Ancora Imparo

I remember a conversation with my best friend couple of years ago. Both of us dream of studying overseas. One of the silly reasons is because we want the school badges. Anggie is dreaming to continue her study in UK because she said the badges are cool. Well, she’s probably reading too much Harry Potter, that is why she wants to get accepted in university in UK. I have to agree with her opinion though, the badges looks awesome and they have this latin or greek motto which makes it ‘intellectually cool’. I was thinking what’s so important about badges, but then I realized the badge gives a unique ‘sense of belonging’. I keep all the badges from my previous schools, student organizations, events, and institution where I work. I am proud to be part of something.

A few days ago, I went to the city with my friend and I saw a girl using ‘University of Melbourne’ hoodie. I told my friend that I like UniMelb badge and motto. He gave me a surprise look and said that our university has a much cooler and meaningful badge and motto, ANCORA IMPARO. I heard and read the motto all the time, I found it everywhere in campus, but I never really understand the meaning. When I looked it up, Ancora Imparo is Italian and the meaning is ‘I am still learning‘. It is such a humble and honest motto and I LOVE IT.  Now I understand why my friend is so proud of our motto and badge. In life, we face obstacles and challenges, meet new people, find new things, feel down at times, but we if we keep on learning, we will be smarter to tackle and overcome all the difficulties. ‘I am still learning’ also implicate willingness to hear and be open to information or anything.

I am proud to be part of it. I am proud to belong to this university. Most of all, I am grateful that my dream come true. My best friend is still struggling to get scholarship, but perseverance and determination are her best quality, so the time will come for her.

Ancora Imparo by Peter Zhang

Ancora Imparo by Peter Zhang

Maybe I am a hypocrite…

hyp·o·crite [hip-uh-krit]

a person who feigns some desirable or publicly approved attitude, especially one whose private life, opinions, or statements belie his or her public statements.

Here I am, I feel like I am in the crossroads again. I am not even sure if I have to choose which path I should follow, but eventually I find myself too weak to be myself.

Last Monday (01/04), I went to my friend’s house near Chadstone. Her mom cooked us a special Pakistani style dinner. I was excited because I have been longing to spend time with friends and be social. Talking about being social, I have this funny story about me and my friend, JB. We both consider ourselves social idiot because we tend to get awkward in social situation. In my case, at times I find myself unable to keep up with conversation pace. I get too afraid I cannot respond to someone’s joke or even find myself throw a lame joke. I am anxious if I cannot find similar interest with my people, etc. So every time we share stories about our time spent with friends or colleagues, we will praise each other for crawling out from our comfortable shell and being social. Such encouragement I find very helpful.

Back to my social activities last Monday, we had a very delicious dinner; Chicken Biryani, Meatball with curry and soup. The dessert is out of this world! Love my friend’s homemade Fruit Custard. The night was really fun, I was introduced to a new friend who’s apparently an Indonesian. Too bad she cannot speak Bahasa Indonesia well because she spent most of her time in Taiwan. What’s funny was when our Vietnamese friend brought a bottle of wine to the dinner. He thought we can enjoy a cozy night and drink wine after the dinner, but then my friend who is the host and another Singaporean friend told him that Muslim does not drink any alcoholic beverages. So we were all laughing because he seemed like he didn’t have any clue about it, but he’s happy to bring back the wine. This is where I found myself pondering the situation.

Not long ago when I was invited to a BBQ party at my friend’s house, I enjoyed a glass of wine. I cannot say I am a social drinker. I only have a handful drinking experiences. I tried my first drink in 2011. It was when I was traveling to Manila and I met these great Filipino friends who understand how curious I was about alcohol drinks. They gave me first drinking experience. It was really funny because I felt dizzy afterwards. It wasn’t even a ‘real’ drink. It was only a mix drink, oh well, I also sipped my friend’s Tequila, just a little sip tho! I I hate how it taste, too strong! I still smile whenever I remember that.

I was raised in a very religious family. I went to islamic schools and I manage to follow the rules. Religion is very powerful. So many years of religious doctrine shape my decision and way of thinking. But as I get older, I feel like I miss out on so many things, for instance alcohol. I wanna be able to experience different things. That is when I find courage to do what I want. It’s really difficult tho, I still live with my parents and I feel like I am always under strict supervision. So when I travel somewhere I found my freedom. I got to be in a completely new place where people are just strangers who don’t know me and won’t give a sh*t about what I do. I feel like I can be myself. I really love the feeling.

Here comes the problem, no matter how great the feeling is, I still feel guilty. It’s like I am doing something that is forbidden. In my defence, I never get wasted tho. I don’t drink when I am upset (because my friends told me it won’t make me feel better) and so far my ‘extreme’ drinking experience was only two and a half white wine and red wine when I had a real fancy dinner in an Italian restaurant in Canberra. Every time I decide to drink, I always ask myself if I am doing it because I want to look ‘cool’, to try new things or simply because I enjoy a glass of good wine. To be completely honest, I found myself struggling to distinguish the major reason behind my action. I guess all those reasons compliment each other. There are fulfilment of curiosity, social acknowledgement and personal satisfaction.

My biggest concern is, I cannot stand up for myself, especially when I am confronted by people. The obvious case happened at that dinner, I cannot even admit that I am a casual drinker because my other muslim friends are being so persistent that alcohol is not allowed and they are proud of not having this urge to drink. I miserably found myself a hypocrite. Probably I was a afraid that if I am ‘being myself’, I will damage my reputation. I am worried that my friend will see me with a different look. So once again I feel like I cannot stand up for myself. It’s a shame for being 27 years old and not able to just be myself. It sucks to live with fear that people might not love me enough if they know who I really am. I just hope that as I grow older, I can be more honest about what I really want without having this fear.