Saying goodbye to Unimates in style

I mentioned in one of my previous post that I’ve stepped down as the President of Unimates at the end of last month. If you’re wondering what Unimates is, we’re basically a student society for International and Exchange students in USYD. Unimates organizes weekly events and trips to help International and Exchange students to settle down in Sydney and USYD.

If you’re curious, go to the society’s blog to find out more. If you’re coming to USYD for the first time, do join us. We’re open to everyone, International or local student. (Yes, I’ve just sneaked in an advertisement for Unimates).

I’ve actually mentioned Unimates six times in my blog (here, here, here, here, here, and here). Seven, if you include this post. But this is the first time when I’ve explicitly spoke about Unimates. It’s not that I’m ashamed or embarrassed, far from it. Basically, at that time, Unimates was becoming the focal point in my life and I just needed a little private space where I didn’t have to talk about Unimates every single time. So subconsciously, I semi-banned Unimates from this blog.

Hell, I didn’t even follow Unimates on Twitter until twenty-four hours ago. Not that I was very active on Twitter in the first place. But you get the idea.

But now that I’m no longer actively involved, I’ll lift the semi-ban on Unimates.

About two weeks ago, I wrote a farewell message and posted it onto the Society’s blog. Considering the two years stretch I’ve spend in Unimates – as long as my National Service – there was certainly a lot to write in my farewell message.

One thing I like about farewell messages is that they are the simplest, yet at the same time, most complicated messages to write. To me, a farewell message is a four-in-one message:

  1. Short preview of your history and achievements with the organization/place
  2. Thanking everyone and the very important people during your time there
  3. Distributing “good lucks” and “best wishes” to the people left behind
  4. Actually saying goodbye.

And let’s not forget about the tone of your message.

I like writing farewell messages. The longer I know someone, or the longer I’ve been in an organization, society, et cetera, I try to compose a creatively crafted and well-written farewell message. The main problem was trying to keep my farewell message short and sweet. I struggled for a day or two before I came across a simple solution: just tell a story.

So for the farewell message, I told a story (somewhat).

Note: The original was posted on the Unimates’ blog. The farewell message reproduced here is a word-for-word copy. The only minor edit I made was to adjust the layout.

__________________________________________________________

 

I’m no longer President! Bye-bye everyone! And screw you pelicans!

 

 

In case you have been hiding under a rock, holed up in your home, or plain unaware of what was going on, I’m no longer President of Unimates.

Effective on 1st June 2012 (last Friday), Patrick Ward is now President of Unimates.

Yeah, I was just as shocked when I received my retrenchment letter.

I’m FIRED?

 

Here’s me about to bitch-slap Patrick:

Heeeelllllll no

 

I’m kidding.

No firing or bitch-slapping ever took place. What actually took place was that Patrick was elected as President at the Unimates AGM on 14th May 2012. I wrote about it here. On 31st May 2012, my term officially ended and all Presidential superpower was transferred to Patrick. As for that photo above? I was just asking Patrick to say a few words during dinner at Unimates Night. No bitch-slap ever took place! Honest!

If you’re thinking, “Wow, this guy has such a short term. Only 6 months as President.” That’s because I was supposed to finished my 1 year term as Vice-President. But due to circumstantial situations, I was elected as President and took over last year November.

Anyway, now that I reflect and look back, I’m pretty amazed about how far I’ve came. I can say that I spent close to two-thirds of my university life with Unimates. Sure, I joined various other clubs and societies over the course of my university career, but Unimates always remained the focal point.

But, it wasn’t always this way.

When I first came to USYD as a fresh-eyed undergraduate in July 2009, I joined Unimates and only turned up for the Welcome BBQ. My reaction to Unimates back then was:

“Meh.”

I wasn’t too impressed with Unimates (“For Fantastic Fun and Friendship”? Come on. That’s kitschy). This went on for my entire first semester. It wasn’t until the next semester, in the beginning of 2010, that I decided to give Unimates a try. I wanted to put their motto to test.

It turned out that Unimates wasn’t too bad. The events allowed me to explore of  Australian culture while at the same time widening up my social circle. It’s an understatement to to just say that Unimates has many people from different cultural backgrounds. Unimates is so diverse that at any event, I can always count on meeting someone from a new country. It that sense, my attitude to Unimates changed.

So at the end of Semester 1 2010, when Unimates held the Annual General Meeting (AGM), I decided to run for 4 committee positions and spectacularly failed to get elected at all.

Yu Heng, the outgoing President at that time, told me I could still be a General Committee member. So I thought, why not? It’ll offer me a good chance to learn the ropes.

Even then, I didn’t got off a good start. At my first official event, the City Tour, I lost my entire group and got shitted on by a pelican at Fish Market.

 

 

Yes, that’s me two years ago. Now stop gawking.

Bloody pelican.

Anyway, one more semester rolled by and Unimates held a General Meeting because some of the committee members were leaving. Joyce (who was to be Treasurer later) and I got elected as Coffee and Cakes Officers. Or as the Constitution now states: Coffee and Cakes Coordinators.

So as Coffee and Cakes Coordinators, Joyce and I were essentially controlling the backbone event of Unimates. We had to power to make or break Unimates. Furthermore, I realized that this was my chance to capture power in Unimates!

Joyce and I scheming

 

Dave Ball approves

 

So I planned, schemed and began laying out my course of action. Soon, I realized that having one ally was not enough. I needed one more ally to complete the trinity of power that will dominate the Committee and steamroll any opposition.
Hmm…. who shall it be? Turned out the answer was sitting right beside me:

Thea laughs while I brood over her future

 

So another semester passed by, and Unimates held the next AGM. Joyce was elected as Treasurer, Thea elected as Secretary and I was elected as Vice-President. Once I became Vice-President, I realized I need a makeover if I wanted people to take me seriously. No more looking like a hobo. Gone was the fedora, gone was the shaggy hair, gone was the facial hair. I got a haircut, shaved and started dressing more appropriately:

I laugh as someone confronts my evil plans

 

And the rest was history. After six months as VP, I took over as President and from the Iron Throne, ruled with an iron first and iron heart. Forever shall my name be spoken in fear and awe.

Bow before me, pelicans

 

So there you have, the history of my rise to power*

Aside from that, I had the one of the best times of my university life with Unimates. I would like to thank the outgoing committee members for all their hard work and effort. Without their dedication, Unimates would never been where it is today. I would also like to thank everyone from the previous Committees for letting me have a chance to develop personally, and for providing one of the strongest bonds of friendship I ever had. You people were truly awesome.

I would also like to thank Ben Yan, Danny Wang, and George Hwang for mentoring me when I first became Vice-President. Without their patient tutelage, I would probably cause a colossal fuck-up.

I would like to thank the two Presidents of SUAMS (Sydney University Association of Malaysian Students) for working so closely with Unimates during the past year. Thanks, Andrew and Wei Ming, for Sharing the Malaysian Love, especially after my fellow Singaporeans called me a traitor (okay, okay, I should have joined the Singaporean Society). But seriously, you guys are top blokes.

Fist bumping Andrew

 

BFF Wei Ming

 

And I would also like to thank Sarah from TCA (USYD Teochew Association). If she didn’t inform me about the Masked Murder on the Dancefloor Cruise Party (quite a mouthful), Unimates would not have taken part in this awesome, awesome event. So many thanks to her! From one Teochew nang to another: jiatbẹung (Sorry, that’s the only phrase I know).

And many thanks to both Joyce and Thea for being the rock and the hard place. With their firm support, their complete dedication and their tireless efforts, I probably wouldn’t be able to achieve anything. I was basically standing on the shoulder of giants.

Once again, thanks everyone, for the great memories and the great friendships. Especially you, the Unimates member. Thank you for your support! And thanks for reading my ramblings during this semester.

I wish everyone the best for the exams. Without further ado, I bid you good night, and good luck:

To all Singaporean naysayers!

 

Zareth Lim
VP S2 2011/ President S1 2012
For Fun, For Friendship, Forever
 
*60% of the story is fictional. The author takes no responsibility. All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

Roof and Rats

I’m currently on STUVAC. Pronounced as stoo-vak, it’s a shortened form for study vacation in USYD. It’s basically one week of cramming and caffeinating for the exams.

Some of my friends take the first part of the oxymoron seriously. They camp outside the library one hour before it’s open to secure the best possible spot, far away from prying eyes and distracting noise. With their trolley bags packed with a carton of energy drinks, baggies of caffeine pills obtained from underground baristas (the pills are later crushed up and snorted), and neatly handwritten, underlined, italicized, bolded, and highlighted notes weighing 20kg for each subject (the poor trees), these people mean business. Vacation? That’s for the weak.

They are also the same people who are dragged out from the library screaming and hyperventilating five minutes after closing time.

Then you have the people who prefer to focus on the second part of the oxymoron. You never see them in the library. In fact, they’ll make sure that during the one week of STUVAC, under the pain of study pressure, not set foot onto the campus. Unless they have an exam scheduled on that day. Even then, some are so dedicated that they don’t even bother turning up. Rumour has it that these dedicated people book the first flight out of Sydney the moment the semester ends.

When it comes to crunch time, you see these people either staring into space, resigned to their death sentences, or begging the over-caffeinated people for a single morsel of useless answer.

The first group calls these people lazy bums, or losers who would never amount to anything. The second group will tell them to *beep* *beep* and take a chill pill. Not very good advice since the first group are already overdosed on caffeine pills. But then, maybe the first group of people will pop anything into their mouth that looks like a pill. Otherwise, how the hell do they stay still and shut up during the exams?

There is no third group. There is no in-between. Choose a side and take up your position. Embrace the yin-yang of STUVAC. Otherwise the oxymoron that is STUVAC will cease to exist and USYD will collapse like a house of cards.

Guess which side I’m on.

Talking about collapsing like a house of cards, the one week of non-stop rain in Sydney has wrecked havoc at my place. My kitchen is now a walking deathtrap.

 

Rainwater has been leaking through the roof and eating away at the thin cardboard masquerading as my kitchen ceiling. This is not the first time it happened. The kitchen roof has a tendency of leaking during thunderstorms. I called the landlord a couple of times to fix it, and thankfully, he swung by to patch up the roof. The last time he came over, he added a wooden beam to hold up the other end of the ceiling. But this is the worst so far. I mean, there’s a hole in my kitchen ceiling! And it looks like it’s about to split in half any moment soon.

 

Looks like Mr. Landlord has to come back and patch up the roof again.

 

So after snapping a few photos to prove that my housemates and I were not the ones who decided to take apart the kitchen ceiling just for the heck of it, I was looking through my old photos when I saw this:

 

I took these sometime last year. Apparently Pan and Bentley decided that sleeping perpendicular to the hammock was a very good idea. While Bentley looks comfortable, I was amazed that Pan could still sleep even though three-quarters of his body was dangling out of the hammock. But it’s normal though. Rats sleep in the most odd positions. And they looked so peaceful.

There were also a couple of other photos of Pan and Bentley. These pictures were pretty hilarious. I mean, the pictures are not hilarious themselves, but what took place was quite amusing. I’ll tell the story below (now with digital pictures!). But before I proceed with the story, I’ll need to tell you a bit of back-story to establish the context.

I was in my room when I realized I hadn’t seen Pan and Bentley. They weren’t in the cage since I let them out for a bit of playtime. Usually they were on the bed running around. But I hadn’t seen them for the past 15 minutes, which, in rat-time, is equivalent to about an hour or so.

I found that a bit odd, so I called out their names. Knowing Pan would just ignore me (as usual), I waited for Bentley to come running to me. Yet, after three seconds, even Bentley was a no-show. Hmm, that’s weird.

So I lifted up my blanket and saw this:

 

Pan and Bentley just had a butt-sniffing fest. Kidding. They were just sleeping. Like I said, rats sleep in odd positions.

So I was taking photos and just annoying the hell out Pan and Bentley when this happened:

 

Pan, in his typical “ignore Zareth” mode, just burrowed deeper into the blanket. Meanwhile, Bentley glared at me if to say:

“MAN, can’t a rat get some rest here? Seriously, cut us some slack. Be a champ and put the blanket where it originally was.”

I decided to repay Bentley for the times he jumped on my face when I was sleeping. So I continued to take more photos. Then five seconds later, this happened:

 

Pan dug deeper into the blanket. According to his logic, if he can’t see me, I can’t see him. And if I can’t see him, I won’t bother him. Well, he was just a few milimetres from achieving that goal. Meanwhile, frustrated with me, Bentley shot me an unhappy look as if to say:

“Screw this, I don’t need to take anymore bullshit.” Then he just upped and walked back to the cage. Where he lay perpendicular to the hammock and sulked.

I just laughed.

I miss my rats.