on the verge…

two hundred and forty three days // thirty four weeks // eight months…

…Since I left the Little Red Dot for the Land of The Free. And what an incredible journey I’ve been on and can’t wait to see what lies ahead.

And now, I’m on the verge…//thirty-six days//…to talking the long walk with my mortar board to shake the man’s hand whom I’ve given tens of thousands of dollars over the past three years in exchange for a piece of paper. Such surrealness. Before I start thinking about the real world, let me blabber on about the my USA adventures!

So much has happened in this span of time. The Goods and the Bads, the Highs and the Lows. Things I could have never seen and done in my motherland.

Barely a couple of weeks into settling into my senior year, I received devastating news of my grandfather’s death. I was distraught and was in limbo. Time and space stood still as I tried my very best to register the news and till this day, it is still fresh as ever. Told myself that was the lowest that I could feel and things could only go up from here. Slowly, I steadied my course and carried on.

If my grandfather’s death taught me one (or perhaps two) thing, it was that life is pretty damn unpredictable – well, we all know that already, but to actually feel it, is a whole different story. Also, it made me realize how I’ve taken for granted the people closest to me.

So, I took life by its horns and made my time in the United States worth every second of it. Things did not take off as expected, the whole expectations and reality discourse that I conveniently chose to ignore or deny that would happen. But as with all things, there was a greater plan that was hatched and I made up for the lost time in no time.

Probably one of the most impromptu thing that I’ve done is, having not driven for more than an hour before, to embark on a 6-hour drive with a friend to catch a Sara Bareilles concert. We bought the tickets three days prior to the concert and decided to just. drive. Even though we split the driving duties 50-50, it still felt like a marathon and a fight to stay awake and vigilant on the midnight drive home. Thankfully, we were delivered home without a scratch.

Ohio Bound

If that impromptu road trip was by any means a precursor of what was to come, I sure won’t be disappointed.

One of my highlights so far was attending the 2013 US Open and catching both the Men’s and Women’s finals!

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And not forgetting that I had the chance to hear Barack Obama speak live and I barely 30ft away from him! What a charismatic man!

ObamaAnd not to mention, Hillary Clinton dropped by UB to speak as well!

ClintonWhat are the odds that you get to hear TWO of the most influential people in the United States speak live. Pure geniuses!

And now back to the adventure, I managed to strike off one of the top items on my bucket list: I WENT SKYDIVING!!! The feeling of free-falling and the adrenaline was amazing, at the very least. I mean, who would voluntarily jump out of a perfectly working aircraft and fall? It was exhilarating!

Skydiving

 

And on November 11, we experienced our first real snowfall in Buffalo!

SNOW!Not before long, we embarked on our next road trip – we were DC bound!

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This time round, we were much more prepared for the looooooong drive and getting accustomed to driving long distances! Plus having company made the 8 hour drive seem much more tolerable!

Not before long, Thanksgiving Break crept up on us and we were not going to let a week of no-school go by wasted! We planned an epic cross-country trip to the Entertainment Capital of the World, Los Angeles!!!!

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Having visited LA before a couple of years back, the highlight of this trip was definitely attending the Live Knockout Round of THE VOICE!!! The best part of it was that I was ushered to the mosh-pit area and I was 10feet away from my Christina Aguilera!!! She already looks like a million-bucks on TV and in pictures – but in real-life, she was just a goddess. She had the most infectious laughter and an aura that illuminated the entire room. Sadly, we were not allowed ANY form of electronic devices in the studios ):
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Shortly after Thanksgiving Break, I was lusting to travel again. Back to NYC. Couldn’t say how much I adore the City That Never Sleeps! This time we decided to take Amtrak – it was “one-of-those-things-you-need-to-do-once” things. And the train ride was actually great! The views as we passed the countryside and waterways were dazzling, and in winter, it was a picturesque wonderland.

image (11)Weirdly enough, I love the subway in NYC even though it’s not always on-time, dirty, and everything else in between. #NewYorkerAtHeart

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While in NYC, it was such a coincidence that Mariah Carey had a taping for a New Year Eve special and we got tickets to see her sing live. As much as I don’t really like her, her Voice – OMG. WOW. And while watching Mariah do her thing, we were treated to one of the best views in Manhattan!!!

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And on the topic of New Year Eve, I was due back in NYC for the world-famous Times Square Balldrop! (EXCITED would not suffice) We passed by the Times Square office and they were collecting New Year wishes written on confetti, which they will release upon Times Square at the stroke of midnight! How cool! I was greedy and instead of just penning one wish, I snuck in an extra wish *fingers-crossed* and I’m still waiting for the wishes to come true.

After that, we had to deal with saying goodbye to friends that we grown close over the course of 4 months. Good friends.

image (13)Of course, before letting them go, we had to do something fun – SKIING!

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Before we knew it, Christmas was round the corner and I was extremely excited to buy a ‘live’ Christmas Tree for our house! Bought a 6ft tree for only $15…it supposedly costs a couple of hundred to buy a ‘live’ tree in Singapore???

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As Christmas approached, my wanderlust grew and we were planning for a Christmas + New Year getaway. This time, we were going on the road to Boston and then to my arguably favorite city, NYC for New Year countdown!

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Screen Shot 2014-04-14 at 9.26.30 pmBoston was just stunning (I’m running out of superlatives to describe all the amazing places in the US!!!).Visited MIT, Harvard, walk the Freedom Trail and more! Can’t wait to be back in Boston again!

After four days in Boston, we were on the road again – to NYC!

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It was a horrid drive into NYC – rain delays, jams and accidents. A 3.5h drive became a 5h drag. Nonetheless, I was just glad to be back in NYC!

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As much as we were excited for the ball drop, it was 12 hour of waiting and standing before the clock struck midnight. We arrived at Times Square at about noon (!!!) and just stood amongst millions of other New Year revellers. Definitely an experience to remember and something you will never forget. And it started snowing towards the evening and it was freezing!!! (US was experiencing a super bad winter at this time!) But once performances and activities started at around 8pm, time began passing much faster and before we knew it, we were counting down to 2014!


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While we were in NYC, Hercules struck the Northeast and we were blanketed in a ton of snow and sub-sub-sub zero temperatures!

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But I was glad that we were able to ice skate at Bryant Park! Another one off the bucket list.
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We walked across the Brooklyn Bridge and the view was just breathtaking. We sat by the river for an hour just taking in the awesomeness of Manhattan and the beauty of the city.

Flash forward a couple of weeks, I was back in icy Buffalo BUT A Great Big World was coming to perform! I could not miss it! And they were simply spectacular live! Charming and talented and I managed to take pictures with Chad & Ian!!

image (1)And while the polar vortex hit the northeast, we decided to be crazy kids and brave the weather – for MacDonalds. Talking about Macs, the number of times I’ve had it is more than what I had in Singapore in the past two years combined. :/

image (19)Time seems to fly in the States and Chinese New Year was round the corner. I was so glad I was not in Singapore – never like CNY, except for getting ang paos, that is. But we could not pass having a reunion dinner and we whipped up a Chinese Feast!

Screen Shot 2014-04-14 at 9.45.10 pmAnd a month later, it was my birthday, and what better way to spend it than go back to the city that I love so dearly!! Finally on this trip, I succumbed to my long hair and changed it up drastically 😛 And we managed to catch two broadway shows too! And we went on a large-scale food hunt and act like kings for three straight days!
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image (16)image AAnd YAY! we went ice skating in Central Park!! It’s soooo beautiful!

Screen Shot 2014-04-14 at 9.49.32 pmAnd then there was Mardi Gras!

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Of course, the weather in Buffalo has a really bad temperament. One day you could be basking in glorious sunshine and the next, a crazy blizzard hits. For the first time in over 100 years, Buffalo is being hit by a blizzard TWICE in a single season. And the last time Buffalo experienced a blizzard was over 30 years ago. It was so bad that it managed to get UB to shut school for the day.

Screen Shot 2014-04-14 at 9.53.21 pmNo school life would be complete without the longed-for SPRING BREAK! We did the crazy and decided to drive 1,400 miles down South to the glorious beaches of Miami! A daunting 24h drive awaited us.

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Upon arrival, the beach just neutralized everything. IT WAS GORGEOUS. I’ve not seen a beach as beautiful as this. I was floored.

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After enjoying the sun, sand and beach and of course, the nightlife, we took off to Orlando to lose ourselves in the Universal studios. I was particularly excited to rush into the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and boy, it did not disappoint at all. I was like a kid in a candy store, gawking at everything I saw, buying countless butterbeers because they were SO DAMN GOOD. Eating at the Three Broomsticks, playing with wands in Ollivander’s and reeling the wonder of Hogsmeade.

Screen Shot 2014-04-14 at 9.58.28 pmAnd how lucky were we? Just as we were in Orlando, A Great Big World was slated to perform at Universal and we managed to catch them live again, and they were just as awesome, if not even more awesome than the first time round! LOVE A GREAT BIG WORLD!

Screen Shot 2014-04-14 at 9.58.42 pmBut now…it’s back to hitting the books and finishing the final 6 weeks of my undergraduate career and adding to the unemployment rate wherever I may be.

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One thought on “on the verge…

  1. Awesomeness Jeffrey! Loved reading your adventures of USA. Almost felt like I just experienced it. (:
    So glad you had a great time there. Come back to us now already! ❤
    Get me chocolates okay?
    xx.

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