Dear 2016


Dear 2016,

In a few more days I'll be bidding you goodbye for the first and last time. And just like that, another year has passed.

Dear 2016, you've been a year of change and in many ways, you have taught me a lot of things. You've seen me cry the most and you've seen me struggle with the obstacles you've given me.

Sarah, Poh, Nicole, Steph, me, Hazel, Pris
In January, we spent the last full month in Singapore together and I was just enjoying myself during the holidays before school started. On the first day of the year, I had dinner with 6 (mostly vegan) friends I've met few years back on social media (who are all vegan now btw!) at Real Food and I had one of the best times before I left home. Meeting all of them has been something I've always felt thankful for, and I'm so grateful that I made real friendships with them. And when I say real friendships, I mean friends I would want to meet whenever I fly back home, just to catch up on each other's lives over good vegan food. Being in a circle of friends who have the same mindset/beliefs as you always feels comfortable.

Oh and, on that day I tried Pong's gelato for the first time ever and it was the first time I screamed "THIS IS SO DARN GOOD" right after trying. And because of that, I've also bought two huge take-home tubs of mango and coconut ice-cream just for my grandparents and my mum to try. They loved it, especially my grandpa.

Met the three of them again for the third time in Jan! We had nomVnom.

January was truly the time of meetups and I met new friends, got to know new people, and caught up with old ones.

The day we went to Whole Earth for lunch and Yes Natural afterwards!

Veganburg and BOOST juice with the legendary XYZ (whom I've been friends with for 8 years and counting)

The day I met Megan, Ling and Joylene for the first time! Such lovely girls :)

In January, we also delivered our first batch of clothes I personally designed and I remember feeling so, so happy when I saw how much my buyers and friends liked them. I sent in two designs and got 40 shirts done and all sold. And for that, I'm thankful for all the support I was given.

We also found time for experiments in the kitchen and that was when I started baking consistently. I would bake and create my own recipes, then give them away to my friends or whoever I'm going to meet the next day. Thank you for letting me discover a new passion.

The first time I made bread!

Peanut butter chocolate swirl brownies.

Potato croquettes! Oil-free.

Quinoa brittle.
Like I said, it was truly the time of meetups and I was honestly so thankful for those who asked me out just to have a catch-up and a final meetup before I left. It was then that I realised how lucky I was to have such a genuine friends.

With my fave JAC!!

Brought Sophie and Xinyi to try vegan pizzas and ice-cream at Brownice and they loved it!
Last meetup with Kerie!

Last meetup with CCT and they gave me one of the best gifts I ever received in my life: a handmade farewell scrap book. That came with two letters written by them too. I LOVE LOVE LOVE and appreciate handwritten letters so obviously this farewell present hit the nail. They are so much more meaningful than tangible gifts - material presents can be bought in a minute but something that is made from scratch comes with lots of time, effort and love. I was overwhelmed with so much gratitude when I read that book they made for me! Even up till now, I still have this book with me (yes here in Australia) and I still read it from time to time and feel so warm and fuzzy inside.

In February I bode farewell to my family and friends over CNY. 

When I left then, I guess it was also time I bode farewell to the this view. It was the same view I saw again and again every night, the same view I stared blankly at on sleepless nights and the same view I faced while fervently praying and wishing that I could leave this place. This view was my solace, and it's something I'll never forget.

The night that I left home. It was also the first night of CNY so I was especially thankful for those who came down despite their busy schedules just to send me off. Including those whom I didn't expect to come, like my classmates from JC, a friend I made on social media and even my co-form teacher from my JC last year. All of them gave me a farewell gift and I read all the letters on the plane, teared, and brought all the gifts over with me. So much gratitude.

In February, we visited Melbourne for the first time.

We spent three days there before flying to Tasmania.

And this was a picture I took on the first day I arrived in Hobart while waiting for our room to be done. I remember falling sick shortly after and had to stay in to recuperate while my mum and bro went off to explore on their own. Two days later, I checked into Springvale.

As much as I was excited to start a new chapter on my own here, I must say it was very intimidating at first. It was the loneliest feeling ever, to know that you're not with your family and to be surrounded with only unfamiliar faces everywhere. Being more of an introvert I was clearly not very keen to socialise and go about introducing myself and making friends, but I learnt how to step out of my comfort zone and did it anyway. 

Dear 2016, do you know how thankful I was to have met Fathin in Springvale this year? I honestly couldn't believe all the coincidence and because we came from the same place (and the same college), it was so easy to click with her and for that, thank you for giving me such a great pal. For awhile, she had always been my pillar of support especially during the time when I was still in Springvale. Thank you for giving me a friend I could count on and talk to when I didn't have anyone.

My time in SV was short-lived but nonetheless, it was made up of happy memories. Those days I had h2h talks with Wen, Eddy, John, David, Fathin, Tim, Aniq and a few others, the time I spent helping Basyar with his medicine "prep" by acting as a patient, the long walks to Coles and Kmart almost every other night with Fathin, the hysterical laughs and screams we made as we walked up the steep hill, the day Tommy dropped his punnet of blueberries on the ground and we had to find and chased after them in the dark, playing pool with the guys, forcing John to play 'Just Dance' with me, staying up to complete our Psych assignment with J-ann and John, overcoming my fear of dogs/puppies, stargazing at the oval, Vanilla Bliss ice cream during supper, taking 501 to and fro the campus, taking the pink bus (aka Miss Springvale) to school when Bob drove us, our serious meetings in dining room 2 with the supervisors and so much more.

To be honest, I was a little sad to see so many cliques and groups forming all over the hostel but I guess such things are inevitable. I drifted a lot from some of the people I was once close to especially after I moved out but well, friends come and go (and I'll talk more about this on another post). For now I'm just thankful for those who have stayed and never left, and the other friends I got closer to after I moved out. Everything is transient, but memories will always stay.

Just Dance with John HAHA

Pool room with John and Bryan!


Impromptu Coles trip with Aniq and Tim HAHA

Was suntanning and then Wen came along so he joined me!

Salamanca market on a Saturday.

Basically sums up my life in Springvale.

It was Christy's birthday so most of us waited her to come back and we surprised her. Will always be grateful to her for always, always making me nice vegan food and dropping me off a sweet note and a snack in front of my door. Jon and her were like my parents in SV, and they took care of me the whole time.

FSP started and it wasn't too bad actually. It took most of my time this year (duh!) and I can't believe it is all over.

With my favourite psych partner-in-crime ;)

Dead in class

And the dreadful 3h long English lectures every Wednesday...

Staying up to rush our psych assignment..

And my favourite psych buddies (missing Juan!)

In March I also travelled solo for the first time to Melbourne, just to spend a few days with Jo. 

Had a great great 3 days with her.

At the end of Feb you slipped me an opportunity for my love life and that was when I met my current boyfriend. In March we dated and in April we finally got together. It was a very unexpected one, since I was very comfortable with my single life then. So many things happened between us and it was bittersweet but memorable at the very least. It took a lot of courage and effort to have ended up here but we managed to do it anyway - sometimes when I think about this year I laugh and smile at those courting days. So many memories were created: Seeing him for the first time in the lecture theatre on the first day of orientation, our first phone call, my first car ride from him with his supra, our 3h phone calls at night, him stuttering on the phone thinking of what to say, our first visit to Long Beach after our first fight, first road trip to Port Arthur, car wash near the airport, his occasional surprises at Springvale, our Saturdates, me sneaking out from Springvale, grocery shopping with him, cooking my first meal for him (udon!), him cooking for me on our first date (sigh I miss that so much), Math lessons together, him driving me home occasionally...and then when I moved out we spent more time with each other, like going for road trips to Launceston, Bruny Island and so many more. Most of my 2016 was spent with him and Hobart will always hold a special place in my heart for that.

Being in this relationship taught me so much, much more than what I could have imagined. It taught me that a relationship takes a lot of mutual work: understanding, effort and love. And that communication IS really key. Love sometimes requires a lot of compromising and sacrifice, but it will all be worth it in the end. And that it is all about GIVING, not returning favours or doing for the sake of getting something back in return. It's about continuously putting in effort and giving endlessly. It taught me that relationships aren't 100% pretty all the time - it has its own fights and tears, but they are all baby steps to a stronger relationship. Oh and, I realised it's about learning more about each other everyday. 

It was a true year learning about one same thing: Love. Love for myself, him my family and friends.

Thank you for taking care of me, always bringing me out for road trips and to explore new places, for not leaving after our fights, for eating vegan food with me, for making me promises, for accepting my flaws, for putting FOOD into my mouth hehe, for your reassurance, for always trying to make me happy and most importantly, for loving me. 

Oh and, thank you for loving yourself more by eating healthier too. Here's to more days eating healthier food and drinking more juices and Boost together hee.

On the first day of June I celebrated my first birthday away from home. It felt a little weird to not celebrate it with my family or usual bunch of friends but it wasn't like I could go come either since exams were two days away. It was a really simple birthday spent with my favourite girls - dinner at Nando's!

And then exams ended and so did our first semester. Flew back home the day after my last psych exam and was welcomed home by my family at the airport. Was also greeted with a beautiful bouquet of baby breath flowers by my best brother hehe. It felt great to be home.

We also had our first proper meet-up as a class after our graduation two years ago. Met some of the girls from 405 and honestly, going to KC and meeting them has got to be one of the greatest blessings in life. IJ friends are friends for life, indeed. I'll never trade these friends for anything else. Thank you for making me realise that those friends are gold.

Met up with many close friends when I went home for three weeks!

In June we also went to JB for a day trip and I got my favourite PAUS and had my first vegan dim-sum EVER. 

And then we went on another trip to Hatyai. It was boring but quality family time was spent.

Rachel's birthday party on 8th July. It was one of the best nights ever in 2016. We talked so much more on a deeper level and after that night all of us got closer never than before. (Oh yes and look at how red I was because of the vodka lol)

Family BBQ to celebrate Grandma's and Six grandaunt's birthdays in July. Such a great way to spend the last few days in Singapore. Family time would always, always be my favourite.

And then 11 days into July, I bode farewell to everyone again and went back to Hobart. Those three weeks felt shorter than it was, and somehow coming back halfway just made it harder to leave. Thank you 2016, for letting me fly solo for the first time too. Melbourne was a first but it was easy because it was a domestic flight. Transiting in Sydney and getting lost at the airport...that was definitely a first. :P

About a week after I came back, I experienced (falling) snow for the first time. It happened in the morning when Juanny knocked on my door to tell me that it's SNOWING, and it doesn't really snow in Tasmania (maybe only once or twice a year) so that was something special. 

Dinner at momo with my bestest friends here. Notice that it's always the same few people cos I'm the kind who doesn't bother about having a lot of friends but just a few that I genuinely love being with. It's not the quantity that matters, but the quality.

Wen's birthday celebration at Burger Got Soul! Okay I must admit that I only went for this one because of the birthday boy. And this is the kind of gathering/meetups I'd always want to avoid (Gathering with people I'm not close to) - it just makes my introverted side feel really, really uncomfortable. Thank god Juanny went with me so it wasn't that bad!

To one of the best bros I've met this year :)

July also meant..the start of semester 2 and it was hell right after it started. Assignments after felt tough catching up especially after missing a week worth of lectures and tutorials. 

I had presentations after presentations especially for Psych and we were all feeling the workload especially towards the end of August. But it's okay, all conquered! 

At the end of August, my mum decided to visit me in Tasmania during my one week break. We went to Wineglass bay, port arthur and Launceston together. 

And that was also the time she met my bf for the first time! And we cooked for her together, hee. 

Felt so nice to see her again even though only a month passed then. Really appreciate having a mom like a best friend and someone I could tell everything to. 

Thank you for driving us around during the time she was here and treating her so well! Much love. :')

And towards the end of September, we celebrated Fathin's birthday and it was definitely a night to remember. So many things happened and I think it was a nightmare for the bf! Hahaha. Special shoutout to the bf, Juanny and her bf Jon for taking care of me that night. So so thankful. 

And then when I finally delivered my last psych presentation and so did everyone, we had our last psych class ever. Thank you Sama, for being such an amazing teacher. In many ways, you taught me a lot of things and I always looked forward to psych classes because of you. 

In October we celebrated my first vegan anniversary with the bf! I can't believe one year has passed. I've dealt with the most criticisms about veganism this year but that isn't going to stop me from continuing anyway. At least I have my best friends and the bf who are all super supportive of it.

Oh and 2016, you made me fall in love with avocado sushis this year! I've never been a fan of avocados for its bland taste but I took a leap of faith some time this year and been in love with it since. I think I can eat it everyday hahaha.

In October we also saw the coming of my first job here in Australia. I worked for about three months there and loved my job thoroughly; the boss was really nice and the customers were so appreciative and friendly. It was lovely to see people enjoying vegan food at work and having a chance to experience working life here.

Mr Church was definitely the best movie I've watched this year. I watched the least movies this year so I can't compare with the rest - but it was really good! It was also the first movie I finished watching with the bf HAHA; usually I'd either fall asleep or get bored halfway.

November marked the last few days of exams and the end of FSP - it was the time for graduation.

After graduation I also went back to Springvale for one of the last few times before everyone left - managed to also say goodbye to Christie the last time and visited my friends' rooms for the last time too! Slowly after graduation people left one by one and it was pretty see everyone leaving and knowing you're still here. Oh and here's eddy, another good friend I met in SV. Thankful for all those times he entertained me by singing his Chinese songs, that one time he left a box of (vegan) soup he bought for me outside my door, our h2h girls talk and 5 minute planking every night (which I tried to run away from every day ahahah).

I 'helped' Fathin pack by just accompanying her and watching her pack.

That night we also went to Tokyo&Seoul for dinner together - me, Fathin, J-ann, Juanny, the bf, Bryan and Jason! And then J-ann and Fathin also slept over hehe :) So nice to have their company - if only we could all live together. Ahhh how nice would that be?!

And then 9 November came and it was time SURPRISE trip back home!! Went home for only 5 days just so I could celebrate my mum's birthday as well as to see my family for the last time this year before I head back to Hobart again. 

Coincidentally my bro also booked out that weekend after two weeks due to camp, and then because it was during a weekend my gramps and six grandaunt were at my house too - so I managed to spend time with all of them! It was such a great time - I spent quality time with both my family and friends. Those five days flew by so fast but good times are always short, no? Very very glad that I made this last minute decision to make a trip back home because it was worth every cent. :)

Sadly it was also the last time I could meet Lia again before she went back home in December. She has been with us for 6 years and an amazing helper definitely. Will miss her homecooked food terribly! So funny how we call her "Lia Yeo" because we treat her like family. May you get married fast fast and have lots of kids so it will be "lao jiak" (crowded in dialect) :D

And then finally celebrating mummy's birthday on the 13th I think! My cousins came over too so it was a little crowded at home, but great family time spent. Took some photos with my cousins too! This year I gave my mum her greatest gift ever....MYSELF. 

"I told you I'm your greatest gift right."

And then on the second last day before I flew back my mum also purposely went down to the market early in the morning to get those vegetarian mock meat for me, just so I could have my favourite favourite mee pok. Grandma/Lia makes the best vegan mee pok ever, PERIOD. It's so so so good I can die for it anytime. 

Cheryl is blessed.

Second after meepok definitely love for XMV's banmian, dumplings and basically their whole menu. Every time I come back I make sure I eat it at least once, it's so darn good I wish I could have a store in Tasmania. ): Brought Rachel and Afiqah to try it too and Afiqah loved it so much!

Then it was 14th November which means the last day in SG. Spent the morning going to the temple to pray my dad, went to dental to fix my braces, treated the fam bam to Brownice, went to visit my gramps, did a little shopping...and then bam it's time to head to the airport. And I was so lucky to have friends sending me off when I least expected it. Met up with Ruxin, Xylon and Chandra for a bit to catch up, hugged, and then before I left at the departure hall PIGU came down too :-))) Haven't seen this girl in AGES and when she came I literally cried because I was so sad to leave...and happy to see her after so long at the same time :'( At that time I wish I could just drop my baggage and sit down to catch up with her again, but I was running LATE after we talked. Boarding time was at 7:30 but we talked until 7:20, so when I reached my gate it was already empty...hahahaha. Felt so blessed that day :)

I still love y'all even though you two had to ditch me by 7pm because you had to meet your friends. JK I love y'all hehe.

Back in Hobart by November 15th. Here, we went to Bruny Island for the first time with my bf, John and his friend. It was a short day trip but fun nonetheless. That day we also went to visit John's workplace for dinner and also, I went to the casino for the first time ever!

Went to Launceston for a night's stay shortly after that too :) I remember it was a week of adventures: Bruny island, casino, long walk to see the view, Launceston, and then Richmond...:)

And now, for the biggest takeaways in 2016:

1. Thank you for teaching me how to be more independent this year. Growing up, I wasn't spoilt (all thanks to my Grandma) but I was very comfortable at home at least. I never had to do any chores because someone would always be there to do it for me, and for that I will always be grateful. This year was the first year I had to literally cook, clean and wash everything all by myself and so it was definitely a year of growth and learning. For someone who has never used or operated a washing machine in my entire life, I'm glad to say laundry was never a problem for me. And unfortunately, I never had a passion for cooking so this year really challenged me a lot. From someone who just loves eating rice with steamed veggies, it took quite a lot of work to try making decent food especially for the bf because of our different palates. It started from making sour udon noodles, to ABC soups, normal vegetable kimchi soup, burgers and kimchi pancakes. I can't say that I hate cooking but I don't particularly enjoy it either - the process of just prepping, cooking, waiting and then WASHING just takes a toll. But still, it has been a great experience. At least now I don't think I'll ever starve to death again because I can make slightly more decent food now I guess? (Amirite babe? hahaha) 

I don't think I've ever cooked this much in my entire life. And here's to bracing myself for another 3 years of cooking...yay....

2. And you also taught me that it's a blessing to come home to food ready on the table. After spending so many months cooking for myself and the others, I must say that I terribly, terribly miss having someone to cook for me - I guess I never realised how blessed I was to have food ready on the table for me as soon as I came home, and it was something I took for granted. I remember those days from last year where I would come home from school, all dirty and shagged, and everything would feel instantly better after a good shower and then coming out from the bathroom and seeing dinner ready for me on the table. Back then, I never had to worry about what groceries to buy, what to eat, what to cook and how much I would need to wash. And at least I could come home knowing that there's always food, and if there isn't, Lia would always be there to make me something to eat. This year, there has never been once I could come home after school or work with warm, freshly cooked food on the table waiting for me. How nice would it feel, to actually come home knowing that everything's prepared for you?

And if there's something I really regretted not doing last year, it would be not thanking Lia enough for always cooking for me and making my life so much easier and comfortable. Sure, it was her job but it also took her a lot of effort and love into cooking those dishes. It was something I never realised because I never had to do it on my own.  

3. And lastly, thank you for making me realise how fortunate I am to be in this family. 2012 took my dad away from me but in return, I felt loved more than never before. His passing knitted our family together and it made me closer to my grandparents - they are like my second parents to me. Thank you for keeping my loved ones happy and healthy too. Their unwavering love and support is something I've always been thankful for. We skype weekly and even while working sometimes, I smile at the thought of them.

 Thank you for loving me. 

Most importantly, thank you for keeping them safe.

So dear 2016,

Goodbye and I'll never get to see you again. But thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for everything you've taught me. It has been a challenging year - I've cried the most and the hardest, but learned a lot about myself as well. 

I'll never forget you. 

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