In brief...

I'm a Nature-lover, aspiring conservationist, and wannabe traveller in search of outdoor adventure.
My interests vary from conservation to education to heritage to Nature (biodiversity & wildlife) to outdoor activities to life in general.
They occupy most of my waking moment.
Do read my blogs, follow me on Twitter (@jocelynesze) and friend me on Facebook (subject to my discretion). Visit my Nature blog, Nature Rambles, at

UPDATE 2 Apr 2017 - This site is no longer maintained, please visit if you're interested in more recent writing.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

End of term!

It's finally the end of term (: I know, it's pretty short compared to most other universities, but it's been an intense, hectic and tiring term that I'm just so glad it's over.

Deer park in Peterhouse, which has no deer.

Been talking to a few people, and yes, I guess the first term is always the most tiring and the hardest, because there are so many things to get used to. The academic system, the new environment, new people, new country etc. On top of the academic workload and other random things I do, as well as attempting to make friends and socialise.

Overall though, despite all the complaints and occasional negative thoughts that cross my mind, I'm infinitely glad I'm here in Cambridge because it just buzzes with opportunities for learning and making a difference, and I'm very grateful to the Jardine Foundation for that.

Studying here is rather different from other universities.
1. Supervision system. Probably one of the most well-known facts about Cambridge, that we have supervisions and not tutorials. Meeting your supervisor with just 1/2 other people definitely keeps you on task with your work.
2. College system. Colleges are legally separate entities from the University. But that's not the point here. With a Director of Studies (DoS) who looks after your academic stuff (supervisions and tripos, which is a fancy word for exams), and a Tutor who makes sure you're not dying under the workload etc, there's probably a lot more support for undergrads here than in other unis.
3. Teaching here can be pretty old-school-style still. Use of chalkboards, Over Head Projectors (OHP) and a long cane, instead of whiteboards, visualisers and laser pointers are not uncommon. But still, when they keep telling you about Nobel prize winners and other famous people who studied/taught here, you can't help but feel awed and somewhat inspired. That perhaps, one day, you'd be one of them.

Nope, no laser pointers here.

Life here is quite different as well.
1. Our main social is formal dinners. Colleges hold formal halls (frequency varies with college, but Peterhouse has it daily), and it's just a 2 hour long meal where you wear your gown (and usually something nicer than shirt and jeans), have a 3 course meal served and drink wine.
2. Also, lots of formal events which involve wine consumption. I feel like there's a lot more opportunity to drink socially (not in clubs) here than in other places.

No photos of me drinking (not that I don't drink), so a photo of Peterhouse hall will have to suffice.

Amongst others, I'm sure, but I can't think of them at the moment.

And I guess essentially it's just that you have close to complete freedom and control over your life. You plan how you spend your time. Do you want to sleep in, or do your laundry, or study, or go for talks and plays or go out and party?

I've gone for at least 19 talks this term. Talks ranging from biology (eugenics, molecular basis of behaviour, GM rice plants to increase production, & animal intelligence), to international development (voluntourism, education, & poverty), to conservation (effectiveness of citizen science, methods for monitoring biodiversity, rewards for ecosystem services, habitat restoration, REDD+, bioregional economy, & reducing extinctions), to political stuffs (future challenges of Singapore, & Thaksin's work in Thailand). And plenty more that I couldn't go for due to timetable clashes. And there's an International Development Conference that I'm going for this Sat.

Oh yeah, and I met Sir David Attenborough! ^^ :D

I've managed to get out of Cambridge a few times, to Peak district with the Hill Walking Club and Mountaineering Club, to Oxford for Oxbridge Games, & to London for breakfast and lunch (xD). I've managed to climb once a week at the indoor bouldering gym, and some rowing. And played a few games of football for my college (which we're quite crap at). I've managed to gather a bunch of people who are enthusiastic enough to join me in setting up a Nature Society (:

Climbing at Peak district.

So although I've not managed to make any close friends (no really, good, close friends are increasingly more difficult to make the older you are), and I've not managed to really keep on top of all my work (I've not read my lecture notes for a number of topics in physiology now, and one of my supervisor says my essay structure is terrible), I think overall it's been a rather decent term. Could have been worse.

I can't wait to see my friends again, in London, and my awesome family, in New York! And to all my friends in Singapore (and various other parts of the world), I do miss all of you. Don't know when I'll be going back to Singapore still, but there are times when I'm on Facebook and it just feels like I'm in Singapore :P

No durians here :( no family either :(

Plenty of work to do during the holidays, with mock exams to look forward to when I come back. Meanwhile, happy holidays people (:

Christmas tree in Peterhouse Junior Common Room (JCR)

Thursday, November 22, 2012

The nature of people

They say people reveal their true selves when they think no one is looking.

They also say, you can tell what a person is truly like by the way he/she treats the junior/supporting staff (anyone who isn't the boss).

I shouldn't be judging people I guess, I don't have the right to; only God does.

But when people ask for some form of help, I do feel mildly unappreciated when they don't say thank you or return some sort of acknowledgement.

Ever since I blogged about the Jardine scholarship, because I thought there was just too little information out there about it, I've had a few people (about 10) emailing/fb messaging/blog commenting me to ask me about it.

I don't mind spending the time replying, cos I know how hard it is to find any info out there and anything is appreciated really. Though I feel the need to do an FAQ soon, just cos I'm getting annoyed with the same questions over and over.

But seriously, when I spend the time to reply you, and you don't even email back to acknowledge that  you've read it, or say a word of thanks, that's just not cool man. Not cool at all.

I don't think I'm the most polite person myself, I probably could do with some course on good manners, but the least anyone could do would be to say thank you to whoever's helped you.

So whoever's reading this; next time you ask for help, don't forget to say thanks, cos it might just make someone's day!

Apologies for whining here. But it was getting on my nerves. Or is it just a "this generation of kids" thing, to not find it necessary to say thanks to somebody who's just bothered to answer a few of your questions?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


I think I'm quite a dreamer. That must be how I spend most of my time. (There's no other explanation for how else I spend my time, when I'm not out going from one event to another)

It's 530pm now (and the skies outside are darker than Singapore's ever will be, since we started putting up more lights), and I came back from lunch at 130pm. 4 hours, and I have no work done to show for my productivity.

Spent some time saying hi to my extended family over Skype, cos it was my grandma's birthday. And then, I don't know what happened.

My evolution essay still sits on my table undone, and I have no idea what was taught during the respiration lectures for physiology the past 5 days (even though I was awake and taking notes for most of them).

Yet I feel a mild sense of accomplishment. Perhaps that is derived from having spammed all my friends' Facebook walls with various articles that I deem to be interesting/thought-provoking/worth-a-share. That is a common complain from my friends, though I'd like to think there are also people out there who like the articles I share. There needs to be more information flow, cos all these wonderful ideas and inspirations are just sitting somewhere out there in the depths of the world wide web (or more like using up energy in a data centre somewhere in the middle of America), waiting for people to read about them and share them.

And with regards to information flow, I feel the need to plug some serious information gap about Cambridge colleges. Don't think we, as overseas applicants, know enough about the colleges before we applied for them. And also perhaps a bit on the academic side of things. But that will be for another post, an end-of-term post.

Coming back to my afternoon, I feel the need to first clarify that most of my days aren't this leisurely. It's just that I had a pretty insane week/weekend, and so taking an afternoon off today was quite justified. Though come to think of it now, perhaps I should have spent it trying to understand what goes on during my lectures instead :X

But I had a good afternoon, and I've figured out my plan for the next 3 years of undergraduate study. Or perhaps, a refinement to the plan I had before I even started studying. I already knew more or less what courses I wanted to do for each of my three years of BioNatSci, and the non-academic activities that I would take the time to participate in. Now, I've got an idea of how I want to spend my vacations, and the thought of vacations is all that is keeping me going now (:

Saturday, November 17, 2012

1.5 weeks more to go!

Almost at the end of the first term. Though most of my friends often go "what, so short! Do you guys even study at all!" I'd like to challenge them to sit through a week of Cambridge term. It's really smart of them actually, from the pov of the uni, cos you just cram everything down the student's throat during the very short term, and leave them to catch up during the holidays in their own time. Save money!

Apart from the coursework that i tend to ignore till i cant anymore, it's been a pretty good past week. Some really interesting talks (which reminds me that I've got pages of notes from talks that I should put up somewhere...), and I'm on the Climate Change Forum committee which should be pretty fun, and best of all, had the very first meeting with a bunch of people who are also interested in Nature and a uni society for that! :)

I really wasn't intending to set one up, at least not in the first year, cos I'd like to get some sense of how the uni works and perhaps build up some local knowledge before I attempt something relatively major like that. But after meeting a lady who works in Cambridge Hub (which is like the Cambridge chapter of Student Hubs), and some encouragement from her, I was like yeah might work out. Really encouraging, how things have been so far (:

Lots of things that I wanna blog about, but might have to wait for the hols. I don't seem to be able to think properly these days, either from lack of time or just lack of focus.

I realise I really miss Singapore quite a bit, and things would have been a lot easier if I had just studied local. I still find it relatively difficult to find people to have good conversations with. It's like with fellow Singaporeans/Asians, you've got at least some common ground, either social or political or something you can talk about. With others though, unless it's like environmental/global social stuff, I find that I really have nothing much to say. Not a particularly widely read person, so I don't know much about history or arts or theatre or entertainment or Western politics.

But for now, I've got math assignments due Mon, earth sciences and physiology essays due Tue and evolution essay due Wed, and I can't put them off any longer, so :/

Monday, November 05, 2012

the pains of being a student.

It's middle of week 5, and I'm struggling to keep up with coursework. New content, fast pace, and lack of time to read up before/after lecture = me not really understanding what's going on. Possible, it's the same as when we were in JC. Just that it's been so long since I last studied. I'm immensely glad we don't have mid terms and I'll have the Christmas vacation to consolidate whatever I'm supposed to have learned in these two months.

And naturally I'm here cos I'll do everything else but get round to doing my work – go on Facebook, read interesting articles, do other random things etc.

Argh, this is when I miss my gap year, and being able to go for talks, events, spend time reading, writing, and generally slack off while everybody else is studying.

K that's about enough whining from me :X

I've generally had a rather pleasant weekend, with Teo Li Fang coming all the way up from London to visit me! Miss those times we had in RG, but I'm really glad we're still good friends. Then NatSci dinner with the other Singaporeans, on Sun night; that was the best dinner I had since I arrived(:

Oh and I want to go for Operation Wallacea next Summer! Is it possible to fundraise £5k?? Since I'm already going for Mt Kilimanjaro... :/

I find myself needing to be constantly reminded of others in the world in a worse plight, and that I should not be so self-centred.