30 April 2006

The Ancient Vault: First Day of College

(This post was written in 2003. It is part of the blog's one year anniversary celebration.)

Ahh… college. The holy grail of most Malaysian students is to get away from the highly regimented Government school system. The more lucky people get to go to college, like me. The less fortunate stay back in Form 6 and try to get the course of their choice at a local university. The highly fortunate pack their bags for U.K., Australia or the U.S. and live a life of high luxury or at least in a rent-controlled flat eating Maggi mee 3 times a day.

Well, there I go off topic. I feel lucky I got to go to INTI College without much trouble to my father. Tomorrow's my first day there and I get to have a first-hand experience at the so-called Holy Grail. Whether or not I will experience heavenly bliss or hellish despair remains to be seen.

First off, I get to start anew. None of my classmates are in my course and therefore, I am a "new leaf". Before I even start on the path towards a degree in Software Engineering, I need to first excel in my "Social Engineering". That means making friends with my enemies. OK, OK, competitors. I'd like to use the word "frenemies", which is a combination of the words "friends" and "enemies". Till I know some of them well, they are people I need to get ahead of. But I have yet to see who might be "the high achiever", "the nerd", "Ms. Personality", and "Ms. Shy", among others.

One thing I know, it's the start of a great new journey. (The above was written the night before)

Period 0 - Waking up

Woke up 6.45am. I haven't done that since a long time ago. Did my usual and had cereal for breakfast. I don't know of anything specific to bring, so I took my Palm, an A4 notebook and myself. I started driving there at 7.35 to avoid the morning jam. It seems though, the jam had beat me. Greenlane was already choking up, and with a certain Bas Kilang that was happily spewing obnoxious Carbon Monoxide into my car, I knew it couldn't get any worse. And it didn't! I am extremely grateful for the continuously flowing traffic, which cleared once I got into Yeap Chor Ee road.

Period 1 & 2 - Fundamentals of computing and information technology

As I made my way to Seminar Room 5 in Block B, I prayed that the lecturer would not teach about the history of computing. I have heard enough of Charles Babbage and friends, although I don't know enough. Well, anything is better than Moral Education which I will be having later.

I got stuck in the morning rush at Greenlane, so I only made it in time. Or so I thought. I went into Block B, thought it should be in Block C, and went there. Then it dawned on me that it IS in Block B and rushed back. What a start! Luckily, the class has just begun.

The teacher, Ms. Ooi is a petite young lady who is a graduate from a Melbourne university. Today is her first day, just like us. I can already hear emergency sirens as she said that. To her credit, she seemed absolutely capable to teach the subject, which is an introduction to I.T. Nothing fancy.

I made friends with the two people sitting on either side; En Chong and Pei Yin. Then I also met Aigini, who is 21. Apparently, she took the wrong courses and did not achieve much success in them. IT is her new path.

Period 3 & 4 - Computer Graphics Editing

After she ended on time, we left for Lecture Hall B. According to En Chong, our lecturer for this subject, Mr. Chong, taught him in IT at Han Chiang before. En Chong said that he's quite good and I hoped so too.

He was right, I suppose. He seems pretty knowledgeable, unlike some of my ex-teachers who teach from the textbook. For this class, we had to learn about Multimedia and Adobe Photoshop 7. This should be the most challenging class this semester as I'm a staunch supporter of Jasc Paint Shop Pro. Oh, well.

Mr. Chong had a firm grasp of English, but had the tendency to pronounce some words oddly. Like "questions". He would say it as "quiz-chens". Then there is "problem" becoming "prom". I'm sorry, but is that a new form of short form?

It thankfully ended soon because it was getting a bit unbearable. Theory lessons are just SO boring! But before we could make a sprint for the door, the head of the G.O., the General Office which handles everything and anything (because it's general, geddit?), came in for an announcements. Apparently, there were some subject reshuffles and our 1-hour break was extended to 2 hours. It will be compensated with another hour on Wednesday.

Period 5 & 6 - Lunch break

My stomach was already rumbling way before lunch break. Apparently, I can no longer have just cornflakes for breakfast. I had to eat something more calorie fulfilling without risking extra pounds.

The cafeteria is just a floor down and as I was about to approach the staircase when I saw an ex-classmate who was also studying here, but in a different course. I exchanged pleasantries with David Lai and briskly made my way down. He was with his friend so I did not have to bother with keeping him company.

For lunch, I wanted to see how the cafeteria compared to the good ole school canteen; both in terms of quality and price. I'd pretty much puke there and then if they were selling the same stuff. Luckily, they were not.

I had rice, with steamed tofu (I know, I can't believe it too!), one spring roll of average size and, an upper thigh piece of fried belacan chicken. I threw in a glass of orange juice for good measure. It all rounded up to RM3.60, which is surprisingly okay; considering that they charge RM1.20 for an egg sandwich. I still had to change my habit of rushing through recess - I had just been upgraded from a 20 minute break to a 2 hour lounging time. Nevertheless, RM3.60 was swimming in my gastric juices within 10 minutes. Add a couple sitting nearby that was mentally making out and you would have finished it quickly too.

With 1 hour, 49 minutes and 50 seconds to go before next class, I went to the library for the first time here. It's a pretty comfortable place. I took a gander at what was available. Then it struck me. More inevitable than the SARS virus, I was hit by a sleepy spell, the type where your eyes felt like mountains after a good meal and being in a comfortable environment. My subconscious immediately led me to find a good place to sit, out of view from the librarians. I could not. So in the end, I just sat for a short while, resisting the urge to get 40 winks by analyzing my timetable. It got too hard and I left, walking, browsing around the college notice boards.

At long last, the time came for my next class.

Period 7 & 8 - Moral Education

Ugh. What more can I say? I dreaded this subject from the day I knew what Moral Education was. I could only hope for a quick death. I took my seat on the 4th level of the lecture theatre with En Chong by my side and Pei Yin in front.

The lecturer, a middle-aged lady, stepped calmly into my room. Ms. Noor Aini was her name. She seemed a nice lady, but I wondered what I would make of the syllabus as she handed out the course structure. I took a short glance and I felt enormously relieved. No more "16 Nilai utama!" Not even close to Pengajian Am which my friends in Form 6 had to endure. There were many topics that are great for discussions, the only prerequisite is that she must know how to carry it.

She spent the next hour or so explaining our course and the importance of not cheating in our assignments. She threw in a lot of real life examples which were occasionally peppered with funny comments. "Hey, this isn't all that bad!" I thought to myself. Then it got even sweeter. One hour and 15 minutes into her lesson, she let us off, quoting an unwritten rule among lecturers that the first week of college is for students to settle in. That's fine by me. Very fine.

Final period - Going home.

Well, that's it - first day of college! I survived it with no major happenings yet. It could have been worse, trust me. In conclusion, my inferences last night were quite true; it indeed is the beginning of a great journey. A quite-expensive journey, I might add.

1 comment:

Erik Mann said...

another great blog from you guys. i'd point you to mine but it isn't yet the way I'd like it. i do have a website that I think is cool, kind of almost about choosing a martial art