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 http://natureramble.wordpress.com.

UPDATE 2 Apr 2017 - This site is no longer maintained, please visit jocelynesze.wordpress.com if you're interested in more recent writing.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014: year in review.

I briefly looked through that thing that Facebook compiled for me, and it seemed to just pick out a few photos from my holidays, and ignored everything else that happened, and that definitely doesn't do 2014 any justice. I haven't really reflected on the year thus far, but the past two days, driving up to Chiang Saen (on the Thai border next to Laos) from Bangkok provided lots of time for thinking (when I wasn't sleeping and trying to avoid car-sickness).

To start with, I thought I should perhaps look at what I resolved to do in 2014. "So in 2014, I do want to do more climbing and diving, be more focused and disciplined, pick up a few new skills and live like you were dying." - from my last year's year-end review blogpost. Well. I definitely didn't climb more (in fact, I probably climbed less, especially during Michaelmas 2014 :/), definitely didn't dive more (didn't dive at all T.T), was maybe a little more focused and disciplined (but it's hard to tell isn't it, it's rather qualitative), picked up a few new skills (a little bit of using the ice ax and crampons, fiddling a bit with QGIS but I can't really think what else) and probably didn't live like I was dying... So perhaps I should just try and stick to my resolutions a little more this upcoming year... Read this TED article on The Science of Setting Goals so hopefully...

Best books I've read*
The first two books of Ken Follett's Century Trilogy
A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold (blogged about it here)
(other good books that I'm only halfway through: Guns, Germs and Steel, An Unnatural History of the Sea, A Short History of Nearly Everything and Your Inner Fish. Lol.)

Best films I've watched (mostly on flights so pretty outdated)*
Invictus
The Grand Budapest Hotel
How to Train Your Dragon 2
The Railway Man
GrĂ¼ninger Fall

*from what little I can remember anyway. I learnt so much about WWI/WWII from the books/films (mainly cos I knew close to nothing previously).

Best moments


France with family (or just any time spent with family, really)

Digging my own shelter with an ice ax in the Scottish highlands

Watching a sloth climb down a tree (to pee?) at sunset at Bilsa, Ecuador

The people who trekked Salkantay with me to Machu Picchu, Peru
Wandering alone in the cloud forest of Wayqecha, Peru

Reading and enjoying the summer in Grantchester, UK

Blueberry-picking in Iceland!

Pennine Way, UK

Christmas carolling with Fisher House, UK

 And a few others which I have no photos of, such as setting off fireworks in UK, cycling on Isabela, Galapagos and Christmas at home (:

2014 has been pretty awesome, not particularly significant perhaps, in my life overall, but pretty good nonetheless. Thankful that no major mishaps or calamity befell me or my family.


Anndddddddd Happy-watching-air-pollution New Year everyone! May 2015 be a good year for humanity, with stronger climate action and more social justice and that everyone will be kind, sensible and see the joy in life. I hope that I do get to dive more in the coming year, that I learn more programming skills (and go on adventures with R woohoo!), finally get round to picking up some trad climbing skills, be disciplined in my fitness and studies, read and pray more.

(Time to attempt some report-writing yay!)

Friday, December 26, 2014

Mountain Sound.

It's scary how fast time flies. Now that we're on the other side of Christmas, the end of the year seems way too soon. Definitely have not had the time to reflect and review the year (even if Facebook has done so for me).

After almost two weeks back home, have caught up with a good number of friends and generally had a nice, quiet Christmas with my family. I did some online 'What's your inner age?' quiz and got a respectable 89-years-old, and so I guess while most people stay young at heart while growing older, I look younger than my actual age but am super old at heart (Y) So, a nice, quiet Christmas (:

It's kind of interesting to see how friendships evolve over time, and by now, 3 years after graduation from school, I think most of the friendships that we keep, we'll probably keep for life. I'm definitely very thankful for all the people still in my life. To people who still text me once in a while, who cheer me up when I'm down/stressed, meet up with me when I'm back, with whom I can talk for hours without getting bored. As the years go on, it is definitely harder to make good friends. You meet plenty of new people, but developing that bond is another thing. Read this article (thought the front bits were interesting but skimmed through the rest of it) and I do agree, the friends you make early on in life are usually more out of prolonged contact than real common interest. It takes more effort to develop friendships now, with more commitments making demands on our time, every new relationship might mean less effort put into other already existing ones. Still, networking is important for career development, right? Think I lack the guts and thick-skinned-ness to really sell myself anyway.



The thing about being back home is that it's harder to find time for yourself. Especially when I'm only back for a short amount of time, and every bit is precious. Not that I can't go off on my own - in fact most of the time I'm physically at home but just doing my own work anyway. It just doesn't seem very nice to not be physically home. Think one of the main highlights of my year thus far is being entirely on my own in the cloud forest in Peru. The tropical lowland forests are great, but not perhaps, for solitary reflection. Yeah, I know the cloud forest isn't exactly temperate woods either, but it achieved the same effect.

Image taken from: http://blog.maptia.com/posts/untranslatable-words-from-other-cultures

Sometimes, I do wanna just run off and live in a little cabin in the woods/cottage by the sea with all my books and just read. But wells, I am too responsible to ever do that (a trait inherited fortunately/unfortunately from my parents, as I recently realised), and Expectations. That's partly what keeps me coming back home.



Mountain Sound - Of Monsters and Men

I heard them calling in the distance
So I packed my things and ran
Far away from all the trouble
I had caused with my two hands

Alone we travelled on with nothing but a shadow
We fled, far away

[Chorus:]
Hold your horses now
(Sleep until the sun goes down)
Through the woods we ran
(Deep into the mountain sound)
Hold your horses now
(Sleep until the sun goes down)
Through the woods we ran

Some had scars and some had scratches
It made me wonder about their past
And as I looked around I began to notice
That we were nothing like the rest

[Chorus]

Whoa-oh-oh-oh-oh
We sleep until the sun goes down
Whoa-oh, whoa-oh
We sleep until the sun goes down

Whoa-oh-oh-oh
We sleep until the sun goes down

[Chorus 2x]

La la la, whoa-oh-oh-oh-oh
La la la, we sleep until the sun goes down
La la la, whoa-oh, whoa-oh
La la la, we sleep until the sun goes

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

R-uining holidays.

R is reducing me to tears. Makes me feel woefully inadequate in intellectual ability, when I cannot understand where I went wrong, or the solutions people give on online forums when I try to troubleshoot. I don't get why is it that I can type exactly the same code but get a different output. And I cry not because I feel stupid, but because I can't get what I need and I've got other things I need to do as well but feel like I don't have time to do (time flies by way too fast) and arghhhh it's just not a happy holiday at all. I kid about crying - I tell myself it doesn't help any.

Nonetheless, it's Christmas Eve and my older bro is back - family reunited! It's been nice meeting up with friends, and visiting various places to see how it's changed (Sungei Buloh, Climb Asia and Onsight...). Also the many many new malls with many many new shops and eating places. It's really scary, and it seems that many of my friends and family question if it is really necessary. So whose idea is it to build more malls every time some other building gets razed, or from previously green patches? Though all the malls still seem to be fairly crowded. Also, fairly annoyed by the commercialisation of Christmas, which seems worse in Singapore than in UK. Christmas is NOT about giving (or getting) presents, or getting new things, or singing about mummy kissing Santa Claus...

Would post something more reflective and thoughtful but I'm too exhausted by R. Shall do something else instead and get my spirits up again to be joyful about Christ coming to our midst.

The coolest Christmas tree I've seen, alight with candles and sparklers. When I was in Austria last year. Should have a nativity scene instead of the tree, but I don't have a photo of one soz.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

numbers.

Being back home has been more or less great. There's always food without having to prepare/go out to look for it, I just dump my laundry in the family communal basket, and I can go around in sleeveless and shorts without being cold at all. Getting to chat with family, and slowly meeting up with friends (most of whom I only get to see after the new year just cos of holiday schedules) and eating and everything.

But project is constantly weighing on my mind and being generally depressing. Still need to sort out my data, get it to work on QGIS/R, extract the information I need and run my models. Times like this I wish I were smarter/a programming whiz and could troubleshoot and figure out all my problems. I know, Google is my friend, and it usually is, but sometimes it's not, and then I'm stuck. And miserable.

Stayed up trying to figure out some horrible math and verify some of my data, and it's horrible cos I've forgotten all my math. But the joys of having friends in different discipline, I can now sleep happy knowing the answer. 30*0.8 yay. Thought it might be it but that seemed too simple but I guess not.

I doubt I've got time to revise the two modules from Michaelmas :(

Monday, December 15, 2014

Home

Every time I land in Changi Airport, I plaster a silly grin on my face that I just can't wipe off. The joy of being home :D

It's been a great week since term ended. The usual end-of-term madness with last minute meeting ups with people, packing up of room and getting stuff into storage. Then a really nice week with friends in Tignes at Varsity Trip 2014, the Oxbridge ski trip. Followed by a fairly uneventful flight home from Paris, apart from the delay due to fog at Paris' Charles de Gaulle airport. And being asked to change seats with this mother with a baby and toddler (and getting lots of Ferrero Rocher chocolate in return!). And their two choices for mains being beef and fish, resulting in me having to ask for a vegetarian option. Oh, and I still get questioned when I ask for wine on flight. I guess the day people stop doubting my age is when I finally look my age. Though I've thought for a while now that I already do, but clearly not?

It's such a strange feeling being home after so long (1 year and 3 months). I pick out certain things without even thinking about it, like accents. The air stewardess who made the announcements on the flight had a terrible terrible accent. Like a Singaporean trying but failing to speak proper English. I cringed every time I heard it. The radio DJs/newscasters with their neutral Singaporean English accents. And then everywhere, the Singlish we're all so familiar with. Our dress sense. I've gotten so used to seeing people being fairly dressed up all the time. I've forgotten how bringing your own shopping bags isn't quite a thing here yet, or that recycling bins aren't conveniently located everywhere.

I've also forgotten how much rubbish I have back home. Tonnes of soft toys, old notes, books and lots of random bits and bobs. Though apparently no footwear, apart from one pair of flip flops, 2 pairs of booties and 2 old pairs of climbing shoes. So don't mind me if I go around in the one pair of boots I wore home.

Anyway, it's so nice to be able to chat casually with my family, instead of over a Skype call. And have awesome home-cooked meals of tofu, veg and soup. And feel swelteringly hot instead of being cold.

It's really good to be home. To catch up with family and friends, see what's changed and what hasn't, eat all the things I haven't been able to. Sadly, time is short and I still need to study and work on my project, but well time management isn't new I guess.


Also, Christmas!!! :D :D

Monday, December 01, 2014

3 days to Christmas (vacation)!

Last three days of term - four more lectures (for coursework, though I go on average for some 4-5 additional lectures without further thought) and three more supervisions to go. I can't wait for the end of term. Christmas carols and parties (: And then ski trip with a nice bunch of people. Then home! Super excited.

In my 3rd year now,  and I don't feel bad at all about missing college events (unlike the 1st two years when I felt like perhaps I should even though I knew I prob wouldn't enjoy myself, cos I felt like I was living up to certain stereotypes and stuff). College christmas party was tonight, had initially signed up for it cos I thought, hey it's my last year I should just go for it. But then thought more and was like, it is my last year, why should I subject to myself to a potentially (and very probably) uncomfortable and miserable night? I have just come to accept that this is not what I'd miss the most about Cambridge, and I'm not even minding not going, cos I prob wouldn't enjoy myself anyway.

Played a college netball match earlier, my first one this term cos I've just had clashes at all the other match timings (church usually). Walking to/fro matches is probably the most interaction I have with the average college member here, cos I generally avoid college social events and for the few that I do go for I tend to just stick with people I know/have very polite introductory conversations. All the other netball players know each other pretty well and are good friends, so the conversations they have are an insight into their world (I just eavesdrop cos I have nothing useful to contribute to their conversations anyway).

And it just reinforces my impression of college social events and reaffirms why I don't hang out that much with them. Cos like, apparently when people get very drunk, it's okay to call others rude words, and that they only having to apologise to 4 people the next day is something vaguely funny. Maybe I'm just being a boring killjoy or whatever, but this kind of company I'm very happy to not keep. Does it really need to regress to this level for it to be considered a "good night"? And I don't mean sleep well kinda 'goodnight'.

In any case, that match was pretty bad (like 30-4), kinda like how it was for the past two years, though the previous matches this term didn't actually turn out too bad.

And to lighten the mood, it's advent! Which though has a penitential undertone to it, is also a really joyous time cos Christmas songs (: Libera's Christmas songs are just playing on loop. They're so cute :)



Gaudete
Gaudete, gaudete
Christus est natus
Ex Maria Virgine
Gaudete

Tempus adest gratiae
Hoc quod optabamus
Carmina laetitiae
Devote reddamus

Deus homo factus est
Natura mirante
Mundus renovatus est
A Christo regnante

Ezechiellis porta
Clausa pertransitur
Unde Lux est orta
Salus invenitur

Ergo nostra contio
Psallat iam in lustro
Benedicat Domino
Salus Regi nostro




Also, so awesome to have news of #Ubinday back home flooding my Facebook newsfeed. Really wish I was home already!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Advent and Bridgemas.

Christmas starts a month early in Cambridge - Bridgemas. Because term ends next week, and we have to celebrate Christmas with our friends before we leave, right? In my first year, I found it so odd. This year, I'm just playing Christmas carols and hymns on my playlist. Fr Mark's Catholicism for the Curious session also focused on Advent this week, which was absolutely fascinating.

I can't wait for next week. Can't wait to be done with deadlines, can't wait to be home, can't wait for Christmas. Thanksgiving is so not a thing here though.


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Saving the world.

Really should be trying to finish my essay cos it's 1am and I haven't been getting much sleep the past few days (too much caffeine). But a short one before I forget what I wanted to say.

Read this article on international development and aid, shared on Facebook by my friend: http://www.newrepublic.com/article/120178/problem-international-development-and-plan-fix-it

It's a bit long, but it's really well-written and worth the read. You'd think that we'd have realised by now that the world is not homogenous and that what works for one locality might not and probably would not work for others. But I guess we all want to find a quick solution and so scaling up and blanketing everyone with the supposed solution to 'save the world' sells.

Apart from trying to save the 'world' by blanketing all with the same 'solution', because people worldwide are not all the same, I think one also shouldn't try to sell saving the earth. Because it needs no saving.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Too much caffeine.

I'm starting to understand my caffeine limits a lot better, trying to figure out how much coffee is too much for me. It's 4.40am, I had a cup of coffee at lunch, and an espresso after dinner (cos Cambridge formal, that's just the way things go after dinner) and I just can't sleep. Wasn't really minding much earlier, cos I was trying to finish an essay for tomorrow morning. But I've been trying to sleep for about an hour now, to no avail. Mind is just thinking about all the work I need to do and when I need to do them by and what I should pack to bring home and all that stuff.

From friday to saturday, the Catholic chaplaincy had a 24 hour adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, and hoped to have people present through the night. I signed up for a slot at 330am, cos I figured I could prob just stay up and do my work till then. Which I did, a cup of coffee at breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and I didn't yawn even at 4am. Slept at 5am, and woke up at 9am still. Made up for the lost sleep a bit the next day.

I also found out recently that there is such a thing as caffeine pills. So like, instead of drinking coffee, you just take those pills. Sounds a bit scary to me, I don't like pills, and anyway I like the smell and taste of coffee, so I doubt I'll ever try those caffeine pills.

One of my friends has an awesome blog on coffee, should check it out: https://beforethebean.wordpress.com/

Also, feeling a lot more optimistic about meeting deadlines and possibly even being able to enjoy the last week in Cambridge! Depending on how project goes...

Monday, November 17, 2014

Rediscovering the piano.

Blogging way more than I really should be. I feel like I managed to get some things done this weekend at least, even though they're all more for graduate applications than present stuff so :/ But that and the research paper review are my main priorities now, with project next and catching up with lectures last. Dec hols is not going to be too much fun. I really have no idea how I got past the first two years without studying/revising at all until close to exam term – I am terrified now of how much work I need to do already.

Anyway, despite my moaning and griping about having to learn the piano for the best part of more than 10 years (6/7 till I was 17/18 I think), I am really glad I at least know how to read scores and can play some music. Thanks to my parents for pushing and me for having not enough guts to tell them I wanted to stop sometime around grade 5. I lasted all the way through 3 grade 8 failures. Though my current standard is definitely way lower than what it should be given how much time/money/effort that was invested in my earlier years. I even went to play some piano instead of climbing in the afternoon today. (Also it was raining and I was too lazy to travel to the sports centre)

2.5 weeks more to the official end of term, 3 weeks more till I leave Cambridge (and have to get all my submissions in arghh), 4 weeks more till I'm back home in Singapore. Absolutely can't wait to get home (but the deadlines are terrifying).

Absolutely heart-warming/waterworks-inducing advertisement. Or maybe I'm just getting too emotional.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

3 years ago...

Time flies. It's really hard to understand how I got to this stage, when I'm in my final year of university. In some ways, I've changed so much, and in others, I'm still the exactly the same.

Three years ago, I was applying for university. I was applying for the Jardine scholarship. Now, I'm applying for graduate studies. I'm applying for various scholarships, including the Gates Cambridge scholarship. It's really insanely competitive, way way more so than Jardine. They also require a personal statement, fairly similar to Jardine, only they actually have a word limit. (They also require you to be really smart, which I doubt I am). Finding myself at a loss of how to compose a coherent life story explaining why I deserve the scholarship, I decided to re-read my personal statement for Jardine (since that got me somewhere, right?). It was a really straight forward chronology of my life, I think. So much detail, it even mentions things I've completely forgotten about. I mean, since there was no word limit, I might as well go all out and tell them my life story right? :P And I know I've changed, over the past two years here, in so many ways, but if that personal statement I wrote three years ago was a snapshot of my true core being then, then I am still exactly the same.

However, I want to study biology, specifically ecology and conservation biology...
Hence, I aspire to be a conservationist, to do research, education and advocacy...
I want to ensure that the Earth and its precious biological resources will last as long as possible, and that future generations will be able to enjoy Nature and know about their natural heritage...
With my background and experience in community service learning, leadership and outdoor activities, I believe I will be able to make a tangible difference in conservation issues and help preserve our natural heritage and precious resources.
I still want to study ecology and conservation biology, I still aspire to be a conservationist, I still want to ensure our natural capital isn't completely decimated by us, I still believe I can make a tangible difference.

Of course, this 'happy outlook' in life contrasts with the depressed/depressing previous few posts. But I guess you just have to look at the overall trend and not the daily ups and downs. Also, it helps that I just went climbing at The Castle, and though it was a meagre two hours, climbing allows me to completely forgot about my (undone) work and worries (: Though by the end of it, instead of saying I want to just quit school and be a baby sitter and play with little kids all the time (which was the state I was reduced to by the end of lectures today), I was saying I should have sidelined A levels and gone all out for climbing. All in jest, of course, as my personal statements should attest...

Thursday, November 13, 2014

When the insecurities start creeping in.

The thing about studying in Cambridge is not just about the intense term, the speed of lectures, the workload and all that. Inevitably, you start wondering if you are in the right place after all, if you quite measure up, intellectually speaking, with the rest. Having been in Raffles schools since 13, I'm not unfamiliar with feeling slightly stupid most of the time, when you don't get equations just as quick as the rest, when you don't understand the concept in philo/gp/whatever that seems to come intuitively to everyone else, when you can't pick apart arguments and critically evaluate anything and everything that just comes by. There's no difference here really. And then on top of that, you're always surrounded by people who are doing a hundred and one thousand things - organising conferences, playing sports in blues teams, performing a couple of concerts a week/term, cook amazingly well etc etc etc. The list goes on.

I would never claim to be smart, or intelligent. All I have that got me this far is probably passion? And sometimes even laziness gets the better of me and I don't get out of my room the entire day. I know I'm not fat either, but reading this article, I can't help but agree with what's said - that no matter that I don't usually talk about body size that often, and I know I really shouldn't give a damn, I do think about how I shouldn't be eating that much or that I should be exercising way more. Only in my case my laziness/lack of self-discipline usually means I will never be bothered getting myself into a state of food disorder (counting calories? running everyday? too much work. Even waking up is enough of a struggle). It is such a prevalent issue in society though, one of those things that just kinda lurk under the surface.

These are all insecurities that have always been around, and usually pretty well-managed and suppressed. But once in a while, especially when you're trying to think about your future and apply for masters programmes, you start questioning yourself and your capabilities and wondering if you actually are smart/capable enough to take it on. Or if perhaps you should just settle for starting work (not that it's less challenging or difficult, but the issues faced are different).


Thankfully there are friends whom you can count on to help you cope with life. #firstworldproblems I know. Or not even, maybe just people who are blessed and don't know it. :/ Are we even allowed to complain? I know, there are worse problems out there. Food security, climate change, extinction crisis, the poor and the most vulnerable, everything. I've been attending enough talks on those, to feel almost permanently depressed about the state of things on our planet. Maybe that's why all the personal inadequacies start surfacing too.



Demons - Imagine Dragons
When the days are cold
And the cards all fold
And the saints we see
Are all made of gold

When your dreams all fail
And the ones we hail
Are the worst of all
And the blood’s run stale

I wanna hide the truth
I wanna shelter you
But with the beast inside
There’s nowhere we can hide

No matter what we breed
We still are made of greed
This is my kingdom come
This is my kingdom come

When you feel my heat
Look into my eyes
It’s where my demons hide
It’s where my demons hide
Don’t get too close
It’s dark inside
It’s where my demons hide
It’s where my demons hide

At the curtain’s call
It's the last of all
When the lights fade out
All the sinners crawl

So they dug your grave
And the masquerade
Will come calling out
At the mess you made

Don't wanna let you down
But I am hell bound
Though this is all for you
Don't wanna hide the truth

No matter what we breed
We still are made of greed
This is my kingdom come
This is my kingdom come

When you feel my heat
Look into my eyes
It’s where my demons hide
It’s where my demons hide
Don’t get too close
It’s dark inside
It’s where my demons hide
It’s where my demons hide

They say it's what you make
I say it's up to fate
It's woven in my soul
I need to let you go

Your eyes, they shine so bright
I wanna save that light
I can't escape this now
Unless you show me how

When you feel my heat
Look into my eyes
It’s where my demons hide
It’s where my demons hide
Don’t get too close
It’s dark inside
It’s where my demons hide
It’s where my demons hide

Friday, November 07, 2014

Ups and downs.

Moods just swing up and down as and when. I am mostly in control of my moods and myself, until I decide it would be a good idea to check out my friends' blogs, and after a while, I just get homesick and sad and fairly unproductive.

I miss the intertidal trips I used to go on every time it was low tide season at dawn/dusk. I miss talking about various issues with friends. I miss having climbing buddies. I miss my friends.

Haven't had a major homesickness breakdown so far this term, 3rd year is definitely going a lot better than the first two years. Also don't have that much admin work to do - for once, instead of checking my emails constantly and replying various people etc, I am looking through my lecture notes/working on my project.

4 weeks more to go. I am so looking forward to Christmas and home (:


Bay of Naples - Eric Margan & The Red Lions
We are the Bay of Naples,
And the horses in Vesuvian stables,
Or the curves in a long cobblestone road.

We are the tales and the fables
Told by Romans at their gathering tables,
Or the ghost of a love lost long ago.

So bury this city in ashes,
We'll speak and breathe with dirt.
Our bodies and the air between them,
Preserved, dead in earth.

We got away with murder,
We took our dreams and we sealed them with mortar.
They're awake in a time that they don't know.

They took a day for granted
And now they found a place to be stranded.
Just waitin' for their mothers,
Waitin' for a quiet ride home.

So bury this city in ashes,
We'll speak and breathe with dirt.
Our bodies and the air between them,
Preserved, dead in earth.

You don't know what you're lookin' for,
And you don't care what you find.
Is there something here to make you believe
That you will someday have peace of mind?

We are the Bay of Naples,
And the horses in Vesuvian stables,
Or the curves in a long cobblestone road.

We are the tales and the fables
Told by Romans at their gathering tables,
Or the ghost of a love lost long ago.

So bury this city in ashes.
We'll speak and breathe with dirt.
Our bodies and the air between them
Preserved, dead in earth.



Thursday, November 06, 2014

Facebook peeves.

Random quick post cos I really should be working.

I know I'm definitely one of those who seem to always be on Facebook and spamming the rest of the world. Trying to cut down on Facebook Time, but it is still an excellent way of disseminating information, keeping in touch with friends and getting news. I've got some friends that I don't want to 'unfollow' (not un-friend, I almost never un-friend anyway, mainly because I do want to spam as many people as possible with the articles I post :P) cos they do occasionally post interesting things/I want to know what's going on in their lives but sometimes, some of the things they post just annoys me. Like #toomanyhashtags #howmuchtimedoyouspendthinkingofwhattohashtag and just whining/whinging about their lives or just things that the whole world doesn't need to know.

That said, does it mean that everything I post on Facebook is something that the whole world needs to know? Probably not. So I should just shut up and get on with my work. Sorry for being annoying and contradictory, but wells, posting it here where you came to read it is better than spamming the world on Facebook with my unimportant thoughts, I think.

Reading so much about reefs yet not being able to see a single one is just the saddest thing ever. #missSg P.S. this was taken off the pontoon at Lazarus Seringat-Kias in 2012.

Saturday, November 01, 2014

mid-week blues.

Been pretty unproductive the past week or so. Feel like I'm kinda falling back into bad habits of the past few years, and procrastinating on work when I really shouldn't. Only what's worse is this year I literally have no excuses. I am barely committed to any other organisation/club/society etc, that I have no excuse for why I am not doing my work.

Still trying to work out graduate studies plans, and that really gets me stressed and makes me unproductive. But I realised I really should stop whining/complaining and just get on with my work, to snap out of this unproductive state. The Lord has plans for me and gives me strength, and I just need to trust in Him. I should not be spreading negativity and my "misery", and I realised that during the St Vincent de Paul Society (through which I do soup runs) meeting yesterday, when we were reading/reflecting on a chapter from Thomas Kempis' The Imitations of Christ (Chapter 6, Book 3).

THE PROVING OF A TRUE LOVER

THE VOICE OF CHRIST: MY CHILD, you are not yet a brave and wise lover.

THE DISCIPLE: Why, Lord?

THE VOICE OF CHRIST: Because, on account of a slight difficulty you give up what you have undertaken and are too eager to seek consolation.

The brave lover stands firm in temptations and pays no heed to the crafty persuasions of the enemy. As I please him in prosperity, so in adversity I am not displeasing to him. The wise lover regards not so much the gift of Him Who loves as the love of Him Who gives. He regards the affection of the Giver rather than the value of the gift, and sets his Beloved above all gifts. The noble lover does not rest in the gift but in Me Who am above every gift.

All is not lost, then, if you sometimes feel less devout than you wish toward Me or My saints. That good and sweet feeling which you sometimes have is the effect of present grace and a certain foretaste of your heavenly home. You must not lean upon it too much, because it comes and goes. But to fight against evil thoughts which attack you is a sign of virtue and great merit. Do not, therefore, let strange fantasies disturb you, no matter what they concern. Hold strongly to your resolution and keep a right intention toward God.

It is not an illusion that you are sometimes rapt in ecstasy and then quickly returned to the usual follies of your heart. For these are evils which you suffer rather than commit; and so long as they displease you and you struggle against them, it is a matter of merit and not a loss.

You must know that the old enemy tries by all means in his power to hinder your desire for good and to turn you from every devotional practice, especially from the veneration of the saints, from devout meditation on My passion, and from your firm purpose of advancing in virtue. He suggests many evil thoughts that he may cause you weariness and horror, and thus draw you away from prayer and holy reading. A humble confession displeases him and, if he could, he would make you omit Holy Communion.

Do not believe him or heed him, even though he often sets traps to deceive you. When he suggests evil, unclean things, accuse him. Say to him: "Away, unclean spirit! Shame, miserable creature! You are but filth to bring such things to my ears. Begone, most wretched seducer! You shall have no part in me, for Jesus will be my strength, and you shall be confounded. I would rather die and suffer all torments than consent to you. Be still! Be silent! Though you bring many troubles upon me I will have none of you. The Lord is my light, my salvation. Whom shall I fear? Though armies unite against me, my heart will not fear, for the Lord is my Helper, my Redeemer."

Fight like a good soldier and if you sometimes fall through weakness, rise again with greater strength than before, trusting in My most abundant grace. But beware of vain complacency and pride. For many are led into error through these faults and sometimes fall into almost perpetual blindness. Let the fall of these, who proudly presume on self, be a warning to you and a constant incentive to humility.

- extract taken from http://www.leaderu.com/cyber/books/imitation/imitation.html#toc


I was hoping to get a day in the Peak District today, but there weren't enough places. Pretty gutted, cos it's such a beautiful day and I was really looking forward to climbing outdoors. But wells, we don't always get what we want. Went for a short run to the botanical gardens (finally), and hope I manage to get some work done.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Food, glorious food!

I live in a world of privilege. Half the time, my Facebook wall is filled with photos of food (#Asianstakingphotosoffood). My college provides breakfast, lunch and dinner almost 7 days a week, my room has a corner for wang wang, breakfast/energy bars and various other snacks, and more often than not, I find myself stuffed rather than starving. True, I may occasionally play the 'poor student' card and go for student discount meals and free refreshments at events, but by and large, I am not wanting. The same though, cannot be said for 842 million people out there on this planet (FAO, 2013).

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon launched the Zero Hunger Challenge in 2012, which is aimed at everyone, from individuals to corporations and governments, to do their part to do just that - eliminate hunger within our lifetimes.

The five aims of the challenge. Image taken from United Nations.

The facts

165 million children under the age of 5 have stunted growth as a result of malnourishment in Low- and Middle- Income Countries (Lancelet, 2013)

842 million people go to bed hungry every night (FAO, 2013)

38% of the total land area (World Bank, 2014), and 70% of available freshwater (FAO, 2012) is used for agriculture

2.5 billion individuals in small holder agriculture farms provide over 80% of the food eaten in many parts of the developing world, particularly Southern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa (UNEP, 2013)

1.3 billion tonnes of food produced is never consumed (UNEP, 2013)

The problems

Multi National Corporations take over land in parts of the developing world (especially in Africa), to the detriment of local communities and smallholder agriculture farms (Ingwe et al, 2010)

Arable land is not limitless - arable land is a precious and scarce commodity

Individuals lack access to food (because their farms were taken away, because they are too poor to afford market prices etc.)

More than 40% of post harvest loss in supply chain due to poor transport or storage facilities in developing countries. (FAO, 2011)

Developed countries waste more than 220 million tonnes of food every year (UN)

The solutions?

As always, there is no panacea. Food security reminds me greatly of biodiversity conservation. They are linked, of course, by the fact that crops are part of the diversity on this Earth, and that they occupy the same area. Habitat conversion for agricultural purposes is one of the big reasons why we are losing biodiversity at higher than normal rates. And there is no easy solution either.

The foremost issue we ought to tackle should be the distribution and logistical issues of food wastage. Human population numbers are predicted to increase (9 billion by 2050), especially in developing countries, and consumer demands are also increasing - by reducing wastage because of poor infrastructure, more food makes it to those who need it.

This says it all really. Image taken from Food Waste News

Supermarkets, with their advertisement and insidious deals to get you to buy more than you need need to change their profit-driven mindsets to a more sustainable one. I don't know if there is a system that would allow supermarket chains to purchase a more accurate amount that they could sell though, instead of creating wastage.

In the UK, some 1.4 million bananas are wasted every day, 20% of 15 million tonnes of food wasted each year. Eat local (I've decided to give up eating bananas when I'm in the UK, because of food miles), and don't buy more than is necessary. Just cos it's cheap doesn't mean you should get it. Edible gardens are a great idea, as is urban farming.

Agricultural policies can promote land sparing and promote more efficient food production methods, though sometimes government subsidies for agriculture cause more damage (maybe in the long term) than good.

Increasing production and efficiency would help increase available food, without necessarily encroaching on more natural habitat. Biotechnology can help produce crops that can grow on marginal land, and various methods of multi-crop rotations etc. could also help.

What we need is a large scale, systemic change. In the way we define growth and progress. Perhaps only in crises do we think of making radical changes, but by then, it might be too late, and the most vulnerable amongst us will stand to lose the most.

Read more here:
http://www.nationalgeographic.com/foodfeatures/feeding-9-billion/
http://www.theguardian.com/environment/food


Food is so much a big part of our life and culture. We may not be going hungry now, or in the future, but there are others out there who are and will. Image taken from National Geographic.
This post was inspired by a Cambridge Hub Series talk on food security. Also featured was Food Cycle, a national charity that helps to reduce food wastage by supermarkets while feeding those in need.

P.S. Got tired towards the end. There is more than enough information on all these issues out there on the world wide web though, way better than anything I could write. I was just rather struck by the parallels with biodiversity conservation, and how we so often talk about how big a thing food is in our culture (one of the best bonding topics, whether amongst fellow countrymen or meeting new people), yet food security is not something that often bears on our conscience.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

psyche.

Intense. I have definitely long lost that intensity for climbing. Still wish I could go back, and keep training and pushing hard. I'm still climbing, of course, but not to the same intensity or standard. Pushing myself only very gently, one of the things I'm missing the most coming here is probably the lack of climbing partners. Bouldering being the only thing one can do on a usual work week, there isn't really the need for partners. And though there definitely are climbers here, I find that people usually are way above my level, else just beginning (and I usually just end up coaching them). So there isn't anyone about my standard with whom I can train and get psyched with :(

This year though, I am very determined to get myself out and do some traditional climbing at some point, and to consistently do 6c/6c+ indoors top-rope (sigh to think I actually managed to sport lead 6c at some point in my life). Though how I'm going to train high wall is a problem for another time.

Go 'like' the Winnie the Pooh Facebook page, cos it's awesome. Image taken from here.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Passed the first week.

The first week of the first term of the last year is over. It's a strange strange feeling, being a third year. Comfortable, I already know how most things work, and now that we're finally considered members of the department, our cards are activated for departmental access and we can stroll in and out as we please. But at the same time, nostalgia for my first year, and how we were such noobs, and how in some ways I don't feel too much different from first year (probably could still pass off as one?) keeps hitting me. Was sitting in the common room, minding my own business, while this guy was giving a supervision to some 1st year Evolution & Behaviour students. He was on the E&B field trip in my 1st year, but anyway, I was just sitting there half eavesdropping, and remembered how lost I was in the first few supervisions. Not quite sure how much I've learnt over the past two years coming here. Regarding the conservation/biodiversity stuff, I don't feel like it's been that much (apart from being able to recite Terry Erwin's beetle canopy study as an estimate for the number of insect species in the world, cos it's been mentioned like 3/4 times now). But definitely all the palaeontology/animal evolution/earth science-y bits I am now much more familiar with. 

People usually like choices, but being a generalist, I found it rather stressful to have to specialise, though I do like not having to do modules I really don't like. Maybe I just have too many interests, though I think I'm slowly dropping some of them. 

Been keeping with my goals for this year fairly well, sleeping early (before 1am) and not sleeping in too much (before 9am, on days I have no lectures on) and generally spending a LOT more time on academic work than I ever have. Which doesn't say much really, cos I barely spent time on it the past two years, unless it was for supervision/exams were in a few weeks. 

There is also not enough time to read. There are so many books I really want to read, especially those in my college library (that aren't directly relevant to my studies). 

Anyways, have more or less survived the first week, made the choices I had to make for modules, projects and research paper reviews, though I did come down with freshers flu the past few days. Now for the next seven! (Argh.)

Everyone's Got Something - Perrin Lamb
Everyone's got something
Something no one else can do
Something no one else can see

And I want you, I want you to know
All I have is you, all I need is you
All I want is you

Everyone's got something
Darling, I'll let you guide me
Tell me that you want me

And I want you, I want you to know
All I have is you, all I need is you
All I want is you

Mmmmm mmm mmmm x 3

And I want you, I want you to know
All I have is you, all I need is you
All I want is you

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Feel it in my bones.

It's only been the first day of lectures, and already I feel the stress. I honestly have not felt so stressed at the start of the year before. Having to make decisions over what project to choose, over which modules to go for (still on going. Vertebrate evolution or population biology? One's more interesting, one's probably more useful...), over everyone becoming so competitive and hardworking, over the overwhelming self-imposed pressure to do well this year. There's gonna be a project and a research paper review on top of lectures/supervisions/labs for this term. I know, I can already feel it, that it's not going to end well. I can feel the stress happening. Sighs. I hope I get the chance to do enough climbing/dancing/slack-lining to get myself through this term.

Going to climb for most of the day tomorrow in one of the nicest climbing centres I've been to so far, The Castle. Probably the last bit of somewhat guilt-free enjoyment I'll get for a long time to come. Rather psyched (:

Waiting For Superman - Daughtry

She’s watching the taxi driver, he pulls away
She’s been locked up inside her apartment a hundred days

She says, “Yeah, he’s still coming, just a little bit late.
He got stuck at the laundromat washing his cape.”
She’s just watching the clouds roll by and they spell her name
Like Lois Lane
And she smiles, oh the way she smiles

She’s talking to angels,
Counting the stars
Making a wish on a passing car
She’s dancing with strangers,
Falling apart
Waiting for Superman to pick her up
In his arms, yeah, in his arms, yeah
Waiting for Superman

She’s out on the corner trying to catch a glimpse
Nothing’s making sense
She’s been chasing an answer, a sign lost in the abyss,
This Metropolis

She says, "Yeah, he’s still coming, just a little bit late.
He got stuck at the Five and Dime saving the day.”
She says, "If life was a movie, then it wouldn’t end like this,
Left without a kiss."
Still, she smiles, oh, the way she smiles, yeah

She’s talking to angels,
Counting the stars
Making a wish on a passing car
She’s dancing with strangers,
She’s falling apart
Waiting for Superman to pick her up
In his arms, yeah, in his arms, yeah
She’s waiting for Superman...

...to lift her up and take her anywhere
Show her love and flying through the air
Save her now before it’s too late tonight
Oh, at the speed of light
And she smiles

She’s talking to angels,
Counting the stars
Making a wish on a passing car
She’s dancing with strangers,
She’s falling apart
Waiting for Superman to pick her up
In his arms, yeah, in his arms, yeah
She’s waiting for Superman...

...to lift her up and take her anywhere
Show her love, oh, and flying through the air
Save her now before it’s too late tonight
She’s waiting for Superman

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Before the last madness.

It's officially the start of Cambridge term, but lectures don't start till Thu/Fri. Feeling the wham of busy terms already, as my schedule starts filling up with interesting events and gatherings, on top of the intense Zoology requirements for this year (a research project and a research paper review on top of usual lectures/labs/seminars). Been feeling rather stressed, mainly cos there are lecture clashes in topics I'm really interested in and I'm forced to make a choice, cos there are so many interesting projects I wanna do but again have to choose one, and also cos I really want to do well this year and I'm worried I won't. Which is kinda stupid, cos it has yet to happen.

Anyway, mainly to briefly summarise the rest of summer after South America:
1. Norfolk Holt field trip for Part II Zoology
Touched down from London Stansted airport and went straight to Norfolk. It was a fairly cold 10+ days there, being on the coast. Did a project on the brown shrimp Crangon crangon, involved wading into sand pools left by the tide and measuring them. It was great fun, and Le Qin (my project partner) and I went slightly crazy from the cold, the occasional (really) early mornings and late nights.
Fishing for shrimps. 

One of the larger shrimps we caught. Most are about 1-1.5cm.

Rainbow (:


2. Road trip around Iceland
Was nice to have a trip with friends, especially cos it meant I didn't have to be on the ball constantly about where I was going and about safety etc. And of course having great company was a bonus, plus the geology, wildlife and breath-taking scenery. Iceland is a really really pretty place, and I was gutted I didn't get the chance to hike while I was there, especially some of the top places to hike in the world were there.
Faxi waterfall. 

Geysir.

The North American plate :D -ish; it's on that side anyway, rather than the Eurasian plate

They have some pretty awesome graffiti :D

Saw a pair of humpback whales (:

Like seriously the whole place is just a huge coffee table book

Blueberry picking!!

Saw the fissure eruption too :D

View from the harbour at Hofn

3. Chilling around in Cambridge
Had a couple of sedentary weeks, was initially intending to go Spain, but decided against it cos travel buddies pulled out (meant to go climb) and also because by this point I was absolutely fretting over post-graduation and needed time to sort my life out. Great time enjoying summer in the UK, going to the riverside/green spaces (can't really call them parks, they're just common open green spaces...) and reading/studying/slack-lining. Definitely a lot of thinking was done, and I felt much rather calmer for it. Also managed to climb (read: high wall/a bit of leading!!!) a couple of times :D such a rare treat for me.
Yeah okay a bit too narcissistic a selfie, this >< But it was a nice summery day!

Went down to London one day, and checked out this Books About Town event.

Slack-lineeee. For noobs like me.

Kayaking on the river Granta. Hadn't kayaked in super long, was quite rubbish.

4. Hiking/camping part of the Pennine Way
Intended to do the first 3rd of the UK's oldest and most famous national trails, 429km long. Started in Edale, Peak District, and intended to finish at Horton-in-Ribblesdale, North Yorkshire. First day was pretty shit, hadn't carried weights to hike in a loonngggg time, and was probably carrying about 14-15 kg for 26km. Next day was a little better in that it was shorter, just 18km, but our hike was abruptly cut short on the third day by an injury in our group. I was carrying 17kg by then, so I'm honestly pretty impressed by myself :P Will blog more about this later (hopefully!)
Just walk. With your thoughts and flying red grouses around you.

One night we woke up to frost. It was a really cold night.

The English landscape.


In all, summer has been a great recharge for me, with lots of new experiences being in foreign lands and spending time with myself. Missing Singapore for sure, but I'll be back for Christmas and I'm sooo looking forward to it (: This last year though, of being an undergraduate, I do feel the pressure of coping with the work load, wanting to do well, and wanting to make the most of opportunities and do all that I haven't had the chance to do previously. Then again, it's just another Cambridge term.

Taken from: http://whenincambridge.tumblr.com/post/98964087728/fruitcrocs-hiding-from-your-responsibilities

 Which is yet another pretty good procrastination site.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Cambridge before the university.

Or things I didn't know about Cambridge previously. Was chatting with Peter, a fellow soup-runner, and he mentioned several interesting points about Cambridge's history, such as the fact that King's College changed the course of the river Cam so it'll be prettier for them, though I can't find anything on that online now. Anyway, so I decided to look up Cambridge's history, cos it's apparently a lot more interesting than just a bunch of rebels running away from Oxford (actually some Oxford refugees running away from hostile Oxford town folk) to found Cambridge in 1209 (to find more hostile Cambridge town folk).


1. We could have been called Durolipontians (as opposed to Cantabrigians, cos the Latin name for Cambridge is Cantabrigia).
The area was first settled by the Romans, who built a hillfort on Castle Hill in about AD70. It was called Duroliponte. Might have been quite cool to say "Yeah, I study in Duroliponte."

2. We should actually be Grantabridge.
The Anglo-Saxons came next, and by this point the town was somewhat thriving as an inland port, being served by various tributaries throughout the Fens. The river was initially called Granta (and still in, upstream of the Mill Pond, near the University Centre), and the city was called Grantabrycge. Through the waterways, it was connected to the North Sea via King's Lynn, and was pretty rich through trade.
The Saxons also built the tower of St Bene't's, which is the oldest building in Cambridge.

3. The river name was changed to match the town - only in Cambridge.
At some point in the 11th century, during the Normans, the city was known as Grentebrige or Cantebrigge. But clearly it's silly to call the city Cambridge when it's over the river Granta, so why not change the name of the river to Cam instead? Problem solved.
The Normans built a castle on Castle Hill in 1068, and the Norman Round Church (located in front of the Cambridge Union building/near Magdalene bridge) was built by the Knights Templar.

4. We were great for monasteries and fairs.
By the 12/13th century, there were lots of religious institutions in Cambridge - churches, monasteries, and convents (many of them eventually became part of a college). There were also lots of market fairs around, and it was supposedly quite the happening place. In fact, one of the largest medieval fairs in Europe, called the Stourbridge Fair, was right here, thanks to the ease of accessibility via waterways. It was originally meant to support the lepers in the Leper Chapel, part of the Hospital for lepers.

5. The early history of the University of Cambridge is pretty confusing.
Too many names for me, but essentially the start of the university was just a bunch of scholars teaching each other, and it slowly grew bigger, acquired more land from the town, had lots of conflict with the town (still do?), became more bureaucratic, involved a lot of studying of divinity, theology, canon law, Greek, Latin classics and mathematics, and had quite a bit of Royal intervention and so on.
Natural Sciences was introduced in the 17th century, and by the late 19th century, law and most of the other Triposes were established.

Main sources:
http://www.colc.co.uk/cambridge/cambridge/history.htm
http://www.cam.ac.uk/about-the-university/history/

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Dash through the New World - Part 3, overall thoughts.

It's been almost a month since I got back from Peru & Ecuador, and more than enough time has lapsed that I may soon forget what the two months was like, the fine details and everyday thoughts. So before I completely forget and put it out of my mind, this post is meant to summarise my overall thoughts and feelings throughout the trip.

Start of the trip selfie...


While I've travelled on my own before, it had been for short durations (before and after volunteering with an organisation) and/or in a developed country (Austria), so this trip was really my first time travelling on my own in a developing country, and being rather a budget backpacker. And I really enjoyed the overall experience. The elements of spontaneity, freedom and solitude are things you can't get when you travel with friends, though to be fair, my trip was also fairly constrained by my flights and volunteering stints, so it's not that spontaneous. Of course, travelling alone, there is the greater need to be cautious and look out for oneself, especially in places where reports of tourists getting mugged are aplenty. Before leaving, I was almost certain I would get robbed in Quito, but to my relief, I didn't have a single bad experience! Though on my last day when transiting in Quito, I found out that my backpacks had slashes, but I don't know if it was just carelessness on my part or people actually attempting to steal stuff.

I really liked travelling on my own, going where ever I wanted, meeting new people and South America seems to be a great place for this kind of travelling. Most others travel alone as well, or in pairs, and it's easy to meet and make new friends. I definitely gained confidence on travelling on my own, what to look out for and what not to do. And I'm glad I managed to practice and improve on my Spanish, though it still can't by any means be considered as proficient now.

Had my first smore! Not a South American thing, but still.


Despite the fact that South America is a whole different continent somewhat on the other side of the world, I felt rather at home in Ecuador/Peru. Perhaps that's because they eat a lot of rice as well, or because the dominant religion is Catholicism, or because they're in tropics. The biggest differences were perhaps the lack of hot running water, or the fact that toilet paper was not to be flushed down the toilet, but disposed of in the bin. Then again, my comfort zone has expanded so much I'm not quite sure what it is anymore. The concept of going outdoors and doing certain things to 'push my boundaries and get out of my comfort zone' no longer holds for me, I think; I just do things cos I enjoy it and I like it and it gives me a sense of contentment.

Swimming in the river is pretty awesome (: Saw an otter in it once too!


When I'm in the forest and hiking on the trails, I realise there's usually a song playing in my head, and  I also spend a lot of time thinking up Spanish phrases/sentences of things I'd usually say in English. Then I will try to think of what it is in Chinese and comparing it with Spanish, and often come to the conclusion that Chinese is really difficult to learn, and I'm super thankful I had to learn it in school earlier. I was also constantly super hungry in Peru, and spent a lot of time thinking of food and what I want to eat when I get home :P
Lentils and rice got slightly boring after a while.


But I also realised I'm a terrible naturalist - I don't have a habit of keeping field observations or anything. I've been to many places, whether volunteering or just travelling, and I feel like I should have compiled lots of notes about the general environment, wildlife seen etc. I guess I'm just not innately one, and never got round to developing the habit of it. And it doesn't help that my identification skills are moot :/ 

Overall though, the main thing I'm really glad for on hindsight is the plenty of down time I had, where I'm alone with my thoughts, without the distraction of the Internet and social media. I had time to think about what I wanted to do, and what I didn't want to do after graduation, goals for the upcoming academic year, and so on. Most of my plans and thoughts/reflections usually come about when I'm on my own, and that's usually when I'm travelling from one place to another. To ruminate and ponder over my life and the direction I should take.

Being proficient at taking selfies is a boon when travelling solo.


I didn't really get tired of travelling solo, I just that I knew I had to get back for my field trip. Maybe I would have enjoyed another month of solo travelling, maybe I would have gotten sick of my own company by then. But I enjoyed meeting people from all over, chatting with them, hearing stories and experiences and sharing mine, and they're usually like-minded, so we end up fuelling each other's interests and dreams.

I've met so many other people from all sorts of disciplines and various backgrounds, and sometimes, when you tell people you're studying in Cambridge, they think you're really smart. I still fail to see how that is so; I don't feel any smarter or more knowledgeable than anyone else.

My main takeaway from this trip though? There is no need to shower everyday. (especially when it's cold and you don't have hot water)
"River shower" 

Also learnt not to bring binoculars when you're going to hike through rivers/waterfalls.
And we're really just a small part of this planet we live on.


Definitely looking forward to the opportunity to travel and explore more areas of South America in the future!


My other posts on this trip:
Ecuador
Peru
On my Nature blog

Thursday, September 11, 2014

sobering reminder.

Back in Cambridge, back to doing soup runs. Soup runs are part of what we do in the St Vincent de Paul Society in the Catholic chaplaincy (Fisher House), and entails picking up sandwiches from Pret a Manger at the end of the day and walking around the city centre, giving sandwiches and hot tea/coffee/soup to the homeless on the streets.

After the past 2.5 months of travelling and enjoying myself and the adventures I've had, it's good to be reminded once more that not everyone is as fortunate and life is not all about myself, there are others out there as well to think about.

Meanwhile, most of my day/night is still spent contemplating post graduation (or specifically trying to narrow down what exactly I am really interested in), dithering around online trying to find out more information, trying to get myself to finish my blogposts, reading and attempting to study for GRE.

Monday, September 08, 2014

Post-graduation crisis.

I'm finally back in Cambridge, after the fieldtrip in Norfolk and a holiday in Iceland for a week. Back here a month before term starts, cos I'm going home in Dec and didn't see the point in shelling out £1000+ to go back Singapore in Sept, and also so I can sort my life out.

As you can tell, I'm having a post-graduation crisis – I don't know what I want to do after graduation. Well, I kinda know what I want to do: postgraduate studies. But I don't know if I want to do a masters  first (seems like a good bridging course) or a straight phd (scary thought), and more importantly, I dont know which area I actually want to go into. I am interested in many things, far too many it seems. Do I want to go into marine biology, ecology, evolutionary biology, biodiversity and systematics (the least likely I think), environmental biology, conservation science or ??? I'm going to have to take time to slowly whittle down and suss out what I would actually want to spend the next few years of my life studying. I really need to think everything out and talk it through. Sighs.

Meanwhile, I will get around to posting photos of my trips, blogging about them and sleeping.