Archive for April, 2008

And it’s all over.

Last Friday I got an email from Student Admin saying that my results have been amended, and the Failed subject, which was Withheld for the longest time, is now a Pass.

In case you have trouble following the chronology of the Drama That Is My Academic Career, here is what happened:

Last semester, which was supposed to be my final semester, I was bogged down by general slackerness and handed in that particular assignment late. I’d been granted Special Consideration on the grounds of my sleep disorder (which was an actual medical problem that semester, instead of something I bring up at convenient times), but I still couldn’t meet the extended deadline. Thus, the (rather snobbish) lecturer failed me automatically, without even reading it. This felt like an enormous failure (instead of the regular kind) because it was a huge essay of 4000 words, and I’d put considerable effort into it. When, two days into the new semester, the Withheld result was changed into a Fail, I enrolled in Novels and flew back to Melbourne in a hurry, with about a week left on my student visa.

A new student visa application (>$400 on credit card), a new medical examination for the said application (>$200 on savings account), and a new subject enrollment (>$2000, invoiced but yet to be paid) later, I get an email saying I actually passed, and that I’m back here, basically, for no reason.

All weekend I thought about continuing with the current subject anyway. It will be a better grade than a Pass, it’s a Creative Wroiting subject, I actually enjoy the class, and, five weeks into the semester, it feels like a waste to not complete it.

On Monday I got a call from the Arts Faculty, confirming the completion of my course, and my two majors in Media & Communications and Creative Wroiting.

When I asked if I could continue with Novels anyway, the lady said no. I’d already completed 300 points, and I’d have to apply to over-enroll, and there was really no reason for the Faculty to grant me that permission. I hung up the phone and involuntarily began to cry, which turned into continuous bouts of heaving sobs, after which I felt slightly better, but also rather silly.

I don’t know. I just get really upset when I’m told I can’t do something, even if I wanted to.

On Tuesday I went to see International Student Services, who were very understanding of my situation. Laura* congratulated me and asked how I felt about it all. I poured my heart out to her and it felt very much like a therapy session. (Not that I’ve ever been, but you know.)

I got advice on what to do, where to go from here. I would have to wait for the next graduation ceremonies in August, because I’d missed the ones in March. I would also have to apply for a new visa within 28 days, if I were to go ahead with my plan of Getting Some Work Experience while I’m here. I would have to request from Student Admin the “evidence of qualification”, the piece of paper saying I’m finished with uni. And technically, I would have to turn in my student card.

I thanked them for all their help, and walked out of the office in a sort of daze.

I’m done with uni.

I’ve finished.


It’s like an absurd tug-of-war, these past few months. No no, you fail, they said. Come back, go to class, do assignments. Hold on a second, on second thought, you pass, congratulations, hand in your student card, kthxbye.

And I’ve worn the label ‘Student’ for so long I hardly know what to do with myself now.

So I walked around uni, pretending to be one, for one more day. I walked through the hallways, past the rooms where I went to (or rather, more often, skipped) classes. Past the computer lab where I spent many midnights, frantically working on and printing my assignments. Through the buildings where I’d managed to become and remain anonymous for much of my uni life; on pathways and shortcuts where you can walk for hours without ever bumping into a familiar face. Into the main library with its endless rows of books and journals, where you can browse for hours without ever passing by the same shelf twice.

It took me months to feel like I have any business or right to be here at all.

And now that it’s all over, what have I got to show for it, really?

What have I learned, really?

Lots. And also, very little, depending which way you look at it.

My university student email will cease to exist tomorrow. I have mixed feelings about it all. There’s relief, of course, that it’s all over. There’s a bit of happiness, a bit of sadness. But mostly, I’m just terrified, I guess.

Meh. I’ll figure it out.


9 April, 2008 at 4:02 pm 4 comments

More random conversations.

My morning (ie afternoon) started out rather hazily. After stumbling out past the receptionists, through the door, with coffee in hand, I headed to my usual smoking spot to find somebody else sitting there. This is unacceptable. (Also, after a few unsuccessful attempts to spell unexceptable I looked up the dictionary and found out I’d been trying to spell unacceptable.) If you know how much I laugh when other people get their spelling wrong you’d know I’m mentally kicking myself right now.

After I had my coffee and smoked my cigarette (at a different spot) I went back upstairs, and a lady rushed for the lift just before the door closed. She smiled, and I thought oh God she wants to talk. It is way too early for a random conversation.

“Hi,” she said.

I managed a smile, which, with fuzzy brain, unwashed face and poofy hair, might as well have been a squirm, a feeble attempt to contract my facial muscles upwards in the general direction of a smile.

“Hi,” I said, squinting.

“Are you from Malaysia?” she said.

“Yes,” I said. Hint hint, don’t talk to me.

“Oh! I’m from Singapore.”

“Oh,” I said. “Cool.” Hint hint, feel free to stop this conversation.

“Are you Malay?” she said.


“Oh! Me too!”

(God damn it what is she so happy about. Has she honestly not met another Malay in Melbourne before? Throw a stone in any direction; you’re likely to hit one. Why is this lift so damn slow? Are we really only at the second floor?!)

“At first I wasn’t sure,” she said, “But then I saw your family around and I thought hmm—“

“Oh did you really?”



“Anyway, I’m Faridah*,” she extends her hand.


Ding, my floor. Shake hands. New friend. See ya around. Take care.

She didn’t see my family around. The last time my family was here was almost three years ago, and I lived somewhere else.


I’ve realized that if I ever leave my apartment, I meet one random stranger every other day.

Like that crazy dude on the ferry in Sydney (oh I went to Sydney, did I tell you?) who played the harmonica and was almost in tears when I told him I liked his music. He asked me where we were, walked with me for a bit and then said goodbye by way of sticking up three fingers in the air and saying “Peace!”

“Do you mean,” I said, showing him two fingers, “Peace?”

He looked at his hand, counted his fingers, adjusted them, then said “Oh yeah yeah, PEACE!”

Or that dude in Hungry Jack’s (ie Burger King) who complained about the long line and got excited when Bonnie Tyler’s song was played.

Or little Chloe and her dad, who I met on the train. Chloe is three years old and sat next to me when I moved my bag which was taking up the extra seat. Big blue eyes, blond curly hair, and just learning to talk. As soon as I sat down, we waved at each other, and she showed me her juice and her glittery bookmark from McDonalds. I moved my bag when more passengers got on the train.

“Who sit there?” she asked, pointing at the empty seat.

“Nobody’s sitting here, “ I said.

So she said there.

“Hi,” she said. “I’m going.”

“You’re going? Where are you going?”

“No,” said her dad. “She said hi I’m Chloe.”

“Oh! I’m Nadia. It’s very nice to meet you Chloe.”

“Look outside! It’s all dark!”

“Yes. We’re in a tunnel.”

She looked confused. “Where did the skyyyy go?”

I just laughed. Her dad said it must be night time.
Out of the tunnel, blue sky outside.


“Yes, I see the sky.”

“LOOK AT THE SKY LOOK AT THE SKYYYY!!!” She touches my arm, nudging me nudging me to look, look, LOOOK!!

Other passengers turning to look at the sky, then at Chloe, then at me. Some with looks of aww, she’s so cute. Some with looks of ughh, be quiet. I’m laughing.

Her dad tells her shhh. I say shhh, a little softer.. we need to use our inside voice.

Shhh she says, whispering, shhhh… the bowalas are sleeping.

Chloe shows me her glittery bookmark again. Then a plastic bag from a souvenir shop, with a picture of a kawaroo (kangaroo) on it. Inside, a pair of bunny bowala (koala) slippers, which she pats lovingly.

All through the train ride she talks to me, making jokes, giggling, and I talk back the way I talk to my younger siblings. At my stop I tell her I’m getting off here. Her dad explains that means we need to say byebye. We say byebye, she waves, I pat her head, and I walk out of the train station still smiling.

At certain times of the day, random strangers are great. Not very early in the morning (ie afternoon) when my brain’s all fuzzy and I don’t appreciate being asked if I’m of a particular race. I feel like launching into a Bangsa Malaysia (Malaysian race) essay, but it’s too much effort and my brain’s still fuzzy.

9 April, 2008 at 11:41 am Leave a comment