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How the United Kingdom United Us

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By Jiun Hong Lim

I took an extended “vacation” or some will call it “refusal to return home or look for a job” because of my love for London. The last year(ish) spent in London was probably the best year of my life. This marks the end of an era…

To start off, the professors and lecturers for MISI are ones that I owe my biggest thanks to as the lessons taught go beyond what could be covered in textbooks and you guys have definitely changed the way I view the business world as well as society. If we were to only always look from a single perspective, we lose the ability to truly understand the bigger picture. You guys are the best and I now know you can tell how wise a lecturer is by his or her willingness to put on a ridiculous looking shirt to make his point. You know how professional a lecturer is when he looks tired most of the time but still make it to class before everyone. Lecturers who are willing to attend to us as we bump into the lifts,  and hosting office hours which are almost impossible to book at peak times is not forgotten too,. Your suaveness charmed MISI girls who went all “gaa gaa”. The brave lecturers who took the toughest modules and kept trying are champions. Sadly, I only understood the message just before the exams and failed to contribute much to the table in seminars. All the Ahhhha and Ooohhh moments I had, buried in course guides are as good as finding pots of gold at the end of the rainbow.

The people I met and the friendships I forged in this foreign land has been amazing for me. Without you guys, my year wouldn’t have been the same. Some of you whom I worked with, I’ll never forget the discussions, presentations and the inside jokes we shared… We had a stellar year and we are all winners in our own rights! I hope we will continue to be part of each other’s lives when we face problems, and that we help one another, after all, we have developed to become more than classmates but interdependent friends with many hidden talents. I’m glad that through this course I also made friends from all over the world, and also came across names whereby till now I’m not sure whether I’m pronouncing them correctly. If you noticed I didn’t address you by name sometimes, you now know why.

To all my friends who became involved in my personal life, you guys are my true heroes and stars. Each and everyone of you are like my family, always there for me and giving me encouragement as I go along and never once questioned my actions. Willingness to read my long WhatsApp’s and listening to my whiny phone calls are things I will never forget. I miss crazy hair twirling sessions too! (You know who you are) We travelled the distance together, short train trips, haphazardly planned road trips and trips involving the use of rather confusing and tedious budget airlines (which I grew to love). The sights, sounds and discomforts were amazing. I’ve seen things that I would never have  if I stayed at home, too afraid to venture into the darkness and take this leap of faith.

I am glad I did all this and I am glad it paid off. Nature has been kind to me, displaying some rare moments and fate provided to me crazy friends willing to brave cold and long nights to pull crazy stunts, or attempts (such as fireworks which were “meh”). Becoming housemates with some of you, however short, made me learn a lot although sometimes it felt like I was intruding too much (especially setting up a temp bedroom in the lounge, you get extra <3 for that). The sleepless nights of haggerston because we had a play station and wanted to complete little big planet and lbp2 – those were amazing times. Playing Tennis in the UK oftent wasn’t part of my plan either, and finding the free courts in rosemary gardens was my icing to the cake in UK… Playing till the temperature hit a single digit was a new experience that I really liked, our little tennis game invention frustrates me a lot but I’m sure it helped my game a little. You guys are my homies and my family.

To you, London, you charming city, I’ve kinda loved you since I was a boy but have only grown to love you even more when I’m actually here. The drowsiness and rowdiness can’t taint your impression on me, dog poo smelling streets became not that bad after learning the art of walking with your head tilted downwards and still enjoying sights above. There is probably too much here to list and I shan’t do so and leave this for another time (I promise it’s coming).

To my family, my parents for providing me with their form of scholarship, there are probably no words or phrases in the world that I can use to express my gratitude. I will definitely repay you guys in whatever form that I can, although I get impatient at times, you guys should know that I love all of you. I’ll try my best to be a good son,as much as I can.

Once again, however emotional this may be, today marks the day I leave the UK, it’s an end of an era… My era.. My lovely time in the UK, a time which I would treasure my entire life. To everyone I met this year, don’t be a stranger and let me know when you’re in Singapore so we can catch up. I hope we start our next journey in our lives well and keep in contact…

[Jiun Hong graduated in 2013 and contributed this article to LISA]

Away From My Desk

It’s 3pm in the afternoon and I am sitting on a bench on the Bosphorus pier. I am watching a fisherman calmly throw his rod into busy waters. On shore, life around me is as busy as the waters: corn and bread merchants chants are deafened by boat trip salesmen shouting louder. The backdrop of Topkapi palace
casts a shadow on the pier and provides an island of shade under the blistering sun: I am in Istanbul.
I’ve been here for about a week now on somewhat of a self discovery journey. I took part in the Hellespont Swim, following in the footsteps of Lord Byron and Leander, to swim from Europe to Asia across the Dardanelles strait. More of a mental challenge than a physical one, I succeeded in my quest, crossing
successfully.

The odd 90 minutes I spent in the water, we resorted back to basics: human instinct, physical abilities and primitive forms of communication: waving, shouting and signaling. Every wave that came crashing down, brought with it a big dollop of fear. Looking back at the moment we lined up on that jetty, it was nature laid bare: our navigation point would be the Radio Mast on the opposite side and we were to swim towards it. No Google maps, no GPS, no navigation boat. The only thing I had remotely technological was a primitive digital chip tied to my ankle that started timing when I jumped off, and stopped when I got out. As soon as I reached Asia, I was back in the matrix: digital cameras, smartphones, iPads, laptops and stereos.

Like most IS grads, I make a living working with data, be it transforming it into information, building or managing it. Yet the more I seem to organize the more data we create. Data on data, a
never ending loop. Game theorist could call that metagame analysis, where one game is the creation of other games. The struggle continues.

For about 90 minutes of my life, I generated no data. Google could not track my location, Amazon could not recommend any accessories, and I couldn’t update my status. Tweeting wasn’t an option either, and there were no CCTV cameras. A couple of jelly fish and the Trojans sleeping 100 meters below were my only audience, and they were not on email. This is one hour that Google can never organize and big brother can never have.

Technology has indeed changed our lives, often for the better, but one forgets how it feels to be completely on your own. I had to swim 2 miles out for that. I better get out there again.