Tuesday, September 13, 2005
The "M" in the middle of school.
Highly protected by students before football game.
Rumoured that if you step on it, you'll fail your exams.
With the end of the Canadian Trip, I was set to leave the little University town of Ann Arbor. All in all, I have spent about 5-6 days here in Ann Arbor, imposing immensely on Dirong, and having to MAKE him agree to sleeping on his bed on alternate days (because he insisted that I should have the bed whilst I'm there, but you see, I love my sleeping bag too!)
So anyway, I reached Ann Arbor on 1 Sept (Thursday), meeting Dirong at Detroit International Airport. I flew domestically from Oakland airport and was greatly delayed at Salt Lake Cities for 2 hours (the worst was that it was delayed from 12 midnight to 2am), but I was still very much in time in meeting Dirong (along with many other Singaporeans on the same flight coming to Ann Arbor.. well, cos there's only 1 flight a day from Singapore to Detroit). I especially love the look on David Han's face when he saw me at Detroit. Haha, it was a mix of disbelief, shock and surprise. He obviously wasn't expecting to see me there, nor was I, to be honest. It was just a nice pleasant meeting of old friends!
Delayed plane - Coke and chips in hands waiting.
But I must say that flying around from airport to airport has me seeing the different sorts of airports around the world. From the coolest, to the simplest. You got to explore the US domestic airports to see the extremes!
Ben picked us up from the airport and sent Dirong and me to Dirong's new place, where he is sharing with Weisheng (who happened to be my OCS Platoon mate) and Yixing (a couple). A new place, so we got to get keys from the landlord and do some cleaning up. It's such a pleasure, haha, to be able to see friend's new places, starting from Xiaotian's place at California.
After some minor cleaning up, Dirong brought me around University of Michigan to check out the school at night. The Graduate library is gorgeous and the Undergraduate Library (nicknamed UGLi) is normal. It's actually quite happening because it's some sort of a Welcome week, when all the stuff for freshman is happening. It's amazing, cos I also bumped into Edwin Lee (2 years my junior in 01 scouts) in UMich! I think he was as shocked as I am, and Dirong is starting to think that I actually know more people in UMich than he does. *laughs* So there was a lot of activities going on, signing up for clubs, school rock bands playing, a good imitation of "Stomp" and free food!!! Even bumped into Jianwei (Brigette's bf) and said our 'hi's. Somehow Brigette promptly knew about this encounter haha.
(Note to readers: Americans LOVE free food. It is not actually free, because it's probably in the school fees, but they LOVE free food. They have food for almost every event, from meetings to orientations and even a short welcome)
Friday was spent mostly trying to set up tables and beds, cleaning kitchens and bathrooms.
Arrival of Weisheng and Yixing.
More visiting the school and surroundings. Ann Arbor is indeed an University town. For people like me who has never gotten out of a Singapore school system before would need to a while to fathom the dynamics of this place. A town that develops because of the University. The school centers the area, and shops fan out, mainly eating places. Houses too develop, for students who do not wish to stay in dorms. Beyond the happening area a few miles around school, it's just spaces and more spaces, and you would definitely need a car to get around. Even grocery shopping needs a car/ bus trip away. The shops probably survives on the students' spendings, hires students to work part-time and serve the students. I would not be far off to to even dare suggest that everyone you see on the street probably has some connection to the school, either students, staff or even family of members of the school. It is one hell of a University Corporation.
I must have fallen in love with architectural. The school buildings are all so unique - some old, some new. The old ones have green ivy hanging around the castle-like walls, the new ones are structurally modern, like the Engineering Tower (Ann and Robert H. Lurie Tower), which is supposed to have no lines of symmetry and no right angles in its structure at all. Squirrels scamper around the campus on the warm grass (which you'll find many people sitting/ sleeping there enjoying the sun while it last here in Ann Arbor). Even the Auditorium is majestic, and upon entering the Hall, you can just feel its glory. The feeling of not just awe, but the history it carried and the music that has ever been played in these halls. I also climbed the clock tower at 12 noon, because there was someone there playing the noon chimes every noon, and there I stood, under the deafening bells, looking around the vast space of the campus.
The Ann and Robert H. Lurie Tower
Another nice building
UMich is huge. The Engineering campus is in the northern part of the campus, and when I say north, I don't mean 15 minutes walk away. Maybe 15 minutes run, but definitely get the bus ride. Visited the Engineering tower as mentioned above and also this amazing "sin" field, which is shaped in a sinusoidal way. Anyway, since UMich is famous for its astronaut, we paid areo-enginnering department a visit as well.
Hmmm, I got ahead of myself, because all these visiting were done in the few days I was there, and not just on Friday, but let's get the scenery out of the way this once =)
Saturday was the football game, as you have read. Also my birthday!!!
Sunday was spent on some grocery shopping and my preparation for my Chicago trip the next day.
Shopping with Dirong is ALMOST like bringing a kid out to the amusement park. Browsing here and there, checking out the prices and the amazing new stuff that US always have to offer. Like their ice-creams. They must have like dunno-how-many flavours, so Dirong is always trying out new flavours. And he doesn't get fat. It is not fair. And he is, throughout my stay, making me have a proper diet of 3 meals a day, something very rare since I started traveling. That guy really takes care of himself, but as he says, if he doesn't take care of himself, he doesn't feel good enough to do anything! So Dirong pampers himself with ice-creams and good food. But I still thinking eating 2 chicken thighs (amongst other dishes) for a meal is a wee too much.
And so we shopped. Food, detergent, soap and all the stuff needed to make an apartment feel like home.
Dirong took me for a jog later in the afternoon around the area, and showing me the school of Music Conservatory (and bumping into his old room mate) and the area north. I figured I prefer running in hot conditions than cold, because when the cold air hits your lungs, it can be quite unbearable. Which makes me wonder how the ang mohs do it in the depths of winter. Crazy.
And we spent the night at Ben's place, with him cooking chicken rice using the all time fav Prima Deli chicken rice mix!! It was great, especially since he had good sambal chilli from home! Yummy!
5 Sept, I departed for Chicago, with nothing but a small bagpack. And I was back at Ann Arbor on 7 Sept.
I caught up with Qionghui that night at a coffee place, and visited her place with Dirong. Had a good chat, as usual, the catching up on life and stuff.
On Jiayong's birthday night, everyone wanted to make him drunk. So we actually went clubbing. You wouldn't believe it, but the entry fee was 3USD. Unbelievable. I don't think the drinks are really like a lot cheaper, but the entry fee is just crazily cheap.
We found it strange that the Americans club with the lights on haha.. but I guess it could be just that club. Jiayong got pretty red soon after someone made him take like 5 shots. I caught up a little with Kian Leong too, whom I haven't seen since I was Sec 4 (for he was my PSL group Sec 1 when I'm Sec 4, sheesh, that’s 7 years ago!) And I look at him, and I'm just amazed by life in general. Time passes so fast and people grow up so fast, and I wondered what I was really like 7 years ago? He smokes now, a change, I guess, which I didn't really like.
Before the clubbing all begins, I had dinner with Chee Chian, Liheng, Chun Yang (all OCS cadets), Qionghui and Dirong at some Chinese restaurant. Portions are huge, as expected. We ended up playing Mahjong at the guys' place before going to chiong.
On the night before we leave for Canada, we decided to cook up a storm! With lemon-ovened chicken with herbs (pronounced 'erbs, without the "h"), fried shrimp with cai-xin and vegetable soup, topped with ice-cream (heard of "ButterZinger" for desert.
September 10 - September 11 Canada.
September 12, Monday.
I packed a sandwich from Potbelly for my overnight 13hr train to Washington, waved my goodbyes and many many deep thanks to Dirong and Ben, and got on the bus to the train station.
Check out my Ann Arbor photos here.