"Great things don’t come from comfort zones." - Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart
"I saw this quote on my brother's T-Shirt that very night I arrived in Singapore, after I left Taiwan for the very last time. This quote pretty much sums up this whole overseas journey which I had for the past four years. It also serves as a reminder - despite coming back home and back to my comfort zone, I must not feel comfortable if I want to achieve greater things."
This was first written and shared on Blogger - 2 August 2020. Sharing it here on my website, one year later.
It's been awhile since my last story in May 2020. It felt like I was not going to successfully publish my fourth story, without facing some challenges along the way. I faced a few rejections along the way while planning for this series and it was difficult to get back into the momentum. Nevertheless, it's finally (the right) time for me to introduce Jayzel (Pei Ying), whom I affectionately address as my 学妹.
Picture taken in 2012, because our Chinese teachers said we look like sisters! Featuring Jia Yun, Pei Ying and me. I met Jayzel back in Jurong Junior College. She was one year my junior and we met through our CCA, Chinese Cultural Society. We were both in the Chinese Language Elective Programme (also known as CLEP or 语特) because of our love for the language.
Beyond a Story #4 - Jayzelle Chow: From NTU to NTU
"Hello, I am Jayzel.
I am just an ordinary person trying to minimize the number of "what ifs"
when I'm at my deathbed."
Jayzel's love for the Chinese language began to blossom way before she entered Junior College. She was certain of her decision in choosing CLEP.
"I chose CLEP because I knew I wanted to choose this over all the other subjects (I wished I took Chinese Literature back in secondary school too). Back in those days, I really loved (and I still do) Chinese literature especially martial arts novels（武俠小說） as Jin Yong（金庸）was my favourite writer in secondary school."
At the end of her first year in JC, she had the opportunity to fly to Taiwan for two weeks as part of CLEP's overseas immersion programme. During her time there, she visited three universities and two high schools, and had the opportunity to interact with local students. "And you've guessed it, one of them is my current school now - National Taiwan University! When I first stepped into the campus, the tranquility and comforting sight of the palm avenue（椰林大道）was a feeling I never had before. I knew I wanted to come back one day." Fast forward, Jayzel took her love for the Chinese language, one step further, literally and figuratively. Fueled by great passion and support from her loved ones, she flew to Taiwan, to pursue Chinese Literature at National Taiwan University (NTU).
Picture shared by Jayzel, this was her flying back to Singapore from Taiwan, in June 2018.
Back then, it was such a difficult decision to make, especially for a 20-year-old. She had to leave her family and friends behind and start anew in a different environment. I still remember vividly, when I first heard that Jayzel was flying to Taiwan to study, I told her that she was "living my dream" too. In fact, a number of us (those who went for the Taiwan immersion programme) had the wildest dreams of studying at National Taiwan University. However, it wasn't an easy decision to make, and she really did it!
As many of you already knew, I flew to Taiwan and visited Jayzel at NTU back in 2017 (during her first year) and 2019 (during her final year). I bought this NTU shirt during my first visit. I never expected that I would wear that same shirt back at NTU for the second time, but it was so surreal. I had the chance to attend a few of her Chinese Literature lectures during my one-day tour at NTU for both visits. These were unique experiences and definitely authentic - to learn and write in traditional Chinese and learn in depth about the language I really loved.
"The content at NTU differs from our local universities' curriculum. We have electives like Manchurian（滿文）and Tibetan （藏文）, and I enjoyed every single bit of Manchurian. I almost wanted to do research related to Manchurian! But I realised my love is still literature, hence I wrote a paper in my final semester regarding a female poet from the Qing dynasty, as I admired this particular female poet Gu Taiqing （顧太清） ever since I attended a class of Qing Ci（清詞）. I also had the opportunity to attend other interesting courses like Introduction to Chinese Characters （文字學），Bronze Inscriptions （金文），Perceiving the Ci Poetry （感官詞學）as well as Selected Readings on Chinese Drama （戲劇選讀）."
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Jayzel joined NTU's Keyboard Club during her school days and she was later appointed chairperson of the club.
Pictures shared by Jayzel, featuring her keyboard clubmates.
"Professors at NTU are passionate, knowledgeable and experienced. This is what I love and miss the most about NTU. Being overseas alone for 4 years is a long and tough journey, and I was really fortunate to have met a group of kind and helpful teachers that never failed to check on us whenever they had the chance to do so. The school also has a special arrangement, so each teacher will be in charge of a small group of students, where we will meet for meals every semester. We interact and get to know our teachers better and vice versa."
Picture shared by Jayzel, celebrating her 24th birthday overseas with her special one, Mr J.
As a sporting and excited senior, I promised Jayzelle that I would be there for her graduation. Actually, all I simply hoped for, was to witness NTU's grand graduation ceremony. Thus, after she confirmed her graduation period, I quickly booked my air tickets. I was supposed to fly to Taiwan in June, but sadly, COVID-19 had other plans. Her family members and close friends were unable to make it too, but we all mailed her our blessings! So Jayzel shared with me many of her beautiful graduation photographs. And I really liked this particular one.
Picture shared by Jayzel, featuring her NTU Chinese Studies batchmates.
Her batch almost did not get the chance to attend their graduation ceremony. However, as the COVID-19 situation in Taiwan was still largely well- controlled, a much smaller scale convocation was still held for them, thankfully.
"To me, there isn't a difference between attending a grand ceremony or a small convocation. What matters to me the most are the memories forged, and that the overseas experience is valuable."
Pictures shared by Jayzel, featuring one of her hardest farewell.
Featuring Collins (from left), Jia Xin, Jayzel and Yukali in the picture below.
After Jayzel graduated from National Taiwan University (NTU) in June, now she is back in Singapore, ready to embark on the next phase of life, as a Masters student in Nanyang Technological University (NTU) this August.
"Furthering my studies was a very tough decision to make, and I had to juggle with writing the research proposal required for application while completing my examinations and assignments. Not to mention, the interviews were right at the end of my semester, which was my finals week! I'm thankful that all these efforts didn't go down the drain and I was accepted into NTU."
Nothing is impossible to a willing heart and now Jayzel is excited for school to start officially next week.
"The reason why I chose to further my studies in Nanyang Technological University was because I discovered my passion for research. I wanted to find out more about what I love, and that's why I'm here!"
Picture shared by Jayzel, her first photo taken back in Singapore,
after the plane landed safely at Changi Airport.
"Right now, everything is just new to me, and I am not sure if I can adapt back to the system after being away for so long. However, I will want to continue the research journey by going for PhD if everything goes well by the end of my Masters."
"Nothing can stop you except yourself. If you know this is what you love, you will try all means just to get it." -Jayzel Chow
-- On a side note, congratulations 学妹, Happy Graduation! Happy 8 years of friendship ~ This post made it just in time to celebrate the end of your 14 days Stay-Home-Notice and also for your commencement of Masters programme next week too! Although we can't celebrate together for now, but here's your welcome home gift! :)
Beyond a Story - Thank you for following me on my writing journey :)
Just in case you haven't read the previous stories and eager to find out more:
The very first person, also a very important person whom I have decided to kick start this series with, is to feature my dearest sister Stephanie Ow Jia Min. I first shared the idea of featuring Stephanie in my blog on 21 June 2019. Took me exactly 9 month to finish and publish that post.
Click to read about her story here: Beyond a Story #1 - Stephanie Ow: Music Is My Vision
And yes, I am very glad it didn't take me as long to complete this second one, for my inspiring colleague Shannen, whom I met last year at my new work place. The entire thought process, crafting and execution of the post took about 2 months, or probably slightly lesser.
Click to read about her story here: Beyond a Story #2 - Shannen Ho: Digital Marketing is Life
Fast forward to my third story being published, I (secretly) shared with a few closer friends that I was really excited to write about my upcoming interviewee's story. She is Wei Lin, my senior whom I affectionately address as 学姐.
Click to read about her story here: Beyond a Story #3 – Liu Wei Lin: Singapore and Taiwan are both my homes