hiking trips I've had while living in the US eventually led to this moment -- pretty much the moment I've felt most awestruck ever in my life. 


Jan 23: Rangeela Sweatshirts are here!
Jan 24: Rangeela auditions done!

When I found myself back in GR, life was pretty much all about Rangeela, perhaps one of the biggest projects I've ever found myself involved in, and I count myself blessed to be able to be a part of this experience. It was eye-opening and certainly humbled me to witness the importance that cultures play in people's lives, but also how important an international cultural showcase could facilitate crucial discussions and jumpstart key conversations. Rangeela, most of all, made me care a whole lot more about the people around me and the stories they share. 

Feb 23: Rangeela Show 1: Smashing Success!
Feb 24: Rangeela DONE! What a journey.


Soon, the semester began, and I was all set for an easy semester -- or so I thought. You see, I had to take the Advanced Film Production class, against my will (I'm deathly terrified of production classes), so I didn't exactly enter the semester with the best mindset.

Mar 3: Shoot Day 1: Success! Longest shoot ever, but wonderful crew.
Mar 13: Finally done with shooting!  

The only other class I was taking was my senior seminar class, and all I had to do was prepare a 8-page research paper. So I packed my schedule with more hours of work in the Rhetoric Center and a whole lot of singing -- in uKnighted and Annex Voices. Little did I know that a simple 6-credit semester would not be quite as simple as I imagined. Between the hours at work, shooting schedules, researching for my final paper, and rehearsal times, I'd forgotten how much time they'd pile up on top of my time in classes. Thank God Spring Break was just around the corner.   


Mar 16: Arrived in Seattle!!!
Mar 17: Portland: Donuts 4 Days
Mar 18: Portland: So. Much. Food + BEST CHICKEN WAFFLE EVER.
Mar 19: Pike's Place is LIT
Mar 20: Hiking Rattlesnake

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Image may contain: Lemuel Ong Chin Shan, smiling, mountain, sky, outdoor, nature and water

You get the point. It was such a wonderful trip, getting to visit Tiffany with Felisse, and meeting new friends, trying new things, going to new places, and of course, eating a ton of amazing food. #TBT to the best fried chikin and waffles ever. It was much needed break. 


As I geared up for the end of the semester and graduation,  everything went better than I could have imagined. I had finished my final research paper earlier in order to submit it for a Gender's Studies writing competition, and I actually ended up writing an 18-pager instead of an 8-pager because I was so intrigued by my topic that allowed me opportunities to converse with Asian Americans, giving me a better understanding of how they identified themselves.  

April 18: Honors Convocation
April 27: Jazz Fest + Calvin's Got Talent
April 30: Sunshine!
May 10: Craziest but most fulfilling day -- Won $100 for Honor's Thesis, Annex Voice's Concert + Senior Sendoff + uKnighted concert + Media Showcase

 I also experienced a standing ovation for the first time from a small but mighty audience during Annex Voices' concert, and I was truly overwhelmed given how the leadership team had to hurdle through many challenges during the beginning of the semester.

Even though my group couldn't showcase our movie at the Media Showcase, we still had a successful private screening. And even though we had to take down our posters around campus, I'll never forget the moment when my professor just stared and admired our poster for a solid 10-seconds. Most of all, I'll never forget how working with a creative, dedicated team helped me enjoy a class I never wanted to take in the first place.


Before I knew it, graduation was here. My 4 Years in Calvin came to an end and I would soon make my way home. 

May 16: Fam's in town!
May 19: Graduation!
June 20: Sendoff. Bye GR! <3 i="">

Nevertheless, leaving wasn't easy knowing that it'd be months, if not years, before I would get to see some of my close friends again. 


Before I knew it, I arrived home greeted by a sign that says "Welcome Home, 4 Bags". Life was back to normal, it seemed. 4 Years in GR felt like a dream. I hung out with friends and family and did many things I used to do before I left. 

June 25: Interview day. Soaking wet but I think it went well? lol
June 26: Netflix all day everyday
June 27: Train + Ramen with The Mole
July 22: Good Vibes

So began the 4-month long break that gave me ample rest, but also a lot of time to miss Grand Rapids and be emo lol. It didn't take long (till around July) for me to be agitated from being a useless potato at home, so I decided to book several holiday trips.

July 17: Touring KL with Justin
July 20: Sleepover @ Aldo's
July 26: Daeun hangout day @ Hongdae lol
July 27: Meetup with Gospel Choir crew + Chimac with Sung Ju
July 30: Hangout with Ahee @ Jeju

Image may contain: Lemuel Ong Chin Shan and Ahee Kim, people smiling, people standing, sky, grass, outdoor and nature

In a span of 2 weeks, I felt like I was on a mission to meet up with as many Calvin Knights as I possibly could. It was rejuvenating, really, because I've always felt a sense of regression since coming home to the familiar and I never really knew how to reconcile the person I became in Grand Rapids with the person that I was in Malaysia -- and in some ways I still don't know how to. Maybe, in my mind, it's just difficult to explain and translate the changes I've experienced in the 4-years in US; or maybe I've just done such a fantastic job compartmentalizing my life.  


I'm not gonna lie -- some days it was difficult to jot anything down because it was so mundane and routine. While the gratitude journal helped me to pay attention to the littlest of things that I should be grateful for, it also felt like an obligation at times, so much so that I almost replaced my gratitude journal with a mere list of "what I did today". There are also days I simply forgot to put anything down because there simply wasn't anything worth noting, I guess. 

August 14: ?
August 15: ?
August 16: ?
August 23: Haircut

Maybe life is not just highs and lows; it's mostly just "?".


August certainly ended with a high, though. I got to visit Australia for the first time and it was such a deliciously refreshing trip.

August 24: Australia! Met Dhanya.
August 25: Sam's Wedding + Hangz with Elise
August 26: Great Ocean Road Trip! 


September came around, and I spent most of the month writing the script for the skits I would direct for VBC. It was nice to be able to make good use of what I've learned from college, and for a moment, my two worlds were beginning to draw closer together. 

September 12: Scriptwriting @ Starbs
September 29: Hangz with Avilas + Calvin gang

I then spent the next two months with the actors rehearsing and shooting for VBC. It was an intimidating task, to be quite honest, and to this very day I still have no clue what gave me the courage to agree to such a task. But I will say that it was very fulfilling to be able to serve with the little that I have and I'm glad the kids enjoyed it. :) 

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October 14: Successful first rehearsals!
November 6: Holiday + VBC Shoot DONE!
November 24: VBC - Success! :)


Actually, I was very happy that I was able to create, pretty much consistently, throughout my 4-month break. From travel vlogs to directing this skit, my thirst for creativity was thoroughly quenched, even though I was probably stressed out, frustrated, and cranky during those moments and only realized this in hindsight.

And then, this happened.

September 24: Won AirAsia x Sony Through The Lens contest!
October 19: AirAsia x Sony event. FUN! 

I was shortlisted as a finalist for the AirAsia X Sony ambassador search when I joined the Through The Lens contest -- basically I just submitted pictures with captions to tell my story. It was such an honor to be featured alongside other creative (and quite frankly, very professional and talented) photographers and storytellers that when I saw their work, I felt like I didn't belong there tbh. 😅 


November came around and so began life as a contributing member of society; it was time to retire as a couch potato. To be quite frank, I was really anxious before I started work. I feared that, as a scholar, much would be expected from me -- more than I could fulfill. I knew that I didn't necessarily have the drive, ambition, or a keen sense of direction compared to many other scholars. But most of all, I feared that my awkward turtle self would just make it hard for myself to fit in at work.  

November 1: First day of work!
November 9: Friyay with MAs
December 13: Go Shop parteh

Now, two months into work @ Astro, I am glad that my fears didn't materialize and that I've found myself working alongside many friendly, crazy, fun, welcoming, and cool people. 


So, as the year draws to a close, I can clearly see how much a journey 2018 has been. As much as I'd like to be in two places at once, I guess I'll have to learn other ways to reconcile my past with my present. As to where I'm headed... 



Jane B. said...

Hey Lem!!! This is Nina btw :) Jane is just my pen name, but Ah I loved hearing your updates! I hope I get to taste those chikin and waffles someday heh.

Lemuel Ong Chin Shan said...

Hi NIna!!

Yes, please do yourself a favor and get the chicken and waffles in Screen Door!