Friday, March 31, 2006

blearily emotionless

No, I'm still not excited yet. Still not as prepared as I'd like to be. But you know what? I'm more tired than ever!

I thought with the week off from work, I may have some time off for myself. A mini break, with no worries. Just finalising stuff and making sure I've got my things ready to go into the luggage bag. Little things popped up here and there, more advice from kind souls, tips to take note and more things added itself to my original list.

And then, there's the goodbyes I had to say. Even though my last day was Friday, I came back Monday to tidy up some loose ends and wanting to say goodbye properly. I had to make do with a short email to those on my address book, a short one with no details. Just concise, telling them I was resigning and to stop emailing me at the office address.

This week, I've gotten more things crossed off the list - my laptop arrived yesterday! I managed to test out the system and tried out my new webcam. A nifty little gift from my darling grrlfriends, for birthday and farewell. Yes, now with the advancement of technology, you can view Niigata sceneries from the comforts of your home, minus the biting cold and billowing wind.

And then, there's the hordes of fans various groups of friends who want to meet me before I go. It gets sadder with each farewell. I have no choice but to still sound like a broken tape recorder because they don't read my blog. Because I'm already so exhausted, I think my emotion bank also became empty.

I think at this point, I'm quite incapable of showing real emotions! I feel sad and teary inside, but they're not showing outside. I hope my adoring fans understanding friends will give me the benefit of doubt for looking so aloof and unaffected by their deeds and words.

Wait till I get to Niigata and when I'm feeling lonely and the reality of leaving the comforts of home starts to sink in. I'll switch on my webcam, and you will get to see me crying. Of course, all these within the comforts of your home, at no extra charge, heh!

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

still can't believe

Can't believe I'll be leaving Malaysia in less than a week. Even though I've gotten most things settled, it has just begun to sink in that I'll be embarking on a new journey in a foreign land whose language I barely know in 5 days!

People have been asking me whether I've started packing, if I'm feeling excited. For the past 2 weeks, I have had to to say no to both questions. All I could think of was to tie up loose ends, both at work and outside. Now that most of them are done, I'm starting to imagine my life in Japan.

I've heard so much about it, and have never thought I would set foot in this country whose capital ranks one of the highest in the world in terms of living expenses. In a way, I'm glad I didn't get into any of the universities in Tokyo. The fact that my course is fairly new and not many schools offer it somewhat made decision making easier.

Was googling for IUJ late last night (early this morning!) and saw a link to some pictures posted up by someone whom I think is a student there. I almost dropped dead looking at them. For one, they look so beautiful! I've heard lots about IUJ being surrounded by mountains and having one of the most amount of snowfall in Japan. A fellow Monbusho scholar said that he envied me because I would be studying in a "ski resort".

Secondly, that means, I'm going to freeze up and die. If you were to give me a choice, I would choose beach over mountains for my escapade, any time of the year. I can already imagine myself curled up in layers of clothing and blowing hot air to warm myself. Forget about being fashionable in hip Japan, all that matters would be to survive!

Oh boy, I can't wait to see how I'm going to avoid from ending up as a popsicle.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

saying my goodbyes

Didn't know it'd feel like this. Throughout my last year at work, I was waiting for the day when I'd throw in the letter and say it to their face, "I have had it, it's time I move to greener pastures and leave this scum place. I can't believe I've lasted this long, I must've been mad to endure all these shit nonsense."

As the days went by, I realised I was actually missing the people I've worked together with these past 4 years. FOUR freaking years! How many of today's yuppies have worked that long at their first job?

They threw me a farewell party at Chilli's, MidValley on Thursday. I was already coming down with a cold and fever. All the running around on low fuel. If it wasn't for me they were celebrating, I'd have taken a rain check on that. It was really sweet of them to do that.

Even though we do farewells for each (well, most) colleague, and mine was to be expected, I wouldn't have minded if they didn't. After all, they just threw a birthday party for me and 2 others whose birthdays fall in March. And because of the short notice, and the concurrent handovers everywhere, it was really quite a feat.

I got a furry coat in brown! Sorry, no time to post up pictures. Which reminds me, tonnes of others from the past weeks as well. Jap thingy taking up my time. Anyways, that was really touching! Now I don't have to go shop for a coat anymore.

So, yesterday was my last day. I had been looking forward to this day for ages. But all I felt were mixed emotions. Sure I was happy that I was finally leaving, and with pride. I almost had to resort to resigning without finding a new job, that was how bad things had become.

But at the same time, I was getting teary. This was where I first started work, got corrupted by sex-crazed colleagues educated in the ways of the corporate world and learnt that God indeed put me there for a reason. I have come a long way, and on hindsight, am able to see why I had to go through certain things.

These past few days, I've come to realise that my presence really did make a impact. That some of my colleagues do appreciate me for who I am, and the efforts I put in at work did not go unnoticed. It's a pity I only came to know all these during my last few days at work.

But I'm glad nonetheless, at least now I know my candle did shine in that place of darkness. Even if it was a struggling little light in the billowing cold and blackness, it did make a difference.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

answer you i will

The past week has been a mad dash and mishmash of sorts. I don't remember having to do so much in such a short span of time.

Like for instance, today, I managed to do all these while on leave :
- Did my visa application in the Jap Embassy
- Collected my new Citibank credit card
- Withdrew money from my RHB s/a
- Paid my MBf credit card bills
- Bought AMEX travellers cheques from StanChart
- Updated my Maybank account book
- Activated my ATM card to be used internationally
- Exchanged MYR -> JPY

I'm also finalising these, hopefully they'll be settled by this week :
- Getting a laptop that fulfills my specs, and still within my budget
- Buying a travel insurance, if not, one that protects me while I'm overseas
- Arranging accomodation in Niigata University
- Confirming that someone will meet and pick me up at Narita
- Buying some winter clothes in case I freeze into a popsicle upon arrival

Anyways, in addition to the first FAQ, here are some more which I left out earlier :

When will you be leaving?
Just confirmed my flight details. Flying off at 2250 hrs on JAL, 3rd April. Reaching Narita International 0655 hrs the next day.

That's about 2 weeks time!
Yup. Time really flies when you're occupied. Even though it looks like I've got much settled, I realised I still have a long way to go before I strike off even half of my list.

So are you still working?
I wish I wasn't. But I stayed on out of goodwill. Besides, I don't wanna burn my bridges. Too much to handover and I don't want the new person to drown under the weight of unfinished work and demanding superiors unrealistic expectations. :p

How did your colleagues take it?
I shared abit on my Jap application to the seniors, they're really happy for me. One of them was really encouraging because she too wanted to further her studies, but a baby came along. Of course, my boss was surprised. It's too short a notice and I only hope she'll come to realise how invaluable I was! find someone soon.

Well, at least you don't have to pay back, right?
Ya, thank God for that. I'd like to indulge in the full story of how this probably happened, but the short of it is the Div Chief was pretty much in a good mood. Not only did I not have to pay the company back, but they're also giving me my March salary and pro-rated bonus! I was prepared to pay them back, so to have them pay me instead is more than expected. And that is just another sign of God's hand in this.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

ask and you shall be answered

I knew I was right in staggering my announcement. Throughout the past week, these people have found out about the good news : family, grrlfriends, cell members, friends who've messaged to wish me happy birthday, some pastors, watashino Nihon-go no sensei to tomodachi, department colleagues, iB/gcf people I met during my last Beyond Headstart meeting, group members from the last iB camp, ex-CF members from MMU and of course those who prayed for me throughout this whole process.

I realised I still have many more to go, and I can't keep repeating myself again and again. Beginning to sound like a spoilt tape recorder. So I have decided to compile a list of Frequently Asked Questions. I'll try to keep it concise but informative.

Where are you going?
Japan. To be exact, Niigata.

What will you be studying?
First 6 mths will be Jap language intensive course, followed by 2 years in the Masters of E-Business Management.

How long will you be there?
Please refer to the previous answer.

Wah, so long! Will you be coming back in between?
Well, I would like to, but depends on whether I have leftover from my allowance. Or maybe if I get to work part-time, or apprentice as a geisha help out as a research assistant.

So are you going on a scholarship?
Yes, it's the Monbukagakusho from the Japanese Embassy. Please refer to past blog posts.

What will they be paying for?
It's a full scholarship, covering tuition and exam fees. Allowance will be given, but I guess this would go to food, lodging, textbooks, having holidays in between, etc.

Have you started packing?
Of course not. I haven't even finished settling important stuff, let alone go shopping and don't even mention packing! I have 3 lists - handover in the office, things to settle in Malaysia and things to say to Takeshi to bring to Japan.

Wow, so you must be quite busy huh?
Uh huh. So many things running through my mind now, the lists really help! Some of the more important ones are like getting a laptop, digital camera, what to do with my hp line, whether I should keep a credit card to be used there, or whether my bank account can be accessed from Japanese ATM's, bringing comfort food in case I get hungry in the middle of the night and the cafeteria's closed, etc etc etc...

Just too many to list down, it will bore you to death :p

So have you resigned?
Yups! Sent in my letter last Friday, and it felt good! it was sad to say goodbye so soon.

Don't you have to serve notice?
3 months, crazy or not??! Well my cell members prayed for me and I just received the good news today - I don't have to pay back a single sen! Let's all praise the Lord!

Friday, March 10, 2006

shi-gatsu ni nihon e ikimasu!

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, the moment you've been waiting for :

final confirmation

Did I tell you this letter came in on my birthday? Well, it did, and I must say this must be one of the bestest birthday gift ever! Words can't describe how I feel and it can only be from God.

I have loads to update you guys, coz that was not the only thing that happened on my birthday. However, since I only have a few weeks left before I fly off, a million things are running through my mind. My apologies if I somehow have not been able to answer your calls.

Just submitted my resignation letter, you should've seen the look on my boss' face. Well, there's no turning back now. I'm just hoping that the management is agreeable to this, if not I will have to pay them back. Gosh, that will be 2 months of my salary.

Anyways, I just wanna thank you to those who've sent lovely wishes and gifts for my birthday. I really did want to reply and tell you about this good news, but I just wasn't prepared to answer everyone at one go.

There's still many things to settle. So many things I have to do, so many things I have to buy, so many people to say goodbye to. I can't even begin to list them all down. I'll try to update you guys as and when I can. In the meantime, thanks for sharing my joy :)

Wednesday, March 08, 2006


An almost spontaneous decision to go for the much raved about "shut up" comedy from Japan turned out to be one of the best birthday experiences ever.

Gamarjobat is touted as the "highly-acclaimed physical comedy duo who will perform a silent comedy that absolutely transcends anything you think you know about clowning, magic and mime".

When Chernie asked me what I wanted for my birthday, I told her there was only one thing in my mind, and only God can grant me that wish! However, since I haven't exhausted my quota for theatre this year, I told her the Gamarjobat sounds like something fun to go for.

Gamorjabat memorabilia
Autographed poster and ticket stub and other Gamorjabat memorabilia

I was surprised she agreed to pay for my ticket, knowing that productions from Gardner & Wife ain't exactly cheap. I'm into all things performing arts, but my purse dictates that I have a quota for visits to the MPO, drama/theatre and musicals!

Imagine our delight when I tried to call about the tickets to be told that they were having a promotion - buy 1 free 1! The show was just as they had said. The awards won by the eccentric duo of Hiroppon and Ketch were well deserved.

It was truly hilarious watching them pull out stunts after magic stunts. They even engaged the audience in some of their acts, and rewarded them with lollipops. One of the things that amazed me was how seamlessly they morphed from one character to another, all within seconds, with props and all.

Hiroppon & Ketch
The wacky duo who is Hiroppon & Ketch

Sporting gold and red Mohican haircuts and dressed in costumes for each act, they appeal to both kids and adults alike. All of their acts are perfectly choreographed to matching soundtrack and sound effects. The fact that their acts needed only basic props only served to remind us of their impeccable skill and compelling performance.

Thanks again, Chernie & Wes. It was a truly an evening to be remembered. The vegetarian bruschetta and mushroom and chicken pie we had at Dome's was a splendid way to cap it all off. Hope you guys enjoyed yourselves as much as I did!

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

to be grateful

Instead of mulling over the uncertain, I thought I should thank the people who've played a role in getting me to where I am now. Nope, no letter yet, but I must pay my dues, with or without. In the order in which they appeared in my journey :

1) Choon Lai - I know you may not even be reading this, but thank you for "introducing" me to the Monbukagakusho. Your essays were a great help, even though I had no idea what they were all about! In my humble opinion, I think your experience and qualifications are way better than mine, though I shouldn't compare because we're not even in the same field!

2) Shih Chung - We were supposed to go into this together. I'm sorry your journey stopped after the interview. I think you have much potential too and you would've been great company if we ended up in the same uni together. Thanks for helping me send in the applications at such a last minute and assuaging my initial fears of all those procedures that we had to go through.

3) Hwok Lok - God must've allowed you to go through the interviews so many times for a reason like this - so that your wealth of experience will be invaluable when it came my turn! Heh, on hindsight maybe those were common interview questions, but your tips came in handy when I was in time of mourning and wasn't in the right frame of mind to go through an interview.

I know I owe you guys one, a Jap meal nonetheless. It may even be my last, for all you know! :p