WHOLESOME

I think if I had to set up an ideal week at home for myself, it would probably look a lot like last week.

After a nice trip to Ipoh last Sunday, Monday was mostly spent hanging out with family. I went to Pavillion with my mum, sisters, aunty and my cousin Alesya. To be honest, we made the trip because my family isn’t impervious to the whole Duck Scarves hype. Their only store is all the way there, so I just wanted to go check it out since I had never been. I didn’t buy anything (I think my mum and I were the only ones who didn’t) but it was fine because the highlight of the trip was really getting my Milk Cow honey soft serve and having lunch at Ben’s.

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My mum, Alesya, my aunty (who I call Chik), me, Aida and Julia

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I should also mention that I’m really enjoying the fact that public transport (or at least, the trains) are half off until the end of the month! I really like taking the LRT around so I was really glad we all took it to KL, though it might not be a good idea for next time because of my aunty’s knee. I just love the views and people-watching! Plus, I like how it makes me feel independent… and you know, I hate navigating roads and parking haha. I’m glad connectivity is getting better in KL. It’s still not great, I usually need someone to send me to the closest station. But it’s a lot better now and I’m grateful for progress!

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We also made a few more food excursions last week (honestly… what’s new?). We went to one of my favourite places for breakfast, Azira in Seksyen 10. They serve everything and everything they serve is just so good. My favs are mi kari, lontong, roti jala and soto in that order. It’s one of those restaurants where you can take as much as you want, which I love, which means I can have just a bit of everything. Their kari especially is just so good, and I think I really like it because it’s just so berlemak haha.

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Post-breakfast mess!

Later that evening, we went on yet another food hunt. I had recently heard of the kuey teow place near FAM in Kelana Jaya and when I asked my dad about it, he said we actually used to go there a long time ago so we decided to give it a visit. The one at Subang Ria was unfortunately closed that day so we went to Restoran Jamal which also has a really famous char kuey teow place. Normally, I’d be bummed if I went to KJ for a certain thing and couldn’t get it but the kuey teow we got instead absolutely did not disappoint and just reaffirmed my putting kuey teow in the upper echelon of Malaysian food.

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The next day, we had a cute little family photoshoot in Bangsar. We’ve been doing these once every 3 years or so and it’s always a little awkward having to do all the poses haha but they always turn out great so I’m excited to see these pictures, especially because we took some graduation pics as well and Aida got to be in them this time.

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Got to wear this robe one more time and really make the most out of the absurd amount of money I had to spend on it, haha (my robe isn’t dirty btw, it was the mirror)

After the photoshoot thing, my dad had a meeting but the rest of us went to KGNS for lunch. I love KGNS and it’s probably really bougie of me to say that I love being part of a ~golf and country club~ lol but honestly we just go there for the food. Aida and I were particularly craving yong tau foo so we got that, some pau ayam and good old teh tarik. SO SATISFYING.

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That night, I went to KL Sentral to have dinner because the Malaysians at Penn club thing was having a welcome dinner for the incoming freshmen. We squeezed into a small corner at Manhattan Fish Market because despite making a reservation, we were told we’d have to wait 30 minutes for a table otherwise. A little annoyed at first, we ended up making it work. I feel a little bad that I didn’t get to speak to the newbies much but it was the first time in ages that I got to see Peter, Han Yang and quite a few others who had graduated in previous years so I was just so excited to see them again.

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Excuse the extra large font, it was Peter’s doing, not mine.

Ken offered to drive me, Sha and Peter home after dinner and I gladly accepted, forgetting for a minute that I actually drove to the Glenmarie LRT station, haha. I had a hell of a laugh for a second, thinking about what my parents would say in the morning if they saw that the car wasn’t there. In the end, he drove me to the train station near Sha’s house which is a lot closer to Glenmarie than KL Sentral is. We had so much fun in the car, laughing, talking about everything from work to the healthcare bill to figuring out how to use Boomerang. It was so blissful—more so than usual now that I more fully understand how precious and rare times like those are and will continue to be now that we’re all going to be in different cities. It reminded me of lazy hangs at Ludlow and it made me miss May May and Hui Jie a bit more.

On Friday night, my family and I went to KLPAC which is the KL Performing Arts Centre to watch Family, a production put on by the participants/students of their Theatre for Young People program as their final showcase. My dad knew someone who was in it, so we all decided to go support him since we thought it would also be really fun. The show was well written and as far as I could tell, it was a very good performance. It ran for about 80 minutes and consisted of short sketches that really attempted to blow out into the open all the things we Malaysians tend to sweep under the rug when it comes to family: secrets, broken homes, mental illnesses, multiracial families, domestic violence and etc. I definitely was glad I went.

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Awfully dark and blurry picture of me and my sisters waiting for the show

I was also very happy to bump into Nadia that night at KLPAC!!! It was both of our first times there and we both adored the interiors together for a second, haha. I hadn’t seen her in ages and now that I’m thinking about it, this was probably the first time I’ve met her in Malaysia since we had only ever met up in London, where neither of us have lived, lol.

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We got back from the play and I had to try to fall asleep as soon as possible because the next morning, I had to wake up at like 5.30 because I was going hiking! Ken invited me and Peter only like a couple of days before but I’ve been wanting to go hiking for ages so I wasn’t going to turn it down. There was a hiking event at Bukit Wawasan and we kind of just randomly joined. My dad had to drive me out all the way to Puchong at like 6-ish a.m. (shoutout to my dad) and we started hiking just after 7. Literally 15 minutes after climbing uphill, I was panting and started to think, “hmm boleh ke ni?” (Can I actually do this?) LOL. Peter and Ken are so fit! Peter was literally just like prancing around while singing! But I’m not a giver-upper so I persisted through the 2-hour trail and I’m really glad I did because it was so satisfying. I have always said that the best part of physically exercising is the part where you train yourself to get better at negotiating with the nagging voice in your head and that was definitely true last Saturday as well.

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After the hike, we were dead set on replacing all our calories with some good nasi lemak. We even drove out to Uptown to get Village Park nasi lemak (since Ken has never been!) but honestly… Village Park? At 9.30 am on a Saturday? Forget it. So we just drove to Bukit Jelutong since they were going to send me home anyway and the best nasi lemak is actually a 5-minute walk from my house. We ended up sitting there for a couple of hours and I joked that it was probably my most wholesome hangout with those two, haha.

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On Sunday, even though I was a little sore and my toe really hurt from slipping during the hike, I went to Puchong in the afternoon to see my friend Lisa who is spending a year in Malaysia teaching English in Sarawak as a Fulbright scholar. She was in KL for the weekend as part of a Dance Camp some of the Fulbright scholars organised and I went to watch their closing show. It was so nice to catch up with Lisa and see firsthand how she’s like with her students. We didn’t get to speak a whole lot because obviously we didn’t want to be disruptive or disrespectful or whatever during the show but we did get to talk about the camp, a few of her struggles as a Fulbright ETA and what she’s thinking of doing next. I’m honestly so amazed by her enthusiasm and dedication to those kids. Her team ended up winning Audience Favourite and even was about to just full on break into tears, not gonna lie.

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(An awful shot of) the winning group’s performance. These kids teared up when they found out they won!!

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ME WITH LISA!!!

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Lisa hyping up her group before they went on stage

I got home that evening, baked some pecan cupcakes and helped prepare for a little dinner thing we were having that night. We invited one of our neighbours to come to dinner at our place as a family. We all just love spending time with Aunty A and her family; they’re always so warm and hospitable and funny. It’s just always a good time. My mum made laksa sarawak (insanely good, btw) and aunty brought some bread butter pudding, which was delicious. I actually used to follow Aunty A and her husband to work every morning when I was interning in KL a couple of summers ago and I honestly enjoyed chatting with them in the mornings and sometimes getting breakfast with them so having them over for dinner really reminded me of that, except more meriah because the rest of our families were there as well.

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My mum’s laksa

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So yeah, that was my week! It was so lovely… Hiking and dinner with friends! Food excursions, shopping and theatre with family! Catching up with people! How cute and wholesome, am I right? I did leave a few things out, like following my dad to a work event, quick detours to get cronuts at Dotty’s, eating McD breakfast in traffic and going out for chinese food dinner with my cousins but… I don’t know, I guess I just missed it and now I’m too lazy to go back and fit it in lol. Anyway, rest assured, I also spent a lot of time at home doing boring things like napping, staring at the ceiling in my room and flipping through channels aimlessly hehe.

Until next time!

Week 7: I Get A Break!

It was a long week, you guys. It feels like a month crammed into one week, and I think that’s partly because I don’t know how to tell you the story of my past week in a coherent post.. many things which are pretty different and somewhat unrelated happened this week.

Dropping a class
This is my 5th semester at Penn. Every semester apart from my very first one, I’ve taken 5 classes/credit units. The typical semester is about 3-5.5 credits, although a few of my friends take 6. This semester, I was enrolled in a class I absolutely wasn’t enjoying. I felt the class lacked a good sense of structure/direction, and that the professor was not very organised. It didn’t fulfil any requirements for me–it was something I’d registered in just for fun. Except, it wasn’t fun at all. But because I had waited so long to realise how much I couldn’t stand the class, it was too late to add another class to replace it if I dropped this one. So I hung on because the idea of taking only 4 classes made me feel like I would be slacking, like I would’ve wasted the opportunity to be in another class. I felt so ashamed because it made me feel like I would be such an underachiever. Luckily, I accepted the fact that those were awful reasons to be doing something I don’t even like, and so I let it go; what felt like a shameful idea now feels like a triumph against my ego or whatever.

The safety threat
Last Sunday, the entire Penn community (and the communities of many other colleges around Philadelphia) was notified of a vague “safety threat” made on social media. Colleges were alerted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the FBI about a threat of violence against a university which mentioned the time and date of 2 p.m. on October 5th (you can read about it here). The university ensured us that they were taking this seriously–and they did. On Monday, there was a noticeably heavy presence of police and other security officers on campus. People cut class to stay home, and everyone was in some kind of subtle panic. It was a weird feeling. Everyone walked quickly. It seemed quiet and tense. Classes were cancelled. I was scared, too. Shahirah, Hui Jie and I stayed home studying and eating takeout, trying not to check the time. Nothing happened that day, alhamdulillah, I am so thankful. Everyone was relieved, but I think we all were also perplexed? intrigued? at how such a vague threat had such a huge effect. We all learned how little control of our lives we have.

My exam
On Wednesday, campus was back to normal, and I had my political science exam. I’ve mentioned this before, but this is the first PSCI class I’ve taken and so I was a little stressed out because (a) I didn’t know what to expect or how to prepare for it and (b) I love this class (like LOVE IT so much that I question if I am in the right major) and so I really wanted to do well. I prepared for it sufficiently, and so I am not too worried about how it turns out, nor do I care as much because at least I know I did what I could. It was 50 minutes of frantically writing a 4-5 page essay? I can hardly remember, but it caused my arm much pain. By the time the proctors called for pens down, the way my arm felt tired gave me a flash of what it was like to be in school in Malaysia, sitting at our tiny wooden desks spaced out evenly for exams in our tiny cement-floored classrooms, writing on our kertas kajang (foolscap paper), tying them together with strings when we were done. I thought it was cool how the way my muscles felt could bring back memories of things I haven’t thought of in years. But the end of that exam also marked the start of Fall Break 🙂 (!!!!!!!)

Studying for my poli sci exam.

Studying for my poli sci exam.

Half of my poli sci cheat sheet!

Half of my poli sci cheat sheet.

Awful out-of-focus picture of my friends having coffee on the rooftop after dinner and dessert to celebrate fall break!

Awful out-of-focus picture of my friends having coffee on the rooftop after dinner and dessert to celebrate fall break!

Fall break
I don’t know how many of you follow me on Instagram, but I have been documenting (overdocumenting, possibly) my four day weekend on it. On Thursday, I went to King of Prussia to go hunting for a new pair of boots and it was really fun.

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My new babies hehe.

My new babies hehe.

I spent Friday in New York City. Honestly, New York is electric. I think this was my 5th or 6th trip up there and every time, I appreciate it a little bit more. People talk about the energy, but honestly, I don’t care much for that. What I like about New York is looking at the diversity–there are all sorts of people there, all sorts of stores, cuisines. Everything is cutting edge. There is always more to discover and so much inspiration to get from that city. I know this is what everyone says.. and I’m annoying myself for saying it because I know I’m blurting a bunch of clichés and am not really giving you a great description of what NYC is like.. but I hope someday you get to experience it for yourself!

First stop in NYC: coffee.

First stop in NYC: coffee.

Flat whites make my morning.

Flat whites make my morning.

My first time seeing Central Park in non-jacket-wearing weather, and what a difference it makes.

My first time seeing Central Park in non-jacket-wearing weather, and what a difference it makes.

The Mall.

The Mall.

Awkward unintentional handbag-modelling (?)

Awkward unintentional handbag-modelling (?)

Shahirah trusted me with rowing, and I trusted her to take pictures of me. Talk about trust exercises..

Shahirah trusted me with rowing, and I trusted her to take pictures of me. Talk about trust exercises..

Just one of the many boats I almost hit. And oh yeah, the view.

Just one of the many boats I almost hit. And oh yeah, a great view.

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The picture I always take when I get this ice cream.. because I'm original and creative.

The picture I always take when I get this ice cream.. because I’m original and creative.

Subway stations.

Subway stations.

Cute decorations in cute Japanese stores.

Cute decorations in cute Japanese stores.

A crappy attempt at a panorama at Times Square.

A crappy attempt at a panorama at Times Square.

We walked so much yesterday and it was a little tiring, so today I took it easy and just did groceries, watched TV, read and stayed home.

Me, pushing my basket through Trader Joes' check out line because it was too heavy to carry.

Me, pushing my basket through Trader Joes’ check out line because it was too heavy to carry.

It’s back to the grind on Monday (boo) so I’m really going to enjoy my last day off tomorrow. For now, I’m gonna end with this picture of my cousin’s adorable baby when he was at my house in Malaysia last week because he is the cutest and I miss him. Bye!

MISS YOU, AYDEN!!

MISS YOU, AYDEN!!

Week 6: The Less I Know, The More I Learn

The last time I wrote a blog post, it was approximately 5 a.m. and I was cozied up in bed with a fever and couldn’t fall asleep (update: I’m all better now). Today, it’s about 5 p.m. and I just spent the last 30-or-so minutes in bed trying to fall asleep but feeling haunted by the lingering image of the monster that is my to-do list. It feels like all those times I just couldn’t reach for the extra cookie because I knew I didn’t go to the gym that week. Thankful for this discipline but boy is it frustrating sometimes..

Studying for my neuroscience exam.

Studying for my neuroscience exam.

I had two exams this week and have a paper due on Friday, which I need to start like, now. I told myself that if I finish writing my paper by 12 p.m. on Friday, I will buy myself a fruit smoothie and I really really really want that smoothie. The exams went well though, alhamdulillah. I have another exam next week which I’m quite nervous about because I’ve never taken a political science class or write an essay on the kinds of things we learn in that class. But as I was thinking about that today, I suddenly recalled feeling the same way for the literature class I took last semester. English literature is so not the kind of class I usually take, and it was not something I had much expertise in. I mean, we only read abridged versions of “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” and “Phantom of the Opera” throughout the 3 years we prepared for PMR, and then suddenly I had to read 9 whole books and a whole bunch of other supplementary reading in 15 weeks. I was really scared to write an essay for that exam but I did alright–definitely was not an amazing grade, but I was proud of myself for trying something new and interesting and not being ashamed to struggle for it. I guess all of this kind of gave me peace of mind, because I know I have surprised myself with scary oh-my-god-how-am-I-ever-gonna-get-past-this challenges before and loved it, so I know I can do it again (guys, it’s been a while since I’ve had faith in myself like this, it’s so rare and I’m rather pleased).

Highlight of the week: other than making it out of my exams more-than-alive, I am now the proud owner of two plants! I’ve been planning to get a plant for about a year now, but today, between classes, I walked past the farmers market, saw a really lovely selection of cute little potted plants, and in the spur of the moment, made my one-year-dream come true. It’s only been a brief 3 hours with my babies, but I love having a living thing around that doesn’t talk or make voluntary movements, you know? Is that weird? Oh well, it’s true.

The succulents at the farmers' market.

The succulents at the farmers’ market, arranged nicely.

My yet-to-be named plants!

My yet-to-be named plants sitting quietly on my window sill beside me.

Today, I still have to attend a meeting, read 2 chapters for a class, outline my 6-page paper and cook…. and there’s only about 6 hours left to the day. It’s really annoying to always feel like I must do everything (and do it well), but I think this is what it feels like to be pushing myself healthily and I’m just going to confront this discomfort by going through it. *cringe* Baby steps! The next time you hear from me insha-Allah it will be ~fall break~, all I’m currently worried about will be behind me, it will be amazing and I can’t wait.