Archive for August, 2003


Sunday, August 31st, 2003

I’m here, after some 28 hours of flying, transiting and travelling. I’m in the Harvard Science Center, just a minute’s walk away from the dorm I’m staying in for the next week (in Canaday E-34).

I’m still not sure what I feel about it all. Excited? Probably. Jetlagged? Possibly. Hungry? I don’t know yet.

Details some other time. Right now I gotta go make a call.

And here we go…

Thursday, August 28th, 2003

I’ve said my goodbyes, I’ve wrapped up countless odds and ends, and I’ve packed my bags, sort of (don’t ask).  In less than 48 hours I will be in the air, jetting towards my future – a future I’ve waited and worked so long and hard for, a future so undeserved and unreal, a future I longed for, once upon a time.

I’m bringing too much stuff, I know it, but I’m not leaving without a containerful of the nonya cookies (kueh bankit) I baked today, that tinful of mooncakes and a hefty packet of bak kwa.  Yet I worry about storage for my shoes, shirts and bags in my reportedly “crowded” suite.  More immediate, I worry about lugging my bags (3 suitcases + weekender duffel bag + backpack + violin and counting) across four airports (Changi, JFK, La Guardia and Boston Logan), between two halls (Weld, then Thayer), and across campus.

I’ll miss you all – you know who you are, army pals, debaters, family, fellow Rafflesians, french classmates, friends.  Don’t forget me too fast…  So bookmark this blog!  Now!  🙂

Letter to my Academic Advisor

Thursday, August 21st, 2003

To: Jill Camberlain
Subject: A letter from your advisee

Dear Ms Chamberlain,

This is Jason Yeo, from Singapore.  I have just this instant received your thoughtful card in the mail – thank you for taking the initiative to write.  I am delighted to have you as my academic advisor, and I look forward to meeting you at Wadsworth House on Tuesday, September 9th from 12noon to 1.30pm.

Having spent the last two and a half years serving compulsory military service, I am both excited to be finally starting college (I was accepted to the College back in Dec 2000) and at the same time I am apprehensive about getting back up to speed academically.  At last count, it has been about 33 months since I last did any calculus or wrote any graded essays, and thus I do not foresee myself performing well in the math, physics and chemistry placement tests.  (Do you have any information about the standard of these placement tests?)

In terms of academic interests, I would like to pursue an interdisciplinary concentration such as Environmental Science & Public Policy or Social Studies. I also hope to qualify for citations in French (in which I have the equivalent of about 3 years of study) and Manadarin Chinese (12 years experience).  Lastly, I am planning on satisfying the pre-med requirements (I turned down a place at the local medical school to attend Harvard).

Presently, my career interests lie in the areas of public health, resource & environmental management, public policy and social justice.

Despite how it may sound, I am really quite confused by the myriad of choices and resources available at Harvard, and I am truly thankful to have an academic advisor.  I apologise for the length and self-absorption of this email – I am simply thrilled by the prospect of an enriching and fulfilling time at Harvard.

Thank you for your attention.

Yours sincerely,
Jason S. Yeo

Thayer 101!

Saturday, August 16th, 2003

Yesterday was the first time I’d felt genuinely excited about leaving for college this year.

The reason for this is that I received my housing assignment in the mail, about a week earlier than I was expecting, and even before my new Canadian roommate received his letter.

I’m going to be in Thayer 101.  Having practically begged for a pretty dorm, I’m pleased that Sergey, Joanna and Clarence all assure me Thayer Hall is a very lovely, well-situated and social dorm.  Plus I’m on the ground floor, so although I will have to fend off tourists, drunks and thieves, I won’t have to climb any stairs or worry about moving luggage or furniture when the year ends.  As Sergey says, who could ask for more? (A private bathroom, maybe?)

Despite having indicated a preference for the maximum number of roommates (five, or more), I have been – perhaps wisely – assigned two.  Doug, an American from Florida and Ryan, a Canadian from Nova Scotia.

I realise from my prose it doesn’t sound like I was particularly excited by receiving my housing packet, but I was.  In the five minutes after opening the letter, I called both Xinwei and Shiming (who happened to be with Clarence at the time) as well as Joanna, then went online to see if my roommates had written to me (Doug had), to icq the news to Sergey, Darryl and Chuan Fei and to announce my new residence on both the yahoo groups. 

Much ado about nothing, indeed.

PS:  I’ve updated my contact details

So little time!

Wednesday, August 13th, 2003

I received my ticket today, and Terence leaves in five (!!) days. 

Seriously, the immediacy of my impending departure is beginning to hit squarely home.  There is now officially not enough time to do even a barely satisfactory number of things.  There appears to be no humanly possible way for me to properly accomplish ANY of the following in the next two weeks:

1. Pack* 
2. Meet up with the many people I will miss
3. Settle all the important but minor administrative details**
4. Read/watch and then return all my borrowed books, VCDs etc.
5. Study for the crucial math/chem/physics etc. placement tests+

*Three large cases filled, and I haven’t packed any shoes, books, long pants or toiletries.  And that’s not including my tablet or my violin
** Like dental appointments, driver’s licence, insurance payments, bank accounts, magazine subscriptions etc.
+ Compulsory, and held during week 1!

Pray for me.  And don’t be angry if I forget to call or meet up before I/you leave the country…  :/  (Almost started to list people, but realised the list is too long, and too prone to omissions.)

No worries…

Friday, August 8th, 2003

Part of the reason why I don’t feel particularly perturbed about forcibly uprooting my life and transplanting it some 17 time-zones away is the knowledge that so many others have gone through the exact same thing.  It’s similar to the way NS didn’t feel so daunting when I knew that Nicholas had done it, and Theng Kuan had suceeded.

After all, it’s been over two years since the majority of my friends relocated to London, Melbourne and New York, with others settling in Beijing, Chicago and Edinburgh.

If so many of my contemporaries have done it, and not only survived, but flourished (so many happy stories and pretty photographs), then so can I, right?

PS: As Kok Heng just pointed out – 17 days to go!

Less than four weeks to go…

Monday, August 4th, 2003

This is it. 

I have less than four full weeks before I leave for college.  My tickets have just been confirmed – I’m flying on SQ026 on the night of Friday, 29 August.  Xinwei will be on the same flight until she switches to Lufthansa from Frankfurt to Boston, leaving me to make a domestic connection in New York alone (which involves changing airports – from JFK to La Guardia).

I’d better start packing.  I’ve been chasing everyone, from Terence to Gen, to pack early, and yet I can’t bring myself to do more than throw a few sweaters in a suitcase.  What should I take with me, and more importantly, what should I leave behind?  My friends, my family, my church, my books, my habits, my familiar haunts, the local sights, sounds and cuisine…  those I know I cannot take with me.  At least there isn’t a limit on carry-on memories.

And before everyone gets the wrong idea, this isn’t romantic nostalgia.  It’s more a empirical understanding of what a major change of scenery awaits me.


In other news, the annual summer social season is coming to an end.  The first wave of people have already started to leave, and the next wave of departures follows just two weeks later.  It’s been fun while it lasted 🙂