ever since exchange began and i’ve started planning my travels, i realise how hard it is to plan for a trip- be it with friends or yourself. it definitely requires some time and effort, and looking back, gotta appreciate those who have planned for trips in the past that i’ve gone on before. especially my dad, who has been planning great awesome yearly travels for the family since, well, even before i was born- more than 15 years. also for my vietnam, taiwan, bkk, japan and korea trips; gotta really thank my friends who planned it! it isn’t easy, and i do think that everyone should plan a trip once to know it isn’t easy and appreciate those who do take time to plan it- because i think those who complain about the details of a trip tend to be those who take the plans for granted.
also- planning for a solo trip vs. with people is kinda different too but i’ve started to learn to love planning even though it can be tiring at times. can’t wait for my next trip- Belgium! waffles, fries, chocolates and beer ❤ and travelling the past month just makes me want to travel and explore the world even more- and i can’t wait for my graduation trip (even though i dont know where or who am i going with LOL)!
geeez, i am so lazy to update my travels on this blog though. if only i could just upload everything via my brain. perhaps i’ll update it properly after my exchange because my schedule for march is already quite busy, and i expect the same for april and may.
this post isn’t really anything to do with exchange. just me blabbering about random stuff.
so i realised every time i am interested in something or someone i get obsessed with it and the first few days are the craziest. for example, i was crazy for pokemon go when it first launched in Singapore but less than a week later i was bored of it already. but when i’m obsessed with someone i can’t stop thinking about them the first few days and i realise whatever i do the next few days are crucial to how it’ll play out. if i stalk them on social media i become even more obsessed- but if i control my urges, i realise i could grow out of it rather easily. doing a little experiment and it is indeed working- but i dont know if i am able to grow out of it or if it is a temporal thing. am i even making sense? hahaha.
but anyway! today was supposed to be study day but i guess it failed. again. oh well. planning for my next trip and i realise i’m travelling more than my other friends at uppsala. gotta count my blessings, and hopefully i’ll be able to map back a level 4000 psych mod even! haha. but okay, just thankful that i don’t have to overload in y4 🙂
so… im back from the laundry! haha i swear it is quite addictive to just blog and ramble, especially when there is no pressure to do it properly. so its been close to 6 weeks since i’ve been on exchange! but i realise only half the time spent in uppsala [my university place] and even lesser studying [in fact i have not sat down and read stuff yet- i need to start making time for that HAHA]. and i do realise that i came to uppsala with quite a bit of expectations- probably because of what i’ve heard from people on exchange and travels- so naturally, on the day i arrived at my hostel, when i finally settled down [after the previous day adventures with isa and john on day 1] i felt this sudden sadness. when i reached my floor, lol its 4th floor, i dont know why i keep getting this level for many things- is it fated to be 4th floor 4eva HAHA (i lived on 4th floor in KR, my hostel back in Singapore, previously for 2.5 years) – and yeah it was so empty and quiet. and when i went in the room- wow it is damn big but i felt it was more than enough for me- i had to on some music to ward off the emptiness i felt that day. it was quite overwhelming and sad? i guess i expected like everyone to be unpacking just like me but nope there was only me that day so i thought it was gna be a lonely semester [i know i can always count on my friends, isa, john and sei who live just blocks away but i dont want to like burden them too] and yeah i was depressed for a few days. but then i realise that not everyone has moved in and LOL no wonder because i was in charge of cleaning the kitchen and deposing garbage when i dont even know where or how to. fast forward a few weeks, im glad that my corridor- while not the super happening type, has nice people on it and im looking forward to just conversing and having simple meals together 🙂 also, there are like a few types of disposals – paper, plastic, metal, cardboard – and well, it is sort of training me to be more eco-friendly because in the past i would just throw everything [except newspapers] into the bin and then its done. now, i am still kind of lazy but i try to sort the different materials into the different bins. and its nice. i was thinking, maybe sg could do smth like this- people like me r lazy and probably would not make an extra effort to walk out to recycle stuff but if the bins are right outside your door- you have no excuse and no reason to refuse recycling. but that takes time and manpower and also i guess its a mindset thing- maybe it isn’t the govt’s top priority to do so as of now, but i am confident it will happen in the future. anyway! rly quite thankful for the people i’ve met so far and i think in exchange, you experience not just the ups and wonders of a tourist but also the downs and mundanes of daily living. like how it can snow so bad you just stay in (which i actually dont mind hahah) or how your kitchen isn’t that good but you learn to live with it- yeah, you learn to adapt and you realise that crying doesnt help- i mean, it helps you relieve off emotions but in the long run it doesn’t so after crying, you get back on your foot. you’re on your own, you can’t ask your dad to pick you up, and there isn’t any ubereats or deliveroo or foodpanda around so you can’t order it- it’ll probably be too expensive anyway. you learn to cook different meals, you learn to cook bad ones and throw it away, and keep on trying until you feel a sense of achievement. you learn that there are others just like you and that keeps your heart warm- you learn to enjoy things as it is- appreciating nature, obsessing over those dogs people bring for walks and the freedom they get as compared to back in sg where the land isn’t so much- you learn to bike, you learn to fall, both from the bike and yourself, and you learn that you can always get up after that [tho my butt hurts still damn it]. and you learn to take the initiative, you… okay i’m sorry, my friend just sent an sos and i’ve got to go help her with her bike haha. i guess its next time again! 🙂
wow, just came back from helping my friend with her bike and guess what! met this bike uncle who was super condescending and kind of mean. i dont know if its just the way he speaks to people, but i felt like he was treating my friend (and I) like small kids that did not understand English. basically my friend was pumping her front tyre until it punctured, so she continued on pumping, and at the same time, to try and fix the tyre. i came to find her after a while, and after quite a long time he came out of the bike shop – i thought he was gonna help us lol. turns out, he was worried about us spoiling his bike pump – he told us we were at a wrong angle to pump the bike, and that it might spoil the bike pump and emphasised it costed 500 krones [about 80SGD]. told us to bring the bike into the shop- we kept telling him we know that there is a hole in the tyre and asked how to fix it and he said 170 kr, but he kept on telling us about the hole as if we didnt know about it- and continued on saying how he lived in sweden for 40 years, and that it is a small country, a rich country, and the people here think. he also thought we were from China – “maybe people in China do things differently” — i am assuming he is saying we are dumb for trying to pump air into a leaking tyre- i acknowledge that it is indeed quite fruitless, but the fact that he was so focused on his self-interest – his air pump, his profits of repairing the bike for us, and how he thinks we are so stupid… in the video, you can see he emphasises on some english words despite not having a great command of English himself. i know i am definitely not the best in english, but i felt that he was really quite rude and condescending to us. anyway, i am not writing this to shame him or anything- just ironic that right after i said people recognise Singapore is a place outside of China; this happens. hahaha. glad i stayed calm, because i could have shouted back at him and walked out of the door- but i believe there is no use in doing that- and actually, that is tiring and not worth my energy. [[ video link cuz i am using a basic wordpress plan and i cant upload videos omg https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hCzzMwVzzF0 ]
as i blogged about manchester, it reminded me of the daily stuff i encounter while on exchange. so yeah maybe i’ll just say a little here before i forget again haha.
when i was still in Singapore, i never really felt proud to be a Chinese. sure, there was CNY celebrations and yay it was fun [the hongbaos, banlucks, reunion dinners, goodies n stuff] but you know, i always identified first as a Singaporean, then a Chinese. but ever since I came into Sweden [and thus, Europe]; i realise my racial identity strengthened. for example, during Swedish class, we were told to introduce our main language. and everyone in that class knew english, so it was quite lame to say english again [Engelska, in Swedish]. i stared at my friend and panicked LOL cause i didn’t know if i should say chinese or mandarin (yes that is how bad i am in the language) and he just laughed because it was my turn before his. so i just said mandarin and yeah, reminded me of my roots again. and this happened not only in Swedish class, but also in casual encounters where people would ask me , what language does my country speak. and when i told them english, some of them would be quite shocked. haha. like, why? do you think Singapore is still part of China? LOL. but of course i realise, this was very different from.. say, 10 years ago? i still remember quite vividly, travelling with my family to a different country every year because we had free tickets from SQ woohoo [until the start of uni because damn it no more free tix but im still v grateful]. anyways, people would often guess where we are from. koreans? japanese? chinese? hongkong? thais? vietnamese? but never singapore. never ever. they would ‘ah, i see’ when we told them we are from singapore. but now? i think much more people are aware of the existence of singapore, or at least, know they are not a part of China. i was quite pleasantly surprised to hear ‘ahhh! i know a friend from singapore too!’ or ‘ahh! i visited there last august! i loved it!’ and to hear them talking about singapore’s attractions like the “three towers with a boat ontop” aka MBS, how clean Singapore is, and how they love the food – makes me proud to be a Singaporean. but i think some are still surprised about our language- well, i look like chinese so i guess they assume i speak mandarin. also, i have a super duper chinese name [Wan Xin] with the spacing in between- in fact, some other asians identified me more easily because of this LOL and while I have been giving myself an English name in case people can’t pronounce my original name, i have been quite reluctant to use it because i didn’t really like my english name after a while (LOL indecisive bitch) and because i also read somewhere, people should try to remember your names- no matter how badly they pronounce it. because that is the authentic you. a friend recently tagged me in some post, and it was talking about how our Chinese names have meanings behind it- lol but i asked my mum and she also had no idea what my name meant (WTHECK MUM LOL) but still, i guess i am so used to this name its hard to use another so suddenly. so i’ve been introducing myself as Wan Xin first and foremost, and then Riley as a last resort. actually, its Wan Xin > Woo > Riley. some people call me woo, hahaha and i kind of like it too. omg, i’ve been blabbering i forgot i have been waiting for my laundry- which is 2 blocks away!! which means walking out in the cold sobs but i guess this is part of exchange experience!! 🙂 speaking of which, i really need to practice my Swedish soon hahaha. okay, i really want to blog more but my laundry has been out there for quite long so…. till i have the energy and time to blog again, vi ses (see you later in Swedish)!
So i’m gonna write about my FIRST trip outside of Sweden!! Writing it because well when people ask me what I did I honestly could not remember other than ‘Oh we went to this place. Eat. Slack around. Eat. Come back’ when there are actually lots of other mini things that my brain just conveniently forgot! Apparently many of these things aren’t “memorable” enough; but I say they are worth writing down because ten years down the road, I am gonna read this and think, ‘THANK GOD I WROTE IT’. Or I could be like ‘Why did I write everything down…’
So this trip was kind of a last minute thing. My sister was called up to do a Singapore-Manchester-Houston flight, and told me about it. I was suppose to meet her during March instead, but I was like heck why not just meet her now since I wanna escape the cold for a little while (but as it turns out…well, read on).
So I booked the flight tickets a few days before I went off. Which was expensive for a student, but reasonably priced. Used skyscanner, the individual websites of SAS, Norwegian,etc, and found that SASYouth offered a balanced option- cheap and convenient. Just 1 hour bus ride from Flogsta (including one bus change). Decided to fly back from London (Gatwick) instead as the tix back from Manchester to Arlanda was 85+ euros itself already, while the one from London was 50 euros. Even though I kind of planned for overseas trips before, this was my first time doing everything by myself and honestly, it felt quite overwhelming at first. Checking and comparing prices, timings, seeing if my schedule fits- and the fact that I am flying from London meant that I had 3 days alone- meaning I had to find things to do that can be done alone. In London. #lonedon. I also conveniently forgot that I would be alone during CNY and miss some CNY dinner back in Flogsta 😦 but all is well as I think my trip was worth it in the end!
Enough of my blabbering- I decided to go find my sister as well because… freeee accommodation heh heh. For the first 3 days in Manchester, I stayed in the Midland Hotel. It is a pretty high class hotel. What did I dooooo?
As it was my first time going on a plane alone, I decided to be super kiasu. By that, I mean waking up at 3.30am when my flight is at 7.25am. Leaving Flogsta at 4am, taking bus 5 to Uppsala Centrum and then bus 801 to Arlanda airport. Total cost was 66 SEK. I reached the airport around 5.15am? As I already checked in online via SAS i didn’t need to print a boarding pass, but did anyway at the SAS booth because I never boarded a plane using mobile boarding passes before lol and also because its free. The customs queue was short, and waited at the gate since 6am- so I was early by ~1.5 hour. Wow. Earliest I’ve ever been. Its okay. Also, the reason why I am so kiasu is because I missed a flight quite recently- back in late December 2015, from Taiwan to Singapore. The shock I felt when I saw the gates closed, the staff denying us entry to the plane, and finally, the plane flying away from us, literally, right in front of our eyes… LOL. But anyway, that’s another story. Omg, I haven’t even reached Manchester yet I am already talking so much irrelevant stuff. Anyways…
I know when I look back i’ll be like ‘this is so lame’ but then again it’s my first time (ALONE)!!! Taking a bus, plane and then train to another foreign land… it is quite magical by itself heh. I don’t think I have pretty pictures, but I know these pictures will be second chances to walk down the memory lane again, and that is what I cherish the most.
Basically walked around the main town area- i.e. manchester hall, manchester art gallery, john rylanda library [interior is quite cool but the main part was closed for filming :(].
also.. saw the iconic red telephone booth that i thought was only located in London and decided to run to it like a tourist and take a photo with it. but well, my conclusion is that its nice to see but aint nice to smell.
Had some thai food afterwards @ Try Thai Bar and Restaurant. The food is a little pricey for a student, but it is generally not bad. AND the main purpose of it is to satisfy our cravings! Wew. I miss Asian food so so so much. Our food is featured in a little video I made, which can be found at the end of this post!
My sis heard that the manchester museum was one of the top attractions so we decided to walk there (but took a bus back cuz we were tired n it was quite far from our hotel)
There were some CNY decorations too because it was well, CNY.
We also went to PRIMARK! I think the stuff is really quite cheap, but of course, I am not sure about the quality. Bought a down lightweight pink jacket for myself for 15 pounds- and so far its been quite good. Oh and a cute little unicorn hot waterbottle which I unfortunately have no picture of (but you can see a glimpse of it in the video).
[wow its rly tiring to blog… i dont think i can keep up with this man]
ALSO as I said at the beginning of this post, I wanted to escape the weather at Uppsala [which was, now that I think of it, not too bad- it was around -3 degrees when I left.] BUT I THINK I BROUGHT THE COLD WITH ME because Manchester the previous day was like 7 degrees but the next day it went down to -1. While Uppsala went up to 5 degrees?! ASDIOASFJOSAD. but all is good because i am prepared!!!!
Ok so day 2- we went to…
for those who are unfamiliar (like me before i went this place), Old Trafford = Man Utd (football) Club stadium. So i think Man Utd fans will go crazy. unfortunately, there wasnt any match on, so we went for the stadium tour which was pretty cool too! the guide was very enthu about giving the tour and evidently a very strong supporter of man utd haha.
so after the museum tour, walked towards the river, near Mediacity UK, but lol the views was kinda meh and if we could do it again we would skip this [perhaps it would be better in summer. everything is.]
anyway!! we went to eat korean food after that, near our hotel. wooohooooooo
once again, cravings satisfied!!!! 😀
went to watch a musical, Sweet Charity that evening. omg lol honestly…
i am gonna sound ageist but there were mostly older people in the theatre and i was quite doubtful of the show. plus, the theatre isnt the typical musical theatre you see in Singapore’s MBS or esplanade- its like a circle theatre. Like so small. Its 3 levels.
and im glad to have been proven wrong. it was such a nice experience, the theatre small but this meant you could see everything (as compared to when you get cheap seats for a normal theatre and cant see shit) – and the actors were re-used several times but this just shows how multitalented they are. i loved it. in fact, i’d put it higher than Cats. Wicked is #1, Phantom is #2, Sweet Charity would be my #3. [at the point of writing, i’ve watched 2 other musicals in London – Matilda and Kinky Boots but i shall not mention them until i write about London]. I thought the show was gonna be lame. maybe it is an expectations kind of thing. i love the italian guy, i love the main lead, i love how the interval break was carried out- the actors walked in from behind, carrying a torch and saying the words ‘to be continued’.
i would really recommend anyone to watch this if you 1) have only watched the conventional musical type of style 2) love great live voices
oh one thing i realised was that the band was live, but it wasn’t real. meaning- it was done by 1-3 people. they used programs, synthesia, etc, but it sounded really good and i really respect their work- i sometimes wish to learn how to do this kind of things haha. so yay!!
so we kind of did most stuff in the town area and wanted to go out of town and thus a trip to Lake Windermere launched~
Took a train from Manchester Piccadilly (changing at Oxemholme) to Windermere, I think it was about 20 euros for a return tix but i can’t remember.
Even though Lake Windermere was known more for activities in the summer, it was still a nice place to go for a hike or walk along the lakes/mountains in late January, where it was about 5 degrees celcius.
Went to Orrest Head, a short 20minutes walk/hike from the station.
We then passed through the small little town en route to the lake (seen in the video).
And for my 4th day, I hobo-ed in Manchester until it was time to take the night bus. During the day, I bid farewell to my sis and embarked on my first solo trip…!
Hobo-ing around the hotel for its free wifi, I went to check for directions to get tickets for Billy Elliot the Musical; my plan B was to go to a standup comedy by The Comedy Store. It was raining heavily but I didn’t bring any umbrella so I just put on my hoodie and when I reached the Palace Theatre, I realised it was closed and that tickets were also sold out. Sad. Its okay, I still have plan B right? Walked for quite a while towards The Comedy Store, only to find out it is still closed. Looking back, I should have checked the opening hours or bought the tickets online. Not wanting to do nothing at night, I managed to grab a discounted ticket online for ~13 pounds.
I wanted to explore somewhere new in the day so I went to buy an all-day tram tix for 5 pounds and boarded the tram from St Peter’s Square to Bury.
I was so hungry by the time I reached Bury (about 35min tram ride?) and I wanted to try their black pudding as well so I ordered a breakfast set for myself!
It was super shiok and delicious but having a small stomach, I could only finish 70% of it (and that is after taking breaks). This was my first meal alone, and it felt weird. But i think it felt weird because the seat I was sitting at, was facing the cashier with no barriers between us; while the other seats were in a 2 by 2 kind of seating arrangement (facing other). I felt quite pressurised to eat quickly and couldn’t really enjoy taking my time (I eat super slowly). But anyway, the breakfast set that I got can definitely fill up 2 people’s tummies.
Having replenished my energy, I went to explore a little bit of Bury- and since it was a saturday, they had this huge market going on whereby I swear, if I was still hungry, would have bought more stuff to eat. They have cheap, grilled, whole chickens for only a few pounds and their one pound shop was so so so cheap! I regretted bringing so much things because I couldn’t buy it back. Their markets have everything- clothes, electronics, food, random stuff. It would really have been nice to come with a group of friends so I could buy more varieties of food to try AND an empty bag so I can bring it back to Sweden hahaha. The only thing I bought were some chocolates.
Anyway, decided not to explore so much of Bury because I went there for the East Lancashire Railway- I heard it was pretty nice to go on the train and hike up at some of the stops. Apparently, there are two types of train- the steam-powered type or the normal diesel one. I took the diesel one there because of better timings, but honestly, when I came back via the steam-powered one, it looked pretty much the same to me and I was not really that impressed.
So i arrived at Ramsbottom (reminds me of Ramsay Bolton lol) and was ready to head towards the Peel Monument!!!
IT started off well. I was following the signs, and the weather was quite nice. But somehow, I got lost. Amongst the roads, where cars speed like mad. It started drizzling. Then raining. The path I was following didn’t make sense anymore. It looked so slippery and like, it was so ulu. Honestly, if someone kidnapped me nobody would even know. Maybe i’m being dramatic but it was really quite scary for me, since it was my first time travelling solo. The path eventually led me to a war memorial place, which made for a nice break and also like a good sign because at least I’m not stuck in some foresty shady area.
I then saw the peel monument. However, I wanted to go back because I was afraid i’ll miss the train back, so I asked for directions back. However, perhaps a part of me wanted to just continue on despite the odds, so somehow, I walked towards the path towards the monument. It then started pouring. I was rewarded with a nice aerial view of the town when hiking up, but well, I was also rewarded with a little too much rain.
Finally made it, but well, it isn’t so impressive. But people are still coming here, jogging, with their dogs as well!! Its so nice to see dogs all around and running so freely, and it just makes the hike up worth it :’) Also, that’s how I got this photo haha. I was like trying to take a selfie but failing miserably, and I think this dude saw and decided to help me take HAHA. Also, sometimes the monument would be opened and you can actually go up and see an even better view of the town and its surroundings. That day was obviously not such a day.
Hiked back down, trying a shortcut path. It was slippery but quicker indeed. Thank god i did not get lost.
Later that night, watched a stand up comedy. Apparently, it contains lots of British humor because like I don’t freaking get it half the time. I find myself laughing only at jokes that doesn’t need understanding of British contexts. I also found that some of the jokes were quite crude- like, it wasn’t really a high level of humor, but I guess maybe its just me. However it was quite an experience and I think people around me really did enjoy it because they were laughing at almost everything (but when I found the non-British jokes quite funny, others found it SUPER FUNNY. don’t know if it’s just me not being easily impressed or having no sense of humor/wit :O). There were 4 or 5 acts, and an emcee. but i didn’t really like the emcee though, felt like he was being rather crude.
So erm it has been 3 weeks since I went for exchange, and it has been such an experience so far. Although, I admit that the winter depression is real. Haha. But I’ve learnt a lot as well, and made quite a few friends. Anyway, my post today isn’t about exchange but about Trump. Donald Trump.
I don’t read much, and I don’t think I am confident at all about what I am going to say. But i’m going to say it because I want to note down how right or wrong I will be, when I look back in the future.
Firstly, I hear the media portray Trump as a racist, sexist, bigot. And some of his words really hurt. Which is why I do not like him. I feel that, because he has a big influence as the POTUS, his words WILL be harmful. I read Xiaxue’s blog post about it too and I wonder- maybe, and also hopefully- we are all fools and he really has a big plan- uniting America against him. Making himself the enemy so that the world will spread love in order to fight against him. If this is truly the case… how often has this plan worked? And how long till it works? I would hope, sooner rather than later.
Also, I guess I feel a little more relatable to this whole Trump thing because so far in my exchange, I witnessed a protest in Stockholm, then a march in London just a few days ago. After taking a video of the protest, I had this Irish guy (he claimed) telling me that Trump is a good man, and asking me if I thought Trump was racist, and if so, is it because of the (social) media? He started talking about US-Syria relations, and another guy overheard so he interrupted and corrected him through some “facts” (I don’t know if its true or not, wasn’t paying attention and I am not well-informed). They started arguing, but the second guy had to rush for his train so he left abruptly, while I casually slipped away, not wanting to get involved in this. Thinking back, I should have perhaps tried to tell him that I thought Trump appeared racist. Maybe he could’ve enlightened me, or maybe I would not have believed him either way. It is quite bewildering at first, to think how Trump supporters can support the very man whose words have hurt and harm many. But I am trying to understand, and I do think that (some) media has exaggerated their claims about Trump. Yet, I do believe that all these arguments are just arguments- you only need to see the real life consequences of Trump’s actions. For instant, my current neighbour (I am living in Sweden for exchange) is born and raised in Sweden, but is an Iraqi, and isn’t allowed to go to US due to the travel ban. Such consequences- perhaps is sufficient to protest against Trump? I was slightly motivated by Xiaxue’s post. I saw her tweet reply to Shannon Woodward (a West World actress!!!) and got curious about it. I googled, after reading Xiaxue’s post mentioning about the muslim ban that Obama placed previously, but some articles are telling me that it isn’t true. Honestly, I think this is a real problem because I HONESTLY don’t know what is “real” or “fake”, or an “alternate fact” anymore. I try to be open minded, but then how do I know who to believe? Factcheck? To have the ability to tell what’s the truth or not is something I would truly wish for at times. Also, one of my courses in my exchange university had a guest speaker on. She sheltered lots of refugees, for more than 35 years, and I felt she genuinely helped people. I felt she had somehow the qualification to talk about whether the government should do more or less about refugees. When asked about Trump, she did not have a good impression of him, mocking his ‘Alternate Facts’. She acknowledges some people voted for Trump because they wanted a change- but it is scary how they do not know what type of change it will bring, and hopes America wakes up soon, and that it won’t affect the rest of the world as much.
Once again, I do not claim to know the facts, and this is just my (unresearched) opinion and experience.