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October 15, 2005

Mid Term Break

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271 miles away and 7 hours' drive all the way to Michigan. This is the result of two crazy 19-year-olds, both driven by different purposes..

October break last week was a blast. Me and Peter became traveling partners to two places in 4 days. Personally I think it's a feat to visit so many interesting places in such a short time.

Saturday, October 8th
Purdue's bus took us on a 2-hour ride to Columbus, which is south of Indianapolis. Once there, we were greeted by the city guides, who are mostly old folks (yes, they take pride in showing us the beauty of Columbus). So we went to Visitors' Center for a quick tour around information counters and gift shops. Then we walked to this most amazing house ever built. It's soooooooo beautiful.. we entered the compound through a small metal archway beautifully carved and welded. The compound comprises of the bungalow and a huge garden almost three times as large as the house, all surrounded by high red brick walls. No words can do it's beauty justice. So please visit peixin86.multiply.com to witness it yourself ;P then we had a tour around the city in bus, going around visiting churches, schools and community buildings. So what's so special about that? you might ask. Well, each building is specially designed by different well-known architects fron Columbus (it seems that the city is teeming with brilliant architects, the whole city is like an art itself) Columbus is a center of Christianity; More than 80 different churches reside in its heart. Most notable ones include Presbyterian, Methodist, First Baptist, St. Bartholomew, and Catholic. All of them are very ancient (and of course they are all designed by famous architects).

After the tour, we were allowed to roam freely in the town. The first stop I went was the Cummin's main ofice building and gallery. For the uninitiated, Cummin's is the pioneer US company which designed engines and a line of cars, including the vintage 1934 Auburn and the first ever nascar racing car. It's sooo cool to see such a famous car back in the old days displayed.. We toured around for 40 minutes before making our way to the Ethnic Expo held nearby. On the way, 25 stone pillars loomed on our right. The pillars are arranged in 5 X 5 grid looming 60 feet into the sky. Curiosity polarized us away from our tracks. When we neared the pillars, the truth hit out of the blue: Those were pillars of death. Letters written by soldiers involved in all the wars in the 20th century were carved on them. The letters were heartwarming, all beckoning and promising family members that they are coming back from the war. They never came back. I just stood there reading all the letters one by one, a painful sorrow unknowingly came creeping on my heart.

I felt better after entering the ethnic expo area (when it comes to food, nothing can make me sad ;P). The whole expo was like a big pasar malam filled with tents selling food from different countries. There were traditional clothes and jewellery too. Anyway food was the main attraction. I got to try the weirdest food ever. Cabbage roll from Polland taste like popiah; the only differences are that it is rolled using softened cabbage leaf and it is dipped in pasta sauce. Next on menu was alligator sausage in bread roll, by the Frech. It tasted like chicken actually, not that weird at all.. The most surprising food was pisang goreng! Yes! We actually found pisang goreng in the Vietnam stall.. The taste was inferior to Malaysia's authentic ones of course, but it definitely brings back nice memories.. Other food included French sausage & mushroom crepe which by the way tasted excellent, Japanese sushi, and German torte. Truly an enriching experience, both for stomach and for knowledge :)

After filling up my empty stomach with the weirdest mixture of ethnic food, I made way to Columbus Philharmonic Orchestra. The organization showcased Gerswin's 'Rhapsody in Blue', Karidoyanes' 'Cafe Neon', Saint-Saens' 'Africa' and Shostakovich's 'Symphony No. 5 in D minor'. Personally this is the third time I watched a live orchestra show (1st time in Singapore, 2nd time in KLCC), and it's the best ever. All because of the brilliant performance of a 17-year-old piano player. Fletcher Heisler is possibly the most precocious piano progeny ever born. His every touch on the piano brought harmonious melody that intertwined with the orchestra group so well. The audience gave him a standing ovation for over 2 minutes when he ended his performance. Truly amazing indeed.

Although Columbus is fabulous, the trip to Michigan is the more worthwhile one because of many reasons, some quite personal to others that I can't say much here *_* but I daresay that we are the first to travel so far to see friends!! Michigan people, especially Chee Yong, thanks for the most warm welcome you all gave! It's really nice to see you all again..

So what did I do in Umich?

Sunday, October 9th
Reached Michigan aroung 6pm. Waited for Chee Yong along the road next to Shapiro Library. When I saw him on his orange bike, I recognized him immediately. Chee Yong is still Chee Yong, didn't change much haha.. Later he brought us to his room and showed us around East Quadrangle (his hostel, or 'castle' because it really looks like one). Dinner was eaten with Chee Yong, He Wei, Tailo, Cher Yang, Pat, Siew Gee, Elleshye, and Lizzie. It was a nostalgic moment. I talked non-stop until I missed the chance to sample all the food in Stockwell Hall (best dining hall in Umich). I got a lot of updates from the guys, ie studies, Tailo's new but recently passed-away sailo, He Wei's story, Cher Yang's obsession in Econs, Pat's involvemnt in volunteer work etc etc plus gossips haha.. Their rooms are all very cosy and nice. Later at night we hung out in a bubble tea shop and talked and talked and talked.. omg, I never guessed that I would talk for hours. Tired, I went back with Chee Yong and camped in his room.


Monday, October 10th
The next morning, I attended a bio lecture with Chee Yong. The course is pretty interesting; it's all on application of biotechnology in the real world, ie genetic karyotyping to search for potential matches (think CSI) and the science behind it. It's so cool that Umich actually teach this area of bioloy, which I think is really important as a preparation for our future career in biological fields. After the lesson, Chee Yong brought me around the campus and took photos. We lunched at South Quadrangle's dining hall, where you can make your own pancakes with a big M letter on top and McDonald-like ice cream cone. The food are all very nice. After lunch, Me, Chee Yong, Peter and Su Ann rushed for chemistry lecture in a new lecture hall. Peter joked that he could make up for the previous lecture he missed in Purdue lol.. The lecture was interesting enough. After class, as Su Ann and Mi3m|E still had recitation, I followed Peter to Meijer (pronounced as my-year) to shop for winter stuffs. He bought a cool Adidas basketball shoe for just $30 and a winter boot for $35. He really made a good bargain. Dinner was settled in East Quad dining hall, where all the nice Asian food awaited my hungry stomach. More talking ensued.. but Mi3m|E and I left early to go to the fencing training! Yes, I crashed into the training masquerading as an Umich student! Fencing was so fun .. and I wonder why I didn't join Purdue's fencing club lol.. I learned fencing with foil (there are 3 types, the other 2 are namely saber and epee). Basic moves such as forward, defence, launch, parry etc all required me to squat halfway. As a result my legs hurt a lot after the 2-hour training.. but it's worth it.. After bathing, once again all of us met up in UGLI and did what the Umichs do best: study. Seriously, you people are much more diligent than us haha.. must buck up liao..


Tuesday, October 11th
Time to go home.. Didn't have time to say goodbye to all of them but it's been fun! Thanks to all of you.. and best of luck ahead! May we meet soon again :)

Posted by peixin at 10:21 AM | Comments (3)