Visiting the ‘rival’, Stanford.

One of my favourite songs of all time is “I’m not that girl” from the hit musical Wicked. It is probably the most depressing song of the whole play, but one that I could definitely relate to during one period in my life, when I did not like myself for being this awkward person and not the conventional pretty girly girl that guys like.

One line of the song particularly hits home with me.

Don’t wish, don’t start
Wishing only wounds the heart
I wasn’t born for the rose and pearls

But don’t worry, I am not about to launch into a sappy story about my love life. The reason why I’m telling you this is because I was reminded of the very line of this song when I visited Stanford a few weeks back.

Before coming to Berkeley, Stanford was just the name that I had heard being thrown around by very smart people around me. My super smart junior high school crush graduated from Stanford a couple of years back, my colleague-turned-friend went there after quitting his job. I didn’t have any idea where Stanford was, nor did I care to find out – the elite air around the name suggested that the place was somewhere too remote and had long ago been filed in my brain under the category of “unreachable places I will never go” (said the girl who had travelled all the way to the Arctic to see the Northern Lights).

Life, though, has a funny way of working itself. I somehow ended up visiting Stanford not because I was particularly eager to see the place, but because my friend, who lives in South Bay, and I were trying to find a hiking trail that would be accessible for both of us. Stanford Satellite Dish Trail seemed to be the best place for us to go that weekend, and my friend then of course very kindly requested her friend to bring us around to see the campus.

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A walk in the park.

I grew up in South East Asia where the sun is constantly shining, save for days where there are thunderstorms. There are no seasons – just sunny, rainy or cloudy days (with no chance of meatballs unfortunately), with the sun shining for 10 hours consistently throughout the year. People would complain about the heat and the glaring sunlight, and they would go by all means to avoid them. If you are lucky to live in a country like Singapore for example, you can go pretty far by walking through the network of underground concourses built throughout the country without having to be exposed to the sun at all.

So when I first arrived in Denmark, I came with this sense of entitlement for sunshine – that its presence is given and to be avoided. It was not until I have experienced several continuous gloomy days and had to cycle in the pouring rain on the day I needed to submit my paper that I started having the urge to do everything out in the open when the sun is shining. I start cursing the days when I have to stay in my room to read when the sun is shining. I may have also developed the habit of staring idly at the blue sky in public or stopping after every few metres to take pictures while I’m cycling.

In short, I have grown to love the sun, like a proper Nordic person does.

So it is perfectly understandable that last Sunday when the sky was clear and the sun was shining, I took a very long detour on my way home from badminton – what would have taken 30 minutes ended up to be a 1.5-hour journey. I cycled through the University Park of Aarhus University and decided to park my bike and just take in everything around me.

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Continue reading “A walk in the park.”