My constant dilemma

As you may have noticed (duh), this blog contains entries in both English and Chinese. And as of today, excluding this entry about my dilemma, which you don’t know much about yet but I will fix that later, there are 103 English entries and 53 Chinese ones.

That’s probably because when I write a short, random post about nothing, I tend to use English. Also, 90% of my friends who read Chinese read English, but 90% of my friends who read English don’t read Chinese.

And funnily enough, I notice I use English more and more, to such an extend that I think I had a bilingual dream just last night.

Why write in Chinese at all then?

That’s my dilemma.

I write in Chinese partly because there are things that just cannot be said in English, even according to my 6-year-old-immigrant-English-tutor friend, and those may happen to be the things I want to say the most. Also, even though my Chinese reading friends read English just as well or even better, a majority of them share my passion in our native language. Some things just read better in Chinese.

For me, these include some fiction, diaries that involve my family, and some of my thoughts. I have yet to write a piece of creative writing in English that I’m satisfied with (not to say I write brilliant Chinese stories… I just enjoy reading them more). On the other hand, I would never read organic chemistry, physics, anything else taught in university, or Harry Potter in Chinese when given the chance.

Well that’s cool, but where is the dilemma?

The dilemma in being an amphibian with perhaps 70% of the average literary level in either language is subtle but real. Ha, I can picture everyone holding two power bars, one for Chinese and one for English. Many people have close to 100% in one bar, and close to 0% in the other. I probably have 70% in each. Most of the time I enjoy having that extra 70% in my bars that many people don’t have, but once in a while, the realization of each of my bars being 30% shorter than most other people gets frustrating.

But the dilemma isn’t only about the occasional frustration. It’s about my friends too. On a small scale, I’d love to write some blog entries in Chinese, something I haven’t done in more than a month, but I don’t want to exclude my English reading friends from what I have to say. This is especially the case after Shad, where inclusiveness was everything.

On a larger scale, who I choose to hang out with also become a source of contemplation. It is easy to submerge into the warm, friendly, familiar culture of friends who share the same background, same experiences, same stories with me, and together we will find our way around in this new country. But it is more exciting to maintain an open mind and embrace the mainstream, to diffuse into the pot instead of swimming in it in a tight band.

I’ve tried both. And the choice is still open to me right now, as I have continued to switch hats and quite deliberately avoid throwing one of them away. Just like I deliberately kept my blog bilingual. But like my 70% power bars in English and Chinese languages, by doing so, I have probably marked myself as the Canadian who loves Jay Chou a bit too much, and the Taiwanese who watches the game shows a bit too little.

All right! XD

Ok, in fact, I sing many more Mayday songs than Jay Chou. I adapted the code name of “Jay Chou Lava!” in Shad cuz Jay Chou is much more famous.


Random Shad thought: Flight of the Conchords

One thing about being a staff is that when the Shads are banging their heads on the walls for the projects, we get to watch funny youtube videos.

And that is how I got to know the Flight of the Conchords.

The Humans are Dead

Business Time

Hiphopopotamus vs. Rhymenoceros

Just imagine the staff team singing these songs together. Aww yeah.

MCAT confidence booster!

So I got back to reading the much-dreaded Kaplan test prep book today. And I saw a very, very exciting test-taking tip:


If you are right-handed, practice using the mouse with your left hand for test day. This way, you’ll increase speed by keeping the pencil in your right hand to write on your scratch paper. If you are left-handed, use your right hand for the mouse.

Which leftie uses their left hand for the mouse!? Wahahahahhaha!!!! I knew we lefties will rule the world!!!!

… ok, I should get back to test-preping. It’s been more than a month since I last paid any attention to MCAT. And that empty feeling of Shad withdrawal isn’t doing much to help either. Sigh.

Random Shad thought: ultimate match-making site

I think it was on one of the Shad hikes when Mac told me the existence of an exciting website: that allows users to enter the details of a random encounter (eg. seeing a hottie on a bus), and helps them connect through the internet.

In other words: this is the website for James Blunt.

You may think this is all BS, but Mac actually has friends who got some success on this website.

But in order for this website to become useful for me at all, a critical amount of Vancouverites must use this it regularly. Come’on random girls on the bus, check this site out!!!

[Shad] Screw dated entries: Shad is over

I don’t know how long this entry is going to be, but I plan to keep typing until I have no more to say. Or lunch time arrives, whichever comes first.

Yesterday was the last day at Shad. We PA’s were curfewed at 11pm the night before, so that we can have the energy to push the Shads around and get them to the airport in time. So I went crazy signing people’s monthbooks until exactly 11pm; I think I’ve signed maybe 15 books in 1 hour? I took my time adding sketches to my autograph, that’s all.

It’s been impossible to keep updating this blog after the initial two days. Once the kids got to know each other better, interesting things started happening: there was always someone playing on the piano, there’s always a card game going on, a movie playing, some bizzare and hardly appropriate games taking place. I always had to choose between hanging out with the kids or studying for the MCAT or blogging during my free time, and without an exception, it has always been hanging out with the kids.

(So please blame Hive, Carcasson, Big 2 with an Ascent, midnight poker… for the lack of updates to this blog.)

The month was spectacular as expected. Camping trip, hikes, beaches, downtown day (bringing the kids to Posh was more than a great decision), banquets, and just hanging out in the lounge in general. The weight of this accumulation of memory is almost unbearable.

One thing I’ve noticed this year, is the evolution of teenage slangs. In my Shad, back in 2004, anything that’s good is “awesome!” Two years ago, the word was “sexy”. And now, when you compliment an exciting thing, you say: “that’s sick!”

The evolution of facebook in high schools is also quite evident. In 2004, even GMail was just started. Facebook did not exist until a few years later. In 2006, facebook was not prevelant and Shads only started to add each other by the end of the program. But in 2008, more than half the Shads already added each other on facebook and formed their little chatting circles before even coming to UBC.

There are several Shads who kept a diary during the month. I thought that was pretty sweet, but I was surprised by the lack of bloggers in this group. A Shad tried to start a blog for this month where every Shad is invited to post entries, and collectively, we can tell a multi-angled story of Shad 2008. But that didn’t happen.

Even I didn’t blog more that I would have. One reason may be that I don’t know if blogging about Shads would cause problems due to my role as a PA. You know, they are still legally minors and I carried staff authorities.

Ah, oh well. Not that I’m important enough to be sued anyway.

Going to Grouse Grind with my club later today, a move that surprised my fellow staff, all of whom are going to sleep their heads off. I figured hanging out with my friends would be a great way to shift gears and reconnect with the real world.

That goes on to say: Shads are great but once they dispersed, geographical constraints kick in. Shads living in close proximity inevitably see each other more often than others. Yeah, there’s facebook, but facebook will still be filled with reunion pictures that only included people in Ontario in a few months.

That’s why you should all come back to UBC for uni 😛

My Shad highlights:

  • Drawing a vividly morbid hat in Design your own hat workshop

  • Gaining a hero status for 1.5 hours by bringing Shads to Posh – sukiyaki for lunch
  • Listening to Martin’s soothing guitar while taking a nap under a tree at Crescent Beach
  • Teaming up with Teresa at Poker and winning it at 1:30am.
  • Looking for ties on Robson and running into the Tie Rack with Viraaj.
  • Making a deck of playing cards out of my misprinted business cards with Byron, Anny, and Polly
  • Seeing Jessica’s all-inclusive dance team in Coffee House

(Shad thought may be continued…)