I have safely arrived in L.A., and it’s good to be back in my country, but it feels so weird to be surrounded by loud, talkative Americans and hear English and some other southern accents, AND have toilet paper (I ain’t complainin’!). The long flight wasn’t that bad, but there was a “moment” I guess I’ll admit … If you didn’t know already, I NEVER cry in movies unless a dog dies, but as I was watching P.S. I Love You (a tear jerker for most), there was a sad part at the exact time the pilot announced we were about to land in U.S., and I started to have tears come down my face! Now, were those sad tears from the movie or happy tears that I was almost back to my country? You can decide, but how embarrassing to be wiping tears from my face with the airplane blanket…
Anywaysssss, now, I am currently sitting in the EXACT seat I sat in almost FIVE months ago when I was waiting for my flight out of America, and it’s so hard to believe that I was gone for almost five months. I have experienced more than I probably even realize and even more than words and pictures can describe, but I know a more updated blog would be somewhat helpful…especially since you haven’t heard about my other travels and school stuff since going to Bali!
The old folks home.
Now, this was a good experience for me. Considering everyone living at the home was younger than 50 and were either suffering from a mental disorder, had no family to take care of them, or just couldn't live independently, it was very special to me to be able to spend some time with them. Most couldn't speak a lick of English, and not only did my little/only conversational Malay of "Apa khabar?" ("How are you?") go a long way, but just a smile was all I needed to show. The event started with doing some dancing, and guess who got asked to go on stage... ME, and Meredith, and Denisse. We had no idea of how to do the moves and probably looked HILARIOUS. However, one dance was similar to the Electric Slide, so I did know that one! After dancing, we did puzzles and played musical chairs! The men got pretty intense during musical chairs, and it was so funny to watch as in the last round, one ended up on the floor (SEE VIDEO!). They laughed and laughed, and I loved seeing elders who were still young at heart.
After the fun and games, we went to visit those in the rooms... or more like one room with a ton of beds. We handed out coffee mugs, apples, and goody-bags, and I just smiled while the Malay girls spoke to them. This was very eye opening to me, as some people couldn't walk or talk, and it made me realize how fortunate my family and I are. There were some funny moments though. One lady was SO funny as she opened up her chocolate pie and motioned to her little heiney saying "poo, poo, poo..." and then laughed hysterically. Another lady showed us her dance moves, while another shot me the peace sign for a picture.
After visiting the ladies, we went back to the main building where they asked us to do a performance. A PERFORMANCE?! If you know me, I’m not that fond of getting up in front of people...especially two times in one day! Knowing I might hurt someone’s ears singing and might hurt someone’s eyes from my own dance moves, I came up with the idea of playing the one and only duet I know on the piano, “Heart and Soul”. I learned this song about 10 years ago, and I taught Meredith (in about 5 minutes), who has never really played piano before in her life, the simplest version possible of the duet. Denisse, who has never touched a drum, kept the beat on a drum beside us, and we all just winged the heck out of our “performance”! It turned out quite better than I expected, and we laughed and laughed afterwards because we couldn’t believe we had just done that. Here's a video of it... HAH!
The Rafting trip
Well considering our first rafting trip was spent at the hospital (read older blog posts if you don’t know that story…), we actually made it down the river this time! After camping the night before with my classmates, which consisted of sleeping on a tarp on the ground and using my bag for a pillow/whole body cushion, we woke up the next morning, jumped in the back of the truck, and got our rafts ready. I have been down the Nantahala River in an individual ducky, but this was my first time going down rapids in a big raft! It was SO much fun though, and no one had to go to the hospital. I'm not in this picture, but just to show there were some rapids indeed!
After the rafting, our teacher took us to a waterfall. We stood under it, letting it pound on our shoulders, and enjoyed the natural beauty of it all.
When you hear telematch, what do you think of? I think of competition and games… and knowing it would involve all the international students at UPSI, I knew whatever it was, it would be quite entertaining... And I was RIGHT. It started with some “aerobics” which were some dance moves to American club songs, then breaking into teams (I was on the orange team of course), and some games. They were the typical relay games like passing a rubber band on a straw down the line, potato sack race, dizzy bat, water balloon toss, and then a game where we had to wet our face with water and then dig through plates of flour (with our FACE) to find pieces of candy. That tasted good… not. I felt like I was at 8th grade field day again, except there was no red rover red rover for me to get clotheslined (only the realllly lucky ones got to see that years ago). After the games, prizes were given out, and then we all enjoyed ourselves in the nearby river.
A really good group of drummers (both male and female) came and performed at our school one evening. They were ALL wearing make up, and I was so confused when the ones I could have sworn were girls came out in their last act with no shirt on.
This was a little day trip I took with some students and friends from UPSI. Known for the tea and strawberries, my day was made after walking through the beautiful tea plantation and then eating CHOCOLATE COVERED STRAWBERRIES (FYI guys…that’s the way to win my heart) that were only 2 ringgits (3 ringgit = 1 USD) for a stick of 3! Opa on the other hand, enjoyed his orange tomato that he tried to tell me was an orange…
With all the pictures and posts about traveling, I’m sure you wonder if I actually went to class! I did, and spent a lot of time on schoolwork too, which is another reason why my blog updates are so late.
Not only did I have a 10-page paper EVERY week for this class, but we also had to design our own experiment. My group chose to test if weight would affect the length a frog will jump. Since we got to use real, live, BIG bullfrogs, this was quite entertaining as we “rubber-banded” different amounts of coins to each frog’s back and measured their jump. While doing this, we lost 2 frogs/2 frogs escaped under the desk and were impossible to get so we left them…which the lab assistant, who was terrified of frogs, found later. Let’s just say she wasn’t very happy, but I couldn’t help but giggle.
Even though this was my most time consuming (spent 9 hours in one day on my piece!) and frustrating class, it was worth it to be able to do traditional Malay art that I will probably never have the opportunity to do again. Using a chanting stick, wax, and dye, I was able to make a really cool flowery art piece. Of course my colors and design didn’t turn out exactly the way I planned, but it’s ok because I enjoyed it.
This was my favorite class and favorite teacher. After the really cool copper art of the turtle I did, we made jewelry! This time I didn’t really have a plan and just went with the flow, and came out with a beautiful set of earrings, bracelet, and necklace.
This was A LOT less work than my other science class considering our final project, which was the same percentage of our final exam, was to make a greeting card! Knowing our teacher had worked with ostriches in her graduate studies in Australia, we related our card to the ostrich reproductive system. She loved it! Side note: I would have taken a picture of the card, but considering we didn’t start working on it until 2 AM (Malay procrastination got the best of us) the night before it was due, my brain wasn’t thinking to snap a pic.
For our one and only outing, my class went to climb at the Batu Caves. This time, my second time climbing real rock, I went TWICE as high as the last time. It was really nerve racking, but I made it to the top with one of my Korean friends as my belayer.
Welp, it's time to board the plane and LAST FLIGHT HOME to North Carolina!!! I will update later about my other travels. :D