Things that have been happening over the past few weeks:
Kindred Spirit Archsing! (no I'm not in there, sorry if you looked :P the a cappella groups on campus are WAY out of my league.)
Archsings are a Princeton tradition where one of the many many a cappella groups on campus basically... finds an arch and sings in it... ummm pretty self-explanatory. Kindred Spirit sings Christian hymns and worship songs and they have a kickass version of "Be Thou My Vision" which I will always remember for uplifting my spirits on a bright spring day earlier this year. A couple of the singers are in Manna, so a bunch of us went to support :) Love hearing in them a reflection of the beauty of God!
The next VERY eventful thing that happened was that... I passed my road test last Friday!!!!!! Kekekekeke hehehehe yay. After failing in Singapore and being terrified of driving here, I went for a couple of lessons and felt a lot more comfortable - was still super nervous during the test though, and it's really only by God's will that I passed!!! Had to make a couple of adjustments during parallel parking, but it all turned out fine in the end. Huge props to this guy:
Mr Ameen, my driving instructor, and his awsm car
He was incredibly patient, professional and encouraging, especially to this little girl from Singapore who's only ever had bad experiences with driving tests and had no idea how to drive on the opposite side of the road! He operates Fear Away Driving School in the Princeton area and they charge a student rate of $80 for 2 hours of lessons, which is basically one of the cheapest rates around here. If you just want to take the NJ road test, they also have a road test package of 1h prep lesson and then use of the car for the test. I definitely recommend him to anyone (esp international students) who want to get a license! I haven't gotten mine yet though, because I didn't have time to wait at the driving center that day. Have to make the long bus/trek up again sometime soon...
Anyway, that made me happy (still is making me happy) for quite a while. It's such a small thing I guess but also really big in a practical, life-knowledge sort of way! I am still scared of driving but at least now I can get a license and actually practise without paying exorbitant amounts for lessons in Singapore. And I also realized how absurdly easier it is to drive an auto car than a manual one, lol.
The other happifying thing over the past week was this:
The Shapiro Prize banquet! It's an academic prize awarded for your school performance in freshman and sophomore year, and I was so amazed + surprised when I got the invite in the mail because honestly, I came into Princeton not knowing what to expect and struggled a lot through freshman year (especially with Intl Relations of East Asia that terrifying but amazing course lol). So gratified, but also grateful.
The banquet was held at Chancellor Green Rotunda which was transformed from a library space into this fine-dining setup with white tablecloths and napkins and many types of cutlery (you know it's getting real when you have two kinds of glasses and a knife especially for butter). We were seated according to residential colleges and it was semi-awkward initially but I guess we were all united in our joy at the award so it wasn't that bad, lol :P
In any case, the food was one of the main attractions of the night for me:
Salmon with white sauce and sweet potato purée (I made this name up)
Tangerine vanilla cream mousse (I'm also making this up, but the flavours are about right)
As I unabashedly took photos of the food, breaking all fine dining etiquette, I half-ironically told my college's Director of Studies that it was an "Asian thing" and he exclaimed that his wife is Korean and loves to do that too... I'm not sure if he was being ironic as well, since he's actually a PhD in Comparative Literature I think...
Besides the glory and nice dinner, the Shapiro Prize also gives each recipient a book written by a Princeton professor and apparently the identity of the book is kept a big secret every year (so delightfully nerdy right!!! :D). This year we got the book Mozart's Grace by Scott Burnham, a Music professor. He gave us a short lecture complete with recordings of Mozart pieces; I have zero music background, having given up learning the piano as I was about to start my Grade 1 exam, so I didn't really understand it (and probably won't understand the book), but it was fun to see the passion he has for his work and to listen to classical music in such an atas setting.
New book! I still haven't unwrapped it cause it's so prettily done.
As the dinner ended I had one thing on my mind - Photographs with Important People. So I went up to Harold Shapiro, the ex-President of Princeton who started the prize, and his wife Dr Vivian Shapiro, and thanked them for starting it and asked why they did. After chatting for a bit I asked if we could take a photo:
Me with the Shapiros!!! SO star-struck, and I even got a hug from Dr Shapiro!
I then drifted over to the long line of people waiting for photos with President Chris Eisgruber (remember him? I wrote about his inauguration a while back). Fortunately I had Connections in the form of the people in the front of the line - Kecy, Xuling and Xiaohua (all people who'd studied in Singapore! whoopwhoop for the Singapore education system?????).
Three MASA sophomores with President Eisgruber! I'd neglected to remove the large nametag beforehand...
All 4 MASA people :)
I left that night as a very happy girl wanting more than ever to push my academic boundaries here. I know I whine a lot about the stress and the amount of work, but I actually do really enjoy classes here and even writing and researching for papers. I'm pretty excited about the challenges coming, the chances to take higher level classes, and the opportunities to do stuff I would probably not get the chance to do back home. It's a lot of hard work here, but I know this is where I want to be and where I'm meant to be. All glory to God, from whom all blessings flow.