American Royals II: Majesty book review

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American Royals II: Majesty is the sequel to the novel American Royals written by Katharine McGee which the author describes as a mesh between Gossip girl and the Crown. It’s in a fictional world where George Washington became America’s first king instead of its president and it is set in what is now the current year, 2020. I know this because somebody’s gravestone was carved with that year (this is still considered the spoiler free zone). I should probably say that this review will be littered with spoilers for the first and second book so if you read from this point on you have been warned.

SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS

Before we start let’s recap the relationships and cliffhangers we got from the first book.

  1. Beatrice and Connor – Beatrice wants to step down from the throne to marry her Revere Guard Connor, this shock causes her father to have a heart attack
  2. Samantha and Teddy – Teddy is engaged to Beatrice but Samantha likes Teddy alot, Samantha tells Beatrice and Beatrice says that she’ll call off the engagement and marry the man she loves
  3. Jeff and Nina – Dating for awhile but Daphne came between them, literally told Nina to break up with Jeff which is what Nina did especially when Nina started to tell Jeff about the true Daphne and he didn’t believe her
  4. Daphne and Ethan – denying each other. Daphne only has eyes on the crown

We begin the book where we left off, it’s been 6 weeks since the king died and that is the time allocated for mourning. Beatrice has to come out of mourning and assume her duties as Queen, or so she thought. But Robert, the Lord Chamberlain instead tells her that she needs to be married, to give stability and comfort to the nation in this uncertain time. She is not allowed to close congress unless she is Queen, which she can’t be until a year or 6 months after her father’s death. And so the whole arch for Beatrice is set, she is engaged to Teddy whom she does not love and she is busy planning a wedding instead of actually governing. Samantha on the other hand gets very jealous and angry at Beatrice for not keeping to her word and calling off the engagement. In a plot to make Teddy jealous, she gets together with Marshall, the future baron of Orange (the west coast). They pretend to be dating to make each other’s ex jealous. And then we have Nina who is fresh from a breakup and wants to move on, unfortunately Daphne won’t leave her alone and sees her as a threat. To remove this thread Daphne struck a deal with Ethan to distract Nina by dating her or flirting with her in exchange for the title of Earl when Daphne gets what she wants. And finally Daphne, she’s still trying to get Jeff to marry her and will do whatever it takes.

There were two things that stood out to me in this book the first being that the storylines for each girl/point of view were very clear to the point where it could be said to be spelled out for the reader and secondly every girl also had a new love interest which we previously thought would be weird but suddenly feels like the most natural thing. Let me address this in order.

It was very obvious that Beatrice’s arch was about her becoming queen and what that entailed. Samantha was about figuring out who she was. Nina about moving on and being her own self outside of the royal family’s influence and Daphne starts to doubt if she really wants what she says she wants. This are all really good themes and progress in each character but i feel like it was quite a change from the characters they were in the first book. The book was only 300+ pages and at the end the author quickly tied up all these characters and they became very independent women who realized who they really were without needing a man (except for Daphne). Maybe to some the pace of change may be believable but i think it was a bit too quick and it tied up way too nicely to the point it felt rushed. Don’t get me wrong, i like that Beatrice didn’t get married and wanted to be a Queen on her own first before eventually marrying Teddy, i like that Samantha saw her worth in bringing people together and getting them to see who their potential and i like that Nina became a stronger person who didn’t have to depend on a guy no more, but it’s like they all achieved enlightenment in a snap (at the wedding) and then what’s next?

Talking about that wedding, it was very obvious the author was going to use it to stage the whole showdown though I thought it was going to be a lot more dramatic than it was. Sure there was the drama of Beatrice and Connor locked up together, Daphne and Nina part 2 and Sam/Teddy/Marshall but it was more showy rather than an actual good scene. I think this is because there was build up, it looked like things were going to go really bad for Daphne (especially with Mariko waking up and getting her memories back) and then it would all blow up at the wedding but in the end it was Daphne that got what she wanted and it felt like all this expectation was deflated by the quick way the other girls became independent women. I think it’s because the author wants to have a redemption thing for Daphne but there can’t be a redemption if there is nothing to redeem Daphne from. Maybe it’ll be in the third book there certainly is the potential for that but at the end i wasn’t really sure if this was the end for this story. I think the author wanted there to leave a potential for the third book but at the same time if she never got to it this would be a good enough end which i think is why there’s this unsatisfactory ending.

I know this review sounds like i didn’t like the book but honestly it was an enjoyable read. Which leads me to the second part the new love interests. I liked the budding romance scenes between Beatrice and Teddy, Samantha and Marshall and Nina and Ethan. It felt right, it felt nice and it felt natural. Previously you could only see them with whoever they were paired with in the first book but the author did a good job in presenting this new relationships to the reader that we are almost okay with them playing musical chairs with their partners. Connor is all but gone and only used as a device to give doubt to the Beatrice and Teddy relationship whereas Jeff is more like a mentioned character in this book. The guys are very supportive and sensitive which is a bit too good to be true but hey, it’s a love story.

To end this review i would say that this book is a fun read especially if you’re looking for something casual and a no brainer. This means that the story doesn’t have much depth as i believe the author wanted which is disappointing in that sense. I’ll give this book 6/10 stars.

I planned every minute of my life for a week..and followed the plan – lessons learnt

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It started with the weirdest thing ever, i wanted to see how good Grammarly the text editing tool was because i’m currently writing my dissertation and thought maybe it’ll be good to have some writing help. Which then led to this video about using Notion to how i study for 4 hours without breaks to a video about procastination. That Youtube rabbit hole be real people. Also i’ve been watching this Youtuber who loves to post videos with the word ‘productive’ in them. I was also very discouraged by how i was procastinating alot and wasting my time, I thought my time management methods of creating a to-do list was good enough but apparently it wasn’t working.

Here are some of the things that i need to work on at the moment

  1. my dissertation
  2. finding a job
  3. studying for my driving test
  4. finding a new home
  5. shedding off 1 year of body fat accumulation a.k.a exercise

Here is the schedule i made, yes they’re on receipt paper and yes there were changes made

So how much of the plan was i able to accomplish?

Day 1 – 100%

Day 2 – 85% -felt sick, distracted

Day 3 – 85% Insomnia the night before, feeling sick

Day 4 – 75% had a really bad back pain so i had a 2 hour nap

Day 5 – 60% I really didn’t want to do anything today, lack of motivation, only accomplished those things on my schedule that were ‘easy’

Day 6 – 60% still lack of motivation

Day 7 – 75% I had a really bad stomach ache but i did get in some unscheduled work done so that was a plus

Looking back on the days it looks like i had gotten ill or had some body ailment that did contribute to me not being able to fully follow my schedule which is an important point i want to make early on which is there can be a schedule but also give yourself grace if you don’t follow it to the dot. We are human and yes that can be an excuse but it’s also true, so be strict with yourself as much as you can but if you fall sick or are recovering from that illness whether it be physical or mental then don’t worry about achieving 100% of your schedule.

Did you get more done?

The first few days i did then this hyper productivity started taking a toil on me and i was getting tired and unmotivated. I didn’t plan enough breaks for myself and it felt a lot like it was all work work work. I guess the answer is yes and no? Anyway, here are a few things i learnt from this experience:

  1. Bye bye phone – I made it a point to hide my phone when i was in ‘work’ time. This really helped me concentrate as i wasn’t getting tempted to mindlessly scroll through instagram or facebook (those two apps are mysterious time suckers). I also put it on silent mode to prevent those tempting notifications.
  2. remember to plan breaks – human needs don’t count as breaks but breaks are so important to recharge and relax. Yes there is the need to work but we be human and need breaks too. Just try imagining yourself exercising for 8 hours straight, crazy right? Same thing here.
  3. plan your rewards – I find this really important because if there is no rewards then it feels like you’re tormenting yourself and this would create negative emotions towards your schedule and your work. This in turn can lead to procastination.
  4. It’s all in the details – yes i did put there that i will do my dissertation stuff from this time to this time but what am i doing exactly? Well this is what i mean by planning the details. Kudos to the Youtuber who can study for 8 hours each day, i got this idea from him (citing my sources) and it’s true, i don’t want to waste part of those hours figuring out what i need to do, i want to go in and get started immediately. This means that you’ll need a LOT of time to plan.
  5. put in time to plan – related to the previous point and also will relate to point 11 but what i mean here is actually schedule time to plan your plan
  6. I couldn’t get all 5 goals done in a day – and that’s because you have to decide how much time you’re going to spend for each of them. I put mine in priority order even though they are all important but my dissertation got the bulk of the time because that is literally my job right now, to write a dissertation.
  7. mix it up a bit – routine is what it is…routine. So since you’re going to be planning in advance you can shake things up a bit within reason of course
  8. relationships – This one was tough, i did feel like i was ignoring my husband for most of the time and there weren’t those random conversations we would have. When i took breaks i couldn’t expect him to take a break too especially when he was in the middle of work so this one is a tricky one. Still not sure how this will work because i believe you need to put in time for your relationships just like you put in time for everything else.
  9. Corrections – i wanted to be strict with making corrections because once you do one you’ll be tempted to do another and then before you know it there goes your plan. But through my corrections i learned about my energy levels, what leads to distraction which i have made a mental note for the future.
  10. give yourself extra time for those activities you can’t really limit time to – ex. devotion, eating, talking to people these are things you can’t put a time limit to and that’s okay.
  11. Don’t plan it all in one go – this is a but controversial but since it was my first time doing it i wanted to try a few days out first before i went on to complete planning the week. Also i was too tired to plan the whole week.

Conclusions

Because i had so many ‘major’ things to do this scheduling every minute of my life thing took its toll on me. When you have so many things to juggle you get tired and slip up so i wouldn’t do this in the long term if i had so many things going on. We aren’t made to multitask, seriously. I think we humans do way much better when we concentrate our efforts at one thing at a time but alas this is life. I know that sounds self-contradictory but what i’m trying to say is don’t have so many big “to-do” things when you do this, maybe three might work? Overall, the concept of creating a schedule was good and i actually liked that i knew what i was going to be doing and see myself do it. I still have to work on making realistic to do lists and schedules, also need to create more breaks and better rewards for myself to motivate myself. At the end of the day don’t forget to show yourself some love too okay, only do this to help yourself be more organized, if it is causing you anxiety and stress then it defeats the purpose.

My visit to Jane Austen’s House museum

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I was initially surprised to find out about Jane Austen’s House Museum located in Chawton, Hampshire because I had thought that the house in Bath was the only Jane austen centre in the UK. Austen did spend some time in Bath after her father retired but Austen, her mother and her sister moved to this house in Chawton after her father died. If you’re wondering what the difference is between the two museums, Jane Austen’s House Museum seems to distinguish itself by stating that this is the place where Austin wrote all her books. Personally after visiting both, I much prefer Jane Austen’s House Museum compared to the one in Bath mainly because the interpretation of this place is more about Austen and her life in general rather than her life in Bath specifically. In this review I’ll take you through the museum and point out things that made me like this place over the one in Bath. 

As you enter through a small gate, you’ll first need to purchase tickets at the gift shop which also acts as the entrance to the museum. I would suggest going into the learning centre if it’s not occupied by school groups, there is a short video about Jane Austen’s life that provides a good introduction on what you’re about to see in the house itself. There is also the bakehouse which you can visit and see ongoing restoration works. This museum is run by trustees who are all Jane Austen enthusiasts and much of the restoration work has been funded by Austen enthusiasts all over the world, it’s remarkable how so many people are connected through Austen’s works. Since I made my visit in the winter there wasn’t much to see in the garden, but if you do visit during the other seasons it is a nice place to have a picnic and enjoy the outdoors.

Before you enter into the main house, don’t forget to visit the kitchen at the side. I love that you can practice writing with a quill and leave your notes and messages on the community board. Since it was Christmas there was a little clove pomander that you could make and take home, I love this little crafts as these are the little things that makes the experience memorable.

The fireplace and table in the kitchen
Take home crafts for visitors

In the house itself there are several rooms to explore. If you brought your kids along there is a little treasure hunt they can do to receive a sticker for if they complete and pass it to a room attendant (pass it to them before you exit the house itself). This and other kid friendly activities can be picked up in the little room that you enter as you exit the gift shop to go to the garden. The house contains several authentic pieces either from the time or belonging to Austen and her family. You’ll read about Austen’s time in the house living with her mother and sister on the provision of her wealthy brother who lived nearby in Chawton house, you’ll learn about her siblings, what family life would have looked like and also her writing.

Jane Austen’s writing table. A treasured object in the museum.
Ivory cup and ball to illustrate the types of games the Austen siblings used to play.

I enjoyed that the museum also displayed items donated by enthusiasts or items related to Jane Austen as it shows how much impact Austen had on the world.

Display case with objects given to the museum by Jane Austen enthusiasts

In my opinion there’s just enough on display to satisfy visitors who want to learn more about Austen and not overtire visitors with too much information. There isn’t much furniture but that’s alright with me especially since there isn’t much space to begin with and the museum can get crowded during peak seasons. I think there’s enough space for everyone to enjoy the house properly but still give you the sense of what it might have looked like when Austen lived in it.

Overall, my takeaway is that the Jane Austen House museum is a must go for Austen enthusiasts. The museum does an excellent job of telling the tale of Jane’s personal life in the context of the house and as a visitor I felt connected to this beloved author. I would budget at least 90 minutes if you really want to go through all the text and the entire house thoroughly. The museum doesn’t have a café but there is a pub right across the museum if you needed to get some lunch. The gift shop has many Jane Austen related merchandise and it was a great struggle to refrain myself from buying everything. If you plan to visit, the house is a bit out of the way as it’s not a touristy area but if you’re on the way to Bath this would be a priority stop over.

Museum website: https://www.jane-austens-house-museum.org.uk/

Note: I wrote this for mainlymuseums.com originally https://mainlymuseums.com/post/616/jane-austen-s-house-museum/. Visit their site for more reviews of museums. All pictures belong to me, please ask for permission before using them.

Volunteering at the National Museum Wales (Preventive conservation)

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Hello! Before i begin talking about my time volunteering i should do a short introduction about myself. I’m a MSc Care of Collections student at Cardiff University. It’s a one year masters program where you learn about how to do preventive conservation. What is preventive conservation you may ask, don’t worry I only really understood what it was halfway through the course so we good. It’s the actions that we as conservators take to prevent museum objects from deteriorating quickly. We can’t stop deterioration but we can sure try to slow it down. We take actions so that (cross our fingers real tight) we don’t have to send them off to a conservator to work on….at least not in the near future, probably in a 100 years or so but not while i’m alive baby. I know there seems to be a lot of stuff added on to my description of what preventive conservation is but that’s because there’s a whole lot of debate about those issues so i’m trying to be as clear as i can but not go into too much detail ya know?

Anyways, so that’s what i learn and so this volunteering is specifically for preventive conservation because there are other volunteering opportunities available at the museum like conservation, interacting with visitors, cataloging, gardening, etc. I want to be as specific as i can to help whomever in the future who is interested in volunteering for this.

So let’s jump right into it. The main thing that i did as a volunteer was integrated pest management (IPM). Now don’t worry, it doesn’t involve catching any insects (although you may need to pick up pest monitors filled with insects) it’s really about monitoring pests by laying pest monitors and checking them in this case every 6 months to see what sort of pests we’ve caught. This will allow us to determine what sort of pests we’re dealing with and where so that we can take action. Pests are a problem because they (especially the larvae) find museum objects especially delicious. National Museum Wales has a natural history collection so dead animals and pests don’t go well together especially if we don’t want our collections to be eaten and destroyed. The part i found easy was the one where you looked at a floorplan with the pest monitors marked on it and located the pest monitor. The not so easy part was the identification of insects. We identify the insects caught in the trap and write down the type and approximate number on the back of the monitor. It took awhile and i made my own cheatsheet to help but really after awhile you’ll see that the same pests come up again and again so it’s a matter of learning how to identify them by certain distinct features. We would also change pest monitors once they were filled with insects.

Two interesting things i learned from this is that spiders are not considered pests because they don’t eat the collection, but they are a sign that there are insects that we should worry about because the spiders eat those insects. Secondly is that sometimes when the pest monitor is not too full we leave the monitor there again even if it has one or two dead insects. The next time we go and check it we can see what changes there are (since we mark what type of pests are caught on the monitors) and sometimes we find things have changed after some months. For example if there was a larvae and an adult insect, 6 months later we find only the larvae shell what do you think happened? Basically the larvae hatched and the sticky parts of the monitor wasn’t sticky no more from the dust trapped on it, so the larvae found some convenient food – another insect, ate it, grew and went away. Not everybody finds that fascinating but i thought that was cool when i learned about it. Other IPM related things we learned was to identify frass. Frass is insect droppings. Being able to identify them will enable you to learn if you have a pest infestation.

Moving on, another thing we did was dusting and interacting with visitors. Why do these go together? Usually we dust in the galleries and it’s a fantastic opportunity to talk to visitors about what we’re doing and why. As you can see from the picture here i’m wearing a backpack vacuum holding a brush and my fellow volunteer is holding a small vacuum too. We usually set up like this with the poster and sandwich board just so that if visitors are shy they can read about what we’re doing on their own. In the background you can see some pictures and the organ so we’re in the gallery with the organ and we had just finished dusting the frames. Dust comprises of dead human skin and some organic material from clothes and other objects that enter the galleries so they can accumulate on frames especially those around the height of the average person. We vacuum because dust can cause damage on the frames and it doesn’t make them look very nice and dust is also food for pests.

One of the most amazing experience i had whilst volunteering was being able to vacuum under Dippy the dinosaur! Dippy is a dinosaur from the Natural History Museum and now (2018-2020) he’s on tour around the UK. National Museum Wales Cardiff hosted dippy from November till end of January and he brought in a lot of people. Lots of people means lots of dust so i helped to vacuum all the accumulated dust and keep Dippy clean and happy. I think it’s really fun because how many people can say they cleaned up in a dinosaur enclosure? I had to be real careful of course and not bump into any of his bones especially the feet. As you can see i’m the perfect height as i’m short enough to not bump into the bones making up the body section.

Dusting a bronze sculpture

We were taught techniques for dusting objects and it’s really about the magic wand swish and putting the nozzle of the vacuum at an angle to catch the dust.

Lastly we did microclimate conditioning. We worked with the archaeology collection for this. They were kept in stewart boxes and we needed to change the silica gel so that the microclimate in each box was dry enough to prevent corrosion from happening on the metal archaeological objects. We also put a humidity indicator to see if the silica gel was doing its job. Metals need to be kept in conditions with low humidity to prevent corrosion from happening so the silica gel functions to absorb the moisture that is trapped in the box and the moisture that seeps into the box after awhile. It was fun seeing all the cool archaeological finds especially the helmet collection.

Another thing that i really loved was the diversity of the volunteer team. I’m from Malaysia and my fellow volunteers came from Ireland, Scotland and Senegal. It’s really good that we all had this chance to experience this, learn and get to know each other through volunteering. Background wise 3/4 of us were Care of collections and conservation students at Cardiff university while one was volunteering time doing media shoots. So you don’t need to be in conservation to do this you just need to have the interest and passion to learn.

I hope this has given some helpful insight to anyone who wants to learn more about volunteering at NMW or preventive conservation.

Please note that everything here is my own personal experience and opinions, everyone has a different volunteering experience. If you want to learn more check out the links below.

Here is the NMW preventive conservation twitter account if you want to check out some of the things i did and preventive conservation related topics. The official Amugueddfa volunteers twitter account is really useful to get more information too and of course the Amgueddfa Caerdydd/National Museum Cardiff twitter account.

Another volunteer has written about his experience doing the same volunteering program so you might want to check out his post. Also check out the ‘Volunteer’ tag in the blog for other posts and volunteering position experiences.

10 weeks of self-isolation: the story so far

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TLDR Highlights:

  • Wo hen lei (I am very tired). Learned this new phrase from watching the chinese drama Ming dynasty and it is very appropriate
  • Praise the Lord that in this time where it’s not been good financially for the world that my contract was extended till the end of July.
  • The biggest flaw of this period and biggest lesson learnt : the false sense of rest and time
  • Finding rest in God

I’ve got it down on my calendar that i started self-isolating on 17 March. Since then there’s so much that has happened and being 10 weeks in honestly it feels like i’ve been running a one person relay race. It is emotionally and mentally tiring and it’s only now that i’ve stopped to take a breather.

Background context: Before self-isolation my schedule looked like this –

Monday – Part time work (5 hours), Tuesday – catch up on reading/ work for class, Wed – Volunteering at the museum (6 hours), Thursday – Class (6 hours straight), Friday – Part time work (7 hours), Everyday – read at least 2 articles for class

And this is my schedule once self-isolation happened.

Monday – Part time work (4 hours), Tuesday – catch up on reading/work for class, Wed – Part time work (4 hours), Thursday – Class (2 hours – live session), Friday – part time work (4 hours), Everyday – read at least 2 articles for class

If you compare it there isn’t really a difference except that there is no more volunteering, some classes will be uploaded and i don’t have to go through a 6 hours marathon each week and i don’t have to make a journey to work or class, or dress up, pants? who needs them?. I would say that this really was the problem the first month in. With this ‘new’ situation i thought that i would finally get a rest and get to do a lot of things like getting ahead in my assignments and reading. I’ll actually get to work on figuring out what i want to write for my dissertation, i’ll catch up with friends because everyone has nothing else to do. There’s so much time now, I really was so ambitious. I’m not the only one who felt that way as i remember the sentiment/mood was about the same (at least online). Suddenly you saw all these virtual courses and virtual theatre popping up on social media. All in the good intention to help people stay indoors of course.

However my mistake was that i just jumped into it thinking that i was getting rest now but not actually resting. In fact i think i got busier or more pressured to do more because i ‘had all this time’. The false sense of freedom actually put pressure on me to do more whilst ignoring my emotional and mental health. I didn’t acknowledge the fact that things are different, sure everyone said that but what did it really mean? How did it apply to me specifically? I guess i didn’t really want to think about it too because i was so busy wanting to do all these things that i could finally do.

Pop quiz time – do you think i managed to accomplish that? Find out if you’re right after the next section. (Since i’m trying to do like a chronological order sorta recollection of events, i’ll talk more about this after the section about my part time work).

I also remember in march i was looking for a new part time job because my contract ended March 31. I had gone for an interview to be a student ambassador but that didn’t work out (so many nerves in that interview). When self-isolation started so did work from home because i do admin work so a lot of it can be done from home. It sounded and felt really cool to be honest, I set up my little workspace and it was nice that i could get up and snack/eat anytime because the kitchen is 2 steps away. Again at this time many people were also starting to work from home and you could see instagram stories about everyone’s different set ups and lots and lots of stories with coffee mugs and a laptop in the background. It was a little stressful at that time workload wise because the year was ending for the centre and a lot of things had to be tied up and completed before 31 March. I think the thought that this was all ending in 2 weeks gave me the sense that again, i would finally get to rest. I told a friend of mine that i was looking forward to having time to focus on my studies and resting and then a few days before 31 March i got an email from work saying that they would love if i would stay on for another 4 more months! OMG mixed feelings here. On one hand i had just said to my friend that i was looking forward to this break and on the other hand the economy is looking like it’s not going to be so great and this is a very good opportunity for income at this time. After a few days of back and forth internal debates with myself on whether or not to take the job i decided to take it. I still have mixed feelings about it now because 10 weeks later people are loosing jobs, furloughed (zech included) and getting pay cuts so i’m definitely grateful for God’s providence. At the same time it has added to the stress that i have experienced. Thinking about it, i know myself and either way i think i would be stressed because if i didn’t take the job i would just be stressing out about finances. I guess the moral of the story here for me is that it’s not really about the thing that is causing me stress rather it is how i handle stress that needs improvement. I’m a W.I.P needing a lot of God’s grace yah.

So back to the part where i thought i had all this time and could rest. Based on stuff i wrote on my calendar (i’m using it as reference so i get it right) this is all the work i was doing for the past 10 weeks. I had to read up for class weekly. Each week we had minimum 12 to 13 articles to read and they vary from 8 pages to 30+ pages for each article. Sometimes we get a podcast to listen to but it’s always at least an hour and half long. This was going on all the way up to the 7th of May so that’s about 6 weeks of that, it would take the entire week just to finish the reading for that week of class. Then i also had two assignments due so we’re talking about at least a week worth of solid work on it for each assignment, i also had to think about what i wanted to write for my dissertation (this really became optional after awhile) and do part time work (12 hours per week). Basically, once i got that weeks reading done i immediately had to start on the coming week’s reading. Along with that, once i got one assignment done i had to study for my exam (oh yeah that was not an announcement i appreciated especially when it was only 2 1/2 weeks notice, i was moaning for 5 minutes out loud, zech was not amused), once the exam was done i had to finish another assignment and now i still have to figure out my dissertation before the end of the month. There was no rest, there was no time TO rest.

I don’t know about you but just writing that all out made me exhausted. This picture really sums up what i feel about this schedule in the pre-COVID 19 time vs self-isolation. Nothing has changed. But also not really.

Why not really? Yes i nothing had changed work wise but mentally and emotionally it was actually different because of all those false expectations i had, the expectation of the ability to rest because i had ‘more time’ and that i had ‘more time’ to do things i always wanted to. So basically i was running on a ‘normal’ schedule but also struggling to reconcile that with my expectation that i had more time. This just led to a lot of disappointment in myself. I remember in week 2 and 3 it just went downhill and i was sad and full of anxiety. It didn’t help my relationship with zech which added even more stress. It was not pretty.

I remember at the end of week 3 i had realized that i needed to deal with my mental and emotional health because i had put it off for long enough. I also realized that i needed to be kinder to myself. All these expectations to do so much and accomplish things at this time had made me judge myself really harshly. I posted a list of things i learned in these 3 weeks on twitter and they were:

1. Be kind to yourself

2. Don’t rush whether it be about adjusting to the new normal or rush through your feelings

3. Boundaries

4. Don’t forget to breathe

5. Where you are right now is because something changed, you can survive change

7 weeks later i still think those lessons are important but i also have learned that circumstances may change but really the source of that stress is me. I make the decisions to worry about something or to do something about it, i make the decision of how i want to approach the challenge. In relation to that the biggest thing I learned and am still learning is about the idea of rest.

On Jan 1 2020 i woke up and felt God put a word in my heart and that was the word ‘rest’. I felt that God was saying that this was what He wanted me to learn for this year and i put it down as a 2020 goal. Almost 6 months later I have seen many facets of the concept of rest. At first it started off with taking the Sabbath off. Like really resting and doing nothing because i was really bad at doing nothing. So that was the thing at the beginning of the year. Then when classes started and i had assignments due the question became what attitude do you need to have about rest? This is a bit confusing but basically i was doing the ‘do nothing on Sunday’ part pretty well but i felt like i didn’t feel refreshed like i thought i would be on Monday. Yeah it was partly the monday blues but also there was something else. This was harder to adjust to because hey i was doing really well at part 1 so it took awhile to see that there were more parts to this concept of rest. And that was going back to God’s design of rest. Mentally i was still doing a lot of work worrying and that was not resting was it?

Matthew 11: 28-30 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and i will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and burden light.”

So to reiterate (not for you but for myself really). I was doing the physical resting part well, but now it was time to learn about the mental and spiritual rest. Admittedly i’m not doing so well in Part 2 as the last month has been really stressful and i can say that i am worn out. But i’m a work in progress by God’s grace and writing this has really helped to get me to refocus on what is important, finding rest in God. My devotion these few days have been about the topic of rest. Mary and Martha, Mary choose what is important which is not the busyness and doing things but to sit at the feet of Jesus and receive. Then there’s Matthew 6 where worrying is not going to add an hour to your life and Father God loves you more than the flowers and sparrows which He gives lots of love and care to, so what more you? I think the message is pretty clear. Rest, refocus. It’s also spiritual and mental rest.

Finally, in writing this i got Part 3 (or is it Part 2.1?) of the concept of rest which is the reconciliation of the idea that i have time to rest vs actually resting. Note to self: They are not the same thing girl. It’s really about not telling myself i get rest when i’m not actually resting, being real with myself. Again a work in progress.

At the end of the day i think the wonderful part of life is that we keep on learning, evolving and hopefully become better people. These lessons have not always been an easy pill to swallow but with God’s grace i believe i can learn what rest is.

If you’ve made it this far, thank you. I tried putting in images to spice things up a little. But yeah, let’s take care of ourselves and lean in on God who wants us to find rest in Him.

Self-isolating grocery shopping tips

My husband and I run an instagram account documenting the food i cook or put together as a sort of fun activity we do together. However in light of the recent COVID-19 escalation in certain countries i have compiled a few tips from my experience of meal planning for the both of us. Hopefully this helps you get an idea of a strategy you can use for this period of self-isolation. I believe it’s very different from your everyday meal planning as you really have to stretch and plan further along rather than just a week. So here are my tips:

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If you would like to follow the instagram account search @amanda.good.cook. We have some fun plans ahead and would love for you to be part of it.

Living/Studying in the UK update

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Hello! It’s been a month since we’ve left Malaysia and moved to the UK for our studies and i suppose this would be a good time for an update. First and foremost, I thank God for seeing us through this move, settling down and getting a rhythm together. It was a whole adventure, figuring out banks, phone numbers, visa’s, employment and so on. I’m also glad that i’m doing this with my husband. I think back to my undergrad and doing that by myself and i’m in awe at myself, but i’m also glad i don’t have to do it alone this time. There’s someone to share the burden with, awww that’s marriage for you right? I’m also too old to have the energy to do it by myself so there’s that.
So i shall not bore you with the details, but here’s some highlights:
1. Hamilton – watching it was amazing, and i think really apt because it reminded me not to throw away ‘my shot’

2. Visa was supposedly missing – When i initially registered for my visa, i accidentally put the collection point as the post office instead of the university, this meant that i had to walk 40 minutes just to get to the post office (and we did this three times in total, read more to find out why). When we first got there, we were told that it had not arrived, so we were told to come back on saturday (we went on a thursday). We did and were told that it was still not there, visibly upset, the postman suggested to email Home office. I did and was told that they could not help me with the retrieval of my BRP (biometric residence permit, it’s a card you need as a visa holder). This made me even more anxious. Zech and I prayed constantly about it and my family was praying about it too. Then suddenly one day, it occurred to zech that they could have filed it under the wrong alphabet because that was what happened in his case. We went to the post office and by the grace of God there was a chinese man that helped me with it, immediately he saw the problem and located my BRP, it had arrived a month ago! He told me that he had a few Malaysian friends so he knew how Malaysian names worked. Isn’t it the grace of God that he was the one who served me? With that, i could finally get my student ID and we celebrated this blessing by using my student ID to get a discounted movie ticket to watch Downton Abbey.

3. Setting up a home – We live basically in the city centre and accessing shops is really convenient. I found out that a lot of the places i thought were just selling clothes had a home section, this seems to be a trend as Primark, Zara and H&M had it (the ones i went to so far). For me this is a novelty, but by far the cheapest place is Wilko. Thank God for them as we got a lot of our stuff there and it was budget friendly. This was also where i had to think about the practicality of things. Do i really need that 20litre pot? How often am i going to use it, can i survive with what i already had? All questions for someone setting up a home in a new place. It took us about 2 days to really get the basic stuff down. Oh, thank God for poundland too. Other than just buying stuff to set up our home, there’s also keeping it clean, yeah the chores. I’m still amazed at home much work we need to put into keeping a small place clean. It doesn’t help that the kitchen is used a lot, but it really makes me think about how big of a house we really want in the future. (This is why they invented the roomba and robots)

4. Finding a church – We had a few church recommendations from zech’s cell mentor’s daughter who had studied in cardiff previously. We set out to check those churches out and it reminded me of three years ago when i was doing the same thing in Malaysia. It really brought memories (good ones) back and it made me want to do my best to find a church that we could feel at home with. One of the things we prayed for before coming was to find a church to serve in, and i think we might have found one in Vineyard Church Cardiff.

5. Volunteering gig – The very first thing that i picked up from the orientation was, experience gets you jobs, not a paper. It’s been a long time since i’ve done anything related to museums and i was in dire need of some volunteering experience. Prior to orientation, there was an advertisement for a volunteering position at the National Museum of Wales cardiff. It was 10 minutes away from where i lived, a reputable museum and from the job scope, i would be able to put into practice everything that i learned (okay, maybe not everything, but a lot of it). I really wanted this gig, but i didn’t hear back after a week and a half, so i emailed the person in charge and was given an interview slot! Come the interview date and i felt that i messed it up, or at least i didn’t say what i wanted to say, to make my pitch. That irked me the whole day and i shared my concerns with zech and my mom. We prayed about it and halfway through the night while i was doing my reading, i had the inspiration to write a thank you letter. I did a little research about thank you letters and found out that i could include things i thought i should have in the interview, it also allowed me to show that i was paying attention during the interview and to highlight my strengths. It was an inspiration from God honestly because i don’t think i would have thought to do so. So i did, and after that, i felt peace. God also led me to see that my hope should be in Him and not this one gig. I had mistakenly believed that my future hung on getting this gig instead of on God. All that time i had believed that this would allow me to get the future i wanted, but in reality, i had set my sights too low when i should have been looking up to God for help for the big picture. So that week after was just a week of praying, believing but still focusing on God. It was tricky because it’s a good position, but yet i knew that it wasn’t everything. Fast forward to this week, i got an email saying that i got the volunteering gig! i’m excited, thankful and so happy. God is ever faithful.

So i hope you see the thread here, this whole journey so far is a lot of depending on God, praying and praying. It’s been amazing so far and i can’t wait to see what happens next!

VFS Global UK Visa Application Experience in Malaysia

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This is an account of my experience with VFS global in Malaysia. Please understand that everyone’s visa application situation is different and I am in no position to offer any advice on what you should do. I am simply giving my account as i felt some comfort reading about other people’s account when i went through this terrible experience with VFS Global and thought it could help someone.

UPDATE: 05/08/2020 – I have added things to this post that is relevant to the COVID-19 situation. Updates are all in blue.

I have divided this post into several sections so that you can skip the whole narrative of the entire process and go to the section that you’re most interested in. The sections are:

  1. Basic information about my visa application situation
  2. The appointment phase
  3. After the appointment, 15 working days processing time phase
  4. The collection email and getting my husband’s passport phase
  5. Going to VFS without a confirmation email
  6. Summary

Note: Each situation may vary for each individual.

Basic information about my visa application situation:

I applied for the Tier 4 Student visa, i made my application in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia, I did not pay for any premiums nor did I pay for it to be delivered to my home address. Btw, my husband and i applied together which is key to this experience of mine.

The Appointment phase

My appointment was on 9th August 2019 and it took about 3 hours to hand in my passport which is ridiculous, the reason being that they only had one counter open to scan your biometrics. I was annoyed especially when i wanted to buy some water for my husband (the water dispenser in the waiting area was broken/had no water) and was told to wait till i had scanned my biometrics to buy water. The boy was even snarky and said that if i left the waiting area, i would have to wait all over again. It had already taken an hour and a half just for 30 numbers to be called, and i had to wait for another 30 numbers to be called to get my biometrics. It was a good thing that i ignored the snark remark made by the boy at the counter because a) he wasn’t there to make sure i stayed in the waiting room b) i was right, it did take that long. I just said that i needed to go to the bathroom which was outside and happily made my way to buy some water and even run some errands! (Please note that i first handed my documents to the counter then waited for them to call my name to return my passport then only did i leave. Make sure you get your passport back first before leaving the waiting room area).We were told that since it was a Friday, the 15 working days processing time will only be counted starting from Monday, even though it was a holiday in Malaysia because it wasn’t a holiday in the philippines (more about this later). At the end of the three hours i was tired and felt i had wasted so much time just waiting to do something so simple. Who knew that this was just the tip of the iceberg.

After the appointment, 15 working days processing time phase:

On Monday we got an email saying that our passports had been received at the processing centre at Sheffield, which is a huge lie because i was told by the staff that they processed it in the Philippines. I don’t understand why they needed to lie and say Sheffield, maybe it’s to legitimise their scheme? Come on VFS Global, we know the UK government has already outsourced the visa processing to your company, we don’t need a show. So the wait begun. By right, 15 working days from 12th August (monday) would mean that it would be done on the 30th August.

The collection email and getting my husband’s passport phase:

However, on 23 August (Friday), my husband received an email that his passport and visa were ready for collection. Was it approved or rejected? It didn’t say. Worried that it was rejected, we made it a point to go on Monday so that if it was rejected we would have enough time to reapply. At this point, i had not gotten an email and didn’t think much of it.

Monday came along and we went there at 3.20pm, by then the line for collection was so long that it had snaked a couple of times around the outside of the office. Please note that the time listed on the receipt for collection is 3pm. So the wait began, I left my husband at the office to collect his passport and I went shopping to kill time thinking it would take only an hour at most, after all, they just had to give him the passport right? Wrong. It took three hours, and it was three hours of standing, you’re not allowed to sit in the waiting area.

After that long ordeal, my husband got his passport back and it was approved. I think it’s a terrible thing that they don’t tell you if your visa has been approved until you collect it, why is it so difficult to add in an extra line to reassure someone instead of leaving them anxious and wondering?

Anyways, when he got his passport, it suddenly dawned upon us that we were going to Singapore on the weekend and I needed my passport! This was when I got really worried. My passport should technically be done by Friday, but what if we could only collect it on Monday? We would have missed our flight and trip.

We prayed and hoped that if my husband had gotten his passport then there would be a chance that mine was done too. I went online and started reading and watching YouTube videos about how bad this company was not just in Malaysia but worldwide too. If you’re interested in reading it here’s the link https://www.trustpilot.com/review/vfsglobal.com.

Going to VFS without a confirmation email: 

Please note i’m basing this on what i experienced in the Kuala Lumpur centre. Situations may vary for different centres. Information is correct at the time of writing this post.

Before i begin with my experience, if you’re here to know whether you can go to the Kuala Lumpur centre without a confirmation email (as of Aug 2019), the answer is yes. This is because, when you’re there, they do not ask to see the confirmation email. They will ask you to hand them the receipt that you were given after your appointment. With that, they will scan the barcode and that will tell them if the centre has received your passport or not.

These are my observations from my time waiting.

  1. What time should i go to the centre? The collection time stated on the receipt is 3pm, however, i went there at 1.50 pm just to start lining up. I was second in line. By 3pm, the line had snaked a couple of rounds. If you came at 3pm, expect to wait at least 2 1/2 hours to collect your passport. (This is for peak periods)
  2. Tips on lining up: There is nothing to indicate where the line starts and ends, well, the line gets really long and snaky so they can’t do much about it, so ask anyone you see if they are at the end of the line, do not simply line up and assume you’re in the right line.
  3. Speaking of which, I was applying for the UK where the amount of applicants was huge, there were others who applied for Canada and they were able to go in quickly because they were on a different line. So please save yourself the hassle and ask. Ask the people lining up, ask the officers there. Double check also cause sometimes, people give you the wrong information.
  4. As stated above, the collection process goes like this. You wait in line. They come up to you and ask for your receipt, in exchange, they give you a number. They will go in and scan your receipt to see if your passport is with them in the centre, if it is you will proceed inside where they will hand you your passport after you have shown some proof of identification. If not, please come back again.
  5. But i called the UK Embassy directly. Because i was at the front of the line, i managed to see the complaint line. This might just be for the Kuala Lumpur centre but those who had complaints such as “It has been more than 15 working days and i have not received a confirmation email” or “I called the UK embassy directly and was told that my passport has been couriered back, but i didn’t receive an email” were put in the line where the guard would attend to them. Let me address the latter and what i saw unfold. There was a guy who also needed his passport as he was going overseas for a holiday the next day. He said he had called the UK embassy and was told that the passport was in the centre. He was in the line that i was in but was put in the complaint line. After a lot of complaining, the guard finally took his receipt and went in to get it scanned. At first it came out with nothing, but the guy insisted that it was there, he was then asked to wait. When it came for his turn for his complaint to be addressed, he was brought into the waiting area and then came out with his passport. I don’t know why he got to cut the line, but the complaint line worked for his.
  6. Complaint line situation 2 “I paid for premium service and still have not gotten an email after 8 working days”. There was a girl who had paid for premium service, and she actually went on the same appointment date as i did. Meaning that, she should have gotten her passport way before me, but here we were. So they took her from the line i was in and put her in the complaint line. They scanned her code two times and both times it said that her passport was not there. Unlike the first situation, she was not brought into the waiting area. My guess is that the other guy got confirmation from the UK embassy that it was there while she did not. She was turned away and couldn’t do anything about it.
  7.  Complaint line situation 3 “I have not received an email even after 15 working days”. This is the standard one, no premium service paid. She was also taken out of the line and put into the complaint line. They scanned her barcode actually found her passport in the centre, unfortunately, the time taken to process her complain was from about 2.15pm to 3.15 pm and by the time she was told that her passport was there, she had to que all over again, it so happened that where she stood was now the end of the line. Like i said before, if you come about 3 or 3.15 pm, expect to wait for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. This, i felt sad for her too because she was not allowed to go back to where she was in line previously but had to wait all over again. Here’s a tip that i’ve learnt from this situation. If you want to complain, bring someone with you to stand in the normal line. At least when your complaint is done (ex. you know your passport is in the centre) then you don’t have to wait too long. They only need the proof of identification at the end, so technically, anyone can stand in line. 
  8. What system do they use to locate my passport (when you know it’s in the centre)? Well, there’s the scanning, but that only tells them that it’s in the centre. It does not tell them which box it’s in or its exact location. For my situation, there was a row of boxes filled with envelopes with barcodes. It was not put in any order because it took them forever to locate my passport.

In the end i did get my passport, but they did not email me a confirmation email. Ironically, half an hour after i collected my passport then only did the email stating that my passport could be collected was received. I don’t know if it’s because they scanned my barcode and it generated an email or something else. Overall, the experience with VFS and applying for my UK visa was bad. This made the US visa application process look like a walk in the park. UK please consider doing the visa application yourself or find a better solution.

Summary:

  1. Additional services: DO NOT, i repeat, DO NOT under any circumstances pay for the additional services such as scanning, mailing the passport to your home address or expedited services. You’re burning your money. Also, throwing more money at the company will not help too, they have a monopoly on this and don’t care about their customers complaints. VFS offers a delivery service for an extra fee (everything extra costs money) which may be a safer alternative due to the COVID situation, i wouldn’t want to be sitting in a room full of people for hours increasing my chances of getting infected. However, consider this also, my experience showed that they are not good at organizing precious documents like passports, mine was in the centre but not properly documented so it took them forever to find it/ they only emailed me that it was there way later even though it arrive a week before. So here is my question, do you want to add in the mystery of “Did my passport get lost in the mail?” to your worries. You already have to deal with “Are they incompetent and did not document my passport properly”. By having it couriered you also have to figure out whose fault it was VFS or the postal service for your delayed passport. Also again it costs more money too.
  2. The website: is apparently garbage, my husband had a difficult time uploading the documents. I have read other accounts where they were unable to upload anything.
  3. Appointment phase: Be prepared to wait for hours during peak periods. I had to take half day of leave for this.
  4. Staff: Rude and the appointment centre was severely understaffed. The first lady i met told me that she had been serving customers for 2 1/2 hours straight. For the amount of money they scam from others, they could afford to hire more people. Also, the staff will not allow you to speak to a supervisor or manager, they’re really good at keeping you outside, waiting without any result.
  5. Emails: You may be lucky to get emails from them, you may not. I have read from the forum that emailing them is almost useless because their replies are the standard ones that don’t tell you anything and you are unable to contact them by phone call (i tried)
  6. passport: please take a picture of the condition of your passport before you hand it to them. In some videos and forums, i read that the passport was returned torn and the customer blamed for giving a passport in bad condition. Terrible and dishonest. So, this may not stop your passport from being torn but at least you have evidence to protect yourself from blame.
  7. COVID-19 VFS health and safety response video: based on the video it looks like the usual social distancing procedures are being followed. BUT i know the centre is really small and there is no way they can accommodate the amount of people AND follow social distancing guidelines (remember i talked about how the line to collect the passport was snaking?). I don’t know exactly what their actual plan is in the kuala lumpur office but by  my guess there may be a sub line either on a different floor or the building lobby but i don’t think it will be a pleasant experience. Like i said before ask questions, ask people where is the line, ask more than one person to double check. Bring an extra person along to to be help you stand in line while you ask and verify. 
  8. Give yourself time and also be persistent: we all understand things have changed these days, things take longer to do because of social distancing, this is going to apply here too. Don’t give up though, persist and check up, don’t wait till the last minute to check whether things are going right because if you get denied close to when you have to fly then you might miss flying to the UK on time, loose your money on the flight ticket and have to pay again for a visa 

To the girl of 3 Jan 2013, thank you.

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Please read my post https://mylittlechateau.wordpress.com/2013/01/03/the-packing-dillema/ to get the context of what i’m writing about.

I don’t think one post is enough to fit in all the things i would like to tell you but to sum things up, God has been extremely good to you. I think a good place to start would be to address the questions and the hopes and dreams you had when you wrote that post 6 years ago. Well for one, your writing style has changed a little. You’re a lot more focused in your writing, but i digress

The first thing you talked about was coming back to Malaysia for holidays. In the span of three years of being in the the US you managed to come back once for your first year winter break. The other winter break you decided to go skiing with your friends, that was a good decision because you discovered that you’re a natural at skiing.

Next on the agenda was that you wanted to pursue a double degree. As much as i want to tell you that you did it, it didn’t happen. And if i remember right you wanted to pursue a degree in communications and history. Here’s the thing, the communication thing flew out the window never to be heard of again. Funny thing is, you discovered linguistics and almost majored in it but you were one class short. It’s okay, graduating and discovering the love for a subject you did not know existed is much more important than getting that double major. As for the internship, you got that one checked. In fact, it’s more than you could have ever dreamed of. Hold on to your seat because the things i’m gonna tell you, you will not believe.

So here’s how it goes down. You’ll apply for a job at the international student office but get turned down. You’ll be sad but that’s to be expected. Then one day while you’re desperately going through the jobs page you’ll find a posting for ‘Library Technical Services Assistant’. You will not understand what the job is about but you’ll apply anyway because you LOVE the library and any job there would be a dream job. You will meet your future boss Steve, he’s a nice guy. Towards the end of the interview he will ask you if you have anything to add on and you’ll ramble about how walking in the library and how touching the spines of books just makes you feel at home. As silly and whimsical as that sounds, to this day i believe that is what got you this job. From there you will be given the opportunity to work for the summer, such a bonus because you were hoping for a summer job. This summer job allowed you to work on the Binford collection which introduces you to Amanda from special collections.

One day while you’re busy processing books (yes of course you found out what a library technician does by now) your boss Steve will call you in to his office. He’ll say that you have been promoted to special collections. And by the way, you got that internship for paper conservation over the summer that goes with this promotion. You get trained on basic paper conservation skills and paid too. Oh and you get course credits for it too. Triple score! Are you blown out of your mind yet? (side note, the ladies in special collections love puzzles and you learn how to puzzle like a champion through them, they’re still the best though) Thanks to all the skills you pick up as a paper conservator and museum assistant (Yes you’re hearing me right, you can claim that title) you will get a paid internship at a local museum after you graduate!

In your post you said and i quote “who knows if anything i say in this post will actually happen”. It happens alright. It happens way better than you could ever dream of. Above all the experiences, the dreams come true, the relationships that you’ve formed, you got the most valuable one of all, a relationship with God. Retrospectively, it was when you said you trusted in God and meant it that this whole journey began. Everything that you will go through develops a different form of trust in God. You will learn to trust Him in keeping you safe far away from home, your grades, making friends, getting part time jobs, travel, your future, etc.

But don’t think that you’re an expert in this trust God thing, i’ll tell you why. Remember i said that you will learn about different aspects of trust? Well you haven’t learnt it all yet obviously. Right now i’m 28 and about to embark on a new chapter of life (i’m not gonna tell you about it here, that’s another long story). Emphasis on the word new. Yeah, it’s really challenging to be honest, i’m not gonna lie. It’s 6.35 in the morning and i have not slept a wink all night. It’s a mixture of factors but one of them is worry. Worry about the future. One thing that you will have to re-learn over and over again is that no matter how much you want to know what will happen in the future, you will not be able to truly know. You would think that it’s a simple lesson to learn but we’re human and we forget easily. And that is where remembering what God has done in your life is so important. Doing so acts as proof for the present that the future will be alright.

To the girl of 3rd January 2013, thank you for writing that post. As much as i have to share with you about the things i have learnt and experienced (or you will learn and experience), you have shared with me something as valuable too. A reminder to trust God.

And thank you Lord for this timely reminder because everything, even this post is because of You.

What i’ve learned so far while planning my wedding

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I recently got engaged (about a month ago) and my wedding is in 163 days. That’s roughly 6 months to the wedding date. It’s a relatively short time to plan a wedding, not impossible especially considering the scale that i’m planning for. We estimate about 350 guests which is nothing compared to many other weddings in Malaysia. I guess i’d like to pen down a few thoughts about this entire process and i am not sure if there is a point other than to rant. So here it goes.

  1. When to start planning?

I was honest with my fiance and told him that i needed  a year to plan things. Wait, didn’t you just say you had 6 months to plan it? Yes and no. A lot of the ground work already started 6 months ago when we talked about the possibility of marriage. It was difficult to start planning before I got engaged because i was afraid that I was being presumptuous, if you’re like me then this advice is for you; you need to start because if you’re gonna wait till he proposes to start, you’re going to be filled with a lot of anxiety and stress before and after the proposal. Why before? because you’ll be anxious to start because who isn’t? I’m not the girl who has her wedding planned since she was little so i’ve got a lot of planning to do. At least do some scouting for prices, ask around. It’s also a good time to solidify your wedding vision so that when you get engaged you can hit the ground running. Although, i have to admit that it is a bit challenging because you don’t have a date when you enquire about vendors. You’ll have to come up with an estimate date and wing it. I’m glad i did this because now that i’m in full planning mode, i find that i have simple things checked off the list easily and that gives you some relief because it’s not just a big question mark on all decisions.

2. Talk to other brides

There are two categories here, brides who have walked down the aisle and brides who are at the planning stages just like you. Talk to both. The ones who have walked down the aisle have great advice and contacts. It’s always safer to go with a contact rather than one off your internet search because you can ask how the experience was working with that person. Now i understand that people are different and how your friend could connect with that wedding planner will be different from you, but just ask questions about what you would be concerned about working with this vendor. This is the time to ask the questions you can’t find answers for just by looking at the website. If you don’t know anyone who has been on the journey you’re on right now, there are plenty of forums for brides. Unfortunately, some of the posts are from years ago and may not be the most up to date information. (Some places may not even be in business anymore) The next category are brides who are planning their wedding too. Only a bride going through the same experience as you at that moment can really empathise. I’m lucky to know a few girls who are also planning their wedding and we can rant and share tips with each other. It’s a relief and also we swap contacts, sorta like a bonding experience too.

3. Don’t make decisions until you consult key people

Who are the key people? It really depends on your situation. My key people are my mom and future-in-laws. Oh and of course the fiance. Rule of thumb is, don’t make decisions on your own. I know it’s your wedding, but reality is, it’s not. If you were to elope, then yes, it is your wedding. But a wedding is when two families are joined through the marriage of the couple. So they gonna wanna say something, trust me. It can be frustrating because sometimes you don’t understand why archaic traditions have to be enforced. However, you have to consider that these people are important to you. I’m not saying you let them control the whole thing till your original vision is lost, but it’s all about diplomacy. I admit, sometimes when i get frustrated i just let out a loud, long groan to show that i’m not happy. Not the most elegant way to disperse tension, but it works. It makes my mom look weird at me, but it gets me a pause from the heated discussion. So find a way that works for you, even if it’s weird. Remember point 2, yeah, you’re gonna talk a lot about this to other brides.

That’s what i’ve learnt so far, i’m sure i’ll learn more these coming months, so i’ll post an update on this list soon! Thanks for reading!