Where will you be my darling? Where will you be when the dark is rising?
Sunday, June 12, 2011
Last week, I finally had my graduation ceremony.
Heh, held in the Sunway Resort Hotel ballroom. It's the same place that CHCKL held their gala dinner a few years back. Going there once again was weird, because apart from these 2 events, I'd never step foot into the ballroom floor. However, it's a beautiful place, and at least the college bothered to book the place for us, showing one of their rare displays of generosity. The graduation ceremony was combined, with batch 81, and batch 85, mine.
First we had to get our robes and mortar board (that stupid graduation hat) and wear them. I actually had to wear that stupid hat over my head. My hair. Seriously -.-. Lmao. It was suffering for my hair to fit into that. Anyway, we had the procession into the hall, where we went to the right side of the stage, sat down, listened to a few speeches and went up on stage to collect our diplomas from Tatsun Hoi while shaking his hand. After sitting down on the left side of the stage, there was an awards presentation to Edmond, the top student, and a few other winners of various awards. After that, there was a mass photo-taking session and we had our dinner, with a few songs sang by Gavin, Leonard, Lucas, and last and definitely least, a terrible band. Yeah. Apart from the band (called Band-age, no that's not a joke), the individual singers were pretty good. Gavin was pure awesome.
Anyway, so this was our final, last association with TOA, apart from those that got hired in certain TOA departments. Although I felt that the graduation exhibition was a more "fitting" end to our studies. That was all our blood, sweat and tears, and the opening night was really something we were all insane about. This ceremony felt more like just simple formalities. Most of us had found jobs or found further places to study already. But regardless, catching up with everyone was great, and would quite possibly be the last time we ever saw any of them, for whatever reasons. Only those close and regular around us would continue to be seen on a regular basis. And realistically, even that may not be the case some time in the future.
However, I thought I'd reflect a bit on my time with The One Academy. Okay, not a bit. This following portion is going to be a super-long recollection.
Back when I finished secondary school, I really had no idea where I wanted to go, or what to do. I randomly selected my future courses, along with a bit of guidance with Koh Wee, and picked out a bunch of random choices that I really had no interest in. I simply picked the various course choices to just continue with something. I ended up in Dover ITE, and took IT, specializing in Multimedia later on. This led to my first experience with Photoshop, Dreamweaver, Flash and the such. And it got me interested in the designing aspect. So when my mom asked whether I wanted to go to Kuala Lumpur to continue my studies, I took it. I did have the options of Singapore and Toronto too, but Toronto wasn't very realistic, although I really hoped that it could hold as a viable option. Singapore was pretty unrealistic too. I didn't quite know where to go on from there, even though there were avenues I could take, but they were not ones that would be good, nor was I that assured anyway.
So I took the chance of checking out places when I visited KL. I asked around for art schools, and everyone told me about TOA and Lim Kok Wing. After doing a little research and finding all the negative associations of Lim Kok Wing (ironically, quite a portion came from students and graduates themselves), I made the choice of TOA. Even then, I didn't quite know which specific course I wanted. Although majoring would be done after two foundation semesters, I didn't quite know what I wanted anyway. Should I take Multimedia and expand on what I learnt back in ITE? It'd be nice to have some previous experience, but did I really want to continue it? To relearn a lot of stuff I did before? And what about continual upgrades to software, coding and all? I hate to continually have my lessons being outdated in a short span of a few years. Interior Design and Illustration were completely out of the selection as I had no interest in them. Digital Animation sounded cool, and I did work with 3ds Max back in ITE. I would have some experience there. But it didn't appeal. All that was left was Advertising and Graphics Design. I did want to take graphics design after graduating from ITE, but that was still tentative, and reading more in depth about it showed that what I initially pictured as graphics design was severely over-simplified. But I still chose it anyway, because it was the closest to what I think I wanted. Even then, my choice still wasn't that assured.
I ended up joining very late. During their freaking orientation, I was doing the entrance exam. That's how late I joined. I actually wanted to enter into the August intake, because I wanted to spend more time with my friends in Singapore, but the staff suggested May intake, as there were more people, which would mean knowing more friends, and having more help in assignments. My mom also told me to join the May intake, so I could start sooner. So I did, and I'm glad. The friendships forged later on were unforgettable.
I remember my first day very well. I got lost, ended up in the wrong classroom because class started on Tuesday, and I was looking at Monday's timetable. I went to class half an hour late, and awkwardly walked into a class full of strangers, late, sweaty, and slightly out of breath. To make things worse there was a fly buzzing around the room, and as I walked towards my seat, it fly into my hair, embarrassing me in front of the entire class, in their first few minutes of seeing me. Great first impression. I attended the second subject later, which had me talking a bit, with half the class, because that subject was split into 2 groups. I made my friend friend, Lim Chek Yen, who's known as Olaf Yen on Facebook.
The next day I ended up being lost, again, and was in the lobby wondering where to go. A girl called out my name and asked me whether I was looking for the classroom. I was, and I made my second friend, Wai Kwan. She remembered my name somehow. The following week, I ended up in a group with Ruz and Miki, along with Zhi Ling and I've forgotten the remaining person(s). Ruz was still a narrow-minded guy during this time, and Miki was an annoying brat. Due to drawing class I also ended up being friends with Alexander John Baptist. The first few weeks of school were awkward, because everyone didn't know each other, so the lunches were made up of larger groups of people who didn't really know each other. Small talk was prevalent, and some people were just totally quiet. We were slowly getting to know each other. These large lunch groups was how I got to know the rest of the classmates. Not well, but at least I knew who they were. The funny thing was that during these first few weeks, some people still weren't entirely sure on which classrooms to go to. So there'd be lots of people peeking through doors, glasses and the such, to see a familiar face; then they'd know it was the correct classroom. I learned later on, that due to my spiky hair, I was the reference man for quite a lot of my classmates. Haha!
Then one day Ruz asked a bunch of the classmates to see whether they would want to attend a firedance performance he was doing in Sedaya Secondary. Most weren't free or interested, and only Wai Kwan, Kok Kin and I followed. The walk there, followed by the meal and the chats we had and all the humour really led to us knowing each other a lot more than before. Although we hung out a bit here and there before this, the time spent that day led us to becoming really, really close, and we continued to hang out together as a group from that day on. Incidentally, the others started finding their own groups too. Miki, Wai Yern, Mei Linn and Ashley were one group, and Chin Yau, Kin Yaw, Chris, Kwok Yong and Ka Long were also one group. Gavin had Hua Yuan, Chun How, Leonard, and Hon Wai. See Jek, Elaine, Zhi Ling, Mark. And there was also Henry, Licia, Cynthia, Chui Jean, Ivan. Kok Jing, Shafiq and a few others were not really "classified", lol, but they were good friends anyway.
Later on, as people quit TOA, or failed and dropped to a lower semester, the friendships started changing. Miki ended up being hated and "kick out" from her group, and joined my group. Henry and Ivan began hanging out with my group a lot more too. And after Leonard got together with Wai Kwan, we eventually called ourselves Essenism, from an inside joke. Ashley quit the class to join another class, accusing our class in the process, despite everyone hating her attitude. The groups reformed here and there, and we ended up with 4 major groups of people in the class. Then we majored, and split up into our respective courses. I ended up in AD085-1, but changed to AD085-2, because class 2 had no Saturday classes! And because most the classes ended earlier than class 1's.
During this time, I got to know a lot more people, especially in the AD section. But funny thing was for the first one or two semesters of majoring, a lot of our classes were still split in half. And these subjects where we split in half were combined with half of class 1. And for some reason, these combined subjects were classes where it involved a lot of discussion, dialogue or mixing around. Thus, we ended up knowing half of class 1 better than the remaining half of our own class. And to make things worse, the subjects that involved no combining were quiet subjects that didn't have us mixing a lot. So that led to an interesting mix. Neal was the first person I didn't know to talk to me, and we clicked immediately. Later on, Ash and Zi Yuan would become my closer friends in class. At this point in time, people already knew their friends, and they tended to stick with the people they knew. The friendships developing between the people who didn't know each other wasn't that great.
Also, I got to know Justin better. Previously, we had met due to him congratulating Ruz for his impromptu firedancing performance at the Mid-Autmn Festival, and I was beside him. Apart from that, apart from a few hi's here and there, we never spoke. Later on, after a lunch invitation, we ended up hanging out a lot more and ended up being great friends. Through him I met Jonas, Eddie, James, Thaiianna. Through Faith Station, the college's Christian fellowship, I also became good friends with Andrew Yan, who is a member of Mensa. And he introduced me (on Facebook) to Nikke, who I added, and met in real life, becoming friends later on. Redzuan met us later on, through the introduction of Thaiianna, and we met Kevyn later on through him. And now we form most of Symposium.
Funny thing was in my class, all my close friends either failed or quit, so I didn't have close friends in class anymore. Ironic thing was that Angela's friends all quit TOA, and that led to us talking, and becoming quite good friends. Lucas failed and dropped down, and he became one of the slightly closer classmates. Esther Sim was also a good friend (whenever we talked), and Yew Terng also asked me random, but very interesting questions, that would lead to quite an interesting talk, or stories. Suli and Vanessa weren't close friends, but people I could easily talk to in class. Kok Chun was also a really good buddy kind of friend, although we rarely hung out. From class 1, I also got to be close with Fei Yan, Lih Ting, quite close with Ween Lin, Xiao Qing. Not to mention during the graduation campaign, I met a lot of other friends from the other majors, and it was nice knowing so much more people.
During this time, I really learnt a lot in TOA. However, I really hated the figures; the drawing subjects. I really found them annoying, mostly 'cause I barely passed them everytime, and they dropped my GPA pretty low. I ended up with 2.8, when it would've been higher without the stupid figures-related subjects. And sure, I think they're partially necessary, but to take them for almost 3 whole years?! That's a bit much. I've learned that many people use stick figures in their work places to show concepts and storyboards, only using detailed drawings when necessary. And apart from storyboards, I don't think it's that relevant to the course anyway. However, I did like the graphics related subjects, and branding things. Despite hating the torture I went through under Leon and his corporate subjects, I learnt the most from him. I didn't like the advertising subjects that much, but they were fine. Not hated or loved. Interesting thing was that I would know more and do better for something I previously did. Like my drawings got better after I stopped taking the figure subjects. And my typography improved after the typography subjects and CI2. I seemed to "get it" after it was done, not when I was doing it. Now that I'm working, it seems to be fine. For now.
So yeah. TOA was quite an experience. No one ever told me about the kind of workload we had in TOA. Foundation was a nightmare with so many subjects and assignments from each. When it came to majoring, coming up with quality things was tough, although we had less subjects, the standards were higher, and we had to work hard either way. I definitely don't like the amount of workloads we get. It maddening, sickening, but I must admit we do learn. We may hate it, but it worked. At least, for the majority of subjects. There were times I really didn't think I learned anything. TOA's amount of assignments is legendary in KL, that plenty of other people outside the college know what kind of suffering we go through. And yet our parents think its a typical college, with the same amount of assignments as other normal colleges. One thing I hated though, was that the college was simply a row of shoplots. Not a proper campus. Having a campus while doing what we did in TOA would've been really nice. Yet its a pathetic shoplot, with horrible parking around us. Sure, the quality of education was good. But the building itself was not. The stress we went through was insane. I was a huge slacker back in secondary school, and a bit less so during ITE, but still I didn't work hard. But come TOA, everyone's scared to fail, and that had me working hard for 3 bloody years. Was it pleasant? No. Did I learn? Yes.
Due to the nature of so much work, it ended up forming 3 kinds of students. There were the zombies. Students who did their work so much so that they completely ignored their social life and would ignore all forms of entertainment, rest and socializing to do their work. They may have done well, but these were mood spoilers of friendships. I called the student lounge the "Zombie lounge" accidentally one time, due to the previous topic being Left4Dead, but I soon realized it was quite an accurate description of the majority of students who went there: zombies. Then there are the slackers. The people that don't do their work, pass it up really late, and go out and party and have fun everyday, neglecting their assignments. They're fun people to hang out with, but reminders to them don't do much on their responsibilities. They tend to fail and drop down to lower semesters. Then there are the balanced group. People who do their work, but know how to have a life. I'm in this group, and I'm proud that I have have a very active social life and still graduate on time and do my work. I know when to cut down on going out, and I know when I can go out and do my assignments later. Sad thing is that this isn't the majority. We tend to be the smallest of the 3 kinds of students. I can't stand the zombies the most though, because I've seen friendships fade due to their zombie-life. They put their work over people, every single time. It may get you higher marks, but it won't help your social skills.
Speaking of social skills, the vast majority here are Chinese. There's a few foreigners, and a small minority of people who speak English regularly, but Cantonese and Mandarin speakers rule numerically with an iron fist. And a lot of them have pretty bad social skills. Their art skills are good, but they can't present or talk very well. Or they can, but end up sounding like morons instead. I had pretty good social skills, and got to make a lot of friends in TOA. I was pretty famous too, it seems. A lot of my friends have told me juniors, or people who I don't know; know who I am because of my hair. Haha! And that I tended to sleep in the library a lot also led to a lot of people knowing who I was. That spiky hair guy who sleeps in the library. I was stunned when my friends revealed the amount of people who knew who I was. When I reposted the TOA note on Facebook, it ended up getting over 400 likes, and almost a hundred comments. And turns out the vast majority knew me as the spiky hair guy. They didn't know me personally of course, but they knew who I was. And that TOA note? It spread so far that the lecturers printed it and put a copy in the staff room. Awesomeness. I really have left my mark here. And I'm pretty pleased. Not to mention being known by so many people. It's a nice feeling. Plus a lot of people remember me. There are a lot of people that say hi to me, and I have no remembrance of them. I feel totally guilty, and say hi, but I never remember how I know them. But they still recognize me and remember my name. I feel bad. Haha.
Of course, it'll all die down after a few semesters of students join, and slowly forget. But I'm pretty proud of what I've done now. And of the lecturers, I have the utmost respect, either for teaching well, or being fun, social to students, or somehow just leaving an impression on me: Chongsern, Fadzilah, Pinky, May Ann, I Ching, Lisa Lee, Jun Mei, Christopher, Leon, Gabriel, Stephen, Sioyean, Darren, Joel, Helena, Vincent, Kins Lee, Henry, Marion. Maybe I've left out some people I can't quite recall at the moment. And of course, there's the lecturer's I really have no respect for, for various reasons, and who continually pissed me off: Lily, Debby, Boontiong, Irwin, Ban Lee, Chik Ying (I can't recall her name, she was the previous AD head of department before Debby took over), LCK. Then there are staff members who don't teach, but I still got to know anyway. Jimmy, Jolie, Chia Nam Pang, Mee Shan and Li Wan were pleasant people I easily spoke and made jokes to. That new worker in the SRA is also pretty cute.
I really have no idea what else to cover. I wrote this on a whim to just talk about my graduation ceremony, but I eventually talked about a lot more than just that. All in all, TOA taught me a lot, and I'm glad I picked it over Lim Kok Wing. I did not enjoy a lot of aspects there, such as the workload, the shoplots, some crappy lecturers, and some terrible management of events. But overall I made more friends than I can remember, and had so many deep friendships and events. Little gatherings, meals, talks, outings, staying overnight for assignments, discussions and all. All these little things were aspects I enjoyed tremendously, and I enjoyed my time. Yes, the college has its shortcomings and faults, which number many. But I still went through it, and I survived.
Like it says in the graduation letter we received "Congratulations for making it."
Oh yeah, we went through hell and made it out alive. So to end, here's my updated TOA note I posted a while back.
You know you go to The One Academy when...
1) You’re bad at math, but that seems to be the norm. You are in an art school after all.
2) You have at least 3 kinds of tape. They are all completely different, and they all serve completely different functions. But you know what they're for.
3) The naked picture on the screen for figures class does not arouse or disgust you because you’re too busy trying to get an ‘A’ in the class.
4) Your lecturers almost never give A’s in figures because (and they repeat it often) it's not 3D enough, or your strokes are wrong.
5) You're not as surprised by crazy fasion senses anymore.
6) Black is your worst enemy when the results are out. Before the TOA Portal was made.
7) You're surrounded by restaurants that serve all kinds of food.
8) Yet you don't know where and what to eat after class. Everyday. It's an eternal question.
9) You know the difference between violet and purple. And you blast people who don't know the difference.
10) You tried cleaning your pallette used for acrylic paint the first few times.
11) But you got lazy after a while and now its now hardened with acrylic paint all over it.
12) Your friends don't know what the hell putty rubber is when they first see it. Some refuse to believe its an eraser.
13) You’ve pulled an all-nighter on a project and still could not see any progress in the morning.
14) You’ve exploded at your friends for belittling the amount of work you receive.
15) The girl that you thought was a guy at the beginning of the year isn’t so bad.
16) Your friends not from your school do not understand #14 in the slightest.
17) The ideas that come from your mind don't quite seem the same on paper.
18) You know everyone in Vision Art.
19) The people you go to school with do not ask you to draw anything for them (excluding doing their assignments for them).
20) Ctrl-Z has been Ctrl-S into your system.
21) Despite your best efforts, you still manage to get paint, pencil or charcoal on some part of your body, somehow.
22) Your parents assume that TOA is like any other college, with the "normal" amount of assignments.
23) Your lecturer is a moron, but he is excused because he's an industry professional.
24) One of the first things to say to someone when you see them: "Have you done your assignments yet?"
25) Art school has possibly made you hate art.
26) Ming Tien's food sucks but makes a hell lot more money than you'll ever have.
27) You begin to criticize advertisements and designs that aren't designed well, in the real world.
28) Your pencils and erasers beside you go missing but other stuff you leave in the open are still there.
29) Sleep is a privilege, a rarity.
30) You get tired climbing up 3 flights of stairs, even though you do that almost everyday.
31) They consistently call a row of shoplots a "campus".
32) You're given 4 weeks for a project, and everyone starts a few days before the due date.
33) You have sat in a classroom and discussed, in great detail, the significance of an ad in which a woman with soap is considered romantic and sexy.
34) Your figures2 sketchbook would qualify to be censored in the Malaysian public domain.
35) Alcohol is easily obtainable around your campus. That's understandable.
36) Your main topics outside of school are still about the school (assignments and all).
37) Out of the 30 people in your class, at least 27 of them are Chinese, and at least one of them wears the same clothes all the time.
38) You are verbally assualted for not paying attention while watching Byzantium, or Incognito. Or that flick about a transexual.
39) Waiting in line to print things is second-nature.
40) Lousy English is extremely common.
41) Your relationships with your ex-girlfriend/boyfriend are more stable than the school's wifi.
42) You are told to "invest" in books and media, even when you're broke.
43) You can easily point out one point, two point and three point perspectives to anyone who cares to listen.
44) You notice that the circles under your eyes are a near permanent fixture.
45) It's impossible for you not to have problems with your student tag.
46) You get demoralized from seeing a drawing god do his work beside you.
47) Everyone has a laptop. If not, you're (almost) dead.
48) Guys wearing nail polish aren't a big deal anymore.
49) Your textbooks are full of pictures. Even the typography ones.
50) Your total school fees is enough to buy a small house.
51) Sunway Pyramid is now boring for you.
52) A world class school has third-world parking spaces.
53) You take smoke-breaks every chance you get.
54) Wikipedia is actually allowed as a source.
55. You actually start recognising different fonts, and remember their names too.
56. You know that the initials TOA stand for "Thousands of Assignments". Or, one of the following: Tons of Assignments. Totally Ownage Assignments. Total Overload Assignments. Too Overwhelming Artworks. Time Over Already. Takes Over Alertness. Torture of Aesthetics. Tonight Overnight Again. The OhMyGod Academy.