SPM prepaRAYtion #1

“SPM was… not that hard lah. I don’t remember it being very hard.”

That’s what we hear from most people older than us, when they have already experienced multiple levels that were more stressful or difficult than SPM, and so every level before that is generalised as “so much easier”. I don’t blame them – we will probably do that too, when we go through foundation or pre-u, leading to our degree, and then when we venture into society or the workplace.

So I have decided to start an #SPMprepaRAYtion series right now, when I am fresh out of secondary school and before my foundation intake commences – so that I can give you an honest, eye-opening and clear perspective of my personal experiences preping for the grand finale of secondary school, that is SPM.

The ten subjects that I sat for in the year 2019 (#spm2019) were English, Bahasa Malaysia, Chinese, Modern Maths, Additional Maths, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Moral and Sejarah (History). These are the ten compulsory subjects you must take as a pure science stream student at my secondary school, Catholic High School Petaling Jaya. I did not take any extra subjects, so I am sorry to say I cannot elaborate very much on the arts subjects like Accounts and Economics (both taught in Bahasa Malaysia) and other subjects like Seni, English Lit, and Chinese Lit (中国文学)!

SPM has a notable standard, so none of the subjects listed above were “takeaway As”. With the application of KBAT/HOTS in every aspect of our exam papers these years, we are taught to think out of the box, and objective ABC choice questions have become old story. Bullseye keywords have become the “in” thing, and often the demanding answering techniques, more than your knowledge of the subjects, make or break your results.


Dad: “There’s no use studying so hard and getting that A when you don’t become educated after the whole process,” says my father. “Use your brains. Train your brains. Your mind gears must turn. MemeRAHH OTAKKK**!!”

Me: Mercy be my fatigued brain...


Dad: Don’t study like a cow. Study like a horse. A horse knows how to jump over the longkang* when it comes to it. A cow rushes brainlessly ahead and falls into the longkang.

Me: Dad, you’re insulting the cows.


Anyway….

The main principle you must stick to when studying for SPM is this:

1. practice again and again

2. look for patterns.

I will be going in depth into what it’s like and how I studied for each subject soon, and sharing with you my general experiences and emotions throughout the excruciating prep period; but for now we will end here!

Here’s to the birth of SPM PrepaRAYtion! {Birth date: 16 Dec 2020}

~RAY/Rachel HuiXin.


Malay to English/Chinese word translation:

Memerah otak: Squeeze out all your brain juices / Think hard / 绞尽脑汁

Longkang: Drain / Trench / 沟渠

ProcrastiRAYing #1

Within just two months of launching my blog, I have already missed two Saturdays of blog posts!

This is worrisome for two reasons. One, work accumulates. Two, the more you fall behind, the more momentum is lost, which increases the chances of the blog being abandoned.

As a side note, life for me has been relatively more interesting in the past months as compared to my high school studying days, yet I struggle to come up with a blog post. Perhaps it is just a matter of getting accustomed to the routine, and soon the words will come smoother. My concern is only that if I cannot write when life is interesting, how will I manage when I start studying for my foundation, leading to medicine?

Either way, I knew I must find a way to put an end to my procrastination. To solve this problem, I have come up with this new #ProcrastiRAYing blog series. It will be a keyword unique to me, my casual alternative for keeping you updated, and my way of making sure I stick to the AT LEAST ONE BLOG POST A WEEK rule. Its main function will be to bridge some gaps when things get really busy, and not as a substitute for laziness. Although blog posts under this series may provide less value, it will help keep me going when things get busy, so that I can continue telling you light-hearted, or thought provoking stories when I am able to.

Who knows: given the burden of performing is lighter, the words may come easier and this may end up to be where the bulk of my most interesting content can be found! Hahaha.

One thing I can be certain of is having an informal series in my blog, where I can be a little more casual and carefree, will greatly help this blog survive long term, so that it may continue to provide the value and share the stories it wishes to tell throughout its journey.

Here’s to the birth of ProcrastiRAYing! {Birth date: 15 Feb 2020}

~RAY/Rachel HuiXin.


Including today: 1 less blog post owed, 2 more to go!

Little Joys

“Zui zhong yao hai yan mou si.”

Enter The Fat Dragon movie

Translation: 最重要是人没事。/ The most important thing is that we are safe.


“There’s a spider on the – one, two, three, four, five…. twenty third step,” my brother reported.

“Kill it lah.” I reply, squeezing grey water out of my cloth.

“It’s Chinese New Year,” he replies. “I’ll just let it walk away–“

“Aiyarh. That is just a superstition– DUST ON THE TWENTY-FIRST STEP!! Wipe this one. We are both born on the twenty-first!”

“Now who’s being superstitious?”

Image result for spider free stock image
Picture credit: Pexels

Chinese New Year spring cleaning is a tedious task for most people, but it’s different for our family. We manage to make it fun and exciting every year. Here’s how:

We notice the little things.

“Ew! I didn’t know there was SO MUCH dust behind the beds! Accumulated throughout the whole year?”

“I vacuum behind the beds every week.” Mom replies. 

“That’s even worse!”

We get to position ourselves anywhere we like.

“Tired.” One word from dad, and he lies face up on the newly mopped dining room floor.

We can blast festive music throughout the house.

It’s our tradition to play Astro’s 12 year Zodiac animal theme songs (Here’s the link! https://youtu.be/GhuvmCyt33c) on our father’s computer at ultimate volume, so that it can be heard throughout the house. It makes spring cleaning less dry and more fun.

However, one piece of advice – enter our father’s room at your own risk!

Finding angpow money.

“Gasp! Old angpao from aunty. Whoa! Last year’s angpao from mom! Eih… this one is from three years ago!… I must say, I have awesome money hiding skills.”

We can snack on Chinese New Year cookies while spring cleaning.

Chinese New Year cookies!
25 January 2020

“Rachel, do you like cheese?”

“Urgh!” I frown at my brother. “You know I don’t. Why do you ask?”

“Nah, just wondering. We have a can of cheese biscuits over there,” he pointed at nowhere in particular, but I was carrying the vacuum cleaner in one hand and a bucket of dirty water in the other, so I didn’t bother to ask further. “But try these.” He opens a can of cookies in front of me, and places one in my mouth, since my hands are dirty. “You’ll like this better. Isn’t it lovely?”

I pause to savour the taste as the first chinese new year cookie I’ve had this year hits my tongue. “Yes,” I say. It is such a treat, when I’ve worked so hard. “What cookie is it?”

“Cheese cookies,” laughs my brother.

Our family has weird customs.

Every year on Chinese New Year eve, during the cleaning of the front porch, you will be doused with a bucket full of water when you’re not looking.

I am scrubbing the porch floor with a broom. My mind is focused on the floor, dotted with soap powder. Scrub scrub scrub scrub scrub. Scrub scrub scr– SPLASH!!!

“Oi!” I yell, soaking wet from head to toe. while my brother’s laughter rings behind the wall, just out of sight. “That was too strong a wave!….. Wait. WHERE’S MY GLASSES?!”

Tan Family: Chinese New Year Rush

Chinese New Year spring cleaning
15 January 2020

It is so difficult to start on a blog post in the middle of a clogged-up schedule. On one hand, dad is yelling “Finish off your blog post now! Need your help around the house!” just as I sit down to start on my blog post, and on the other hand, mom is calling “Come down for tea!” and I rush off, after switching off the table lamp I had just turned on seconds ago, with only half a paragraph completed and the standing fan’s blades still slowing down its spinning behind me. The fan is rusty, but so am I.

Earlier this Saturday morning, dad and I had gone out to a mall to do some grocery shopping. Mom and younger brother Darryl had left for my former secondary school for a PIBG meeting and Majlis Anugerah Cemerlang (Academic Award Ceremony) for students who did well in PT3 last year. Dad and I got some Good Morning towels from Aeon, a gas lighter for the kitchen stove from Mr DIY, and a carton of XL sized oranges, some canned soft drinks and 5 packets of peanuts at the supermarket. We pushed the trolleys down to the carpark and dumped everything in the car boot. “I’m hungry,” declared dad, and we went to Subway. “Think,” ordered dad, and we sat in silence, planning logistics for the near future, as we munched on tuna sandwiches.

“I don’t care,” said dad, when we had sek bao (‘eaten until full’ in Cantonese). “I want my curry puffs today. Go get them.” We laughed, recalling how we didn’t manage to buy puffs with curry potato filings yesterday, until Darryl had to get kaya puffs. It was terribly bland, and we were not used to eating the exact same crunchy puffs, but with kaya inside instead. I went to the small stall and bought three curry puffs for tea.

Long awaited curry puffs
18 Jan 2020

It has been a very busy week, what with Chinese New Year approaching, and not having to go to school in January for the first time in twelve years. It’s peculiar, helping out more around the house this year while my brother continues his studies in form 4. On Wednesday, I had cleared my study table and wiped it clean; on Thursday, I had helped my father touch up some black portions of the ceilings all over the house with white paint. I regret not taking any photos of that, as I had stood in the most precarious positions possible. When painting the ceiling above our piano, I had one leg on the third rung of a ladder, the other leg on a thin banister railing; when painting the ceiling half concealed by the kitchen cabinets, I stood with half my feet dangling off the edge of the kitchen counter, accidentally burning my knees on the still-heated microwave handle; and I had to stop myself from pulling away quickly, or I would fall off the counter. I was sweating all over, and white paint was strewn across my shirt. The above photo of me standing on my study table and wiping the thick layer of dust is, honestly, a relatively relaxing moment.

My brother brought home a trophy for his excellent PT3 results today. He had obtained straight As (9As). The trophy was a brilliant blue, with a gold head and a pastel rainbow coloured background behind the CHS emblem. “Wow,” I praised. “It wasn’t that pretty for my year.”

This year, we had done our Chinese New Year shopping for new clothes a bit differently, separately for my brother and I. This is because this year, due to my brother being busy with the co-curricular responsibilities he took on, and my only two off days for my temporary full-time job, we could not easily do shopping together. We did manage to go to Pavilion together, though. The decorations are really pretty there!

Finally, we had Mcdonalds for dinner today. It was my first time having the Prosperity burger. The Prosperity burger has lots of pepper in it, so the spice of the Prosperity burger, mixed with the sweet McFlurry ice cream was simply perfect.

Mcdonalds for dinner
18 Jan 2020

It will be the eve already, this Friday, and we are all anticipating our typical schedule every new year’s eve, which will be covered in the next post! Stay tuned!


Glossary:

PIBG: Persatuan Ibu-Bapa Dan Guru (Parent-Teacher Association)

First Blog Post: Hello!

“Let the world be ugly, so that I will miss nothing. Or let the world be beautiful, so that I may remember.”

RAY/Rachel HuiXin, 18

Hey everyone, this is RAY/Rachel HuiXin finally putting up her first blog post, after some meticulous foundation laying. I was afraid my building might topple!

First of all, happy new year 2020! I am glad to start my blog in such an auspicious year. I made sure my first page went up on the 1st of January, I laid and checked the foundation a thousand times, I even went as far as to curate some supportive words from my family and friends…… before I finally relent today by writing this first blog post. All these are to be a stern reminder of the eyes who have witnessed the birth of Rachel’s Truth, so that I will not fall behind and give up on this blog easily.

As I have mentioned in my About Me section (read About The Author), I am currently working as a sales promoter at a mall nearby. Here’s a photo of a cute rat plush toy decoration at our permanent kiosk!

Rat plush toy decoration at our permanent kiosk
Credits: Rachel HuiXin (Blog Author)

Even more than a month later, I find it hard to adapt to the drastic change in atmosphere after I finished sitting for my major exam, SPM on the 27th of November, a very significant day, where we had heard screams of joy from our peers coming from the adjacent block as an examiner collected our completed Physics paper 3. The two month long exam and the wait for our supposed freedom was unbearable – I remember not being able to believe how long the wait felt. It is nothing like UPSR or PT3, where your exam is all crammed up and done in one week. SPM feeds you the sour plums in a painfully slow way, so the taste lingers on your tongue. Every time there will be a mad cram of two or three papers in a single day, then you get a few days of no exams… you are drowsy and confused, you lose track of time and forget your waking hours.

Finally, 27 November comes and you can hardly believe it! But then you remember your parents are strict, and at least in my case, an exam completed does not always lead to requests fulfilled.

What do I wish for? I love skirts, warm food on a cold day, and little pretty things that don’t cost much; but if you ask me, my greatest, most desperate yearning would probably be for new experiences. During SPM, although I was told not to get distracted, I had a tiny manual countdown to the 27th at the top of a piece of paper, with an entire list of 58 things I wanted to do below it. Out of the list, about three quarters of it began with the words “try”, “learn”, “go”, “do” and “volunteer”.

If I want to learn dancing, it is not because dancing will make me look cool, but because it will expand my social circle and improve my confidence. If I want to attend community events, it is not because I don’t like being at home with family, but because I want to see and experience new things, open my eyes to interesting and bizarre sights, and meet people from all walks of life.

My parents mostly frown upon me from doing anything that requires getting out of the house. They say my priority now should still be my future studies even if SPM is done, and I agree with that wholeheartedly; but they do not understand how very much I need all these, to enhance my confidence in interacting with other people, which will eventually bring to life the energy I require to see studying as learning. I know myself best and I can feel that need inside, that need to learn to feel more comfortable in my own skin, which I know will then smoothen the tedious process of studying. I have all these carefully thought out plans for myself, but I always try to avoiding giving it too much thought, because I most probably wouldn’t be allowed the opportunity…. though occasionally, I still let my mind make imaginary plans for myself. I find it to be a healthy thing to do, to stay aware of my little needs. Remember, your needs matter! 🙂

My thirst for a new experience was so strong, however, that I decided to make sure at least one came true. I managed to squeeze in some time alongside studying for SPM to scour the Indeed Job seeking app every once in a few days for a possible part-time job, and after contacting lots of people, I finally found a good prospect as a Christmas season sales promoter! The day after the final paper of my SPM was a hectic one – no time to sleep, go for outings or watch korean drama like my friends had planned – as my father rushed me to University Tunku Abdul Rahman to take a tour around my potential campus, and then to my first job interview, both on the very day after sitting for my final SPM paper. But it was filled with sweat and laughter – we were finally occupied with something other than preparing for exams.

For now, I feel content to spend my long awaited post-SPM freedom working as a temporary full-time sales promoter, and meeting all sorts of people as I work. There are a lot of barriers that I strive to overcome within myself everyday, and although the process is excruciatingly slow, there is progress. I am going to make the most out of my time here working with this company. My hope is that when my time with these people ends, I can still fill my time with exciting plans that will enrich myself and push past my boundaries.

What stage of life are you at? How have you been spending your time during the holidays or your sem breaks to prepare for the next stage in life, big or small? Tell me about it down below, I can’t wait to hear about it!