Since the beginning of the program, my expectations for this week were to get to know many of the previous scholars during the Scholars' Annual Reflection and meeting the VIP/ VVIPs during the Closing Ceremony. Furthermore, I also pictured a beautiful mini farewell party at our apartment before officially checking out… Unfortunately, reality was we stayed most of our time at home this week and even checked out without proper closure! This second wave of pandemic was surely something I did not expect in the schedule when we started off this 2-months program.
Hence, for this week, I have asked my fellow scholars to give me input of how they have spent their days at home too! If I only relied on my sole activities at home, pretty sure this article would have only been 3 paragraphs-long…
Still in the 1-week rest period from sports after my vaccine, I started off my week taking the golden chance to wake up a bit later than my usual 5am time. When I woke up, I ate breakfast then my mother had received a call from my grandmother, whom have asked her to buy her groceries as her food supply was slowly running out. So, my mother asked me to accompany her as my other siblings were currently busy working from home. On the way to my grandmother's house, my mother thought of stopping by the Drive-thru at Community Centre, Tanjong Maya, Tutong, to claim my grandmother's old-age pension. Hence, we dropped both her money and her groceries outside the door of her house. Too bad we could not meet her up close. I miss being able to hug her and let alone being able to shake her hand.
Once I got home, I made sure to immediately shower before interacting with my siblings and having our lunch. The rest of my day was basically just spent in front of the laptop to continue filling in my university application on the Common App website.
On the same day, I have sent my friend a cake for her birthday via local runner services in Bandar. We actually planned beforehand on celebrating it together but current situation does not allow it. However, I am grateful that nowadays runner services are provided so that people can stay at home whilst the runner run their errands around for them.
Besides me, most of my friends have rather been productive as well, except for Syasya who said she did 'nothing' on Monday (but stay tuned to read about the sudden jump in her productivity level!!). Anyway, Raziq did a lot of washing; he washed the camel bag issued from the office for us to utilize during OBBD and he even washed his car. On the other hand, it was definitely a busy week for Richmon as his flight is getting nearer each day. He spent Monday just settling his travelling matters and buying his groceries. Coincidentally, Hanan also worked on her university applications like me! She is trying to find a fixed date to sit for her National Admissions Test for Law (LNAT) as soon as possible but this pandemic keeps making her reschedule it.
For the next day, it was another day to stay in front of the laptop because I was researching and brainstorming points for answering the essay/ prompt on the Common App. Ms Susie gave me a representative from the US Embassy's contact number (Mayra Robles) so that I could easily liaise with her regarding my application progress. I texted her about the questions I did not understand on the website. She was very kind and approachable that she even gave me the e-mail address of Stony Brook University's International Student Advisor, Yousef, so that I could directly ask him any questions regarding the university.
On the other hand, Richmon has been so busy with travel-related applications. Hanan tried to apply the skills she learned during our last life skills session. Her family successfully made a pizza and it looks so good to me! She also made lemon sorbet as a dessert AND ordered Tealive for delivery. Glad to know she is eating well over there…
For the following day, I finally moved around a lot and cleaned my room! It has been a long time since I already unpacked my items I brought back from the apartment but I have been really demotivated in returning them to their original place in the house. I was silently hoping that we would go back to the apartment after just a short while. However, the Covid-19 cases kept increasing each day, which makes it impossible for us housemates to reunite.
Wednesday was another day for Hanan to explore more recipes. She baked cranberry cookies AND she even remade the spaghetti Ms Susie taught us to cook during our life session skills! Syasya had a productive day, in which she started surveying university accommodations and watched videos of people who shared their experiences of being in Sydney; she was really excited about her university life.
Thursday marked the end of our resting period. We started back the Work-Out of the Day (WOD) which was led by Hanan. She wanted us to work on our abs. Her work-out was really painful; I can really feel my stomach tightened.
Afterwards, we rushed to freshen up because us girls were required to come to the apartment at separate, individual slots. I booked the earliest slot which was at 9am. We had to pack and bring back home the remaining items we left at the apartment before checking-out. Majority of the items in my room were just items I prepared for the supposed Military Orientation and my formal-wears. We maintained strict Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) by social distancing with each other and wearing face masks, face shields as well as gloves. I still cannot believe that would have been the last time we would step into our apartment. I wish we had proper farewells.
Afterwards, my sister and I stopped by a department store on the way home to buy a new rice cooker. Our old rice cooker found the right timing to break down! We also used the single trip chance to buy groceries for our house. Jealous of Hanan's Tealive the other day, I finally got them today!
Hanan celebrated her mother's birthday today and she surprised her with pretty cupcakes. I love the fact that they found a way to celebrate sentimental events like this even in the midst of a pandemic where everyone is restricted to go out and celebrate at their favourite restaurants, for instance. Syasya, on the other hand, spent her day cleaning her room and finished editing the Freshman Induction Program video Ms Susie has tasked us to do. Fun fact, Syasya and Raziq both ate sushi today BUT Syasya's was ordered and Raziq's was home-made by his family! (Bet you could not tell the difference between the two sushi pictures).
The last WOD of the week was handled by Raziq. I could say that his work-out was the most tiring and challenging out of all the sessions we have done previously.
Syasya and I both coincidentally made brownies today! She even had a brownie-making competition with her sister. Hence, below you can see the three variations of brownies that all three of us made (Left to right: Mine, Syasya's and her sister's).
Syasya's family took an extra initiative to prevent the air in their house from being contaminated after knowing of the presence of Delta Variant Virus in our country! They bought air purifiers.
It was also Richmon's turn to collect his things at the apartment and at the same time, he also had his pre-departure briefing there. Meanwhile, Hanan cleaned her room today, which makes us all three girls have our room cleaned on three separate days!!!
For Saturday, my mother and I decided to try out one of those Tik Tok recipes! It was to transform normal breads into curry-puffs. We chose to have sardines as the filling. This was simple to make yet the result was so delicious. Other than that, I had started to plan out my WOD of which I will be leading on Monday and Thursday. I was hoping to either test it out or jog in the evening but sadly I was feeling really unwell. Hence, I decided to take medications and rested. On the other hand, Syasya and Raziq went for a jog on their own.
My reflection for week 8 (+ the whole 8 weeks):
It was definitely a bummer to know that one-by-one the events we looked forward to since the beginning of the program has been postponed until further notice… or even possibly be cancelled for good. First, the Military Orientation and now even the Closing Ceremony. I also expected that our last week of the program would be spent together but we had to have a rushed separation.
Nevertheless, I am still super grateful of the opportunities this scholarship has given me. It has exposed me to so many privileges that no other students my age are able to experience. I am grateful for this comprehensive Induction Program as it has allowed me to explore so many things such as Karate lessons, visits within the ministry, conducting roadshows, participate in courses with working officers (both civilian and military), the daily fitness routine with special guidance from Physical Training Instructors (PTIs) and even all the cooking/ baking during our life skills sessions. Hence, every time I think about all the 'what could have been', I look back and feel more appreciative towards what we managed to do in a short span of time.
Another great thing I cherish as an after-math of our programme is, of course, the memories made and the stronger friendship the five of us has now. Believe me, a year ago you would never see me talk to Raziq at school but now we are scholar besties!! Hence, this bond between us scholars would be very beneficial in the future as we could understand one another more and could relate what each of us are going through.
Besides that, as we often mentioned in our recent articles, we have been having daily WODs together, with each of us taking turns to lead. This WOD has been very useful in this period of time where we mostly not move around a lot at home. Firstly, it definitely keeps me feeling fresh and awake throughout the whole day and Ms Susie even told us that consistently doing it after we wake up in the morning would help boost our metabolism rate! That would for sure help with my weight loss goal. On the other hand, by being tasked to lead would allow us to test our leadership and planning skills. We have to research the work-outs most suitable for the body parts we aim to work on.
Furthermore, the one week resting phase definitely made it harder for us to re-adapt ourselves into our usual exercise routine. As what Ms Susie said "the hardest thing is to start!". This is a strong sentence and I am going to use it as a motivation to remain consistent in the future.
As a conclusion, I will try very hard to integrate the skills I have learned throughout these short 2 months into my lifestyle in the future, especially when I go abroad alone and become independent with no people to rely on.
Just in case the Closing Ceremony is confirmed to be cancelled and we would not get the chance to convey our many, many thanks, I would like to express my gratitude here for all the wonderful opportunities and for the sacrifices (especially time and money) this ministry has spent in order to let us gain more knowledge and experience certain matters hands-on. I have mentioned in my week 1 article that I had hoped to evolve into a better individual by the end of this program and I believe I did. I am now a better version of myself from 2 months ago and I am excited to improve some more!