Monday, March 31, 2008

Music on a Sunny Afternoon

Okay, so now I’m safely back in Cambridge after spending about six days in Benelux (that stands for Belgium, The Netherlands and Luxembourg). It was a good trip, the only drawback being the weather. We were hoping for a spring trip, but the weather in Luxembourg reminds me of the UK, just with the rain replaced with snow. It rained in Brussels and Amsterdam, so it’s a good thing that I always carry my umbrella in my backpack. Guess being in the UK for some time (about five years, to be more precise) will do that to you. Fortunately for us, the last day (which we spent by looking at tulips) was quite sunny. I might have cried otherwise.

Also, there won’t be any pictures until the person responsible for compiling and distributing them to us is finished with his task. So you guys have to wait a while for them.

I arrived back in Cambridge on Sunday. And the thing that I can say is that it feels... invigorating, to be back here. The familiarity of the town, the comfort of my own room, the presence of people I know. It sure is nice to be back.

Busking is a regular occurrence in Cambridge. Especially on weekends, you can often see people playing music all around town. I was on my way to the Lion Yard’s O2 shop (to replace my phone, which you know was lost) when I saw a group of people performing in front of the Great St. Mary’s church. They were called the Thudbox, and they were playing with drums and percussions. Unable to resist savouring the moment, I just stood there, enjoying the drumbeat, the music and the warmth of the afternoon. It felt good. It was about twenty minutes before I continued on my way.

Oh, and by the way, the Trinity punting station is open. So if you fancy a punting trip, then drop by.


Monday, March 24, 2008

Off On A Trip

Right, so I'm going to Luxembourg, Brussels and Amsterdam. See you guys in a week's time!


Saturday, March 22, 2008

Lazing Around

And how can I not? For starters, it wasn’t a very good weather in the morning. Might have rained for a few minutes, but still okay enough for me to walk across the Great Court for breakfast. Afterwards, it hailed. And then it kind of snowed. Not enough to accumulate, unfortunately. This kind of weather continued throughout the afternoon.

View from my bedroom window:

I was planning to do some revision, but I guess it’s just the kind of weather that makes you feel cosy indoors. I was tempted to just snuggle up in bed with a cup of hot chocolate. In any case, it seems there’s no studying for me today. Oh well, I can relax, exam’s still a month away.

(Yeah, that’s what they all say. And then suddenly the Tripos is tomorrow and we’ll all be panicking).

The kind of weather that makes me feel the cosiest (which unfortunately you can’t get in the UK) is when there’s a really heavy rain and the temperature drops and it just spatters on the window pane and you just sit there and you can smell the rain. When I was in AC, my bed was just next to the window. So what I sometimes do is that I sit on the windowsill and just calmly enjoy the moment. Oh, and I always draw the curtain so that if somebody walks into the room, he or she will not realise I am there. Unless you can see the silhouette.

I wish I’m able to do that a lot more now. Just blank my thoughts, forget everything and savour the moment.


Thursday, March 20, 2008

A Taste of Freedom

It is actually pretty painful when everybody else around you is packing and going back home for the Easter break or planning a trip to somewhere and you’re stuck with a coursework that you have to do. Unfortunately for me, since I was absence during the last week of term, I got an extension for the last exercise deadline, and that means staying in Cambridge until yesterday. Although to be frank, my friends remind me that one exercise only counts for about 1.4% of the final exam marks, so I can not finish them and it will not affect my grades much. But honestly, who’s really gonna do that? I don’t think I’ll be able to live with myself if I take the easy way out (god, that sounds so cliche!), so the past few days have been full of staring at the computer screen and working with Word and Visio and basically just making my exercise report look pretty before the Wednesday deadline.

And hence, starting from today I’m essentially free! No more lectures and supervision work or exercises to worry about. And here are my plans for Easter break:

- Study. With exams at the start of next term I’ll be crazy not to.

- I’ll be travelling to Luxembourg, Brussels and one other city I can’t remember for next week.

- Learning some software such as Photoshop, Hysys and AutoCad in more details. This might involve watching a lot of Youtube vids. After all, you’ll be amazed what they can teach you (I learnt how to tie a bow tie from there)

- Punting!!! I need to work on not going in zigzags anymore. The Trinity punting station is supposed to open after Easter, although I have no idea when that is. So, if you know me and fancy a punting trip then drop by!


Saturday, March 15, 2008

Back From Paris

Hey guys! I’m now back in Cambridge after four eventful days in Paris. They’re worth it, though, so I’m not complaining. If you don’t have a clue on why I was there, well... the short story is that Cambridge won the UK level of the L’Oreal Ingenius competition, an engineering competition with energy efficiency as its theme; and hence the Cambridge team (three chemical engineers including myself) represented the UK in the International Finals which was held last Wednesday until Friday.

We arrived in Paris on Tuesday and stayed in the Holiday Inn Hotel, where I found that the price per night is around €130, equivalent to £100 and almost about the price of a May Ball. Not that I’m paying for it, but I’m still astounded on how much is spent on bringing us here, not to mention all the food they’ve been feeding us. I remember stuffing myself with sushi for lunch, and tasting the best apple juice in my life sometime on Thursday night, and eating a lot of other tasty food as well.

Anyway, back to something more relevant, they were 11 teams in total: us, Canada, USA, Mexico, Brazil, Belgium, France, Spain, Poland, China and India. Germany was supposed to be there as well but for some reason they dropped out. On Wednesday, which for me is the most enjoyable day in the whole program, all of us were split up and put into groups. We then went on a team-building rally/some kind of treasure hunt around Paris where we went around locating places with GPS, singing to a person with a cowboy hat in French, playing petanque, looking for lions, having a rendezvous with a skeleton, among other things. For me, the reason why it was so fun was that we have all sorts of people in the group and we all get to mingle and know each other and do stuff together, something that for some reason was missing in the UK level. I found that my thought was also shared by other members of the group, and one of them (from Poland) remarked that it’s so amazing how now you can meet all sorts of people of different nationalities compared to a few decades ago where this is highly unlikely.

The main event was on Thursday, when we presented our solutions to a panel of judges. To cut to the chase, I’ll just say that we lost. However, in our defence I should probably mention that this is the first year that the UK has entered and things might have been different otherwise. Regardless, all the teams have performed very well and shown a high standard (it is an international competition after all) and hence, any one of them could have won. The winner of the day was the Canadian team and they grabbed a €10,000 worth of a trip to a city of choice.

Well, that’s the long and short of it. I had a really enjoyable time there and despite not winning, it really is worth all the effort that we put into it. To tell the truth, it’s not really the competition itself but the people we met that makes the whole thing so memorable. Like one of my team member said on the train journey back, she missed them already.


P.S. Just one thing that marred the experience: I lost my phone. And this is the first time ever that I lost my phone too. Oh well.

Monday, March 10, 2008

The Stomping Dinosaur

And on those occasions that I got bored or can’t comprehend the snippets of wisdom that they impart during lectures, I tend to do these things:

- Daydream

- Watch other people, see if they are concentrating or not

- Write backwards (mirror writing) with my right hand

- Write normally but with my left hand

- Write song lyrics, either with my right or left hand

Today about ten minutes after the start of our 9 o’clock lecture, a friend of mine walked into the lecture theatre. He probably doesn’t notice it, but he stomps his feet, thus announcing to everybody the arrival of his royal highness. And since I was in a daydreaming mode, I thought of a dinosaur, or maybe Godzilla; and I drew these on a piece of paper:

When he walks in:

When he sits:

The SHE on the picture refers to ‘Safety, Health and Environment’, the course we’re having at that moment. Oh, and if you noticed, there’s an arrow pointing to Mr Dino, but it’s blank. I erased the name to protect privacy, heh heh.

He inadvertently saw the drawing later on in the day so I had to come clean. Oops!


P.S. I’m going to Paris tomorrow. Yay!

Friday, March 07, 2008

A Nightly Interlude

At this moment, it’s dark in Cambridge. Friday night, so people are abound. Two policemen are prowling Trinity Street, catching unaware cyclist offenders who ride the wrong way up the street. The lights are mostly off in the Chemical Engineering department, with the exception of the computer room. There, three sad people are working on some kind of project/work/assignment, and one person is typing this blog.

Hello! If you felt that you haven’t heard from me for a while, that’s because I've been a bit busy. Just came back from Wales on Wednesday, where I’ve been giving a presentation. Got an exercise to hand in next week, except one of my L’Oreal team members asked for an extension until Monday the 17th, and we got it. We are going to ask for more, though, since it seems like we may need it. And oh, because of the Wednesday presentation, I missed the UCCMixed volleyball dinner. And I was really looking forward to that one too! On the other hand, I’ve decided to leave Paris early so that I can make it to the Commemoration Dinner.

Wait a minute, didn’t I tell you? Yup, I'll be going to Paris for the L’Oreal Ingenius competition on Tuesday next week until Friday. All expense paid, isn’t that nice? And I hope I can win, so wish me luck!