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UPDATE 2 Apr 2017 - This site is no longer maintained, please visit if you're interested in more recent writing.

Friday, May 31, 2013

saturation point.

I have reached the stage where I feel like any additional knowledge that I try to cram into my tiny brain is gonna cause other bits previously in there to start precipitating out.

I just want exams to be over, past caring exactly how well I do right now. I know I won't fail, I'll be crushed if I get a 3rd or a 2:2, and I'm really just hoping whatever I know right now will tide me over for a 2:1 (60% and above).

It's so painful to sit through exam period. When others are holidaying (the tonnes of exchange/holiday photos flooding FB) or just generally chilling (all the people on gap years/waiting for uni). Exam period is when I wanna be antisocial and yet crave for some social activity at the same time. When I want to avoid people except for those with whom I have decent conversations with. But everyone is either busy holidaying or studying :/

Argh, I just want to get out and away.

Freedom from the tyranny of exams.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

It comes and goes, yeah, it comes and goes

Exams, known as tripos here in the world of Cambridge, are in a weeks' time!

Clearly it's not the time to be blogging, but I'm in a spate of boredom. Today has been a relatively calm day. I did work, at a relatively slow pace, I ventured out of my house (cos I was rostered to read in chapel), and I went for a run. Yesterday though, I was in a state of panic, suppressing the urge to just give up and sleep and avoid reality. I was really stressed.

It cycles and fluctuates, my attitude towards exams. And I don't know why I can be so chillax one day and verging on hysteria the next.

Sitting for tripos here is like taking A levels all over again, only the coursework was crammed into 20 weeks, you don't have answers (known as cribs) to past year papers and you can never feel prepared.

Also, back home, taking exams made you king (or queen) of the household for that short period of time. When you would be shuttled back and forth everywhere (if you were fortunate enough) by your parents who don't want you to waste time (taking public transport), when your parents would scold everyone else in the household who was making too much noise so that you could study in peace and quiet, when you would get your favourite dishes cooked. Generalisations perhaps, which may not occur in every home, but I think in such an exam-oriented society, it's hard to imagine that such exam fever is not present to some degree.

What I really want. 

Here, the tension in the air is so palpable with almost everyone taking exams, you're not likely to get sympathy from anyone. And feeding oneself becomes such a chore. I barely even feel excited about meals anymore, it's more like a damn, I need to find something to eat. What will it be, an egg sandwich? Perhaps a ham sandwich this time. Microwaved meals are horribly bland and unsatisfying. And you generally live in a state of mess and disorder. Papers and files strewn over the floor, used dishes and mugs lie near the sink until you run out of clean ones to use (very quickly for me, since I have max 2 of each anyway, and just 1 spork), clothes just piling up waiting to be washed, footwear in disarray and all.

So many things going on in the outside world, but when you have exams, nothing else really matters.

Two weeks, and I claim my life back. Why do we have exams? Why do we have educational institutes, where we train people to come out all the same way? What's wrong with apprenticeships as was done in the past? Perhaps because a lot of craftmanship work is replaced with machinery, and what is valued now is the ability to come up with ever newer technology so we can save more time to do more things (like put people in school to study and sit for exams) and perhaps one day we'll discover immortality, and that will be evolution, triumphed. (I know that's a run-on sentence and it probably doesn't make sense but it's the exam season and that shall be my excuse)

And to remind myself that stumbling blocks are good:
Not only that; let us exult, too, in our hardships, understanding that hardship develops perseverance, and perseverance develops a tested character, something that gives us hope, and a hope which will not let us down, because the love of God has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit which has been given to us. - Romans 5:3-5

Monday, May 20, 2013

Confused thoughts on human evolution and God.

It's 2 weeks to exams (!!!) and I am quite screwed. Trying to convince myself that first year grades don't count towards final degree so I really shouldn't stress that much, yet at the same time wanting to do well and being surrounded by people who are studying loads stresses me out = equilibrium between stressing about not being stressed and stressing about stress from others. If that even makes sense.

Anyway, we've been doing human evolution for the past 2 weeks or so in Evolution and Behaviour course. I've never really given much thought to it; just accepted it as a given, and a really fascinating topic. And I never really felt that evolution ever conflicted with my belief in God. Because I never really gave much thought to it I guess.

But when you're studying it for an exam, you do have to give quite a bit of thought to it. And well, this is obviously out of syllabus, but I suddenly just wondered, after looking at this picture of Australopithecus afarensis.

Could I honestly call that my ancestor? I don't think so. I think if I were to trace back my ancestral roots, I'd probably stop short at Anatomically Modern Humans (AMH), and not go any further back than that. 

Which made me wonder. So, when did the idea of a God evolve? I do think religion is a human construct, though I don't feel that that contradicts with my belief (or should it?). I do believe in eternal life and that we will go to heaven (if...). So it's like, Australopithecines of various kinds, then Homo ergaster --> Homo heidelbergensis --> Homo sapiens ---> ? We came up with the idea of God (Is it heretical to say that we came up with the idea/concept of God???) and heaven, and that's where we'll go eventually (after we, as individuals, die), but back on earth I'm sure Homo sapiens (as a species) will go extinct sooner or later (on a geological time scale), and then who knows what will come next... 

Or perhaps the earth will come to an end as well when H. sapiens go extinct. Perhaps this is what the bible meant by those apocalyptic verses in the book of Revelation, in some abstract manner... Cos like, undoubtedly looking at the things we're doing to the earth now, we'll sooner or later rob the earth of all its useful resources and probably cause our own demise. Though then again, I'm sure the earth will survive all the rubbish we throw at it cos it always has?

Confused ramblings, random thought experiments. I'm definitely not saying that evolution is not true or that God does not exist. In any case, none of that is examinable and so I should go back to writing my essay on "Australopithecus afarensis: the first fully bipedal hominin?". And then doing some math problems.

Saturday, May 04, 2013

"rain" in Cambridge.

It's raining here. Nothing like this, of course.

But hearing the raindrops pitter patter against the windows and hearing the wind howl and rattle the windows remind me of Singapore, and I feel vaguely homesick.

There's so much content to cover for the exams, I'm starting to freak out, and trying to suppress the freaking out.

Thursday, May 02, 2013

the E term.

It's one week into Easter term, but perhaps better known as Exam term.

So quickly, the first year in university flies by.

Haven't really been feeling very reflective; what with field trips (that I have yet to blog about), start of term, revising for exams, settling final details for Summer etc, I guess I really haven't been thinking much about life. As in I think about it, when I keep trying to reassure myself that exams aren't the whole point to my life, but not really reflect on it. If you get what I mean.

But suddenly, after writing out my notes on rocks and minerals, I sit amidst all my files and notes and papers and books and stare at them.

This is what 17 (+ another 3 more) weeks of university has given me. Stacks of papers, holding the knowledge I need to pass my exams, naturally. But what I care more about, is the fact that they've taught me so much more about this Earth we live on - the processes that form it, the life that inhabits it, from the very beginning all through geological time to now. (Yeah, Natural Sciences at Cambridge is awesome cos I get to do only the cool stuff :D)

It's a jumble of minerals and continental collisons, rocks and orogenies, plant development and microbial life, energy for sustenance and physiological processes in our bodies, invasion of land by plants and amazing animal adaptations, behaviours of "intelligent" life forms and how they learn, not to mention various equations and numbers and mathematical programming codes.

Next year, this time, I would be sitting amidst whole new sets of notes and papers, doing the same (revising for exams). And the year after.

But in the long run, would all this knowledge gained be of any use? It's all really interesting, and I'm sure bits of it will come in useful here and there. But all the fine details that I'm trying to cram into my head right now – all that would probably be lost. About as soon as this Summer's over, even.

A student's life is so different from a working adult's life. Yet, if you think about it, is it all that different?

What exactly are we working towards, who are we working for?

What I wish my life was entirely about.