Looking back: Fall/Winter 2016/2017

Please believe me when I tell you that the Fall/Winter 2016/17 academic year has been the busiest and most rewarding year. It was one that challenged me in different ways and I’m forever grateful for it.

I was a part of three clubs – Carleton University Dance Crew (CUDC), Spoon University Carleton Chapter, and Parks Canada Outdoors Club of Carleton – and a student volunteer/student staff with three different university on-campus departments – a peer mentor at the Student Experience Office in the first semester, a peer helper with the Centre for Student Academic Support (CSAS), and a volunteer at the International Students Services Office (ISSO). I was terrified for myself at the beginning of Fall 2016 and was unsure whether I would be able to do it all while keeping myself sane.

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L-R: Lujie, me, Mana, Julia, Shaelyn, and Colleen
Volunteering for ISSO during Fall Orientation Week 2016
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Cloudy and wet day didn’t stop me from going hiking at Gatineau Park

There’s no other way to say it but I genuinely enjoyed the year despite my crazy schedule every day. I was so happy and as I packed my things to leave campus earlier this week, I was feeling sad and reluctant to move out of my room in Frontenac House. I was just sad to leave the year behind. I met so many amazing people, came across so many wonderful opportunities, and improved myself by gaining various skills.

To make it easier to read, I’m going to elaborate on each person and opportunity in different subheadings chronologically (if possible) to explain how my year went.

ISSO

While everyone was still enjoying their break towards the end of August, I returned to campus on August 30 to begin my training as a Fall Orientation Ambassador, an international student mentor, and a volunteer for the ISSO.

There I learned a little bit about different cultures and countries. I loved it and it was so rewarding. I was crazy energetic throughout Orientation week and extremely talkative – Wei Ni made fun of me when I told her how much of an extrovert I was being. Regardless, the feeling of being able to help these new students kept me so motivated that I felt that I had an unlimited amount of energy.

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Excited international students ready for the Parliament Hill Light Show

After orientation week ended, I took on the role as an international student peer mentor where I had to help new international students settle down and ensure they were well-adjusted to their new environment. I was honestly unsure of my position and ability to be a good mentor. As far as I knew, I was someone who had cultivated self-discipline and self-motivation on my own, at the same time, I wasn’t so sure whether I’d be able to convey a similar message to someone else. I was afraid that I wasn’t doing my role justice because I did check off all the criteria of what I imagined a mentor would be. I should’ve better prepare myself to adjust to different personalities, listened more, and so on. It was an interesting experience nonetheless but I could’ve done a lot better. I’ve learned my lesson and will be applying these considerations the next time I decide to become a peer mentor.

CSAS

I honestly don’t remember what made me apply for the position of an Outreach Peer Helper. As far as I remember, I was only motivated by the fact that I could make myself more employable. I didn’t know what I was going into nor was I expecting anything amazing, I was solely focused on gaining new skills. It’s a cliché but I’m just going to say it, I am incredibly grateful for the experience, skills, connections and memories I’ve gained during my time as a peer helper.

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Journo-senpai and cutie pie, Alyssa
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Fellow Whovian and staff lounge buddy, Joanna
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Giant gingerly ginger, Connor

If there’s any place that made me felt safe, welcomed, happy, and motivated, it was working at CSAS, chilling or doing assignments in the staff lounges, located on the 4th floor of the library.

Every time I was there during its hours of operation, I’d be sure to find someone who’d be willing to talk or help me out. They really made the library my second home, it was somewhere I never wanted to leave. People would always check up on each other, ensuring we’re all taking care of each other, supporting each other, and giving helpful suggestions/advices on certain things.

Of course, I remembered the things I learned while I was there too – creating social media content and different promotional programs to generate more student engagement with the centre. It was a pun-tastic time of creating content. Going out tabling in the tunnel junctions with the Plinko board was also a fun and enlightening experience. By enlightening I mean, it put me in a position I’d never see myself being able to get comfortable with – I was constantly pushed to convince students to learn about CSAS by asking them to play with the Plinko board. Looking back, I realized I’ve grown.

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My almost-big sister, Jenny!
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Fabulous Alex!

When I first started with the Plinko alongside Rebecca, I was unsure what to say and always mimicked Rebecca but as the weeks went by, I slowly gained confidence in spewing out things to say to hype the students up to play the Plinko. It was a fun time and definitely one way to improve your public speaking skills.

CUDC
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Always smiling LJ ❤
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Awarded the “Most Improved OLD Member” by my fellow CUDC Execs and Advisor

If you knew me from last year, you’d know I was a part of CUDC since my first year. During my first year as a CUDC member, I was always unsure of where I stood in the crew and that still hasn’t changed. Unlike most clubs, this is where I felt the most closed-off from the whole group and I never felt truly home. If anyone ever wants to see me quiet among people I know, this would be where you’ll see me being quiet (besides the library). I know that’s kind of shocking to hear and it is shocking to me too! I don’t know why this is the way it is but I can only guess it’s because everyone else me is super loud and I don’t know how to respond to that or I just let other people to be loud and not challenge them? I don’t know.

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With Nareen and Shaelyn
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Vice-President Brenna
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Sassy Sarah!
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Lovely Colleen and Julia ❤
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Riri group: Jodi, Alex, me, and Sarah
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Amazing dance partner, Collen

But if there’s one thing that’s change this year, it’s that I gained more confidence in my dancing abilities – I even did a duet with my new friend, Colleen! I don’t think I’d be dancing at CUDC with confidence without the support of Colleen. Colleen is such an amazing and passionate dancer. I’m genuinely thankful I met Colleen because she gave me an opportunity to try out different dance genres – contemporary and modern – and it was an honour being her duet partner.

Esther

Where do I even start? I met her a cross-country skiing event organized by the Parks Canada Outdoors Club. It was a beautiful and warm cold February morning that day and someone (Esther) to her surprise, arrived at the meeting spot a little too early. Me being the person who arrives anywhere early, arrived a little later than her, and started chatting with her – she started the conversation. Lots of chatting went on that day and we found out we had so many similar interest like Yuri!!! On Ice. Heh! Anyways as we were chatting in the car on our way to the skiing place, I invited her to go to the gym with me after skiing – classic tip on making friends. Long story short, she agreed to gym with me.  Funny thing is when Esther was on the way to the gym, she forgot her running shoes and she went back to get it. By the time she got to the gym, it was 15 minutes to closing. Somehow we still got to know each other and planned our gym schedule for the week. Fast forward today, we’ve been gym buddies ever since and became food/travel buddies – we went to Quebec City and Montreal together.

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That’s Esther and I in front of the Chateau Frontenac!
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Rue du Petit Champlain

The year went by incredibly fast and I’m grateful for everything that’s happened. I’m excited for the new school year because I’ll be rooming with two amazing girls – Carleigh and Selene. I’m also terrified and worried because it’s going to be the toughest one yet – Third-year journalism is extra tiring. Bummed that Esther and I won’t be able to spend any more time with each other for the year because she’s going on exchange to Edinburgh. I’m hoping I can keep up with her and hoping she’d do the same because she really made my year a lot better although we just met. Heh.

Short time at The Edge

Alright! I’ve been taking notes about what’s been going on the past weeks so to not forget what happened and eliminate all my excuses for not writing.

To start off, my contract with The Edge ended on the 8th of April. It was definitely a hard good-bye because although I was only a part-time data entry clerk, I had a lot of fun and I met wonderful people at The Edge. Thank you everyone who I had the pleasure of knowing, especially Sook Fun, Xindi and Janene for the two months, I really am grateful that all of you made my first ever job memorable and pleasant.

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First day with The Edge and Astro paid a visit for Chinese New Year! From left to right: Xindi, Sook Fun, Nicholas, Janene, Daljit, Simran and me. In front we have Xixi, Astro’s goat mascot!

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Pink lions

Before I started working with The Edge, I was pretty excited yet nervous. I was excited because I was finally going to earn money and do something useful with my time. I was nervous because I’ve heard horror stories about how people are going to be mean and unsociable in the office. But throughout my two months, needless to say that it wasn’t a horrible nor a totally boring time with them. I learnt a few new things and met amazingly kind people.

I started off as a photographer for them and ended up as their data entry clerk. I took photographs for them of buildings and properties around Selangor and Kuala Lumpur. It was quite an experience because I had to travel around parts of Selangor and Kuala Lumpur that I have never frequent to. Now that I am slightly familiar with that place, my parents ask me about the area and I tell them bits and pieces of what I know.

After my third week with them, I was assigned to do data entry instead. It started off a bit boring but sometimes I got to learn things about Excel that I had never learn before. Since I was placed in the property section, I got to also learn a few things about different properties around Malaysia. Data entry may sound boring but I did my best to motivate myself to complete more than the previous; one might say I was a bit competitive. I was also motivated because I was earning money. Money seem to be a big motivation to my productivity at work. Haha! Other than that, I was pleased with the people working around me; they were all extremely friendly and helpful.

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All of them working hard 😉

Everything was almost great except for the scarily cold and strong air-conditioning in the room I worked in. It was ridiculously cold to the point that I had to bring either a thick autumn jacket or a down-feather jacket and gloves. That’s how cold it was for me and you might think I was exaggerating but I am not, especially with typical Malaysian weather being roughly 28°c to 35°c, I withstood 19°c and below. I guess you can call that working in extreme weather conditions especially when one is so used to being under warm temperatures. Other than wearing thick jackets and gloves, a few colleagues and I tried to seal the air-con vent. It was fruitful at the start but give it a week and our seals – newspaper and cellophane tape, then cloth tape – wore out. If you followed me on snapchat, you would see pictures and videos of what my colleagues and I went through. I forgot to save pictures of what we did to the vent because I didn’t think of writing about this earlier. Sorry!

It’s kind of sad that my contract ended so soon, I would have renewed it but I tried applying for other internships because I really wanted to learn more things and got offered one – I’m currently interning for Kinky Blue Fairy. I’m still missing them and missed them even more now because on my last day with The Edge, Xindi and Janene prepared lunch. We had Beef Stew, Devil Eggs and rice provided by Xindi and plain couscous provided by Janene. Thank you again for the lovely meal and I still miss you all! I will also miss the weekly Tuesday teabreak and the fun events that were hosted in The Edge.

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The lovely food Janene provided. On the left is the Beef Stew and on the right are the Devil Eggs. So tasty!

P.S: Xindi bakes and takes orders so check her out!

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From left to right: Janene, me, Sook Fun and Xindi

Regardless, to new endeavours and experience!

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Yang Yang peeking underneath my computer.