Back To High School (Collecting SPM Cert!)

Recently I went back to my old high school to collect my SPM cert.

I went the day after the school announced that we could collect it – it was two weeks before my final exam for my 2nd semester at university, which would commence on the 21st of December, 2020. Yet I went anyway, wanting to get it out of the way. Most of my friends went when they were done with exams or their semester, as did the people I am studying at the same university with, who were from my high school. They all went after exams ended on the 26th.

I went in the school hoping to meet some friends, but it was close to deserted. A sense of tranquility fell over me though, seeing how green our school compound was, how abound the place was with prowling cats, pigeons that walked weirdly, always picking food off the floor, and birds with bright yellow feathers soaring at the rooftops. I remember seeing a squirrel scampering up a tall tree in the school field before. It’s not necessarily better – but…. different, compared to my university campus.

I was eager to meet any friend there, but bumped into none. A school staff asked me to wait for a while when I asked to collect my SPM cert. I watched him chatting with another female staff. Having worked part-time jobs, and having spoken to the office staff at my university, I had become more aware of the people working in a school office and what they actually do. Before this, I never did pay attention to this little office and the people in there.

The male school staff approached me to pass me my SPM cert, made me sign on a name list. I saw my old friends’ names on the name list, and paused a few seconds just to look at all their names. No one had come to collect their cert yet, I was the first in my old Form 5 class. It’s strange, how I was not very close to most people in my class, yet I look at the names and feel a longing.

The staff asked me what I was studying. He said: “Bosan sangat lah. Sunyi sangat nie, tiap-tiap hari takde orang.” (It’s so boring here, there’s no one around at all everyday.) I smiled. I chatted with him a while, then thanked him and left.

My SPM certificate
English Language Certificate

These would have to be “quarantined” on a specific table in the living room first. Due to the COVID-19 virus, every time we buy or bring back anything from outside, we usually quarantine it aside for a while!

I wonder when next I will return to my high school?

I’m turning eighteen, and I’m finally getting my own room!

Guess what: I’m finally getting my own room. I’m so excited! 😛

Me in my new room
8 May 2020
Credits: Blog author, Rachel Tan HX

My dad is famous for giving us false hope. In 2017, he asked casually if I wanted my own room. “Nah,” I said passively, as I always did to many of his questions, thinking if he really wanted to give me one, he would give me one. Expressing too much enthusiasm to rewards would raise suspicion, so I tend to play it cool. He didn’t give me one that year, and I wasn’t too surprised; my dad was just exploring possibilities.

In 2018 he said, more definitively this time, that I should have my own room. “You need one,” he said, “To study for your major exam, SPM. It will decrease distractions. We may give you one next year.” (My major exam was in 2019.) I did not voice objection. It sounded like it was going to happen!

He never gave me the room in 2019, and I spent an eternity in our studyroom, specifically meant for the son or daughter who was going to take a major exam that year. I was sitting for SPM that year. The door remained closed at all times, and I alternated between doing model exam papers and taking a “quick lie-down nap” on the backless, rock-solid, head-cracking wooden bench that was my seat….

A week ago, my dad brought up the subject of my own room again. This time, he drew up a small map of how he felt the layout should be like.

Then yesterday, on the 8th of May 2020, it really happened!

Dad chose the 8th because “faat” in Cantonese means eight, which sounds exactly like the word “prosperity”.

So with lots of sweat, groans and head scratching in contemplation of where everything should go, the four of us heaved and yanked everything that was not mine out, shoved it haphazardly into the room next to it, and arranged my bed and bedside table into my room.

Me in my new room 2
8 May 2020
Credits: Mother of Blog author

Dad promised to put up a new wooden sliding door for my room, sometime after the COVID situation has improved. This is because we have always been using the existing plastic sliding door from the previous owner of the house. We have already been living in this house for more than ten years!

(Update: It is 28th of January, 2021 one and still no news of the wooden door. Oh well. I’m happy with my old door anyway!)

After that, we laughed when we saw what a disaster the room next door looked like. Time to decide where some of these should go…. in that room. How terribly overcrowded! My new room instead appeared spick and span, for now. University may just bring a tornado through it!

Finally, I have my own personal space. I can’t wait to decorate or personalize it a little bit with pretty things. I may find something next time, when I’m shopping outside. Let’s hope the coronavirus situation improves soon!

Big day: collecting SPM results!

Finally comes the big day: collection of our SPM results, that we toiled day and night for last year (2019)!

With work and all, doing a 14 hour double shift TWO times this week (Alert, I will be letting you in into my new job soon! And…. it’s not what you would expect.) I haven’t been letting the ever-approaching big day sink in yet. Instead, my mind has been occupied with something else: Covid-19, which has become the hot topic of my workplace only very recently.

But that is a topic for later (stay updated… if you want to find out.). So it is because of that that my result day only really starts to hit me when I take a day off to collect my results today, on the 5th of March. Worn out, I had slept through the night, waking up the next day to messages from friends who were still up at 4 am due to nervousness!

After I arrive at school, I enter the hall and I walk around, find some people to say hi and catch up with, then I find our class label and scoot to the front and sit down behind my old deskmate. We talk animatedly about our study plans for the near future. Then… it’s time to collect our SPM results! Hot out of the oven – it’s here. Ready or not!

9As. Out of 10. Yay!

I feel happy that my hard work has paid off. I tell my folks, and they are proud too. Since my younger brother has first-term exams, we decide to postpone any celebration or reward to “later”. No specified date is mentioned, however, so there is a possibility that all the hecticness of university preparation will cause those to be forgotten. Should have asked for a signed contract! 😛

Then I walk around, looking for some friends. Being in a high performance school meant that there would always be people better than you: 10As, 11As, and 12A students were in such an abundance that 9As is relatively mediocre. However, I know that I must always stay neutral. Take in your surroundings, acknowledge it and see it for what it is, but ultimately, let your only competition be with yourself.

Everyone starts leaving the school compound. In denim jackets and long skirts and casual T-shirts and gel-ed or curled or dyed hair; for college classes or pre-U exams or part-time work or victory parties or family plans, they leave with their future ripe in their hands.

I am not sure what reward to ask for, because truly, the only thing I wish for in life is for happiness and a fulfilling life. I am happy I surpassed the requirement (the requirement is 5Bs for these five subjects: add math, math, physics, biology and chemistry). My results are well within the requirement to study medicine.

Now, I am looking forward to the fast-paced and demanding, but meaningful life being a doctor can give me!