Monday, May 22, 2017

21st May

Finally, on the last day of EPL season 2016/17, Liverpool finishes 4th, thus qualifying for next season’s Champions League. It’s only the second time in 8 years, that we have qualified. Last season we finished 8th (and lost the UEFA Cup Final to Seville).
I grew up watching Liverpool challenging in the Champions League, especially during the Benitez reign. Thankfully with Klopp, we finally have someone who is talented and proven like Benitez. I like reflect football in real life. An example would be it has finite time and duration - a game is 90 minutes, and this is similar to our daily life, be it doing a project, preparing for an exam or planning a holiday. At times this season, Liverpool weren’t able to either kill-off (weaker) opponents, or even to score against them. The Anfield game against Southampton a few weeks back, that ended nil-nil was an example. You can’t blame Milner for missing the penalty, as you had 1.5 hours to score a goal. The Anfield games against Swansea and Bournemouth, which I sat and watched at Anfield Road wasn’t spectacular at all. All these missteps contributed to the hype for the final day fixture, with Arsenal looking poise to pounce for 4th place in-lieu of Liverpool.
In fact, though watching online, I could feel the anxiety of the stadium, with news coming in from the Emirates about how efficient Arsenal was scoring goals. Thankfully, Wijnaldum scored a rocket just before half time, which totally changed the half time team talk and the stadium atmosphere. After the break, with 2 more quick goals, Liverpool were playing more relaxed, and less tensed. You could see the players were showing skills, and weren’t too disappointed when chances go astray.  
Of course, finishing 4th isn’t something to celebrate. It’s more of a commended progress made. You don’t normally achieve overnight success like Leicester.  
I feel this is the same with things we do in life. Take preparing for a paper in university. You have the whole semester to understand and digest subjects. If you can’t at least grasp the courses during the 11 weeks, what makes you think you unlock it during study week? For instance, 10 weeks was given to conduct a feasibility study of wind turbine construction. The recommendation or final report should’ve been out 1 week before the dateline. Or, if you are given a tasks to develop a sensor-prototype, which has a 9-month timeline, it makes no sense to spend 2/3 of the time scratching the surface.
Thus, I have learned not to be too concerned and insistent, especially on group work or group projects which I have no power to influence. It makes me look stupid at times. I will play my utmost part, and that’s it. I have come to believe that not all cultures are the same, and that my principles may only sound legit in where I am from.
Living in a foreign land, I have get accustomed to the role of the backseat. Ideas aren’t accepted, though it’s blatantly obvious.  
Most students indeed do last minute work. Some are pretty good churning out work at the death, and most of them get away anyhow. Maybe, people here are more process-oriented, rather than being outcome-based. And there was also an irking realization of the marking schemes of essays and ‘assignments’. Essays can be so vague and distorted, but still be valued from a lecturer’s point of view. Maybe these students have more critical thinking and analyzing skills. However, when it comes to exams, there is no favoritism or helping hand. You either know the topic, or you are dead. Everyone has a week of preparation, and 2 solid hours with our brains. The papers are crossed-marked by 2 lecturers. That’s why, I am grateful that there is still exams around. If not, my MSc. transcript will most probably be an eyesore. Exams are still the best way to gauge an engineering subject, especially when you have assignments being marked with our names on the front cover. Assignments are basically writing skills with the internet and books as reference. I thought Power Systems 4 was a challenging but doable paper. I can’t see how you could train a power systems engineer merely on assignments and essay. It was also a very very interesting subject.   
To do well in exams requires strategy and preparation, just like any football match. You have 90 minutes to perform, and once it’s over, there’s no use crying over spilled milk.
It’s been 2 weeks since my last paper. I am reading well into ASEAN history, on people like Wiranto, Said Zahari and the Communist insurgency in Malaya from a British soldier's perspective. Interesting insights. Looks like it will be a pleasant summer with these books from the University Library. I hope to read on Pol Pot, Charles de Gaulle, Ho Chi Minh and Gorbachev. To read critically, I notice these books aren’t published in the host country. For example, Said Zahari, a political prisoner in Singapore for 17 years, published his book in KL.

The family is coming to town in a week’s time. As we grow older, family time together becomes more valuable. We will spend a few days in the highlands, catch a flight to Belfast, and then tour Edinburgh and Glasgow. Hopefully, they will enjoy the holiday. 

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